Call yourself Irish? It’s in the genes

By Francine Cunningham My family is nothing if not European. Born and raised in Northern Ireland, I’m entitled to both Irish and British passports. My husband has both Dutch and Belgian nationalities. Our son has a Belgian passport and went to a Dutch-speaking primary school, followed by an English-language international school in Brussels. He isContinue reading “Call yourself Irish? It’s in the genes”

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”

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

By Francine Cunningham The sea has always lapped around the borders of my life. Childhood summer trips to Buncrana,  Downings or Marble Hill, eating crisp sandwiches full of sand, or sitting in the car looking out at torrential rain falling on the beach. Followed by student days living in an old, damp house along theContinue reading “Between the devil and the deep blue sea”

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”

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”