The first thing I notice when I walk into John and Siobhán Logue’s house is the wonderful smell of home cooking throughout the house.
Siobhán greets me with a big smile and directs me to the warmth of the kitchen where I find her husband John and their guest and City Language School student, Ana Pamela Morán from Mexico.
They have just finished dinner and are sitting down to a cup of tea. In less than a minute, there is one in front of me too and I feel at home almost straight away.
When Ana Pamela arrived in Dublin for our study and travel course in mid-December she wondered how she would get through her first Christmas away from her family.
Luckily, Oscars was able to set her up with a family that made her feel welcome from day one. At the time John and Siobhán were hosting another student, Jacqueline from Brazil, and both she and Ana Pamela were included in the family Christmas dinner – a feast involving twelve people who barely knew each other but by the end of the evening were learning about each other’s language and culture.
“That was a fantastic Christmas dinner,” says Ana Pamela. “We ate a lot of food and at the end of the night I was teaching Siobhán’s sister how to do the salsa.”
John and Siobhán have hosted students for over twenty-two years and are a very experienced and highly-regarded host family.
“We started doing it just in the summer time,” explains Siobhán. “But then we started getting phone calls from people saying we were recommended and it just kept going really.”
The couple soon found that hosting people from all over the world was something they enjoyed doing. Fifteen years ago they added some bedrooms to their house and are now able to accommodate several students at a time very comfortably. It means that when new students arrive they make friends straight away.
John and Siobhán’s house is located just off the Navan Road in Dublin 7, a quiet and safe part of the capital from where you can get to the city centre quite easily. There are several buses that take you right to the doors of City Language School in Dame Street and another great bonus is the proximity to the Phoenix Park.
Ana Pamela’s day starts at 7.30am with a healthy home-made breakfast cooked by host father John. There are several buses that Ana Pamela can take to get to the city centre in the morning and most mornings the trip to City Language School takes about forty-five minutes. At the weekends, when there is less traffic congestion, it takes only ten or fifteen minutes to get to O’Connell Street. Ana Pamela’s classes start at 8.55 and end at 12.15. She spends most afternoons with her classmates who come from all over the world.
“I am very lucky in my class,” she says. “The mix is fantastic. There are students from Belgium, France, Brazil, Korea and there are some Mexicans too so it is nice and it’s interesting when the teacher asks us to make a presentation about our countries and you learn about different preferences and food. We hang out a lot in the student area in the afternoons.”
On other afternoons, Ana Pamela can spend time with friends exploring the city and when the weather is fine they spend time in Stephen’s Green or one of the many parks and green spaces dotted around Dublin.
Most evenings Ana Pamela is back in plenty of time for dinner at around 6.30pm and every evening she is handed a home cooked meal.
“I love the food; the breakfast and dinner is really delicious,” says Ana. “And since I have come here I have become addicted to the tea.”
“Poached eggs or scrambled eggs in the morning sometimes with a bit of bacon and toast,” says John. “And then at the weekend a big fry with sausages and bacon and pudding. I love cooking. It’s as passion of mine so I’m always happy to make food for the people staying with us.”
Not only do John And Siobhán feed and a warm home for their students but every Thursday they also do their washing. On occasion they even teach them English.
“Sometimes they correct my English which is really great,” says Ana Pamela. “Just before you arrived in fact I asked John ‘how do you ask for the bill in a restaurant’.”
“‘May I have the bill please,’” says John, taking another sip from his tea.
It is clear that Ana Pamela is very happy here. In fact she has extended her stay with the Logues by a month.
As I get up to leave, she strolls over to the kettle and puts it on to make another cup of tea for herself and her ‘Irish family’. She feels very much at home with John and Siobhán
“If my daughter was in Mexico I would want her to be treated the same way as we treat Ana Pamela,” says Siobhán. “That’s our philosophy.”
It’s a philosophy that we at Oscars very much appreciate and we know the students and their families appreciate it too.