On Thursday this week it was the 4th of February, which marks two years since we moved to Ireland. I remember the feeling of freedom and joy when I landed in Dublin that day. I left a snowy, icy and cold Stockholm – I needed to fly from Stockholm because I had borrowed a concertina that I needed to return, and to get my own back. To do that, I joined an English music session on the Sunday which was lovely, not only the music but also to see some friends there again.
Dublin that day was mild with nice sunshine and around 12 degrees, and I went into the city to the Irish whiskey museum to taste the then recently re-released Red spot, while I waited for my husband to arrive. He flew from Göteborg with our cat, and I’m glad I wasn’t with them because there had been big drama at the security desk – for some reason the cat carrier gave an alarm for explosives!! I would have fainted from the stress!
We’ve had some eventful and enjoyable two years. Last year was obviously less enjoyable, but it was enjoyable in its own way, We’ve played in a good number of music sessions, made new friends, attended local events and festivals, bought a house that we’re fixing up bit by bit, we joined Cork whiskey society, I joined the local photography club, and so much more.
To share all this in text would take another year, plus it would be boring for you. So let’s do it in pictures instead!
Our baby Ester traveled from the early morning from Skövde, Sweden, to Dublin with a break at Schiphol, Amsterdam. Then getting through the toll on to the rental car area at Dublin airport, followed by a long trip from Dublin to West Cork. It was a hard day for her.
The first few months we lived in a rental house near Butlerstown at the Seven heads peninsula. What I most remember from there are the crazy neighbour’s dogs and the lovely walks since we lived just minutes from the sea.
Butlerstown is a lovely little village with lovely people. O’Neill’s bar is the little pub there. It’s small, and it’s fabulous. When we last lived in West Cork, we were invited to come and join the little music session there, and we’ve loved the place, and its owner, since then.
This is Mary, the owner. She’s become a good friend of ours and is one of the most lovely people I know. She loves the pub, the social life there, the music. She is a lovely singer too and at the music session, all of the sudden she will sing a song from behind the bar, or even get out and start dancing! Let’s keep our fingers crossed she can open the pub again eventually. I promise that this is the most unique pub in Ireland…
I talked to her today on the phone and it was fantastic!! Having a chat with her made me feel like in the good old days.
Actually, I should write a separate blog post just about this pub! But only after I’ve had a good chat with Mary about the history and everything else behind it.
The day before St Patrick’s day 2019, there was a fun tractor run that went from Timoleague, through Butlerstown (probably through Courtmacsherry too) and back. It was a charity event, and the tractor that had the fanciest decoration would win a price for whatever the charity purpose was.. I can’t remember that now. But it was such a fun event. We were a group of people waiting inside the pub for the tractors to pass by. And after them there were trucks too!
Then there was St Patrick’s day.
During 2019 we explored pubs, cafés and other places in our hometown, such as this lovely little wine bar, where they normally also have live music now and then, here with some friends of ours performing.
I found a weekly language exchange meeting in Cork, and later an advanced conversation class, so I spent every Wednesday evening there. I had some nice walks in Cork city, and frequently visited the famous whiskey bar to taste new whiskeys.
In late June, we moved into our own house – with this view behind the house, and a large garden.
There were the local events in town, such as the oldtime fair, when people dress up in clothes from other eras, and there are craft exhibitions all over town. Our friends played there outside the wine bar, always good to hear them.
There’s also the street carnival in June, with events all over town, and where local restaurant have their stands to sell street food. It’s a lovely event!
Our friends from Sweden came over to visit and we had such good fun! We took them to our favourite pubs and music sessions but also took them to places such as Mizen Head, that they had the opportunity to visit while a ridiculous amount of rain poured down.
.. but also Molly Gallivan’s. It’s a lovely place, that used to be an illegal distillery, located between Glengarriff and Kenmare. We discovered it in the spring of 2019, when we were on a roadtrip. Now it’s a cottage, tea house, knitwear/craft shop and museum, and it’s a lovely place. We spent a good while in there, checking out the crafts, having tea, and shopping. The owner also invited us to visit the part of the garden where the old still is, and to taste a local poitín – not distilled there.. but who knows? It was quite nice, anyhow!
The autumn of 2019 was full of music events and festivals, that I’ll show off in a separate post. Other than that, I was super stressed for my Italian exams, that took up most of the month of December. But then Christmas came, and we explored the local traditions, such as eating mince pies. As I remember my entire exam period, my husband fed me with glögg (Swedish mulled wine) and mince pies!
2020 started good. I had some guitar lessons with our friend from the photos above (see the oldtime fair) and prepared for Noel Hill’s concertina workshop.
Despite what happened after that, I have lots of good memories from 2020. Obviously the highlight was the concertina workshop, but I had lots more good times too, also after Covid-19 shut things down.
This is the only photograph worth the name, that I took while I was in county Clare in March 2020. It’s the beach of Lahinch.
In the spring, when the first lockdown was in full swing, we could go for walks within 2 km. That’s not necessarily a bad thing here because we live out in the country and the surroundings are lovely. Photographing cows, fences and gates became a thing.
I took some lovely walks during March and April! But I also took strolls in the garden to discover new buds and flowers. It was our first spring in this house, after all. And I was delighted to find we have a beautiful cherry tree!
And there’s another cherry tree that belongs to our neighbour. But I count it as ours because so many branches and flowers hang into our garden.
My main activitiy during the spring of 2020 was photography. I tried new skills with my flashes, tried some indoor photography with bubbles in a glass with soap, and photographed hoverflies in the garden. Later that year, I actually came third with this image in a nature themed photography competition! That was an important accomplishment for me.
The summer offered more photography.. butterflies, bumblebees and some spiders.
I did lots of work in the garden, to pretty up what I did the year before. Before the first lockdown was eased, I couldn’t get any new compost so it was hard to get started, but after that I kept going all summer. And now I plan to change most of it! The hard life of gardening enthusiasts…
But honestly, the real highlight was when I was inspired to start working on my guitar playing again, and to start learning to play bluegrass flatpicking. I learned the C and G scales, and then I started learning Beaumont rag. Yes, I know it’s weird. But the thing is that the first part of the tune is just a variation of the C scale and is very easy and very fun to do. I also had the tune in my head already so to make my hands play it wasn’t so hard (the B part is another story though). I also started working on Whiskey before breakfast from a tutorial I had bought with Norman Blake teaching his techniques.
In August we went to Dublin for the day and I bought my guitar. I had played on my husband’s Martin D-18, but had realised that a big chubby dreadnought was too large for me, and my little Taylor didn’t have the sound I wanted. So in August, I finally bought a Martin 000-18.
This is me that evening. Happy happy happy!
We had lots of lovely dinners in the garden. This area is fabulous on warm summer evenings. We also invited our neighbour over for some cocktails one evening. Good times!
My husband built a wooden deck. I now call it the bluegrass deck, because I spent so much time there practicing the guitar. Now he is building an extension with a mini greenhouse (where the wildflowers are in the photo, to the left), so the summer is 2021 is bound to be a good one!
There is so much more I’d like to cover in this post. There’s so much more we have done and experienced during these two years. So many people we’ve met and so many more good moments we’ve had. Everything can’t be covered in a blog post. But I’m reminded of all these moments every time I chat with the postman, when I talked to Mary O’Neill, when I chat with our neighbour or with the people from our usual sessions on Whatsapp or Facebook. Then I’m sort of reminded of what life can be like here, when you can meet people for real. Zoom is great but…. it’s a substitute.
Now let’s keep on enjoying the good moments we have right now and hope we’ll get those other good times back soon.
Join the Weekend coffee share with Natalie the explorer.