Do you remember the Reader’s Digest

On a recent drive through Portlaoise, I visited Tynan’s Restaurant in the Store Yard. The food was gorgeous but what was more exciting was the journey through The Store Yard premises to reach it. The Store Yard is like a large warehouse, full of salvage, retro, vintage furniture and curios. It is no wonder that it has prominently featured as a prop supplier for the film industry. Items of its stock featured in Little Women, The Widow, Ripper Street, and others.  I can also imagine that it has been the source of many interesting features for home and garden projects throughout Ireland.

Amid this trove of treasure, my find of an old edition of Reader’s Digest, might seem insignificant. However, it sparked memories of bygone days and very different publications and afforded me the opportunity to have a long chat with one of the dedicated sales team in whose home Reader’s Digest had featured strongly too.

cover of Jan 1964 Reader's Digest

I know Readers Digest is still being published – I think it can even be accessed on line now but I was really delighted to find this January 1964 edition. I’m not sure why or when my parents started to purchase Reader Digest but I know I was still in Primary school. My Fourth class teacher had a vocabulary enrichment programme: each of her pupils had to list “new” words and phrases every week into a Vocabulary Diary. At least one of these words had to feature in your weekly essay. Readers Digest had a page devoted to enriching your word power and so was a favourite of mine.

Vocabulary building

I remember hearing the story of DeWitt Wallace who while recovering from shrapnel wounds after WW1 came up with the idea of combining samples of favourite and interesting articles from many publications into one magazine. And so Reader’s Digest was born! The magazine’s format for several decades consisted of 30 articles per issue (one per day), along with a vocabulary page (It Pays to Increase your Word Power), a page of “amusing anecdotes (Laughter I, the Best Medicine), some personal glimpses (Life’s Like That), and a lengthier article at the end, usually condensed from a published book. These were all listed in the Table of Contents on the back cover. Each article was prefaced by a small, simple line drawing and sometimes a relevant quotation.


There was some criticism during those years of Reader’s Digest’s sales procedures. Large colourful mailings arrived in houses informing you that you were among a small lucky number worldwide who were now close to winning astronomical sums of money. It was insinuated that a subscription to Reader’s Digest for the following year or recommending it to a friend would enhance your chances further. This form of advertisement was forced to finish at the turn of the century.

New Reader's Digest  

Compare the 1964 edition to a 2019 (July) edition, with its flashier, more colorful eye-catching graphics throughout. There are still short bits of data interspersed with full articles illustrated with glossy pictures. The Table of Contents has been moved inside.

Somehow it doesn’t seem to be half as romantic or interesting and will probably never feature as “a ten year old’s favourite magazine any more. C’est la vie!


20X20 Women in Sport

20X20 logo on Dublin jerseys

During the 2019 Summer campaign in both ladies’ and lads’ football and camogie, AIG Ireland replaced their logo on the front of Dublin jerseys with the logo of the Federation of Irish Sport’s campaign and movement 20×20 ‘If She Can’t See It, She Can’t Be It’.

C’mon the Dubs

The camogie team donned the jersey for their All-Ireland Senior Championships Group 2 match against Clare at home. 

Just as AIG is supporting and promoting #EffortIsEqual across Dublin GAA from grass roots activities to the intercounty stage, it is actively helping promote women in sport nationally with its support of the 20×20 movement.

AIG’s support of female sport goes beyond Gaelic Games through their sponsorship of the AIG Irish Ladies Golfing Union Cups & Shields, AIG Irish Open Tennis Championships and AIG Forza Irish Badminton International. Internationally, AIG also sponsors the New Zealand Black Ferns rugby team and in golf, the Women’s British Open.

20×20 is an all-inclusive movement to shift Ireland’s cultural perception of women’s sport by 2020 with:

• a 20% increase in media coverage of women in sport
• a 20% increase in female participation at all levels of sport
• a 20% increase in attendance at women’s games and events

Everyone can get behind the 20×20 movement by pledging to do just one small thing to help start this giant shift for female sport.

