My little robin

  • The-north-wide-doth-blow_img-1024x488The North wind doth blow And we shall have snow And what will poor robin do then Poor thing? He’ll sit in a barn And keep himself warm And hide his head under his wing Poor thing.

robin-296x300

He never leaves – maybe hides away for a day or two, probably finding better fare in another garden and then he’s back: my little robin.

ROBIN PHOTO

Usually we meet in his world…as he explores newly turned soil…or roots through freshly mown grass…but today he flew into mine…following me from the garden through the patio doors. Initially he seemed surprised at this new indoor world, maybe even a little panicked as he flitted back and forth close to the ceiling. But he soon calmed and landed atop the door…viewing the strange surroundings ….preparing to explore this new “room”scape.

xmas1

At this time of the year of course he is as my gardening aficionado, Diarmuid Gavin (Irish Ind 31/12/2017) says, one of the special symbols of the festive season…. quite the celebrity, with portraits emblazoned across Christmas cards, calendars and gift wrap and effigies of them balanced on Christmas trees”.

The robin’s presence is not by chance at this time of year. Christian folklore tells the tale of how a little robin flew to comfort a dying Jesus. A thorn from Jesus’s crown pierced the robin and hence his distinctive orange-red face, throat and breast. I told this story many times to many children over the years.

Another gem of wisdom from Mr Gavin tells that in Victorian times, the first postmen who delivered plenty of seasonal greetings were known as “Robins” due to their distinctive red w

My garden companion, in winter or summer, I have only to take a walk to the end of the garden and pull a weed or two and he’s there beside me, waiting to see what spoils I’ve unearthed. He hops about excitedly anticipating some juicy earthworms and any other delicious insects that might be unearthed. I certainly don’t consider myself a gardener but I do enjoy encouraging this little fellow to join me whenever possible.

Slugs and snails are my No. 1 enemy but Robin love to hoover these up. So why not encourage birds into your garden? Food, water and shelter are their basic needs and it costs little to provide a food sources all year round. Plants with berries will provide sustenance over the hard winter months. It’s a relationship that benefits the plant as well – the birds will digest the flesh of the berry and excrete the seed elsewhere, assisting with dispersal. This is obviously how my second hawthorn appeared.

Ivy

Native plants such as ivy are rich in berries midwinter. Haws from the hawthorn can remain on the tree right through to March. Bruised apples from the fruit bowl can be thrown into the garden rather than the compost bin and will be devoured by birds.

Robin-dream

The robin redbreast is one of the few birds who can still be heard singing away in midwinter. How wonderful to find a book for my grandson illustrating in picture and sound the songs of six of Ireland’s songbirds- his dad was great to encourage bird life into this and his own garden.

So they should have some fun watching for “little robin redbreast” and listening for his distinctive song.

December has been very cold, temperatures falling into the minuses. So it’s important to provide food and water for robins and other birdlife.

It is very easy to make your own feeder and can be a fun project to do with your kids. Just get an old plastic bottle or milk carton, wash it out and cut a hole in the side which will give access to the seeds. Pierce a few drainage holes in the bottom, fill with bird seed and hang with wire or string from a tree branch.

robin feeding

You can buy seed mixtures and bird cakes or make your own using sunflower seeds, peanut granules (not roasted or salted), flaked maize, uncooked porridge oats, grated cheese and soft fruit. And always leave out some water as it can be particularly difficult for birds to source when ponds are frozen over.

MY ISLAND VISIT

This trip was made Sep 2017 but I forgot to load account onto Blog.

During the year I had researched some craft courses that are available around the country. Because of my interest in textile arts and in island communities the following notice captured my attention immediately:

Hand weaving and spinning courses in Beth Moran’s Ballytoughey Looms, on Clare Island 2017.

A weekend Sept 2nd – 4th course covering the basics of spinning, weaving and natural dying. As always the course will be tailored to suit the individual or group needs in term of focus and content. The course runs from 10A.M. to 4:30 P.M. first two days and finishes at lunchtime on the third day. Cost is €240 including materials and lunch.

