she’s the boss…..

Irony is not lost on me, as I follow on from my last post with one from the entire other end of the spectrum – but such is life. Over the last five days, Inis Oirr has been hit with a storm. Not any old storm, but one that coincided with extraordinarily high tides and howling gale force winds. A storm of which the likes has not been seen on this island in twenty years. The islanders have discussed this among themselves, as I’ve no doubt they will do for a long time to come, as they’ve stood together watching what could only be described as utter destruction as the sea thundered her way onto the island! The Plassy was pounded so hard that her bow as good as caved under the pressure.Stone monuments were swept away. Roads were no longer roads, but heaps of boulders and rocks, and strewn with an awful amount of rubbish and plenty of lobster pots. The lake spread herself into adjoining fields, a lone metal shed moved across the road, pushed by an invisible force, stone walls were knocked and the ground looked like it had been bulldozed! It was indeed a sight to behold. It was beautiful, it was scary, and it was sad.

Over the following days everyone seemed to converge in the hotspots that had been affected by the storm. The beach, the Plassy, the Lighthouse – whose own back walls were also knocked and the doors and windows of the two little old houses that stood beside it were also smashed in. Some folk took photographs of the surging waters, some discussed the twenty year milestone, and others just stood there, watching, thinking.

The second part of the storm – which had by then been named ‘Christine’, was due on Sunday night. Some tried to rebuild walls while others used sandbags in order to try and contain it. And then she came.

The fallout from that visit didn’t seem to be as shocking even though almost all the walls had been got at by that stage, the road ploughed up and the beach looked completely destroyed. The high tide Monday morning was a sight to behold with the pier submerged under huge crashing waves carried by a heaving swell. I watched from a distance. I was in awe.

Whilst out on my walk this morning I came across a neighbour standing in his garden, all the walls down around him, no doubt wondering where exactly to start.

On asking him how he was getting on after the last few days, he replied, without a second thought –

“Sure what can you do, She’s the Boss, and whatever she decides, goes”

How very true. Maybe more people should start to realise that its best not to mess with Mother Nature!

I hope you enjoy the pictures of what happened this last weekend on Inis Oirr.

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heart of stone…

Limestone. The island is formed from it. Walls are built with it. Houses are protected from the sea by it. Plant life emerges from it. People walk on it, sit on it. Castle’s are built from it. The stone that is the heart of Inis Oirr. And the community of the island that makes it all beat!
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This beautiful carved stone memorial was erected this year for all those who have been lost to the sea. A place where people can gather and remember. (Many thanks to Cormac Coyne, Inis Oirr for the last photograph featuring the community of Inis Oirr at the blessing of the memorial)

little upstarts…

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A number of weeks back whilst I was busying myself with something or other in the kitchen, something caught my attention on the radio that was playing in the background. Someone had mentioned the word ‘pallet’ ! I perked up, as anyone that knows me will know that I have a strange affection for pallets. The piece was about a group called Upstart and they were launching the very first pop-up park in Dublin. Granby Park. The idea was actually genius. The aim was to make use of derelict unused spaces in the city and bring about something creative beautiful and somewhere that people were able to gather and share and chat and enjoy. All done by volunteers I might add. The pallet part was of course my favourite – they had somehow spectacularly created a theatre from, you guessed it, pallets. Hundreds of pallets were contructed into an arena by young people from Dublin and Belfast and they named the theatre ‘Dubfast’ to recognise the work that was put into it by these two groups.

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But even though there was a full schedule of performances and shows, the park was so much more than the theatre. There was a ‘playground’ area made up from logs and tyres and ropes, there was a lovely reading area where you could drink a fairly good cup of coffee and enjoy the goings on. There was clever grow your own ideas – some using pallets (but of course…) but old boots and shoes and upcycled glasshouses. There was ‘yarnbombing’ of railings and I can’t not mention the plastic bottle display (seriously you can make a glasshouse from plastic!) People donated time, cakes, books and skills for the duration of the life of the park.

