Wednesday, 15 March 2017

To “A Road Across The Sea”

Last Sunday saw our first day trip of 2017. 
As usual the pull of the West and the sea took us to the coast. Now the weather forecast was not good and the temperature was in single figures, 8 deg C. It was overcast with fine rain, however experience has taught me that in Ireland forecasts are not that accurate because of the various factors involved, so we went off regardless. 
When we left the wind was blowing from the North-east and by the time we were half way it was from the South.

Our first stop was Portumna Forest Park where Toby (dog) and Mrs H stretched their legs and I opened up the picnic box for brunch and a cup of coffee. 
It was here that my eyes fell upon this delightful Silver Birch which seemed to glow in the sunlight.

The second stop was to photograph the flooded fields that lie in front of Lydacan Castle - Carnmore, Co. Galway.
Lydacan was an O'Heynes fortress in South Galway from the 14th century and Lydacan or Lydican Castle was the residence of the Lynch family in the 1770s. The Ordnance Survey records that the building was the “substantial residence of Mr. Gunning" in the 1830s. Lydacan Castle was purchased by Martin O'Flaherty in the mid-19th century and was subsequently sold by him to James Greated. It was burnt in 1922 and left in ruins. 

Our final destination, Traught Strand near Kinvara, in Co. Galway was reached and a chill wind blew strongly under a clear blue sky. After a brisk walk to watch the waves it felt good to be sitting in a wind proof vehicle, hot coffee in hand, looking out on the ever changing views of distant Connemara, Barna and Salthill.

The notice board reads:
“A Road Across The Sea”
Young St. Ciarán studied under St. Enda on the Aran Islands. 
Once ready to establish his own monastery, he and his monks travelled along a miraculous road which opened up on the seabed to Traught Beach.
Ciarán later travelled inland to the banks of the river Shannon in what is now County Offaly and founded Clonmacnoise, which became one of Irelands’ most famous seats of learning.

In the past pilgrims spent the eve of Garland Sunday praying besides St. Cairáns Bed behind the beach. In the morning the crawled on hands and knees to wash themselves in the sea before enjoying music, dancing, singing and boat racing.”

Here he is that bold young lad
St. Ciarán

On the horizon is Connemara

I love the ever changing colours of the sea.

Three brave and daring wind surfers entertained us oldies as we watched from the warmth and safety of our cars!

Finally before signing off I wish to draw your attention to 
Rescue 116 helicopter tragedy that took place off shore of Co Mayo
in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, and her crew Mark Duffy, Ciarán Smith
and Paul Ormsby.
Were lost.
Please hold them and their families in your thoughts.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Gross Exploitation !

Today I received an email detailing the gross exploitation of  the Samsung workers which I now share with you all.

Dear Mel,

Help bring the hidden stories of Samsung’s supply chain workers to the Mobile World Congress, happening now in Barcelona.

When airlines banned the use of Samsung’s Note 7 after its fire-prone batteries started to spontaneously combust, the public got a sense of the fear that Samsung supply chain workers face on a daily basis. 

Because beneath Samsung’s shiny exterior as global electronics giant is a corporate culture that is callously geared towards maximising profit to the detriment of the everyday lives of its workers. It’s a modern tech company with medieval labor practices, whose calling cards are union busting, poverty wages, and insecure and unsafe work conditions. 

This week Samsung’s modern face is on full display at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where tech industry giants are gathering to unveil the latest in smartphones, tablets and mobile tech. Who’s not invited to the glitzy convention? The largely invisible workforce of 1.5 million low-paid supply chain workers from across the globe who make Samsung products under precarious and sometimes deadly conditions. 

Join with us to help bring the stories of Samsung’s hidden workers to Mobile World Congress and the attention of the world’s tech elite. Share now.

It wouldn’t take much for Samsung treat their workers with dignity and pay a living wage. Our research shows Samsung makes $10,435 in profit for every supply chain worker -- meaning if they increased wages of $50 per month (just $600 per year) to reach a minimum living wage in Asia, they would still make $9,835 per worker. A tidy sum, even for a company so ruthlessly devoted to profit. 

For Hesty, who works in semiconductor production in Indonesia, a minimum wage on which she can live from Samsung would mean being able to pay for basics for her family such as clothes, food and childcare, without having to worry about whether her wages will last until the next pay day. 

Though Samsung would have to suffer very little to raise wages across its supply chain, its workers pay a huge price for the work they do: at least 79 workers have died of cancer related diseases after being exposed to chemicals used in the Samsung production process. And did the company take responsibility? Indeed not -- they refused to name the chemical that led to the deaths, citing trade secrets. 

It’s time Samsung and other tech giants acknowledged the true cost of modern tech by shedding their medieval practices. With all eyes on Samsung at the Mobile World Congress right now, your shares right now will have maximum impact. 

