Tag Archives: family

Notes on leaving home


I didn’t really think I had much of an accent before I left Dublin.

Of course, when you grow up in the Dublin bubble, of course it wouldn’t be noted much.  In fact usually it’s my lack of a distinctive accent that is remarked upon back home as it is now.  I have a voice that seems to shift depending on the direction of the wind and the regional accent featured on whatever TV show I last watched.  But suddenly when asked where I’m from, I reply ‘Ireland’ and people go ‘oh of course, yeah!’  Three drunk guys hardly able to stand who wandered onto my corridor picked it up from my irate yelling at 3AM and started doing mangled impressions of Dara O’Briain.

Leaving home is really weird.

My final week in Dublin was strange.  Packing up things for the first time was strange.  Sifting through clothes and finding I could actually fit all my outfits into one case was quite satisfying.  After a summer spent mostly alone whilst my friends got stuck into intern ships and J1s,  my final week was a flurry of fond meetings and cheery goodbyes.  I think it’s because it’s nice to say goodbye to someone who actually wants to go and have an adventure for a bit, unlike the goodbyes we’re all getting used to.  Plus, I am very lucky that I’m only going away for a little while.  Just to test the waters.  Other people aren’t so lucky and have to leap blindly into new lives without any set date to return and pick up all the threads they left loose in Dublin.  I was really lucky.  I could leave all my threads uncaught and they’ll still be waiting when I get back.

So far (A week in) assimilation has been swift and painless, probably because lectures have STILL yet to start so I’m been officially mucking around doing nothing for six months.  I sank instantly into my new bed and slept like a baby in a huge room meant for two people that I inhabit on my own.  It even has a sweet view of the town and the sea.  I don’t think anyone has ever landed smoother in a place than I have here.


Laundry, far from being a chore was an opportunity to finally learn how to play poker.  The only moment of tearfulness was the very last moments I had before my parents got in the car and drove off last Saturday morning (and we all had the good sense to cut it off before we all blubbed in the Car park of Lidl.  It was more dignified that way)  On the first night I became paranoid and convinced one of my corridor-mates had stolen my freshly bought milk.  A day of crazed labelling and criminal profiling eventually led to the discovery that the entire fridge had been replaced in the night, with my milk becoming one of the old fridge’s casualties. I’m not 100% convinced that it’s not all just a very elaborate plot to steal my milk. Either way, this university owes me 45p.

The new town is very friendly, busy and exactly the sort of place I’d like to get lost in.  Students here don’t go home religiously every weekend and there’s things to do on Fridays.   I can walk from the top of the town to my room in 15 minutes flat. There is an incredibly satisfying to climb hill to my building.  It goes vertical at some portions.  I’m beginning to form the calf muscles of a mountain goat.  Seeing Freshers lose their minds and get absolutely shitfaced on freedom is funny until I remember I’m just like them on my own in a strange town for the first time.  The only difference is I’m 21 and really can’t drink more than half a glass of wine without keeling over.

My first pang of homesickness came when I skyped home, and saw my family all wandering around behind my mother on the camera. Making dinner, asking for things to be washed, arguing over the Playstation.  I ached for home for a second, until my brother came into the room, pulled down his pants and mooned me.  I quickly remembered why I left in the first place and reaffirmed my determination to not waste any time feeling angst for home.  It’s still there waiting for me to get back to, so for now I need to enjoy my sea view and eating bagels for every single meal.

I’m living in a Welsh speaking hall which is a baffling experience to tell the truth.  Most spectacular was the mix up yesterday when I sauntered into my safety induction talk 10 minutes late to find I was sitting in the Welsh language session.  Welsh speakers don’t fuck around, man- Irish speakers will alternate between Irish and English every few sentences, but here it’s about ten minutes of welsh with a quick sentence or two summation at the end for the non-speakers.  There’s a sign in the bathroom that I’m pretty sure tells you how to work the shower head, but which is solely in Welsh.  Everyone who I say ‘I live in Pantycelyn’ to chuckles and wonders why they stuck all the Erasmus people in there.  I shrug and just remain thankful that I wake up every day halfway up the hill and don’t have to climb the whole bloody thing.

I discovered that our generation on the whole loves getting postcards.  They’re a lot of fun to write, and after the format was rammed into me during leaving cert Irish and French I’m rather good at them.  Stamps are 88p to post to Ireland, so anyone who gets one ought to appreciate TEH FUCK out of it.  They might as well have been written in my own blood.  So far so smooth for my Welsh adventure.  We’ll see how it goes when the work actually kicks in.


Niamh ‘Don’t you dare quote Mock the week at me, I’m cross with you’ Keoghan


The alpha males I share a house with


I went into town today, to finally buy my first pair of doc martens.  I was going to buy cherry red ones, but in the end I wimped out and went for black.  The red is just… too much.  You have to be very confident and badass to pull off boots that are going to clash with basically everything, but not clash so much that it looks obvious.  There is an art to the cherry red docs.  I went with black.  After treating myself to lunch, I headed home and rang ahead to let them know I was nigh.  ‘Oh yes, I’m just up in Donaghmede.’ says mum. ‘Your dad’s setting up his new telly so steer clear of the sitting room.  Da can get awfully cranky when he’s setting up new toys.

Long has it been the same dance- The new toy will be brought home- a long lineage of televisions, VCR players, DVD players, radios, computers and stereos.  Each time my dad stares bewildered at the landscape of increasingly complex and digital gadgets.  He is a mechanical man at heart.  His diagnosis for our slow dial up internet connection was that all the emails were getting ‘stuck in the wires’.  So increasingly, he has to take time and care in setting things up.  I like taking time and care too, but usually it is a bit frustrating to watch him because hey, I’m a child of the future.  I grew up on computers and the internet.  I carry a small computer around in my pocket, when you think about it.  What I’m saying is, I speak the language.  Maybe not very well, but I can get by, order a coffee and buy a train ticket.  By contrast, my dad can’t even say ‘thank you.’ My brothers are the same, and in their eagerness to get the toy up and running, they tend to rush dad a bit.  Prod him.  My dad is a cranky man.  he doesn’t like being prodded.

So usually when the new toy arrives that begins hours and hours of snapping, snarling, barking and alpha male posturing as the three men in my house each attempt to out-tech the other- My brothers squabble and try to outdo one another and both gang up on dad.  It’s a nightmare.  It all gets a bit tense.

I had been expecting roaring when I got home from town so I popped into him to make sure nobody was dead.  Dad was alone, halfway through the set up on this spanking new telly.  He had just clicked through to the wifi set up. ‘Ah jaysus what’s this?’ ‘Oh that’s the wifi code, dad.’ I say reasonably.’Let me get my laptop and I’ll fetch the code.  For the next twenty minutes, my dad and I cordially set up the new telly between us, passing remote controls between us, clicking back and forth until all the settings were correct.  Not a voice was raised, not a mistake was made.  It was all very nice and gentle.  Before long the match was on and dad was happy.

My brother came down from his room just as setup was finished, and within ten seconds of being in the room the barking had begun.  Two and half hours later, the sound system is still not working and both the men are hoarse.  They won’t even pass the remote control to one another without a screaming match.

So in conclusion- let me help with set up more often.


Niamh ‘I am basically the Pocahontas of Raheny’ Keoghan