The family 50+ years on

Taken in Kilakee early 1970’s – Canadians home on a visit and grandmother organised a family photo. What a crew – I’m one of 35 first cousins on Mam’s side of the family, and one of 32 first cousins on Dad’s side – some family!

A Lambert committee was established to organise a family reunion for 2020 – little did we know that the world would be pressed into isolation by Covid and that plans would not be implemented for two years. Here we are after Mass in Crossabeg Church on Friday 8th July 2022.

for And here’s the clan again, posing on the mound at Wexford Harbour before  Meal and sing-song in Riverbank Hotel on Saturday 9th July 2020.

The Doll’s House, Rathaspeck

Actually thought I had posted this and then realised it was on another platforms!!!!! Would you call that a broadening of media knowledge or just confusion!

Any way, at long last I got to stay in the Doll’s House, Rathaspeck where the Lamberts spent some time between their return from Australia and move to Fairfield House in Dublin.
Every visit to Wexford town as children entailed a trip out to Rathaspeck and stories of the Lamberts life there- dreams of fairy princesses, adventures to the manor House, naughty children, games, neighbours,…all conjuring up wonderful images of a life long ago.
And so a stay there was on my bucket list, and ticking it off was everything I thought it would be and more. My words would be inadequate to describe the wonder, the joy, the nostalgia. Even the dozens of photos cannot recreate the aura of the house.

Tokyo Olympics 2021

The Olympic Games are held every four years – you know it’s an Olympic year if the year is divisible by 4. So how come it’s 2021? Covid-19 meant that the games in Tokyo last year had to be postponed.

So tonight is the eve of the Olympic Games and although there will be hugely scaled-down attendance – participants, officials and some journalists only- it’s still a really exciting event. The whole country will start discussing minority sports with some expertise. 

The opening ceremonies will involve only a very small delegation of athletes. We will watch our Olympians, Boxers Kellie Harrington, competing for the first time and Brendan Irvine, who fought at the Rio Games who have been chosen as the Team Ireland flag bearers. For the first time each country is being asked to have two flag bearers in the parade of nations, one male and one female.

In my storytelling household, I had heard of Jesse Owens’ great success in the 1936 Berlin Games. His 4 gold medals caused consternation to the Nazi party who presided over the games. Irishman Ronnie Delaney’s gold medal win in the Men’s 1500 metres in the 1956 Melbourne games was also a sporting highlight to be celebrated. It was many years later before I realised that we had won many medals.

I got hooked on the Olympics of 1984, ‘running’ the streets of Los Angeles with John Treacy in the Men’s Marathon and watching him being presented with his silver medal.

Barcelona, 1992 coincided sadly with a family death and my memory is returning to Wexford from the funeral, getting a double puncture and being unable to find an open garage – everyone was watching the boxers (either Michael Carruth winning gold or Wayne McCullough winning silver).    

The excitement of the 1996 Atlanta games was unbelievable – night after night I watched Michelle Smith progress through heats and eventually win three gold and one bronze.

Two years after Atlanta, Smith was charged with adulterating an out of competition sample and received a four year ban. Despite continuing to plead her innocence through the process, she never swam again. She never tested positive for a banned substance.

Sidney 2000 was Sonia O’Sullivan games; three boxers medalled in Beijing 2008; London 2012 saw boxing victories with Katie Taylor the star; Rob Heffernan took bronze in the 50Km walk; unfortunately Cian O’Connor’s bronze in the Showjumping again brought us into ill-repute with a doping accusation.

The O’Donovan brothers “pulling like dogs” charmed us with their humorous interviews  having won silver in the lightweight sculls in Rio in 2016 and Annalise Murphy also won silver in the water, sailing. 

And now another Games begins, with Ireland’s largest delegation ever – what stories will we have from them?

1969 Theft of Leaving Cert Papers

Leaving Certificate students may rightfully be feeling hard done. I’m sure they’re fatigued with the isolation, the new ways of distance teaching and learning and the exam timetable uncertainty. I feel so sorry for them, especially the more disadvantaged ones who without either home or school support might just give up now. Four months is a LONG WAY OFF.


With the news of the extension of restriction because of COVID-19 and the rescheduling of the LC to late July or August, I tried to remember my Leaving Cert. I was part of the cohort of Leaving Cert students in 1969, the last year exam events were taken into state control when an almost complete set of Leaving Certificate papers was stolen from De La Salle School, Churchtown, on June 12th, 1969. (Naturally, the principal at De La Salle said he was “absolutely certain” that none of the boys from his school had anything to do with it.)


