Ireland – The Next Chapter

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.

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A stormy day near Spanish Point, Co Clare

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The last day at the old Brogan’s Pub in Ennis.

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Sunset at Caherush, Co Clare

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A peek into a session at Pepper’s Pub, Feakle, Co Clare

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My cottage in Clare

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Near Mullaghmore, Co Sligo

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The Burren bathed in golden light

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The magical Mount Errigal, Co Donegal.

Categories: My Journey, Real Ireland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Ireland – The Next Chapter

  1. Neil Muscatiello

    Wonderful news Bob. I know your love or TRAD and the people who play it will bring you a great year ahead. BTW. The photo of the last day at old Brogan’s Pub. Has it moved or am I reading it wrong?

  2. Hi Neil, Brogan’s has always been there. In fact it was one of the original music pubs in Ennis going back to the 1970s. Stockton’s Wing had their genesis there and many great musicians including Tommy Peoples had regular spots. It ran into hard times and in February this year closed down to be reopened a few months later under new management. At the time of its closure there was a great sense of loss and I tried to capture this in a blog at the time. Check it out. Type Brogan’s into the search box on the right. In the refurbishment all the musical memorabilia went including a mural of Spancil Hill. One of my best memories is singing the song “Spancil Hill” under this mural. Anyway the photo was taken at the end of the last session with Eoin and Quentin, regulars there for 15 years. It was a sad day but I love the photo for the sense of fun that pervaded despite this. Maybe the new Brogan’s will one day recapture this.

  3. Thank goodness for your good news! For such a welcoming people, the state doesn’t seem as obliging does it? You’d think people were jumping over the ‘border’ to get here they way they make it so difficult to be here. The same goes for North Americans btw.

    Look forward to a return visit from you and seeing what the future holds for your blog. Chapter 2.

    Those last few pictures are spectacular!!

  4. Hey Melissa. Thank you so much. I think all the positive thoughts from you and the many friends I have made here and around the world through music and my blog, have certainly helped. I would love to come visit again. I imagine Winter there is much the same as Spanish Point. Wind? rain?

    Anyway. Take care. Glad you like the pictures.

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