Oral Fever

I promised myself I’d go to bed early tonight. I swore I’d be in bed by nine and asleep by ten. Yet here I am, once again, going back and forth between Twitter and Facebook, watching rubbish on RTE Player, before finally deciding a blog post is a good idea.

I’m wrecked. Exhausted. Drained. I could go on, but I’m sure you get my drift. Oral fever has hit the school and it’s spreading faster than the swine flu did, only it’s worse, because those hand gel dispensers around the building have no power over this epidemic.

On Monday morning we met Eibhlín, the examiner. She seemed nice, putting us all at ease and making us think that all we need to learn is ‘Mo Theaghlach agus Mo Chaithimh Aimsire’. That may be the case, but knowing me I’ll end up digging myself into various holes and going off on multiple tangents because, stupidly, I’d rather force my opinions down someone’s throat instead of twisting every topic and relating it back to the economy which I could talk about forever. God forbid I should actually utilise some effective exam technique.

You can feel it, though. You can feel the air of slight panic blended together with a nice touch of tension that is so unique to the fortnight of the orals. The signs are up near the rooms where they’re on, instructing students to take a different route, avoid going to the office, and to just shut up in general. Leaving Cert students wander around aimlessly, Irish notes in hand, obsessively consulting The List in order to see how long is left until D-Day. Some teachers attempt to get a bit of work done, while others resign themselves to the fact that it’s Irish and Irish only on the brain and allow us chat away to practice the cúpla focal.

Each day I say to myself that today’s the day I’ll learn the Irish stuff properly. That day has yet to arrive though. I have the notes written out and all put together with one of those nice binder clip things – y’know the black ones that look like they’d be used to keep a manuscript for a book together. I attempt to talk to myself. I blab on about country vs city living, school, my family, last summer, next summer, last weekend, next weekend, music, what I’d do if I won the lotto, if I was Taoiseach, if I didn’t get the points… the list goes on.

Now it’s half eleven, and my eyes probably want me to stop looking at this stupid screen and allow them to close. So I think I’ll probably grant them, and myself, that luxury. Tomorrow’s my last day of learning how to talk in Irish about hypothetical situations. Thursday’s D-Day for me. I might come back and let y’all know how I got on. Hopefully reports will be positive, although if you don’t see another post here between now an June, feel free to assume the worst.

Slán go fóill agus oíche mhaith..


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A Life Update (Possibly in list form)

Wow. Hi. Remember me? Probably not. Apologies to the four people who’ve been checking this horrifically neglected blog on a daily basis in the hope that I’d published some more of my world-class ramblings. I’ve been busy. Because I like lists at the moment, I’m going to tell you in list form what I’ve been doing. Or some of what I’ve been doing at least.

1. I went to Amsterdam! I think that’s the biggest bit of news really, hence it’s number one. Although this list will not be arranged in order of importance. Anyway, I visited a friend in Amsterdam and spent five-nights-six-days there. It was lots of fun and Amsterdam is an amazingly chilled out and beautiful city.  If I get a chance, I’ll do an Amsterdam post, because it really does deserve one of its own.

2. I did my pre Leaving Cert exams before that. They were ok. I don’t mind exams; they’re better than having classes and they seem to go pretty fast. I’ve nearly all of the results back at this stage and I’m quite pleased, especially considering the vast majority of subjects were studied solely the night before.

3. The Irish orals are on this week and French next week. My Irish is coming up this Thursday I think, a fact which is slightly terrifying, but not as terrifying as the fact that French is next Monday. There’s a high probability of me crying.

4. I’ve been listening to lots of music, probably just in an attempt to avoid doing any work, but it’s nice all the same. I’m also very much looking forward to various gigs and festivals that will be taking place during the summer.

5. I’ve been talking about getting a summer job. Yeah, just talking about it. God forbid I should hand out CVs or actually do anything about it.

6. I’ve joined StumbleUpon and have whiled away many hours looking at nothing. It’s horribly addictive and I wouldn’t recommend joining unless you consciously want to destroy your education and/or home life/marriage.

7. I hung out in the library there a bit while I was doing the pres. Studying, like. Not actually hanging out reading the newspapers with the old men or anything. Life’s not that bad yet. It was good though. I made a friend when this guy borrowed my set square, I saw hobos being arrested on Grand Parade, I went for lunch and coffee in Gusto lots, I engaged in polite conversation with an old man, I wondered just why that Vans was up on the window ledge next to me, I cursed the loud buttons on my phone, I looked out the window alot and, from time to time, I studied.