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It also proved that there is so much talent and creativity out there waiting to find that little ‘pop-up’ place to showcase itself, no matter where in the city, or country for that matter, that you live. That people can come together to make something that just makes things a little brighter for other people. What we need, I think, is more little upstarts to get us as a people interested again in what matters, which is ‘us’, as a people. Community, getting back to nature, trying things even if you’re afraid, writing that first chapter, scripting the play thats been in your head for years, just getting out there and meeting your neighbour for a cup of tea and chat, and using pallets for every wonderous thing you can think of (ok I had to add that in). Working together, joining together, laughing, creating and appreciating together is the way forward in these hardened times.And lest not we forget we do have a great sense of humour…

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Sadly that park closes today, the 22nd of September, and this bright and colourful and most vibrant corner of Dominick Street will be returned to an unused gated wasted space. But maybe it might have been enough to ignite people into wanting more from the city and councils, more from the government , more from themselves. You never know there could be a pop up near you very soon!

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Well done Upstart, don’t be gone too long!

(you can follow Upstart on Twitter @weareupstart)

grandad’s deers

One of the greatest treasures that Ireland has is the beautiful Phoenix Park in Dublin. Whilst growing up we would the park at least a couple of times a year to go to the zoo. It used to be a whole days adventure, having no car at the time it involved packing a lunch and getting the No. 10 up to the park gates.! Sometimes after the zoo we’d head over to the Wellington Monument – thinking back to us racing up the slanty slabs still brings a shiver down my back! – oh the fearlessness (or relative stupidity) of youth. But often we’d head to the Papal Cross, and the hope was always that we might get to see the herd of majestic Fallow Deer that lived in the park. We would try to move in little silent steps just to get a tiny bit closer, oh how I longed to pet them. But these were wild deer and we understood that to approach them would most likely frighten them and that was not good. A quick movement caught in the corner of their eyes would send the whole flock scattered into the shelter and cover of the many trees. So we would admire them from a distance.
However things seemed to have changed slightly over the years and the deer seem to be more used to people coming up to photograph them or just admire them, although still ever watchful. Watchful that is, to everyone else bar one man.One man and his dogs.            This man arrives in the park, not too far from the cricket grounds everyday at almost the same time. You can just sense from him that he knows this place and is comfortable here. He gets out of the car and is followed excitedly by two dogs, one older than the other and they shadow him as he goes to the boot. He opens it up, pulls out a hurling stick and a couple of tennis balls, obviously to give the dogs a good run – although running would seem to be the last thing on these rotund much loved companions agenda, but they wag their tails regardless. Now this could be pretty much the same scenario for anyone driving to the park to give their dogs, or themselves for that matter, a good walk, some much needed fresh air and relative freedom from the noise and stresses of the city, except for what happens next.

The man takes out a bag, sometimes a plastic bread bag, sometimes a paper bag and closes his boot. The two dogs happily run ahead from the tarmac onto the lush green grass over towards the trees, and before the man even starts to walk there’s movement in the distance. Something has stirred. And as though they’ve appeared from thin air, the herd of beautiful fallow deer are walking out and looking intently towards this man and his dogs. He walks on and lets out a whistle that hits many notes, not too loud or harsh sort of like a singsong whistle. The deers stand momentarily with their necks up straight and begin to walk towards him. No flinch. No fear. They gather speed. The dogs ramble pass the deer, and sit down in their company while the man reaches them and hunkers down and rustles in the bag.
He takes out a handful of cubed bread. Sometimes handfuls of oats or crushed weetabix. Sometimes carrots and apples, but everything chopped up into perfect bitesize pieces. And the deer put their heads in his hands. And he pets them while they feed, and he knows the cheeky ones that go rummaging in his bag while he’s not looking, and he knows the quieter ones that he goes over to separately to make sure none are left out. The dogs wait patiently. After a few minutes, he rolls up his bag and begins to leave them as he wanders off to finish his walk. But not before he sends out another little whistle, that to me seems to let them know he’s going and they start to wander back among the trees, to their safe place. Alas these are still wild animals, although they may seem tame, they also need to be respected. And there most certainly seems to be mutual respect between the man, his dogs and the deer.
So how lucky am I that he’s my dad, and Bug’s grandad, and that a couple of weeks ago he was able to experience something I could have only dreamed of at his age. He calls them ‘grandad’s deers’ – and in fairness they kinda seem to be…..

