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Your Weekly Irish Culture Fix

Greetings friends,

In the latest installment of mlkinire.com I’ve curated a roundup of all the latest news from IRE that’s fit to print. Ok maybe not, but the following four stories entertained me this past week so I wanted to pass along. I trust these will give you the Irish culture fix you are seeking on this beautiful Sunday. I hope you are all healthy and well in the world today.

The Donald in IRE

The Donald in IRE

First up we have news of The Donald coming to town! That’s right, notorious American billionaire Donald Trump was just south of Galway this week in Co Clare (still can’t believe I didn’t get a call or text). The Donald has apparently given up chasing down Presidential birth certificates and is back to his real estate mogul ways. Scooping up the Doonbeg course for $15M Euro he is pledging to invest 3X as much in the coming years to make it an iconic golf destination. Welcome to IRE, Donald!

The Donald Comes To Town

Next we have a video from budding local politician Seamus Sheridan – I loved his pitch on his interests in Galway and what makes this town unique. Galway City Council elections will be held this Friday May 23rd. Best of luck, Seamus!

 

Here is a fascinating story about the late Jackie Kennedy and her longtime pen pal relationship with a Dublin priest. She apparently met Fr Leonard in Ireland while traveling around Europe in 1950 and kept a correspondence that would last until he past away 14 years later. The former famous First Lady was known to keep a very private life, and these letters which are set to auction next month for at least $1M will provide an inside look into her life and marriage with JFK.

JackieO in Dublin

Jackie Kennedy’s Personal Letters to Dublin

And for your laugh out loud moment of the weekend, here is an article about the reasons Irish people are hopeless at dating. I will hold my opinions until I’ve had a bit more time in this beloved country.

Irish People Bad at Dating

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Have a great week everyone.

MLK

 

P.S – for those interested, currently spinning on repeat @ mlkinireHQ:

and

 

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Letter to a College Graduate

I’ve been thinking about a FitzPatrick recently. No not one of the countless who are now my new closest friends and neighbors in the west of Ireland. I’ve been thinking about a Fitz who is 5,000 miles from Galway in sunny Los Angeles. My cousin Dan FitzPatrick is set to graduate from UCLA next month. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of him and can’t wait to see what he does next in his life. Aside from being extremely jealous of his role acting as the unofficial mayor of Westwood for the past four years, Dan was also an integral member of the men’s hoops team, rising through the ranks most recently this year as the head manager for the Sweet 16 Bruins. I’m hoping the connections he’s been making since landing in LA will lead to us having courtside seats next to Billy Crystal and Rihanna at the future Oprah-owned Clippers in the next few years.

Without being there to celebrate I thought I would do something a little different for a graduation present. As someone who wasn’t that long ago in your similar shoes (granted I haven’t been able to rock the sock-less boat shoe look that you seem to have perfected) I thought I would jot down some advice for your first few years outside of school. It was seven years ago this month that I was sitting around my shoebox sized apartment in Boston’s Beacon Hill, not having a clue as to what my next chapter in life would look like. Most of this advice I learned the good old-fashioned hard way. By no means do I claim to be a career expert, however as someone who somehow managed to flip a Political Science degree into running Europe for a high growth software company I wanted to offer anything I can to help the transition out of the college bubble into the real world. The old saying of “If I can do it, anyone…” ah screw it, here are a few pieces of unsolicited advice Fitz. Congrats brother, can’t wait to celebrate with you later this year:

-Start building your personal brand online now. This is the way you will get your first job. Any company worth their salt is going to google you during the interview process. Give them something useful to find. Create a LinkedIn with your college experience and begin connecting with people. Start a Twitter account that builds off your interests and where you want to land. Follow the thought leaders in your industry. Whatever the industry, there’s a conversation going online about it. Join it and add to it. And yes, it’s time to retire any unflattering pictures on Facebook from your days running the show at ZBT. These will be vetted as well.

-Read. A lot. Blogs, books, tweets. Learn something new everyday. Show a proactive personality to take initiative. I know you are a history buff. Reading biographies of the great coaches over the last 100 years will undoubtedly provide you with a leg up on your competition to get in the door at a pro sports organization.

-Don’t be opposed to a job that might not look the sexiest on paper. Little did I know six years ago that slinging software testing tools to geeks worldwide from the north shore of Massachusetts would eventually lead to me fulfilling lifelong dreams like surprising EK with a new car on her birthday, traveling the world to see Springsteen or getting shipped off to Ireland for work. The job and opportunity is all what you make of it. Whatever you get hired to do, make it a goal to get better daily at that job. Constantly seek progress and feedback from your superiors to understand how your next opportunity can be achieved. Always remember, move up or move out.

