Eurovision and politics: Harmony in discord?

According to the rules of the Eurovision Song Contest, “The performance and/or lyrics of a song “must not bring the Contest into disrepute”. No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature are permitted.” While this rule is meant to keep the world’s biggest musical event free of politics, the reality is that the two go hand in hand. And I’m saying that as a huge Eurovision fan myself. With just two months before the 62nd edition of the contest kicks off in Kyiv, a controversy has made international headlines. On March 22, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced that this year’s Russian representative had been banned from entering Ukraine for three years, effectively making her unable to compete in Kyiv. However, this is not the first time that politics have sneaked their way into the contest.

Dictators

In 1968, Cliff Richards looked all but set for a Eurovision victory for the United Kingdom with “Congratulations”. That was until Massiel from Spain beat him to victory by one point with “La La La”. The victory was unexpected and controversial. Firstly, Massiel was brought in to replace Joan Manuel Serrat, whose request to sing in Catalan rather than Spanish was denied the Francoist regime. In May 2008, Spanish film-maker Montse Fernández Villa claimed in his documentary 1968. Yo viví el mayo español, that the contest was rigged by Franco, who would have sent state television officials all across Europe to buy television series and to contract unknown artists. This claim was based on a statement by José María Íñigo, a then employee at TVE (Spain’s public broadcaster) and current commentator for the Eurovision, although he later said that his words were taken out of context. Spain hosted the contest in 1969, from which Austria withdrew because of the fascist regime in power.

Believe it or not, one Eurovision song actually started a revolution! Portugal’s entry in 1974 “E Depois do Adeus” (And after the farewell) was used as one of the two signals to start the Carnation Revolution against the Estado Novo regime, which was ultimately successful in restoring democracy to Portugal. It failed to inspire the juries though, finishing in joint last place.

Israel v the Arab World

The original non-European country taking part in Eurovision before it was cool (sorry Australia!), Israel has been a regular fixture at the contest since 1973. However, their presence has often caused some diplomatic problems from time to time. Their first participation came a year after the murder of 12 Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich. Long-standing commentator for the BBC, Terry Wogan, noted that audience were asked not to stand when applauding songs, as they risked being shot by security forces.

The 1979 marked the first time that the contest was held in Israel. Turkey had selected the Marta Rita Epik to represent the country with the song “Seviyorum” (I Love You) However, many Arab countries expressed their disgust at a Muslim country competing in a contest held in a predominantly Jewish country and pressured Turkey into withdrawing. One of these countries was Jordan, who abruptly cut their transmission of the previous year’s contest short when it became apparent that Israel was going to win. Turkey gave into the pressure and skipped the contest. However, 20 years later, they did compete in the 1999 contest, held once again in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem.

Many Arab countries that are eligible to participate in the contest refuse because of Israel. Tunisia was due to participate in 1977, even being drawn to perform fourth. However, they withdrew giving no official reason, though it is widely speculated that Israel’s participation was to blame. Three years later, Israel had to withdraw because the contest date clashed with their Remembrance Day. In the same year, Morocco made their first, and so far only appearance at the contest, with Samira Said finishing second last with “Bitaqat Hub” (Love Card). Once Israel announced their return to the contest the following year, Morocco promptly withdrew.

For the contest’s 50th running, Lebanon announced that it would be making its debut at the contest. The Lebanese broadcaster, Télé-Liban internally selected Aline Lahoud to sing “Quand tout s’enfuit” (When everything flees). Unfortunately, there was the small problem of Israel. Lebanese law forbids any transmission of Israeli material and the rules of the contest state that all broadcasters must broadcast all competing songs in their entirety. Unable to promise broadcasting the Israeli entry, Lebanon were forced to withdraw and were banned for three years from competing. As of 2017, they have made no attempt to return. As for Israel, Shiri Maimon finished fourth in the final with “HaSheket She’Nishar” (The Silence That Remains), their best result since Dana International won with “Diva” in 1998.

Israel faced criticism not from without but from within in 2009. The selection of Noa (a Jewish Israeli) and Mira Awad (an Israeli Arab) caused backlash from both Israelis and Palestinians. Awad was the first Arab Israeli to represent Israel. On the Israeli side, some right-wing politicians deemed her unworthy to represent a Jewish and demanded she return her Israeli citizenship. A petition was circulated by Palestinian and Arab intellectuals calling on Awad not to take part, accusing her of being a fig leaf to cover up the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza and the West Bank. This failed to deter Noa and Awad and they went to place 16th in the final with “There Must Be Another Way”, the first Israeli entry to feature Arabic lyrics.

