Lively Limerick: My first year in the Treaty City

The transition from secondary school to college can sometimes seem a daunting prospect, for most it’s an adventure. My year has been full of amazing new people and memories that I’ll hopefully always have. The bounds and regulations of school are long past behind you upon entering third level education, and I found a refreshing sense of independence in my own learning.

“Hello!” – A view from inside one of the many Tower Houses along UL Campus

UL South Campus from the air.

UL South Campus from the air.

Of course, I also found a huge amount of new found free time and always made sure to make the most of it. Between exploring the riverside of UL campus to the nightlife the city had to offer, I was always keeping myself busy.

University of Limerick (UL)  is located along the River Shannon, on a 137.5 hectares campus with 12,000 full time students just 5km outside Limerick City. The Shannon, once having been a highway of travel, is speckled with the ruins of old castles and abbeys along its banks.

Here, I often walked with friends and explored and traversed along them on slow early summer evenings. Cloaked in trees and the sounds of waterfowl, it wasn’t difficult to become immersed in nature. It’s fantastic to be within walking distance of both urban and natural environments, something which many of us here take for advantage.

 The City was something I was always familiar with, coming from nearby Clare, but only truly opened its doors to me this year and showed a side to it I never knew. There’s a grit about Limerick, it can appear at first as uninviting or dormant, but give it a chance and it’ll open up to you. It won’t find you, so you’ve to be willing to explore. There’s a vibrant community spirit that’s been so lacking across the nation as of late and you’re sure to bump into a community action project or two as you traverse its streets. Locals, young and old, are beginning to reclaim the city and with it leave their mark. One such example of this is Thomas Street, where Limerick Tidy Towns and Wildroutes took a littered and rundown street corner and transformed into a lush corner park for locals and visitors alike.

Thomas Street during the initiative, cups are filled with seeds which will grow along the fencing.

Thomas Street during the initiative, cups are filled with seeds which will grow along the fencing.

After, with the plants in full bloom.

After, with the plants in full bloom.

Initiatives such as this aren’t few or far between and are breathing new life into Limerick’s streets and community offering new interactive artistic places of rest or leisure. They’re always in action on some corner street and are always looking for more volunteers or help! If you’d to learn more about or join Limerick Tidy Towns and Wildroutes, I have embedded a link to both their facebook pages in their names.

DieNight's Logo (Credit to Dienight facebook page)

DieNight’s Logo (Credit to Dienight facebook page)

The nightlife of Limerick wasn’t something I’d ever have thought much of and before going to college in UL, I never had. How naive I was. Limerick offers an abundance of different scenes and throughout its many clubs and late night bars scattered across the city you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy.

View of the main stage from the balcony (Credit Ciaran Cummins)

View of the main stage from the balcony (Credit Ciaran Cummins)

One place in particular that has stood out tome far over others, is DieNight Limerick. The Die stands for Dance, Indie and Electronica Music and it’s one of the few venues that’ll offer such a diverse plate of juicy tunes. The club is divided into 3 main floors, the centre stage (warehouse) plays electronica and deephouse, upstairs is reserved to the bands, typically indie music, and you’ll find dance and house music on the terrace. Clubbers are spoiled for choice and the quality of the lineups every fortnight is phenomenal. It’s the night of the month and is always met with great anticipatation by all who attend. The atmosphere is incredible and unmatched by any club I’ve yet to go to, it truly is a gem of the city.

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In order to replicate the atmosphere and keep the night going, a group of close friends of mine came together to set up an after party to DIE which would become known as The Afterlife. The idea was to gather three DJs from DIE or other clubs and recreate the atmosphere of DIE in someone’s house. To do so, strobe lights, smoke machines and a

Behind the Decks at Afterlife.

Behind the Decks at Afterlife.

set of DJ decks were collected with people on security of the entrance, in case things got out of hand. Word would be spread through social media and within Die with cards and word of mouth. The result was more than anyone had hoped for, least of all Ciaran, the man behind the entire project. The house quickly became a sea of people and it went on well into the early hours of the morning. The Afterlife is still in its infancy, but with two incredibly successful nights under its belt, it’s sure to become a regular of the Limerick night scene.

While my first year in Limerick truly flew, the city is sure to have lots in store for me and everyone else in the coming years and is more than sure to surprise me along the way!

As always thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come again!

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Moonrise Kingdom, “What kind of bird are YOU?”

Quirkiest film going

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The Ever Meloncholic Damien Rice.

Every generation has their musical hero, someone who’s much more than just the voice of a generation, but their sound.

Rory Gallagher, the voice and sound to a generation.

Rory Gallagher, the voice and sound to a generation.

Ireland had Rory Gallagher in the 80s and the world had Nirvana in the 90s. Growing up in 21st century Ireland, I was blessed to have listened to and experienced some incredible, emotional and ever erotic music from the likes of Irish born Glen Hansard to international and cult giants, Queens of the Stone Age. Through my teenage years music was my escape and freedom to express otherwise intangible and confused emotions in a world we all sometimes feel we don’t belong in.

