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There are many fairytales about Old Trafford:


The fairytale resurgance of the club after the 1958 Munich air distaster and the courage and strength of one Matt Busby  to return to football and start all over again.

Alex Ferguson’s 25 year fairytale as the Old Trafford boss with the outstanding achievement of lifted 27 trophies – 12 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions Leagues and a Cup Winners’ Cup and and overseeing the rise of numerous world-class players including our own George Best and Roy Keane.

The fairytale careers of Roy Keane and George Best would also require mention.

Kevin Moran’s fairytale journey from being an All-Star in 1976, having played for the Dubs in Croke Park, to playing 231 games with Man Utd. in Old Trafford.


Free vector book with scene of knight and dragon fighting

On Saturday, December 23. 2023,  we read a new fairytale of Old Trafford, one written by Malachy Clerkin in The Sports Weekend, Irish Times. This one is a parody of The Pogues Fairytale of New York. Unlike the previous fairytales, this is a narratove of the dismal season(s) Man Utd have had recently.

Its been really difficult to remain loyal, (luckily my other “RED” club, Pat’s, stepped into the breach and gave me something to cheer about).

If you read the Clerkin article, there is also a very good Santa Baby take off, almost as good as the Miley Cyrus version. Neither of them are anywhere near as good as the Milis version sung at the Active Retirement Group in Naas at Christmas party.

My favourite page on The Irish Times


My favourite page on The Irish Times is without doubt the Bulletin Page on the Saturday edition (the page with the crosswords). I love the crosswords on the other days, but on Saturday it is the Thinking Anew article and Patsy McGarry’s In a Word that I read first. I often cut out the article to read again and again. I sometimes find an old article tucked away in a book or drawer and I enjoy the rereading. I had a friend once who used send me cut-out articles from magazines. My mother often kept articles that appealed to her, made her think or just amused her.


The article at the top of the page Thinking Anew always sets me thinking. Very often it’s based on the weekend’s scripture reading, with a link to a current issue.

  • December 16 was titled “Our anywhere and everywhere God” and discussed the links between the liturgical seasons and everyday ups and downs.
  • December 9 was titled “Waiting for God-oh” and discussed the importance of waiting and patience, quoting Leo Tolstoy “Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait”.


In a Word as the title implies, takes a word and relates it to a current issue. It always finishes with the etymology of the word.

  • December 16 the word was Puddle and the article discussed how we are all like the child who jumps into a puddle, young at heart. We want Santy  (as he was called when I was a child) to provide our dreams- world peace, freedom from famine, an All-Ireland title for Roscommon.

PUDDLE from old English pudd, “a small pool of dirty water”.

This article discussd the bad press given to the month of November and suggests that Scorpios, born in September are described as “complicated, needy and and just plain difficult to get along with. (I know some very cheery Scorpios!) Follow the link to read the 19th Century poet, Thomas Hood’s poem November.

McGarry then compares Scoirpios to Saggitarians, born towards the end of the month. “Passionate and charming, clever, outgoing, and charismatic” who “can light up a room instantly and without trying“.

NOVEMBER, from Latin “novem” meaning “nine” for the ninth month of the Roman calendar.


Berlin 2023: Visiting a niece and the Christmas Markets


         When my niece moved to Berlin, I had the ideal opportunity to tick another item off my bucket list – Christmas Markets in Germany. Why Berlin? I had recently finished reading Linda Grant’s A Woman in Berlin, a shocking account of the lives of a mostly female population when the Russians took over the city. These victorious invaders were intent on making the women pay for the atrocities the German army had meted out as they advanced across Russia. I was also fascinated by the way the peoples and cities of Eastern Europe recovered from the atrocities of Nazism and Stalin: now I could take the opportunity to see how Berlin had recovered and renewed itself.

My last solo trip had started with flight cancellation so there was some trepidation when I arrived i Dublin Airport to see flights to Munich cancelled due to SNOW. Thankfully, Berlin was still open despite snow!



