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Sadie Mooney celebrating her first birthday last week.

The Irish Homecoming: A first birthday celebration and the first St. Patrick’s Day at home

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Sadie Mooney celebrating her first birthday last week.

Hello New York. I hope things are shaping up nicely for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. I know some of the parades are about to kick off this coming weekend so have fun. 

Unlike in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day in New York is a month long celebration. In Ireland it’s literally the day of March 17 and possibly the night before. 

It will be our first St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland in nine years and our first as parents of two so it will be exciting. The parades in Ireland are extremely colorful and fun. 

Thousands of adults and children come out to parade through their towns, march with their dance classes, their local bands and their schools. Others spend months before designing and putting together floats that also participate in the bigger parades throughout the country, and more often than not a tractor or two will make an appearance. The parades are extremely kid friendly so we look forward to it all. 

John, my husband, works every second weekend, so we make it our business to see friends, plan weekends away or just spend quality time with the kids when he is off. The weekends he works I’m left doing it all -- cleaning, cooking, minding the babies (Colum, two and Sadie, one) but I can’t complain. It’s nice to have time with them when they are so small. 

Sadie turned one last week -- February 20. She was born on President’s Day in New York in 2012.  

The year has flown by.  Sadie has been an incredible baby.  She has a very placid way about her, takes everything in her stride and just fits in everywhere she goes. 

We had an afternoon tea party for her first birthday in the house the weekend before (when John was off) and Sadie thoroughly enjoyed the attention. It was special. 

The first three months of Sadie’s life are a blur.  In that time we packed up our home in Yonkers into boxes, packed the boxes into a 20 foot container (just about) and spent weeks saying goodbye to our friends. 

The following nine months involved settling into Ireland, getting jobs, a place to live and establishing a routine, and I can safely say we are at a great place in our lives. 

So now it’s time to look towards the future for the Mooney family. 

First up is vacations.  It’s that time of the year when people are planning for their summer holidays.

In Ireland companies give significantly more vacation time to their employees, so as it stands at the moment John will have 10 days off in June, a week in July, August and September and a few long weekends in between.  I work as a freelance sign language interpreter so I can take off when I wish. 

We won’t go abroad this year but we will get away. Our main vacation will be to Co. Roscommon. John, the kids and I, along with two other couples and their kids, have a deposit paid at a log cabin just outside Boyle for a week in June. 

I saw a program on television about an adventure park where the kids can enjoy some fun (and the adults too) and beside it are log cabins by a lake. There is plenty of room for barbequing and boats to hire to take out onto the lake. 

Naturally this is Ireland so it may pour rain for the week, but that’s a risk we are willing to take. We are already looking forward to it. 

So that’s the vacation taken care of. We also have four weddings to attend, two in Cork, one in Clare and one in Cavan. They are spread out between July and October. 

And I’m also going to see Bon Jovi in Slane, Bruce Springsteen in Thomond Park in Limerick and Beyonce in Dublin, so it’s safe to say it will be an eventful few months for us. 

In the meantime we are on the house hunt. We hope to purchase our own home in the next few months. 

We’ve already seen a few potential properties.  Some need work, others are a little far from town and others are just horrible and not worth the asking price. It’s still a buyer’s market in Ireland so that is a bonus, although homes are selling quicker now in the last few months than they were in the past few years.

The only issue I’m having with this house hunting situation is the relaxed attitudes of the auctioneers.  We might be waiting a few weeks for a response to an email, and sometimes we don’t get a response at all. 

I was used to getting things done yesterday while living in New York.  I would send an email in the morning and I could be guaranteed by mid-afternoon, early-evening that I’d have a response. 

It’s frustrating in Ireland. If I follow up with a call it helps sometimes, but more often than not the relevant person is busy in which case a message is taken and, guess what, I never get a response.  It certainly weeds out the professionals from the cowboys in my opinion.

The ones who do respond I have the most respect for, but if I were a customer selling my home I’d be more than angry knowing I was paying these people money and they weren’t putting in the work to get my house sold. 

Anyway, we haven’t found our dream home yet.  We are torn between the possibility of a little house in the country with a little garden and sheep as our neighbors, to a house in a small village in a housing estate that costs a hell of a lot less but has very little garden space and humans as next door neighbors (which I also like). 

I’ve no doubt it will all work out it always does, so I’ll just go with the flow for the next few months and see where we end up. Watch this space. 

I’ve also taken on a big project by myself. I’ve decided to put all the great things I learned while working at the Irish Voice to good use. 

I’m going to launch Limerick’s first bridal magazine at the end of the year.  It’s a pretty ambitious undertaking in the current market, but after doing some solid research it’s clear that any girl who gets engaged in Limerick will purchase a magazine dedicated solely to weddings in her locality. 

I also spoke with some vendors and they seem to be keen to put a little money behind advertising their businesses, so hopefully it will be a success. I’m excited (and at times nervous) at the prospect of owning my own publication, even if it’s a small magazine. 

It will be a product of hard work and dedication. So I guess watch this space also. 

So between the house hunting, the vacations and the magazine we will have a busy year.  And the weekends when we are not so busy we will continue to explore Limerick and the beauty of the surrounding counties. 

There are many forests, parks and lakes within driving distances. We are spoilt for choice and despite the bad reputation Ireland has for rain, the past few Sundays have been dry and sunny, albeit cold. The kids love the outdoors.

It was with the greatest intentions we rented a house out in the country when we first came back home last year.  I had romantic images of pounding the country roads with the double stroller as soon as the weather allowed me. 

Unfortunately country roads in Ireland are not what they used to be years ago. The roads are narrow – well, they were always narrow -- but the traffic on them now makes a stroll with the kids the equivalent of a death wish. 

I do it myself -- I speed around the corners because I’ve become so familiar with the roads -- so unfortunately my notion of country walks with the kids is just that, a notion. That’s why when weekends roll around we like to get out as much as possible.

There are two fantastic playgrounds within 10 minutes of the house and a little further out we have Lough Gur, Curraghchase Forest Park and Cratloe woods. 

It’s only Monday as I write this so we have a few more days until the weekend rolls around again, but I already look forward to the idea of it. In the meantime, New York and everyone beyond, enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. No doubt we will hear all about the second annual McLean Avenue parade and festival in the coming weeks. 

It was a fantastic day last year. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.

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