The Titanic, Belfast


The CKAS trip began
As we climbed aboard Sean’s coach
Belfast bound for a city tour
Before sailing to Scotland’s coast.




An empty Stormont!


Across the Irish Sea we sailed
From Belfast to Cairnryan
Some studying the itinerary
Others talking, eating, buying.



The Doubletree Hilton, Dunblane


Fine dining at the Doubletree
A back-door bag collection
A weary crowd hit off for bed
With Edward’s first edition.


Edinburgh Castle


Scottish history based in Edinburgh
We heard from Scot guide Mike
All about the Castle, Giles Cathedral
And of course the Royal Mile


Inveraray Castle


Day 2 we took “the high road”
To Loch Lomond and wee Luss
Inveraray in the afternoon
Back to Dunblane on the ‘bus’.



The Grouse Distillery, Crieff


Wednesday’s tour of Stirling
In well-known Cook’s we’d buns and tea
Then off to taste some whisky
In the Grouse Distillery.


Roslyn Chapel

Made famous by Da Vinci Code
Roslyn Chapel and its crypt
A stroll at leisure around Dryburgh Abbey
Completed Thursday’s trip.

JMG Coach driven by Sean Ferry



An early start on Friday
For the coach trip to Stranraer
Our thanks to Hugh and Bernadette
Put my name down for next year!

Castle in the Highland


I’m not a poet BUT I wrote some poems…..

Following on from my previous post (Raised on songs and stories):

Steeped in the literary tradition described in my last post, it is hardly any wonder that I sometimes played with words and scribbled poems of gladness and sadness, rhyming and not, personal narratives, sometimes incomplete and frequently edited on odd bits of paper….. never read by anyone but myself.

Until my first year on the Education Committee, when as part of the subcommittee on Creativity and the Arts in Education I wrote a short introductory drama through ditties for the 2009 Education Conference in Gorey. Little did I realise that I would also be called on to chase out to buy a costume to participate in the short drama – parodies of Nursery Rhymes and well known songs – calling on Batt O’Keefe the Minister for Education to improve funding for the arts. For some years there was a web recording of the event; but I googled today and it’s either been archived or committed to dust – no harm as it was a really poor quality recording!!!!

But here goes with some of the ditties:

Dough , my dear, is what we need
To pay for art and song and mime
Me alone with thirty kids
For music, dance and song and rhyme
So I ask for extra hands
Lots of experts in the know
Teams to teach these dreaded strands
Batt to send us all that dough .. ow ..ow ..ow (Doe, a deer)

Humpty Dumpty sat in the room
Humpty Dumpty looked for a loom
Fabric and Fibre
He couldn’t find either
It’s enough to fill Humpty with sadness and gloom


Sparkle sparkle paint and glue
It’s no wonder I am blue
30 kids with drums to play
Put the instruments away
Take out props and follow cue
I must do some drama too (Twinkle Twinkle)

Little O’Keefe (Batt O’Keefe was Ed Min)
Should lose his brief
And get back to his roots at the chalk face
Give him 29 (kids)
No sink and no time
Just Units and Strands – what a rat race (Little Bo Peep)

The Drums will come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There’ll be sighs
Just thinking about tomorrow
Fills my heart with horror and with sorrow
All that noise
When I’m stuck with a class of thirty whistlers
I stick out my chin, try to grin and play
Tomorrow, tomorrow
I dread you tomorrow
You’re only a day away. (from Musical Annie,,, The Sun will Come Out)

Hey diddle diddle – no piano no fiddle
And a teacher that sings out of key
The parents want ‘bands’, the inspectors want strands
And they all seem to want it from ME.

This probably served as a precursor to the short “tongue-in-cheek” history of Kilcock I wrote some time later for the “opening of the new school” celebrations. We had a lot of talent but needed a focus to draw it together in a coordinated performance.


Long long ago in early Christian times
When chieftains battled up and down our roads
To show their wealth they brought along with them
Craft workers and not just men with swords

Such was our Coca – highly skilled of hand
Who stitched, embroidered her lordship’s clothes so grand
But she was holy too and liked to pray
And in the evening always slipped away.