I remember it well, the first time I felt music truly describe the penance of emotions within me. It was a cold night and I struggled to keep even one eye shut, with thoughts crawling upon my mind. I turned to my dresser and grabbed the Walkman I had temporarily stolen from my sister. There was a tiny lcd screen and “Cold Water – Damien Rice” fluttered across it. The low resonance of the tick tock overpowering the keys of the piano instantly took me into the song, as the echoing of “Lord can you hear me..can you hear..or am I lost?” enveloped my feelings into something translatable.

Rice's first solo studio album, O.

Rice’s first solo studio album, O.

From that night on, I began to listen to Rice daily, especially when I struggled to express my woes or angers. There is a quality to his voice like no other, one which is so honestly damaged and vulnerable, something anyone could relate to. It’s this brutal honesty of emotion and passion in his music which gives Rice something truly ‘otherly’ to his music.

Rice and Hannigan during the recording of O

Rice and Hannigan during the recording of O

The relationship between Rice and Lisa Hannigan, a former member of his band, is synonymous with his music. ‘O’ and ‘9’, Rice’s first two international albums, serves as a voice to express the passionate yet  ever turbulent relationship between the pair. It deals with the failed expectations and pain which every couple face to some degree. It never holds back and is as much as an emotional rollercoster as it is a musical one. Both these albums are very dear to me, ones which I will always cherish and adore getting me through many o’ teenage relationships and allowed me to deal with my problems by venting them through Rice’s music.

I leave you with “I remember it well”, telling the story of when Rice and Hannigan first met and then breaks into the current state of their relationship, a sample of the sheer force of emotion and music found in Rice’s work.

Thanks for reading!

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Identity in the 21st Century.

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“Identity cannot be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go.” – Doug Cooper.

Identity is something which is hard to define as a constant as it’s an ever changing value. The Oxford Dictionary attempts to defines it as “The fact of being who or what a person or thing is”. Exactly what someone is or is not is an ongoing experience so often we can all find ourselves lost in who we exactly are. Often I find it easier to figure what I am not, rather than what I perceive myself to be, “I’m not the best at forgiving” rather than “I’m not forgiving”. 

In the 21st century we are finding ourselves with more and more free time to lend to thought and reflection in our lives. Often this leads to individuals pursing dreams or goals, such as a trip to a far away land, buying a fast car or completing a marathon, in order to find a sense of themselves during the journey. These acts generally secluded to middle aged individuals, often described as a “midlife crisis”.

But a crisis of identity should never be assumed to be a problem of older generations, more and more we’re seeing young people, particularly teenagers, in conflict with who or what they are. Trends such as the Flower Power Movement, Gothicism and even more recently Hipsterism, have given weight to the problem.

Prime example of Hipsterism.

Prime example of Hipsterism.

In a Capitalist  21st century world, where less and less believe in any faith, consumerism is King and people set to define themselves by the label on the back of their shirt or skinny jeans. Ironically, while trying to set themselves apart from the herd, Hipsters are in fact overindulging themselves to the ascribed universal faith of “You are what you consume”.

While we are all guilty of this in some form and I am certainly no exception, I have found  some solace. As an Irishman I take pride in my country and people, it’s something I can identify with and feel a part of. Closer yet, I (as anyone who knows me) take great pride in my own surname. To me it signifies that I’ll always belong to something and knowing the history of the name and where I’m from invokes a great sense of pride and comfort. Often when I feel lost I head there, the Burren, where I find both peace and comfort in my being.

Black Head, The Burren. Home.

Black Head, The Burren. Home.

Though one can never truly find their full worth or substance as an individual in others and must embark on that journey alone, having a sense of place or belonging is detrimental to begin the journey of finding oneself.

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Who am I?: Perhaps The Greatest Journey Of Them All?

I’d firstly like to both apologize and thank those who’ve been constantly nagging at me to reboot this blog. Often I found myself writing, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t finish anything I had begun. Loose ends and brick walls. We are all our own worst critics and I was certainly no exception, finding myself critiquing every word until the page lay blank. The question I kept finding myself uttering was “What is this blog for? Who am I?”. I needed a voice surely, and all I have is my own. These questions would be particularly poignant whenever I was asked when I would write again as I never really had an answer for it other than a half arsed promise of “soon”.

DSC_0640As time went on I soon came to realise it was the fear of publishing something imperfect that troubled me. I never considered myself a perfectionist and am normally quite confident publicly, but there’s something about publishing a written piece in one’s own name that leaves it that bit more exposed. The truth is I don’t know who I am, it’s an ongoing journey. It became apparent that if I were to really commit to pursuing a career in the media, I would need to take this baby step to overcome my unease and my voice would find itself.