 

Georgia v Russia

For the 2009 contest in Moscow, Georgia selected Stephane and 3G with “We Don’t Want to Put In”. Eyebrows were immediately raised at the song’s blatant dig at Russian president, Vladimir Putin, especially since Georgia and Russia had been at war the previous year over the South Ossetia region. Georgia withdraw after they refused to change their song. As luck would have it, one of the members of that group, Tamara Gachechiladze, will represent Georgia this year with the song “Keep the Faith”.

Armenia v Azerbaijan

Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in a bloody war between 1988 and 1994 over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway state within Azerbaijan that has a mostly Armenian population. A ceasefire was agreed but not a peace treaty, so the two countries are still technically at war. Their disputes often spill over to the Eurovision.

In 2009, the Armenian postcard shown before the entry had to be altered when the Azeri delegation complained that it featured the “We Are Our Mountains” monument, located in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia retaliated by having their spokesperson read out the Armenian votes in front of a giant billboard with the monument on it. There were also reports of the Armenian entry being censored by the Azeri broadcaster and of 43 Azeris that voted for Armenia being interrogated by the police.

When Ell & Nikki claimed the trophy for Azerbaijan in 2011, Armenia’s participation was cast into doubt. The Azeri government responded by guaranteeing the Armenian delegation’s safety and Armenia confirmed their participation in January 2012. However, a group of Armenian artists called for a boycott of the contest following the death of an Armenian soldier on the Azeri border in February 2012. The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, added fuel to the already blazing fire by stating that Azerbaijan’s “main enemies are the Armenians of the world” during a speech in the same month. In March, Armenia decided to withdraw, feeling that they could not compete in a country where they “will be greeted as an enemy”. Armenia later returned in 2013.

2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. Armenia used their Eurovision entry that year to commemorate this event by sending the supergroup Genealogy, a group consisting of five members from the Armenian diaspora and one from Armenia proper. Azerbaijan, who along with their close ally Turkey deny the genocide, objected to the song “Don’t Deny”, as it was perceived as a call for recognition of the genocide. The song was later changed to “Face the Shadow”, although the Armenian delegation continued to deny any political content.

Russia v Ukraine

Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been less than friendly ever since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and pro-Russian insurgency in Eastern Ukraine. For these reasons, Ukraine chose to withdraw from the 2015 contest. They returned with strength the following year, winning the contest and beating the pre-contest favourite, Sergey Lazarev of Russia. However, their win was controversial to say the least, not just because the song won neither the jury nor public vote. The Ukrainian entrant, Jamala, was a Crimean Tatar, a Turkic ethnic group native to the Crimean peninsula that were forcibly expelled from their homelands to Central Asia by Stalin. Her song “1944” references not only this event but also the situation of modern day Crimean Tatars fleeing to mainland Ukraine after the Russian annexation. Those who have remained have reported oppression under the new Russian government. Despite its heavily political message, the song was cleared to compete by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Russia was highly critical of this decision, especially after it ended up winning.

Fast forward to this year and for many people, it was unclear whether Russia would enter this year’s contest due to it being held in Ukraine. However, one day before the Head of Delegation meeting, in which the final versions of all competing songs are presented to the EBU, Russia announced that they had selected the song “Flame is Burning” sung by Yuliya Samoylova, a singer who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a child. This resulted in her having to use a wheelchair since a young age. The selection of this singer sparked a lot of conversations, with some praising Russia for selecting a singer that fits the contest’s motto this year: “Celebrate Diversity” while others accused Russia of using a singer in a wheelchair to deflect any potential booing that they might face over the Crimea situation or their poor LGBT rights record. However, the banning of a contestant from a country in which the contest was due to take place is unprecedented. The ban is due to Yuliya performing in Crimea in 2015, while it was under Russian control. According to Ukrainian law, entry to Crimea is only allowed via Ukraine and with permission from the Ukrainian government. The EBU expressed their disappointment at the decision of UA:PBC (the host broadcaster of this year’s contest) and suggested that Yuliya could still perform via satellite from Russia, which was quickly refused by Channel One, the Russian broadcaster. At the moment, it looks increasingly unlikely that we will see Russia participating in Kyiv unless they pick another participant and fast.

