Your Irish Working Holiday

Hi everyone!

For those who missed it – we’re in the process of migrating Rachel in Ireland to its new home

We’re taking the time to read through everything on this site and updating it for 2017. Looking back, some posts are more useful than others…

The first post to be refurbished is the immensely popular post about Working Holiday Visas for Ireland. Head on over to Celt and Kiwi to check it out!



First thing – amazing! If this is your first year abroad – never fear, a working holiday is a like a baby step into the world of living abroad. You get to travel for a year and support those travels by earning money along the way. For the seasoned, Ireland offers diverse opportunities for work and a great lifestyle to go with it. It’s sure to compare with the best experiences you’ve had thus far. Think castles, countryside and lots, I mean lots, of stout…

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Belfast Trojans v. Dublin Rebels: My Opinion on the Shamrock Bowl 2016

Unfortunately for the Trojans, I arrived at the Shamrock Bowl knowing a little more about the sport of American Football than previous years. I brought with me a small kiwi contingency including my Aunty Bev and my friend Brigette. And our honorary kiwi – Tiernan. I acquired a curry chips and settled in to watch the 30th Shamrock Bowl sandwiched between a young family and a group of Rebels fans that notably included a girl with blue hair.

Teams ran out on to the immaculately presented Tallaght Stadium, which shone brighter in the wake of last years’ Shakespearian tragedy. This year the Belfast Trojans were facing off against the Dublin Rebels – looking for five in a row. The ‘strive for five’ some have said. Sadly, I don’t think the Trojans will find this write up quite as hilarious as last year.

From the very beginning it was clear that the Rebels were here to play some extremely competitive football.  They came with a sharp offensive line up and although they only have a couple of key players, they found the ball every time, ultimately scoring the first touchdown of the game.

The veteran Trojans were not prepared to acknowledge the inconsistencies which had plagued them all season. Ineptitude was clear, communication a thing of the past. Players passed the ball back and forth like rugby (or perhaps piggy-in-the-middle) before inevitable fumbles and interceptions. Set plays were lost with key players not being where they were supposed to be and the team was left to scramble to make something from nothing. How they managed to respond with a touchdown before the end of the first half, I have no idea.

By the second half I was on my feet and screaming random things (I like doughnuts, etc). Somewhere about this time Tiernan figured out the game as well. The dawn of understanding was reflected in his face as he realised that the Rebels were about to launch a final offensive campaign which would ultimately win them the game. He started screaming too.

The game had been played overwhelmingly in Trojan’s territory and it is a huge credit to the Belfast defense that the Rebels were denied again and again for 23 minutes and 30 seconds. You see where I am going with this.

With 6-7 in the Trojan’s favour on the scored board, a couple of things happened which plagued me all Sunday night. First, Belfast were playing their only strong offensive of the game. They had gained over 30 yards of territory when they were overcome by what I can only imagine was overconfidence. In trying to keep the ball running they flopped the ball backwards and forwards between themselves on a second and ten rather than allowing the tackle, accepting a little loss of yards and having another go. The Rebels were there and ready to make something as a fumble was intercepted and the ball turned over to give the Rebels their last chance to get winning numbers on the board.

The Rebels made their way slowly but surely back up the field. With a little over 20 yards to the goal line, they were looking to make 10 yards and go back to first down. This is where things get… well just a bit dodgy in my opinion. Fourth down needed to land right in front of me to get the Rebels that chance at another 10 yards.  And it didn’t. It wasn’t even a little bit there. In fact, the stretching out the player did to ground that ball was a little dubious in itself in relation to where his knees hit the ground – but I’ll spare you the detail. There may or may not (except there totally was) a certain sideline ref who took a massive step to the left that was not exactly (or at all) appropriate (do I sound bitter?).

Alas, the decision was made to walk the chains out. You know how I don’t like to blame the ref, but if this line ref were competing on the beam in the Olympics she would have been the one to snap her leg. Like a drunken sailor, she listed that chain to the right and when it was ultimately laid down – surprise! – the ball was exactly at the marker.

This was absolutely crucial to the game because the Rebels went on to touchdown from the next set of plays – building the score to 12-7 with only 10 seconds to go. The Trojans reformed admirably and did what they could with their final ball, fumbling it into full time.

