What a weekend!

Clearly the wordpress app on my phone doesn’t work. I attempted to write a quick post while I was away last weekend but it didn’t work. I can’t remember exactly what that post was supposed to say, so I’ll just write about the great weekend we had instead.

My family went to Donegal town (which is only about 90 minutes from where we live) to stay for the weekend. Friday was my nephew’s first birthday, and it turned out we had a lot to celebrate. I’d been very busy with work all week, but made sure to take Sibyl for a long walk and a couple of runs in the good weather. She went to a new groomer on Thursday, and she came back feeling and smelling lovely. The groomer insisted on doing the job free, which was really nice of her.
We had a relaxing weekend walking, eating and playing lots of board games because there weren’t many channels on the television which was great. I wish we had weekends like this more often. One of my nephews missed a lot of the weekend because he was playing football in a friendship cup, and he played really well.

The main reason why we stayed only 90 minutes from our home for the weekend was that we were all attending an award ceremony last Saturday evening. I was nominated in February for a ten outstanding young person (TOYP) award from Junior Chamber International (JCI) which is ultimately a world-wide event. I attended the awards ceremony in Donegal at the end of March, and it was a fantastic night. Everyone was so nice, and all the speakers were so humble. Three weeks ago I got an email to tell me that I was chosen as one of the three award winners from Donegal, and one of ten overall winners to be awarded at the ceremony organised by JCI Ireland in Harvey’s point. The hotel is located three minutes drive from the house I rented for my family, and we cecided to make the most of the opportunity.

After a nice walk and lunch, I met the other JCI members at the hotel where we drove to a mountain called Sleeve League for a bit of a climb. Only three of the winners were able to attend. I was nervous because I didn’t really know anybody, but everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and helped Sibyl and myself to climb part of the mountain, before it rained and we were all absolutely soaked! We came back to the hotel like a bus load of drowned rats. We had an hour and a half to get ready, and my sister was her usual brilliant self at helping with this!

The award ceremony was so enjoyable, with inspiring speeches, amazing food, great company and lots and lots of fun. It was hosted by John Loughton, who was perfect for the job. He’s also very inspiring, and definitely worth listening to if you have a chance to hear his Tedx talk online. Each awardee had a different reason to be nominated, whether it was for business, humanitarian work, or personal accomplishment like mine was. They were all very inspiring,, and whoever is chosen to represent Ireland in Amsterdam will be a worthy choice.

Sibyl behaved like an absolute superstar during the whole event. and so many people were commenting on how good she was. Even I was surprised! Do you ever have one of those times when your guide dog just does it’s job to perfection? They don’t happen often here, but that was one of those days. Even after climbing part of a hill, she was still determined to make me proud!

I was genuinely so surprised to be nominated for an award like this, never mind win an Ireland one. Two friends who I don’t see very often took the time to nominate me, which I really appreciate, even though awards like this terrify me and I was so nervous all week. I just do what I do, and I don’t think it’s anything special or unique. I feel like I got an award for doing nothing! Just being myself. And that’s not hard. But it was really such a special day that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Here’s my unplanned and very nervous speech from Saturday, which was filmed by JCI. The other speeches are on their website too.


awards, music and the criminal court!

I had a great 24 hours in Dublin. I went down for the choice music prize awards that I won tickets for in January. I’d surprisingly never been to Vicar Street before, even though almost every band I love has performed there. Its easy to see why it is an award-winning venue, and Christy Moore and the frames’ second home! The sound was absolutely perfect, apart from the talkers, which wasn’t the venues fault. I’ve written so much about the awards online already, so i’ll keep it short. Alison Curtis was a great MC, it was well run and didn’t drag on forever, and we were entertained by videos like
before the gig, as well as performers talking about their albums before they performed live. The eight bands/artists were all very good (two couldn’t play.) The gig should be online on today fm next week if your interested in hearing it. Some of the performances were quite entertaining, and Glen and co played with Javier Mas, Leonard Cohen’s guitarist during their second song.

Galway songwriter Adrian Crowley won the award for his album ‘season of the sparks’ and he was genuinely very greatful. He’s someone I didn’t know much about, but during his performance I knew I liked him and have heard the album since and its very mellow but very good. The award could have gone to any of the ten acts really. See Adrian getting his award from Jim Carroll

I was woken up a lot by the noisy people in our hostel, but it was grand and in a handy place near Temple Bar. Next day I had time to walk around and relax in Dublin, which is something I don’t usually get to do. We went to Tower records where I bought Adrian Crowley’s album and then to road records, which i’ve wanted to go to for years. Great shop and lovely friendly staff, who probably thought my strategy for buying albums when I couldn’t remember what I wanted was mad!

My friend had to get the bus at 1, and I was travelling home on a later bus with a friend who was going home anyway. She works in the criminal court, so I got a taxi there to meet her. I had to convince the taxi driver that I didn’t do anything wrong! He tried to leave me off at a crossing near the entrance, and when I told him I was blind he was very embarrassed and was very helpful. Going through security is like it is at airports. Its a very strange place to be in. After lunch my friend gave me a quick tour of the courtroom and I got to sit in the judge’s chair. Its all fun until you actually have to be there for real. It was strange sitting outside listening to music while she was working, seeing people coming out crying and thinking how people’s lives can change when they go into this place. Gave me the creeps to be honest, but interesting to see anyway, and it puts things in perspective.

I went to a few places for the first time in Dublin. I still haven’t managed to make it to Wheelans yet, but I will someday.