Ex-student shines the spotlight on GalwayApril 20, 2012 - 7:00am
It’s always fascinating to know what other people think about us – even if we don’t necessarily agree with these people’s opinions.
A new guide book by NUI graduate Christina McDonald, who previously worked as a journalist in Galway, gives a very good insight on how at least one American views Ireland.
Moon Living Abroad in Ireland is a comprehensive guide book geared at both tourists and people who are thinking of moving here to live. And for the most part, Christina’s thoughts on the country, especially Galway, are positive.
That’s possibly not surprising as she has many happy memories of her time here as a student – these include meeting the man who became her husband when she spotted and fancied him him at a Taekwon Do class.
These days Christina lives in London with her husband Richard and their three-year-old son. Speaking on the phone, she laughs as she recalls how she noticed Richard in class one day and manipulated the situation so she was paired up with him for manoeuvres.
“It changed the course of my life,” she says of her time in Galway. And it also proved invaluable when American publishing company Moon, which specialises in independent travel and adventure books, was looking for somebody to write a guide book on Ireland.
Seattle native Christina had sent her CV to the company about five years ago, after spotting an advertisement it had posted on the website Craigslist. Back then Moon wanted somebody to write a book on her area of America and she figured she was an ideal candidate.
They felt differently, however.
“I never heard anything back. But then, a few years later they contacted me about writing a book on Ireland.”
She sent on an outline of her ideas and they went from there.
“Moon has a fairly standard outline for all books, but there is room for a bit of personal input on each country,” says Christina. Her personal tips include fun items such as a history of the Claddagh ring and Galway hooker as well as practical tips on safety, travel, tax relief and the cost of living.
Her research relied largely on her personal experience of living here and her knowledge of both American and Irish society, which allowed her to explain differences in customs and languages between the countries.
For factual and statistical information she relied largely on websites from various Government departments as well as the Citizens Advice Board and Fáilte Ireland. She also contacted experts in various areas and made use of online expat forums used by Americans living in Ireland.
Like the Rough Guides and Lonely Planet travel books that people on this side of the world are more familiar with, the Moon Guide contains a general overview of the country being featured. There’s a history of the country – in this case Ireland – advice on planning a fact-finding trip and making the move. In that section Christina covers visas, immigration, health, employment, communications and transport.
One section of the book is entitled Prime Living Locations. There, Christina explains that for someone moving to Ireland, they have two choices about where to live; urban or rural.
She deals briefly with rural areas before selecting Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, in that order, as her prime living locations.
She describes Galway as “the soul of what really sums up all that is ‘Irish’” and she accurately captures the climate of the Western seaboard.
“You may wake up to bright sunshine but by the time you get out of bed, dark angry clouds may be lashing fat drops of cold rain.”
Christina first wanted to come to Ireland as a child, when she was a saw a photo of the Dingle Peninsula and loved it. She has no close family connections with this country, but she felt drawn here.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.