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Viola Janvari writes...

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

This month I am very happy to “welcome back” our dear friend, Viola, who returned to her native Hungary but who remains in touch and participative each month (especially in her contributions to the Book Club, which provide rich food for thought!). I think that her experiences typify the initial loneliness and isolation of moving somewhere new for many people; but her description of finding the IWO and the role it played (and continues to play!) in her life speaks for all of us and personifies why the IWO exists. She speaks of “soup for the soul” and, indeed, this is what our members provide for each other! Thank you, dear Viola, and looking forward to seeing you when you return to visit us here in Ireland!


My name is Viola Janvari. I lived in Ireland for 9 years as my husband worked at the Irish World Academy. After a long hesitation and very thorough arrangements in November 2006, I moved from Hungary to Ireland. It wasn’t an easy decision as I had to leave my home, my family, my friends and to give up a job. But everybody was very supportive - including my children, who were happy to stay at home on their own and enjoying a “mother-free” life!

My previous boss in Hungary was also very helpful and he let me work for half month for the full salary, therefore from March 2006 I spent every month, two weeks in Ireland to arrange my new life and two weeks in Hungary to close my previous life. This lasted for half a year and I was certain that everything was well organised. But ..... as my daughter, who was 20 years old then, told me later that the trouble was that “I have a heart and a mind and sometimes my heart doesn’t listen to my mind”.

In January 2007 I got a job in Ireland and worked there till the end of 2014 as an office and financial assistant, later as a personal assistant. I made my best to get into the social life of Irish society. I attended lectures at the Hunt Museum, joined a book club in Nenagh library, enrolled to different courses - English, painting, cookery, etc. Went to exhibitions, concerts, various programs in 50 km distance of our village. But I really couldn’t make any friends. I cooked so many goulash soups inviting my and Ferenc’s colleagues, his previous friends or anybody who was kind and expressed any interest, but it did not help either. 

I just felt very lonely. I just wanted to be in the life and did not want to be an outsider. There were lots of tears during the beginning.

Then, on 24th November 2010 I went to a Christmas baking demonstration in Cloughjordan. (No, I do not have such a perfect memory. I just found the program and the recipes a few weeks ago when I was planning this year Christmas.) So, on that winter Wednesday evening arriving too early to the Cloughjordan House I was sitting in the drawing room next to the fireplace waiting for the course to be started and I was reading, when a cheerful company of ladies arrived. How I envied them!

After a short time, a lady from this group came to me asking what I am reading and asked if I was interested to join their book club. You can’t imagine how happy I was. It was a feeling when a dream comes true. That lady was Mary Rose and I am and will be always very thankful to her for this invitation. I went the book club in February at Marea’s house in Adare. (The first book what I read was Mr. Rosenblum”s list by Natasha Solomon. If somebody didn’t read the book yet I highly recommend doing it as it is a very funny book.) It was a fantastic evening for me. Everybody was very kind and mindful. I just later learnt that it is not just a book club but it is the IWO. I became a member in 2011 and I still think that - despite moving away to Hungary – I remained a member of this organisation and hope that it will last long.

As a member of this organisation I belong(ed) to a group, from which I got lot. I got friendship, help, I could improve my English, I got lots of knowledge about everything, I had happy and cheerful hours. Getting into the IWO my life totally changed. The IWO was the place where I found friends, who helped me when I needed it. It could be official or just a loving talk, but everybody was always there for me. It gave me a secure feeling.

I am still an active member of the book club as it is a string which can link me with the IWO and it is very good as I can keep my English active, therefore to read the books now is much more important for me than it was when I lived there.

Moving home to Hungary in 2015 was very exciting but as you can’t step into the same river twice, the country where we returned wasn’t the same what I left nine years ago.

But it is good to be at home, to be with the family and friends, using our mother tongue and understand everything when someone is talking to you. (Though occasionally it would be good not too. Unfortunately the political situation changed and I am not really happy with it.)

Perhaps some of you know that in this September we had a big happy occasion as some of our friends from Ireland visited us. It was a “chicken soup for the soul” as it helped me to connect my past with the present and the future.

I hope some of you will also come to visit. Everybody is very welcome.

When I moved to Ireland I did not know that the

- butter is yellow and salted

- flour is self raising

- bread is made with soda

- black pudding is not a dessert

- muffin, the buns and cupcake are not the same

- there isn’t kefir but there is buttermilk

- there are cooking apples (I how much I miss them)

- turnip is a vegetable

- bacon and cabbage is delicious

- tea is drunk after all meals

- the unit of weight is once and pound

- hydrangeas are 10 times bigger than in Hungary

- Halloween is a very big fun

- Christmas tree is decorated at the beginning of December

- the rain is not always raining so I must water the plants in the garden during the summer

- buying a ticket on the bus I don’t tell “can I have a single ticket to the railway station, please” instead a “single to station” is enough

- meeting anybody during a walk I say hello and talking some words about the weather

I miss Ireland a lot. I miss its beauty, its peacefulness, I miss my friends, I miss the butter, the self raising flour, the cooking apples and after all I miss the Irish weather especially during the summer when the temperature is at or above 40 C. I hope once, we will go back to Ireland for a visit.

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