The Park Inn, Alexanderplatz, my home from home during my visit, was ideally situated for all my plans:  meeting my niece, historical highlights and Christmas markets. I always go for the Hop-On/Hop-Off experience to get an idea of a city and to help decide on where I will prioritise. So immediately after check-in and a quick lunch with two Leitrim ladies, I hopped on.


The Berlin Wall is a must on a trip to Berlin, so my first stop was the East Side Gallery, where the longest section of wall (almost 3km) was left standing.


It is now a unique piece of art painted by 118 artists in 1990. But there are also reminders of the harsh realities of what the wall meant to the population it was built to contain. I spent the afternoon rambling along by the Spree River, admiring the murals.

Of course, I had to have a coffee in Dean & Dave (a coffee shop chain) before returning to the hotel via the Marienkirche Christmas market.


I was there just as Santa arrived (by zip-line naturally).


I was very impressed however that right in the centre of the market was a lifesize crib with crowds of mams and dads queueing to tell their little ones the Christmas story.

Foregoing dinner, I feasted instead on the local delicacies – Gluhwein and Bratkartoffeln (panfried cripy potatoes, onions and bacon). It was delicious and the tables dotted around are designed to provided opportunity to chat as you eat and drink – a very hospitable way to spend an evening and soak up the atmosphere of the market.

DAY  2

A city tour was included in my itinerary and we boarded the bus with Isabel at 9am. Another visit to the Eastside Gallery, but this time with a more detailed description of life in East Berlin. She also explained the wide boulavardes – mostly a photo opportunity for Stalin to display his military strength.

We stopped for our own photo opp at Checkpoint Charlie.  I didn’t know that there were also a Checkpoint Alpha and Checkpoint Bravo. The adjacent  Checkpoint Charlie Museum was very over/underwhelming – with way too much information presented in too tight an area. Much more interesting was an outdoor area on the corner, almost hidden behind hoarding that detailed the very sad history of the area.


I abandoned the tour at Museumsinsel (Museum Island). While our guide dissuaded us from visiting the Berliner Dom, I wanted to see this Cathedral, the largest and most lavish in the city. How fortunate I was to arrive just as  an organist began playing the “largest and most important intact instrument with pneumatic action in the world”. It was wonderful to wander around this amazing building, almost destroyed in 1944, to the strains of organ music.



I wondered how you would allow this guy to be at the end of your daughter’s tomb????




John and Carmel had advised a visit to the DDR Museum which provided a narrative of the years 1945-1989, “a hands-on experience of history”. It is an interactive view of the years of propaganda, coercion and servility almost as if you were in the shoes of an East German. It is full of original articfacts, as well as installations that allow you to walk through one of the “new” apartments, to sit in an interogation room, to watch children at school, etc. Excellent.

Returning to the hotel, I dropped into the 700 year old St Marienkirche, “un eglise au coeur  de la cité”. The fresco of the Dance of the Dead is a pretty gruesome depiction of how death is the great leveller. I suppose if you lived through the bubonic plague and countless raging wars, death—and a gruesome death, at that—was a visible everyday reality for you  These images served as a reminder of one’s mortality and were intended as an inspiration to lead a pious life. The traces of paint are quite faint now but incredibly still there after almost 600 years.

I had dinner with my niece this evening in Chen Che, a Vietnamese restaurant with both a traditional interior and garden that served the most delicious Vietnamese drinks and dishes. It was great to get the opportunity to hear first hand about life in Berlin: she absolutely loves it. I even got to see her workplace as we strolled to the taxi rank.



Today I walked down the famous street, Unter den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate for a photo opp at this iconic site (very close to another iconic site, the Adler Hotel from where Michael Jackson dangled his son). I walked over to the Reichstag (but would have needed to book and get official clearance to visit).



