Castle Hopping around the Emerald Isle

After an entire week of seven night shifts, I finished my duty early and went out of the hospital full of excitement because the day I was looking forward to has finally come. Together with Ate Joanne, Kuya Mark, Aedan and Ate Kim, we planned a 3-day road trip to the northern parts of Ireland specifically Sligo and Galway City.

Day One

Our first destination on our way to Sligo was a quick visit to King John’s Castle in Limerick City. It was said that King John was the brother of Richard the Lionheart. Here you can enjoy a medieval atmosphere around the castle courtyard where you would get the chance to see a recreation of the battles and siege from the 13th century.

 

The next stop was Markree Castle located near the village of Collooney in County Sligo. This one was definitely the highlight of the day because of its majestic appearance not only from the outside but also the interior aspect of the castle. We intended to take pictures outside because we thought visitors aren’t allowed in the private property but we were very lucky to get an exclusive tour inside the castle as the manager was available to do so. The gothic style castle is indeed not open to the public and viewings are made for guests who plan to rent the place for events like weddings. We were simply ecstatic! After the tour, I have decided that this is my ultimate fairy tale wedding destination! 

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The first day of castle hopping concluded as we checked-in to Clayton Hotel for the night.

Day Two

From Sligo we went south towards Galway today. We passed by Drumcliffe Monastery also referred to as St. Columba’s Church of Ireland. Drumcliffe is known to be the place where poet W. B. Yeats was buried.

Next, is the iconic Ben Bulben in North Sligo. Sometimes spelled as Benbulbin or Benbulben, this unusual rock formation is also known as the Table Mountain of County Sligo. It is said that this mountain was formed 320 million years ago.

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We went further north, almost near the boundary in Donegal, towards Mullaghmore Beach. When we arrived there, we were literally blown away by the strong sea breeze coming from the Atlantic.

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The next destination was a very interesting one. A member of the red carnation collection of hotels, the Ashford Castle in Mayo is definitely deserving of that recognition. Although our visit was short and quick, the place was promising of its 5-star status. With a minimal visitors’ fee of €10, you can roam around the castle grounds where you could find various interesting sorts like archery, equestrian fields, bicycle trails, falconry and more. The place was huge and I think a day around the luxury 13th century castle would not suffice. I’d be sure to come back to this place in the future.

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After the Ashford Castle experience, we visited Kylemore Abbey and drove a long stretch through Connemara National Park on the way to the city center of Galway.

Connemara National Park, a 2957 hectare land, was nothing short of natural bliss and wonder. Situated in Galway, west of Ireland, the vast area consists of scenic grasslands, woodlands and mountains would simply take your breath away because I’m pretty sure it did with mine.

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We finally checked in and spent the night at Oranmore Lodge Hotel in Galway.

Day Three

From Galway City, we moved further down south passing through Kinvara to see one of the most photographed castles in Ireland – the Dunguaire Castle. This is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay.

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As we neared County Clare, we decided to see another castle. Dromoland Castle, like Ashford Castle that we visited yesterday, is a 5-star hotel and a luxury country club. 400 acres of land and a lake surrounds the castle. We can see many patrons around, most of them playing golf in the area. We entered the walled garden and indeed it was such a sight for sore eyes. Despite the rainy weather, we had fun roaming around the luxurious estate and have our photos taken. This was the 5th castle that we visited during the entire trip.

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The last three days of roaming around these parts of Ireland have been full of pure bliss. I feel truly privileged by God to have had the chance to see these picturesque sights in real life. I used to only dream about visiting these places and it still feels surreal to actually be able to do so. In a more important note, I feel even more blessed to have spent these days with great company. I am in debt to the Bordeos family (ate Joanne, Kuya Mark, Aedan) and Ate Kim for bringing me along with them during this trip.

They say traveling leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.

I think I just did.

What’s next after the adaptation?