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#beautifulkerry

Kerry is beautiful. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Having spent a week there with my three babies (but without TQM as he had important cow/potato stuff to attend to) in a rented holiday home with various family members, I can honestly say it will be my destination of choice forever more. It was not my first trip to Kerry, but the last time I was there was a very long time ago. But that was a different type of visit. This time it was a proper experience!
We rented a beautiful big house in Waterville from the lovely Bernie & John and it housed 10 of us very comfortably with plenty of room to spare. As if the house wasn’t enough, the view was something else and standing admiring it whilst drinking a very welcome cup of tea (did I mention Kerry is a meeeeelion miles from everywhere??? ) got my holiday off to the perfect start. So without further ado, I’m afraid I’m going to photobomb you a bit – there’s quite a few, but each one will tell its own story……
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What you are seeing here are snippets of a week filled with stunning beauty, amazing beaches (pictures are from the beach at Waterville and Ballinskelligs beach) but Derrynane beach was also fantastic (along with Derrynane house which we didn’t get to visit but looked AMAZING), there was a whole lot of cousin love – one of the best kinds of love – and not forgetting The Compass Jellyfish!!!! (one of my own personal highlights – for more information on jellyfish in Ireland I suggest you visit here!) You will also see the beautiful hedgerows that surrounded our house where I imagined little hedgehogs, hares and foxes frequented at night while we slept (we don’t have that hedgerow life here on the island).Visiting Valentia Island on the car ferry was a great day too, where a regatta was on at the harbour and we got to visit a brilliant petting farm. And the mist. I can’t not mention the mist on the mountains. I love mist anywhere, but mountains especially, and for some reason when I see misty mountains, The Mull of Kintyre by Wings plays on a loop in my head. Lets just say I was singing it constantly in Kerry!

Beautiful Kerry! There you have it. And when I heard the report on the news the other night about American Vogues photoshoot in Cork and Kerry and how great it was, I just thought to myself – yes the pictures are indeed beautiful of that there is no doubt, but its very easy to take beautiful pictures when you’re taking them of beautiful things – and thats just what Kerry is. We’ll be back for sure.

 

this moment

joining with Amanda today for ‘this moment’

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{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

 

Have a lovely day everyone

on the days that you wake up early…..

I suggest that you shake off that wanting to climb back into bed feeling and take a nice little walk. At the breaking of day, well ok, maybe a little later than that, but no later than say 6.30am, is to me the most amazing time to take a little stroll outside. For me, its the absolute perfect time for me to reflect on the beauty of the place that I now call home. Long before the boat engines start up, and before the visitors start arriving to the island, when all the birds are up and about and very vocal in their morning chorus, where the horses stand majestic against the backdrop of the rising sun and steady sea and when the beach has been washed over and looks brand new again, thats when I get to breathe deep and truly appreciate waking up early!

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So go on, open that door and step outside – you’ll be glad you did.

off…..

I was reading a newspaper article today. In fact, it wasn’t even in an actual newspaper, it was in a newspaper supplement, and it wasn’t a long article either, just a short interview piece, and it wasn’t from this weekends newspaper edition, alas no, it was from May’s. That’s right. May! And from the start of May no less. It would seem I had kept this now raggedy supplement all this time because I wanted to read that one particular article, and I only managed to get to it today.Six weeks later! Now I’ve noticed I tend to do this a lot. I have a host of other newspaper bits and pieces piled about the place waiting their turn for the quick read I can afford them whenever that may come. And you see that got me thinking and brought me to the conclusion that I really miss books! In case you think I live in a house devoid of books, I can assure you the complete opposite is the case. I’ve lots of books, really, loads, and they’re all great books. And many of them are the pick up put down again types, you know, the gardening and self sufficiency ones, local wildlife and DIY, but its the other books I miss. The ones that allow you to be transported to another world. In fact more to the point, I miss the peace and quiet of time that is dedicated to nobody else, just me and my book. I can honestly say, the only book I’ve read from cover to cover since starting our family ,stopping only to make dinner,was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. I remember I had one of the first copies issued as I had preordered it, but still it was nearly 2 years after before I read the thing. But read it I did. Cover to Cover.But the difference was, I couldn’t really get lost in it. In the back of my mind I was aware that there were things that needed doing in the house, with the babes, dinner to be made, animals to tend to. And as much as I wanted to lose myself, I just couldn’t turn that part of my brain off.