Will we ever separate politics from the Eurovision?

In my opinion, no. Music has always been used to express our feelings and to make sense of the world around us. We use it to express love for one another, our frustration at our governments’ action or inaction, our darkest feelings and our most joyous moments. Also, since the Eurovision was founded to re-unite a war-torn Europe, Eurovision has been used as a way for countries to vent their frustrations at each other. I see it as like the sport boycotts of South Africa during the apartheid regime or the recent “Stop Israeli Apartheid the Red Card” protests when Maccabi Tel-Aviv played Dundalk in the Europa League last year. Sport is an easy target for people to protest against what was going on in faraway places, since they can’t do anything themselves to change the situation. Eurovision will stop having political incidents when governments stop fighting amongst each other. When will that happen? Who knows?

Confessions of a Statistically Improbable Gaeilgeoir

We have now reached March, which means Seachtain na Gaeilge is in full swing. From now until Saint Patrick’s Day, many events will be held all over the island of Ireland with the aim of getting people to use their cúpla focail as much as they can. Of course, not everyone will be happy to take part and may even hate Irish. You may be one of them. You may even have a mental image of a Gaeilgeoir; someone from the Gaeltacht with an unpronounceable name, who did all of their education through Irish, a TG4 employee, a hardcore Republican, someone who forces Irish down other people’s throats, someone who always chooses the Irish-language option just to make life harder for you, the list is endless. I am a fluent Irish speaker, although all the statistics say that I should not exist. Let me dispel a few myths for you.

“You must be a native speaker from the Gaeltacht”

The places with the highest number of Irish speakers are, of course, counties with designated Gaeltacht areas, such as Galway (49.8%), Mayo (47.2%) and Kerry (47.2%). I am from the opposite side of the country, County Louth and was raised through English. According to the 2006 Census, 36.7% of the population claim at least some command of Irish. This is the lowest figure in the Republic of Ireland. In addition, my hometown of Dundalk marked the most northerly point in the Pale, the area of Ireland that was under direct rule of the English government in the 15th century, in which all aspects of Irish culture were banned, including the language. Irish speakers are found all over the country and the world. There are even fluent Irish speakers that have no connections to Ireland nor have ever visited Ireland. I once came across a man from Zimbabwe, who lives in Belfast and is a fluent Irish speaker and a sean-nós dancer! The fact that someone was born outside a place where a particular language is spoken should not stop someone from being able to speak said language.

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An tSean Chéibh in An Spidéal, County Galway

“But you must have gone to a Gaelscoil then!”

Wrong again. All of my primary and secondary education was through English.  I missed out on going to the Gaeltacht during the summer, one of the quintessential experiences for any Irish teenager, because I was afraid of going places by myself (bit ironic now as I would now jump on a plane to anywhere in a heartbeat). In fact, I did not step foot in a Gaeltacht until last week, when I went to An Spidéal in County Galway. I did not study Irish for my undergraduate degree and I am currently not studying it for my Masters. Yet for some strange reason, I saw Irish as an actual language and not just a subject designed to put me through hell. My sisters all went to the Gaeltacht for at least one summer during their time in secondary school. Yet I am the one who can hold a fluent conversation with no problems.

“Why can’t you just use the English option and stop being so difficult?”

First of all, Irish is an official language of the Republic of Ireland. As an Irish citizen, I have a right to access services in Irish if I so wish. My phone, email and social media are all in Irish and as a Bank of Ireland customer, I always use the Irish-language option on ATM’s wherever possible. Yet that is always the “wrong option”. During Christmas, my sister was trying to take a picture on my phone and she got angry at me just because the lock screen displayed “Iontráil pasfhocal” instead of “Enter password”. It is my choice to use services in my country’s national language and my choice should be treated with the same respect that anyone who uses the same services through English. Anyone who accuses me of being “difficult” are actually the ones causing obstacles for me.

“You had Irish forced down your throat as a child and now you’re doing the same to me!”

If I really wanted to do that, this blog post would be completely as Gaeilge. Back to the point, I never remember having a negative attitude towards Irish, even when I was learning it in school. One of my earliest memories was watching Power Rangers dubbed into Irish on TG4, not knowing that it was originally in English. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t classify learning a new language from my favourite childhood show as having a language “forced down my throat”. People force English down the throat’s of Gaeilgeoirí by making them feel bad for speaking Irish. Hearing someone around you speaking a language that you don’t understand doesn’t automatically mean that they’re gossiping about you. Have a walk around any town in Ireland and you will hear a myriad of languages in the streets; Polish, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Hindi, Yoruba, Arabic etc. and no one pays any heed. Yet when someone walks around speaking Irish, heads turn and dirty looks are thrown. How can you not complain about other people speaking their languages to each other in public but berate Irish speakers for the same thing? I fail to see the logic there.

