I’ll start this blog with some good news. Those of you who follow me on Facebook will already know that my application to remain in Ireland has been accepted and I can stay another 12 months. The wait has been interminable. Over four months without a word and without any response to enquiries. Everyone I spoke to about it seemed to think that was pretty normal and that I just had to wait. Meanwhile my visa had expired and my life was on hold. My inability to prove residency and obtain an Irish driving licence led to refusal to re-insure my car and so for three months I have been unable to drive. It will still be a couple of months before that is rectified.
I wonder why some countries make it so difficult for people to come and live. I am sure Australia is just as bad with people wanting to reside there. I just don’t get it though. I am self-sufficient, I have met all the requirements, I accept that I can’t work or run a business but still I have to go through all these hoops and am met with a wall of silence when I try to find out what’s going on. In Ireland, the hundreds of millions of people in the Eurozone can come and go as they please but the few thousand Aussies who want to make Ireland home (even for a short while) find that to stay longer than 90 days is laced with any number of difficulties. A country looking to recover from an economic catastrophe should be welcoming anyone who wants to come here and spend money.
Anyway I am undaunted because I am not ready to go home. Over the next year I will explore ways of obtaining longer terms of residency to continue on my musical journey. But Ireland has become much more than that to me. It has etched its way into my being. With a few exceptions, which I won’t dwell on, I have been welcomed here with open arms and open hearts. It is such a contrast to the anonymity of Australian suburbia where you can live for years and never be recognised by your neighbours. Here I live in a small community and people take you as you are. I am often greeted by strangers “with a warm and kind hello” as in the lyrics of the song “The Clogher Road”. I have had many offers of lifts to do my shopping or get coal as people became aware of my predicament. And in my cycles around West Clare I am often tooted with recognition or waved at by people who obviously know me even if I don’t recognise them.
And I feel part of the wider community also, throughout Clare and beyond. Facebook and this blog have allowed me to keep in contact with the hundreds of people I have met through music in Ireland and around the world. And to share my experiences and images. I have received a terrific response to my posts and it seems to me that the Irish and followers of Irish music around the world love to read about and see what’s happening around the country. Many of my overseas friends tell me they live a little vicariously through my blogs until they can actually get here themselves.
So I will continue to write and photograph. I will of course play music. Both in sessions and at home. I can feel myself improving and want that to continue. Perhaps I won’t go to sessions every night – I will speak about that in another blog. I want to explore more of this country and as soon as I can drive I want to revisit some of my favourite places (such as Connemara, Aran Islands and Donegal,) and to find new favourite places, especially in the remotest parts of Ireland to discover the people and music there.
So please stay with me on my blog and follow me on the next stage of my journey…
Here are some of my favourite pictures from the past year or so, which may help you understand why I don’t want to go home.