“I’m originally from England, my grandad is Polish” says Charlene Zubrzycki (pronounced zu-bris-ki) as we chat in the Tierney building in the University of Limerick.
Charlene is the graphic designer for the successful start-up company BlueChief Social based in the Nexus Innovation Centre in the University of Limerick.
“I’m living in Ireland because my family relocated here for work in 1999. Procter and Gamble closed down in Wakefield in the height of the boom and moved to Ireland. After that I went to LIT to do multimedia, programming and design but I left there after two years to pursue a more creative design career. I went working for a year and then I went to Limerick Senior to do a portfolio course to get into the art college. I got in and spent the next four years in there. So basically all my education after primary school would have been in Limerick.”
Charlene lives in Nenagh but she feels Limerick City is quite important to North Tipperary. “Do you know what? On this side of the country if you want to do anything you have to travel to Limerick, that’s where everything is. Everyone goes to work here, goes to uni here and shopping. There’s the nightlife and there’s loads of things to do especially after City of Culture and the run up to the bid. I love the atmosphere; there is always something going on. You can go somewhere for the day and you meet so many characters; it’s just so welcoming.”
“I like the fact that Limerick is becoming a lot more creative; we have so many awesome things here. Look at all the amazing people that graduate from LSAD and you have the degree show featured in Italian Vogue! We have so many great things and people need to know about it.” Charlene is keen to point out that while Limerick has a fantastic creative culture, a new culture of innovation is taking over the city, “Limerick is not just creativity and culture there is an unreal amount of innovation with all the start-ups like us at BlueChief.”
The bid process has broken down many stereotypical images of Limerick according to Charlene.
“Limerick is a brilliant place and it is only starting to shine. It’s a diamond in the rough but now everyone can see Limerick the way it really is instead of the stereotypical jokes. It has had the immediate growth that it needs. You can see the murals everywhere and everyone is more accepting of culture. There was a Polish festival recently by Arthur’s Quay Shopping Centre and I thought that was fantastic. Limerick is not just a place for shopping and the pub, it’s got its own culture and I think it is nice to see it growing and that there is something bigger outside of Dublin, Cork and Galway. I think Limerick’s designation as European Capital of Culture would bring it on par with these other big cities.”
Even if Limerick is not successful with the bid Charlene is optimistic about Limerick’s future, “We need to keep going the way we are, keep that momentum going because when it fizzles out, people forget. This is actually a pretty cool place to be living in. I was welcomed with open arms, no issues. You could walk into a pub not knowing anyone and you would make some friends in a matter of minutes.”