Archive for the 'Limerick' Category

My superpower

This morning there was a guest on the radio talking about jobs for the garden this week. The sun was shining, so when it came to go for a walk during our lunch break, I opted out and grabbed the secateurs instead. I have a difficult task planned for this spring – replacing two rotting wooden boxes at the back of the garden with a proper greenhouse – and I have already booked the greenhouse installation for February.

The biggest achievement of 2020 was creating a Hügelkultur in our urban garden, that we named Mound Juliette (Hügel means mound, and it was a word play on Mount Juliet, a beautiful place near Kilkenny we spent a weekend at a couple of years back). The mound incorporated the leftovers of an old pergola, and a lot of branches and leaves resulted from the spring clean, plus our own compost. During the first lockdown, I tried very hard to buy a shredder, but to no avail. And one day, Google brought up an add about tool hire, and we hired one for 24h from the nearby HSS branch. We arranged everything online, and the shredder got delivered to our door and collected the next day.

There’s a lot growing on our Mound Juliette this January – from purple sprouting broccoli to red kale, parsley, chives and garlic. And they all survived the frost unharmed.

So I went out and cut a bush that will need to go away to make place for the greenhouse, moved a blackcurrant into a big pot, and distributed a few buckets of compost around the garden. The sun was shining, the robins and starlings kept on popping by for food, and suddenly I felt that this was the best medication for me. Pruning is my spring superpower – it gives me a sense of atonement, helps me observe and imagine how each plant will grow and occupy space throughout the season. And it strikes me how much I resemble my father, who was an avid gardener, but always crammed too many plants in the limited space, because he liked them all so much!

And then I turned around and found this daring snowdrop. It must have been out last week, when it snowed and we had a night with -4 C. But nobody had time to see it and admire its bravery! Thank you, little snowdrop. You made my day!

January 13 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

Not such a good start…

Today it snowed. It’s very likely this is the only day of the year we’ll see snow in Limerick, and I had to see it in a photo taken by Ray from my bedroom window. That’s because I am not at home – I am back in hospital.

Continued 8 January 2021…

As I mentioned before, I had a long overdue surgery in November to remove an overactive parathyroid. So I had scheduled an appointment with my GP for blood tests on Monday 4th of January to check on the values post surgery. Routine tests, if we are to ignore the rebellious gallbladder that sent me to A&E before Christmas. On Monday evening I got a phone call that my potassium was out of whack, that it was probably a mistake, and I will have to repeat the test on Tuesday morning. Got the test done and forgot about it, until my GP rang at 7:30pm to tell me to pack and go to hospital, as it would not be safe to spend the night at home. It was a huge shock, and I needed a few moments to get used to the idea. I dreaded the hospital and I already knew I would have to go back to have the gallbladder stent taken out, but I didn’t expect to need another A&E trip. This time I arrived early, around 8:40pm. I waited for triage for more than 2h, and then another hour to get to a ward. I felt no pain, just a slight heart flutter. When I finally got to speak to a nurse and a doctor on the ward, I got transferred to the Critical Care unit, as they were worried about my body’s potential reaction to the electrolytes they were going to use to attempt to bring down my potassium. I had no clue where this new problem could have come from. I got connected to an ECG monitor, put on not one, but two IV drips, one in each arm, and had blood samples taken every 4h. I barely closed an eye – every time I fell asleep, one or another of the monitors in the room started beeping. The unit was really busy, staff coming and going, changing PPE for entering each and every cubicle. In the morning, a doctor came to talk to me saying they managed to lower potassium, but my heart beats were far too frequent and something had to be done about it.

They planned to move me to Acute Cardiac Care when a bed became available, which only happened that evening. I was looked after by an amazing team of nurses and doctors, who explained the procedures to me and did everything they could to put me at ease.