Back by the Gate to the Holocaust-Denkmal, a memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, 2711 concrete pillars on undulating ground (like an ice rink after the snow and frost). It commemorates the 6 million Jews who were killed during WW2.

My “Hop-On” ticket came in handy today to travel down to Kurfurstendamm to see the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedachtnis Kirche, a church which was destroyed in the Allied bombing raids of Berlin in 1943 but whose ruins have been maintained as a memorial to the destruction of war. A Hall of Remembrance houses a permanent exhibition of the mosaics and treasures from the old church.



A new church has been built that is pretty indescribable – follow the link to really understand its beauty and meaning. Google the story of the Stalingrad Madonna – so sad and yet uplifting!


I didn’t bother checking out the Ka De We, the Harrods of Berlin, figuring it would be out of my reach. Instead I rambled throught the market and found some lovely hand-crafted decorations.

I also visited the Europa-Center, the oldest shopping centre in Berlin (almost like The Square in Tallaght!) where I had late lunch.


Back in the Park Inn, I decided to have a German duck dinner – the red cabbage was to die for, before hitting back to a market for my last Gluhwein. Well my second last!


The Park Inn is beside the Fernehturm or TV tower, the tallest building in Berlin. Although everyone had said it was a MUST DO, the viewing platform was closed due to weather conditions while i was there. So I did the next best thing: got my photo beside it from 37 floor (viewing platform) of Park Inn.



Berlin was great – a return visit in Springtime or Autumn is certainly on the cards.





Knit & Stitch HARROGATE 2023

My October outing to Knitting and Stitching Show 2023 in Harrogate (second year) was really enjoyable. I stayed in The Crown Hotel as last year as it’s very close to the exhibition centre.


There were many highlights – Fellow feltmakers made for wonderful company, although they had accommodation elsewhere in the town. Just like last year, it was lovely to sample life in an English town for a day or two – the retail therapy was great especially in the Vintage shops – the excitement of rummaging through others cast-offs to find treasures .

Well done to those who chose our restaurants – the fare was delicious and so different. Although not on other’s list, I got to Betty’s for my breakie on the last day – always a treat in Harrogate. Lovely to see the craft of crochet poppies used to decorate the WW1 memorial acrtoss the road from the tea room.


I thought the standard of the exhibitions this year was far superior to last year – or maybe they just appalled to me more – the one on Domestic Violence was particularly evocative: touching and emotive messages embroidered on everyday cleaning cloths/dusters.

The Embroidery Guild as usual had a wonderful display of both skill and creativity within their craft. The Quilt exhibition again was a display of their members’ interpretations of many current issues.

This year I intended to be very disciplined about my spending! – I had a list of items I definitely wanted to buy – attachments for my sewing machine, some Wensleydale curly locks and fabric scraps. I certainly bought more than that but was pleased with my ability to say NO.

I was not as happy this year with the range of the workshops this year and certainly planned to limit the number – last year I ran from one to the next with little time to catch my breath. So I chose 2 workshops.

Not my finished product – mine got crushed in the case on return journey!!!

Machine embroidery – with Tyvek: It was the machine embroidery aspect that attracted me to this workshop, unfortunately the emphasis was on tyvek – an iron on fabric which reacts to heat. It was interesting but the limited availability of irons meant long times queueing. I’m not sure I’ll ever use it. I did get to try out machine embroidery but actually learned more from a fellow student than from the facilitator.




Embroidery Techniques: A recently graduated Embroidery student delivered this workshop – embroidering a Luna Moth using 4 basic stitches. The tutor was very well prepared this time but I don’t think she factored in the different skill sets of the group. About halfway through the workshop she admitted that we would not complete the project but she would show us the stitches – stem stitch and backstitch which I already knew but it was great to see how finely she worked; goldwork and Turkish Rug Knot which I’d never heard of. Luckily, we were given a wonderful little manual with which I was able to complete my Moth at home.

I was delighted to report back to FI committee that they do very well on choosing tutors who possess great teaching skills.