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Sheila Dunphy

research and development assistant at imec, Ghent, Belgium

Sheila Dunphy
“We grew up listening to stories of magic and fairies in Ireland that it seeps through everything.”

Mythical beauty and timeless legends

Sheila Dunphy, hailing from Dublin, was a true homebody. While her friends ventured off to explore the world, she found pure contentment in her beloved capital of Ireland. However, everything took a dramatic turn when she was granted the Erasmus scholarship.

From leaving for a year to 25 years of adventure

Sheila had a traditional Irish upbringing, in the Emerald Isle with her father working and her mother caring for their four children at home. The idyllic life in Dublin allowed her and her siblings to spend countless hours playing in the nearby streets.

In 1998, Sheila came to Belgium for three months, looking for educational opportunities and a more vibrant social life in Ghent. After returning to Ireland to finish her studies, she came back to Belgium with a plan to stay for a year. Her goal was to explore life abroad and expand her social circle. Over the course of a year and a half, she took on various jobs, learned Dutch, and built connections with people. Around 2000, she secured a position within a research group at Ghent University.

A few years later, when her professor retired, Sheila became a part of CMST, a research lab associated with imec at Ghent University. Little did she know that twenty-three years later, she would still be in Belgium, working with imec.

galway - corrib harbour
Galway - Corrib Harbour
cobh - saint colmans cathedral
Cobh - Saint Colman’s Cathedral
BlurHashdublin - the old library in trinity college
Dublin - The Old Library in Trinity College

In the late nineties, Ireland had a small international population, but the environment in Belgium was dynamic and diverse. Living in this multicultural setting, Sheila became more open and tolerant towards diverse cultures, lifestyles, and philosophies, significantly enriching her life.

Fairytales and legends

Sheila loves sharing Ireland’s fascinating folklore, full of magic, fairies, and legends. These enchanting stories have been passed down through generations, shaping the country’s culture. One popular theme is the belief in fairies and their ability to give blessings or curses to people. Another well-known tale is about Leperechaun, clever creatures that hide pots of gold. The ancient legends also feature heroic figures like Cú Chulainn and Finn McCool, who embarked on daring adventures, battled fearsome creatures, and displayed remarkable strength and courage.

In addition, Ireland’s folklore describes thin places where the line between the natural world and the supernatural is believed to be very thin. These places, often natural landmarks like old stone circles, sacred wells, or magical forests, are believed to have special powers.

donegal - grianan of aileach an irish ringfort
Donegal - Grianán of Aileach, an Irish ringfort
antrim plateau - giants causeway
Antrim Plateau - Giant’s Causeway
BlurHashirish stew - irelands national dish
Irish Stew - Ireland’s national dish

Magic and beauty of Ireland

Ireland has something to offer everyone, with various breathtaking locations. The cliffs of Moher, one of the country’s most visited spots, not only boast scenic beauty but also carry a captivating myth. According to locals, the sea opened where the town of Kilstiffen once stood and sank underwater when the golden key to the city’s gates was lost during a battle. The legend goes that the town will remain submerged until the key is found and returned.

The Rings of Kerry, dotted with charming stops along the coastline, includes picturesque villages like Killarney, Cahersiveen, and Kenmare. Meanwhile, the Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO world heritage site with unique basalt columns formed by volcanic activities, has its legend. It is said that an Irish giant named Finn McCool built the causeway across the Irish Sea to confront his Scottish rival, Benandonner.

Sheila also cherishes the ancient castles scattered across Ireland, such as Blarney Castle, Kylemore Abbey, Trim Castle, and Cahir Castle, which evoke a sense of history and enchantment. Traveling to Ireland promises a delightful blend of history, culture, entertainment, and warm Irish hospitality.

Must see

Take the scenic route and stop in Kenmare for charming shops, traditional pubs, and a warm Irish welcome.

clare - cliffs of moher
Clare - Cliffs of Moher
kenmare - colorful houses
Kenmare - Colorful houses