The next day, I was first sent for a thorough TTE upstairs. The team had warned me that they will have to check for possible blood clots through a procedure called TSE and only afterwards, if no clots were discovered, I would go through a cardioversion – basically a heart reboot using an electric shock. After 1pm, just as I was losing hope anything would get done, the team arrived to my ward and set everything up for both TSE and cardioversion. I was sedated, and I only remember feeling the endoscope going in and not finding its way. The nurse told me afterwards that they had to take it out and try again, but I don’t remember anything else. I woke up about two hours later, and the nurse told me all was well and the cardioversion succeeded to put my heart back into its proper rhythm and that I’ll be sent home that evening, which was a huge relief.

The following night at home, I woke up around 4am with a sore throat, wondering if I caught a bug in the hospital, and an itchy area on the right side of my chest, that was slightly red. Only in the morning I realised that this was all to be expected – the throat soreness was from the endoscope, and the itch – a slight burn from the defibrillator pad. Sweet sedation amnesia! So glad it worked out and I am back in action, although a bit tired!

January 07 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

Moving on to 2021

2020 was a year like no other. It affected us all in ways that are maybe not yet evident. I read this morning in a mail by AFP that the Kiwis have been saying: “We’re all in the same storm, but none of us are in the same boat.”

For me, it was time to stop and think. I had been travelling too much. I had been doing too many things. I still remember the first week of the spring lockdown when I had the revelation that I managed to have lunch three days in a row. This working from home did me a lot of good. Moving my teaching online was not a problem, as I had the skills and I had the tools. Also, I knew my students quite well by then and continuing online was not a problem. A few adjustments, a few glitches – but it worked. And our 2019-2020 cohort of master students were an absolute pleasure to work with!

I spent my free time gardening – and it was rewarding and uplifting. We built a Huegelkultur in our tiny urban garden that we named Mound Juliette. We made improvements to our home – like many others who found themselves spending a lot more time at home. We went for walks in new and old places. Life went on. We even managed a one week holiday in Bantry, with long walks and sea swims.

Online conferences became the norm. In some ways, this gave me the chance to attend events I could have never dreamt of. In other ways, not getting to Siegen for ECSCW 2020 was a major disappointment, although the organising team did absolute wonders with handling the challenges.

During the summer, I joined a Facebook group organising online writing retreats for women in academia and became one of the regular hosts. In many ways, this peer support group became my saving grace, providing me with a strict temporal structure and a bit of chatter with an international group of colleagues.

A stray cat had her two kittens in our garden and we suddenly became cat people, going out of our way to accommodate the clan.

And there was a bit of canoeing on the Shannon – mostly from Worl’s End to O’Brien Bridge thanks to Munster Kayak Adventures.

The autumn brought a delayed start for the academic year. And then I was faced with the challenge of teaching one module to 285 students from first, second and third year and a handful of programmes ranging from humanities to computer science. The logistics were complicated enough, but what made it really difficult was the relentless coming and going of students until the end of week 5. But we survived, me and my two excellent teaching assistants. It wasn’t easy – everything took 3 times longer than usual, and everything required yet another Zoom or MS Teams meeting.

I was supposed to go to Scotland in April to attend Rowena Murray’s Retreat Facilitators’ training course and the course had to be cancelled. Fortunately, Rowena decided to to offer it online this autumn and I was able to attend. I am planning to organise an online writing retreat as soon as I can in 2021.

I had to have surgery to remove a parathyroid gland gone rogue at the end of November. I lived with the signs for more than 8 years, but things had gone really wrong this year. And then, just as I was recovering, a gallbladder stone decided to take a trip down my bile duct and got stuck there, sending me to A&E at 3am one Thursday night. The 6 days I spent in hospital were probably the worst part of 2020 for me.

I missed my children at Christmas – that’s the time of the year when they usually come to Ireland. And we only got glimpses of Ray’s grandchildren!

Not an easy year, by any means, but I can say we were fortunate enough to come out of 2020 the way we did.

Moving on to 2021, I am a bit slow in setting goals. My biggest wish is that we can get out of this terrible situation we are in and build a better life for us and this planet.