I couldn’t be bothered concluding this nicely so instead:

The End.

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For the day that’s in it..

Dear St Patrick – I don’t mean to offend you or anything, but I can never quite get it into my head that your feast day is an actual holyday of obligation. To be honest with you, the only thing people are going to feel obliged to do this Thursday is drink until they can no longer remember why it is they are wearing a ridiculous green hat that flashes intermittently, lighting up the dingy street that they stagger along.

Don’t think that you’re a failure though. Unfortunately, this country isn’t in the best condition and everyone is, quite frankly, a tad depressed. You should be extremely proud that your legacy gives us a semi-legitimate excuse to forget all our troubles and worries – that is until the following morning when the dry mouth, pounding headache and tender stomach only exacerbate problems. You needn’t worry about that though. You did enough for us by getting rid of the snakes.

Speaking of snakes, I’m pretty sure a lot of people would appreciate it if you came back for a week or two and did some more banishing of the odd snakey character that we have hanging around the Kildare Street area. Maybe you could even return full-time and give us a hand sorting out this business with the IMF and the ECB. I hear we’re looking for a new president too so, if the Áras takes your fancy, I’m sure you wouldn’t have to go through the whole rigmarole of standing for election. I mean, there’s got to be one or two perks to the whole patronage thing.

Come to think of it, you’d probably be quite shocked if you did manage to rise from the dead and pay us a visit – not that the rising from the dead thing would be majorly surprising seeing as you are a saint and that must mean you’re in the good books with God. Actually, the more I go on, the better being a saint sounds. I might give it a go if employment prospects still look bleak once I finish college. Anyway, if you do come back, be prepared to see a land very different to the one you remember. I won’t spoil the surprise though, but just wait until you see the airport (and the ad for it is even better). – Yours, etc, Niamh

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Journalism, or am I crazy?

Last week, I came home to news of The Sunday Tribune’s financial difficulties. The vast majority of my Twitter stream alternated between tweets about The Tribune and others about the impending closure of two Waterstone’s outlets in Dublin. While both pieces of news were as bad as each other, and reminded us of the real effect of this recession, the Tribune story struck more of a chord with me.

Not a week goes by anymore without someone asking me what I put down on my CAO or what I want to do with my life. I usually babble on for a minute or so about how I was torn between choosing a science course and a humanities course, but eventually disclose the dream of one day getting paid to write.

Each and every time I answer this question I ask myself where this whole journalism idea came from. The only relative of mine who ever wrote anything was my dad’s second cousin, who published two novels for pre-teens, along with a primary school textbook and a school play. So writing’s not exactly in my blood..

It’s hard to pinpoint when I first got this dream of being a journalist into my head. I suppose I always liked writing. Many a time as a young wan I tried writing a book, and for a few years there kept a diary religiously.

Being editor of the school magazine in TY is probably what made me seriously consider a career in publishing or the media. There were, of course, other people involved with the magazine, and there’s no way it would have ever happened without them, but I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t do a hell of a lot of work to get that magazine printed and sent off to The Irish Times before the deadline for the competition closed.

Having been taught the basics of InDesign by an art teacher in school, I spent my mid-term painstakingly putting the magazine together, bit by bit, before flying off to Paris for a school trip. Last year was much the same, only Paris was replaced by an even better trip to London. In some ways, though, last year’s magazine was a more influential experience. It’s hard to say which magazine was better overall, but if I had to pick one, I’d probably choose last year’s ‘Snap!’ While ‘Ink’ from the previous year was impressive, the bit of experience we had shone through in ‘Snap!’ Above all, I put together every single page of it, and maybe even more importantly wrote an award-winning article about Plugd’s closure.

I know that sounds quite conceited but it’s not. If I could write about Plugd for the rest of my life, then my articles would all be pretty good. It’s easy and enjoyable to write about something you know very well and love even more. And as much as this would be a fabulous career, I don’t think it’s very feasible. Having said that, if you know someone who’d like to hire someone (i.e. me) to write a regular column about Plugd, then do pass on my details.

I remember going to the school magazine awards in the Science Gallery in Trinity in TY. I think it was Shane Hegarty of the Times who told us a story of how his career in publishing started when he put together his 6th year yearbook. It was a nice story to hear because it reminded me a bit of myself, only my ‘career’ started even earlier, in 6th class when I designed the cover of out primary school yearbook. And it wasn’t that I was the only one willing to do it, because everyone in the class had to do one, and then there was a vote among the class. If, one day, I become a mighty successful journalist, this will be my story of my beginnings in journalism. I could embellish it a bit though, and claim that I knew from that very moment it was all I ever wanted to do. How romantic..

