Tuesday, September 24, 2013

School's cool!

Uniforms! Halleluiah!
Well, we've been back in Ireland for over 6 weeks now after living in France for 11 years. How are you settling in, people keep asking us and what do you miss about France?
We're settling in as if we never left the place, except for now, we have an appreciation for Ireland that we never would have had before, warts and all, we are loving all that this fair isle has to offer.
While I am very aware that we are in the honeymoon period and everything is still new and shiny (yet all so familiar and comfortable ... like finding an old pair of comfy faded jeans at the back of your wardrobe that still fit after 11 years), It feels real and it feels like home.
The welcome we have received in the town we have chosen has been extraordinary and the schools are second to none. Our main concern moving here was that the children would fit in ok in their new schools considering all their education had been in French up to this point. Aged 6 and 8, we felt the French education system was too rigid and strict with no room for personal development, art or expressing oneself.
The amount of stuff on in their new schools here would make you dizzy ; there is an orchestra, orienteering, surfing, kayaking, drama, swimming, chess, dancing, singing, gardening, every kind of a sport you can imagine as well as gentlemanly awards and deportment classes.
The mission statement of the school states, among other things that :
"Every pupil is encouraged to achieve his full potential – socially, personally and intellectually – in a happy, secure learning environment.
The discipline in our school encourages and fosters respect and self-esteem among the pupils.
We endeavour to develop supportive and open communication among pupils, teachers, parents, Board of Management and the community." 
Music to our ears - the children seem to be extremely happy and skip into school every day. Long may it continue.......10/10 for the schools in Ireland so far...W

Friday, September 20, 2013

I'm Sorry, Irish style

Well, we're back in Ireland 6 weeks now and are love love lovin' it. This is partly helped by the fact that the weather has been glorious and also that we have probably picked the friendliest, liveliest and coolest town in Ireland, ie Clonakilty.
More anon, once I get a chance...
One little thing I had never really noticed before is that Irish people say sorry all the time. We are constantly apologising, like the Japanese bowing to everyone they meet , we say sorry at every encounter. The barman will say sorry when they run out of the guinness, people will assume responsibility for the weather and apologise for it, sorry for your troubles, sorry for having loads of groceries at the cashier in front of you, sorry for walking faster than you and passing you on the street, sorry for eating my bag of taytos too loudly, sorry sorry sorry. What are we all so sorry about? And if we're not saying sorry, we're saying thanks. Thanks a million, thanks thanks thanks.
No, Thank You!
Love it!

Ardal O'Hanlon (AKA Dougle) talks about Irish people saying sorry :

Monday, September 09, 2013

Get Real West Cork. I'm lovin' it

Our new local - Clonakilty

This is Ireland  

De Barras, famous music pub in Clonakilty

Our fave beach so far - Simon's Cove, view from smugglers cave

Welcome Home pressie. Wild Atlantic salmon

Present from the neighbours

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The pull of Ireland

Guest post :
Brigitte from Brittany has this to say about our decision to move back to Ireland .....
I'm half-Irish/half-French and we moved to France in June 1996 with our three children for a new life in Brittany (where I was born). It was really "taking a blind leap" in those days, and even more difficult without internet to help you in those days.

Just like you, we had sold our house in Co Dublin and there was no going back. Even though I myself am half-French, it was a very difficult time settling in France, even though I had the advantage of having lived there up to the age of 17.  But still, the bureaucracy drove us crazy ("Vous avez un dossier"?). Dossier dossier, the favourite word of the French, right? You bring your car to the garage : "dossier". You go to buy a pair of glasses : "dossier". I'm sure you'll agree with me.

But there's always the pull of Ireland. There's no place like Ireland.  Landing at Dublin airport, or seeing the coast approach if you're on the ferry, how can one describe those emotions?! Ireland is not only a country, it's a person, that's the way I feel. I'd never feel that for France, even though my father was French and I was born there. 

So I totally understand your decision to move back to Ireland and well done on this hard decision which was not easy to take, I'm sure. You will appreciate Ireland all the more now, after your life in France. You will probably regret social security, and the wine  at 2.49€ (!), and the sun, but that's all, I'd say.  Your children will be happier in the Irish school system, which I now realise is not as stressful as the French system. Am I glad that my youngest has finished school, having just got her Bac, and that we don't have any more school-going children! The ongoing stress of the school marks, of the tests, the huge emphasis on maths, the long school days, the lack of personal development skills such as drama, sports, in schools, all that was wearying and I only realised that after moving to France.  Although I've just mentioned the negative aspects of the education system, it has to be said that we were able to put our children in very good schools for next to nothing, compared to the horrendous prices in Dublin, and they have been able to have good university education for also next to nothing!

Having said all that, we don't regret having moved to France (free education even up to third level, good health care), although we miss our family and friends in Ireland and going back on a visit is a tonic and the best medicine!

Having only now discovered your blog, I will read the other posts in it and wish you all the best in your move back. In your case, both of you are Irish, so I understand the pull back to Ireland. Your children are just at the right age for that decision. Our own children in 1996 when we moved to France were 7, 5 and 1, and we knew then, it was "now or never".  

All the very best, I hope you continue your blog, and also "bonne rentrée" in Ireland in September for your children!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Coming Home Song

Some of you may be old enough to remember this classic ESB ad that was released at Christmas time in 1988.
Kind of sums up my feelings at the moment.
I've come home. And it feels good.

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