Johnstown Castle

A postcard of Johnstown Castle “wishing you were here” was probably sent annually, in the days that sending postcards was in vogue, when we holidayed in Cahore as kids. It was a kind of iconic pic. But I had never been there. So during my sojourn in Wexford this year I decided to remedy that. The museum of life in Wexford in the 1700s and 1800s was fascinating, the famine, the workhouses, forced emigration of women to South Africa, and also the models of houses within my ‘historical’ era showing twin tubs, prams and go-cars, statues on mantlepiece, etc.

Best of all was being able to walk the 5km around the lakes and see a different aspect of the iconic castle.

The Doll’s House, Rathaspeck

Actually thought I had posted this and then realised it was on another platforms!!!!! Would you call that a broadening of media knowledge or just confusion!

Any way, at long last I got to stay in the Doll’s House, Rathaspeck where the Lamberts spent some time between their return from Australia and move to Fairfield House in Dublin.
Every visit to Wexford town as children entailed a trip out to Rathaspeck and stories of the Lamberts life there- dreams of fairy princesses, adventures to the manor House, naughty children, games, neighbours,…all conjuring up wonderful images of a life long ago.
And so a stay there was on my bucket list, and ticking it off was everything I thought it would be and more. My words would be inadequate to describe the wonder, the joy, the nostalgia. Even the dozens of photos cannot recreate the aura of the house.

Tokyo Olympics 2021

The Olympic Games are held every four years – you know it’s an Olympic year if the year is divisible by 4. So how come it’s 2021? Covid-19 meant that the games in Tokyo last year had to be postponed.

So tonight is the eve of the Olympic Games and although there will be hugely scaled-down attendance – participants, officials and some journalists only- it’s still a really exciting event. The whole country will start discussing minority sports with some expertise. 

The opening ceremonies will involve only a very small delegation of athletes. We will watch our Olympians, Boxers Kellie Harrington, competing for the first time and Brendan Irvine, who fought at the Rio Games who have been chosen as the Team Ireland flag bearers. For the first time each country is being asked to have two flag bearers in the parade of nations, one male and one female.

In my storytelling household, I had heard of Jesse Owens’ great success in the 1936 Berlin Games. His 4 gold medals caused consternation to the Nazi party who presided over the games. Irishman Ronnie Delaney’s gold medal win in the Men’s 1500 metres in the 1956 Melbourne games was also a sporting highlight to be celebrated. It was many years later before I realised that we had won many medals.

I got hooked on the Olympics of 1984, ‘running’ the streets of Los Angeles with John Treacy in the Men’s Marathon and watching him being presented with his silver medal.

Barcelona, 1992 coincided sadly with a family death and my memory is returning to Wexford from the funeral, getting a double puncture and being unable to find an open garage – everyone was watching the boxers (either Michael Carruth winning gold or Wayne McCullough winning silver).    

The excitement of the 1996 Atlanta games was unbelievable – night after night I watched Michelle Smith progress through heats and eventually win three gold and one bronze.

Two years after Atlanta, Smith was charged with adulterating an out of competition sample and received a four year ban. Despite continuing to plead her innocence through the process, she never swam again. She never tested positive for a banned substance.

Sidney 2000 was Sonia O’Sullivan games; three boxers medalled in Beijing 2008; London 2012 saw boxing victories with Katie Taylor the star; Rob Heffernan took bronze in the 50Km walk; unfortunately Cian O’Connor’s bronze in the Showjumping again brought us into ill-repute with a doping accusation.

The O’Donovan brothers “pulling like dogs” charmed us with their humorous interviews  having won silver in the lightweight sculls in Rio in 2016 and Annalise Murphy also won silver in the water, sailing. 

And now another Games begins, with Ireland’s largest delegation ever – what stories will we have from them?

The Warren

I haven’t been to the beach for years so what a surprise when visiting Ballincollig that they had a trip to The Warren planned.

The Warren is a small, sheltered beach backed by sand dunes located in Rosscarbery, County Cork. It is a designated Natural Heritage Area and has great facilities including a car park and toilet facilities.

Naturally the car park was packed- it was one of the hottest days of the year. But the walk down to the sea was enjoyable …. David was our sherpa, carrying all the gear, Dean and I strolling along.

