A snippet of my early morning waking nightmare
That economics homework quiz went up.
No, I’m sleeping.
But it went up on the 25th.
I am actually sleeping.
But usually we have a week to do them and (Quietly counts on fingers – not boding well for an economics student) oh my god that’s A WEEK TODAY.
I’M SLEEPING I’M SLEEPING CALM DOWN DO IT LATER.
Maybe I’ll just check. Just so I know.
Laptop out. Laptop on.
Log into economics site.
You have 6 days 17 hours to complete this assignment.
Even the website seems to be telling me ‘girl, get some fucking sleep.’
Niamh ‘Can’t sleep clown will eat me’ Keoghan
When I was 12, I’d never been outside of Ireland. Okay, I’d gone to Holyhead on the Ferry but Wales is hardly that far away, and I was seven. So for all intents and purposes I had never been outside of the republic where I was born and raised. All my childhood holidays were to the Aran Islands, or Cork- and endless cycle of annual holidays to East Cork has left me with a starry eyed joy of the place. Cork was also the only other ‘city’ I’d ever been to outside of Dublin. Dublin is the biggest city in Ireland- there is nowhere else like it. with due respect and affection to Cork, Galway, Waterford and the rest, the other handful of cities in Ireland still have that large town vibe around them. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it did skew my world view somewhat when I was little. there was Dublin and it was the centre of the universe. I grew up in boom time when Dublin was growing and sparkling and bustling. I had never seen a bigger place and so assumed Dublin was the equal of London and Paris and New York.
So when I was 12 and went on a school trip to London, it fucked my head up rather badly.
[Soundtrack explanation- Whenever I hear ‘Going underground’ it brings me back to being 12. The nervous, jangling chords, the energy of being young and frightened and excited. I only heard it when I was about 16, but for some reason it always bring me back to 2004/2005.]
Firstly there was actually getting to London. My first ever time on an airplane was wedged between my history teacher and my business teacher (Who happened to be married to one another) on an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Heathrow. I’d never been inside a plane before. It was smaller than the picture in my head- having only seen films with massive three aisle jumbo jets, the little 737 we flew in was… quaint. This was my first hint that I was coming from a small place. We flew out at about 8 in the morning- I still dream about the force of the acceleration pushing me back into my seat and seeing the grass and landmarks whip past as we took off. I was thrilled and frightened- Goodbye home, goodbye for three whole days! I’d never been anywhere without my family before. ‘So what do you think?’ My teacher asked when we’d taken off.
‘Can we do that again?!’ I said gleefully.
I passed through London in a sugar buzzed, blissed out dream state for three days, getting ferried around with 30 other First years. The thing that struck me then was the sheer size of the place. Dublin has a greater population- taking in suburbs and the rapidly decreasing rural north county- of about 1.5 million. Greater london has 14 million. The conveyor belts that whizz you through Heathrow and the tube stations fascinated me. I never realised that cities have their own personality. Galway is beautiful and kind of sexy, Waterford is playful and artsy, Cork is rustic and warm, and Dublin is made of a million contradictions- it’s Irish but has the strongest colonial heritage in it’s architecture. What made London so dream like to me was that it felt as if I’d been here before. Not only in watching it on the telly, but also in the streets of Dublin. My home city was a miniature of London, the second city of an empire that I was only just now visiting. Everything felt familiar, but scaled up. Instead of green post boxes and buses there was bright, pillar box red. The tube was a winding labyrinth that led everywhere- I still have my map somewhere, a snapshot of the network in 2005 before the extension to Heathrow terminal 5 was finished.
Everywhere was covered in ‘back the bid’ posters- This was March 2005, when the push was on to promote London as the host of the 2012 games. I remember thinking then how far away 2012 was. ‘I’ll be twenty then.’ I explained in a low voice to my History teacher (A woman of unending understanding who taught me many useful lessons in being a badass). ‘Like… I’ll be in college. I’ll be ANCIENT.’ I loved the whoosh sound the underground trains made when they came into the stations, I loved the curving tunnels. I loved the thrill of wires running along the tunnels and the grimy air. It was a world I’d never seen before. This was a huge, sprawling, breathing city. It wasn’t as self consciously booming as Dublin was at that time. London simply stood there, staring me down and went ‘Well?’ It was my first tentative step into a larger world. It made my own dear little Dublin so much smaller and well loved. London was a good place to go- at 12 when you’re growing and changing and discovering parts of your personality the way you used to discover imaginary lands. I was exploding and expanding the way Dublin was- and here was London not giving an absolute shit about it. It was humbling.