So today I made a decision.Next time when I’m alone in the house,or my boys are out visiting and the baby is sleeping I’m going to turn everything off. Yep. Everything! The television, radio, phone, laptop. Everything is going off. These are all time drainers I’m afraid. Hours can be whiled away on Twitter or Pinterest and before you know it the house is full of life and noise again. And I’m going to open the window and breath in some fresh air, and listen to nothing. To silence. Im going to take the time to affirm to myself that its ok to have this quiet time. That it’s ok to sit down while there are dishes to be done. That it’s ok that the clothes are out on the line and that there may be a shower coming. I”m switching that part of my brain off. Then my friends, I’m going to read!

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dad

Well dad, you know me, there’s almost ALWAYS an excuse, and this time the reason you didn’t get a fathers day card is mainly because of the crazy weather we’ve had this week (you know, island – planes – wild winds etc etc). So after you mentioned on the phone the other day how you “didn’t want any present since ‘Father’s Day’ is just a commercial day made up to make money but a nice card would do”, I decided then that even if I did end up sending you a card, it still wouldn’t say all the things I’d like to say to you. So I’m doing it here.

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I remember being small sitting on your shoulders in the park, and you pretending to fall over,the utter fear as I’d grab onto your face. And now find that you do the same daredevil stuff with my children much to their delight and my despair. I remember you giving out to me the only time I ever skipped school, not so much for mitching, but for ‘doing it on my own doorstep’ (I hid in the Botanic Gardens, my school was right beside it….I obviously hadn’t thought it through), I remember the posters you used to bring me home from The Broadstone, I mean how lucky was I to have a Linda Nolan autographed picture made out to me. I also however remember the Dracula poster – not so pleasant, especially when you told me that before Dracula would appear there would be lots of eerie smoke – let me tell you, you never knew how often I thought I saw eerie smoke in my room whilst lying terrified in bed. I remember breakfast in bed, always when least expected. I remember you were with me when I went up to collect my leaving certificate results, and even though deep down I knew I didn’t do great, you said to me – ‘it doesn’t matter whats on the paper ok’ and that made me happy. I remember you covering me with the ‘tin foil’ blanket you had when we used to go to overnight fishing competitions, you always let me go with you even though you knew that as soon as it started to get dark the sandhoppers would be out and I’d be hysterical. I remember you working every day from early just to make sure the bills were paid and we never went without. I remember you made us stilts. From big blocks of wood. On top of other big blocks of wood. Not very safe, but very very fun! I remember the phonecall that told me that there was a ticket waiting from me in New York to bring me back home. I remember you removing the fuse in the house so that you could scare the life out of all of us in a game of scary hide and seek. The squeals out of us all, children and adults alike. Hilarious altogether (but not at the time…) I remember it was you who decided to ring me to tell me about Tikitiboo, knowing my heart would be broken, and how yours was when we lost Amber (Dirty Belly). I remember on the morning of my wedding before we left for the church, you told me that if I had any doubts, or didn’t want to go through with it, that would be fine, I just had to say the word and you’d take care of everything. Not of course because you didn’t want me to marry him, but because you love me and wanted me to know that no matter what, you’d fix everything and anything. And you do. Always. 

A very very long time ago, you said to me when I was going to bed one night “if anything ever happens to me, no matter what anybody says, I want you to know that I love you”. I cried that night because in my young years I thought you were going to die. You didn’t need to tell me that though because I know you love me, and I love you and you’ve shaped who I am today, and I hope that makes you proud because I’m proud of you. 

Have a lovely non commercial Father’s Day dad, and enjoy your chocolate.

Aunty Francis

Photo: MVTimes

going back to my roots, for just a moment…

A couple of weeks back, myself and Bug headed to Dublin for Bloom.

