Staycation in Killarney, Co Kerry

Admitting you’ve been on a foreign holiday this year will make you a social pariah faster than you can say “cancelled.”

Like many others, I’m staying at home this year as I don’t think travelling abroad is worth the risk at the moment. I try not to judge anyone who is going abroad as I really enjoy my holliers and would probably be heading away were it not for Covid-19 crashing the party.

This summer seems particularly long with no weddings, concerts or other events to break it up. Even going to the pub is an ordeal and so after five months working at home, I was climbing the walls and desperate for a change of scenery. (I know, first world problems or what?)

Luckily, I managed to cajole my boyfriend into a staycation (also known as a holiday at home) in the wonderful surroundings of Killarney, Co Kerry.

We chose Killarney as there was lots of affordable mid-week accommodation and I’d never been to Kerry and my boyfriend had only been once.

Also, it was far enough away from Dublin to make it feel more like a proper trip away.

We were staying right in the heart of town in the Killarney Avenue hotel. It was quite reasonably priced for mid-week (€318 for two nights) which was pretty good for a four-star hotel.

There are tons of BnBs and hotels in Killarney but it’s definitely worth paying a little more to be closer to town. It was a beautiful hotel with lots of hygiene measures in place and we felt very safe and relaxed.

The residents’ bar was closed but you could order drinks to your room at no extra cost which was fantastic! The staff were also lovely, very obliging and couldn’t do enough for you.

The only small drawbacks were breakfast wasn’t included (you could pay extra but we decided to dine out instead) and the car park is quite narrow and small although I think there is some undergound parking also.

One of the first things you’ll notice in Killarney are the famous jaunting cars, a horse and cart with a “jarvey” driving them.

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Killarney’s famous jaunting cars

Killarney was absolutely buzzing with staycationers and locals alike when we arrived on a warm Wednesday afternoon. We checked in and went for a stroll around the town to try find a spot for dinner.

We also got some delicious Murphy’s ice-cream which was the perfect antidote for the hot day.

A lot of the restaurants were booked out or very busy. We were torn between an Italian restaurant Salvadors and Robertinos and a fish place but went for Salvadors as it served alcohol (priorities haha).

I had carbonara which was absolutely delicious but took some time to consume! My other half had a seafood dish and we split a bottle of white wine.

We had to queue for about 10 minutes but the weather was lovely and warm so we didn’t mind.

After dinner we went for a stroll around town and found a cafe called Curious Cat where we ate breakfast the next day. I also spied a tiny vintage shop which I vowed to visit.

The weather was perfect the first day however, rain threatened the next day. But we’d planned to drive out along the Ring of Kerry with a picnic lunch so we weren’t too worried.

One of my favourite travel bloggers Melanie May was in Kerry at the same time so I was avidly watching her stories to see her recommendations. She advised skipping Muckross House and going straight to Ladies View to admire the stunning scenery of Killarney National Park.

An interesting fact we later learned in Killarney House was that Ladies View gets its name from Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who visited the spot in 1861.

Nowadays, there’s a nice cafe with an open air deck which wasn’t too busy and we enjoyed a coffee and cake here.

On the way up to Ladies View, we stopped and took some photos of a deserted old church.

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Deserted old church

We had no real plan for our drive and we continued motoring the twisty windy N70 road, keeping an eye out for errant sheep along the way.

The road has a few steep inclines but the sharp bends are the most dangerous part so drive with caution.

We ended up in the picturesque town of Sneem which has lots of statues (including one of Charles de Gaulle), colourful buildings, retro signs and murals.

But the most amazing thing we saw was definitely a bearded man with a giant billy goat on a lead! I didn’t believe my boyfriend at first until he showed me.

I loved the colourful buildings and retro signs
Sneem Tavern
Sneem is a very cute town
Bee mural in Sneem

Sneem was quiet enough while we were there and we tried to picnic on a bench but rain sent us back to the car!