A few months later, I’d come down the stairs in my grandmothers while staying with her for my Easter holidays and see Sky News reporting the 7/7 bombings. It hit me so much harder and more immediately than 9/11 had- I was older, and had been on those trains even for only a few days. It brought the real, big world smashing back into my sitting room. I’d left London after three days and slid back into the routine of double Irish, PE, being morose and wishing I could be older, taller, cooler and all around better. I wanted to be as self assured and cool as London was, but I was still grubby and self consciously growing. Watching London 2012 arrive and depart brought me right back to that seat in Notting Hill tube station with my innocent smile and my nervous voice, waiting for the train to come in.
I haven’t been back to London in 7 years, but it looms very large in my mind.
Niamh ‘London Calling’ Keoghan
Hi, body, listen. It’s mind here. I know we’ve been going through some downsizing lately- you’re six pounds lighter all over, productivity and overall efficiency is way up- we’re just thrilled. However, you seem to be… Resisting our ah, new sleep policy, of getting at least 7 hours a night. I know these are trying times, and you’re worried about the down sizing measures- please rest assured, there will always be a place for you in this organisation, body. Your vital masturbatory sector is something we here at mind are very keen to utilise to its full capabilities. I would however like to remind you that our own arousal centre is the provider of materials that help along this process, along with the secretions of various hormones that allows you to function to full power. As you can see body, our relationship is wholly mutually beneficial.
Which is why I really need your support, from all over- thighs, upper arms, tummy- we all need to pull together for this program. I must admit while mind has been working hard and indeed, so have you, Ive been sensing some resistance from you. I understand it’s difficult to get used to a new streamlined model, but we all have to cope with this change- the old model Niamh was simply too clunky, body and mind- don’t think we haven’t had some serious changes going on up here, either. In the space of less than 2 years Ive had to contend with five changes of heart on EU membership, three abysmal romantic entanglements, an entire feminist software upgrade not to mention a 180 turn as regards abortion- Its been tough all around.
But body, this period trouble is going to have to stop. We understand you’re not happy with the downsizing, but please look to the benefits- these severe aches and back cramps are simply unhelpful industrial action, and Mind will not stand for your unbalancing of our careful hormonelevels.
Have you any questions, we can have a proper meeting some time into next week- gym perhaps? Maybe the pool. Body, please remember you are a valued member of our team here at Niamh, and nothing would please me more than to see you happy with our restructuring.
Niamh third notch in on my belt Keoghan
In my fan fix Lady Sybil teams up with Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, Lady Gregory Countess Markevich and Maude Gonne and they form a roller derby team and Yeats writes a rad poem about them and she gets the vote and Tom drives a flying car over Dublin bay and Sybz pronounces it ‘Dahblin’ and Ethel gets her baby back and then all the Ladies of Irish republicanism team up to break Bates out of prison with Eamon DeValera and Anna is like a trained ninja and Edith drives the getaway car and Cora out- sasses all of them with her sassy American ways and then Sybil is made the FIRST LADY PRESIDENT OF IRELAND and nobody ever dies ever and they all live happily ever after the end
Niamh I just need a minute to ease my sobbing Keoghan
This article was originally published shortly after the London 2012 games on the Student Standard. I’m putting it up here and now because I am so swamped in economics and slacking off from economics by watching game of thrones that I can’t think of anything to write.
The first I heard of the Olympics going to London was actually the first time I was ever there: I was on my first ever school trip outside of Ireland back in 2005. Back in the day tubes, buses and park benches were covered in a simple slogan ‘BACK THE BID’. All the promotion I saw around London is probably my strongest memory of the city. From that cold March day in 2005 before the bid was even confirmed to actually witnessing these long awaited games flit by in two weeks, it really left an impression on me, the most unfit and un-sporty of all people. Even the most cynical of us seemed at least partially interested in what’s probably going to be the closest Olympiad to Ireland in the foreseeable future.
The pre-talk was mixed certainly. From the hideous “Lisa Simpson blowjob” logo to the rampant and alarming fervour with which phrases like ‘Summer games’ and ‘London 2012’ were copyrighted and defended was largely criticised. Indeed in the very opening days of the games the masses of empty seats reserved for corporate ticket holders sparked anger. Truly the real triumph of the London games has come from a marriage of a well-funded public sector backed by investment and propped up at the bottom by the staggeringly massive efforts of 70,000 volunteers.
