Cool Music

In 2004, radio presenter, Gareth O’Callaghan, in his book A Day Called Hope talked about the part music and song played in his life. He described the difficulties of putting words on emotions that the lyrics of a song could express so eloquently. I suppose we all have favourite songs that put words on our feelings.
There are also those songs that when we hear, transport us to places and occasions of the past to remember sad and happy experiences.
Recently, an afternoon presenter (whom I really dislike) began a series of interviews with famous guests, discussing the music that related to their life. It inspired the following compilation – I couldn’t include all songs; sometimes the most important were omitted but it’s a snap shot of some of the music I remember from through the years



The musical memories of life in our home
Were the songs of my mother as she pottered around
About dogs in shop windows and the White Cliffs of Dover
And the high hopes of ants to knock rubber plants over.

Six kids and a dog squashed in the back of our car
Belting out songs probably stopped a world war
About wishing on stars and catching some that fell
Many long Irish dirges with sad tales to tell.


Musicals and ballads on EPs and LPs
Acquired by our dad in auction houses on the quays
An EP by the BeeGees where the world had a cry
Because of a joke was the first one I’d buy.

The Beach Boys and creatures like Beatles and Monkees
Sang the pop songs that accompanied me through my teens
A romantic “slow dance” in the Moran Road Hall
To Seasons in the Sun I still can recall.

Singers with strange name – Humperdink and Goldsboro
Crooned songs that were happy and songs full of sorrow
Bad John who was big on the Dock of the Bay
Sugar Sugar, And Saving the Last dance for me


In the seventies I met Seamus and he had a car
Replete with a stereo: Leonard Cohen was our star.
In a night club called Sloopys we discoed and drank wine
To American Pie and Sweet Caroline.

An Old Sheeling date every Monday without fail
‘cause we knew The Wolftones – Tommy Byrne was our pal
The Lower Deck, The Embankment were on the list too
And we belted out ballads about OUR RIGHT TO RULE


A decade of kids’ songs, nursery rhymes with my babies
About Dragons called Puff and other strange ditties


This decade started out with losing my dad
And his song Nancy Spain still makes me feel sad.
6 years after, Shay died taking so many dreams
And the priest by his bed sang of Bunclody’s streams.

And following bereavement as I journeyed to work
Des Cahill and Gareth O’Callaghan kept me going with songs and with talk
A choir started in school and ’twas lovely to hear
The range of the music and the voices so clear.


On January 1st a new century sailed in
But at family gatherings the same songs we’d sing

2010 –

In this latest decade it’s hard to decide
The range of my musical interests so wide.
I buy fewer CDs, download lots from i-tunes
Still belt out a ballad when working alone

Rainy nights in Soho reminds me of goodbye
to a beloved hill 16 brother way too young to die
and songs of religion now feature quite strong
Following 5 ICU weeks and recovery long.

But how amazing the memories as I look back
All accompanied by a weird and wonderful soundtrack.

What is age?

General Douglas McArthur on “staying young”:

Russian Vine in the Gables garden (taken from Oaklawn in 1980 and still flourishing!) Could aptly be called Rushin vine due to speed of growth

Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind.

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals.

Worry  doubt, self-distrust  fear and  despair, these are the long, long years that bow your head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

So long as your heart receives messages of beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from man, from the infinite so long are you young.

When the heart is covered with the snow of pessimism and the ice of cynicism  then I am grown old indeed, and may you, Lord, have mercy on my soul.

Fuschia still adding colour to Gables garden




Funny that even though retired, I still regard July and August as holidays so getting away in September is like an extended holiday season. And September 2018 has certainly been busy.


Liss Ard House

I started with a few days at the Taste of West Cork Festival – following good advice booked into a “nice” hotel: Liss Ard House just outside Skibbereen where everyday started with a delicious breakfast and finished with drinks and chat in the drawing-room.



Kileena House, Baltimore

Taking everything at a very leisurely pace I savoured the fairy and ghost stories of the area in Killeena House just outside Baltimore, with a gorgeous fish lunch overlooking Sherkin.


I followed Michael Collins’ eventful last journey to Béal na Bláth as well as taking in his home place and other places relevant to his history starting with a wonderful lecture on his life.

Church Restaurant, Skibbereen

I shared a wonderful evening with in-laws in the Church Restaurant in Skib. Finally spent a morning in Glandore exploring perfume making using natural ingredients, coming away with many samples including “an elixir of youth” which claims to “take years off any face”!!!!!!!


I returned just in time to attend a four-day Boot Making Workshop in Kilteele. I ended up with the dearest pair of boots I’ll probably ever own but it was thoroughly enjoyable. The felt makers are a great group and Natalya was excellent – sharing her many tips and also a lot of labour so that all projects were completed in the allotted time. Hard work!!!!

 Boots awaiting soles

Almost finished product!!! Boots for walking?



DAY 1 VENICE and welcome aboard!

MSC Poesie at anchor in Venice

We set off for Venice on the 22nd transferring from Marco Polo Airport to the cruise ship – oh boy! was embarkation a lengthy process: to guarantee safety for the cruise passport checks, bag checks, photo for IDs cards, luggage collection. Eventually we got to our cabin which was huge (think mobility issues helped with assigning!!!) and it was great to sit on balcony and see all the sights as we left Venice.

Leaving Venice Port
Out along the Lagoon

DAY 2 Bari

Before disembarking in Bari, we had compulsory Emergency Drill to which of course we forgot to bring our life jackets!!!! Then we made our first use of the Shuttle bus system to bring us into the old town of Bari.

Santa Claus, the patron saint of Bari


We had decided to give the organised excursions a miss and we took a little train through the old town (Bari Vecchia) where we visited the Basilica of St Nicholas (Santa Claus, Bari’s patron saint. The tasting of local produce (which I missed) was a bit over-rated.



