Sunday 14 February 2010

Thursday 11 February 2010

Fat Thursday - A Polish Tradition

Tlusty Cwartek - or Fat Thursday is a traditional Polish feast marking the last Thursday before Lent. Because Lent is a time of fasting the next opportunity to feast will be Easter. Traditionally it is a day dedicated to eating, where people meet in their homes or in Cafe's with friends and relatives and eat large quantities of cakes and sweets which are forbidden during Lent.
Today I had to drive to Wexford in the sunny south east and when I got back to Dublin at 5pm I received a reminder from my Polish friend Maja of what day it was and so I immediately rushed to the Polish cake shop in Capel street to buy some of the yummy sweet donuts called Paczki (filled with rose marmalade) that you see in my collage. Like during my first introduction to this tradition last year it was an incredible sight as Polish people came from all directions to converge on the small Polish cake shop called "Party Cake". And while I was there another van load of Paczki and Faworki ( a dough finger covered in powdered sugar) arrived from their bakery in Thomas Street. I think it'a a unique and lovely tradition - and I don't mind being Polish for this one day every year.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Where We Live

Continuing my occasional series on "where we live"
These charming late Nineteenth century terraced cottages are in Geraldine Street and O'Connell Avenue off Berkeley Road in the Broadstone/Phibsborough area. Because of their proximity to the city centre (No 10 bus route) and to Phibsborough village (a few minutes walk away) cottages like these have been much sought after in recent years and during the height of the property boom were selling for up to a half a million Euro. The Mater University Hospital, the Mater Private Hospital, the Children's Hospital at Temple Street and Mountjoy Prison are also nearby so they are in a prime rental location (am I starting to sound like an Estate Agent?).
Most are 2 or 3 bedroom and some are split-level with a two storey extension at the back. They can range in size between 40 and 80 sq.mtrs, and even now in more straitened times can still fetch up to 250/300,000 Euro.
(St Joseph's R.C. church is in the background of bottom photo)
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Monday 8 February 2010

The City Council

In Ireland we live in a democracy where elections are held regularly to elect a central government whose job it is to look after our interests, nationally and internationally. We also have a local government system, also with elected representatives to run our counties, cities and towns (we inherited this system from British rule).
Dublin is split into four different administrative areas, with Dublin City Council (formerly Dublin Corporation) being responsible for the city centre area. Generally speaking local government works very well but in recent years there have been a number of scandals involving Councillors allegedly receiving bribes from property developers. Sometimes the City Council make unpopular bye laws as is the case right now where they have imposed a 30 Kilometre Per Hour speed limit within the City centre area. But more on that in my Grumpy Blog later.
The Council is responsible for the day to day running of the city - things like waste collection, street cleaning, water supply, social housing, parks maintenance and many other duties.

My collage shows some of the positive things that the Council provides for the citizens of Dublin.
From top clockwise - All weather playing pitch and Children's playground at Broadstone. This group of (I think) Romanians meet there to play football on Sunday afternoon. The Council have installed free "Poop Scoops" to facilitate dog owners. The sign in Blessington Street Basin advises Dubliner's to Keep Dublin Clean. The Sunday afternoon kick about is a great way for ethnic groups to meet. In the nearby park these recently installed exercise machines can help maintain good health. My neighbour who is in his seventies uses them every day while walking his dog.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Blessington Street Basin

In 1810 the Basin at Blessington Street was constructed to act as a reservoir to facilitate storage and distribution of water to Dublin city from the Royal Canal. The walls of the Basin are built of Calp limestone and the bed is lined with blue marl clay to retain water. The Gothic style gate lodge was built in 1811 as a residence for the basin-keeper.
The water in the Basin came from Lough Owel, north of Mullingar in County Westmeath, via the Royal Canal. Water from the canal was carried two miles from the eight lock, at Reilly's Bridge through iron pipe work and into the Basin. The water percolated through a gravel and stone filter before being pumped into the city's water supply.
From the 1860's until the 1970's the water was used almost exclusively to supply the Jameson Whiskey distillery in Bow Lane and the Power's Whiskey distillery in John's Lane. The water was used in various parts of the process including malting, where barley is allowed to sprout for a few days before drying, to increase the amount of alcohol produced during the brewing process.
The Basin was refurbished in 1993/94 when extensive planting of trees and shrubs, construction of railings, seating bays and restoration of stone walls took place.
The Basin is a wonderful oasis hidden behind high stone walls in the middle of a residential area. It's an ideal place to relax and to escape from city life although the city is literally only on the other side of the wall.

Tuesday 2 February 2010


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My good friend Maja from Bialystok in Polska (Poland) has just launched her own line of unique hand made fashion accessories. Her creations are available from two outlets in Warzaw but hopefully will also be available online very soon. For more information visit Maja's blog.

(photo by En & Maja)

Monday 1 February 2010

The CHQ Building

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The CHQ Building on the banks of the river Liffey in Dublin's Docklands houses a range of quality retail outlets and restaurants (including a Starbuck's - good news for moi!). The building dates from 1820 and was designed by the Scottish Engineer John Rennie. It was originally a wine and tobacco warehouse and was used as a venue to welcome back soldiers from the Crimean war, but later fell into disrepair. But now it has been beautifully restored and although very modern it still retains the beauty of the original John Rennie design.

The CHQ Building

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