Slane 2011

I’ve wanted to go to a concert at the legendary
Slane Castle
since REM played there in 95. I was nine years old, so obviously the folks were completely against it. I cried all day.

Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of Slane, and I went to my first gig there. Kings of Leon headlined, and its the first time myself and four of my best friends (and their boyfriends) all went to see the same band together.
The weather was surprisingly dry all day, but we all came prepared for the worst. Wellies and raincoats on, we got Dublin bus to Slane at half past three. They provided a great service, and drove closer to the main gates of the venue than the private busses did. This lessened the walk considerabley, but it still took us over 40 mins to get there. If I haven’t already mentioned, I’m doing the
Flora Women’s Mini Marathon
next Monday, so at least I was able to get a bit of training in!

Slane is a fantastic venue, on a hill overlooking the River Boyne. Even though I couldn’t see it, it just felt like an amazing area. I couldn’t help wishing I was born a couple of decades earlier and was old enough to have witnessed performances from artists like Queen, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen there. We did get to see Thin Lizzie, or the remaining members of the band perform. I’m not a huge fan to be honest, so it would be unfair of me to say they didn’t do much for me.
Elbow were fantastic, but much more suited to a smaller indoor venue, and too mellow to proceed a band like Kings of Leon.

When they did come on just before nine, Kings of Leon rocked for two hours, playing their longest set to date. They don’t stop long in between songs, but when he talked, Caleb was charming and seemed genuinely grateful to be playing such a historical gig. I could listen to his accent all day!! Apparently he’s not bad looking either!! They played lots of songs from their five albums, and thanked the artists who had played before them. Two of my friends put me on their shoulders at different points during the gig. The sound was so much better up there, I wish I was taller!
The performance finished with a fireworks display, during which we began the long walk back to the bus. Luckily getting home was straightforward enough, and we were in warm beds in Dublin before two A.M, unlike a friend who took the bus back home and didn’t get home until half 5.

Kings of Leon were great, but they are the kind of band I’d be happy enough to see only once. I would definitely return to Slane Castle for another gig though. I’m sure it was much better years ago, when Slane was the only big music gig happening in Ireland every year. Now there are just so many outdoor festivals to choose from. The setting and the venue is very unique, and definitely worth going to if you’ve never been.

Keeping up appearances

Even though this has been a very busy month, I’ve lots of things coming up and lots to think about and organise, I rarely feel like writing about any of it.
When I’m like this, rather than not blog at all, I like to write something that will hopefully get people thinking, debating and posting their comments and opinions.

How important is your appearance when you are blind?

People have individual opinions about how they should dress, how much make-up to put on and what is fashonable. Some people put lots of time and effort into dressing up and getting ready each day, while others just aren’t interested. This is true whether you have sight or not, so it isn’t necessarily a visual thing.

Some people who are blind have no interest in colour or style of clothes, because they can’t see, so why would it matter? Why should they put on make-up when they can’t look in the mirror and admire it, or feel that they can’t put it on themselves without making a mess of it. They can’t see themselves, so why bother putting so much effort in when it doesn’t matter what they look like. As long as they are comfortable with what they ware, why does it matter to anybody else? Isn’t your personality more important than what you look like?

Other blind people feel strongly about how they present themselves in public, because image is important whether we like it or not. They want to look well-dressed for work, special ocasions etc, just like sighted people do. They believe that the fact that they are blind shouldn’t mean that they take no interest in how they look and present themselves. This gives an impression that blind people aren’t capable of co-ordinating their style and looking trendy. Blind people often get enough unwanted attention because of mobility aids etc, so why attract more with an unmatching dress sense? These people believe that dressing well and putting time and effort into your appearance makes you feel more confident and happy, therefore having a positive effect on your every day life.

We live in a sighted world, and regularly spend more time in the company of sighted people. Do we sometimes pay attention to our appearance because of peer pressure so we fit in? In an ideal world, people would judge others by getting to know them and their personalities, not by their appearance, but in reality this doesn’t happen. People make instant judgements about others based on their appearance, whether they mean to or not. Your appearance says a lot about the type of person you are, and the sighted world can be cruel.
Is it important to conform to this world to fit in, or can you have your own individual style without it ever being an issue?
If you don’t enjoy spending time buying clothes or make-up, and taking at least an hour to get ready for a night out, is it because you genuinely aren’t interested, or is it because you can’t see, so what’s the point?

Discuss 🙂

Lots of fun in 24 hours!

On Saturday morning, O.J and I left rainy Buncrana and eventually ended up in Carlow for my friend
Nicky Kealy’s
birthday. It was organised by
who did a great job of getting as many of us as possible together, and who
wrote about it
all better than I ever could!

Cathal met me off the bus and brought me to the train station, where we met Keri and Paul and got the train to Carlow. O.J made himself at home very quickly as soon as we got to Nicky’s house, by drinking from Ralph’s water bowl before he even got his harness off, then relieving himself both in and out of the dog run. We didn’t realise the second one had been done until Nicky went to get drinks from the shed and stood on it!
O.J kept lying in Ralph’s bed, and being the gentleman of a dog that Ralph is, he didn’t mind. He’s a very relaxed dog and they got on great.
Darragh Emma and Ike came a while later and we all went for dinner. It was my first time meeting Emma, she was very helpful and we got on well. Ike is a gorgeous dog, and very well behaved, especially since he’s so young. Pity I couldn’t say the same about his owner haha.

