Tag Archives: Personal

You’re ALL Friends of Dorothy

In stark contrast to disliking dressing up and generally being pretty bad at it, or outright refushing, this year I went all out.

Bringing it around to my disdain for much of what society deems worthy fashion for set genders, I didn’t want to be a pirate, a ninja, zombie, prisoner, priest, vampire, prisoner, doctor, etc., so I went for the much wider ranging ‘women’s’ section of the online fancy dress shop. Of course, Dorothy is almost synonymous with the LGBT community, for largely unknown reasons, but I got to wear a dress and stockings. In saying that, I won’t rush to wear a bra again.

Thoughts on Dublin Pt1

Ah, Dublin. I have a love/hate relationship with the city. It has everything, the good and the bad. While there’s always something to do, something going on, people to see, places to go, it has a dark side too; dirty, ugly and unrelenting. Dublin is a vast capitalist dream: everything is for sale, and nothing is cheap. Both extremes of poverty and wealth are rarely too far away.

While I’ve been going to Dublin for many years, formed many strong and life-changing relationships and friendships, I still get lost almost every time. But that’s just part of the charm. I want to get lost in a different part of town each time. To wander aimlessly, armed with my camera and some loose change. I wonder if my relationship with the city will change now that I live much closer? Cities are wonderful things, they fascinate me in their many intricate workings.

It isn’t my home, and it may never be. I may always have a somewhat estranged relationship with the city. I may never get to really know how it all works. But there’s plenty of time to try. I’d rather that than constantly relying on to someone else. I need to get to know the city on my own terms.

A Conversation With a Man Who Doesn’t Like Carlow

Maybe I just look like I’m not from around here, but anyone I’ve spoken to in Carlow town has been friendly, and nothing has happened so far to make me think otherwise. Until today. Sort of.
Walking along Tullow Street in the centre of town at 7pm, sunglasses on, The National’s ‘The Boxer’ playing in my ears and camera in hand a man approached me as I turned to photograph one of Carlow’s many vacant boarded-up buildings to ask, “What you taking pictures of?” I took my earphones out and glasses off. “Excuse me?”
“What you taking pictures of?”
“Eh… everything.”
“Why?”
“I’m new here. It’s what I do. Moved here 2 weeks ago.”
“Where ya from?”
“Belfast?”
“You left that great town to come to this awful place?” Certainly not the first time anyone’s said that.
“Yes. It’s not that bad. I quite like it.”
“Ah, I hate this town; people are just unfriendly.”
“Everyone I’ve met has been friendly.”


He was almost annoyed that I’d left Belfast.
The shear audacity for me to leave a “great city” for “this place.”


This man was in his 50s, children in their 20s nearby. They’d gotten out of a taxi and were walking somewhere, probably to a restaurant. At this point he was almost annoyed that I’d left Belfast. Giving off. The shear audacity for me to leave a “great city” for “this place.”
“Belfast is a great town.”
“It’s not that great.”
“Maybe not this week. I was there recently, it’s improved a lot. Great place. What’s your name?”
“Phil.”
What’s your surname?”
“Eh…” I never like giving anyone my surname, particularly someone I’d just met in the street, “O’Kane,” I said in a slightly unwilling tone.
“Ah, you’re a good kid.”
As if my name had suddenly made him like me more.
“What you doing in Carlow?”
“Got a job here.”
“What do you do?”
“Working for a web hosting company.”
“Blacknight?”
“Yeah.”
“Ah, they’re great guys. Always been great for me.”
“What do you do?” I asked.
“I work in insurance.”

He asked again what I was photographing to which I explained that I was photographing nothing in particular. He left me go a moment later before shaking my hand and telling me again that I’m a “good lad.” He was from Mayo. I don’t even know where Mayo is off the top of my head — I didn’t tell him that.

I carried on walking through the town, taking a different route than I had before, down some side streets and along the river, snapping various locations. Nothing unusual and nothing in particular. I had only gone out to get a few beers and a Subway sandwich, taking the camera was an after-thought.

If anything, people in Carlow, whether from here or not, are almost always open for a quick chat. Of course carrying a large camera helps, despite getting on in [digital] years, and starting to show it. Still, it was a lovely evening, and the off-licence gave me a free plastic bag — I’m not sure they’re allowed to do that, but they don’t strike me as the sort to care too much.

It’s So Hot. And I’m NOT Complaining

I am NOT complaining. This weather is amazing.
I am totally having the best holiday here in Carlow.