A comprehensive list of accommodation was provided but as I worked my way through the list, I discovered that a Film Festival was also occurring that weekend so there was almost “no room at the inn”. Luckily Oliver and Marie Agnes O’Malley had one room left in their Cois Abhain B&B. They recommended Taxi (and bike) hire from Briget O’Leary but also promised lifts to and from the course in association with Beth.

20170901_174145Bookings were made and I hit off to Roonagh Pier for my first solo island experience! I made sure that all Dublin memorabilia was hidden as I hit into the land of the Red and Green. Naturally I did a spot of shopping in Westport when I stopped for lunch but I still made the 5 o’clock ferry. Lovely clear and calm crossing.

20170905_104438

Brigid’s (taxi) daughter took me to the Sailor’s Bar. Luckily I had booked for every evening as it was the only place to eat and it was booked out by the film crowd!!! Nice dinner, bottle of wine and chat with locals and then, as promised, Oliver collected me. Naturally the B&B I had booked was the other side of the island but as walking was not on the agenda, it mattered little.

20170904_094158_001_01

As it turned out there were only two weaving students for the course and both of us were staying in Cois Abhainn. So after breakfast each morning, Oliver brought us as far as the church where Beth was waiting for the rest of the trip to the Looms.

20170903_164644We got down to work immediately – I decided to make a linen table runner, and following choosing of yarn texture and colour, was assigned to my loom. there was some discussion on warp and weft but most of the instruction was incidental and while the skill aspect was important, there was great emphasis on creativity! The days flew: weaving and the catering was excellent as was the company and while the emphasis was firmly on the process it was great to have a finished product before returning home.

20170903_164705  20170902_120116  20170904_151728

FB_IMG_1504472142893

 

We also got a chance, one of the afternoons to attend the Film Festival – some short films- and be photos for their web page!!!

 

 

20170905_104539

I stayed a day extra and did a tour of the island with Brigid’s daughter – she had some great history tales as well stories of current life on the island.

 

20170905_111602

Rough crossing the next morning – but good to experience – some sight seeing on the way home – Croagh Patrick and the Famine exhibition.

20170905_112732

 

Stopped in Westport again and purchased “a French lady’s book case” and in Longford where I spotted a book “Dánta na Céide” which featured one of Sr Fintan’s poems.

 

Great trip!

 

 

THREE IN A ROW – COYBIB

20170916_172004We met at the Annesley, many of us filled with trepidation for the day ahead and the media hype that almost negated that there was another team. But THE SANER AMONG US  saw the dangers and while the initial order of the day was to secure tickets for all, some of us were prepared to remain outside and bear heartbreak away from the crowds if/when it came.

20170913_164614

The tickets materialised and it mattered little that they were spread all over the grounds. We made our way to Croker through confident seas of red and green – Dublin supporters few and far between saying little!

My Cumann ticket was “down at the front”, I could have been an umpire if needs be I was so close to the Canal end line! And almost behind the goal! I thanked God for the Big Screens as that’s where I viewed most of the play!!!

The minor game was underway and the few supporters there were cheering on Kerry who were absolutely flying. Talk of good games rattle around but in the end any victory will suffice – wide or narrow margins if it’s a win.

IMG-20170917-WA0008The grounds filled and for those who imply that Croker is a “home” venue for the Dubs, it was now transformed into McHale Park – red and green the order of the day and their voices completely overshadowing “Cmon you boys”.

Compelling. That’s the only word to describe the first half. It wasn’t the best football in the purest sense, but you couldn’t take your eyes off the intense action. Mayo have shot themselves in the foot so often on the biggest of days and they seemed to have done it again as they conceded an utterly avoidable goal as early as the second minute. Johnny Small hit a 20-yard pass to Con O’Callaghan on the turn. The Young Footballer of the Year elect just kept on going and when he was in range stuck it in the back of the net past David Clarke.