An inspirational woman

35 year old Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a major European men’s game – UEFA Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea in Istanbul on 14 August. She previously officiated at the Women’s World Cup final, refereed a Ligue 1 match in April between Amiens and Strasbourg and had been promoted to an elite pool of referees for French top-flight games for the new season.

And Ireland were involved in this momentous occasion for women in sport- the French official was joined by the two female assistant referees who worked with her in Women’s World Cup final: compatriot Manuela Nicolosi and Ireland’s Michelle O’Neill.

In a statement, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “As an organisation, we place the utmost importance on the development of women’s football in all areas. I hope the skill and devotion that Stephanie has shown throughout her career to reach this level will provide inspiration to millions of girls and women around Europe and show them there should be no barriers in order to reach one’s dream.”

First Female Ligue 1 Ref

The Drive for Five

We made it through the semis. Hopes are high. Blood pressure rises! We try to believe the media hype : Only the end of the world can impede Dublin’s drive for five!

Bested: Mayo goalkeeper Rob Hennelly is tackled by Con O'Callaghan of Dublin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

While the Sky Blues’ destruction of Mayo raised expectations it did not dispel worries.

And now with still two sleeps to go, the worry and hope is tangible among all the blue supporters! The media abounds with songs and images and articles.

Flags and bunting have been hung from houses, bridges, buildings all over the city. Aviation celebrates manager Jim Gavin by lighting up the control tower in Dublin Airport in Blue.

Jerseys from years of past victories and past disappointments are coming out of storage. Positivity requires us to watch the successful finals of the past.

Tickets are like hens’ teeth and yet everyone continues to search with hope that some will appear on Sunday morning. Those who have been staunch in their support of the team through League and Championship are particularly anxious.

We indoctrinate a new generation, sharing our excitement and joy and hope for JUST ONE MORE!

This video is a particularly worth a look …. all the way from Thailand.

C’mon ye boys in blue!!!!!!

CIFD AND GANS (3) Media Day

Since the beginning of April, I have been working with a milliner, Michelle from the fashion world on a collaborative project linking craft persons and designers.


Modelling the project

Today was the culmination of our work, when our projects were modeled as part of the CIFD Fashion Show/ Media Day. The fashion show itself was amazing and one could only be inspired by the address and commentary of Eddie Shanahan, chair of CIFD, a truly enthusiastic and inspiring speaker. He described the random matching to “accentuate learning and ensure innovative engagement”. I worked with Michelle Kearns, a milliner from Tuam.

Michelle and I shared stories of our likes and dislikes, dreams and history to come up with a theme for the design. We also discussed different textures and shades of felt. Samples and photographs went back and forth. We finally decided on a very fine and feathery black Merino and Silk with embellishments of cerise Tussah silk. Michelle would incorporate this into a wire structure. The finished work would illustrate overcoming adversity (thick and gnarled branches) growing into more open structure with birds and blooms of hope and resilience.

In all, 15 pairs brought their projects to completion and the resulting hats, baskets, dresses, scarves, etc were amazing. The crafts of calligraphy, metal smith, lace making, felt making, basket making, crochet, textile art and embroidery were all represented.

The Collaborators

CIFD AND GANS (2) Working together

We had had a brief discussion in Peter Mark College about our likes and dislikes, and some of my felting work. At home, I went through my samples (portfolio by another name????). I also contacted CIFD about my role in Feltmakers Ireland and as a representative I needed to report on the meeting but was advised that details of the project would not be made public until after the Media Day in August.

Unbelievably we were quickly into June before Michelle reverted to me with her favourites of my samples especially the delicacy of a feathery/cobweb piece with cerise pink silk embellishments. Her plan was to tear it apart and combine it with a wire structure.

Now we needed a theme – Michelle’s previous wire structure reminded me of the Convoluted Hazel. We also discussed some of our life experiences and decided that we had both overcome constraints and adversity, with hope and resilience. Michelle now drew up an artist’s statement with sketches of the design and some sample of construction for presentation at CIFD meeting in July. A description of the felt was also included.  