I checked out a nice apartment in the centre of town which is definitely going top of the list, though I’ve plenty more viewings this week. However, it’s still 28° at 8pm and I’m not going anywhere this evening! Instead I’m spending my time between the small desk in this B&B room, and my bed. The heat is exhausting. And despite being mostly naked, I’m sweaty and sticky. I have beer though.

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One Year Since Graduation

July 4th will be a day I’ll remember for a number of reasons: primarily the day I graduated. This day one year ago I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Photography from University of Ulster. It was bitter sweet, to say the least. I got my certificate (it’s currently still in an envelope, in a box amongst some books, back in Belfast), got some photographs, had a couple of glasses of wine, spent the day with someone who made me happy, met some friends for a pint or two, and had an early night. It was also the beginning of the end in many ways…


Me. Graduated

The past year has been very difficult and traumatic at times, but, as a friend said today: “Here’s to a year since graduation. What a f*cking year but look where we are now xx”.
And she’s right! It’s only just started, but look where I am now.


Tory and me a few weeks ago

Day One

Having moved to Carlow town 3 days ago, I’ve enjoyed wondering around, taking photos, getting to know the area — and only got lost once so far! But most importantly, today I started work at Blacknight. I look forward to the next few weeks and months to come. I may not be able to resolve your hosting issues today or tomorrow, but some day… I will have the power!

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My boss posted this online today… I’m not sure what he’s trying to say :P

What I Will Not Miss About Northern Ireland

It’s only logical that I follow up yesterdays post with the reverse angle, in this case a list of the stuff that I will not miss about Northern Ireland. I should say from the start that there are definitely more on this list — and each of a little more weight than yoghurts and a coffee shop.

Let’s start at the beginning: Northern Ireland is small. It’s very small. I’m no expert, but I think there’s about 5,000 people, unevenly spread between Belfast, Derry-Londonderry and Fermanagh-South-Tyone. Derry-Londonderry consists of a wall, and some culture — apparently. Oh and local music — occasionally. Fermanagh-South-Tyrone exists only during elections. Belfast has everything else. But there isn’t very much anyway.

Northern Ireland has been in a constant state of “Please look at us, we’re trying really hard over here! Pay attention to us, dammit!” And then some politics happens. Again. There are a few people in Northern Ireland doing great work. The rest try to keep up. Or troll.

Politics
It may surprise you to know that I hate politics. I mean, I really fucking despise politics. Particularly Northern Irish politics. Always have. But therein lies my dilemma. Politics gives me a rush. It’s exciting. It’s hilarious. It makes me angry: keeps my mind occupied, it motivates me to do something, and I get a lot of pleasure in saying “Fuck you” to the condescending, self-righteous, assholes who purport to run this country according to the demands of “their constituency” while reciting passages from the Old Testament. I will be glad to rid myself of the tit-for-tat, us vs them whataboutery and utter bullshit that is Northern Irish politics.


Thankfully we do have a sense of humour about it. The Model Shop created this after Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly tried to stop a fortified PSNI land rover last week on day one of Marching Season.

Marching Season/”Orangefest”
Each year, without fail, there will be trouble around Northern Ireland because some people want to march on certain roads and other people don’t want them to.
It’s still highly intrusive, intimidating and isn’t necessarily the best aspect of our culture to show off.

I certainly don’t include all marching bands, and their followers, when I say this. I did a photography project last year on The Corbet, a marching band from Kinallen, and can assure anyone that they take no part in any negative publicity regarding band parades — instead playing in the local towns in/around Banbridge and to elderly people in nursing homes.
Belfast, and and a vocal minority of NI, remains a pretty difficult place to be proud of between the months of June and August.

Weather

Northern Irish weather sucks.
It’s cold, windy, grey and rains a lot. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Titanic

Oh please stop talking about the Titanic. I’m fed up hearing about that damned ship. Northern Ireland has better things to celebrate than a ship that sank: disaster-trouism.

Snow Patrol

Gary Lightbody 2007

Now don’t get me wrong, I like quite a lot of Snow Patrol’s music (well, ‘Final Straw’ and ‘Eyes Open’) but they are not the saviours of everything Northern Irish.

Golf
I think I speak for a majority of the population when I say that golf is boring as fuck. Just stoppit! We don’t need another golf course in the North West. Or Fermanagh.