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Seachtain na Gaeilge 2016 with An Cumann Gaelach, DCU’s Best Society 2016

“Sinn Féin!!! IRA!!! Tiocfaidh ár lá!”

Before we get into this,  I want to clear something up about “Tiocfaidh ár lá” that drives me up the wall. It is a literal translation of “Our day will come” into Irish and it isn’t how you would actually say it in Irish. “Beidh ár lá againn” would be a more correct translation. Now that that’s cleared up, I am not a hardcore Republican by virtue of the fact that I speak Irish. I am not particularly proud that Gerry Adams is one of my local TD’s but I guess it could be worse. *cough cough Healy-Rae’s cough cough* I don’t have a burning hatred for Protestants (I went to a Protestant secondary school) nor do I lament the fact that Ireland isn’t a 32-county republic. Personally, I don’t really care if the North decides to reunite with the South or not. Both parts of the island have developed into different places and if they were to reunite, a lot of work would have to be done into creating a new republic. Whatever happens, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

That’s everything I think. Oh wait…..

“But why do you speak Irish??!!”

One, because I have the right to use my country’s first official language and two, because I want to! My life would have turned out very differently if I wasn’t able to speak Irish. I wouldn’t have met some of my closest friends nor would I have been able to pursue some of my dream jobs. I am forever grateful that I will always have small piece of Ireland within me wherever I go. I, or anyone else who speaks Irish, should not have to constantly justify why we speak it. Irish does not solely belong to residents of the Gaeltacht, native speakers, Gaelscoil students or stereotypical hardcore Republicans. I am none of these things but yet I am a Gaeilgeoir. Irish belongs to everyone on this island and all who choose to give it a voice. I will continue to give it a voice until I no longer can.

Is liomsa í an Ghaeilge agus beidh sí go deo!

Toulouse Top Five

Ahh France, the country of wine, l’amour, cheese, baguettes and a pretty big tower. France has a lot to offer to visitors, which is no surprise seeing as it is the most visited country on Earth, with 85.7 million foreign visitors in 2013. While most people head to the capital Paris or the pristine beaches of the Côte d’Azur, the rest of the country should not be overlooked! In this post, I will guide you the wonders and secrets of Toulouse, a city I lived in during my Erasmus and somewhere that holds a special place in my heart.

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How to Get There

Toulouse (Tolosa in Occitan, a minority language spoken in France,Italy and Spain) is France’s fourth city and is the capital of the Haute-Garonne department and the region of Occitanie. It is located in the southwest of the country on the confluence of the Garonne river and the Canal du Midi, which connects Toulouse to the Mediterranean. Toulouse-Blagnac airport has both domestic and European flights. Aer Lingus fly direct to Toulouse seasonally. A shuttle bus and tram link it the city. If you are already elsewhere in France or Mainland Europe, you can reach Toulouse by train or bus. Gare Matabiau is served by frequent TGV’s (train de grande vitesse, high-speed train) to other cities such as Bordeaux, Marseille, Paris and Carcassonne. Bus routes connect the city not only to the rest of France, but to Spain as well, particularly to the Basque Country and Catalonia.

How to Get Around

Tisséo runs an extensive bus, metro and tram throughout the city. 1-, 2- and 3-day passes (€5.50, €8.50 and €10.50) are available from Tisséo offices in the airport and from the Arenès, Balma-Gramont, Basso-Cambo, Jean-Jaurès and Marengo SNCF (the metro station that serves Gare Matabiau). You must scan tickets upon boarding the bus or tram or before getting on the metro. Tickets can be bought on the bus (for one or two journeys) or in ticket machines at metro and tram stations. Be warned though, ticket machines only accept coins. So unless you have buckets of change, I would suggest buying a travel pass at the airport and taking the tram into town.