January 03 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

End of stay in Great Britain

I am back in Limerick for a while, enjoying my own home’s comfort and tweaking things in the garden. The last two months in the UK were demanding and I did a lot of travelling around.
It’s good to be home for a while, reflecting on what I saw and writing.

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In the mean time, there are a lot of interesting events happening in my own university – a briefing about joint EPSRC- SFI projects, an information session on the Draft Societal Challenges 6 Work Programme 2018-2020 (part of Horizon 2020).

My colleagues running the Social Media for Social Good module had the idea to submit a paper to the Shannon Consortium Teaching and Learning Symposium about our experience teaching this module over the last two years. Our paper “Building Resilience Through Experiential Learning: A Case Study of Undergraduate Engagement with Community Organisations”, co-authored with John Lannon, Sheila Killian, Liam Murray and Stephanie O’Riordan has been accepted and will be presented at the symposium this month.

May 04 2017 | Limerick and sabbatical | No Comments »

House of Light

Last Friday evening, I decided to leave the house to go and attend  The House of Light Ritual – announced as an all night celebration of music and dance dedicated to Saraswati at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. A nice warm atmosphere welcomed us, the Tower Theatre was completely open to the lobby (it was the first time I saw it like this), there was tea and coffee and quite a few people around.

Soon after 9, Matthew Noone, who organised the event, introduced Prof. Karaikudi S. Subramanian playing veena and Karaikudi Krishamurthy playing mridangam. Although I am a big fan of Indian music, I must confess I don’t know much about  Indian instruments. The sound was fascinating, and I wished they would never stop playing.

Next, Prof. Mel Mercier invited us upstairs to see, play and listen with the newly forged gamelan, made on order for the IWAMD by a Javanese gamelan maker. I witnessed a gamelan performance before ( it was the Cork City gamelan), but I have never been so close to one.  What Mel did with the volunteers was incredible, assigning to each one a rhythm and some sounds, until they sounded like an experienced, faultless orchestra. In the second half, students from the BA in Contemporary Dance went to perform a dance in the middle of the room, adding to the magic.

Back downstairs in the Tower Theatre, we listened to Praveen Patiballa  playing  carnatic flute and afterwards to a few of  Ceara Conway‘s amazing songs.

Liam O’Brien  was invited on stage next with his concertina. Toward the end, Matthew Noone joined him on stage playing the sarode .

I had to go home around midnight, as I felt really tired. The concert continued until the morning, and I’m sure there were plenty of other unique moments – so sorry I didn’t last longer! On the way home, I was thinking how lucky I am to live and work here, to have all these cultural confluences on my door steps, and to be able to join in from time to time. On the night, I heard about the new BA course in Performing Arts – World Music that is starting in September at IWAMD. So many opportunities – lucky those who will take this course!

February 04 2017 | arts and Limerick | No Comments »

What a day!

Everybody around me knows I’m always busy. But today was quite unusual, because it involved two events related to Creative Writing, which  interests me a lot, but rarely can afford the time  to pursue- there’s simply too much happening!

I woke up a 5:55am, tortured by a thousand questions related to a conference budget. I revised the budget – again!, I sent a couple of emails and updated the event page on Eventbrite (hopefully it will go live tomorrow!)

I got to the university at 8:45am, with my porridge in a jar, as I couldn’t afford the time to make it and eat it.

9:15am. I was in the middle of the first Skype call of the day when my door opened and Prof.Tom Moylan came in with no other than Kim Stanley Robinson! I knew he was around, and I had made time for a joint seminar with the Interactive Media and the Creative Writing master students titled “Interaction Design and Scenario Building”, supposed to start at 10am in our Design Studio. I brought the guests to the studio, rang my colleague, tried to organise coffee (and failed), finished the Skype call, initiated the next one while fighting with the printer to get a presentation printed for a student. Workshop details discussed.

10am. The joint seminar was very interesting- we drew parallels between writing and designing, spoke about the  similarities between characters and personas, the importance of narrative for both fields and how scenarios come about. One day I might find time to transcribe my notes!