-Build yourself a circle of friends, peers, bosses and thought leaders. Consistently connect with them. Help them and learn from them. I have a network of people I look to daily for inspiration and know they would be there at a moment’s notice if needed. There is nothing more powerful.

And my final piece of advice, which I consider the most important of all: Go travel. Take risks. Live out of a backpack. Drink cheap beer and couch surf. You will not have those types of opportunities forever. Anyone I’ve ever talked to that didn’t travel in their early 20’s always looks back and regrets it. I learned more about life at a sketchy nightclub in Surfer’s Paradise or a dingy hostel in Santorini than I ever did in a classroom. There is a spare bedroom with your name on it waiting for you in Edwards Square, right in the heart of Galway, Ireland. First round of pints are on me brother.

Proof of the patented DFitz look taken at Easter this year, courtesy of his loving cousin Seamus.

Proof of the patented DFitz look taken at Easter this year, courtesy of his loving cousin Seamus.

 

The Claddagh ring in Galway

7 May 2014

Earlier today I stumbled on the video below that provides a great slice of Galway culture. It’s a quick 4-minute documentary about the Claddagh ring and it’s history and connection to Galway. The video has some cool shots of the city and the Thomas Dillon shop down the street from me, home to the original Claddagh ring. It’s an interesting lesson on what the ring means to Irish culture, whether you just play fake Irish once a year for Paddy’s Day or proudly claim 100% ancestry to the motherland like my family. The connections to the US and September 11th that are mentioned in the clip are extremely powerful.

Not a day goes by that I am not completely floored at how lucky I am to live and work in a place as culturally rich in Irish heritage as Galway City.

And for the bachelors out there, if you start chatting up a woman wearing a Claddagh ring and the heart is pointed towards herself, now you know she is taken!

Happy Wednesday everybody.

MLK

Preaching the Gospel of Bruce

When you move to another country and don’t know many people, you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone. You cannot be afraid to walk up to a stranger and say hello; or saddle up to a pub by yourself and have a chat with the barman, open to wherever the night takes you. A social situation that could be frightening to some, I find thrilling. The last two months have been equal parts challenging, liberating, and hilarious. Getting the chance to tell my story and learn from a variety of cultures and backgrounds from around the world has been very rewarding. (I’ve realized my answer to the standard “Where are you from?” is a bit confusing: well, I grew up in Minnesota, spent my 20s in Boston and the better part of the last 6 years running off to Los Angeles every chance I get. Yes, I’m officially an American mutt.)

Yes you said you were from the US, but where exactly?

Yes you said you were from the US, but where exactly?

Last week I struck up a conversation at the Front Door (one of my favorite Galway watering holes) with a nice woman who was traveling from Argentina. My failure to remember her name gives a strong indication of how well the conversation went. At some point during our casual small talk, the guy playing guitar that night dove into a great version of Springsteen’s, “I’m On Fire.” After the song I shouted in appreciation, “Brruuuucccee!” like I usually do when presented with a Bruce moment of any kind. Miss Argentina immediately looked at me like I had six heads.

Realizing a shared love of all things Bruce was not in the cards for us, I hastily attempted to explain who this legend was and what he meant to music history. Along the way she maintained a moderate level of interest in the subject, asking a few innocent enough questions to humor my clear excitement. One in particular, “What is your favorite Bruce song?” sort of caught me off guard.

One song?! How on earth could I decide on one song from a catalog so rich? After a minute pondering, (pretty much from when the topic of Bruce came up Miss Argentina continued looking at me like I had six heads for the remainder of our conversation) I decided on “Thunder Road.” A classic story, a classic love song that never fails to give me goosebumps any time I hear it. She nodded in passive understanding, and excused herself to take a phone call. It must have been very important as Miss Argentina was never to be seen from again. And to think I didn’t even get a chance to finish telling her my feelings of Tom Morello filling in for Little Stevie on the High Hopes tour. What a shame.

Now that it’s been a few days though I’ve decided there can’t just be one favorite Bruce tune. The man has too many to choose from. It’s been said before that he also has at least 1-2 albums worth of new unreleased material in his back pocket at any given time. His ability to continue writing great music well into his 60’s is amazing. After a few hours spent narrowing my list from 30+, and a serious YouTube bootleg deep dive, I’ve come up with my top 5 below along with a live version of each for your Sunday listening pleasure.

And Miss Argentina, if you are reading…”the screen door slams…”

 

MLK’S TOP 5 FAVORITE BRUCE SONGS

1) Thunder Road- listen to this live, either acoustic or full band and tell me it doesn’t get you every time. The video is from Belfast last summer, the final song played on the last night of my infamous Bruce IRE tour.

2) No Surrender- includes my favorite all time lyrics – “we learned more from a 3 minute record / than we ever learned in school.”

