Life in Ireland

Lockdown in Ireland

2020 – Is that the name of a disaster movie? I didn’t like it. Can we pick another, please?

I thought I’d give an update on how we’re doing. The world out there is… different. But I’m still around and doing my best to hang in there and to wait for better days.

So how are things in Ireland?

Just before COVID-19 started spreading in Ireland, I went to county Clare to attend Noel Hill’s concertina school. It’s an event I’ve wanted to attend for years, and it meant so much to me being able to go. After coming home after the workshop, we entered that disaster movie and at the beginning, the only thing that helped me stay sane was to play the concertina. Having those tunes and new techniques to focus on really helped me cope with what was going on in the world. I’d like to say that Noel Hill saved my life. Well, at least my mental health.

Concertina in Ballyvaughan
A stone table in Ballyvaughan, county Clare

I came home from the workshop on the 8th of March. A week later, all pubs, restaurants and similar places had to close. Schools were already closed and all St Patrick’s day celebrations had been cancelled. Some shops remained open but at the end of March, we went into strict lockdown with all businesses closed except those that can run from home, and essential services. We had permission to leave home only for food shopping, medical reasons, essential work or to exercise up to 2 km from home.

It was an odd St Patrick’s day. But the St Patrick’s day weather was total **** this year so we probably wouldn’t have gone to any parades anyway. We spent the evening with some whiskey, movies and later with a Facebook Livestream led by a whiskey podcaster. Many people had own celebrations at home, having their own parades with the family, and filmed themselves.. it was lovely seeing those videos on social media afterwards! We didn’t even wear green hats 😁.

I struggled a lot with anxiety and catastrophic thoughts at the beginning of the crisis. My stepfather was in hospital in Sweden for a while, for a non-covid-related condition, that could have gone bad. I was worried sick about both my parents and was incredibly sad about not being able to go to see them. I haven’t seen them since last spring and now it’s very unlikely I’ll see them this year. Although I’m very happy to live in Ireland, the pandemic definitely has shown the disadvantages of living abroad.

We are doing well though. My husband can continue to do his job from home, and I was already working from home since I was trying to find out what to do after my studies.

It’s an enourmous blessing living in the countryside and having a large garden. Also with the restrictions we can enjoy the outdoors and the spring.

The garden has been my number one source of joy and wellbeing during this time. The weather has been quite ok, with some very nice warm days. In the mornings, if the weather is good enough, I usually take a stroll in the garden to look for new flowers and to take some photos. Some days I’ve taken lovely morning walks in the area within my 2 km. I’m so thankful to be able to be outside and see nature come to life – something beautiful to focus on and perhaps you can see it as a metaphor.. life will come back.

One of my alliums is in bloom now!

To stay focused on good things, I decided to dedicate my time on improving skills and learning something new. Udemy has had some incredible sales on online courses, so I bought a few writing courses and courses in Lightroom and Adobe Indesign. I’ve also spent more time on photography and tried to learn some new skills – such as using an off-camera flash and some macro techniques (still working on that though).

Before the crisis, I worked on finding out what I should focus on to be able to build a career, and it was stressful or at least frustrating at times. After my rough days, I’ve needed to focus on wellbeing so I ditched everything I was doing and decided to just do things because I love doing them, because they make me happy and entertained and because I want to become good at them. One of the writing courses includes lots of hands-on advice when it comes to the actual use of the language – exactly the kind of thing that I love learning more about.

I have lots of writing ideas now, maybe too many. But hey, you don’t improve your writing if you don’t write! Now I need to sit down and do some planning and organising. It will keep me busy, in a good way.

Cherry blossom in West Cork, Ireland
I discovered we have two types of cherry in our garden

Since last week, we can walk up to 5 km from home, and there is a plan to gradually ease restrictions if certain criteria are met. If all goes well the gardening shops will open next week! 😍

I have big plans for the garden this year… spring is here and with the lovely warm days we’ve had now and then, I’ve done some nice work. There’s more to come, especially when I can buy plants. Stay tuned for more news and some photos!


  • Kirsten
    17th May 2020 at 5:08 am

    I’m glad you got to go to the concertina school before everything started spiraling out of control with COVID-19. I’ve had some anxiety with it but not as much as I would have thought, to be honest, and a few catastrophic thoughts. I can completely understand about worrying about your parents and not being able to go see them, for me they are close but I still couldn’t. I know yours are a lot further away from you. I hope you get to talk to them a lot of the phone at least.