So when the chief encamped around this place
She found a well – it filled her full of grace
She said I’ll stay and start a little cell
That’s how Kilcock is here – the truth I tell.

Long years passed by and many changes came
The stories of Kilcock and Ireland are the same.
The Norman John de Hereford and his son Tom
Sent clerics down – they built a church of stone
King Harry 8 in his “church” take-over bid
Was unsuccessful – the Catholics just hid
Until his army passed to Kinnegad
And the priests said mass just as they always had.

In medieval times a cross was placed
In the centre of the Green, the Market Space.
And people celebrated at the site
Singing songs and dancing with all their might

Sad stories of the men of ’98
Then Famine caused the population doom
As many died, or left for faraway lands
The people and the town were filled with gloom.

But the people of Kilcock did not despair
The Royal Canal brought business to the scene
And goods were floated in and out by barge
And later, on faster transport powered by steam

At that time too the equine pundits moved
To Punchestown for festivals and fun
And Sr Fintan taught us racing poems
And now we’ll treat you to our favourite one.

(The Racing of Finn McCool)

Around that time the PP viewed his flock
Said few can read and write – oh what a shock
I’d better get some education going
He asked the Brothers, men of highest knowing
To start a school for boys that they might learn
Some reading, writing, ‘rithmetic in turn.

Now what about the girls I hear you say
The PP wrote a note to USA
He wrote “This comes from Ireland, from Kilcock
“We need some ladies of your teaching stock”
And so the sisters started up this little school
And ran it by the Presentation Rule.

That was the year of 1879
Classes were taught in the convent at the time

Scoil Choca Naofa 1953

In 1953 Scoil Choca Naofa was built
And Srs Eithne, Dympna, Brendan landscaped the site
It served us well for more than 50 years
But 300 children in 5 rooms was much too tight

So Board and Parents, Teachers and the kids
Made lots of noise, sent letters to the Dail
And Conor, Gerry, Tom and all their crew
Built this fine new place of learning for us all.

So cheers to all who’ve worked so hard for us
Buíochas daoibh go leir ‘gus bualadh bos

Raised on songs and stories

Quoting from the well known Dublin song, I too think I was “raised on songs and stories”. I wrote one of my post grad papers on the storytelling tradition and the wealth of literature and history I was exposed to growing up. Poems played a particularly important part in that heritage.


We always got a book from Santa at Christmas – and that is why my favourite poem is probably ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by  Clement Moore. I have numerous editions of the poem – probably only differing in illustrations but each one of them special.

Santa brought a poetry book at some stage which contained a selection of wonderful poetry. My earliest favourite was Hiawatha’s Childhood by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an extract from the Song of Hiawatha. How could you not but see the images conjured by his grandmother Nikomis’ words.


At the door on summer evenings,
Sat the little Hiawatha,
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the waters,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
“Minne-wawa!” said the pine-trees,
“Mudway-aushka!” said the water.
Saw the fire-fly Wah-wah-taysee,
Flitting through the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
Later I went on to read the entire poem and was moved by the romance of the wooing of Minnehaha!

What other poems stirred me-

I loved  Samual Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

My teacher in 3rd and 4th used to read us legends – Irish and international.  That’s probably why I liked Lord Tennyson’s tragic story of the Lady of Shalott – its connection to Lancelot and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table which was read to me at school.

Willows whiten, aspens shiver.
The sunbeam showers break and quiver
In the stream that runneth ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

I had an inspirational teacher in 5th and 6th class and she read Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

As part of the Leaving Cert programme I was led to explore the moodiness of Emily Dickenson’s and Thomas Hardy’s poetry.
WB Yeats always held a special place in Mam’s heart and loved the way she would quote frequently from a number of poems: “I will arise and go now” was a favourite parting line of hers.
• I didn’t discover Francis Ledwidge and his WW1 poems until I was in college.
• One of my most recent discoveries is the sun and her flowers collection by rupi kaur, short and sort of feminist and moody poems

Mam was a great reader of poetry. Around the Boree Log was a book that my grandmother used to read for her children when they returned from Australia and mam had a well-thumbed copy of it. The poems ranged from humorous tales of scraggy dogs and children unwillingly joining in family prayer to stories of longing for home or youth. Written by Fr. John O’Brien the poems were all about the simple if arduous farming life of Irish settlers in Australia.