I think that just about covers it. Oh yeah, the public transport, education system, technology sector, arts funding, support for local business and entrepreneurs, the politics and politicians stuck in the bible-led dark ages and our lack of self-confidence to break away from conservative nonsense.

What I Will Miss About Northern Ireland

Leaving Northern Ireland is a pretty big deal for me, for a number of reasons. The biggest being that it is my home and I’ve always lived here. Besides a short stay — 1 semester — in Derry in 2004 during my first university attempt (I didn’t enjoy the course nor the city so came back), I’ve always lived in Belfast. In fact, I grew up, and, since leaving my parents house around 7 years ago, have always lived within 30min walk of city centre/work/uni.

That’s not to say I’m not very glad to be leaving — I am! — but I may miss a few things about Northern Ireland, and indeed the UK. And so here’s a list of some of those things that. 20% of these are tongue-in-cheek. I’ll let you decide which.

The NHS
Well this is an obvious one: who doesn’t enjoy free healthcare as provided by the UK government. It is one of the primary reasons for not understanding why anyone in NI would want to be part of Ireland. Talking with South Belfast SDLP MLA Conal McDevitt 2 years ago I asked him this, his response to explain that SDLP’s top priority is to “improve Northern Ireland first and foremost”, and that is admirable, what any political party should aim to do, yet after sneaking into Ireland they aim to still offer free NHS healthcare to those in Northern Ireland. Somehow. I don’t quite understand it.

Thankfully I have never suffered from chronic aches, pains, disease or other regular healthcare needs, however, I’ve had my fair share of trips to doctors and hospitals: stitches from running into things (glass door at the dentist, counter at the library), eye checks, ear issues, acne problems, and the occasional cold and flu. It’s nice to know that these are all free: consultation and treatments.

As of yet, I’ve very little idea exactly how healthcare in Ireland works, and hopefully I will have little reason to find out. But no doubt I’ll get a cold at some point (I think November is usually the time that gets me each year). Either way, I know there is money involved in everything. But at least it won’t be a minimum for 7 days wait for appointments as is the case here.

Spelga Yoghurts
I love yoghurts. And Dale Farm’s Spelga yoghurts are by far the best available in Northern Ireland. I will miss them and their juicy strawberry and peach bits. It’ll be tough to find a comparable yoghurt in Ireland. But I’m up for the challenge.

Tayto crisps.

I know there are Tayto crisps in Ireland, however they’re not the same. To the point where I just don’t understand why there are two different crisp manufacturers on this island making two different crisps under the same name, with a vaguely similar mascot. However they are different. And the Northern Irish Tayto crisp is superior.

BBC iPlayer
Whilst I don’t watch a great deal of TV, there are a certain number of shows I will happily tune in to, though rarely at the original air time. And so the iPlayer comes into play, whether on the iPad or desktop, I use the service often to catch up on a show I missed. And whilst routing to a UK proxy for such occasions isn’t out of the question, nor is digital recording via TV, the ease of use will be removed somewhat.

Politics

Of course I will still follow the politics of Northern Ireland from afar, have my say and show my anger and frustration at times, but I will miss being a part of it. It won’t directly affect me, and as will give a little less of a fuck, but for that reason I will pine for a time when I could get riled up about the latest riot in East Belfast, political who-ha or us vs them bullshit.

Samson and Goliath

The two yellow cranes, named Samson and Goliath are simply a part of the Belfast landscape — iconic and inspiring. They tell of a Belfast which is proud of its [historic] ship-building industry, while remaining so photogenic and… well, they’re hard to miss!

Meeting people I know in the street…
It’s a great feeling, walking around town and simply waving to a friend or acquaintance, or stopping for a chat. And I’ll miss it. But it’s hardly specific to Belfast either…

Clements
Clements
Ah yes, Clements coffee chain. Basically, I had my first coffee here when I was about 16. It was a mocha latte, which is essentially a “gateway coffee” which lead me to become a hardcore user/abuser of real coffee. I’m now an addict.

Sunday at my Grandparents
Despite their über conservative religious views, Sunday afternoons won’t be quite the same without a few slices of Veda, Jamaica ginger cake, coffee and a run around the garden with my young cousins.

There are probably a few other things, but in general, I may have drawn this list out a little more than most. I hear Carlow has one or two decent coffee shops and the politics is a little more about real issues than tribal nonsense (ignoring some internet and blasphemy laws…)

What would you miss about Northern Ireland if you were to leave?