    I’ve mostly been trying to help my parents keep my brother calm which meant a lot of calls and video calls. We are now able to join with another household within our immediate family now without having to social distance as one of the restrictions they have let up on as we are only reporting a few cases a day now in the province. Part of me is relieved and part of me wonders if it’s too soon. I guess time will tell. We are still being really careful.

    • Susanne
      18th May 2020 at 9:03 am

      Yes, time will tell. Italy is opening up a few things today, and here in Ireland, DIY shops, gardening shops and similar are opening too. I think it all depends on people – if they behave as if we’re back to normal, or continue to be careful, or actually during the initial stages of reopening perhaps we need to be even more careful. I know the government here is clever when it comes to the pandemic so if our numbers start going bad again they’ll close. I hope it won’t be needed.
      I’m glad you’ve been doing well.

  • Anne
    9th June 2020 at 8:55 pm

    Late comment, as per usual. I need to look at your more recent posts to see how things are now. But, here in Wisconsin, we had an unbelievably chaotic end to our safer-at-home order. It’s a long story but there was a completely insane lawsuit by one political party that controls the legislature against the governor, who’s a member of the other political party, and the equally political state Supreme Court threw it out… without staying the order so that they could come up with an alternative.

    Which means, of course, that everything opened willy-nilly, people are no longer social distancing, and we are already seeing a rise in cases less than a month later. Combined with the recent protests and mass gatherings, it’s only going to get worse. And when it does, there will be no way that they can lock it back down. I honestly wish I were living in Canada or Ireland at this point – or even a state with a sane legislature that doesn’t jeopardize public health in the name of political expediency.

    I’m so glad you had the concertina. I’ve never heard one and hope I get the opportunity some day! I’ve been reading, walking, and listening to some new music in the mornings. I hope you’re still enjoying your garden!

    • Susanne
      10th June 2020 at 12:28 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear what’s going on where you live, Anne. Honestly I’m very worried about the situation in the US, most of all because of the severe lack of leadership. Yet again, I’m so glad to be in Ireland. Sweden where I come from is not doing well either, they make new stupid decisions every week and people have forgotten about covid, except a few, and those who work in hospitals of course. All they do is argue, and covid has become a political game. I’m another year closer to be eligible to become Irish citizen…
      I haven’t written much lately, mainly on the whiskey blog. I haven’t had any ideas or anything to share really, but I guess I should write something soon. At least I’ll have something photography related.
      I’ve tried to comment on your blog but the comments never seem to go through, I’ve seen that on other Blogger blogs, that Google doesn’t seem to register that I’m logged in, and if the comment form doesn’t see I’m logged in, the comment disappears. I honestly think Blogger’s comment form has been dysfunctional for years. But I visit your blog regularly and read what you have to say.

      • Anne
        14th June 2020 at 6:42 pm

        Thank you for letting me know about the comment issue – and your visits to my blog! I appreciate it. I fussed with the Blogger settings after some Googling (always with the Googling…) and switched to “pop up comments”, as that seemed to help others. I’m not sure if it will help you, but just fyi that I did make a change, so it *might* work now. No promises, unfortunately!

        I LOVED that concertina video! Wow. It’s like a mini-accordion! I mean, I had a clue from what it looks like, but I love the sound. On a totally random note (ha), I found out recently that Wisconsin has the world’s largest accordion museum ( I have not been, as Superior is nearly 5 hours away (and yes, still in the same state…). It’s actually closer to Minneapolis / St. Paul than to where I live in the same state! They mention concertinas on their website, so if I ever make it there… 🙂

        Take care. You know I’ll happily read whatever you care to share, whenever you write it.

        • Susanne
          14th June 2020 at 7:44 pm

          Thanks for trying to fix the comment section! Actually pop-up comments usually work.
          I’m glad you liked the concertina video! And that’s “my” teacher from the workshop. He’s really brilliant and I truly hope the workshop can go on next year.
          The accordion museum sounds cool. I’m not big on accordions but I like two-row diatonic accordions very much, I have two of them actually and haven’t given up on learning to play them just yet…

    • Susanne
      10th June 2020 at 12:29 pm

      By the way, Anne, here’s some concertina especially for you!


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