The BBC coverage of these games was immense, every single event was covered. Waking up each day to trampoline gymnastics, diving, cycling, swimming, judo – these were just the ones I managed to catch as they zoomed past at a tireless pace. It became a topic of conversation in the house: ‘Did you see your one who did well in the sailing interviewed?’ ‘Ah no I was watching it on BBC, they had their fellas on.’ RTÉ valiantly covered every Irish moment of the games, whether cringe worthy flops in track and field or the domination Ireland showed in the boxing ring and on the sea at Weymouth. Our clueless host provided unintentional comedy one day by repeating referring to a medallist from the Czech Republic as ‘the Czechoslovakian girl’ repeatedly and Kenneth Egan’s wardrobe watch proved as entertaining as anything else.
It was worth watching most of all for the surprises, such as the stunning win by Chad Le Clos of South Africa over the swimmer they said would sweep the medals, Michael Phelps. Watching the gymnastics and feeling infinitely inadequate listening to the commentary say how the girl who just back flipped five times across the floor and vaulted six feet into the air will probably score low due to being a bit crap. ‘Bolting’ at people when they enter the room became my standard mode of greeting, as well as arguing over who was using drugs or not. ‘Oh she’s well on the roids, look at her, COME ON.’
The Olympics managed to get even the biggest of cynics and sport phobic hooked – I will never forget where I was when I watched Katie Taylor in her first Olympic bout against Natasha Jonas. I was in the bar of my gym, along with my mother who decided along with me to finally bite the bullet and get fit again. Along one side of the bar is a glass window providing a viewing area to the swimming pool below, where gathered on the poolside an anxious gaggle of dads in swimming trunks craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the fight on the telly, while people mimed the scores down to them by holding up their fingers.
This has not only been an immediate games for Ireland for its proximity to us but for the success the team has had, in a performance equalling our medal haul of 1956: a stunning gold from Katie that I need not elaborate on (everyone else is), three bronze (Cian O’Connor clinches his redemption after the bitter disappointment of his 2004 gold being stripped) and a silver. Agonising near misses at bronze and gold for Rob Heffernan and Ananlise Murphy must also be noted along with a fabulous showing from Natalya Coyle finishing ninth in the Women’s modern pentathlon and the spirit of Joanne Cuhudy pulling us up from 8th to 5th in the women’s relay.
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt’s antics were golden, from his classic BOLT pose, to his nonchalant appearance as he breaks world records he’s a riot. Highlights include doing push ups after breaking the world record for Men’s 100m relay and making the life of one young volunteer by giving him a fist bump before he swaggered off to race. Bolt is a classy, classy man.
It’s been the one fortnight in four years that most sports see the light of day beyond Eurosport, and long may it be remembered. The endless drudge of English professional football, golf, occasional Rugby and some GAA eventually desensitizes a person to how thrilling sport can be. Flicking on the TV for the last two weeks has been a lucky dip- what country is kicking ass at what excellent thing next?
London 2012 will hopefully prove the gate way drug for those previously uninterested to take more interest in sport. While before perhaps looking inanely at the Sunday footie and going ‘this is the same every damn week’ hopefully more people will stand up and go ‘Hey… I think Imma go run a marathon/Jump on a trampoline/…dive into a body of water in tiny speedos from a great height.
London 2012 was described on RTÉ as the Italia ’90 of this generation, and this writer is inclined to think that for once RTÉ got something right.
Niamh ‘Still remembers Atlanta ’96’ Keoghan
This article was originally published by The Student Standard as part of their ‘My Maynooth’ featuring different accounts of people’s experiences studying at NUIM. As someone who spends a good fifth of her life on public transport these days, it was only fitting that I take to the soapbox to bitch about it. I am resident strident feminist and sassy critic with the standard and can be found here
I dream of trains every single night now.
That sounds very pretentious and ponderous, but it’s not as bad as you think: I actually mean that literally. There’s nothing symbolic about the trains in my dreams, or the stations. They’re usually not even the main subject of the dream – they’re just there as background and setting. My entire dreamscape takes place on an endless network of tracks and gently swaying carriages.
Now that may sound somewhat beautiful and poetic but trust me, it’s not. Last night I dreamed I was taking a train from Dublin to New York. So at Connolly Station there were Subway trains covered in NFL ads waiting at platform 7 and my mum was there along with Caitlin Moran and we had an HOUR TO SAVE THE PRESIDENT. My dreams are possibly even more stupid now because my subconscious feels the need to shoe horn in trains somewhere. ”She’s having an intense erotic sex dream about her friend that will confuse her in the morning? QUICK THROW A TRAIN STATION IN THE BACK!”