Thank you for all you do,

Sharan Burrow,
ITUC General Secretary.


Friday, 17 February 2017

The King of Kerry's Party


Splish’ splash’ splish’ Splash, Splash splish !

“By the toads tail! Where is that noise coming from ?” said Willy Walsh loudly as he woke from a deep sleep after consuming several jars of mountain dew. His sun tanned head lifted off his favourite oak apple pillow as he addressed his fellow imbiber, Tom Trippit, who was lying next to him on the bank of a slow flowing river.

“Why ’tis no more than your old friend Flor the King of Kerry taking  a bath” said Tom

“But why now when I needs me shleep ? ” asked Willy.

“Sure,’tis your own fault for complaining about him smelling like an old horse” replied Tom.

“I still don’t understand and why now. The Beltane courting is weeks away yet, we never bathes afore then” pondered  Willy

“Yor memory ’tis failing ye Willy. Did ye not notice the Kisser woman he was with?
An’ the gorse is in bloom, so ’tis all go now to kissing an’ that.
Though I’d say his highness is well under her spell” said Tom.

“By the Great Green Toad ! I never suspected that they were planting together” said Willy.

“Aye’ tis bitten he is that’s for sure bathing in February”  said Tom.

“An I never copped it. So that’s why he was buying all them drinks, a’h thought it was odd for a Kerry man to be so free with his gold. Must be a strong spell she got him under” mused Willy.

“Did ye notice how he lashed the drink into that old wan at corner of the bar, her what would drink off a scabby leg if it was free ? ” said Tom.

Ah’did so! Was amazing how word got round so fast that he was treating.
Why they came out of every hole in the ground, I’d say the cemetery was empty last night” replied Willy.

“Begad! We was fortunate to have met the fiddler along the way otherwise we’d have missed out on a great night out” said Tom.

The conversation ceased as each considered what had been said.

Soon the sounds of long, loud snores rippled the waters, rattled the brambles and flattened the grass for miles around as Willy and Tom went back to sleep.

THE END (and may be not)

Disclaimer: any likeness, nefarious or not, to living persons 
is due to the authors lively imagination.
© MRL 2017

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


About month ago our twenty-three year old gas cooker finally gave up the ghost and died. It was no real surprise to us for the grill stopped working last year. We were not too bothered at the time because the oven and the top burners were still working efficiently. 
Sooner or later we would need a new cooker so we visited various retailers to find a good replacement.

In the middle of January we made our choice.
I particularly told the shop to ensure that the cooker was fitted with burner jets suitable for LPG  bottled gas (Butane) which is used here in the countryside as there is no piped gas supply.
I was informed that all of their cookers ran on ‘country gas’ and we arranged the delivery date.

The New Gas COOKER

The new cooker arrived, the defunct cooker was taken away to be scrapped and all that remained was to make the connection to the gas bottle. I had done this a great many times in the past and it had not been an obstacle.  I intended to do the same again, to the chagrin of the retailer, who said I needed a gas fitter to obtain a certificate. 

I competently made the connection without any leaks. Next job was to  the plug cooker into the electricity supply for the oven illumination and the six igniters.
Then came the first test, igniting the rings.
There were long yellow tips to the flames and the same phenomena also occurred in the oven.
Very clearly there was a problem. The burner jets were for the piped natural gas which is supplied to cities and towns.

Next morning I rang my supplier and informed him of my discovery. 
As I listened to his utter nonsense he tried to blind me with suggestions such as having fitted a bottle of ‘dirty gas’ which I totally refuted. Finally I was informed that the cooker had a kit with alternative burner jets, so I agreed to engage a Gas Fitter to replace them. 

The fitter arrived and then the real fun started. I don’t think he had ever changed burner jets before or even remove the various cooker parts, such as the top and front access panels. I ended up working alongside him, sometimes advising him on how to do his job. 


Re-assembly was even more humorous than taking it apart. We did achieve a sense of order eventually and used all of the screws that we had removed without having any left over. 
Then came the first test. Yes, the four top rings had blue coloured flames, as did the oven.


We then ignited the grill. Damn and blast! 
The igniter worked, we could see it sparking. The gas was coming through, we could smell it. But no ignition, we had a banjaxed grill.
I said “ Xxxk it !..... Disconnect the xxxxing thing! ........ The retailer can have it back.”

Our gas fitter was with us for three and half hours, a job that should only have taken an hour.

