BALLYCROY BOUND Shane Nicholas and his wife Amara are planning a first trip back to Ballycroy since Christmas 2019.
I love Ballycroy; I love Mayo and I miss the energy and fun I feel when I’m there. I was last home at Christmas 2019 when my wife Amara and I went home to visit my family. During that trip Amara asked my two sisters to be her bridesmaids for our wedding that was due to take place in Hvar, Croatia in July, 2021.
As time passed and Covid arrived, Amara and I decided in October 2020 that the wedding would be too risky as people would have to put deposits down and start booking flights. We decided to go to the Seychelles ourselves and get married on a beautiful beach on December 17, 2020 and to have a party at home as soon as it could be safely arranged. I would’ve loved to have my family there to be part of the special day and for Amara to have the dream wedding she had been planning but it wasn’t to be.
We spent the Christmas in Dubai with friends and found out on Christmas Eve we were expecting a baby which is due in August.
These are very special moments in life for us, but we haven’t be able to celebrate our them properly with the family due to Covid restrictions. We can’t wait to get back to Ireland after the birth of our baby girl and introduce her to granny and grandad, her two amazing aunties and her cousin Mícheál.
I’m a teacher in Dubai and really enjoy it but lockdown here was different to back home. When we were locked down, we were really locked down. During the month of April, leaving the house was restricted and you could only leave once you have booked a permit through the government website and it was only permitted to leave if you needed to go to the shop, medical reasons or exercise. Police were doing random stops and if you were caught without a permit, there was an automatic €600 fine. Needless to say, we followed the rules pretty well. The big fine ensured we were all very compliant!
I’m a fitness fanatic and have always been so. (Shane is a former national boxing champion). During lockdown I made sure I worked out every day, but all exercise consisted of was 10km runs around the underground car park, home workouts and endless climbing of the stairs in our tower block. Some of the neighbours thought I was nuts, but us Ballycroy lads are used to people thinking that!
To be honest, I actually didn’t mind lockdown too much as Dubai is very go-go-go and there is always something to do, someone’s birthday party to go to or a new night venue opening up. So, the slower life suited me.
It also allowed me to follow my passion and set up my online personal training business (Train with Shane Nic, see @train.with.shanenic). I threw myself into it and worked endlessly to bring it to fruition.
I got a great reception from people in Dubai and back in Ireland. I trained a number of clients over that time and the business has grown and grown since. I thank lockdown for this as it allowed me to focus solely on developing the business and helping people with their weight-loss goals, which is something I’m very passionate about. I started with my family (Dad and two sisters) and they have lost a combined 78kg since starting.
Of course, I couldn’t forget the day job and teaching was all done online throughout lockdown and as myself and Amara are both teachers, my bedroom became my classroom. It was fun but it also made me realise how much children need face to face interaction.
Lockdown has been a learning experience for people all across the world and it has been no different for the two of us. We have a very exciting few months ahead of us as we wait for the arrival of our little girl, but I can’t wait to be in Ballycroy again.
It’ll be great going home to have that wedding celebration with all my family and friends and for our baby girl to meet all of her family. The future is very exciting.
In conversation with Michael Gallagher
Just briefly. . .
Best thing about living abroad?
I love living in Dubai as it has everything you want in the city. I love travelling and Dubai’s airport is a central hub for travel. This has allowed me to travel to over 30 countries since moving here seven years ago.
One thing you would like to export from Dubai to Ballycroy?
The weather. The year-round sun is something I love the most about Dubai.
Most things you miss about home?
Family and friends. We will all be meeting up soon for sure. I still need to celebrate my wedding and I’m not letting the lads off without having my stag do!
Favourite places to visit in Mayo?
Ballycroy! It is literally one of the most beautiful places on earth. Beautiful views and scenery. St Anne’s Boxing Club too - you walk in the door and you’re greeted by Peter Mullen’s massive smile and friendly nature. The club will forever hold a place in my heart!
Which three Mayo people would you pick on your zoom quiz team?
My mum and my two aunties. We wouldn’t answer many questions as the craic would be too good.
What is your happy place in Dubai?
The gym, Zero Gravity Beach Club or down on Kite Beach.
What’s your most prized possession at the moment?
The baby scan of my daughter who is due in August 2021
What do you miss about life pre-Covid?
Not having to think about restrictions when wanting to go home or go travelling. Also just giving someone a hug or greeting embrace.