3) The River- I was at this show last summer in Limerick with my buddy Danny (biggest Bruce fan I know). Right before Bruce launched into the powerful and somber number we were approached by two Irish girls to see if they could go up on our shoulders for a better view of the stage. I laughed and didn’t think much of it. Danny was absolutely appalled at their song selection for such a request. 10 months later I think he is still just as upset.

4) Wrecking Ball- defining song of my late 20s, and Bruce’s early 60s.

5) Dancing In The Dark – the ultimate party song. Brings me back to the Misk wedding every time I hear it.

 

So there you have it. Thank you, sweet Argentinian lady, for listening to me preach about the legend known as The Boss. Moral of the story: don’t shy away from a conversation with a stranger in a foreign land. You never know what sort of YouTube deep dive they will send you on. And for those of you out there lucky enough to catch Bruce and the legendary E Street Band yesterday at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, know that I am infinitely jealous.

What are the Bruce hits you can’t live without?

 

Book Review – 27 April 2014

**Editors note: the following post has nothing to do with my travels, Ireland, or pints of sweet, sweet Guinness. If that’s what you were looking for, you are out of luck this week.

I was recently researching different interview techniques when I came across an article put together by Openview Venture Partners about the greatest interview questions of all time. Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot’s co-founder, posed a question that jumped out at me: “What book do you think everyone on the team should read?”

Almost immediately I felt a brief surge of panic when I pictured myself sitting across the room from Dharmesh as he asked the question. Would I have a good answer on the spot? How could someone who claims to be well read not immediately come up with a creative and powerful answer? After a few tense moments I decided on Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human, which I do recommend to everyone. Little did I know I was also in the middle of reading a new book though that would quickly become my future go to answer. Carol Leifer’s, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying. This book is so good I just finished reading it for the second time. Leifer, a long time Fitz family comic favorite, is best known for her work writing on Seinfeld, for the Academy Awards, Modern Family and her years as a stand up comic. She does a great job blending her four decades of experience in show biz into great stories that also provide lessons for anyone trying to create/make it in a new challenging career. No matter if you are a struggling actor or a recent MBA her stories resonate. Heartfelt, inspiring and hilarious, this is the type of book I aspire to write some day, unfortunately minus the stories of hobnobbing with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bill Cosby and Bryan Cranston (long live Walter White!)

I won’t spoil all her great bits (buy the book!) but here are my 9 favorite tips / tricks / quotes from Leifer’s latest work:

1) Passion is an early riser. It will be out of bed and ready to work while indifference is still trying to get its pants on.

2) Be likeable. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David used to reference “the easy hang” when recruiting staff. Be good at what you do, but you’ve got to be easy to get along with. It doesn’t matter how talented you are if your personality is a drag.

3) Don’t steal soda from Aaron Spelling.

4) Tenacity will always make you a winner. Though the odds of ending up on a private jet with Jennifer Anniston…still very small.

5) Jay Leno’s “Rule of Ten.” When you’re nice to someone, they’ll go back and tell 10 people about their experience with you. Word gets around when you’re nice. It also gets around when you’re a rude douche: that intel goes, “Rule of Ten,” too.

6) You can’t have any new old friends.

7) Control what you can, and screw what you can’t.

8) Swim, or die. Good advice for sharks, and for anyone who has to be in the water with them.

9) The fish stinks from the head down.

 

Thank you Carol, I am now far more prepared if I find myself someday in an interview with Dharmesh Shah.

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Dispatches from IRE, 21 April 2014

Greetings friends,

Here are some recent shots and quick notes from the last few weeks. Some may have already been posted and seen on various social channels, but what would a successful blog be without catering to my “off the grid” family as well?

nice day in Galway last week

nice day in Galway last week

patio season has arrived

patio season has arrived

Spanish Arch. My favorite spot for a coffee break.

Spanish Arch. favorite spot for a coffee break.

With the weather improving drastically the last few weeks I am quickly starting to see why Galway is the preferred choice for so many when it comes to a favorite Irish city. The insatiable appetite for fun held by the locals is intoxicating to say the least.

a rare sight, Murphy's Bar closed on Good Friday.

a rare sight, Murphy’s Bar closed on Good Friday.

food fest

Entrance to the Latin Quarter

Last weekend was the Galway Food Festival, which brought thousands to the little town on the west coast for Easter. Sunshine and food tents all across the city provided endless entertainment. Again, I can’t stress how delicious and varied the local food scene is here. To reward those who survived Good Friday (yes it is true, all pubs in Ireland are closed on both Good Friday and Christmas Day), and to cap the holiday weekend there was apparently a huge Silent Disco party (yes, also true. see below pic for proof) thrown last night where they close off a few streets and hand out headphones for thousands to enjoy as a couple local DJ’s spin the hits. I missed the invite this time around, but count me in for next time!

photo courtesy the Roisin Dubh FB page

photo courtesy the Roisin Dubh FB page

Lucius @ The Workmans Club, Dublin.