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The last time I was at Bloom, I had a toddler in a buggy and was expecting my second baby, and my mam and nephew came too. I remember thinking that I’d have to come back in more relaxing circumstances because let me tell you its no easy feat trying to get around with buggies, bags and babies.So thats what I did. My little man was great company and my mam and sister joined us for the day. We set off early in the hope to avoid the major crowds, and really when we hauled ourselves out just after 3pm we were glad we did, as the place was absolutely packed. But I must say I came away a little disappointed. I found that there was a lot more commercialism in it this year, which seemed a little bit too tacky, like infomercials, with people demonstrating in that ‘Cilit Bang’ accent how ‘This Super Mop will suck water from your floor like a camel in a desert’ kind of thing ( I really did hear him say that!!!) There were over priced dodgy clothes and handbag stalls, and a few selling plastic junk that was mildly garden related. Regular flower shops and DIY stores were well represented, but really what I wanted was something more natural. Now don’t misunderstand me, if you bypassed that particular area of the festival and headed across to the craft and food arenas, you were into something completely different. Wonderful talent and wonderful foods on show, most with samples, but you’d have to fight your way into those tents, such was the demand. The showgardens were very lovely of course, but way too perfect for me – I’m a permaculture kinda gal and really hate lawns and manicured areas – but thats just me. I liked the Fairy Garden, but only because I wished I could live in it, that it was life size or that I was fairy size – either would suffice. And the Invasive Plants garden grew on me, the concept was very good. We signed up for a years membership with An Taisce and got some sound advice on beekeeping from The Federation of Irish Beekeepers Association. And I enjoyed the Community Garden involving Greenside Up, with its ‘yarnbombing’ and plastic bottle cold frame. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

It was only when I got home and had a cup of tea and pondered back over my day that I realised that I had gotten more pleasure from the natural surrounds and environment of Bloom rather than Bloom itself. The magnificent ancient trees of the Phoenix Park, The Walled Gardens with rows and rows of fruit and vegetables, the old building structures, the sounds from the nearby Dublin Zoo. The vast space and fresh air, the birds and the bees – all this wonder right in the middle of the city. To be enjoyed by everyone and anyone, everyday and any day, if only we just stepped outside.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been out of love with Dublin for a long long time. Living now in such a beautiful place, seasonly quiet, very safe and peaceful, I found myself looking on Dublin with distain. I grew up in Dublin, happily I might add, but it started to wear me out. I remembered the library right next to our avenue, where I’d happily wile away hours ‘studying’ ahem….more likely reading Judy Blume or the like, I remembered playing down in the little park beside the old prison wall, having a game of tennis with my best friend against it and just about managing not to hit it right over – but the prison officers always used to give them back to us if we did. I remember hanging out by the Royal Canal and crossing the locks, I remember it being sunny and I remember it being safe.I remember that people used to smile and say hello to you ALL the time,  But not over the last number of years. Maybe its a case of rose coloured glasses, I’m not sure, but it really has changed for me. Its noisy, full of traffic, full of people and then there are the ripped bin bags, the signs of antisocial behaviour dotted all around the outside of pubs and the 24 hour shop, often a bit smelly and very very impersonal. I visit regularly enough but after a couple of days, I just can’t wait to get away again, back here to my haven.

However this weekend was a bit different. After Bloom, we all headed to the Porterhouse North for some yummy food – hot chicken wings, nachos, tobacco onion rings (don’t even ask) and Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer! YUM. My best friend and her little 2 month old called into my parents that night and we sat chatting and catching up and drinking copious amounts of tea and eating a fair bit of chocolate. The following morning, Sunday, myself and my sister took Bug to Blessington Basin Park. I wasn’t sure about it at first, fearing gangs of drunk (or worse) youths just waiting to cause trouble. But no. It was beautiful. And peaceful. The flowers and trees were all in bloom, the football courts were full with young people playing, who stopped when we were walking past with the little man so that he wouldn’t get frightened if the ball hit the rails, the playground was full of children from all places happily playing together, whilst the adults caught up with each other about whatever was important. There was gentle banter with passers by about dogs and weather, and when we went into the basin itself, a little boy offered mine a slice of his bread to feed the ducks. We paid that forward by giving half the slice to a little toddler out walking with his dad. We admired the old black and white beamed house beside the gates, as I remembered going to school with a girl who used to live there. After pausing to look at some wonderful art along the walls, we headed for home and met an old man on a bench with the tiniest dog in the world – Coco – I think he said her name was. She hopped and pipped about and we played with her a while. Picking some bluebells to bring home to nana we stopped for an ice cream and then returned back to the house to pack up. Lunch al fresco in my sisters house – next door to my mams -finished off our weekend. It was a weekend of the Dublin I remembered from old, and I liked it a lot.

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