Archive for the 'Limerick' Category

Learning more about Lace

My interest in lace started with the Amazing Lace project initiated by the Limerick Museum. In March 2014, I was invited to join a team led by city archivist Jacqui Hayes and Dr. Matthew Potter, working on an exhibition and a book dedicated to the history of Limerick lace. I was incredibly fortunate to have our master in Interactive Media student Suzanna Melin joining me on this journey. From March till December, we participated in team meetings and worked as part of a team on an interactive installation that was part of the exhibition launched in December 2014.

This is when I decided I wanted to learn how to make this delicate lace. I attended an initiation workshop in Limerick lace in 2014, and then another one in 2015. In 2015, I joined Toni O’Malley’s class for an autumn term in the Hunt Museum and managed to acquire the basics.

When COVID hit, we had planned a series of lace making sessions in the fabulous Captain’s Room in the Hunt Museum. The idea was to allow visitors to see that Limerick lace is alive and thriving, and to be able to answer their questions. Only the first session happened, in February 2020. We attempted a second one online, in May 2020. But the interest was limited, and so I almost completely lost touch with the other lace makers.

This made me turn my attention to online events, and in August 2020 I joined IOLI, The International Organisation of Lace.IOLI offers an online lace talk each month, and is organising a full online Virtual Convention in July.

On February 21st, I had the chance to watch a fascinating lecture by Michael Yonan on Empress Maria Theresa’s Lace Dress.

You can read Michael Yonan’s article on the topic here.

A piece of the dress (possibly a sleeve) is in the collection of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

And a few days later, the amazing Fashion and Lace Museum in Brussels offered an online talk by Caroline Esgain on the history of the Brussels Lace (French only) – where the story of this incredible dress surfaced again!

March 18 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

Going against the stream

A couple of weeks back, at the end of January, I attended a talk by Audrey Girouard, organised by Andrew Kun together with a number of others.

That’s the reason I am still on social media: I find out about events from all over the world that I can afford to attend. Yes, I suffer from Zoom fatigue like everybody else, but whenever I get the chance to listen to speakers like Audrey that I admire and never had the chance to listen to in real life, I do take it. That’s what my post title, “going against the stream” refers to.

That’s where I heard for the first time about a new ideation method for wearables called the Crazy Eights. I found the method interesting, and I decided to use it with my class in the Interaction Design seminar I run with the master in User and Experience Design class this semester. So two weeks later, when I was preparing the seminar, I wondered how to mock-up the cards for an online exercise. All I needed was to Google “Crazy Eights Wearable”, and I came across a website called Wearable Crazy Eights that did exact this: generated combinations!

I had to send each of my students a small kit by mail, as my intention was to get our hands dirty and see everybody using a needle with conductive thread. And I used the Wearable Crazy Eights method in the very first session, to get people thinking and trigger their imagination. They worked in pairs, so there were eight ideas per group – 4 each. This is what came out:

My favourites were the belt for cooking playfully and the wig for watching gayly! And what made it even better, Mural already had a template for the Crazy Eights!

A week later, I had the chance to listen to Lee Jones presentation of the paper at TEI:

This made me think gratefully of all the events I managed to attend because they are online. I’ve never attended TEI before, although I always wanted to!

February 21 2021 | Limerick | No Comments »

Getting some perspective…

January is not my favourite time of the year. I feel like hiding under a rock and hibernating. Once it gets dark, the only place I like being in is my bed. With a lot of cosy lamps on.

My energy levels are low and my usual mood is ‘grumpy’. On top of this, I haven’t been well lately. So after 3 days of 38.2 degrees C fever in the evenings and some more fatigue than usual, I asked my GP to be referred for a COVID test. I phoned the GP at 10am, I got my appointment at 10:35, went for the test at 12:30pm and had the results in less than 24h. In the mean time, I self isolated in my room, got my own cutlery, mug and plate and wore a mask during the two trips I took downstairs. I rang Ray a couple of times, to avoid shouting through the walls. When the result came back negative, it was such a joy! We went downstairs and had lunch together. We had only skipped one lunch and one dinner together, but it felt like 100 years!

And today I had to go to the hospital for a pre-op assessment. It sounded a bit weird that the surgeon I met last week decided to have my tests done now when we discussed gallbladder removal through keyhole surgery for the end of April. Anyhow, I thought there would be no harm to remind someone about the stent that still lives in my bile duct and couldn’t be removed as planned because all non-urgent procedures are cancelled.

I have a fat big folder in the hospital, and because all the recent developments, I got a lot of questions and attention. Two nurses, an intern, an anaesthesiologist and a registrar took turns questioning and examining me. I was supposed to be there for about two hours, but in the end it became more like five hours, with the perspective that I would go on the drip to be given an antibiotic to treat a gallbladder infection, followed by an emergency open cholecystectomy. I was extremely lucky that in the end all my blood tests were close to normal and no signs of infection were found. What I feel is probably just discomfort from having the stent in there. I can’t explain how grateful I felt for being allowed to go home! I had a whole scenario in mind and a long list of all the things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I got surgery.

And then a story I read yesterday came to mind, told by a Romanian actress that I admire very much. Oana Pellea talks about her mother’s teachings on how to overcome daily challenges: ” When you are discontent or you think you have problems…when you get home, just put your right hand at the back and try to do everything with the left one: turn on the gas, wash yourself, take things out of the fridge…for no more than 10 minutes. And after 10 minutes, bring your right hand in front of you and look at it with your eyes of flesh. And you’ll see the miracle! You’ll realise what it means to have both hands. Or both feet… And then ask yourself: how important were the problems you thought you had 10 minutes before?

By the time I got home, I felt like I had won the lottery. The blue hyacinth in my bedroom had just opened – I could smell it the very moment I opened the door! Ray cooked dinner and I dealt with my emails. Then we had dinner together. Tried out things on our new Internet radio. And a beep on my phone reminded me about the Limerick Garden Festival webinar – The Spring Organic Garden with Jim McNamara.

Limerick Garden Festival webinar: Carmen Cronin in conversation with Jim McNamara
Recording of the webinar available here

The webinar was a breath of fresh air: just hearing people talking about plants and growing makes me happy! And Jim is such a fantastic speaker – he smiles and jokes and turns words into joy and images, and never forgets to be humble! The plans for the spring garden came to life in his imagination, and we could all see with our mind’s eyes what he meant! We owe so much to Carmen Cronin for making these events happen, even during a pandemic! And thinking back to the Ennis and Limerick garden festival several editions, I can almost see the plants in my garden that I brought home from these events!

So all is well in my world! There will be little seeds planted this weekend, and less thoughts about what could be wrong with me, and more plans for the spring garden. After all, there’s a lot of work to be done!

January 21 2021 | Limerick | 2 Comments »

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.



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.


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.

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 »

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