Now though, I’m eighteen and need to be a bit more realistic about job opportunities. I could have done the sensible thing and went for Medicine, but when have I ever done the sensible thing? I probably should be contributing to this whole smart economy lark, but instead I’m aiming for the most insecure career possible.

It worries me that I’ll spend my life writing the odd article here and there, struggling to find permanent work or make ends meet. I’m scared that I’ll regret choosing this airy-fairy future over a solid, well-payed, highly-sought-after job. The current vogue of blaming the Irish Government for everything doesn’t really apply here, unfortunately enough. The newspaper industry was changing long before the IMF arrived in the country, so I can’t go shouting at politicians who come canvassing to the door that they’ve ruined my chances of being a journalist. That’s a bit annoying really, because it would have been nice to have someone to blame.

Last June I spent one amazing week working with the Irish Times, and I’d have given anything to stay there and not have to come home and face the raucous music that is the Leaving Cert. When I do imagine my future self, it’s not in a hospital or a lab but somewhere else, less concrete, but there’s usually a notebook in hand or laptop in front of me.

I don’t think I’m in any way gifted at writing or English which sometimes make me reconsider this whole ‘plan’, if you can even call it that. Yes, I’m well able to ramble on and successfully bullshit my way through an exam, but this doesn’t mean I’ll be pumping out literary masterpieces any time soon. Or any time at all.

I may be deluding myself. More than maybe, I’m probably deluding myself. But I think I’ve got to at least try to achieve the dream first, and if it doesn’t work out, I can always marry a farmer…



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A rant about music

For the past weeks or two I’ve been contemplating doing a 2010 music post. Not necessarily what I thought were the top 10 albums or anything, but more like my soundtrack of 2010. I still might. First though, I need to get a thing or two off my chest..

Number one. I believe that music is made to be shared (we’ll get into the legal vs illegal debate later) but it can also be an intensely personal and private thing. I’ve made friends through music, and sometimes there’s nothing better than a chat about what you’re currently listening to or what you bought last.

Introducing others to music is all part of it too. A lot of new music is discovered via word of mouth, from friends’ recommendations or listening to some records while in someone’s house or at a gig or whatever. Not wanting to sound too corny here, but I honestly believe a strong bond is created when people share music. It’s unspoken, but it’s just there.

Which brings me onto the slightly contradictory point of music being private and personal. I’m not talking about a couple having ‘their song’, but more so that people can become extremely emotionally attached to a song or album. Music can be a stronger reminder of an event or a period in someone’s life or a person than any photo or diary entry or physical thing. I know people will disagree with me here and say the idea is ridiculous, but I understand why certain people may want to keep certain music to themselves.  It may be the most over-played Lady Gaga song or an obscure classical song; it doesn’t matter. To that person, this album may have changed their lives, helped them through the tough times, or might just serve as the most effective reminder of some time in the past. People can be protective of and slightly possessive over music, but that’s why it’s so important.

Number two. I far, far prefer to listen to music on a CD than on my laptop. It usually takes that little bit longer to find the CD you want and put it into the player, but it all adds to the true experience that listening to music should be. If that record player sitting in the corner of this room actually worked, I’d go for vinyl, but for now, it’s CDs. At least they’re a million times better than MP3s.

I see people with iPods full of stolen music. I’m the first to put my hand up and say that yes, I was a semi-regular downloader at one stage, but not any more. I can see why people, especially younger people, feel the need to obtain music for free. The media never shut up about how easy it is to download illegally, and with people trying their hardest to save a few pennies it’s inevitable that spending on entertainment will be hit.

It annoys me. It really does. I feel sorry for these people too though. When you buy a CD or a record, you part with your hard earned cash, so it makes sense that you’ll value the music. You’ll make an effort to listen to it, get to know it, develop an opinion on it. It’s a physical object too. You can leaf through the inlay, examine the artwork, read the lyrics or notes while you listen, the list goes on.. You download an album without leaving the comfort of your couch, listen to it once, and then forget it’s there. Also, depending on where you buy it, picking out a record and buying it is an event in itself. You talk to other music fans about the artist, the latest releases, or just life in general. You might report back on what you thought of the album, and generally just appreciate the whole process more. Head to a P2P for your illegal download and you’ll get none of this. Your choice I guess..

