Tuesday 31 August 2010

Love is ...

While visiting Charleville Castle Park today I heard a little voice saying, 'Mammy, hold my hand'.

Later as I sat in my car outside a Shopping Centre reading a book a mother returned to her car laden with shopping and with her little daughter in tow. She put the tiny toddler into the back of the car first then started loading groceries into the boot (in the U.S. - 'trunk'). Then I overheard her telling her two year old, 'Sarah, you wait a minute until I get organized! I know you think you're the most important thing in the world - and you are, but sometimes you have to wait'.

Two moments of beauty to light up my life today!

Sunday 29 August 2010

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Thursday 19 August 2010

Patrick Kavanagh, Poet (1904 - 1967)

"Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal
Pouring redemption for me"

This sculpture of Patrick Kavanagh is on the banks of the Grand Canal between Leeson Street and Baggot Street bridges. It is my favourite Dublin sculpture. The poet is sitting on a bench facing the canal and he did indeed spend a lot of time here, undoubtably getting inspiration from this wonderful peaceful setting. The hustle and bustle of the city is all around yet there is a tranquility here that is hard to explain. The sculpture is by John Coll and not only is it life-sized but the bench is an actual proper bench you can sit on. I often had my lunch here alfresco in the 1990's sitting on the bench beside Paddy, but eventually I had to find an alternative spot because tourists were constantly appearing with cameras. And you had to (a) pose with the poet: then; (b) take a snap of said tourist sitting beside the bard of Inniskeen.

Kavanagh wrote the ballad "Raglan Road" featured in my blog on Tuesday.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Rambles Around Leeson Street

My good Blog friend Gaelikaa a Dubliner who is married and living in India commented on my blog on Sunday that she used to work in Leeson Park many years ago. So when I found myself in that part of the city this morning with half an hour to spare I decided to take some photos. These are in the Lower Leeson Street area, a stones throw from Leeson Park. Ironically I was based in this area myself when I came to Dublin in 1991 and the Kiosk in my collage holds particularly fond memories for me (and yes Gaelikaa the same man - a little greyer of course, is still there running that business, I spotted him this morning).
In my collage
Top left: The Grand Canal looking west from Leeson Bridge.
Top right: The Bank Building.
Bottom right: Lower Leeson Street looking towards Stephen's Green.
Bottom left: The Kiosk at Leeson Bridge.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Grafton Street

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Raglan Road

My walk through Grafton Street on Sunday reminded me of a lovely ballad called Raglan Road. It was written by one of our best known poets Patrick Kavanagh and is sung here by the late Luke Kelly who was a member of The Dubliner's folk group. It is one of my favourite ballads.

Monday 9 August 2010


I am always fascinated by the difference between small towns in different countries. I travel around Ireland a lot and the little towns that I visit have a distinctive "Irish" feel that makes them totally different to small towns that I visited in the UK, Spain, Poland and elsewhere. Obviously the architecture is different, building materials are different, but I am also fascinated by the types of shops and businesses that I see (and the people that I meet).
Yesterday I was in Mullingar - An Muileann gCearr, or "the left-hand Mill" in Irish. Most Irish placenames were anglicized by our former colonial rulers with the result that the directly translated english version (Mullingar in this case) rarely makes any linguistic sense.
Mullingar is the county town for county Westmeath - the "capital" if you like, and was once the Market town for the surrounding area. It is a typical Irish small town with many thriving shops, pubs and restaurants, a few hotels, a train station and a few shopping centres (plus the ubiquitous Mc Donalds). In recent years Mullingar Pewter has become very popular and is exported worldwide. The Royal Canal passes the outskirts of the town and there are numerous lakes nearby so the area is very popular with anglers (Lough Ennell and Lough Owel are the best known lakes).
Other than that Mullingar is a small town like many others. But I would be thrilled if some of my blogger friends showed small towns from their parts of the world for comparison.

Joe Dolan

In the Market square there is a life sized bronze statue of one of Mullingar's most famous sons, the entertainer Joe Dolan who sadly passed away in 2007. It was sculped by Carl Payne and I think it captures very well the charisma of the late great singer. I still have fond memories of travelling to the Isle of Man many years ago for the October Bank Holiday to what was billed as "The Joe Dolan Weekend". Joe was a legend on the domestic Showband* music scene and even had a huge hit in the UK and European charts in 1968 with a song called "Make Me an Island".

* Showbands were a uniquely Irish invention. They were basically a stage band of usually 7 members who performed live in music dance halls all over Ireland as well as in Irish clubs in Britain and the US. They usually played American style country and some céilí music but their great talent was being able to perform perfect renditions of all the latest chart hits. They reigned supreme from the late 50's until the mid 70's when the opening of Lounge Bars sounded their death knell. Their lead singers, like Joe Dolan, Big Tom, Brendan Bowyer, Dickie Rock and Eileen Reid were household names and they went on to achieve further success as cabaret entertainers. At the moment I am reading a fascinating and hilarious book called " (a day in the life ) Heads" by Gerry Anderson, a former Showband guitarist.
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Sunday 8 August 2010

Books Books Books

There are many good bookshops in Dublin, Easons of course being one of the oldest and bestknown. My favourite is Chapter's in Parnell Street (Gaelikaa will probably remember it from Abbey Street) but there are many small independent shops like this one beside the Liffey near the Halpenny Bridge. There are amazing bargains available in the city's book stores and you can pick up a good book for as little as one Euro.
The window display gives you an idea of the wide variety of books on sale in Book Value and as you can see the prices are very reasonable indeed.
I am always reading a book - or sometimes two at the same time, but I am not a prolific reader, perhaps averaging a book every 10 days.
One of the most famous (and controversial) books ever written is Ulysses by James Joyce, and although the author was Irish most Irish people have never read it. The book was banned here of course for many years as it was also in the United States and in the UK. Like one of those unfulfilled ambitions I always knew I had to tackle Ulysses some day. So when I saw a copy in Book Value for just €2.99 I could not resist buying it. Apparently it is a challenging book to read, so I am going to take my time and just dip into it now and again.
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Tuesday 3 August 2010

A Taste of Espana

Before I leave this sunny land I had to try a Spanish Tapas called Gazpacho (as recommended by my friend Maja). So today in Murcia I finally managed to find it in a small Cafe Bar - and yes it was perfect for a steaming hot day with the temperature in the 30´s!