Hi, I’m Karen Huber a freelance writer and editor, perpetual volunteer, and the introverted mother of three extroverted TCKs. Originally from Kansas, USA, I first moved with my family to rural County Meath, Ireland in 2008. Today we live in Dublin where we work with the local church, creative arts and community development. I enjoy writing about family and faith.
Welcome to our home in Suburban County Dublin, Ireland! To start the day off right, you’re in for a treat: a mostly clean kitchen! We’ve lived in over a dozen rental homes in two countries, three states and numerous cities, but of all those kitchens big and small, this one right here is my favourite. It’s north facing, so in the summer we wake up to sun streaming through those glass doors, while the winters are so dark that the sun barely peeks over our house, creating a mini-swamp in our back garden.
Our eldest is the first one up, heading to his all-boys secondary school an hour before his younger siblings leave for theirs. The picture above him is a framed map of Dublin circa 1959, and the throw on the sofa is a call-back to our Oak Park, Illinois days. Even with all the moves, some things are too precious not to keep.
Most days either myself or my husband Matt will take the bus into Dublin City. I love the view from the top of the double decker as it snakes its way through inner city traffic and construction. Dublin is a “short” city so the sky always feels close and the buildings easy to see. The flags in this photo line all along the quays in preparation for the All Ireland Gaelic Football Final. These are County Mayo’s colours; they’ll be facing County Dublin in Sunday’s match.
The River Liffey in the previous photo winds its way 15km west into our village. All roadsigns and many government and public organizations are named in English and Irish, the two national languages. After living here several years, I’m often happily surprised to discover myself now reading the Irish words instead of the English ones.
Even though urban sprawl turned most villages bordering Dublin into suburbs, the village square and main streets are still the hub of Irish life. We’ll make twice-weekly trips to our little village for black beans from the green grocer, chicken and sausages from the village butcher, and…
…coffee and scones (and cakes and tarts) from our favourite local bakery.
Rubbish companies will collect your trash, paper/plastic recyclables and compost, but we take our own glass to the local shopping centre for recycling.
Fáilte to the library!
I’m ashamed to admit how much I disliked this little library when we first moved here. It was overstuffed with books and overrun with rambunctious children (including mine). I missed the luxurious, meticulously organized and hushed libraries of the American midwest. But this place has become my home away from home, my community. It’s where I find Irish authors to enthrall my children, librarians who know my name and forgive my debts (some of them, anyway!), my little writers’ group and the collection of short stories we published earlier this year. It’s also where you’ll find friendly knitters on a Monday morning.
We like tea.
Commuters 2 and 3.
Homework is an absolute beast in Ireland. Our second year (8th grade) student will spend two or three hours on it.
Homework for 1st graders is considerably easier.
Mexican Monday! We love this crockpot chicken taco recipe and make it weekly (using leftovers for tortilla soup). You’re more likely to find Asian or Lebanese food in Ireland than Mexican, but this last year we discovered a Mexican imports shop run by the effervescent Lily. Our standard of living/eating has increased exponentially 🙂
Asher and our dog Cocoa settling in for a pre-bedtime cuddle.
Most schools in Ireland are denominational/religious-based schools. The first three years in country, our kids all attended Catholic school, but last year we transferred our two youngest to a multi-denominational primary school, which is similar in ethos to the US public school system. It’s a small student body and extremely diverse, with close to 80% being from immigrant families. Our children learn alongside kids from Nigeria, Somalia, Poland, Italy, Spain, Thailand, India and Korea. They study each other’s countries and honour their cultural traditions. Today my youngest came home with this drawing of Eid, a Muslim holy day. Next month they’ll commemorate Dawali, and in November they’ll celebrate American Thanksgiving. I cry all the way through the annual “Mother Tongue” concert and I marvel with joy at their painting of Martin Luther King, Jr. flanked by a circle of children of every colour, with the words “Living the Dream.” On tough days, of which there are a few, I remember that we – and our children – are doing just that.
We end most days right here: in our sitting room, with our feet up and a bit of telly. Goodnight from Dublin!