So it was a massively heart-poundingly disappointing game to watch as a Trojan’s supporter. I can only imagine the Rebels heartbreak had they lost after playing so confidently all game. Fortunately for them, that is not something they have to think about now they are carrying their Gold medals back to Cabinteely and Sea Point Rugby Club (which is, ironically, nowhere near the sea).

Photos to come – my expanded hosting has expired.

Ireland’s Most Beautiful Drives [Essential eBook]

There are two things I love in combination: beauty and practicality. So being asked to collaborate with a travel resource that has both, well, you know I am going to get on board! Chill Insurance has been hard at work collaborating with some of the most delightful Irish bloggers to create an inspiring guide to driving in Ireland.

Ireland’s Most Beautiful Drives is an entirely FREE ebook – available now!

irelands most beautiful drives

When you’re visiting Ireland it’s hard to know where to start. You’re probably coming here with a bucket list of ‘must sees’. But how do you know what is going to exceed all expectations? Perhaps it’s time to sit down with a cupán tae (yup, that means ‘cup of tea’ – you’re speaking Irish already!), download these beautiful pages, and take the words of some well travelled locals.

Beware – your bucket list might be a little longer by the end of the book!

the vote chill irelands most beautiful drives

It all starts with the vote! Chill went to the people who know best – the locals – and asked the big question:

What is Ireland’s most beautiful drive?

Well, the results have been tallied, whittled down to the top 3, and I won’t be spoiling it for you. Here’s a cheeky hint – it’s also my favourite! A drive I have done many, many times is sitting in the number one spot in well-earned glory.

I feel like I’m having a ‘but that’s not all’ moment right now. But really, that vote is only the first few pages. Keep reading and you’ll get to some juicy advice for driving in Ireland. It’s all so beautifully presented in a style I haven’t seen before anywhere!

Remember the part where I said they collaborate with Irish bloggers? This is the section I love best. In their own words, Irish bloggers provide their top scenic drives. Adorned with some gorgeous, full colour photographs that make you want to get there right now, their words feel like a secret window looking out onto lesser travelled Ireland.

Page 9 - It's a travelful life

Sure what more would you want?

Mayo based blogger Marteen (It’s a Travelful Life) poses another hard question. In quintessential Irish fashion (and like many of her fellow collaborators), Marteen favours her local drive. The South Mayo Scenic Drive weaves together pretty little towns with sweeping scenic views.

By pure coincidence Tiernan was there just yesterday amidst the low mist nestling at the base of the mountains and the shimmering Lough Mask reflecting on a windless day. He and I both love driving in Ireland. Heck, Tiernan even does it for a living! He says that Ireland is his office and every day is different.

Driving is a liberating way to see the country. Ireland has more hidden craggy coves and tiny country roads that you can dream of. There is nothing more delightful then getting yourself a little bit lost in the Emerald Isle. You can stop whenever you like and change your mind at the last minute in a way impossible by any other form of transport.

If that doesn’t convince you that driving is the best way to see Ireland, perhaps the final ‘tips’ section of the ebook will!

It is extremely important to stay safe – particularly when driving in unfamiliar territory. If you’re planning a self-drive trip to Ireland, this ebook has essential advice that will keep you safe on the sometimes narrow roads in the often dubious weather.

The tips are honest and practical. Bloggers give you little one-liner hints about things like driving in fog or de-icing your windshield – things I never had to do at home in New Zealand but do daily during the Irish winter.

This is possibly the ebook I wish I’d had before coming to live in Ireland. It is definitely a book you need in your digital library and, since it’s free, grab it now!

Ireland’s Most Beautiful Drives

Do you agree with the number one spot? Have you driven in Ireland before? Leave your own tips and tricks below!

***Pictures for this post have been provided by as part of our collaboration***

Ireland’s Gorgeous Largest of Libraries

old library trinity college dublin ireland

For the first time in about ten years I have sat a test in a university. I did a token amount of study for my first Japanese test. Perhaps I should have visited the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin sooner so I would be inspired to strive towards academia.

I cannot believe I have spent so much time in Ireland – even living in Dublin at one point – and never visited this beautiful place!

