Welcome to my Place ... Cambridge

‘We have to preserve the goodwill built between our two islands in recent times’

Finola O’Sullivan on Magdalene Bridge, Cambridge

Finola O’Sullivan on Magdalene Bridge, Cambridge

 

Finola O’Sullivan, a Dubliner by birth, attended Sion Hill, Blackrock in Co Dublin and UCD where she studied English and later Library and Information Studies. Working first in the Law Library at the Four Courts, she then moved into law publishing. She moved to Cambridge to take up an editorial position at Cambridge University Press in July 1997 and today co-ordinates a global academic law publishing programme.

What do you like about living in Cambridge?
Living in a university city that has become a 21st century global crossroads of the knowledge economy is very stimulating. There is a constant buzz all year with clashing events to choose from and a wealth of museums, too. I feel no different to the excited teenager I once was at my first UCD Freshers’ Week in Belfield.

Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Cambridge?
King’s Parade. I can still see my parents sitting on the wall outside King’s College when they first visited me here. The architecture is breathtaking ranging from King’s College Chapel to the nearby University Senate House, our Cambridge University Press bookshop and Great St Mary’s Church, where a panoramic view can be seen from its rooftop.

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money
Take a stroll down Mill Road in my neighbourhood, where you will encounter many languages.

Visit the American Cemetery in Madingley, which serves as a reminder of the folly of all warfare.

Since living in Cambridge, I have converted to Quakerism, the seeds of which were sown in my frequent business trips from Dublin to Belfast and nearby towns during the 1980s and early 1990s to sell law books. I wept when listening by radio here to the Queen’s use of Irish in Dublin Castle on her State visit to Ireland. We have to preserve the best of the goodwill built between our two islands in recent times, whatever the immediate Europe-related future brings in 2019.

Go to evensong in term time (we have three eight-week terms). It is held in many college chapels.

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Cambridge?
Varsity restaurant, which is opposite Emmanuel College.

Where is the best place to get a sense of Cambridge’s role in history?
Magdalene Bridge on Magdalene Street is near the site of the original Roman river crossing, and the area today still has echoes of its later medieval heritage when Cambridge was a commercial crossroads for goods. The river Cam/Granta was at that time navigable from the coast as far as Cambridge with a port in the Magdalene Street area and good land routes radiating out. Farther downstream, the site of the largest medieval fair in Europe (Stourbridge Fair on Stourbridge Common) is still there today.

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Cambridge?
Chelsea buns from Fitzbillies and – I would say this – lots of books from a bibliophile’s paradise!

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live overseas, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We would love to hear from you.

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