Isolation Portraits Project – Part 5

Isolation Portraits Project - Part 5

The more I go on with this project, the more I enjoy it. Every time I speak with someone, I learn something about them or their current life and I feel really privileged to share these little pinches of personal space with those people. For example, my friend Síne showed me her house around and her fav spots in there. She told me that she loves her green armchair and that every day she drinks her morning coffee on the stairs of her front door, surrounded by the flowers that most attract bumblebees and that she says are her joy.


I met Síne in 2018, when she was looking for a graphic designer for a very interesting project called Cultúr Club, a series of illustrated booklets to learn Irish, for children of Irish ex-pats. She was the manager of the project for Conradh na Gaeilge, the association which promotes the Irish language throughout the world. I love collaborating with hard workers and Síne never disappoints! She is full of energy and kindness. I even got a bouquet from her after finishing the first series of books! She is one of the only two people I know who speaks fluent Irish and she is the best ambassador for it (as you will read below). 
Just so you know, yes, she dressed up for the shooting, but as soon as I saw her I said: “that dress is so Síne!”. Elegant, romantic and beautiful. Doesn’t it match perfectly with her soul?


My family is from Mayo, I was born and currently live in Dublin, but I have lived all around Ireland in Galway, Belfast, and Limerick as well as Barcelona and Missoula in Montana in the United States. I love to travel, but I also love coming home; I love seeing living things grow, and I especially love listening to the birds and the bees buzzing about as I work in my garden; I absolutely love languages and the written word, whether in books of heroic fiction, reams of transformative poetry, or multilingual dictionaries that are treasure troves of new words and cultural insights for me. Is í an Ghaeilge an teanga is giorra do mo chroí – Irish is the language closest to my heart, and I’m passionate about people, the natural environment, celebrating linguistic diversity and culture, communication, and inspiring people to speak more Irish.


Labhraím Gaeilge agus Béarla go líofa – I speak fluent Irish and English every day with friends and family. I was raised at home through English, but I attended an Irish-medium primary and secondary school where we studied all our subjects through Irish, then I graduated with a BA in Irish Studies with Spanish from university and continued to work professionally in the Irish-language sector. I tried learning Italian through Catalan when I lived in Barcelona for Erasmus, but I had enough trouble trying to become fluent in Spanish! I no longer speak much Spanish, but I can speak a little French from my Leaving Cert and I still know one or two phrases in German from my Junior Certificate. 

My partner knows some Polish and Russian too and has taught me some random words, and I try to use a few Google-translated Italian phrases with Elena and Francesca in Mother Tongues.
Through my work, I have also met speakers of Gàidhlig in Scotland, Te Reo in New Zealand, Nyungar in Australia, Cantonese in Hong Kong, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim and the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm dialect in Canada, Arabic in the United Arab Emirates, Jèrriais in the Channel Islands, and Euskera in the Basque Country, and tried to learn a few words of thanks or welcome in each language.


Níl aon fhocal amháin sa Ghaeilge don fhocal Béarla ‘alone’: Ach áirím sólás éigin as a bheith liom féin in amanna. Ní hionann a bheith i m’aonar agus uaigneas a bheith orm; tá am ciúin ríthábhachtach domsa, don mhachnamh agus don mheabhairshláinte measaim.
Níl deartháir ná deirfiúr agam, mar sin bhíodh mé i gcónaí sásta am a chaitheamh ag spraoi agus ag súgradh le cairde agus mé óg, ach bhíodh suaimhneas agus faoiseamh ar fáil dom nuair a bheinn liom féin sa bhaile ansin i ndiaidh na cainte agus na gcluichí bríomhara. Is amhlaidh an scéal go fóill agus mé i mo dhuine fásta, áit gur breá liom casadh le cairde ach gur breá liom mo scíth a ligean liom féin sa ghairdín nó ag léamh, le ceol nó le ciúnas. 

There’s no one word in Irish for the English word ‘alone’: But I find a certain sense of solace in being on my own sometimes. Being alone is not the same as being lonely; quiet time is really important to me, and I think it’s important as quality time for thinking and for your mental health.
I don’t have any brothers or sisters so I was always happy to spend time playing with friends when I was young, but then I could also find peace and quiet relief when I was on my own at home after all the energetic games and talking. As an adult, this still rings true and while I love to meet up and socialise with friends, I also love relaxing by myself in the garden or reading, listening to music or simply being quiet.