We watched
perform in the Eurovision before going to the pub for the party. I also got to hear Nicky singing for the first time, when Darragh put on the new CD he has just recorded. Nicky hid upstairs until it was finished. I have no idea why though, because he is an amazing singer!

We had a great night, and it was nice to meet Nicky’s family and friends. We spent most of the time making fun of each other, and you certainly have to be able to defend and stick up for yourself when your with this group! The funniest parts of the night were:
-When Darragh touched Cathal’s hair thinking that it was Ike
-Listening to Nicky and Peter because they are hilarius
-Walking home with Darragh guiding me and Ike guiding Darragh. Darragh decided to show me how fast he usually walks, and I was running beside him
-Darragh hugging Nicky outside their house and nearly cracking Nicky’s ribs (I really thought he was going to cry!)

The next day was mostly the same sort of messing. Cathal cooked us a lovely very big breakfast, and Nicky and I washed up after (had to put that in there encase yous thought I did nothing!) Three of us got the train back to Dublin around four. I love travelling on trains and rarely get to do it, but they are so much better than buses. Getting out of the train station was interesting, since I had no idea where we were going, the trains were so noisy and I had to completely depend on O.J to make sure he was following everybody else.
I got a taxi to meet my friend Julie and her friend for pizza for a couple of hours. The taxi driver used to work in the prison service, and talking to him was very interesting. The second driver who took me to my bus was very funny, so although the journey to meet the girls was a bit out of my way, it was an interesting one.

Thanks to everyone for a great weekend. Nicky its hard deciding what to get somebody for their fortieth but you’ll have it on Thursday, which is your actual birthday.
Happy birthday, you mad thing 🙂

Blogging against disablism day: independent living

Today, May 1st is “blogging against disablism day”, an annual day for bloggers to write about anything related to disability. As always, it is hosted by
diary of a goldfish
and you can read more about it and find out how to join in
This is my first time to participate, and here’s my post.

Centres for independent living (CIlS) provide personal assistants (PAs) for people with physical and sensory disabilities in Ireland, to help them live as independently as possible. Clients are often referred by family members, social workers and other disability organisations. They complete a detailed application form to determine if they are eligible for a PA, and what tasks they need assistance with. The person with the disability directs their own service, in other words, they decide what they need help with and what they want their PA to do from day to day.

Why exactly would a blind person need a PA? That’s a question I sometimes find myself having to answer and explain to people with and without sight.
When the idea of a personal assistant was suggested to me over four years ago, I wasn’t really interested. I wanted to do things by myself, and felt that having a PA would mean that I was depending on somebody to do things for me. In fact, this is quite the opposite, since having a PA allows me to do things that I would otherwise not be able to do.
I live in a rural area, so public transport is not always readily availible. If I didn’t have the assistance of a PA, I wouldn’t be able to travel to the studio to record my weekly radio show. I mightn’t be able to bring my guide dog to the vet immediately when he needs to go. I would have difficulty teaching my dog new routes that I am unfamiliar with. I wouldn’t be able to do my job as well in work, because I would be confined to the office, where I can only do so much. I mightn’t be able to do a part-time or evening course if I found oneI was interested in, and I wouldn’t be able to explore new opportunities and interests. I know there would be many more opportunities availible if I moved to a city, but I like living in my home town, where I grew up and where people know me. I think its a pity that people feel that they have to move away in order to live independently. If we all moved away from our communities, these communities would never have to make an effort to become more accessible. I know its difficult to find work in small towns, and that’s the only thing that would prevent me from staying in my home town.

I know there are blind people who live completely independently, without the help of an independent living service. It can be done effectively, but this depends on the area in which you live, the facilities availible to you and how motivated you are as an individual. I know people who depend on their family or partners to help them. My family are always willing to help, but I know that I would feel bad if I had to ask them to help with every single thing that my PA does. As a result, I would avoid doing things because they cause other people to have to go out of their way for me. My PA gets paid and this is her job, so I don’t feel bad about asking her to go somewhere with me, as long as she has enough notice.

I am in the lucky position that I have a wide circle of friends to socialise with. My PA is twenty years older than me, so it would not be appropriate if I had to depend on her to accompany me on all my social activities. We get along very well but we just aren’t interested in all the same things! Some people have no choice but to use their personal assistant to bring them to the cinema, to gigs, for dinner etc, and this works well for them. I would personally hate people to socialise with me because it is their job and they are getting paid. I want people to do things with me because they want to, not because they have to.

I know people who are blind, who would be too proud to apply for help from an organisation such as a CIL. In reality, some of these people are not able to do the things they would like to independently. As a result, they miss out on opportunities, and don’t get to do the things they really want to. This means that they are ultimately less independent because their opportunities are limited

If you are ever given the opportunity to apply for a personal assistant, don’t dismiss it as quickly as I did at first. Consider how it might improve your quality of life. If it is organised well and you are in control of your own service, having a personal assistant can be a great enhancement to the life of a person with a disability.