There is a caravan park in the town, ideal for staycationers on a road trip.

On the way back down, it became quite misty and we even had to turn on our fog lights to make sure other cars could see us.

The scenery was breathtaking
Killarney’s famous lakes
Sneem

That night we ate at the hotel’s restaurant and went for a late-night stroll hoping to find a speak-easy.

Needless to say, we didn’t and settled for room service drinks and late night TV from the comfort of the enormous bed.

We could use the pool at the Killarney Avenue’s neighbouring hotel, the Killarney Towers just across the road but it was booked up on the second evening.

However, the staff kindly allowed me to use it at 12pm on our last day even though we’d checked out by then,

I went for a relaxing swim while my boyfriend took a stroll through the town after breakfast in Noelle’s Cafe. I wouldn’t recommend this place, the staff seemed rushed off their feet which is fair enough but they messed up my order, the table wasn’t clean and neither was the floor.

As I recall, the food was fine but nothing outstanding. The decor was cute but Curious Cat is a much better bet.

In Curious Cat, I had French toast with bacon and coffee while my boyfriend had a full Irish with Sneem black pudding.

We also stopped at The Tan Yard for a coffee which we had sitting outside, enjoying the mild weather.

Before leaving I was dying to check out the vintage shop I’d seen, Hazel’s Nuts About Vintage on Glebe Street.

It looked small so I told my boyfriend I wouldn’t be long but inside, I got sucked into a vintage paradise.

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The most adorable earrings

The stock was fantastic and really reasonably priced. I tried on Versace jeans that were amazing but didn’t fit and I spent ages rifling through the jewellery, trying to decide what to pick.

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One of the outfits on display

Eventually, I went for a Ireland map pendant necklace (I’d wanted one of these for ages), some gorgeous dragon earrings and a sparkly lurex jumper with a pink/purple leaf design, perfect for autumn and Christmas. The total came to €45. (There are pics on my IG stories highlights).

I think the jumper was €29/€30 and the jewellery about €7-8 approximately. I could’ve spent a lot more in this shop, it really is a gem and worth checking out if you’re in Killarney.

Also the owner told me they sell at a market on Sundays so definitely worth checking out the market if you’re visiting at the weekend.

Our final stop before hitting the road was Killarney House and Gardens, We initially thought the house was closed and enjoyed a stroll around the gardens which are very well-maintained but also have spots growing wild to encourage bio-diversity.

My boyfriend is responsible for the macro photo skills

We saw lots of bees (did you know there are 21 bumblebee species in Ireland? I learned this from a display in the grounds and it was really fantastic to see the efforts being made to protect pollinators.

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The beautiful grounds of Killarney House
Misty views of Killarney House and Gardens
A very enjoyable stroll
A feast for the eyes

We also got to go inside and visit the house for free. I’d forgotten my facemask but they had ones for visitors which was great.

I love history and the house was full of beautiful and interesting exhibits, telling its story and that of the local area.

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Killarney House
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Killarney memorabilia
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A stag’s skull on display in Killarney House

Sadly, it was then time to hit the road and we headed back to get the car. We had such a wonderful and enjoyable stay in Killarney and I hope to be back in the future

I hope you all have enjoyed this post. I’m very aware that travelling in Ireland is not cheap and not an option for a lot of us at this time so I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Please note, we paid for everything ourselves, this was not a gifted stay. Leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve been to Killarney or if you’d like to go in the future. Don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.

Edel

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Visiting Galway: A weekend away in the city of The Tribesmen

I lived in Galway for almost six years so it’s surprising that it hasn’t yet featured on my blog!

Not only is it a stunningly beautiful city but the people are also very friendly and you’re guaranteed the best craic on a night out.

I find it mad that some Irish people have never been there when it’s top of the list for most tourists coming here.

I recently spent a fun-filled weekend in Galway with my boyfriend and I can’t wait to go back again.