Tiernan and I needed to kill half an hour before a tedious bank appointment so I suggested we pop in to see the Book of Kells (no photos allowed). Two of the four books of Kells are on display in a large and detailed exhibit below the Long Room.

old library trinity college dublin ireland

This room has exquisite proportions. It was build in the 18th Century, although the library at Trinity College dates back to 1592. The famous Book of Kells was gifted to the library in the 17th Century. I cannot fathom what it would have been like to live in Dublin, in the 1600s, walking about the college around the time of its inception. To try and put it in perspective, New Zealand had only just been sighted about 20 years prior.

The Old Library itself holds around 6 million works and is the largest library in Ireland. it is one of four libraries in Ireland which are entitled to receive a copy of all works published in Ireland. It’s also entitled to, on request, receive copies of all works published in the United Kingdom. That’s a lot of books!

old library trinity college dublin ireland

old library trinity college dublin ireland

I am a bit gutted that we had to, almost literally, race through it. I want to learn more about the busts and the books. Yes, I know I could probably Google it, but I’d like to have a decent look in person.

If I were to do it again, and I am sure I will, I would opt to take a student-led guided tour. Tours last just over half an hour and only cost a token amount more than the Library entrance fee. Only €13 when the entrance fee is €10! You could go so far as to say it is a bargain.

Have you ever done a student tour at Trinity College? Let me know below!

Five Steps to the Perfect Saint Patricks Day Party

Deciding if you should throw a Saint Patrick’s Day party are you? That sounds great! March 17th has a special way of bringing people together. For one day a year everyone is Irish. People are gathering across the world for parades and pub crawls. Let 2016 be your year to surprise people with a very classy and somewhat alternative Saint Patrick’s Day party.

Brew yourself a delicious mint white hot chocolate (or perhaps something a little stronger) to get yourself in the planning mood.

Invite your guests

First things first. You need to invite your guests! This is your first chance to be different. Send out this terrier e-card by Paperless Post to your buddies announcing your party details. Have your guests get involved early on by suggesting that although top hats are optional, they will need a beard for entry (or something hilarious of that nature).

You are probably already delighted by your cunning, but there are more ways of setting your party apart to come.

Embrace an alternative colour scheme

This may surprise you, but you do not have to go green for Saint Patrick’s Day! That’s right! Instead of drowning in a sea of lime and viridian, you could borrow some rainbows from the leprechauns to inspire your decor.

Try some pale pinks for the salmon farmed in County Galway, deep velvety wines for a settling pint of stout, or golds for the elusive pot. Did you know that the traditional colour of Saint Patrick is actually a shade of blue? The world is your saltwater oyster (also from Galway).

Colour Palette Saint Patricks Day

Keep green in the colour palette, by all means, but it does not need to be all green all the time. Throw the most vibrant party you can dream up!

Diversify your Irish soundtrack

Once everyone has arrived and is admiring each other’s beards (some fluffy, some made of craft paper, some attached to a wonky green top hat which shouts ‘Top O the Morning’) make sure your Irish playlist is ready to go. Although Sinead O’Connor and Bono provide a source of some debate, you could include some chart toppers like Hozier or Kodaline to balance things out. How about a little of the Corrs to reminisce to? Dare I argue for some 1D? They were one fifth Irish.

Serve the perfect themed menu

Now that your decor has been arranged and your mood music is wafting, you need to ensure you have enough food and drink to satisfy your hungry guests!

Pay particular attention to the beverage requirement. We’re throwing a classy party, remember? Although you should absolutely serve the requisite case of Guinness, make sure your cocktail list is up to scratch. Irish Apple Sours, Mojitos, emerald Martinis, and Midori Cosmopolitans can stand along side your Irish Coffee and Black Velvet champagne!

Source: The Cookie Rookie

Source: The Cookie Rookie

March is still cold in Ireland and not much is in season. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere pack your menu with a hearty beef casserole, bangers (sausages) and celeriac soup with soda bread. Ensure you have laid out a cheese and deli smoked salmon board for the grazers and think carefully about your dessert table.

