Galway, July 2020.

Waiting for Gavin

By Francine Cunningham Foxgloves, which used to grow wild in the shaded orchard behind my childhood home in County Tyrone, have always been a favourite flower. So, when we returned to Ireland after many years on the continent, I dreamed of a meadow-like garden full of native plants and humming with bees. It would beContinue reading “Waiting for Gavin”

A Fairytale of Wicklow

By Francine Cunningham Many of us dreamed of giving our house a complete makeover during lockdown.  I don’t know whether they wished upon a star, but for a few of my neighbours in County Wicklow, this dream has just come true. In the village of Greystones just south of Dublin, which we moved to sixContinue reading “A Fairytale of Wicklow”

Thank God for The Happy Pear

By Peter Vandermeersch Every Saturday and Sunday for the last two months, this is my weekend prayer. The Happy Pear? Dutch and Belgian readers of this blog are already wondering what kind of religious sect I decided to join here in Ireland.  Irish readers probably think that I’ve turned vegan. They obviously know the twinContinue reading “Thank God for The Happy Pear”

She talked to Rainbows

By Francine Cunningham She was simply the prettiest and wittiest creature I had ever seen. With her blonde ponytail, tutu skirt and Doc Martens. It was Dublin in the late Eighties, and it was the first time that I met Barbara. If I was quiet and bookish, she was vivacious and out-going. Where I wouldContinue reading “She talked to Rainbows”

United Covid nations?

By Peter Vandermeersch We’re all in this together, aren’t we? Covid-19 is basically the same in Dublin, Brussels or Amsterdam. According to the official figures, in Ireland, Belgium and The Netherlands combined almost 20,000 people died due to Coranavirus over the last seven months. The English terms “social distancing’, “lockdown” and “second wave” are also used in DutchContinue reading “United Covid nations?”

Small town with a big name

By Francine Cunningham Something about those hollow eyes, the serious but suspicious gaze and that pallid skin, speaks to me across the generations. It’s a picture of my hometown of Strabane in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, taken after the flood of 1910. Look closely and you can see the boy’s jumper held together by aContinue reading “Small town with a big name”

Cycling in Dublin?

By Peter Vandermeersch For nine years, I lived in Amsterdam and every day I cycled from my apartment to my newspaper. Obviously, as a cyclist in Amsterdam you have to take care that you don’t collide with tourists who are either drunk, stoned, or just don’t seem to realise that you shouldn’t walk in theContinue reading “Cycling in Dublin?”

Re-inventing the Irish pub

By Francine Cunningham Ireland’s public houses may be world renowned, but time spent abroad has only strengthened the mixed feelings I have about Irish pub culture. As a young journalist in Dublin, I used to make excuses not to join the crowd who would go straight to the pub after work and stay there untilContinue reading “Re-inventing the Irish pub”

A year in Irish politics

By Peter Vandermeersch Dear Belgian and Dutch friends, As some of you probably remember, I started my job as publisher here in Ireland at the beginning of August 2019, exactly one year ago this week. The past year has been an exciting one in Irish politics, something which has not always been noticed on continentalContinue reading “A year in Irish politics”

Thank you for holding…

By Francine Cunningham First world prices should go hand in hand with first-class service. Frustratingly, that is too often not the case in Ireland. In the last months, there have been multiple examples of inconsiderate, or downright shoddy, service of the type that makes me wish I could remember the few Gaelic curses I onceContinue reading “Thank you for holding…”

Cultural distancing

By Francine Cunningham Ask the average foreign visitor how they would describe the Irish and the typical response is ‘friendly’. Not exactly an original thought. Yet now that I’m spending time back on Irish soil I can’t help asking myself when does that pervasive friendliness cross the line? When does it start to make meContinue reading “Cultural distancing”

Angelus forever

By Peter Vandermeersch Ireland, still a Catholic society? I have been visiting this country since 1990 and maybe there is no region in the world where the massive power of the church disappeared so abruptly. One of the main reasons for this is the way it became clear that the Catholic church was responsible forContinue reading “Angelus forever”

Washed Ashore

By Francine Cunningham It’s mid-summer when I land at Dublin airport, back in my home country after more than two decades. At the security control, I show my Irish passport, while my Belgian-Dutch husband and our son present their different passports. We join the throng in the arrivals hall where my mother is waiting, already in tears. TwoContinue reading “Washed Ashore”

A stitch in time

By Francine Cunningham On a rainswept, wind-buffeted visit to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands off Ireland’s west coast in mid-July, I couldn’t resist the urge to buy a handknitted Aran jumper. This water-repellent knit was definitely more of a necessity than style statement for the farmers and fishermen who have inhabited theContinue reading “A stitch in time”

It’s not the Champs Elysées

By Peter Vandermeersch April 2019. Paris! Fresh croissants! Les Champs Elysées! Le Musée d’Orsay…. I am preparing to leave Amsterdam, where I have been working for nine years as the editor-in-chief and a director of NRC Handelsblad, to move to the city of lights. I have been editing and managing newspapers in Belgium and TheContinue reading “It’s not the Champs Elysées”

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