Lucius @ The Workmans Club, Dublin.

One of the inevitable adjustments I was going to make in Galway was the lack of consistent touring bands coming through town like I had enjoyed for years living in Boston. But with this compromise brings the opportunity to get out and see all the different corners of Ireland, and the rest of Europe. The easiest of which is Dublin, just a two-hour bus ride to the east. So when I saw the Brooklyn, NY based Lucius was coming through, I decided to hop a bus and pop into Dublin for the night.

Lucius in Dublin last Saturday night.

Lucius in Dublin last Saturday night.

I was first exposed to the group last summer at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival in The Berkshires of MA (also future home of my inaugural run as a Justice of the Peace, courtesy of the Misk Wedding). Ever since it’s been fun to follow them emerge as one of the next great up and coming acts out there. The vocal harmonies and stage presence of the two lead singers Jess and Holly are tough to beat. Check them out when they come to your town.

The Lucius Ladies.

The Lucius Ladies.

Wherever you find yourself in the world, I hope you are well. To all my Boston peeps, I hope you had a great Marathon Monday. Always will be one of my favorite days to be in the city. Forever #bostonstrong

MLK

 

Final taste: loved stumblin on this busker last week covering Bruce’s Atlantic City- Atlantic City, live in Galway City

Edwards Square, right in the heart of town

Greetings friends,

This week’s installment brings us an MTV Cribs inspired post, #mlkinire style. The following shots are of my apartment and surrounding neighborhood to give a better idea of my new digs in Galway City (apt shots were taken last week when I first moved in, I swear):

View of street leading up to my apartment. I live on top of a Dunnes Store, which little did I know is like a home goods / grocery super store combined. Extremely fortunate to have this right outside my front door.

Williams Street leading up to my apartment. I live on top of a Dunnes Store, which little did I know is like a home goods / grocery super store combined. Extremely fortunate to have this right outside my front door.

 

Door to my building on the lower right. I am surrounded by boutique female clothing stores. I can already feel my Irish fashion sense improving.

Door to my building on the lower right. I am surrounded by boutique female clothing stores. I can already feel my Irish fashion sense improving.

Around the corner from my place is Shop St, where all the action is.

Around the corner from my place is Shop St, where all the action is.

Roof top terrace leading up to my front door, down on the right.

Roof top terrace leading up to my front door, down on the right.

Construction site outside my building. Not much progress in the last 100 or so years I don’t think. God bless the endearing Irish.

Construction site outside my building. Not much progress in the last 100 or so years I don’t think. God bless the endearing Irish.

View of city outside my bedroom window.

View of city outside my bedroom window.

Front door of the new pad.

Front door of the new pad.

My bedroom.

My bedroom.

Bedroom #2 – first guest to claim the room can decorate to your heart’s desire.

Bedroom #2 – first guest to claim the room can decorate to your heart’s desire.

Surprisingly lucked out with a shower that accommodates an oversized American!

Surprisingly lucked out with a shower that accommodates an oversized American!

Living room – apartments in Ireland come furnished with basic couches, tables, etc. Makes it much easier moving in from across the world.

Living room – apartments come furnished with basic couches, tables, etc. Makes it much easier moving in from across the world.

Sadly no nap couches suitable for the 6ft+ population.

Sadly no nap couches suitable for the 6ft+ population.

Looking forward to SmartBear family dinners here. Will need to add cooking skills to my current job req's.

Looking forward to many SmartBear family dinners here. Will need to add cooking skills to my current job req’s.

Kitchen - Sha I need you to work your magic in here!

Kitchen – Sha I need you to work your magic in here!

One of the few pieces I brought over with me. Providing daily inspiration.

One of the few pieces I brought over with me. Providing daily inspiration.

Kane / Fitz family signs. One of my goals in my time in Ireland is to track down our family history / roots. Thought these pieces would be a good start. Any family reading this that can provide clues as to where I should start please leave a comment below.

Kane / Fitz family signs. One of my goals in my time in Ireland is to track down our family history / roots. Thought these pieces would be a good start. Any family reading this that can provide clues as to where I should start please leave a comment below.

Sunset from roof top looking out at the city.

Sunset from roof top looking out at the city.

Selfie time on Shop st earlier today. I love this town.

Selfie time on Shop st earlier today. I love this town.

Hopefully these pictures give a better idea of where I’ve recently run off to. Stay tuned for more shots as I continue to explore the city and surrounding areas of beautiful IRE.

Until next time.

MLK