Claudia is the most Italian-spirited German on the planet. I met her here in Dublin, through Mother Tongues, after she moved from Rome. So we had a little bit of story in common; the difference is that she moved with her partner and child, while I landed with my friend Romina looking for a place in the world. I can see her perfectly fitting in the Roman way of life. Kind of relaxed, always ready to enjoy life.
Claudia always looks lighthearted and god knows if one needs to have this kind of people around. She obviously has her worries, but never shows them out and never gets heavy complaining (something that I used to do a looooot in the past years – and I want to publicly apologise to every single person who had to listen to me!). She speaks Italian so well that I sometimes forget she is not from my country. Fun fact: one day I used the word batuffolo and she didn’t know the meaning. But now it’s one of her favourite Italian words! (No, I’m not going to translate it for you 😀 )


I feel old and young at the same time. I love the sun on my skin, windy days, being a mother, walking in silence, reading, writing, alternative medicine…

I speak German because I was born in Munich. I spoke French because I learned it in school, loved it and lost it (it is still somewhere there inside me). I speak Italian because I lived in Rome for eight years. I speak English because I live and work in Dublin.


Wir leben hier zu fünft zusammen, daher fühlt es sich nicht nach Alleinsein an. Es ist ein in die Stille kommen, ohne all die Ablenkungen. Ich bin ein sehr aktiver Mensch, daher tut mir die Ruhe gut, auch wenn sie mir manchmal weniger schöne Seiten von mir selbst zeigt. Ich wünsche mir sehr, dass jeder mehr das leben kann, was er eigentlich ist.

There are five of us living together, so it doesn’t feel like being alone. There is silence without all the distractions. I am a very active person, so peace is good for me, even if sometimes it shows me less pretty sides of myself. I really hope that everyone can live more for what they are.


Meet my mother-in-law! I don’t know about other countries, but in Italy it’s very common to make jokes about mothers-in-law and how intense and annoying they can be, especially mothers of men. Well, I have to say that I am extremely luck because Sileny is so kind, understanding and relaxed! Also, she has no idea how to cook Italian stuff, so whatever I prepare she is amazed by it! I met her for the first time in 2018. The very first time I saw her, she was hugging her son, after four years spent in two different continents. One of the longest hugs I’ve ever seen. She was so shocked that at the beginning didn’t even cry. Only after a few minutes sat beside him, she shed a lot of tears. 
It broke my heart when we had to kiss her goodbye at the airport, knowing that in a few days, once again she would have to live far away from all her three children. It is unbelievable how much damage a bunch of morons can do when they lead a country.

I live in the city of Mérida, in the West of Venezuela.
I am a retired university professor and live with my 92 year old mother.
My husband died 16 years ago and my three children, like millions of Venezuelans, emigrated and live spread throughout the world, in the Dominican Republic, Ireland and the United States.

I only speak Spanish and now more than ever I feel the need to have another language, such as English. I think I’ve never felt the need to learn it, but now I know that it is essential, especially when you have family in countries where Spanish is not spoken.

Vivo prácticamente sola, lo cual significa que tengo escaso contacto físico y emocional con mis seres más queridos. SIn embargo, el estar sola no significa estar en soledad, lo cual para mí es un sentimiento permanente de pesar. Inevitablemente hay momentos en que uno debe afrontar emociones como el miedo, tristeza, ansiedad que se refuerzan al estar solo y más aún en tiempo de crisis como el que estamos viviendo con el Covid19 y donde hace tanta falta la compañía.
Pero también pienso que hay que verle el lado positivo al estar solo cómo es tener tiempo para hacer lo que uno quiere, reflexionar, agradecer y sobre todo disfrutar del silencio y la libertad.

I practically live alone, which means that I have little physical and emotional contact with my loved ones. However, being alone does not mean feeling alone, which for me is a permanent feeling of regret. Inevitably, there are times when one must face emotions such as fear, sadness, anxiety that get stronger when one is one their own and even more in times of crisis like now with the Covid19 and where everybody missis socialising. But I also think that one has to see the positive side of being alone, for example to do whatever you please, reflect, being thankful and above all enjoy silence and freedom.

Arturo & Daniela

I met Arturo in 2018, but we were in contact probably more than a year earlier. I “found” him on a Facebook group for Italians in Dublin. Someone was looking for a wedding photographer and he answered offering his services. At the time, I was intensively looking to increase the number of my clients, so after a while, I contacted him. Lots of things happened along the way and now I’m happy to be part of the Castadiva team. 
I met Daniela, Arturo’s partner, later on. She immediately gave me a sense of warmth that I can’t describe. She felt like home.
 Then I discovered that she’s crazy, but in all good ways! For example, she is crazy about cooking. She is more equipped here, despite being in Ireland, than the majority of people I know back home! Apparently most people from Sicily are crazy the same way 🙂 That’s why I wanted to portrait them in their gorgeous kitchen, while she was baking some biscuits and croissants.
Next step will be convincing her to open her YouTube channel of Italian recipes!