20171002_003804

Mayo didn’t panic though and 35 minutes later they trotted up the tunnel leading by one 1-05 to 0-09. They limited the Dubs to just six scores, four from play, in the first half and made the defending champions look decidedly ordinary and out of ideas at times. We were worried!!!!

 

 

Dublin exhibited far more composure at the start of the second half, with Gavin making two big changes. Without much fuss we slid in to a two point lead, Jason Doherty squandering a great goal chance for Mayo when one-on-one with Cluxton. Mannion had a chance for Dublin too but it was saved!

All IrelandBoth teams went down a man just past the three quarter-hour mark  Small picked up a second yellow. But stupidly, Donal Vaughan weighed in with an elbow on Small and got a straight red – had he held his head Mayo would have had a numerical advantage. The tension didn’t relent and Mayo’s Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan raised the green flag for the second year in-a-row.

But the Dubs clung on. The talk in the build-up was that Dublin’s bench would win it and so it proved. Diarmuid Connolly came on and kicked a point and won the free which Rock slotted over. He will go down in the history books as the man who kicked Dublin to a three in-a-row. The Ballymuner stood nervelessly over the free six minutes into stoppage time. It all rested on this kick and he sent it sailing over the bar at the Canal End, joyous fans nearly shaking the roof down at the old ground.

There were two more minutes of play, but the Boys in Blue managed to play keep ball and run down the clock. They are now up there with the greatest teams in the annals of Gaelic football. Sam Maguire will stay in the capital for the third winter in succession – the first time this has happened since 1921-23.

I had to sympathise with the Mayo supporters around me …. It had to be pure torture for them. It’s hard to admit but they were every bit as good as Dublin, there’s even a strong argument to be made to say they were the better team for long stretches. But the only stat that counts at the end is the final score and once again they came up short.

IMG-20170917-WA0016

Back to the Annesley for a night of song and celebrations! 3 in a row – might never see it again!! More to the point would I ever have the stamina for it again????

 

 

20171002_003645

The younger ones took of to Coppers and some were even seen around the town the next day!

IMG-20170918-WA0006

Another generation can take up the fight!!!!

20170918_234555

A GRANDSON

Granny

I don’t know who wrote the following poem but it speaks my thoughts, my overwhelming joy, more adequately than I ever could:

 MY CHILD’S CHILD

A journey in my mind today

I watch the years fly, where is my little boy?

The pictures that tell a story of how you grew so fast.

Once a little boy with trucks and slides

to fill your day.

Aug 15 My Little Son

A grown man now, newly named Dad.

A precious little flower,

a kiss from heaven was born today.

He’ll call him Daddy, looking in his eyes,

his reflection he will see.

Finally, he will understand the love I feel for him.

In an instant, his world will change forever.

His journey in life on a new path, one filled with

Crayons, finger-paint, and giggles.

Finding pleasure in everyday things, the world

Will look brand new.

I never thought I could love my little boy more

But on this day when he placed my grandchild in

My arms I swear I do.

I realize what a gift we received.

My child’s child

amazed as I kiss his soft cheek.

I will reach for my son’s hand,

to offer encouragement and support.

Yesterday’s memories tucked away in my heart.

Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Amazed by the love I have for both of them.

A part of my soul he now passes to him.

The best father he wants to be.

A secret I whisper to him

A life filled with honesty and unconditional love

That, my son, is the key.

WORDS1

 

OUTSMARTING ARTHRITIS

arthritis-600x301What an amazing group of people I’ve met with weekly since April. We were all participants in a course Arthritis Self-Management Programme: Living Well with Arthritis and Related Conditions.

Although I suffered with osteoarthritis for a number of years, I managed work and social life well. However in 2013 I was hospitalised for a number of months with Sepsis. Following long weeks in a coma (of which I was blissfully unaware except for some crazy dreams) and many months of hospitalisation my general health deteriorated.

depositphotos_8429350-Nurse.-Vector

Because the focus of attention was on repairing the lung damage caused by the septicaemia, rather than its effect on the whole body, the inactivity of being bed-ridden and a cocktail of drugs resulted in an increase in the severity of the symptoms of my arthritis especially in the areas of pain and immobility. This is certainly not a judgement on the health professionals involved because they were excellent.

when-not-to-measure-pain

Living with more severe pain and greater immobility prompted me to contact Arthritis Ireland and in one of their emails I read about this course. I put my name down but realistically had few expectations.

