Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

Columbus Day Weekend; Another Three-Day Holiday Weekend Wasted By So Many Americans

8 October 2007

columbus-day.jpgIn an earlier post I related how the Irish enjoy three-day holiday weekends so much better than we Americans. In America, if you’re involved in retail – either as a retailer or as a customer – these weekends are not a holiday.

When I described the Irish way to a friend, he suggested I try to change America one family at a time. So we started with our family – a retail-free weekend spent with family and friends. Very enjoyable. Give it a try come Veterans Day this November.

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End of School Year Mania: The Downside of Making The Unimportant Important

4 June 2007

irish-celebration.gifMaking the rounds of high school graduation parties this month, I’m repeatedly asked about the differences between life in Ireland vs. life in the States. My wife Jules’s post, End Of The Year Mania, covers a key area of difference, how we in the States are making important events (like high school graduations) unimportant by over-celebrating the trivial (like preschool graduations.) Jules references a brilliant piece in the The Boston Globe’s op-ed section on the downside of American over-celebrating. Jules nicely contrasts this with the upside of the Irish way of making the really important things truly matter more. Check it out.

Six Things Irish Schools Do Well; Should America Adopt Them?

31 May 2007

school-bus.jpegToday school children in Ireland start their three-month long summer vacation. They enjoy a longer break than their American counterparts due to a more efficient school calendar, one of six things Irish schools do well that American schools should consider adopting.

When we moved to Ireland in 2001 from the top-notch public schools of Lexington MA (Lexington’s schools had just been selected as the best in the northeast) we were pleased to learn that the Irish schools were equally as good. The quality of public education – a key focus of the Irish government for thirty years – is one of the three factors behind the Celtic Tiger boom; in less than a decade the Irish economy became the healthiest in the EU, with the Irish now enjoying the highest per capita income in Europe. (The other two drivers of the Irish economy – a dramatic increase in the number of women… (more…)

I Miss Memorial Days of Old

25 May 2007

pano-gh2.jpgI was out walking the dog this morning and the early heat reminded me of Memorial Day holidays when I was a kid. We used to go to my uncle’s cottage in Green Harbor and somehow six families with 17 kids all fit into a three bed / one bath place! Those are some of my fondest memories.

I lament how today most American holidays have turned into shopping days. In my childhood, Memorial Day was a real holiday because everyone had the day off, including people working in retail. One of the things I miss about living in Ireland is that holidays there today are still like holidays were here when I was a kid; as noted in an earlier blog, in Ireland holidays are a day off for most everyone.

The forecast for much of the USA is for hot, true ‘first-weekend-of-summer’ Memorial Day type weather. Stay out of the mall and enjoy the heat.

How The Irish Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

15 March 2007

For those who received the 40 Dublin Reports during our four years living in Dublin, much of this post is from my wife Jules’s 11th report.

“Everyone seems to want to know “How do the Irish celebrate St. Pat’s?” We didn’t really know because last March 17 we were in Prague. St. Pat’s is a very inexpensive time to leave Ireland, what with all the empty planes flying out after dropping off half of Europe in Dublin. This year we stayed and we are glad we did. The mood was great, largely due to a history-making string of gorgeous weather. It’s been sunny and warm for weeks on end.

“In Dublin there is a pretty big parade (not quite like an American one, but creative and fun nonetheless), accompanied by a four day festival (carnival rides, music, drama). The Irish are a bit amazed and slightly worried… (more…)

What I Miss About Ireland

12 March 2007

Taking the advice of Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara, I’m spending this day not joining my 15 year old son and his five friends on the slopes of Shawnee Peak in Maine. Rather, as Eileen suggests, I’m sitting by the fire in the lodge.

While my son, his friends, and I hang onto the last vestiges of winter at a cabin in Maine, my wife and my other sons are enjoying a springtime weekend in Dublin, where – as per a previous post – springtime arrives a full two months earlier than in Boston.

Though I’m thrilled to be back in the States after four+ years in Dublin, thinking of my wife Jules and the boys in Dublin reminds me of the many things I miss about Ireland, ranging from the significant to the trivial.

People: It was great to return to the States and our many friends. That said, we left so many friends behind in Dublin. I miss them dearly and I envy the reunions Jules is having this weekend. But I also miss the people in Ireland we did not get to know as friends, the proverbial ‘man in the street.’ Irish people really know how to enjoy life – maybe that’s because, according to The Economist, the Irish enjoy… (more…)

Happy February 1st, the First Day of Spring

1 February 2007

Living in Boston after four years in Dublin, I really appreciate hot summer days. For reasons explained below, there never are hot summer days in Dublin. But as much as I appreciate New England summers, I miss springtime in Dublin, where spring arrives a full two months sooner than here.

Despite what the rest of the northern hemisphere thinks, in Ireland February first – not March 21st – is the official first day of spring. So today, while New Englanders continue to deal with winter, Dubliners are watching the daffodils popping up!

Why February First?

As every first grader is taught in Ireland… (more…)

Monday Holidays: Ireland 6, USA 0

21 January 2007

I promised in my first post to write about areas where we Americans might consider doing things ‘the Irish way.’ Given The Economist has now reported that Ireland has the highest quality of life in the world – well ahead of our thirteenth place finish – I should get started!

One area where Ireland beats the USA hands down is on Monday holidays. Other than Memorial and Labor days, all other Monday American holidays (Martin Luther King, Presidents, Patriots, Columbus, Veterans, etc.) are not universally celebrated by government and business. Rather than making for a long weekend with family and friends, American Monday holidays have become juggling acts, where kids are out of school yet many parents are required to work. And for those Americans working in retail there never seems to be a holiday break.

In Ireland, Monday holiday weekends are true long weekends for virtually everyone in the country, including those working in retail. Six times a year Ireland has what is called a ‘Bank Holiday Weekend’ with Monday the holiday. These weekends are better than the ‘long holiday weekend’ in the States because… (more…)

St. Stephen’s Day; Ireland’s answer to Britain’s Boxing Day

26 December 2006

In Ireland, 26 December is St. Stephen’s Day, probably the best day of the Christmas season because the focus is on being with your dearest friends.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas in Ireland, the focus of celebration is ‘associates’ –– coworkers, business associations, social groups, etc. Though events start in early November, the pace quickens in December and does not end until late Christmas Eve with ‘Christmas drinks’ with your office mates.

The focus of Christmas day itself is family. Having no family in Ireland, we spent our four Dublin Christmases at the homes of dear friends Tat and Eoin McVey or Fiona and Owen Murphy. Though we were not family members, their Irish hospitality made us feel as though we were. We will be forever grateful for these dear friends.

Stephen’s Day (the ‘Saint’ is usually dropped) is great because… (more…)

My First Post; So I’m a “Change Agent”

22 December 2006

“So you’re a change agent!” With those words – change agent – the CEO of a European company recently summed up 30+ years of experience on my resume.

Previously, the most succinct description I’ve come up with is this:

I specialize in three areas, startups, rapid expansions, or turnarounds. I either start things, grow things that others have started, or fix things that others have broken.

The “things” being “started / expanded / turned around” include products (from all sorts of industries), sales organizations, factories, divisions, or entire companies. And of course it’s not me who accomplishes all this; rather it’s the incredible people I’ve been fortunate enough to lead.

My boss, Omar Khudari, has been bugging me to start a blog to share… (more…)