A few months back, I wrote about my success in earning my registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. Along with it, I have received several questions over a period of time and one of the most common is, what’s next after passing the adaptation?

Brace yourselves, drama incoming…

After 6 weeks (in some cases, 12 weeks) of hard work in order to pass the adaptation program, it was one of the most triumphant days when your clinical nurse manager will tell you that you have been deemed competent to be a registered general nurse in Ireland. You’d be rejoicing and praising the Lord God for the success and you would be simply overjoyed.

But the truth is, this is the day that would mark another chapter of your life as a nurse in Ireland. You will be entering another phase and it is the reality of officially becoming a member of the staff, one who is not hiding behind the shadows of a preceptor. One who is expected to carry a tad more responsibility in the patient’s care. I won’t deny the fact that I was struggling during my first few weeks. I would shed tears and I would always look forward to my rest days or to the paydays. However, I’m not generalizing because not everyone experienced what I did. What I’m trying to point out is there will be a possibility that you will be overwhelmed with everything.

This is what it is and I don’t mean to scare the hell out of those doing the adaptation. Instead, I want to let the readers know that you will have to bring a lot of perseverance and determination to turn out victorious in this challenge. Cry if you must but quitting should never be an option. Always remember, many Filipino nurses dream of where you are right now. Count your blessings and acknowledge that you are blessed. Do that and you will be okay.

Putting aside the drama, the real purpose of this entry is to actually share some insight about the paperwork needed after the adaptation and receiving the PIN from the NMBI, specifically about the…

Critical Skills Employment Permit

As foreigners of this country, we are required to have an employment permit to legally work in Ireland. This was previously called a Green Card Permit but since late 2014, changes have been made about this. Being nurses, we belong to the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List thus we are allowed to apply for a critical skills employment permit. The employer or the employee may apply for the permit. Usually, it is the employer who sponsors the permit so take a second look at your job offer if your employer does because the permit costs 1000 Euros. Coordinate with your Human Resources staff about the application of the permit because there are a couple of forms to be signed.

Updating the Garda with your change of status

By this time, you should already have a Garda Registration ID/card which was registered based on the Atypical Working Scheme approval letter that you had upon entry to Ireland. However, once you receive your Critical Skills Employment Permit, you are required to register your change of status with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Delay in registering or updating with Garda National Immigration Bureau could affect applications in the granting of long-term residency and/or citizenship. Take note, an employment permit is not a Residence Permission. You will still be granted STAMP 1 in your new Garda ID but in their system you are a critical skilled worker and this would mean you are now starting your countdown towards earning a STAMP 4 in your residency status.

What is Stamp 4?

Subject to having complied with their previous immigration and employment permit conditions and being of good character, you will be issued with an immigration permission which allows you to reside and work in the State without the need for a further employment permit. That’s basically what Stamp 4 means. This also means you can have the liberty to change your employer, in cases where you want to explore a different working environment. This will be for two years, which is then renewable. On achieving 60 months (or 5 years) residency permission, Critical Skills Employment Permit holders will then be permitted to make an application for long-term residence, details of which are available on www.inis.gov.ie.

If you do not satisfy the qualifying criteria you will be issued with a Stamp 1 by the Garda National Immigration Bureau and you will still be required to hold an employment permit in order to work in the State. So try as much as you can to be a good foreigner in this country and keep your records clean. Don’t commit any foolishness (such as drink driving) because I have encountered and heard of Filipinos who were denied citizenship due to that.

(Read more on Critical Skills Employment Permit here.)

What’s next after Stamp 4?

Irish citizenship!!! I guess that would deserve a more detailed blog post. As of now, I’ll focus on my continuous transition and never-ending learning in my workplace. Work hard, save more and be happy!

Rebranding my Instagram

After much deliberation, I am finally doing a MAJOR REVAMP (!!!) of my Instagram account.