The course was amazing. Facilitated ably by 2 super leaders, our group of fourteen met every Wednesday for six weeks in the Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge, Co Kildare. We explored the interruption of the “vicious cycle of pain symptoms” through the development of a toolbox of skills, skills that would allow us to take control of our illness.

mindful

These skills included examining the power of the mind, decision making, problem solving, communication, diet, the importance of sleep, exercise, the correct use of medication and how to work successfully with health professionals. We learned how to develop and evaluate action plans to practice these skills and in this way “outsmart our arthritis”.

10_Stel_for_Living_Well_with_Arthritis_cover_page

During coffee breaks, the facilitators shared their knowledge of locally organised events (aquarobics, walking groups, seated exercise groups, etc) as well as offering advice on where we might access other relevant information e.g. about walking shoes, walking poles, etc. They had a wide range of information leaflets to answer many of our questions.  Gaining knowledge is always wonderful and the course content was excellent; but the course did more than that. Friendships developed among the participants and confidence in ourselves and in each other grew due.

images

This rapport was due in no small part to the lovely open atmosphere created by the two facilitators. The wide age range of participants meant that stories encompassed overcoming challenges when you’re 20 years old and when you’re MORE THAN 20: all inspirational.

11263966-Hen-party-Funny-friends-for-your-design-Stock-Vector-friends-group-cartoon

The collegiality of the last evening when we all described how the course had changed our lives, the presentation of certificates and the exchange of phone and email details so that we could maintain contact and network post-course exemplified how much we had all gained.

The course book, “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” which all course attendants brought away with them will continue to serve as a valuable reference Personally it was the facility to learn about and practice the skills to self-manage my arthritis and the resulting confidence and empowerment I felt that most benefitted me.

I congratulate Arthritis Ireland on the development and delivery of this course and I will certainly recommend it to others knowing its great benefits. Well done and apecial thanks to our leaders for their wonderful input.

 

Can you read this?

This is so interesting – I couldn’t pass it and not post. We spend so much time teaching some of the skills of reading, very often to the detriment of other crucial skills.Why can I read the following extract? Because I have the vocabulary and the syntax; I can use contextual clues; I can scan; I also have phonic skills but am only using the very basic to decipher this article!!!! – First and last letters!!!!

It certainly is weird!!!!

I'm so wise

Venus set to star in night sky spectacle Feb 1st 2017

The night sky is set to light up with one of the year’s most spectacular sights this evening as the Planet Venus moves closer to moon.

There was no need for a telescope to take in the show as the moon, Mars and Venus come together for a celestial phenomenon known as a conjunction just over the Paddocks tonight and even my Samsung 6 gave a pretty good reproduction of what was on view! And just as the clouds started to appear!

20170201_182859

20170201_182840

227621_54_news_hub_190776_656x500 (1)

The event is being billed as “one of the most amazing sights visible to the naked eye for the whole year.”

NASA’s Mariner 10 mission took this first close-up photo of Venus on 05-02-1974

 

Venus’ has been blazing in the evening skies from sunset until 9pm ever since Christmas as the planet moves closer to Earth on its journey around this side of the sun.

This evening, the planet will be at its closest point to the moon with Mars visible just to the upper left of Venus in the sky.

Mars and Venus will then continue to move closer to each other until tomorrow night, Wednesday Feb 2nd.

Visible to the naked eye

Astronomy Ireland editor, David Moore said – cloud willing – everyone in Ireland will be able to see tonight’s triple-treat event with the naked eye.