It will be hard to whittle that down to the top sugary treats; particularly since cupcakes now come in every flavour imaginable. Must have essentials include Bailey’s chocolate mousse, bread & butter pudding and Apple Tart!

Enjoy the best of Irish culture

Saint Patricks’s day is all about spending time with your friends and having a bit of craic (fun). As my Irish mammy-in-law would say, “to good food and good company”. If you have both, then you are more than half way to a great party.

As the night progresses on, people will be feeling more confident. If you have a yard (preferably a very large one) you could try your hand at some hurling. With the music still inspiring everyone, one or two might be confident enough for some impromptu Irish dancing! If it occurs, turn this in to an all out dance off.

But if you are anything like my friends and I, we like nothing better than to sit down after a meal, to a drink and a very serious session of board games. At some point, someone will pull out a guitar (where were they keeping that?) and we will descend into a traditional music session. Better brush up on the lyrics to Molly Malone and Whiskey in a Jar, just in case.

Follow Rachel’s board St Patrick’s Day House Party on Pinterest.

This post is endorsed by Paperless Post. Browse their range of online invitations and cards.

Dublin’s Secret Gardens: The Iveagh Gardens

iveagh gardens dublin

Hello from the Enterprise to Belfast!

A shiny train with brand new, purple upholstery. This is what the inside of a grape must look like. I love taking the train and with some planning, it is cheaper and more convenient than driving (GBP20 for this return ticket).

In fact, I’ve  just unrolled the beef sandwich my husband packed me for lunch. I can taste the loves in every bite. Nom, nom, nom.

Tiernan and I have spent the weekend visiting friends in their amazing inner city apartment in Dublin. A series of fortunate circumstances meant they got a brilliant place on easy terms. The luxury of a spare room allowed them to host us for three board-game and wine filled nights! We also got to meet their new addition – a silly grey kitten named Earl.

Our main mission was to visit the Immigration Office in Dublin and find out a thing or two about getting a spouse visa. Although that place is notorious for long waits, we only had to dedicate two and a half hours to the exercise. This left the afternoon at our disposal, so we decided to take an extended walk around Dublin’s inner city south.

Detour to the Iveagh Gardens

I remembered Cory at Five Suitcases mentioning in one of his early blogs about how he liked the Iveagh Gardens, a park I had never been to. That is probably quite shocking to you after a total of three years on and off in Ireland. Turns out I am not as much of an ambler as I like to think I am, so Dublin’s Secret Gardens escaped me.

Tiernan was all “Oh yeah, I know that place.” So he lead the way through Merrion Square and the east shoulder of St Stephen’s Green to the National Concert Hall. We puddle stepped our way down the stairs of the Hatch Street Upper entrance and I first thought, “Great, another plastic bottle cap park.” After walking past the sleeping rose beds the paths opened up onto a series of lovely lawns and open green space.

iveagh gardens dublin

Now I see what there is to love about this garden (sans flowers since it’s too early for them). The holly walk channels you down towards the archery field (a sunken lawn). Other sights include a miniature version of the Hampton Court Maze and some beautiful statues placed around and amongst the landscape.

iveagh gardens dublin

holly walk iveagh gardens

Utterly private, high-walled gardens like this one are dotted throughout Dublin. They are a bit of a thing in England, too; gated or walled little havens and only residents have the keys to access them.

The Iveagh Gardens, under various names, passed through many generations of Irish aristocrats. In the 18th Century they were the private gardens of John Scott, the 1st Earl of Clonmell. Clonmell was also known as “Copper Faced Jack” and the pub of that name stands on Harcourt Street today – a favourite of nurses and cops, I am told.  A subterranean passage brought the Earl from his home, Clonmell House, under the street to the garden. Thus he did not have to be bothered by the plebs while crossing the road.

iveagh gardens dublin

iveagh gardens dublin

Over the next hundred years the gardens found their way into the hands of the Guinness family. During this time they did a stint as a Winter Garden before being given to the Eamon de Valera led government on 17 May 1939.

Some how these gardens have miraculously remained green space in an ever developing Dublin. I plan to go back in the spring or summer when it will be easier to enjoy. It does, after all, have Ireland’s only purpose-built archery field!

iveagh gardens dublin

Has it ever taken you far to long to discover a place?