I am a commuter, which is an experience of college not often looked at. Oh sure, everyone talks about the romance of living alone for the first time, drinking until 6AM in your front room and then rolling into a 9AM lecture. If you want to ‘do the student thing’ as a commuter you have to earn it. Having a commute that involves catching two trains was always going to cause me a bit of a headache. After a year of doing this, I have the following things figured out:
- Maynooth has one train at a quarter to the hour during the day. So unless you get that train, you are fucked and will be getting the bus. ENJOY YOUR LATENESS FOOL.
- Don’t depend on friends on your commute. Every single one of my commuting buddies from first year has now moved to Maynooth and I am alone. So don’t make friends on the train. Look shifty and read Game of Thrones.
- Leading on from point 2, books are magical time vacuums in which everything moves faster. Time moves even faster for books that you’re not reading for coursework, so don’t tell yourself you’ll “do your readings for my modules”. You won’t. You’ll sit there and read A Clash Of Kings like all the other commuters. Behave.
- It isn’t that bad.
As for how it’s effected my experience of Maynooth, I think it’s given me good priorities. I spend very little of my time dicking around with different societies: I have had to choose exactly one thing to enjoy and go to and the rest of the time try to be home before 9 every night. It’s made my social life lean and purposeful, but in many ways that’s not exactly a bad thing. Having severely limited weekday dicking around time means that my time with friends is exactly the right amount of time to enjoy ourselves without lapsing into silence. Having to ask a person can they sleep on their floor is also a good way to bond – you know you have made good choices in friends when they don’t even wait for you to ask and just say “Yeah sleep on my sofa! Eat my food!”
My first experience at crash, I wore a nightie and I still have no idea if that is proper crash etiquette or not. Even if it is not proper etiquette I will continue to wear a nightie when I sleep on a friend’s sofa because sleeping in one’s clothes is horrific. I do have an uncle in Celbridge with a spare room where on a Tuesday evening I can go to, and sit with them watching Vincent Browne chanting “Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie” in the manner of the Jerry Springer audience. I am able to sleep in their impossibly comfy back bedroom with a hot cup of tea and a scalding hot radiator, in my Winnie the Pooh nightie and my auntie will not judge me. I’ll get a call at 8AM to have breakfast and then we’ll leave at TWENTY TO NINE to get me up to Maynooth for my early lecture. TWENTY TO NINE. That’s blasphemy. During the winter this was a godsend.
There are disadvantages. Nobody tells you the difficulty involved in finding a place to get laid when you and your prospective partner both live at home and both those family homes are in different counties, cities, planets etc. Maybe this is just me but I do not get to enjoy the ‘sexy bits’ of college. You do eventually reach a point where the faint smell of piss on a commuter train coming from the toilet because someone left the door open makes you want to cry. There is no good place to have a nap anywhere on either campus – the best place to try is the Common Room in a booth; lie down and put a coat over yourself. Even this fails a lot because then your friends start prodding you and checking for life signs. I would like to petition the Students’ Union, not for better gigs or a posh gym: please just get a nap room, like in a crèche. That would actually solve all my problems.
Essentially, commuting take a small but manageable hack out of my college experience. I’m pretty lucky, in that I can get any bus or train I like home at any time of the day or night so it’s very flexible. I don’t have to ask for crash every time I stay past six o’clock and sometimes my Mammy even drives out to pick me up – it’s only 40 minutes on a straight road. And now that the Sligo train has free WIFI it’s basically no time at all.
The Student Standard is NUI Maynooth’s new independent news source and can be found here: StudentStandard.ie
Niamh ‘what a scoop!’ Keoghan
I still remember the first time somebody painted my nails- There I was, 17 and the awkward, self deprecating, over compensating overweight slab of raw teenage girl you ever saw. I was 17 and one of my ‘cool friends’- i.e. one who owned doc martens, hung around the bank and could dance- painted my nails black.
It was a revelation.
It was so perfect- my hands became the hands of a rockstar. With sleek black nails, so perfectly painted. I could do anything. It didn’t matter I was fat and silly and talked too much. There was something about it that felt and looked so utterly good. This is my trademark, I decided there and then. This is my little dash of cool. This is my statement of womanhood and awakening. It was the feeling Eddie Izzard had when he first put on mascara, I reckon. My friend had revealed a truth about me- that my nails were meant to be black. It was something nature had just left for me to discover. For three weeks, I lived in a haze of happiness. I was at school and my nails were a short, sharp shock of defiance- the single rebellious act I took in six years was flaunting painted nails. After a month the paint was chipped and nearly gone- each bath time a little more went. My mother glared reproachfully at it. Any colour but Black, Niamh. Black is so…. awful! She’d say. But I wanted to be like a new romantic. IT WAS MY SOUL, MOTHER.