“Indeed, a quick glance at the Moon between sunset and 9pm will immediately raise eyebrows as this brilliant object (the planet Venus) has been this close to the Moon so high in the sky for a very long time – and this will be the closest they will get all year,” he said.

“We cannot emphasise enough how spectacular this sight will be tonight.”

He warned it will be four years before the two planets come so close together in the night sky again.

Hell on Venus

Venus – almost the same size as Earth – has a runaway greenhouse gas effect which has driven the surface temperature to 500 Celsius.

Covered in clouds containing sulphuric acid, the planet experiences ‘air’ pressure 90 times that found on Earth.

Both Mars and Venus contend for the honour of closest planet to Earth at different points in their orbits around the sun.

 

 

Anois teacht an Earraigh

Spring is now coming
(according to the weatherman Spring starts officially March 1st)
IMG-20170201-WA0001
Nearly everyone I know is able to quote at least a line or two from this poem by the famous poet, Antaine Ó Raifteirí (1784-1835). I believe it’s considered his greatest poem – it’s certainly the one most quickly recognised, even if just as I said for a line or two..

Anois teacht an earraigh, beidh ‘n lá dul chun síneadh

‘S tar éis na Féil’ Bríde, ardóidh mé mo sheol,

Ó chuir mé ‘mo cheann é ní stopfaidh mé choíche

Go seasfaidh mé síos i lár Chontae Mhaigh Eo.

I gClár Chlainne Mhuiris bheas mé an chéad oíche,

‘S i mBalla taobh thíos de thosós mé ag ól,

Go Coillte Mach rachad go ndéanfad cuairt mhíos’ ann

I bhfogas dhá míle do Bhéal an Áth’ Móir

 

Fágaim le huacht é go n-éiríonn mo chroíse

Mar éiríonn an ghaoth nó mar scaipeann an ceo,

Nuair ‘smaoíním ar Cheara nó ar Ghailleang taobh thíos de,

Ar Sceathach a Mhíl’ nó ar phlánaí Mhaigh Eo.

Cill Aodáin an baile a bhfásann gach ní ann,

Tá sméara ‘s sú craobh ann, is meas ar gach sórt,

‘S dá mbeinn-se ‘mo sheasamh i gceartlár mo dhaoine

D’imeodh an aois díom is bheinn arís óg.

I also remember the short poem about Raifteirí himself …. but just the first verse. Praise to the days of learning things by heart!!!!

Mise Raifteirí, an file,
lán dóchais is grá
le súile gan solas,
ciúineas gan crá

 

I’M A STUDENT AGAIN!

I’ve always enjoyed studying. In the olden days studying meant pouring over given information and learning it by heart. Unless of course you had a teacher such as I had in 5th and 6th class, born before her time who knew that libraries and talking to people opened doors to limitless information. Studying family history with my mum explored these avenues of research as we visited old aunties and uncles, parish houses, libraries, graveyards.

100 storiesSince I retired I’ve had many opportunities to humour this passion. I’ve looked at the Anzac story through studying a hundred stories: World War One a history in 100 Stories is a silent presentation from Monash University, Australia that remember not just the men and women who lost their lives during the Great War, but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane (sounds like the song “Waltzing Matilda”), all those irreparably damaged by war and their families who were part of the shaping of the world as well as the Aussie nation.

PrintTrinity College’s course on Irish Lives in War and Revolution continued the theme of WW1 leading into the Troubles. My grandfather’s involvement as leader of a Flying Column provided impetus for me to access military documents which are all online now!

 

arthur-ashe-athlete-true-heroism-is-remarkably-sober-very-undramaticHeroism and War, the first course I did with Leeds University was particularly interesting as it asked participants to examine their ideas of heroism. The current course is my second involvement with Leeds Uni. and is titled World War 1 through Art and Film and looks at the issue of propaganda.

 

The joy of these courses is that you can do them in your time and at your own speed. But most especially the design of the course encourages personal research. There is a huge range of additional video and reading material provided and some exercises that allow you to gauge your progress. There are also links to online archives suggested if you want additional reading.