What was initially created to showcase my love for crafts such as scrap booking or DIYs (hence, ‘craftyfatfingers’) has totally evolved and focused entirely on my interest in calligraphy. Over the past year, I have grown fonder towards the art of beautiful writing but that does not mean that I have left my eagerness for crafting projects. My ‘fat fingers’ will always have the itch to pick up the scissors, smudge the glue or snip the sheets.

Today, I’m rebranding to provide more emphasis on my journey towards a better handwriting while I also fulfill my profession as a nurse. I hope that you will continue to join me in learning more about this blissful art albeit not as active in social media as I once was.

I know I’ve already used this particular handle for this blog site but I am still very glad to introduce myself  a hopefully better version of Craftyfatfingers, @thescribblingnurse.

Creating new friendships

Ever since I decided to write about being a nurse in Ireland, I’ve had countless messages from people who share the same dreams as I have. I made this blog not only to keep track with how I made it to the Emerald Isle but to primarily share information to other nurses who wish to come here as well. But what I didn’t realize is that by writing my blog, it would bring me to the point where I could get to actually sit down and drink coffee with the people who I just used to exchange messages, send e-mails or converse over the comment section in my blog posts.

Now, I am beginning to form new connections and friendships with people who were once just strangers who followed my blog and read my posts. I’m happy being able to share information to those who ask, but it makes me even happier to see that the information actually helped them come over to Ireland and realize their dreams.

Come to think of it, I am actually getting excited to drink many more cups of coffee with many more nurses who will soon be arriving here in Ireland.

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Meeting Xyris in Dublin. Xy is a nurse for Mater Private Hospital. 

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With Ariane, Raffy and Rose – nurses for adaptation at Mercy University Hospital, Cork City.

Writing RGN next to my name

I begin this post by reflecting on how things have made a 360 degree turn in my universe. Looking back, I was very skeptical about the idea of leaving my home country. I remember telling myself and my colleagues that I don’t have any plans of going abroad. This may sound silly, but I was terrified of the exams that are required to work outside the country (thanks to my irrational fear of failure). But at some point in my life, I decided to take a leap of faith and that huge step brought me here. Who would have thought that I’d make it through to where I am today?

After months of enduring (and almost giving up!) the entire application process for the NMBI, I was blessed to be signed off after the 6-week adaptation program as a competent nurse. My adaptation ended last December 16 and I felt that being able to finish the clinical placement was one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received.

It took quite a while for me to be included in the Register because my adaptation culminated when Christmas was around the corner. I have no reason to complain – I had the luxury of time to spend the holidays with my new found family here in Cork City. I slept, practiced calligraphy, went window shopping with friends and ate loads of food!

When I went back to work at the 2nd week of January, I had no idea it was the last week for me as a pre-registered nurse. By the end of the week, my application for registration with the NMBI was finally approved! January 12th marks the day that I can officially take and use the title of a Registered General Nurse in Ireland.

A mixture of emotions overflowed when I learned about the good news. I was overjoyed, excited and scared. I was overjoyed because all the efforts and tears (yes, I cried on several occasions) finally paid off. I was also excited to wear the hospital uniform the following week. We weren’t allowed to use the blue tunics unless we have our registration. My uniform was waiting for me since day 1 and I couldn’t be more eager to have them on. However, I was scared of the added responsibilities of being a registered general nurse. For a couple of weeks, I was hiding inside the comfort zone of having a preceptor/mentor. But, the rude awakening is: I’ll be flying on my own now.

Still, I remind myself that what was once a dream is now in my hands’ reach. I comfort myself with a quote from Christopher Columbus, “you can never cross the ocean, unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” For those who think they are unable to reach for their goals and dreams in life, I wish to inspire you with my story. Never give up, work hard and pray harder.

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This is me. Denise Marionne Tubat, PH-RN, RGN at your service.

Flying to the Emerald Isle

(Note: This blog post is a terribly late article because I flew in to Ireland on the 27th of October, 2016.)