Through the hush of my heart in the spell of its dreaming
Comes the song of a bush boy glad-hearted and free;
Oh, the gullies are green where the sunlight is streaming,
And the voice of that youngster is calling to me.

It is calling to me with a haunting insistence,
And my feet wander off on a hoof-beaten track,
Till I hear the old magpies away in the distance
With a song of the morning that’s calling me back.
(from Calling to Me)

I never realised that John O’Brien wrote another collection of poetry until at a recent forage through second-hand books I found The Parish of St Mel’s.  Because Mam’s readings were usually accompanied by stories about my Gran’s longing for home I always felt that even the funny ones were a bit nostalgic!

Mam was renowned for her recitations as party pieces, many of emigrant poems, and I was so proud to accompany her as she represented the Wexfordmen’s Association as a reciter in National Competition. We even “went on tour” when, following a 1798 tribute to the Shears Brothers at St Michan’s Church, she was invited by Cork City Council to perform the same poem in Cork, at the door to the Shears’ family home.

In more recent years, as our family gathered to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, I was surprised by the creativity of uncles and cousins who penned poems describing the lives and adventures of various family members. It was lovely to listen to people being celebrated while they were still here to hear them. Very often, I discovered that there were actual collections of poems. I began collecting them and although not for me to publicise, I read through them frequently and wonder at the talent and depth of feeling behind them. I know I’ve mentioned on a few occasions that I hope to feature as a central theme.

So imagine my delight when I received these words – AND on National Poetry Day 2018: A POEM ABOUT ME (well sort of?) a tribute to multiple births in my garden pond (the writer wishing to remain anonymous?)

My Garden Pond

A stroll past the pond
That ripple caught my eye
I thought to myself
Maybe it was a fly

Curiosity got the better
I wanted to see
Threw away my walking stick
Went down on one knee

Well to my surprise
With more than one to count
They swam those waters
Not very much food about

Irony has its way
They are guarded each day
By a legless heron
Who keeps away the prey

The Salmon of Knowledge
In folklore is told
But nothing like spotting
A fish with scales of gold

My words they have fooled you
The pond is so small
If you jumped across it
You would easily make landfall

What was I up to in APRIL 2018

I put great store in blogging at least one a month, keeping a site up to date with some bit of news or trivia!!!! – but somehow or other April escaped me. My excuse – I was busy attending night classes in  Web Design using Word Press and I certainly learned a lot. Our tutor set us up with a “play site” each where we could practise the various elements of web design. She also encouraged us to work on  a “real site” and so I used the site I manage for the Kildare Retired Teachers organisation as well as this one to hone my skills. My April entry on the Kildare teachers’ site was about the annual outing.

My entries on the play site were all to do with the class/home work. Here’s what I wrote about “pages”:

There’ll be lotsa talk about PAGES on this course and I need to get it straight in my head – So THIS is an example PAGE. It’s different from a blog post because it will stay in one place and will show up in my site navigation hopefully (in most themes).

It’s the home page – so it should explain why I am here?

In 2013 a parent established a Web Page for school. I started doing a bit of blogging on the site but the set-up and the format had been established for me. I merely had to come up with content and fill it in as if on “a template”.

THEN I got a present of a blog – I’m a diary keeper – so this was just another way of keeping my musings – those that I didn’t mind people reading. AGAIN A GREAT EXPERIENCE but very little technical know-how….got there by luck rather than design!

Made eye contact when a blog was required for Retired Teachers’ group  and found myself with a job. As I had some experience with the ‘wordpress template’ I went online and tried a “do it yourself” setup with wordpress. Got so far and then had to call on my expert.


Now I want to know a bit more – why and how things happen – so HERE I AM