Because of the theft and to guarantee the authenticity of exam results, I was one if those unfortunate students who had to take their English and Maths exams twice. Amazing that with no such thing as twittering at the time, the papers made their way into other students’ hands at a rapid pace. About 250 students purchased the papers for between £1 and £20 at monied schools all over Dublin before the matter came to the attention of authorities. Goldenbridge did not have a privileged school population and the first we heard was when Sr Anne Philomena announced that the English and Maths exams would be retaken and, to allow supplemental papers to be written for all examinations, there would also be a delay in the middle of the timetable. I remember the tone of “how lucky you are to get extra studying time!!!!”


And so when we all expected to be finished and starting summer jobs we were hauled back in to examination halls on Friday, June 27th, and Saturday, June 28th to sit 2 papers each day. I’m not sure how much sympathy was either given or expected. It was a time when you put your head down and ‘got on with it’. For those of us doing the University matriculation exams, there was a further delay as they had to be postponed because of the late completion of the exams.
In an era when very few asked WHY? we had little need for Nietzsche and the context of why. Maybe we were as well off!!!!


And we had very particular supports: teachers telling us (gleefully) that our results would be in line with our efforts, early morning mass on the day if each exam (having also attended each Lenten morning as a kinda deposit or guarantee of being recognised by the Lord), mothers’ prayers and daily 10 o’clock mass and as the first grandchild to hit this crossroads in life, a grandmother’s prayers and masses. Who needed Nietzsche?


Do you remember the Reader’s Digest

On a recent drive through Portlaoise, I visited Tynan’s Restaurant in the Store Yard. The food was gorgeous but what was more exciting was the journey through The Store Yard premises to reach it. The Store Yard is like a large warehouse, full of salvage, retro, vintage furniture and curios. It is no wonder that it has prominently featured as a prop supplier for the film industry. Items of its stock featured in Little Women, The Widow, Ripper Street, and others.  I can also imagine that it has been the source of many interesting features for home and garden projects throughout Ireland.

Amid this trove of treasure, my find of an old edition of Reader’s Digest, might seem insignificant. However, it sparked memories of bygone days and very different publications and afforded me the opportunity to have a long chat with one of the dedicated sales team in whose home Reader’s Digest had featured strongly too.

cover of Jan 1964 Reader's Digest

I know Readers Digest is still being published – I think it can even be accessed on line now but I was really delighted to find this January 1964 edition. I’m not sure why or when my parents started to purchase Reader Digest but I know I was still in Primary school. My Fourth class teacher had a vocabulary enrichment programme: each of her pupils had to list “new” words and phrases every week into a Vocabulary Diary. At least one of these words had to feature in your weekly essay. Readers Digest had a page devoted to enriching your word power and so was a favourite of mine.

Vocabulary building

I remember hearing the story of DeWitt Wallace who while recovering from shrapnel wounds after WW1 came up with the idea of combining samples of favourite and interesting articles from many publications into one magazine. And so Reader’s Digest was born! The magazine’s format for several decades consisted of 30 articles per issue (one per day), along with a vocabulary page (It Pays to Increase your Word Power), a page of “amusing anecdotes (Laughter I, the Best Medicine), some personal glimpses (Life’s Like That), and a lengthier article at the end, usually condensed from a published book. These were all listed in the Table of Contents on the back cover. Each article was prefaced by a small, simple line drawing and sometimes a relevant quotation.


There was some criticism during those years of Reader’s Digest’s sales procedures. Large colourful mailings arrived in houses informing you that you were among a small lucky number worldwide who were now close to winning astronomical sums of money. It was insinuated that a subscription to Reader’s Digest for the following year or recommending it to a friend would enhance your chances further. This form of advertisement was forced to finish at the turn of the century.

New Reader's Digest  

Compare the 1964 edition to a 2019 (July) edition, with its flashier, more colorful eye-catching graphics throughout. There are still short bits of data interspersed with full articles illustrated with glossy pictures. The Table of Contents has been moved inside.

Somehow it doesn’t seem to be half as romantic or interesting and will probably never feature as “a ten year old’s favourite magazine any more. C’est la vie!


Some old photos

Photos now are stored on phones – many will be lost without ever having been seen. I have boxes of photos. Here are some:

The Lambert cousins – all named – in Kilakee with Granny and Grandad. This photograph was taken when our Canadian cousins were home on a visit BUT it was not unusual for all the rest to gather in Kilakee on a Sunday. Bread and jam was a great filler for children who were sent “out to play” for the afternoon!
This photo of me on the lane in Kilakee – note the style!
Shay and I on our Wedding Day – I made the dress during that summer hoidays; fabric and Vogue pattern from Cassidy’s in O’Connell Street (specially ordered in as mam knew one of the salespersons). Dad and I bought the flowers in the Market the day before and Mam arranged them that night while curling my hair.
My 5th class from Weaves Square were the choir! I had taught them in 4th so they knew the hymns from the year before.
Local cabbie Jim Houlihan was our driver!
Here we are heading off to the reception in the Dublin Sports Hotel, Kilternan “where the stars stayed (Muhammad Ali, Sean Connery and Paul Newman to name a few)”. It was chosen by us as a wedding venue as Dad thought it was important that guests didnt have far to travel!