A word of warning – we visited on a bank holiday weekend and a lot of hotels were booked up or wouldn’t take taking one-night bookings and Airbnbs are surprisingly scarce, so we were lucky to find an affordable bnb on College Road, five minutes walk from Eyre Square.

After we checked in to our accommodation, our first port of call was lunch. We headed to McCambridges, a lovely gourmet shop and restaurant on Shop Street.

McCambridges are renowned for their delicious bread and gourmet produce and our lunch didn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend the chicken and chorizo salad!

We then strolled around the city taking in the sights and in my case, window-shopping.

I nipped into Nine Crows Galway, which has to be one of my favourite shops in Galway, jampacked full of vintage goodies.

I was really taken with a pair of hexagonal sunglasses and returned the next day to buy them for €20.

Unfortunately, they seem to have gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of my recent house move 😥 I have a terrible habit of losing sunglasses, not gonna lie…

Among the other shopping delights Galway has to offer, include Public Romance, a great vintage shop and Kembali, great for jewellery and bandanas, both situated on Upper Abbeygate Street.

There are two shopping centres, the Eyre Square Centre and the Galway Shopping Centre, the Eyre Square one is the best one, with most of the usual chain shops, however, there’s no H&M or Zara in Galway.

The Spanish Arch is the place to sit and chill when the weather is nice and it’s also one of the oldest parts of the city, dating back to the 1500s.

It was a lovely sunny day and we enjoyed looking out over the water and watching a happy little dog go for a swim.

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Anyone who’s ever lived in or partied in Galway will know the delights of drinking by the Sparch in summer but as we had no alcohol, we did the next best thing and headed for the pub.

Galway’s nightlife is excellent at the best of times and as it was a bank holiday weekend, the pubs were hopping in the middle of the day.

We headed for O’Connell’s on Eyre Square which is one of my favourite pubs in Galway.

Like any good Irish pub, it’s stuffed to the rafters with all kinds of memorabilia and the beer garden is one of the best in the city.

There was a wedding party in the pub so there wasn’t much room to sit but we sat outside for a while, before returning inside to another cosy corner.

After a nap back at the BnB, we headed out for dinner in Cactus Jacks Mexican restaurant, (it was Cinco de Mayo and we both love Mexican!)

Most of the good restaurants and bars are in the Latin Quarter, a lively spot where Quay Street meets the Spanish Arch.

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The Latin Quarter Galway

The food was absolutely delicious and I also enjoyed a margarita for the day that was in it.

With full bellies, we took a walk down to the west end of Galway, which is probably the most “hipster” part of the city.

We popped into the Bierhaus for one but didn’t stay long due to the ‘music’ or shall I say noise the DJ was playing!

Looking for somewhere quieter, we wandered into Garavan’s on Shop Street where we remained for the rest of the night.

The next day, we headed out for breakfast, winding up at An Cupan Tae at the Spanish Arch.

This is a kitsch and cutesy cafe specialising in lots of different teas.

The tea names were a tad notions (Dreamy Creamy Breakfast Tea?!) but we had delicious breakfast sandwiches which went down a treat.

It was a hot sunny day so we headed down to Salthill after breakfast and took in the gorgeous views from the promenade (after we found parking that is).

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Salthill beach Galway

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Salthill, Galway

It was sunny enough for shorts but there’s always a bit of a breeze in Galway so I was glad to have a jacket also.

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Sitting on rocks at the promenade

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Yet another one

As we had a car, we decided to spin out west to see some of the countryside.

I’m ashamed to say that I lived in Galway for so long yet never went outside the city to explore Connemara.

First port of call was Spiddal, a stunning fishing village in the heart of the Gaeltacht.

The scenery in Spiddal is lovely with a thatched cottage, old church and the old harbour among my favourite sights.

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Thatched cottage in Spiddal, Co. Galway

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Old church, Spiddal, Co. Galway.