Top 5 Places to See

Place du Capitole

The metaphorical and literal heart of Toulouse is the main square, Place du Capitole. It gets its name from the Capitole, the city’s hôtel de ville or municipal administration. Brazen in the centre with a giant Occitan cross, a symbol commonly associated with Toulouse, take a look around you and you will see the distinctive red bricked buildings that give Toulouse its nickname “la ville rose” (the pink city). People often like to take a stroll across the square or sit at one of the cafés which surround the square, watching life go by. But don’t be fooled, this place can get pretty vibrant as well! Flea markets are often held here on the weekends and during the Christmas season, the square is filled with many stalls selling food, drink, clothes, jewellery, musical instruments and much more. Within the Capitole building itself, you can find the Théâtre du Capitole, an opera house and ballet company and the Salle des Illustres, a room which houses works of art from the 19th century. If you head south of the square towards the river Garonne, you can stumble across all kinds of quirky cafés, restaurants and secondhand shops.

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Saint-Sernin Basilicia

France has the fourth highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. One of these sites can be found in Toulouse, the Saint-Sernin Basilicia (Basilique Saint-Sernin), and is listed as one of the World Heritage Sites of the Route of Santiago de Compostela in France in 1998. The construction of basilica began towards the end of 4th century and was completed sometime during the 11th century. The architect Eugène Violette-le-Duc restored the church in 1860. The basilica contains several relics donated King Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire which date from the 8th century, a bell tower, an alcove in which you can find the tombs of the four Counts of Toulouse, a crypt and the Cavaillé-Coll organ, built in 1888 and considered one of the most important organs in all of France. Entry into the main building is free and it costs €2.50 to go into the crypts (€2 each if you come in a group of more than 10 people). Right beside the museum, you can find the Musée Saint-Raymond, a museum with many antiques, especially from the Roman period.

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Musée des Augustins

As you probably guessed, France loves preserving its cultural and historical heritage and you are sure to find at least one museum in even the tiniest village. Toulouse’s most famous museum is without a doubt the Musée des Augustins. As the name suggested, the building which houses the museum was formerly an Augustinian convent. It is one of the oldest museums in France, opening for the first time to the public in 1795, shortly after the Louvre in Paris. It contains collections of paintings from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century and Romanesque sculptures, particularly those representing the Occitan culture of southern France. The cloister also contains a reconstructed medieval garden. Entry is €5 (€3 per person for large groups) and entry is free for the permanent collection on the first Sunday of every month (same applies to all museums around the city!)

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Cité de l’Espace

Most of the things I have mentioned so far involve fine arts. If that’s not your thing, check out a museum focused on the future, the Cité de l’Espace (Space Town). Take the 16 bus to the very last stop and it’s a short walk from there. The “town” contains several space artefacts, a mini observatory and a space walk simulator. It might not look like much but it’s very easy to spend an entire day here!

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Prairie des Filtres

Just along the south bank of the Garonne lies the Prairie des Filtres. This park gets its name from the sunlight that filters through the trees. It is particularly popular during the summer months, when you’ll see many inhabitants of this city having picnics, playing games, walking their dogs and forgetting about their worries. Another toulousain tradition you might see around here is people sitting by the river in the evening and having a few drinks, known as an apératif, or apéro for short. Another popular spot for this are the steps down from Place Saint-Pierre, a place famous for its bars full of university students.

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Of course, this list is only a handful of things to do and places to go. There are many more gems to be discover in this place I got to call home for a year. Come see why I fell in love with la ville rose.

 

La Dolce Vita in Lugano

What comes to mind when you think of Switzerland? Yodelling? Fondue? Banks? Watches? Whatever you’re thinking about, Ticino probably didn’t cross your mind. Ticino is the southernmost canton of Switzerland and is the only one in which Italian is the sole official language. Nicknamed “die Sonnentuche” (the sun pocket) by German-speaking Swiss people, it has the most hours of sunshine in all of Switzerland and is where Italian luxury meets Swiss efficiency. Over the summer, I visited the largest city in the canton, Lugano.

Getting There

While the city is served by an airport, Milan’s airports offer greater access to international destinations and are located 60 to 90 minutes away. By bus, you can get to Lugano by Flixbus if you’re coming from Milan, Turin or Munich or Postbus if you’re coming from somewhere else in Switzerland. Lugano rail station is served by Swiss Federal Railways that go to several northern Italian cities and elsewhere in Switzerland.

Getting Around

There is a bus service that goes all around the city and to several nearby towns but if you’re only planning to stay in the city, it is small enough to navigate on foot. Switzerland is an expensive place, so take any opportunity you can to save money!