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




Every four years soccer hits the world stage and memories of Ireland’s halcyon days of the 90’s flood back – the swell of pride at hearing Amhráin na bhFiann on a world stage, the flying of tricolours throughout the country is remembered as I sit down to a feast of football.

 Jim told stories of the pre 90’s Irish teams and the crowds that followed them; we watched Ray Houghton put the ball in the English net in Stuttgart in the 1988 Euros and felt (and still feel) the swell of national pride and the craic that years later would make no sense to Roy Keane; Christie Moore’s Inchicore Joxer became a party celebrity and then we qualified for Italia ’90 and we became a nation of soccer enthusiasts. David filled books with stickers of footballers and we entered match scores on grids.


We didn’t win the World Cup but we went wild, flew flags, hung out bunting, sang Italian songs (Volare, Amore ) with Dean Martin and songs about Paul McGrath (ooh aah), Jackie’s Army (that we were all part of!),

Thousands of supporters, friends and family, travelled to Italy for the matches, but those of us who stayed at home, shared their adventure with equal fervour and grew more hysterical by the day.

We survived the group stage and reached the second round. OMG! Travel plans were changed and tickets were sourced and the boys hit for Genoa.

Dublin was as hot as Genoa on that Monday in June for the late afternoon kick-off against Romania. After ending in a draw we needed Packie to save and O’Leary to score and the crowds took to the streets as the travellers scrapped their flight tickets for Dublin and headed for Rome and a place in the World Cup Quarter finals – penalty shoot-outs will always bring me back to the excitement of Genoa.

The Pope wanted to meet us!!!! And although Toto Schillaci ended our dream in Rome’s Stade Olympico, the entire country celebrated the journey and we channelled the ecstasy into the homecoming.
And for ever after we thought Pavarotti sang Nessun Dorma for us!!!!

USA ‘94

The Giant Stadium, NY, was the site of victory for the Green Army in World Cup 1994. Drawn against the Italian giants in the Giant’s Stadium we had hope more than expectation until 5 minutes into the game Ray Houghton lopped the goalie. With baited breath for the rest of the match we cheered as Paul McGrath outwitted the famous Roberto Baggio.

The fans travelled onto Orlando, a city decked out in Green and Orange…. World media found some of our travellers and we rang round family here at home so that recorders could be set and a snatch of the revellers would become part of our World Cup memorabilia. We were lauded as the “greatest fans in USA” before the heat of the Citrus Bowl combined with the talents of the Dutch on the football field.

Undaunted, the Irish team and fans hit back to NY, but unfortunately succumbed there to the force of the Mexicans. But while it lasted, the stories were great and the songs and the posters and the comraderie and the tales of the Three Amigos!


Our soccer star didn’t rise again till 2002 when once again our team qualified for the World Cup and plans were made to go EAST to Japan and Korea. This time a new generation of family travelled as my newly graduated and recently employed son, David, took off as a member of the Green Army.

It was still a relatively pre mobile phone era and so we only knew the media presentation which was weighed heavily about the Saipan debacle. We watched BBC and RTE anxiously for any news but often had to be happy with views of the returned Keane walking his dog Trigs. Keane was our lynchpin – what would happen without him!!!

But Matt Holland did us proud against the Cameroons. Another 1:1 draw against the Germans and the other Keane’s (Robbie) somersaulting victory display! We dismantled Saudi and found ourselves runners-up in the group against Spain! Less than 10 minutes into game we were 1:0 down and only equalised in last few minutes – after extra time we were still undivided so Penalties again! No joy this time as Ireland were sent home! And months of recrimination against Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy followed.

AND SINCE THEN: 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018

Brian Kerr unsuccessfully led us through the 2006 qualifiers to be played in Germany but the country fell in love with Kerr’s commentaries and Roy Keane returned to the fold – older and less able!






We got out of our group stages for 2010 World Cup but Thierry Henry’s hand halted our progress to South Africa.




Trapatonni managed us in 2014 and although Ireland weren’t contesting Ray represented the O’Loughlin branch of the Green Army in Brazil.



And now as we near quarter final 2018 in Russia without Ireland we listen to the expertise of pundits – Brian Kerr has to be a favourite with what have become known as “Kerrisms”.

MAYBE 2022 in Qatar???


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