In April 2019 I attened a GANS meeting on behalf of Feltmakes Ireland. Little did I realise the surprise, the challenge and the opportunity that this meeting would afford me.

Image result for CIFD

Eddie Shanahan, chair and Heidi Higgins, secretary of CIFD (Council of Irish Fashion Designers) and our own Mary Whelan of GANS (Guilds, Associations, Networks and Societies) welcomed us to the meeting. Carmen Garcia and I represented Feltmakers Ireland. As a new member to the FI committee, I am frequently being surprised by the number and variety of initiatives being explored and of which I’m totally unaware. At my first GANS meeting I saw the work that is being done linking archaeology and craft and the efforts to archive craft work.

Image result for design and crafts council of ireland

This meeting was to introduce a collaboration project between designers and craftspeople, an initiative begun last year under the auspices “Brand Ireland” and culminating in a very successful Fashion Show in the RDS covered widely by media and viewed by hundreds at the 2018 Knit and Stitch show.

The project’s purpose is to allow a partnership of designers and craftspeople to “explore, learn and innovate” as they produce a high quality piece of work that brings “the best of the past to make the best for the future”. Almost like the World Cup draw, names were drawn from two bowls (craft/design) and partners were introduced to each other to share information and contact details. Some people had portfolios and work pieces, others had web or instagram pages to illustrate their work. As a newbie to this type of proceeding I had brought nothing, and even though I admitted to being merely a “hobbyist” my partner ( a milliner)seemed to think we could work together and come up with a prototype that we can discuss and maybe change.

After the meeting, Carmen and I agreed that although we were totally unprepared, it is very exciting to be involved in the initiative and hope to fulfil the brief: to come up with a quality product that will appeal to people whether interested in heritage or fashion, that will be a worthy and distinctive version of our work with our design partner.


Two days in lovely Leitrim

Everyone was making plans for travel for “The Long Weekend” – so I decided to join the exodus and hit for Leitrim for 2 days. Why Leitrim?

A friend suggested that I enter a piece of Felt sculpture for an exhibition in the Leitrim Design Centre.

Blood and Bloom

The two-an-a-half hour drive was too long for return trip in one day. Leitrim is a county I had only driven through and when I googled it, amazingly, it bore similarities to some of my other 2019 travels.
• Like Slovenia it has a very short coastline: it has the shortest coastline of any maritime county in Ireland (2.5 miles of coastline).
• Like Maastricht and the Netherlands, the south of the county is flat although has a hilly and mountainous landscape in its north-west.
• Access to much of the county is provided by The Shannon and Shannon–Erne Waterway provide access to much of the county in somewhat the same way as the canals in Holland.

It’s a county that inspired some of Yeats’ poetry:
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
(The Stolen Child by W.B. Yyeats)

Probably because of the Bank Holiday weekend it was quite difficult to find accommodation. So when I found Bluebell House B&B in Manorhamilton with a relatively reasonable vacancy I made that my destination.

The Rookery, a scupture by Don Cronin just outside Drumeeran

My first stop was Manorhamilton Castle, Visitors Centre and a truly gorgeous cafe. One of the locals told me the story of the castle as we sipped coffee on the lawn. Sir Frederick Hamilton after whom the town is called, was renowned for his cruelty and brutality. The current owner (and also the tour guide) is a very pleasant gentleman who is delighted to describe the many artifacts and costumes that are on display.

Manorhamilton Castle

He recommended a drive around Glenade(Glen of Jealousy) Lake for the afternoon. The Dartry Mountains somewhat akin to Table Mountain in Capetown surround the lake which has a reputation for fishing. Perhaps because of the huge perch that have been caught there, the lake has a monster legend, immortalised in poetry which tells the story of the Dobhar Chú which, together with its mate, emerged from the depths of the lake centuries ago to reign tragedy to the local area.

Glenade Lake

Not far along I also visited Eagle’s Rock (Carraig an Iolair), the highest free-standing natural rock tower on the island of Ireland, standing at 330m tall.