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12pm. I ran downstairs to talk to three of my students whose final year projects I have supervised this year. Alex explored opportunities offered by NFC tags to make the connection between buildings on campus and digital content about those buildings, Niamh studied gesture interaction opportunities in a museum environments and Athiei filmed people telling stories about particular places around Limerick in those very places.

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1pm. Two more emails and a phone call, and I ran to the weekly gardening session of the UL Community Roof Garden, to introduce one of my master students to the group and do a bit of manual work in the gorgeous sunshine.

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2pm. More firefighting – a student who had to demo her project in the lab came to tell me Flash was out of date and she didn’t have rights to update it. I went looking for the technician, sent him her way.

2:30pm. The afternoon demo session started- I went to see two other of my students – Clodagh who designed an app for DIY skincare enthusiasts and Aoife who created a playful interface for keeping track of the roof garden evolution.

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3pm. I got back to my desk for a call with the editors team of a PUC  Special Issue that came out of our 2013 ECSCW workshop. We distributed responsibilities and set deadlines. Facebook gave me a glimpse into the meSch exhibition launch at Museon in The Hague – it looked like a great success!

4pm. I ran back to the lab to see a few more final year projects before the end of the day. I’ve sent a few more emails, tweeted about my students and said goodbye to the people getting ready for the reception.

5pm. Drove to the Clare side of the campus for the inaugural lecture of Joseph O’Connor, Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing. The reception started at 5:15 and the lecture at6pm.

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The lecture was titled: ‘Ghost Light: John Synge and Molly Allgood – A lecture through fiction, letters and music’ and Martin Hayes was invited to play during the lecture.

Ellen McCourt- Frank McCourt’s widow- was in the audience. Facebook brought me this video with her taken the other night  in Limerick. Great lady!

I loved  Ghost Light  very much, and during the Q&A chaired by Prof. Sarah Moore some interesting connections came to light: Joseph O’Connor grew up in Glenageary, and passed by Synge’s house at least twice a day.

8pm. Very hungry. We decided to have dinner in the Pavilion admiring the sunset. Very soon after, Joseph O’Connor and his family, Martin Hayes and the whole group of Creative Writing master students arrived to have dinner in the same place. Dinner was lovely- and none of us had to do the dishes!

9pm. Back home, writing a blog post before reading a proposal and grading more student work.

Now you have it! A day in the life…

April 09 2015 | Events and Limerick and personal | No Comments »

Celebrating St.Patrick’s Day at home in Limerick

I must confess I have no Irish roots. Before coming to Ireland 8 years ago, I knew very little about Ireland. But now I feel a bit Irish. Irishness grew on me. I know I’ll always be a blow-in, but I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else. This is my home, and I have no plans to move anytime soon.

I remember landing into Shannon in February 2005, having left Luxembourg at 5am with -14 degrees C. It was +14 degrees C in Shannon and there were blooming daffodils everywhere.  I needed a work permit and a visa to move here, and that meant that I had to spend 3 months eating into my little savings between when I was offered the job in February and the moment when I could actually fly back in.

This morning I realised this was one of the few times I got to spend St.Patrick’s Day at home in Limerick.

    • In 2006 I met my daughter in Vienna for a brief holiday. We dressed in green and we went to Carl Corcoran’s RTE Lyric Breakfast that was broadcasted from ORF Kultur Cafe Vienna on that day.
    • In 2007 I attended a workshop in Val d’Isere and couldn’t get a flight back from Geneva the day when the workshop ended. So together with my colleague we went to a chocolate festival in Versois. Here’s a photo with me dressed in green and eating sheets of chocolate.

A bit of paddywhackery, isn’t it?!