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The old quay, Spiddal

You can go out on trips on the fishing boats from Spiddal which sounds like a great activity for a sunny day.

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Moored boats

After a walk around the village, we had lunch in a cafe before hitting the road for Oughterard.

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Carraig an Teampaill, Spiddal

We went to St Brigit’s Garden in Rosscahill close to Oughterard, a traditional Celtic garden, complete with crannogs, standing stones, nature trails and beautiful flowers.

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Standing stones, St Brigit’s Garden

There are four small gardens with a theme for each season, Imbolc, (Spring), Bealtaine (Summer), Lughnasa (Autumn) and Samhain (Winter).

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Crannog hut complete with glass window – v authentic

It’s a lovely spot to chill out and we enjoyed being big kids, playing on some of the playground amusements!

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Trying to balance on a see-saw log!

I would recommend anyone who is visiting Galway city to take time out to go out to the countryside as it’s really worth it.

Public transport isn’t the best so it’s advisable to rent a car if you do plan on leaving the city.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and if you’d like to see more travel or lifestyle content on my blog, please leave me a comment and let me know.

PS – this is not a sponsored post – we paid for everything ourselves with pleasure!

Thanks for reading and if you would like to follow me on social media,  check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.

Edel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confidence, courage and community: What 4 years of blogging has taught me

When I began my blog in 2013, I was so broke, I didn’t even have a smartphone, never mind a camera or any other blogging equipment.

I had a part-time job which I didn’t like very much and as I’d moved to Dublin from Galway a few months beforehand, I didn’t know many people in Dublin.

I had a lot of free time and needed an inexpensive hobby to entertain myself with.

I thought about starting a blog years before but was afraid to “put myself out there.” Eventually I decided to just go for it, because I had nothing to lose.

I soon realised blogging was rekindling my passion for writing and it made me feel excited.

I’d completed a psychology degree in 2010 but since leaving college, I’d floundered.

I had done some subbing in a school for autistic children and I also worked in a summer camp for special needs children abroad but I found the work very emotionally draining and was deeply unhappy.

When I started my blog in 2013, I was working in retail but that certainly wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.

When I began blogging, I found it helped me in various aspects of my life.

 1.Confidence

Although I am very outgoing and have never had problems making friends or chatting to strangers, I sometimes suffer from a lack of confidence in myself and my own ideas and opinions.

At this point in my life, I would go out of my way to avoid talking about my personal life with other people, as I didn’t want them to know I worked in retail and wasn’t as successful as some of my friends.

I was also suffering from extreme anxiety, particularly at work. After enduring severe bullying in a previous job, I found myself unable to articulate myself properly to managers in work.

I would find my hands shaking during routine work meetings or speaking to managers one-on-one.

When someone criticised my work, I would take it very personally and feel as though I was being bullied again.

Once I began my blog, I had something I enjoyed talking about and I gradually began to feel more confident in myself and my own abilities.

I still struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem from time to time like many people, but blogging helped me regain a lot of the confidence I was missing.

2. Career

When I was younger, I was determined to have a creative career. Being from a rural background, there was a lot of pressure to go down a traditional route, like primary school teaching.

I cannot tell you how many times people tried to dissuade me from pursuing my interests and tried to steer me towards teaching. (No shade to all the amazing teachers but I would have made a REALLY terrible teacher!)

Ever since I was a young child, I loved fashion and art and hoped to pursue fashion design. After spending the year after Leaving Cert doing an art portfolio course, I wasn’t quite so sure and decided to study psychology instead.

However, once I began writing about fashion, I knew I had found something I really wanted to do.

It also rekindled my interest in writing about other topics and media in general. I began to write other pieces for online magazines and really enjoyed it.

A few months after I began my blog, I realised I wanted to do a postgraduate course in journalism.

It took another two and a half years for me to get my act together and save the money and while it was extremely tough, it was also the best thing I ever did.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQdrcm8DKuR/?taken-by=joyofblogs

I’m now working as a digital journalist and while I’m now 29 and slightly older than some of my colleagues, I also have experience in other areas on my CV.