Then we get into the legality and the morality of downloading from the internet. Well it’s illegal. Full stop. Morally though? That’s up to you. Some people couldn’t give a crap about the artist who created the music, but others do, and rightfully so. If you’re listening to music, getting enjoyment out of it, you should be giving something back. That’s just my opinion. I’m not talking about bands or producers who are just starting out. There is, of course, a time when artists just need to get as many people as possible to hear their work and that’s when people should enjoy music for free. Artists lose out, small record labels fold, and independent record stores close, all because you couldn’t be bothered paying a few bucks for your music.

Number three-ish. I love music. Alot. Years ago, I didn’t love music as much. It just didn’t feature. But thanks (probably) to a lovely little record store here in Cork I now love going to buy new music. For me, it’s worth every penny and I love coming home on a Saturday evening with a new album to get me through the week. I don’t claim to have a hugely extensive music knowledge, because I don’t, but I love what I know so far. So here’s to many more years of new and old music, live gigs, in-depth discussions of an album, charming record stores, CDs, vinyl and maybe the odd song through a tinny laptop speaker.

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I know I’m like a week late with this post, as technically it should have been done some time before New Year’s Eve, because now it’s time to look ahead to 2011 and make a load of resolutions I’m never going to keep. But I like to make myself stand out from the rest of the blogosphere, and I generally achieve this by writing about a certain topic a week or two too late.

I’m not even sure what I want to say about 2010. It seemed to whizz by before my eyes and I didn’t even get a chance to properly appreciate the fact that we were into that awkward year where everyone was united by the confusion as to what it should be called. Twenty-ten or two-thousand-and-ten. That’s before you even take into account the decisions that had to be made in car salesrooms; does zero-ten make sense?

Some of the stuff that happened in 2010 seem like they were a lifetime ago, whereas other events are so clear in my memory, it’s like it was only last week. It doesn’t feel like too long ago that Plugd closed its doors on 4A Washington Street for the very last time. My 2010 began with the closure of Plugd, the death of my dog, and my ill-health. That all sounds rather drastic, but I guess it was, apart from the fact that my ‘ill-health’ was really just a bit of a virus, not helped by the other two depressing factors. I ‘rang in the new year’ from the comfort of my living room, with a quick glass of champagne before crawling back to bed.

I can’t remember January all that well, or February for that matter. Reading back on blogposts is the only way I can get a clear picture of what happened, or at least a feeling of what life was like then. I went to Maths in UCC on Saturdays; I went to a ‘Plugd’ gig in the Triskel for the first time since Plugd had closed; I worked on the magazine; I did my first outfit post; I generally went to town and had coffee with my friends.

I can’t remember much about March either, but I know I went to London. So here’s two photos from that:


On the ol' Tube..

And that's, like, Buckingham Palace.












London was good. Fun. A laugh. You get the idea. And I actually liked the whole school trip thing. There was a small enough group so we had alot of freedom and everyone got on with each other, and it really benefited our English alright, as we went under the guise of it being an ‘English trip’. I did try my best to soak up some of Shakespeare’s, I dunno, inspiration or vibes or something when we were in his house. So that could have worked, fingers crossed.

Okay, so this ‘Niamh’s life month by month’ thing is getting boring, so I’m going to give some brief summaries from now on. If you wish to read about said months in further detail you can click on the required month in the archive thing to the right..

April: Slightly crappy start; new puppy; magazine nominations for overall, design, and Plugd article; sunny days.

May: Fun with puppy, Dublin for magazine awards, staying with a friend, Poké-party, Confirmation, exams, summer.

June: June was a damn good month. New people, new places. Crappy music ‘festivals’, Cork Midsummer Festival, Dublin with the Irish Times, escape, fun, haircut by a 9-year-old, the usual..

July: Good and bad. Decisions, Kinsale, home.

August: Parents away, house to myself, Dublin, Westbury, Aviva, stupid party, door issues, some new friends and nice times. RE-OPENING OF PLUGD. Hey, this was a good month actually..

September: Sixth year. What can I say?

October: I stopped blogging so I don’t actually know what happened..

November: Again, lack of blogging. Got a virus, I think. Me that is, not the laptop. Wish it had been the shagging laptop though.

December: Missed the National, snow and ice, conquered fear of the dentist, turned 18 and danced to the house music, Christmas, shit party, good party, too much alcohol, banged my head.