October 26, 2016

Who would have thought that this day would finally come? After months of waiting, I am finally going to Ireland!!! It took me around 5 to 6 months of processing to successfully earn the chance to work in Ireland. After conquering the IELTS, NMBI and Visa processing, my dreams are finally turning into reality. However, I failed to realize that the amount of time it took me to process my application was not enough to prepare me for this day. I thought I was mentally and emotionally ready to become an overseas Pinoy worker, but I was terribly wrong. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I shed loads of tears when I left the country. My family sent me off at the Mactan Cebu International Airport and I was having cold feet with my departure. Suddenly, I had that feeling of backing out from my plans. But there was no way I could back out, after all the processes I had undergone, it was too late to say I had chickened out. So I said my farewell, took a deep breath and left.

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Last dinner with BFF Rosheil + Divina at District Cafe, Dumaguete City.

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Quick meet up at Chantilly with besties Alexis and Ikay before I go to Cebu.

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Glad to have seen these two ladies, Nadine and Melonette, who are also close to my heart before I left Dumaguete.

 

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My dearest colleagues who are like family to me as well: Cheynee, Mitzi, ma’am Liezl and baby girl Jarred.

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Family picture at Mactan Cebu International Airport, while waiting for my flight to Manila.

I’m also sharing some snaps that I took while on my way to Ireland. I flew from Cebu City, to NAIA then a quick layover in Abu Dhabi before the final stretch to Dublin, IE.

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I finally met Ate Kim Baguio who I previously met in Facebook. We were on the same flight from Abu Dhabi to Dublin as we will be employed in the same hospital. Photo from Ate Kim’s phone. 🙂

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Watching movies and listening to classic tracks on E-Box at Etihad Airways. What else would you do during the 8-hour flight aside from sleep? 😀

 

October 27, 2016

25 hours and a sore body after, thank God I arrived safely in Dublin! First impression? It was COLD! All I had on me was a sweater and my layers of subcutaneous fats. Unfortunately, that was not enough to battle the cool breeze. In fact, that was not even the coldest weather they have in Ireland. There I met Mr. Liam Corbett, my agent from Adaptive HVM. He drove both Ate Kim and I to Cork City. It was a 3-hour drive and along the way, he showed us to a frequently visited sight by tourists. It was the Rock of Cashel.

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Sometimes it feels just like a dream but the reality is, I AM HERE. If I could do it, you can too. Don’t let life’s hurdles and disappointments keep you from reaching your dreams of coming over to the Emerald Isle. I’ve only been to some parts of this foreign country, but I’m telling you that it is by far the grandest thing I have ever seen. 🙂

Visa Application for Ireland (via courier)

One major step in becoming a nurse in Ireland is obtaining a Visa from the Consulate. In this post, I will talk about the steps I undertook in order to have an Irish Visa. The steps in this blog post will be focused on an application that was done via courier. I did not have to go to the Consulate Office in Makati to apply.

Step 1: Complete an Online Application Form

First, you need to go to http://www.visas.inis.gov.ie to access the form. Make sure that you have the following details before you try to accomplish the form: your current and previous passports; address and contact number of your employer; current passport of spouse (if married); contact person from the employer; name of agent, and address and contact number of your agency.

Here’s a short guide on what to answer in the form:

What type of visa are you applying for? : Long Stay (D)
Journey type : Single
What is the reason for travel? : Employment
Purpose of travel : Employment
Passport type : National Passport
Passport/ Travel Document Number: Write your Passport Number
Proposed dates you wish to enter and leave Ireland: indicate date of departure and you may leave the next date blank

Take note: You must complete your name as it reads on your passport. Always take time to check the correctness and accuracy of the information you provide before proceeding to the next pages. The system will have several other questions that you need to fill out.

READ MORE: Information to Assist you in Completing an Online Visa Application

Once you are done, the website will generate a transaction reference number which you need to remember as this is necessary in all transactions regarding your Visa application, such as asking for the appointment schedule (if you plan to have a personal appearance) and inquiring about the status of your application.