Top Places to See

Lake Lugano (Lago di Lugano)

If you go to Lugano, this is pretty hard to miss. Lake Lugano is situated between two other well-known lakes (Lago Maggiore and Lago di Como) and straddles the Swiss-Italian border. The Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano (SNL) are one of a few companies that provide tourist boat services on the lake. You can visit other lakeside communities including the picturesque Gandria, home of the Swiss Customs Museum (Museo doganale svizzero) and the Italian excalve of Campione d’Italia, where you can find Europe’s largest casino. Many of these lakeside communes are only accessible by boat. The water temperatures in the lake can reach 24 degrees in the summer, which makes it perfect for a quick dip.

 

Old Town (Centro Storico)

Lugano’s Old Town is either a 10-minute walk downhill from the train station. You can walk down or take the funicular (CHF 10). The walk down is quite steep, so if you have trouble keeping control of your legs or if you’re carrying heavy luggage, I would suggest taking the funicular. Besides the numerous bars and cafés dotted around the place, the place (especially around the Piazza della Riforma) wandering around the maze of cobblestone streets is an adventure in itself. When you’re finished there, head down to the promenade along the lake, sit down and discover il dolce di far niente (the joy of doing nothing), something which the residents of Ticino are famous for.

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

The cathedral dates back to the 16th century and contains ornate frescoes and Baroque statues behind its Renaissance façade. Just outside it, you find some wonderful views of the Old Town and the lake.

Monte Brè

Located to the east of the city centre, Monte Brè is a small mountain that boasts a spectacular view of the bay of Lugano and the surrounding mountains. It is also one of the sunniest places in all of Switzerland. A funicular can get you up and down the mountain (CHF 16 one way, CHF 20 return). On the other side of mountain, you can find the village of Brè. The village is a fine example of traditional Ticinese architecture, even the traditional washing fountain, or “Lavatoio” is preserved to this day. From the top of the mountain, you can see some the most breathtaking views of Lake Lugano and the surrounding mountains.

Honourable Mentions

Lugano hosted the very first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. The venue in which it was held, Casino Lugano (formerly Teatro Kursaal), still stands today. The building today contains a casino and a restaurant.

Lugano also plays host to a number of festivals throughout the summer, including the LongLake Festival, one of the biggest open-air festivals in Switzerland. The festival runs from July to August and offers music, theatre, street art and street performance. More information can be found here: https://longlake.ch/en/

Lugano and Ticino are often overlooked by tourists but it’s worth going. Even sitting down, taking it all in and enjoying il dolce di far niente is what it’s all about!

The beginning of the rest of this blog

Hi there and welcome to the inner workings of my mind, otherwise known as my very first attempt at blogging. Before I unleash my thoughts on everything at you, I figured I should introduce myself to you, so that I don’t become some “man behind the keyboard”.

My name is Neil and I am from Dundalk, halfway between Belfast and Dublin on the east coast of Ireland. I graduated from Dublin City University last year with a degree in Applied Languages and Translation Studies. As part of my degree, I also spend a year on Erasmus in the University of Toulouse 2 in France. I am currently still in DCU, studying for a Masters in Business Management.

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See, I’m nice!

As you can probably guess already, one of my greatest loves in life is language. I speak four languages fluently (English, Irish, French and Spanish) and I know bits and pieces of a couple more languages but I don’t like listing them out I am not just interested in learning languages but also in translation, developments in language and minority languages. Coming from a predominantly English-speaking country where most of the population is monolingual, I hope I can make others see that other languages are worth learning and that it’s easier to do than you might have previously thought.

All those languages are no use if I don’t have people I can speak them with, which is why I love travelling. I have been to 17 countries so far for both business and pleasure and I have lived in two countries, Ireland and France. I want to share some of my experiences, both good and bad, and hopefully broaden your horizons.

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At the airport. Again

Last but certainly not least, I am passionate about performing arts. I am a classically trained flute player and spent seven years between my school orchestra and a national one. I have performed all around Ireland, several other European countries, the USA and China. I am an actor and have taken part in several productions at home and further afield, as both an actor and director. I have done Shakespeare, contemporary plays and musicals. Finally, I am an Irish dancer and a member of one of my university’s Irish dance squads. I wouldn’t be who or where am I today without all those things, so why not share my experiences through the years here?

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So much angst in one picture

As you can see, I have quite a bit to “think about”. All that’s left to say, I hope you enjoy my two cents on various aspects of life.