  • In 2008 I was out on O’Connel St. in Limerick watching the parade – it was freezing cold, but I enjoyed immensely to be part of it all.
  • In 2009 I had to fly to Romania to renew my ID card.
  • In 2010  I was in Brussels for a Marie Curie ITN evaluation session. I brought Butlers chocolates with me and shared them with all my colleagues there.
  • In 2011 we organised an IDC outing at Lough Gur – about 10 of us having a picnic by the lake and freezing to the bone.
  • In 2012 I attended the Local & Mobile conference in Raleigh, NC. They had 22 degrees C, everybody was dressed in green and the students from the area were partying hard.

So I enjoyed very much being out on the streets of Limerick again watching the parade. I brought two Erasmus students into town to see the parade as well. It’s amazing to see how many nationalities are living here, and how they all want to be part of the celebrations. On my left, I had a Mongolian family, while on my right, a couple of African origin were waving at their daughter, who was part of the parade. Fond memories came back to mind from my early childhood, when both my parents had to be in the parade and there was nowhere they could leave me, so I got up very early and passed in front the tribunes once on my father’s shoulders with his mates from the factory, and then later on I was passed to my mother who had a tiny white coat for me so that I could mingle seamlessly with the other nurses and doctors from the hospital she was working for, while passing in front of the tribune a second time. Anyhow, enough about the past!

Here is a snippet of video, to give you an idea of the atmosphere. My photos are here.

I was a bit puzzled to see that some companies chose to take part in the parade driving a company van only. It didn’t make much sense to me, and it wasn’t entertaining. At least the Limerick Cupcakes people were giving away free cupcakes! And then there was a group protesting against the household charge! Is this part of the celebration?!

It was surprising to see groups advertising shows and festivals – an innovative use of the parade. I found out that one of my former students will sing in Oklahoma, and that we will have a Sarsfield Day in August. But this was interesting at least!

Oh, and my favourite contraption was a giant insect brought in by Macnas, a performance group from Galway!

 

March 17 2013 | blogging and Limerick | No Comments »

On gardens and gardening

As a child, I grew up in an apartment block. But my father had green fingers and he got an allotment somewhere on the edge of the city, about 1 km from the end of the bus line. As a child, I enjoyed having my own tiny garden that I was completely in charge of.

Since then, I had balcony gardens, indoors tiny herb gardens and at a point in my life, a big garden (too much work involved for the little time I had!).

When I moved to Ireland almost 8 years ago, I chose an apartment with a balcony. I had herbs, beans and morning glories growing on my balcony, but I longed for more. At some point, I remember having a plan to sow climbing beans in the bushes by the canal and riverbank, where I was cycling every day on the way to and back from the university. I wouldn’t have minded if my harvest would have been eaten by the birds – just the pleasure of seeing stuff grow and doing things with my own hands is enough for me.

In the summer of 2011 I finally found a house with a garden for rental. I had visited many places before that – most of them had a great garden, but the house wasn’t exactly a good place to live. I had to come to grips with the idea that the garden was a hobby and I actually needed a place to live in.

Since we moved in, I put in two vegetable beds, a tiny pond, a greenhouse, a rose bush, a lilac tree, several soft tree bushes ( blackcurrant, red currant, raspberry).

I have great plans for this year. We planted a Kilkenny Pearmain apple tree bought from the Irish Seedsavers two weeks ago and cleaned some of the overgrow. And today was all about gardening – farm manure got added to the vegetable boxes, the front garden got a make-up and everything is now smiling in the sun. I’m happy, but wrecked! I love working with my hands – gardening, knitting, giving massage – I feel like I’m filling up with energy instead of getting tired! I guess this is what Csikszentmihalyi was referring to!

These are a few snapshots from last year:

 

March 16 2013 | blogging and Life and Limerick | No Comments »

Cultural heritage and tweasure hunting

At the beginning of last year, I started working on the idea of a Limerick Tweasure Hunt – a treasure hunt using Twitter. The initial idea was to send the participants out for a walk in the city and help them discover things they ignored during their daily rush through the streets. Their tweets were going to expose those places to all their Twitter contacts and generate awareness.  I also intended to draw attention to the Open Plaques project – a fantastic initiative to build a crowdsourced database of historical plaques from all around the world.

