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.


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.


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



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




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.



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



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!





Candle in the window

For as long as I can remember Mam lit a candle in the window on Christmas Eve. It was a sign that Mary and Joseph would not be turned away from this house, that the stranger would be welcome. I loved the tradition and continued it when I moved to Leixlip and then Naas. And now with family grown and the whole Christmas decorating thing becoming more minimal, I still light the candle but now over an extended period… usually from the start of Advent through to the Epiphany.

One of the most symbolic acts of Mary Robinson’s presidency was the placing of a light in the window of her official residence in the Phoenix Park.

It resonated, she said, with the tradition of her home town of Ballina, where people would light a candle and put it in the window in the run up to Christmas.

She did it in order to make good on a promise made in her acceptance speech that “there will always be a light on in Áras an Uachtaráin for our exiles and our emigrants”.

The “candle” theme of Máire Mac and tSí’s poem mad it one of my favourites at school.

Le coinnle na n-aingeal tá an spéir amuigh breactha,
Tá fiacail an tseaca sa ghaoith on gcnoc,
Adaigh an tine is téir chun an leapan,
Luífidh Mac Dé ins an tigh seo anocht.
Mary and Joseph

Fágaig’ an doras ar leathadh ina coinne,
An mhaighdean a thiocfaidh is a naí ar a hucht,
Deonaigh scíth an bhóthair a ligint, a Mhuire,
Luíodh Mac Dé ins an tigh seo anocht.

Mary Joseph

 Bhí soilse ar lasadh i dtigh sin na haiochta,
Cóiriú gan caoile, bia aguis deoch,
Do cheannaithe olla, do cheannaithe síoda,
Ach luífidh Mac Dé ins an tigh seo anocht.

Mr Nick Corish

Mr Corish

Thank you to the someone who  posted this on Facebook: “My motto in life is ‘Keep doing anything you are able to do!’ It may sound simple, but let me put it in other words. It came back to me recently because somebody saw me putting on my socks standing up after swimming in the sea. The person was worried that I’d fall. You see, I’m 92 years of age, and I always put them on that way. I’m not planning to change it while I can do it. You can’t give up on yourself before life does!”

cahore beach

My Mr Corish memories

At exactly 9 o’clock every July morning on Cahore beach, there appeared a large and motley group of children. A bearded twinkling eyed instructor waded into the waves and called “C’mon on in Tiddlers” and the smallest of the kids shivered but followed in and joined hands. No matter what the weather, dull and cold or sunny and warm, wet or windy – also important to remember that this was pre wet suit era!!!! A variety of instructions: “jump over the waves, wash your face, hold hands in a ring and every second one lie back, face in the water” were all obediently followed until parents were requested to take their offspring and the next group of “more advanced” swimmers were ordered into the water.

Not until the oldest group of “experienced” swimmers finished did the instructor emerge from the sea, calling on the kids to follow him to the pier. with army-like precision we marched behind him gathering bundles of towels and clothes to participate in the Water Safety classes. Joined by a group of adults, we watched attentively as resuscitation was modelled and then in pairs we practiced on each other. Then all of us once again into the water, way out of our depth, and followed the procedures of “victim away” “rescuer away” for numerous rescue techniques.

It sounds so serious now and yet I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. amazingly we repeated the whole exercise again in the afternoon. The  culmination (I’m not sure after how many sessions) was signalled with the arrival  of an assessor from Irish Water Safety for THE EXAM. The resulting badge (if you got it!!!!) was quickly sown onto your togs to identify you as a rescuer.


(Photos to be added when I find them in attic search!!!!)

The Walkinstown Sports Day was such a date in our calendar! In Mary’s Park we trained for sprints up and down the side of the “park” and the edge of the green provided the “distance” markings for the longer races which we ran in laps. The green itself became the centre for field events which in those days was either the long or the high jump… it wasn’t until much later that the throwing of things (javelins and shots, etc) was introduced! The older kids (those who were 10 and 11) were the starters and adjudicators and the integrity that was required of them would not be out of place in the real world today! There were often complaints and objections but they were usually dismissed immediately to allow training resume!

The SPORTS DAY dawned and a car drove around the area announcing events, starting times and “added” attractions (an Ice Cream van was the usual addition!) Bunting Road Green was the site for the SPORTS and in an era when we saw little official racing on TV this “lined out” arena surrounded by a huge crowd of athletes in motley sports gear and their spectating parents caused great excitement. We walked around intently examining the starting points for various races, commenting on distances as if we were experts, and checking out the opposition.

The megaphone announcements of the real races as well as the novelty races was listened to with such attention….it would be DISASTER to MISS your heat. Nor could you miss the race of your best friend or a family member. We screamed all onto victory. Decisions were made about the viability of wearing runners or going barefoot. Presentation of medals (or packets of sweets to the also rans) by Mr Connolly or Mr Bermingham (everyone over 25 was Mr or Mrs then) was cheered loudly.


