Orla McCarthy-Kearney

 Ireland

"There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met.William Butler Yeats, Irish poet, 1865 – 1939"

    Hi there and welcome!

    My name is Orla and what follows is a brief introduction to myself and my life in Luxembourg.

    I moved over from Ireland in the summer of 2000 to join my then boyfriend, now husband, who had arrived some months previously working as an aircraft maintenance contractor and had accepted the offer of a permanent job. Having decided to base ourselves in the Grand Duchy for a couple of years I found a job with a US asset management company and life in Luxembourg began. Fast-track 18 years and we are completely settled in Luxembourg. Our son, who will be 12 next birthday, was born in Luxembourg and will be finishing primary school in July. He’s been schooled through the Luxembourgish system and will hopefully continue in a lycée (Luxembourgish high school) when he starts secondary school in September.

    The years have flown by and we feel very much at home in Luxembourg enjoying everything this lovely country has to offer. The local customs and traditions have taken root and have formed the backbone of our lives in Lux.

    Summertime is synonymous with outdoor swimming pools, barbecues and glasses of chilled rosé. Town comes alive, with every inch of spare terrace and pavement given over where possible to outdoor dining.  The Schueberfouer (think ‘Funderland’) is a highly anticipated late summer event. And as the kids return to school in mid-September, we head for the hills to the Vergers de Steinsel (the orchards) for apple picking.

    The International bazaar now in its 58th year, is a November highlight followed by the arrival of St. Nicolas, with his crozier and pointy hat on 6th December. The rest of the month is filled with Christmas markets (serving Gluhwein and festive staples, everything from deep-fried grated potato cakes called Gromperekichelcher to Belgian-style waffles topped with chantilly cream and strawberries), ice skating and ferris wheels and candle-lit church services.

    Other annual events that are as natural to us now as if we were born here include the Octave market in Place Guillaume II which we head to without fail for fish and chips (for years this was the only place we could get Irish-style battered fish and chips, still no vinegar though!) and Easter Monday’s Péckvillchen day, characterized by little hand-crafted ceramic birds that become whistles when filled with water.

    The capital is a fairy tale city with its ramparts, arched bridges, cobblestone streets, historic buildings and churches amid shiny steel or glass buildings and bridges, lifts and a futuristic-looking tram to rival Dublin’s Luas. We’re surrounded by beautiful nature, with parks dotted around the city and further afield splendid forests and walking trails. Within a short driving time you’ll have reached the picturesque sloped valleys of the Moselle with their vineyards and caves and fantastic wines.

    Culturally, there are absolutely bucket loads of things to do with superb frequently staged local as well as visiting English-language theatre productions. There’s an incredible music scene – indie, pop, rock, jazz, classical. We’ve seen and heard countless great performances in such intimate venues as den Atelier with crowds of  less than 1,000 people, with Irish acts Two Door Cinema Club, The Strypes, Kodaline, Glen Hansard to name but a few performing over the years. There are outdoor concerts held each summer in the stunning grounds of the Abbaye de Neumunster, bigger concerts are held in Rockhal and other great venues around the country.

    For sports enthusiasts, the Luxembourg ING night marathon and the Postlaf are just two of many great events for runners and spectators alike. Also the Broschtkriibslaf in the Grund each October, a 4km fun run fundraiser for the fight against breast cancer has been a fixed feature in our calendar for many years now. Cycling is huge in Luxembourg and even for non-cyclists, there is a buzz about the sport – the races and local riders, the proximity of the Tour de France – reminiscent of the glory days of Irish cycling and the legendary Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.

    Whether you have moved to pursue your career, are here on your university co-op, or perhaps it’s your spouse’s job that has brought you to Lux, you may find yourself a bit homesick and yearning for what is familiar to you. You needn’t worry. There are very many ties to Ireland to be found in Luxembourg, you can check out the list of the Irish associations and recurrent events on the community page (see below).

    There are also Irish pubs, shops selling Irish products and events with an Irish connection taking place all year round that will put you in touch with the many Irish who are living and working in Luxembourg. The cinemas show all the latest English-language films. There is an array of English-language magazines, guides, online news pages and radio shows to keep yourself informed and entertained.

    And if you’ve arrived eager to experience change, explore a new country, learn a new language and meet new friends, why not come to one of the JAA Club newcomers meet-up events? And keep an eye on the JAA Club community and blog pages for news and details of upcoming events not just associated with Ireland and the Irish community but also events which will immerse you in other cultures and communities.

    I look forward to sharing with you more in-depth articles about life in Luxembourg and to meeting you in person through the events the JAA Club and the City of Luxembourg put on. I am certain that you’ll find your feet before long. And like me and so many of your fellow residents of the Grand Duchy, you’ll come to love Luxembourg city and country, its citizens and residents alike, with all its quiet charm and ever increasing sophistication.

    See you soon!

    Orla

     

     

     

     

     

     

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