Before I found my current position, I had applied for a LOT of jobs and at the interviews, the interviewers were always curious about my blog.

It certainly helped me get a previous internship and my current job and I am very grateful for that.

3. Community & Friendship

At first, I used to just tweet my blog link into cyberspace or sometimes share on my own personal Facebook page.

Needless to say, I didn’t get many clicks, apart from a few from curious friends.

I joined several blogging groups on Facebook, including the Irish Bloggers Group. Here I found an amazing community of bloggers, blogging about diverse topics and openly sharing personal experiences, such as mental and physical health problems, relationships and bereavements.

I learned many tips from other bloggers here and all about the basics of blogging. What I didn’t know, I researched.

Then in 2015, I met some blogging friends in real life. I’d joined Girlcrew and noticed a post about forming a blogging meetup group.

The day I met my blogging friends sticks out in my mind for several reasons.

Earlier that day, I’d been to an inquest into my dad’s sudden death a year before. It was a very sad and difficult day and I thought about skipping the meetup.

But once I got there and met the founder Sinead (SineadSocial) and the other bloggers, I was so excited to chat to other people about blogging and share blogging tips and stories.

I left feeling happy and I’ve gone on to become good friends with other bloggers.

They are Sinead, who coaches other bloggers on starting a blog, social media and blogging resources, Kathryn (ViolinKit), who shares my love for vintage clothes and thrifty finds and Ciara (Irish Travel Key), who is passionate about travelling abroad and day trips in Ireland.

Then there’s Martina (From the tiny flat), who blogs about healthy eating, exercise and training on her blog, Senan (Oakleaf Adventure) who blogs all about outdoor life and Eadaoin (Firechild Photography) who is an avid photographer.

Meeting these people was crucial to my enjoyment and knowledge of blogging.

I’ve also connected with some lovely fellow bloggers online who I’ve never met but enjoy their content.

My blogging journey has been very positive in general but I have experienced some jealousy and resentment at times. Blogging can also be lonely, so having a supportive group of blogger friends makes all the difference.

I’m so glad I have my blogging friends and I’d recommend anyone who wants to learn more about blogging to join the Girlcrew Bloggers.

4. Perseverance

There were several times in my life when I felt like abandoning my blog. I was filled with self-doubt when I compared my humble blog to that of prolific bloggers. I had thoughts like “I’m no good at this”, “no-one will be interested” and “I don’t have enough followers.”

Counting followers, clicks and hits and comparing your blog to that of others will only make you unhappy. If you admire another blogger, see what you can learn from them but never try to copy their content.

It’s good to keep track of your followers and hits on your blog so you can assess what type of content your readers enjoy most but don’t let that take over.

In 2014 I contemplated completly abandoning my blog. My dad had just died and I hadn’t posted in several months. I was very upset for months afterwards and I found daily life a massive struggle.

I found it hard that life around me was still going on as normal while my life seemed so empty and sad.

Gradually I began posting again and although I was still dealing with the bereavement for many months afterwards, it helped having something I still cared about.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on my blog as it proved crucial in helping me find work in the INSANELY tough media industry.

While my blog is still quite small, it fills a huge part of my life.

It’s a hobby, something I can put on my CV, it has taught me so many skills I never would’ve learned on my own (SEO, basic code, basic photography etc.) and I’ve also enjoyed some moderate success.

In the first year of my blog, I made the long-list for the Irish Blog Awards and in 2015 and 2016, I was delighted to be shortlisted for Best Fashion category.

I’ve also had the pleasure of attending some amazing events and meeting interesting people in the worlds of blogging, PR and media at these.

I used to think I couldn’t blog because I didn’t have the best equipment or loads of money for clothes and I have a tendency to look awkward in photos.But in reality, it was only my own fear holding me back.