It was part of my ongoing “Connected Limerick” pet project – trying to connect the digital and the physical layers of the city in a playful way. You can read more about the background of this idea here and get the gist about what went on by watching this video.

Together with Sharon and Tara, we ran the event for the first time on the 1st of April, as part of the Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival. We included an April Fools joke – unfortunately the first team who got there bagged the fake plaque as a trophy and that was that. The date coincided with the launch of the Limerick City centre Tidy Town initiative – so one of the missions that participants had was to meet the volunteers, talk to them and take a picture.

Following the invitation of the Limerick Local Heroes, we ran a second Tweasure Hunt as part of the 4th of July celebrations in Limerick. By using the same hashtag for all the activities going on on that Sunday (#4thJulyLimerick) we managed to get the public attention by trending in Ireland that morning.

And in October, in collaboration with The Hunt Museum, The Frank McCourt Museum and the Limerick City Gallery of Art, we ran a Halloween Tweasure Hunt.

The next one is planned for Sunday the 24th of March 2013. Sharon and myself went for an exploratory walk today, to check historical plaques, odd corners and timing. We were accompanied by Laura Maye, my PhD student working on the meSch project. She is looking into possible technologies that could support museum and cultural heritage curators to make use of digital artifacts in the actual locations.

As usual here, within an hour we had all four seasons: it rained, it got cold and windy, and then the sun came out and it got really warm. And the story was repeated a couple of times. After a nice cup of tea, we continued with a walk in English Town together with one of my final year students, John Slattery, who is at the moment testing a mobile app. But more about this in another post!

 

 

March 15 2013 | blogging and Events and Limerick and Research | No Comments »

Why I got involved in the Lifelong Learning Festival

Limerick has an annual Lifelong Learning Festival. I remember the first time I came across this information, it was in relation to a gardening demonstration and it was back in 2011. I read the whole program and I realised how many interesting events I had missed because I was unaware of the festival’s existence.

I have the strange reputation of reading any notice, poster or flyer that falls under my eyes. To me, everything is interesting. I’d like to try everything and go everywhere. A friend called me a “culture vulture” one evening when I was leaving early from an exhibition opening to attend a dance performance in a close by location.

 

 

So last year  I decided that miLKlabs, the Limerick hackerspace, had to get involved in this Lifelong Learning Festival, and somehow I managed to convince the others. We had three events over a week, and everybody -organisers and attendees – seemed to enjoy them. For the first time, we attracted people who weren’t on any mailing lists or subscribed to Facebook pages – people who read about us in the Festival brochure or heard about the events on the radio.

This year we’re having an Open Evening on Tuesday, 19 March, and we are running an Arduino workshop led by Mikael Fernstrom on Saturday, 23 March at the University of Limerick.

I’m also running an Urban Gardening event, showcasing our UL Community Roof Garden on Saturday. And together with Sharon Slater from Limerick’s Life, we’re running a Tweasure Hunt in the city on Sunday, 24 March 2013.

Our former outstanding IMedia student, Paul Campbell is running a Geocaching event on campus on Saturday as well.

I’ve persuaded Lou Dennehy, the organiser of our Stitch’n Bitch Sunday meet-ups, to get involved as well – so we’re having a day of learning and sharing on Sunday 24 March as well, starting with 2pm. And following a tweet exchange, Hilary from Make and Do is running a Game Design workshop at the Hunt Museum on Thursday afternoon.

Looking at the Festival brochure, I’m really upset that there are so many great events I will have to miss, because they’re running in parallel with the ones I’m involved in. The Festival is a celebration of the really impressive amount of skills people of Limerick have and are willing to share. I know “there’s  a recession on the radio” (Irish joke, don’t be upset if you don’t get it!), but this shows clearly how rich we are, and the kind of things we can do together!

Now please excuse me, I have to put on my various other hats and blog about these events on their own websites;)

March 12 2013 | blogging and Events and Limerick and Research | No Comments »

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