We set up camp down near the water, easy access for swimming and castle building. Great to get a sea swim …. clear and pretty warm water.

Dean and I strolled back over the head to meet David at Rosscarbury beach and feast on fish and chips before the trip home.

Painting my world

I’m past sixty, my next roundy birthday is 70 and my lessons for living are: 
1 After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children and my friends, I have now started loving myself.
2 I have realized that I am not “Atlas”. The world does not rest on my shoulders.
3 I have stopped bargaining with vegetable & fruit vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor fellow save for his daughter’s school fees.
4 I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She is toiling much harder for a living than I am.
5 I stopped telling the elderly that they’ve already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.
6 I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.
7 I give compliments freely & generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient, but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment, never, NEVER turn it down, just say “Thank You.”
8 I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.
9 I walk away from people who don’t value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.
10 I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat & neither am I in any race.
11 I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.
12 I have learned that it’s better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas with relationships, I will never be alone.
13 I have learned to live each day as if it’s the last. After all, it might be the last.
14 I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. I can be happy at any time, just choose to be!

Delta Sensory Gardens

I decided on Carlow as the destination for my tour of gardens today. I was actually googling a Helen Reddy song “Delta Dawn” and results included Delta Gardens. When I was sign post directed into an industrial estate, I had doubts about the wisdom of my choice. What a surprise!!!!

Having spent some time in a wheelchair a few years back, I have a great appreciation of accessibility. And that’s just what you get in this 2 acre site. A walkway through the centre branching into fifteen different gardens, a pavilion, sculptures, water courses, seats dotted around so that you can relax and engage through your senses with colour, scents and texture. My favourites were The Stolen Child Garden with Yeat’s words on paving stones as you enter. Iris O’Brien’s designed Health and Wellness Garden was idyllic. Gordon Ledbetter’s series of waterfalls flowed into ponds with a variety of fish, water lilies and meadow grasses, trees and shrubs.

What more could you ask than a Coffee shop with a selection of savouries and sweets to finish off your visit.

Garden Tour

June Blake’s Garden

It’s a gem of a garden extending over three acres of exciting herbaceous borders, shade areas with beautiful ferns, woodland plants and bamboos, a shallow linear reflection pool, formal beds and a small nursery with many of these plants for sale. June’s beautiful restored Victorian Steward’s house forms the perfect backdrop to this amazing garden.

Naturally, I had to make some purchase….. the marigold annuals that were around the gables and also in 32, self seeding June told me, but to be sure, I’ll collect seed heads and plant in pots

A Sunday visit to Patthana

We often took the Baltinglass Road to Wexford especially when we moved to Naas in 1981. A few kilometres past Blessington was Kiltegan, a picturesque little village that had won the Tidy Towns in 1973. Its only shop was our midway stop on the journey where last minute supplies could be bought for the hols and also a 99 (with a flake) to placate the travellers in a hot car.

Now 40 years later, it’s June 2021 and rather than sun myself for the day in my back garden, I decided to take a trip to view the Patthana Gardens in Kiltegan which until a fellow feltmaker wrote about them on Facebook, I never knew existed. Shirley Lanigan, a regular writer for the Irish Gardens magazine described Patthana as “the garden I wished I’d created” in her book, 100 Best Gardens of Ireland.

A new area is being added from which you can see Kiltegan Church against the Wicklow Mountain backdrop. There are plants for sale, each with free advice from TK as to where to sow and how to mind. My only criteria was that they would survive in spite of me.

The garden certainly deserves high praise. Situated behind a two storey granite house opposite the village green and a Michael Dwyer plaque, it is one of the nicest small garden I have seen. There is no indication from outside of the treasure that awaits you through the double wooden door entrance into the courtyard.  As you walk up granite steps and along paving slab paths, there are nooks and crannies filled with floral magic and sculptural distractions. Bees and birds are all round you and you need to keep a watchful eye for the tortoise who lives there. He had gone into hiding on my visit. The garden is small and yet it is worth spending time in this oasis of peace. There are garden seats and chairs placed strategically so that you can sit and take in the sights and sounds of the garden. Each vista is like a painting so it’s not surprising to find the designer TK Maher is an artist and painter.