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Group Work P.2 – A Time for Reflection

As I mentioned in Part 1, Group 31 which consisted of Alan, Luke, Michaela and I, was a dream team. If any of my following groups in another modules were half as good, my life would have been so much easier. The stress, anger and murderous thoughts I’ve experienced with other groups, never crossed my mind when working with this group (I’m sure it comes to just as much of a relief to them as it did to me!).

As a group we got on well and we did the work that needed to be done without anyone having to be reminded. We met up once, divided up the sections of the Wiki, and then submitted our sections to the Google Drive before our lab on Tuesday. There at the lab, Alan, Luke and I edited and structured the information, then added in the necessary links and photos.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with them all as they gave no grief and were an absolute pleasure to work with. I was extremely happy with the end result of our Wiki and I think it reflected the work we all but into it as a group!

And if I could sum up the overall experience in one picture, it would be this.

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Group Work P.1

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For our first group assignment, we were given the task of writing up a Wikipedia page for St. Michael’s Church on Denmark Street. Though not the most exciting building to write on, I was surprised to have found the amount of history behind this seemingly average church.

Though I’ve passed the church hundreds of times, I never gave it the time of day until this project. The church is located in the centre of Limerick City’s shopping district at Denmark Street and is quite easy to find. We were lucky that Luke, a member of our group, lived nearby the church and instantly volunteered himself to take the photos.
The sheer co-operation and work ethic among our group was outstanding and built me up to be severely disappointed by every other group I would work with to follow…

The Church itself is Romanesque and apart from the golden depiction of the Archangel Michael in combat with Satan, the grey limestone walls blend in with the rest of the busy street. The original church was on the opposite side of the street, but was abandoned after the Cromwellian Siege. The position of the church and the natural moat formed by the Abbey and Shannon River, made it a strategic stronghold during both the Cromwellian and Williamite sieges. As a bit of a History nerd,I found the history thoroughly fascinating and was delighted to do the history section on the Wiki page.
While sources were at times tedious to find, we eventually found a Parish website with meticulous information about every part of the Church’s history and our job much easier! We met together in the computer lab and divided up the workload and sections between us. After the meeting, we contacted one another through Facebook and Google Drive. Luckily, Luke, Alan and I were all in the same computer lab and the editing was a breeze.

In all, I was quite glad to have gotten St. Michael’s Church and because of my research, I found an excellent book on the Williamite War (Which is quite excellent at that).

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The Great Escape

Limerick never did much for me personally, it was with dread that I recall early Saturday mornings when my mother would tear me away from my cartoons and buckle me into the car for the weekly shopping. Here, incarcerated within a steel cage, more commonly known as the noble supermarket trolley, I found myself subject to an eon of being shuffled up and down, in and around every isle and freezer that Tesco had to offer. Unable to vocalize the depravity of the situation to my mother, I would toss bread, beans, or ham at those passing by in an act of desperation to escape this purgatory. The message was never clearly conveyed and fruitless. More often than not, I would be scowled by my mother or have the individual approach me and mockingly squeeze my cheeks while patting me on the head.

Any chance of escape seemed hopeless, but often with hopelessness comes desperation and with desperation comes ambition. I found after weeks of being towed around the store, that if I squirmed my leg enough I could lift it out and around the divider to tuck it beside my other leg. From here I could slide down into the trolley and among the groceries. Brilliant. A plan began to hatch within my mind. Often my mother would leave the trolley by the freezer as she queued for the shop butcher, it was just the right height to the trolley for me to climb into it and escape. The perfect plan. And so I waited, patiently. As my mother strolled the trolley to the freezer as planned, I delayed until she was distracted by the butcher. I knew time was wasting and sprang into action. Raising my leg to the other side, I grabbed the bars above and slid onto a bed of cold meats and bread. Taking hold of the freezer’s lip, I hoisted myself up by shuffling over the washing detergent and rolled into the freezer like a lead weight. There amid a grave of frozen pizzas and garlic bread, I was once again trapped.

The walls were frosty and grey. Surrounded on all sides, I needed to act quickly or risk freezing my nappy off. I began to pile the pizza boxes into a corner and peered over the edge, my mother was still in line and hadn’t yet noticed my disappearance. Armed with a baguette of garlic bread and a will to escape, I began piling more and more boxes and lowered myself off the edge onto the floor. I felt like Tommy out of Rugrats, the everyday toddler’s answer to James Bond. The moment wasn’t to last, a shadow cast over me with the face of a discerning mother behind it. I dashed for the garlic bread as she swung to catch me. Baguette in hand, I lunged at her and with a swing to the shin, but to no avail. With one flick of the arm, the figure scooped me up and placed me back into the trolley.

This however, is not a tale of failure, but of victory. Knowing the trolley could no longer detain me, I was never again subjected to the horrors of Saturday morning shopping ever again. Mam even bought be a Choc Ice on the way back, I’d like to see Mr Bond pull off that one.

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