My name’s Arturo. I live in Donacarney near Drogheda from 4 years. I’m a Videographer and I love my job because it is dynamic and creative.
I am a gourmet and sometimes I also like cooking and experimenting.

I speak Italian because is my mother tongues. I’m trying to learn English because I live and work in Ireland.

Non amo stare da solo ma neanche la confusione. Essere solo mi fa paura.

I don’t like being alone but I don’t like confusion either. Being alone scares me.


I’m Daniela, I’m Italian and I live in Drogheda, a lively and cute town 30 mins from Dublin. I have been in Ireland for a few months and for now I do small jobs. I love to cook and organize pleasant evenings with friends. I like cinema and fashion.

I speak Italian because it is my native language.
My English is poor and I am trying to improve. I don’t care to speak other languages.

Essere soli per me non è certamente una tragedia. Per varie vicissitudini sono stata sempre abituata a questa condizione, ma adesso è certamente una condizione diversa, più intensa e triste. Stare soli ti permette di entrare più in contatto con te stesso e con quello che provi, ti permette di avere degli spazi di riflessione ampi e profondi e di esplorare sempre di più qualcosa che è sempre in continua evoluzione: il nostro essere.


Being alone is certainly not tragic for me. For various reasons I have always been used to this condition, but now it is certainly a different, more intense and sad situation. Being alone allows you to get more in touch with yourself and with what you feel, allows you to have wide and deep spaces for reflection and to explore more and more something that is always in constant evolution: our being.


Now, do you want to read something astonishing? I met Roberta in 1989. Yes, 31 years ago! Her dad sais that on Roberta’s first day at the kindergarten, she was crying desperately. But when she saw me and started playing with me she finally calmed down and he could leave 🙂 She is my oldest friend and every time we happen to meet in person, even though we spend years without meeting each other, it always feels like we had spent no more than one week apart. It’s really sad for me not to have met her daughter yet… But hopefully, I will do so when all this freaking pandemic is over.
Well, I have 30-something years of anecdotes to share. For example, the first trip I have ever organised was with her (and my parents).
We were 10 years old, more or less, and I wanted so badly to go to Turin and visit the Egyptian Museum that I managed to convince my parents and we invited her too. It was fantastic, as we were both very passionate about ancient Egypt. (That’s why when she showed me the two papyrus hanging on her grandparents’ house where she is in lockdown, I told her that we HAD to take one photo there!!)

Have you ever wondered why I live in Ireland? In 2009, she was doing the Erasmus in Galway. I went to visit her for a week and we also spent a few days in Dublin (during the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Guinness!). I have to say that I really liked Dublin back then. Even though I had to buy a coat, ‘cos I was not prepared for a cold October, it actually never rained and I have later found out that 2009 was one of the best autumns ever, lol. I also loved that Dublin felt such a young city, full of life and activities.
So when was the moment to leave my beloved Rome to go to an English speaking country, I never thought twice and immediately decided that Dublin it was. My opinion on the city has changed quite a lot after living here, but I probably was meant to come here for a part of my life and I’m glad that was Roberta my link to all this.


I’m from Italy: Stresa is my home town, but I moved out in 2006. I had the chance to live in Galway, Luxembourg and Florence for 6 months each and, after 13 (!) moves, I’m supposed to settle in Milan after this crazy lockdown period.
Stresa is a kind of magnet: my parents and family live here and it’s the place where I often come back. It’s the place where I’m spending this lockdown period, in my grandma’s house as you can see from the pictures, and the place where I met and got close friend with Elena, my “oldest friend” as we always say. I’m a mom in love, a lucky wife, a beloved daughter and a hard worker. I love reading, practicing yoga, dancing, baking, having lunch or dinner with family and friends.


Ho sempre amato stare sola, quando rappresenta una possibilità e una sana alternanza a momenti di socialità. I momenti passati maggiormente da sola, anche se mal volentieri, sono quelli in cui ho imparato a conoscermi di più. Da quando sono mamma, essere sola è diventato tanto raro quanto prezioso: brevi momenti tra lavoro e un “Mamma, dove sei? Non ti vedo!”

I’ve always loved being alone, when it represents a choice and it can be alternate with social moments. When I had to stay alone against my will, those are the moments when I learned the most about myself.
Since I’ve become a mother, being on my own is as rare as it is precious: short moments between work and a “Mom, where are you? I do not see you!”

The fifth part of the Isolation Portraits Project ends here. Share the article if you liked it!