I find our hotel quite easily, in plenty of time before I have to meet my father off the airport bus. It’s on a narrow street leading from the back of San Filippo Neri to Piazza Navona, busy with locals and tourists on foot and on scooters. Our pensione is marked with a little 3-star sign on the wall by the solid, studded wooden door. The main plaque lists names on bells of private apartments and law offices.

The door is open and I step into the shadowy hallway. Before me is the staircase, reaching up and around to the…


Seapoint Bathing Place, County Dublin

We were putting out our bins, the neighbour and myself, and I asked her if she’s enjoying her daily swims in Dublin Bay. “Emma, it’s lovely these days”, she says. “the water’s 12 degrees!”. “Awww,” I reply, “I really will get in one of these days”. “So you keep saying” she says, and heads back inside.

It’s mid-November in Ireland–a strange time to think about starting to swim in the sea again. But it’s all I’ve been able to think about for the last few weeks.

I had some lovely swims in Ireland in the summer but I was done…


Animal Anecdote

Live in the moment, that’s what you do. You could teach us all a lesson.

Bella at the Giant’s Causeway

April 14th 2020

Dear Bella,

So it’s taken a global pandemic for me to finally adopt a dog! I saw a photo of you today, Bella, and I think you’re gorgeous. No pressure, but you looked adorable in the photo sent by Mary at the rescue group. You’re a lurcher, about a year old, quiet and sweet and housetrained, she said. Too good to be true, I worried.

All the rescue groups around Dublin have been so busy, I had to nudge them a few times. The two big dog charities had to close early in lockdown as they operated out of shelters…


In an arts and craft shop in Dublin, I spot a pack of Happy Families. It was one of our favourite games when the kids were small, but we either lost our pack during one of our many moves or it’s still in a box in my father’s attic.

I grab the pack of cards, hand over the five euro, and bring it home to play with my own happy family that evening.

I’ve always liked this game because it teaches kids some basic concepts of card-playing: how to sort your cards into groups, hold them up in a fan…


I laughed when I noticed the name on this packet I had picked up in Tesco’s Supermarket. The spirally courgettes (ridiculously cut up and ready for me to cut, when I could of course have done it myself, but they were on the cheapo shelf) had already gone into that evening’s stir-fry.

Who’s ever heard of Courgetti, I chuckled to my family? They must have made that up. Mixing up their courgettes and their zucchini. Or, actually they mixed up courgettes and spaghetti — and that is a thing now. Tesco did not actually mess up, or invent the name…


Photo taken from my office rooftop, 19th Street. 2000.

The first time I ever drank Jack Daniels whiskey was also my last. 18 years ago today in Brooklyn, New York, I found myself drinking it just a couple of hours after the World Trade Center had been attacked and destroyed, just a few miles away. Ian and I had stood on the rooftop of our apartment building looking at the familiar skyline of lower Manhattan and seen with our own eyes a plane flying into the second tower, and then, a few minutes later both towers disappearing into a cloud of smoke. The shock was gradual, slowly taking hold…


I took these photos in Toronto around 2005, put them in an envelope and found them again a couple of months ago.

They show the Good Friday procession in the city’s Little Italy district. With lots of shots of the marching band and the women and the crowds. But, alas, it seems I didn’t take pictures of the focus of attention — Jesus dragging the huge cross, the centurions wearing helmets, the women in shawls. Those images have stayed in my memory, even if not on film, but finding these photos in a box have helped to jog my memory.


During my 20-odd years of living abroad, I became a mother. I’ve been back in Ireland now for a while. Yet still I stop and look around me when I hear a child shout “Mummy”. I forget that in Ireland that’s what kids calls their mothers. Up until recently, I was the only “Mummy” in a blowing gale of “Mammas”. Mummy or Mamma said loudly in the playground, quietly on the bus, thankfully at the school gate.

There are many ways to refer to your Mother. According to the New York Times anyway. …


Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash

I was searching for a photo to accompany a piece I wrote last week about the Tooth Fairy and her place in our little family history. I had to really think about this — no-one has yet, as far as I know, photographed her (or him or it). I also realised that a photo of a tooth might not work so well either, teeth are not actually very photogenic — they’re small, discoloured and often bloody.

My visual memory of the last 12 years of parent-focused photography played around with me, making me think there was one particular photo of…


It’s the end of an era. The tooth fairy is no more. The family myth was foiled yesterday morning by the youngest in the family. An upper tooth had fallen out at school and even though it was lost on the way home, she went ahead and left a book under her pillow (a habit our kids have/had was to leave the tooth inside a book). The only problem was, she didn’t tell us she did it because she wanted to send a signal directly to the tooth fairy. …

Emma Prunty

Stories from real life. Different places, different cultures. Dublin, Florence, Oslo, Canada. www.washyourlanguage.com

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