2016

Looking back on 2016, it was a hell of a year personally. Mostly travel and craic with family and friends. The undoubted highlight was the fortnight in June with Ireland at Euro 2016. As much as to remind myself how grateful I am for a great year:

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  • January: Sang backing for Aslan to a sold out Vicar St crowd. Genuine bucket list one that. Songs in the Key of D also performed The Foggy Dew and Amhrán na bhFiann for relatives of 1916 rebels in Clontarf Town Hall.
  • February: The first of two trips to Manchester for United games this year. A 3-2 win over Arsenal is ideal.
  • March: I sang as part of the audience choir at RTE’s 1916 Centenary spectacular in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. Professionally, it was a big month as we published the new version of Dublin.ie – the official site for Dublin city and county.
  • April: The first of the year’s weddings as Gaz and Shaz tied the knot in Kilkenny. A stag weekend in Galway followed directly after as Ciaran said goodbye to the single life. I took my parents zip-lining in the Dublin mountains.
  • May: Another stag in Galway with Dar and co. Weekend trips to Portlaoise and Kilkenny to visit mates and see the ever excellent Devious Theatre Company’s Heart Shaped Vinyl.
  • June: Understandably dominated by the Euros. We flew Dublin to London before the Eurostar to Paris. Staying aboard a barge on the Seine with views of the Eiffel Tower was incredible. The craic with other supporters (“Go home to your sexy wives” to the Swedes returned with “Go home to your ginger wives”). Wes’ goal against Sweden. TGV to Bordeaux and our beautiful house for the week. The disappointment of the performance against the Belgians. TGV to Paris. TGV to Lille for the Italy game. The sweltering heat inside the stadium. Robbie’s goal. Falling off a wall and breaking my elbow (sober). TGV to Paris. Getting my elbow semi-cast and seeing the sights. TGV to Lyon. Leading the French for 45 mins whilst being baked alive by the midday sun. Singing our hearts out as we always do. Being applauded down a street by French supporters in Lyon city centre. Train from Lyon to Geneva. Geneva to London flight. London to Dublin flight and we’re home. Unforgettable.

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  • July: A follow up scan confirms the elbow is broken and I’m recommended surgery. Can’t have it immediately though as I’m to Benahavis in Spain for Dar & Sibeal’s wedding. A beautiful occasion and gorgeous Spanish weather. Straight into surgery on my return, two titanium pins to stabilise it and lots of physio ahead. I make the mistake of going to Paul’s stag do in Edinburgh a few days later. The body simply wasn’t up to it.
  • August: Over to Toronto for Ciaran and Darcy’s wedding early in the month. I had dinner in the revolving restaurant atop the CN Tower in 2008 and I was lucky enough to enjoy lunch on this trip. A gorgeous lake front wedding and delighted to catch up with them both. The month is rounded out with another wedding, this time in the Kingdom with Paul and Anne.
  • September: A camping trip to beautiful Bantry with Peter and Darren. Eagle Point is a beautiful facility and we make the most of local’s hospitality along with sampling the West Cork Garden Trail. The final weekend of the month is spent in Manchester as United beat Leicester 4-1.
  • October: We revive Songs in the Key of D choir and I’m on the organising committee. We get back to rehearsals ahead of a planned December gig.
  • November: I’d imagine Irish rugby fans are losing their minds akin to how we were in France as Ireland beat the All Blacks for the first time ever in Soldier Field, Chicago. A week later, we’re back on the road for Ireland’s away World Cup qualifier against Austria. An overnight in Budapest before travelling up to Vienna for the game and it’s damn cold. James McClean gives us our first win over Austria since 1963 and we party the night away with the locals.
  • December: SitKoD rehearsals culminate in our biggest gig of 2016 in front of 270 people in Blackrock College. Proud that we’re back on track and we’ve got bigger plans for 2017. Christmas parties and a busy work schedule close out the year.

Lucky.

Pro Choice

March for Choice I attended the fourth annual march organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign today calling for free, safe and legal abortion in Ireland and for the repeal of the 8th amendment. This is as fundamental issue for me as marriage equality was. As a country we are denying reproductive rights to women and it needs to change.

I, and approx 10-12k people there today, believe a woman should be the only person making decisions about whether she wants to continue a pregnancy for whatever reason. Those who spoke today were hugely heartfelt, eloquent and brave. Furthermore, a RED C poll commissioned by Amnesty International this year found that 81% of those surveyed are in favour of significantly widening the grounds for legal abortion access in Ireland. That will require repealing the 8th amendment. It can’t come soon enough.

Crossrail breaks through


Crossrail, a new underground line across London, is Europe’s biggest infrastructure project at the moment and they’ve just connected up both ends. The tunnel boring machines have been running 24 hours a day for 3 years and Transport for London sent down a bunch of drones and timelapse cameras to give a better feel for what’s been happening. Quite brilliantly, they’re also using the excavated earth to build a new nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex. The completed line will open to passengers in 2018.