My next port of call, a few miles outside Kiltyclogher was the home of Sean Mac Diarmada. This gorgeous little house is a designated National Monument, owned and maintained by OPW in its original condition. It is of considerable historic importance as it is the only existing home of any of the seven signatories of the proclamation. OPW workers were doing some garden cleaning when I arrived but they were more than happy to give me the key of the cottage and let me ramble around. The three roomed little house A copy of Sean’s early writing for school included some stories about his friends, pages from his sum copy, all in the most beautiful script.

Access to all the sites I visited is via quite narrow and windy roads. However they all have parking facilities as well as story boards in English and as Gaeilge describing the geological features, the history and the lore.

Finally, I hit off for Bluebell House. Kathleen, the owner was a joy. Originally from England she had great stories about the locality as well as advice on where to dine! The Courthouse in Kinlough is dscribed as “every foodies must visit restaurant” and it certainly lived up to its name. Driving restrictions meant that I couldn’t have a glass of wind=e with my meal, but the waitress recommended bringing a bottle back to the B&B – a vegan Pinot Grigio. What a great way to end a day – sitting up in bed watching Corrie and sipping an excellent wine.

After a lovely breakfast prepared by the landlord (herself isn’t great on the eggs!!!) and shared with a Dutch family (who are as enthralled by this county as I am) I hit for home. The sunny weather of yesterday was replaced with threats of rain so I decided to do some scenic driving while there was visibility.

The path down to Scardan Watefall

Outside Drunkeeran, I took the road up into the mountains overlooking Lough Allen. I drove up (ear popping high) through a wild landscape, Wind Turbines standing like huge aliens around the mountain until I came to (once again) a signposted car park. Seemingly Scardan means “mist that comes off a waterfall as the water rushes down”. As the rain had decided to bucket down at this stage and the path to the actual Falls was steep and uneven, I decided to give it a miss. But, f or a while, I did have a great view of Lough Allen.

Slag heap overlooking the entrance to the Arigna Mining Experience

The weather didn’t give any hint that it would improve so I decided to hit for an indoor activity – the Arigna Mining Experience. Again located overlooking Lough Allen this centre is a community inspired initiative that preserves the 400 year coal mining heritage of this area. The mine tours are all conducted by ex-miners: and his real life stories coupled with the experience of being underground, the sound and light effects make the trip so memorable. While you wait for the tour there is a DVD presentation as well as an audio visual of interviews with miners’ wives, the local doctor, a mine owner and of course miners themselves. A cup of coffee and a scone and the purchase of Dermot Laydon’s book A Life’s Catch finished off the visit nicely before I headed for home!

Books I read while I was in Primary School

Following my earlier post on favourite books, I decided to look back on just when did my reading habit start and how would I have responded to the “Cover Challenge” when I was in 6th class.

From a very young age I remember reading stories from Fairy Tale collections by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson as well as stories from Ancient Ireland.

My parents set a great store on literacy and Santa always brought a book at Christmas – usually one of the classics which were considered to be literature of ‘pretty high standard‘.

I had two inspiring teachers in 3rd/4th and 5th/6th who placed great emphasis on the power and enjoyment of reading. I also went to the local public library regularly and became a great fan of the detective Nancy Drew and the Chalet School.

Book Cover Challenge

A few years ago an online challenge swept the internet. So many people I knew were participants in THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE. It involved posting a video of the dumping of a bucket of ice and water over a person’s head, either by another person or self. Originally to raise awareness of motor neuron disease it succeeded in raising more than $115 million over the summer of 2014.

A recent challenge is now hitting Twitter (although I only spotted it on Facebook) and its purpose is to promote reading. You are invited to post an image of a book you love without any comment or explanation every day for a week and nominate a fellow reader to do the same each day.

Although I have not been nominated it did give me the idea of posting 7 books that I have enjoyed – I cannot say they are my favourites – I have so many favourites – but they do illustrate the wide selection of reading material I have enjoyed.

It was also extremely interesting to see other’s choices of books.