I suffer from a dreadful affliction in that the strangest things bother me. It’s usually the little things and one common thread is the ridiculous need, of my own generation particularly, to elevate things with catchphrases and labels in order to make them acceptable.

I intensely dislike the term ‘foodie’ for example. Supposedly a foodie is someone who loves food! We all have to eat and the majority of us enjoy it. By all means be a gourmand or a gourmet, but a ‘foodie’ is just silly. My bugbear at the moment is the word staycation. If ever a word immediately infuriated me and raised the hairs on the back of my neck it would have to be this one. If I was to unleash my true pedant, which I keep on a very tight reign, I would add that it is also a largely misused word. The actual meaning of the word ‘stay-cation’ is when an individual or family literally stays at home (in their own home) for a period of time and relaxes. It involves breaking with the usual routine and may even take in a few day trips during the period.

A staycation is not sacrificing the sunnier resorts of the continent for a week in Tramore, Kerry, Galway or anywhere else in Ireland. If you move away from your home at all, even to a local coastal area a mile down the road, you are actually on vacation or, as we should be saying, on your holidays. Now there is nothing wrong with having a staycation, if that is what you have chosen to do, but if you are going further than your front lawn and you are going to sleep somewhere other than your own bed, then you are entitled to use the word ‘holiday’ or ‘vacation’ proudly. I’m getting the impression that some people use the word staycation almost sadly, as veiled code for ‘we can’t afford a holiday but we’re making the most of it and heading to visit my sister in Clare’. Enjoying a holiday in Ireland is perfectly acceptable and we should stop giving our children the impression that it is a lesser or inferior choice. Children don’t know the difference anyway.


Sun holidays are
relatively new

For the average Irish family in Ireland of the 1970s and 1980s sun holidays were not an annual necessity. It was quite common for people to take holidays in other parts of Ireland. We always felt quite fortunate in that we were already living by the coast and I remember several years where we, as a family, decamped to the seaside for the entire summer and my Dad would travel to work from there. I don’t remember going back to school in September and saying that we didn’t go on holiday! I remember a touring trip of the West of Ireland one year. I remember another year in Clare and, when I was 8, a great trip to London. Being the eldest, it was my younger siblings who got the benefit of the more exotic holidays to Spain or Florida in later years. I also seem to remember going to my aunt’s house for a week here and there througout the summers of my childhood. According to today’s social barometer what we were actually doing, apart from the year we went to London, was ‘stay-cationing’ regularly and, believe it or not, I have emerged unscathed from the experience.

You are not depriving your children of the best by taking a break in Ireland. They won’t be traumatised if you borrow your mother in law’s mobile home in Ardmore, Clonea or Dunmore East for a week or two. (If you forget to take enough indoor games and wet weather clothing you might be traumatised, but the kids will have had a ball either way!)



I think we have largely forgotten the point of the summer holiday anyway. It is about time as a family, time that in a normal and hectic busy day is often absent and, while it may be a cliche, children always spell love as T I M E. Locations are unimportant. Naturally it is the legacy of the boom years and hopefully our emergence from the recession will bring with it a renewed sense of who we are. It is alright to be honest and hardworking. It is good to teach your children to save for a holiday every second or third year if necessary, rather than plonking it on the plastic annually. We might re learn the value of just spending time with each other rather than spending money on each other. Sadly there are many today who just wouldn’t even understand such a concept.

Children are very adaptable but we have imposed horrors on them of late that we will pay for forever. For example it is adults who create endless children’s channels with the most outrageously, materialistic adverts imaginable. If you have access to the dedicated children’s channels take twenty minutes some day and just watch the level of advertising on them.


‘Needs’ of a four-year-old!

I have heard a four year old shout from the living room that he ‘needs’ something that just flashed up the screen. I was appalled recently by an advert on Cartoon Network for Lelli Kelly shoes. Advertising a particular brand of shoe and aiming the advertising at the actual end user, the child and not the parent, is in my mind, cynical in the extreme. Granted the shoes are lovely and I don’t have an issue with the product, but there is something very wrong with creating a desire in children for a particular brand of footwear. It shouldn’t matter what you have on your back or on your feet as long as you are appropriately protected. Instilling vanity and label awareness at such a young age has disaster written all over it. What this illustrates is this perfect world ideal that we have sold the young. We have indulged them with expectations way beyond what is necessary and, sometimes, even to the detriment of their own imaginations.

Because of what we have allowed we may have to re-educate some pre teens about what a true holiday actually is. They might even put their hands up in that ‘whatevah’ sort of way, but they will adapt, they have to. As George Hook once famously said of his own grandchildren, “A good dose of poverty wouldn’t do them any harm at all”. I’m with George. Parents should never be made to feel inferior for lack of money. If we were all to be very honest about our own childhoods the damage was always done through lack of love and not lack of money. If you are in a position to go on any kind of holiday at all, you should be delighted and so should your children, regardless of what you’ve done in the past. Remember that some people this year are literally staying at home and not even taking a ‘stay-cation’.