And then OUR Joe Connolly and Walkinstown were at the cutting edge of the establishment of The Community Games. Joe, an ordinary but inspiring man mobilised a handful of adults who then came together and formed a committee to address the lack of sporting and leisure activities for young people in 1960’s Dublin.

We never saw the big “social” picture. For us it meant an extension to SPORTS DAY and an added prize of knowing someone who might progress to represent their area and even their county. The first Dublin Finals took place in August 1968 with 3,000 young people from 24 community areas participating. However it was in ***** when Jim and Carmel garbed in maroon blazers and white shorts paraded proudly through the streets of Dublin that our hearts swelled with pride, a pride that neither Ronnie Delaney nor Sonia O’Sullivan ever inspired.

As family photographer for all events I surged forward to capture the pair of Olympians on camera. For many years after the Community Games in our house was known as the Mini Olympics, a sign of the esteem in which they were held!!!


Many years later my own lad paraded around Mosney as a Kildare representative lifting Bronze and Silver medals and I managed a badminton team with Jean Kennedy that took home Gold.



Opening and closing Parade, Community Games, August 1991

I must climb into the attic one of these days and find more of the photos and programmes and medals that commemorate the fond memories of this childhood rite of passage, the excitement of activities with friends on Summer days when the sun “always shone”

Community-games logo

 Community Games County Pledge

We the children of Dublin pledge ourselves to the ideals of the Community Games in a spirit of friendly rivalry. We will strive to participate with honest endeavour. Our aim will not be victory at any price but we will genuinely seek to unite our community in friendly sporting competition. By competing fairly and honestly, we the children of Dublin will attempt to make our county a happier place in which to live.

Sé aidhm na gCluichí Phóbail cairdeas fearúlacht agus cothrom na féinne a chothú agus a mhúnlú i measc an phobail uilig. Dearbhaimidine paistí Condae Atha Cliath, go ndéanfaimid ár ndícheall a bheith dílis do ídealacha na gCluichí Phobail. Cé gur mhian linn go léir an chraobh a bhaint amach,mar sin féin tuigfimid gur tábhachtaí go mór spiorad coir, macánta ionraic a chothú tríd na gcluichí seo. Measaimid-ne má éiríonn linn cuspóir na gCluichí seo a bhaint amach gur sásta agus gur aontaíthe an pobal a bheidh again uilig in ár gceanntair féin, in ár gcathair féin agus in ár mbailte féin, in ár gCondaethe féin. Ní neart cur le chéile.

Many famous Irish people have competed in the games over the years and have very fond memories of the Community Games.

“I always enjoyed the Community Games in Cobh with my school friends and then the trip to Cork for the county finals. The ultimate though was heading off on the train to Mosney for the all-Ireland finals, I remember and still have my little accreditation pass, just like what you get in the Olympics for access to all you need and the big book with all the results from years gone by. That’s where I set my early targets and goals for future years, by looking up athletes I knew and the times they ran at the Community Games finals each year before me”.                                                                                                               Sonia O’Sullivan, May 2013

Sonia O’Sullivan

Tommy Bowe

Sean O’Brien

Colin Farrell

Niall Breslin

Paul O’Connell

Ronan O’Gara

Saoirse Ronan

Denis Irwin

Niall Quinn


A Visit to Fatima

IMG_0284Mam had such devotion to Our Lady. I think the stories of the apparitions in Knock and Fatima were her two favourites. She made many pilgrimages to Knock where she found great strength and calmness in facing the many trials of life. We always had holy water from Knock in 32 and Mam always carried her Rosary beads in her bag. I know how much she would have loved to visit Fatima and when that became an impossibility, I promised myself a visit on her behalf.

IMG_01632017 was the centenary of the apparitions in Fatima and six statues of Our Lady were commissioned by the Pope and sent to each of the continents. The European statue came to Ireland in March and was displayed at Mass in Naas as it began its journey around the country. Although I decided then that this was the year to travel to Fatima it was October before I made the snap decision, googled flights and hotels and booked.

ApparitionIn preparation, I revisited the story of the Cova da Iria where on the 13th May a “Lady brighter than the sun” appeared in the branches of a holm oak to three little shepherds and wondered would I be as touched as Mam with enthusiasm, fervour and faith. I did little research into the trip other than that!

My Ryanair flight was EARLY (5.30am). Airport assistance whisks one from entry to plane, through check-in and customs making travel SO EASY. I must compliment the staff who are most friendly and pleasant, although some feel speed is of the essence and the journey in the wheel chair can be sometimes hair-raising.