I hadn’t realized the Normans had made their way so far south but we saw the 12th century Castello Normanno-Svevo before a glass of vino and back to the ship!!!

Tonight was our first Gala evening on the ship so we put on our finery and off to the restaurant. We had changed to First Sitting and as we were quite close to the kitchen our food was piping hot ( it had been a bit disappointing last night). Also the wine list had been improved – all making for a lovely evening! Ending up in the Zebra Bar

In disguise? in the Zebra Bar


The Isles of Greece

Overnight we crossed the Ionian Sea and were able to view from the balcony some of the Greek Islands before arriving in Katakolon. Again we decided to give official excursions a miss and proceeded to the taxi rank where we met 2 other travelers of like minds and we shared a taxi with them to Olympus. The heat there was unbelievable and luckily we able to hire a horse and carriage for a trip around the ancient site, this time-sharing with a very loud but funny Portuguese group who were convinced the Irish were very wealthy!!!! We were lucky to get back to the taxi in time but glad to have seen Temple of Zeus, the Hippodrome and the Stadium. It’s a UNESCO site and worth even the short visit. Our taxi driver returned us to the town (again at breakneck speed and with NO regard or road signs) where we had some  retail therapy followed by ice cream!

DAY 4 Mykonos

Disembarkation by tender

Today we had our first experience with “Disembarkation by tender” procedures. The little port of Mykonos was lovely, quite like a fishing village and we both explored at our own rate(!!!!). I  stayed pretty close to the port, paddling in the sea, sunning myself on beach and some “linen” shopping with a group of American ladies.

Seemingly the town was designed to confuse invaders and thwart pirate attack with its layout and it certainly flummoxed some of us who were lucky to get back to port for return to ship. This proved to be a pretty painful process as we all arrived at the port together and had to queue for tenders, many of our fellow travelers having no concept of THE QUEUE. I had to avail of the “free sea sickness tablet scheme this evening as the ind rose and the sea got pretty rough! And the captain informed us that due to stormy conditions the port of Piraeus was to be closed for a few days and we would now be sailing to Nafplion(?????) The sea was very choppy during the night with howling gales – thank God the pills worked and I slept like a log!!!

DAY 5 Nafplion

Tenders again today to get into the town of Nafplion, passing the Bourtzi.

What’s a Bourtzi? you might ask!

A Bourtzi is a fortified islet. The Bourtzi in Nafplion was built by the Venetians in 1473 and protected the entrance to the harbor from Pirates. In the 19th century this is where the executioners for the prison at the Palamidi fortress lived since it was bad luck to have them live in the city itself. We could have taken a taxi to the top of the Palamidi fortress but thought the only access was the hundreds of steps!!!! After a short spell ashore we hit back for the tenders before the crowds. We also wanted to be sorted ‘style-wise’ for the 2nd gala night!!!

DAY 6 Saranda

Saranda on the Albanian Riviera was our port of call today. We had no plans for the visit but were met at the entrance to the port by a taxi driver who showed us the sights available – 4 postcards.

Amphitheatre at Butrint
Roman ruins at Butrint

By luck rather than design! we picked the Butrinti ruins. Amazing! And no wonder they are a UNESCO site. We strolled around at our leisure through the ruins of a number of successive civilizations and supported some local artisans by buying knickknacks. Once again we got our driver to drop us back to the town for some shopping and eating before embarkation. It proved very difficult to find a restaurant that served food – “sorry only drinks!!!” We eventually found a little jewel where it was suggested we have a local dish. We think it might have been a stew veal ( an animal that mooed!) washed down with a FULL glass of local wine! A walk along the sea front market indicated the great poverty in this country and we purchased some bits and bobs just to add to the weight in the cases and support the local economy!!!!!

DAY 7 Dubrovnik

As we are both Game of Thrones fans we had to come ashore today in Dubrovnik. (I think it might be the setting for the fictional capital of Westeros????).

Franciscan Monastery Crucifix



We came in through the Pile Gate and visited the Franciscan Monastery. I strayed a wee bit up the Stradun (main Street) but friend went as far as San Blaise Church and had her throat blessed! We found a lovely alleyway restaurant and had the most delicious shrimp risotto. We did some quick packing on our return to the ship before the farewell dinner. Our cases had to be out before 1am for collection.

Statue of St Frances In Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery

DAY 8 BACK TO Venice

Scandinavia Hotel, Campo S Maria Formosa

We had an early start this morning and our first sit down breakfast of the cruise – we had availed of the buffet breakfast up to this. There was massive confusion on disembarkation about water taxis, water buses, shuttle buses and the usual difficulties with queues. Eventually we landed on the quay side in Venice and hired a porter to take us the Scandinavia Hotel for our stay here! We took a ramble to get our bearings and find a Trattore for dinner – no dressing up tonight.


Grilled prawns- Yum

We found an amazing seafood restaurant whose owner remembered the Ireland/Italy game of the 90s and their hero Scillachi. Our hotel was situated quite centrally on the Campo S. Maria Formosa and we sat out well into the night (once we fetched our jackets!!!) with an Irish/Scottish/N Ireland group.

DAY 9 Murano and Burano

Glassware display in Murano



Murano and Burano were on the cards for today. The islands are gorgeous and well worth a visit: Murano to see the glass works and Burano for its (very expensive) lace.

The coloured houses along the canals of Burino

The water buses are filled to capacity and beyond but as long as you ignore the aspects of safety AND you get a seat, the trip out through the lagoon is lovely.

At the Bridge of Sighs
Taking a break outside the Doge Palace
Above the door of St Marks

While it was getting late when we got back, we had to see the Bridge of Sighs, The Doge Palace and St Marks and take a few photos. We made a return visit to our Trattore before back to hotel.