Print the summary sheet at the end of the online questionnaire on an A4 sized paper and sign the declaration at the last page.

Step 2: Complete the necessary documents

Here’s a list of the documents that I sent to the Consulate Office:

1. Atypical Working Scheme Letter of Approval
2. Contract of Employment
3. NMBI Decision Letter
4. Passport
5. College Diploma
6. Transcript of Records with RLE Summary
7. PRC ID
8. Nursing Board ID/Certificate
9. Birth Certificate
10. Certificate of Employment from previous employer
11. 3-page Visa Application Summary Sheet

IMPORTANT REMINDER: All documents submitted must be ORIGINAL COPIES and must be accompanied with 2 sets of clear machine copies of all the documents. Please invest in high quality photocopies as unclear copies will not be accepted or recognized. Do not worry because all original documents will be returned upon release of the Visa decision. Scanned and printed copies to replace originals are not allowed and not accepted.

In addition to the documents, you need to send 3 pieces of passport sized photograph. The photo should be:

• No more than 6 months old
• Minimum size 35mm x 45mm, maximum size 38mm x 50mm
• Printed on high quality photographic paper
• Sharp and clear, and taken against a plain white background with no shadows
• Without ink stains, holes, or scratches
• A frontal pose looking directly at the camera and showing full face. The face should take up 70-80% of the photograph. The expression should be neutral with both eyes open and mouth closed. There should be no hair covering the eyes.
• Only head coverings worn for religious reasons are permitted. Hair bands are not allowed.
• Sunglasses are not acceptable. If glasses are worn they should be of clear glass so that the eyes are visible.
DO NOT STAPLE THE DOCUMENTS AND PHOTOS. I used a small clear envelope to separate my PRC ID, Passport and ID photos.
You will also need a signed letter of application for the Visa which would include:
  • outlining your reason for wanting to come to Ireland,
  • giving details of any members of your family who are currently in Ireland, or any other EU Member State,
  • giving details of how long you intend to stay in Ireland,
  • giving details of where you intend to stay while you are in Ireland,
  • undertaking that you will observe the conditions of your visa, that you will not become a burden on the State, and that you will leave the State on the expiry of your permission to remain.

I also included in my letter the list of documents that I enclosed and that I would like to have these documents returned to my address upon release of the Visa decision.

Step 3: Send all documents to the Consulate Office

When I sent my documents, I used LBC Express for my courier. I also availed of their Door-to-Door money transfer so that I can transmit my payment for the Visa fees.

Address your documents to:

Consulate General of Ireland – Manila
3rd Floor Max’s Building
70 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air 1 Village
Makati City 1209
Metro Manila
Philippines

For the payment, regular Visa fees are Php 4,600.00. However, since I am applying via courier only, I needed to pay Php 5,100.00 which includes communication fees like sending back the approved Visa and original documents back to me.

The payment should be addressed to: MIKKI GALAN with the same address as stated above.

Step 4: Follow up on your application

After sending your application, you MUST be able to call the Consulate Office to confirm the receipt of your documents. They will advise you if there are any additional documents required. As for my experience, all my documents (those listed in Step 2) were satisfactorily received.

Their telephone number is: +63 2 896-4668. Take note that their office hours are only on Mondays through Fridays, 8:00AM-3:00PM. I tried reaching them beyond 3PM and no one will really answer. 🙂

Step 5: Wait and PRAY

Usually, application for a Visa for employment takes 2-4 weeks. I know of some who had their Visa approved in 8-10 working days. Mine took 17 working days. My application was lodged on September 13 and the decision was released on October 6.

It was not easy to wait. I had to follow up always (3x a week on the 2nd week, LOL) because I was anxious about it. But I also prayed for it every single day. I prayed so hard and my heart rejoiced when God finally granted approval of my Visa on October 6. The Visa arrived at my home address the following day.

God is good all the time!

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