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Dry in the sun

I thought it was going to be easy bringing a group of non drinking returnees on a holiday to Ireland. I mean, how difficult could it be? I was thinking that this was going to be a doddle and we would get to have a relaxing time by the sea-side without a care in the… Read More

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Tipperary Far Away

Aisling began with a conversation between friends working with long-term Irish emigrants. We recognised that there was a hidden army of Irish people who had lost contact with home and were suffering loneliness, isolation and trauma as a result. Our big idea was to bring a group home to Ireland for a holiday. The very… Read More

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Rising in the East

This year we headed for Aughrim in the south of Wicklow and scene of several stages in the Rising of 1798. On the bridge leading into the small town is a plaque dedicated to Anne Devlin, cousin of Michael Dwyer and supporter of Kevin Barry. She suffered the most horrible torture as the British forces… Read More

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Heading Back to the Shore

Before this trip I got a call from Tony who used to live in Arlington House. He wanted to see me because he was unhappy in the hostel he was living in now: he was being bullied and was feeling very unsettled. I visited him in his little room where he sat sadly on his… Read More

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Doolin Days

I have known Sean for over 12 years. When I first arrived at Arlington House he was one of the Irish residents who kept a low profile in the house but nevertheless had the respect of the other Irish men. He liked a drink but kept it in moderation. Like the other men, he could… Read More

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Contacting the Living

Henry had visited his cousin in the deep rural splendour of Leitrim last year (see Sligo Champions) when we took an excursion there from Sligo. And he had been planning a return this May while Aisling was travelling to Killybegs in Donegal. This was to be another of our regular stays in Cloghey Cottages, Fintra,… Read More

Whiskey You’re the Devil

Anne Saunders runs the Lakeshore holiday village in Blessington. Last year when we were staying there she showed us the new development which was still being built along the edge of the lake. She was full of enthusiasm for the project which would include restaurants and water sports and other leisure facilities. She told us… Read More

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The East and the West

The news wasn’t good. In fact, it got worse each day. The ship’s officers had barricaded themselves in the engine room now and Maureen and Liz in the Liverpool office, who had booked our sailing tickets and accommodation, couldn’t tell us when the dispute would be over. Negotiations were going on and the union was… Read More

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Sligo Champions

Charlie, who works with the Aisling Project, said to me one day that she had just assessed a new referral that was the spitting image of Fred Astaire, right down to his shiny shoes. This was Sean, who arrived at the Irish Centre on our day of departure for our latest trip to Sligo looking… Read More

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The Curse of the Drinking Classes

I didn’t even know Mick was Irish. I thought he was a cockney git always causing trouble at reception, a bit like Alf Garnett’s more bigoted brother, but without the charm. When Sally said she wanted to bring him to Donegal with us, I mustn’t have seemed best pleased, but she explained to me that… Read More