I landed in Portugal shortly after 9 and public bussed into Lisbon. Nice way to get the feel for a place. I had decided to do one of the hop-on hop-off city tours and the “Tagus Tour” seemed to offer the greatest range of sights.

Lisbon top tourist attractions printable city mapWe travelled the city’s main avenues (“the fresh breeze of the Tagus on your face” had been promised but a heavy mist of rain is what we got). We did get a taste of Lisbon. The commentary was a bit haphazard and so I would do some research or buy a guide book if I travelled again.

exporers portugalHowever I was fascinated by the lovely avenues, and the stories of Portuguese explorations, some of the amazing tiling of which the city is very proud and the variety of architecture along the Tagus.

I particularly liked this sculpture celebrating the age of the Portuguese Explorers to the Orient on the banks of the river: “Padreo dos Descobrimentos“. Note the 25th April bridge in the background

The fine mist however had become a deluge before the end of the trip and a second tour on the trams was scrapped in favour of a typical Portuguese lunch. The driver suggested a small café in a side street. The bacalhau (cod fish) with rice and side salad was delicious; however the compliments of a “charming” (???) young waiter dancing attendance on “the pretty Irish lady who brought the rain” did became a bit wearisome after a while.

rainy lisbon

(Eduard Gordeev’s “Rain in Lisbon”)

The weather was a decider on taxi transport to Set Rios (the seven rivers) Bus Station for the bus to Fatima. The initial plan to see the countryside was also scuppered by the rain – visibility was limited – but good chance to catch up on lost sleep!



I was really pleased with choice of hotel: Hotel Coracao de Fatima and my room overlooking the cross in the Basilica square (previously the Cova da Iria where Our Lady appeared). I couldn’t have been closer to the shrine: I could hear the prayers and hymns from the Chapel of the Apparition without leaving the room. Tonight, I took a stroll over for Rosary before dinner. I had forgotten to bring beads – but there was any amount of them available in the MANY surrounding shops (don’t think the commercialism of the centre is as evident at this time of the year; it’s also much easier to get around and visit places without the throngs of people).

The “comboio de Fatima” (little train) was going to guide my itinerary for the days ahead.

Day 1 (Wednesday):

• Monumento aos Pastorinhos (the Monument of the Shepherds)




Image result for valinhos fatima   Valinhos (a monument to Our Lady on the site of one of the apparitions)


• Via Sacre (the Hungarian Calvary, the stations of the Cross- a gift from Hungarians in exile around the world)




• Loco do Anjo/Cabeco (site of two of the apparitions of the Angel)




Day 2 (Thursday):


• Mass in the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Rosario de Fatima (the Basilca of Our Lady of Fatima)

• Azinheira (the holm oak in which Our Lady appeared to the children in the Cova de Iria)


• Basilica da Santissima Trindade (new Basilica of the Holy Trinity
• Confession in the Chapel of Reconciliation

• Art Exhibition: “The Colours of the Sun”

Day 3 (Friday):
• Aljustrel (the village where the children lived peaceful village marked by the seasons and work in the field as well as weaving)

• House of the Santos Family (Lucia’s home- she was the youngest of six children)


• Loco do Arneiro (site of the second apparition of the Angel at the end of Lucia’s garden)

• House of Marto Family (the home of Francisco and Marta)
• Museum of Aljustrel


• Igreja Paroquial de Fatima (Parish Church in Fatima) where the three children were baptised and where Lucia received her First Communion


Particulary liked the story of this, the oldest statue in the Parish Church, OUR LADY OF JOYS, where the baby is playing with Mary’s hair. it is said this is the only statue of Jesus playing.
• Candlelit Procession

Taxi to Lisbon Airport for Aer Lingus flight at 10am.

So what did I come away with? I probably was somewhat sceptical going, following the belief of a mother rather than any personal conviction. But I was moved. In the peace and quiet especially of the countryside one would have to find an inner tranquillity. The intent of the other pilgrims as they prayed and sang and lit their candles at the various celebrations impressed me hugely. I thought back to the nights awaking from the coma, the desolation of not being able to move and the fear of what lay ahead, the comfort the hospital chaplain brought assuring me that God would help, reciting the Memorare (Mam’s favourite prayer), listening to some favourite hymns. I think Our Lady of Fatima reinforced that faith, the belief that God will send help if it’s needed.
It might not be in the form of an angel; it could be in the guise of a friend who will call at just the right time or a piece of music that raises the spirit or words in a story or poem that inspire. God is watching me; He cares. The smallest concern of mine still matters to Him.

You might think after reading this entry that I have fluent Portuguese – unfortunately not BUT I do love the “real” names of the places. My only Portuguese – “Obrigada!” THANKS!!!!