I can never keep a straight face while posing for a photo so if I take an #OOTD it’s usually with a big cheesy grin on my face.

Although the world of fashion blogging can be competitive, I’ve found my niche with thrifty style.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and thanks for bearing with me on this one.

Don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page here.

Edel

Why we are obliged to support striking retail workers.

This is an opinion piece on the recent strikes by Dunnes workers and the issues currently facing retail employees in many companies nationwide. I tend to keep my blog very light-hearted most of the time but sometimes there are more serious issues on my mind. Particularly as my blog has a focus on fashion and consumerism, I feel it is vital to be aware of the people who work for large retail companies and the struggles they face. This is something I’m really passionate about and I hope it will create understanding why such strike action is necessary.

The recent strikes by Dunnes Stores workers have brought issues facing retail employees, such as low and zero hour contracts and the minimum wage rate, back into focus. Among the problems highlighted by the workers were lack of hours available, hours being spread out in a manner which prevented them claiming social welfare payments, despite meeting the criteria, and bullying and intimidation by management.

As a former retail worker, I sympathise with their struggles. Imagine preparing to work for 7 hours, paying for a bus or petrol, making a lunch and washing and ironing a uniform only to be told after 3 hours “Go home, we don’t need you.” This is the reality those who work in retail fear every single day.  If you are working a three hour shift at €8.65 per hour, you will have made €25.95 for the day. Based on a 15 hour contract with shifts spread over 5 days you will make €129.75 per week and will not be able to claim social welfare for the days worked.  If the 15 hours were spread over less days, employees entitled to part-time social welfare payments could still receive part of their payments. However most companies do not take this into account.

Contrast this wage of €129.75 per week with a 25 year old who can claim €144 per week on social welfare and a person over 26 who can claim €188 per week.  (Welfare.ie.) It’s astounding that someone can make more money on social welfare than from part-time work. Those receiving welfare have absolutely no incentive to take a part-time job as they will make less money and have to pay tax.

Naturally some workers only need a part-time contract due to other obligations. However, zero hour contracts, which have been introduced by several companies such as Xtravision, are beyond unethical. A zero hour contract means the employee is contracted by the employer, and obliged to remain available for work, yet the employer has no responsibility to provide them with a set number of hours per week. The employee is still “working” for the company, albeit sitting by the phone and hoping they will be called into work. Although there are compensation measures in place in Ireland to ensure an employee will receive either 25% of all hours available or 15 hours (depending on which is less) these largely favour the company and not the employee.  (Employment Rights Ireland.)

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In 2014, reviews of zero hour contracts were commissioned and the Low Pay Commission was established to examine whether the minimum wage of €8.65 is a “living wage.” Trade Union SIPTU  suggested a minimum living wage of €11.45 per hour earlier this year. (The Journal.) These reviews and investigations are long overdue. However, we require further and more direct action to support those affected.

If we don’t support these workers, it will mean more people dependent on social welfare, more people out of work and  greater social divide. Each one of us is a consumer and use the services of these people every single day.

Companies, such as Dunnes and others, should be boycotted for their treatment of staff. It’s easy for the companies to pit their employees against the customers and make remarks such as “we will lose trade and custom”, blaming the workers when customers are inconvenienced by strike action.  Some Dunnes workers have even lost their jobs since striking and making a stand for their rights. (The Journal.)These reactions are nothing more than bullying and intimidation.

However just as all retail workers have a responsibility towards their customers, customers have a responsibility towards these workers. They have “buying power” and can take their custom elsewhere. This will send a message to corporations that “cost-cutting” and “reductions” that prevent their employees from thriving will eventually also damage the company.

Strike

To learn more about this you can visit the “Decency for Dunnes Workers” page and the Mandate trade union site which have more information.

Thanks as always for visiting my blog and you can like the blog on Facebook here or follow on Twitter here. If you’ve enjoyed this opinion piece, please let me know.