I shouldn’t have done this stupid, well-laid out list thing of what happened during the year. I should have, like I normally do, babbled on about whatever popped into my mind, because that’s be a more accurate overview of my 2010. It doesn’t actually matter what happened on each and every day. What matters is the impact that 2010 left on you, what you considered important. Honestly, 2010 was, for the most part, good. But on the other hand, I’m glad to leave it behind. I’d like to think I learned some important stuff during the year, stuff that I can take with me as I travel through the voyage of life. Lol.

Seriously though, it was a good year dotted with a few bad bits, but that’s life. Highlights would be my new puppy, winning an award for my Plugd article, producing an award-winning magazine, working with the Irish Times and getting published, new camera, meeting lots of new people, new friends, old friends, living on my own, nights out, figuring out how to get the culchie bus (fuckyeah!), getting to know some family a bit better, soulmates, re-opening of Plugd and the after-party, and last but not least, turning eighteen.

I was intending on adding my soundtrack to 2010 in here, but seeing as it was one of the best and most important parts of my year it deserves a post all of its own. Later on, hopefully, and it’ll be alot more interesting than this vague and disjointed summary of twenty-ten. Or should that be two-thousand-and-ten? Whaddya think, eh?

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One evening a few weeks ago, I went to the fridge, and cut a slice of cheese for myself. It’s one of the foodstuffs that we are pretty much always guaranteed to have in our house. So if I get a craving for a small little snack, I usually decide on cheese, as I’m rarely disappointed. You can even turn it into a meal by melting it in some way. Anyway, I’m going to stop before this turns into a blog post in praise of cheese. The point of this little cheesy anecdote is that I got a pain in my tooth when I ate the cheese. One of my upper molars was just being a bit of a bitch in general, so I reluctantly made an appointment with the dentist for the following afternoon after school.

I have, or at least I had, a completely irrational fear of going to the dentist. I don’t know why, because I’ve never had any bad or painful experiences getting dental treatment, but it’s just one of those things in life that I’d rather didn’t exist. Terrified as I was, in I went after school, iPod in hand in an attempt to distract me from that clinical smell and those strange and slightly eerie sounds. The National soothed my frazzled nerves, as did the cute guy in the waiting room with whom I struck up a nice conversation…

To cut a long(ish) story short, my dentist told me I needed two fillings and to make an appointment for that before Christmas. Which I duly did. The small, cream appointment card stayed pinned at the top of my noticeboard for the past three weeks serving as a constant reminder of the ordeal that was yet to come. At five-fifteen today I wandered in, iPod in hand yet again, but this time I was listening to Holy Fuck. Despite The National’s soothing qualities, I didn’t need to burst into tears in the chair (refer to previous post if this confuses you).

I was fine though, surprisingly enough. I wasn’t nervous. I was getting two fillings, and that was that. I leafed through today’s examiner until he popped his head around the door and told me to come right in.. I didn’t bother with the happy gas that we’d discussed during the previous appointment. I’m so hardcore I don’t need that. The prospect of a needle going into my gum wasn’t hugely appealing I will admit, but I didn’t even feel it after he put some gel on the gum first. Then I had to sit there like a dope while my gum went numb. Hm, that rhymes. I looked at the light overhead, the screen, all the little screwdriver-like pieces of equipment, the plant in the corner, the teensy sink, the posters and on and on.

Cotton wool was stuffed in my mouth; there was water and suction, drilling and cleaning, layer and biting; and finally that funky looking UV light. Despite the fact that I wasn’t nervous – and I swear, I really wasn’t – my legs would not stop shaking. It was really rather embarrassing as he kept asking me ‘how the legs were’. I just couldn’t control them and they were hopping around like nobody’s business. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I would advise crossing your feet, tensing the muscles in your legs, and raising your feet slightly from the chair. But within half an hour, ’twas all done. I walked around like a dope for a while, feeling like my face had doubled in size, as I waited for my dear mother to come and pick me up. I chatted with the nurse, a random woman who came in, and who then left with her drowsy husband. He was so nervous he had to be knocked out, so I’m really rather proud of myself.

Why I had to write this post, I really don’t know. It was not funny, or enlightening, or interesting in any way, shape or form. I think I just had to get it all written down here and recorded, so that if I need another filling, and the dentophobia has returned, I can read back over this and put my mind at ease.

So apologies for initially causing excitement at the prospect of a new blog post from me, only to be let down by the utterly mundane topic. I promise it won’t happen again, eh *cough*..


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