One week later (last week) a replacement stove arrived along with the Gas Fitter.
More fun ensued, a lot more fun this time. There were gas leaks at the connection and he was mystified. I explained that at the pipe connection union, where there was a fibre washer it had a tapered thread and that it did not need any PTFE tape. So he stripped off the tape and guess what ?  No leakage of gas - Heron was right. I did though ask him for a certificate of worthiness and it is my belief that I had earned it!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


Galanthus nivalis, commonly called snowdrop, is a bulbous perennial which is native to Italy and southwestern Asia. By the mid-19th century snowdrops were being introduced into other countries, some being brought back from the Crimean War (1853-56). Here in Ireland the Altamonte Gardens in Carlow have almost certainly grown snowdrops since the 1850s and today they have over a hundred different varieties, some of which flower twice a year.

Galanthus nivalis - the common Snowdrop

Our first clump of common snowdrop appeared on the third week of January, early this year because of the mildish winter. They sit at the edge of a large shrub in the front garden and are well protected from the winds.

Galanthus. S Arnott

I have been keeping a watchful eye on a handful of some rather special scented Galanthus bulbs which came into flower ironically on February 1st, the First Day of Spring here in Ireland. These particular ones, Galanthus. S Arnott, have only been recently developed. They were a gift, sent to us by Mister Edd who is a Botanical Artist and friend of Mrs H. I potted them up by his request and today noticed a sweet scent from the flowers. Unfortunately my sense of smell is not keen enough to differentiate between perfumes but I have been informed they are perfumed like sweet honeysuckle. 
Mrs H will go out tomorrow with her superior nostrils!

I must admit that since writing and researching for this blog post my knowledge of Snowdrops has dramatically increased, for I never ever suspected that were more than one sort.

Monday, 30 January 2017


Regardless of the weather, be it rain, fog or pleasant sunshine, we drive to Birr [Biorra] in the neighbouring County of Offaly [Contae Uíbh Fhailí]. 

It is a pleasant forty-five minute journey on a mountain road that skirts the foot hills of the Slieve Bloom [Sliabh Bladhma] and almost always their weather is far better than ours. I ask myself whether this has to do with Birr being one of four Irish telegraphing stations reporting weather readings to the British Meteorological Office? 
It was once operated by part-time Observers who transferred to the Irish Meteorological Service on 1 April 1937 and the records for Birr date back to 1872/3. 
The other stations, whose readings are now used solely by the Irish Meteorological Office, were Malin Head, Blacksod Point and Roche's Point. 

Yes, we very much like Birr and the convivial atmosphere that flows in and out of the shops and along it’s streets. There is always someone to speak to or exchange a friendly nod with and a short greeting of “How are you?’ as we pass each other by. 
The shopping is great, several shops sell similar items so the competition is keen. For me the friendliness and helpfulness of the assistants gives one the edge over another in a similar business.

After all the shopping is complete the final important part of our day is to have a leisurely cup of coffee and a bite to eat. 

At the edge of Birr, on the Tullamore side, is a recently opened business the WOODFIELD CAFE,  just within the 60kph limit. Very conveniently it has off road parking, small at the front with a much larger car park at the rear. 

This is a comfortable, warm and airy building where every piece of furniture seems to have been placed with a great deal of care and attention.

Every time I see this painting it speaks to me and says

The attractive counter display !

Hannah (the Boss) busy in the kitchen working away.

Delicious coffee with a mouth watering coffee gateaux.
I nearly had a second slice - until I remembered my cholesterol.

The convivial staff on their lunch break.

The choice is yours and it is all made on the premises using Woodfield eggs.

Two happy and satisfied customers.

The workers who provide the eggs.

Beyond the cafe is the garden centre where the Real Boss struts his stuff.

To the left of the poly tunnel is the large rear car park.

I like to think of this roadside sculpture as a sentinel marking 
Woodfield Cafe as the place for good food at reasonable prices 
and hospitality.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Our tours of interesting places begins again. On a reasonably mild January Sunday, we took the narrow roads of a neighbouring county to make our first excursion of 2017 and to revisit Croghan Hill, in Co.Offaly. This was not our first visit though this time we were better prepared, having done some research in books and maps beforehand.

Croghan Hill is one of several hills that sit very prominently on the skyline when viewed from the eastern edge of the Slieve Blooms; I recall being on a high field of friends’ farm one Bealtine night, watching from our own bonfire, the fires burning on Croghan, Tara and Uisneach. It gave me great joy to know that beyond the flames by which we stood many others were also celebrating the ancient festival.

A vertical shaft of light emerging from Croghan Hill.

Croghan Hill or Crauchán Éile, sometimes Crauchán Brí Éile, is the remains of an extinct volcano. It stands 234 metres high including a Bronze Age mound, named Bri Éile, on its summit. According to mythology it is the burial place of an important woman, Brí Éile. 
Brí is a title meaning ‘exalted or honoured’ one and Éile is her actual name. 
Croghan/Crauchán : means a prominent hill.

Three quarters of the hill encircled by
narrow country roads.

On its southeast side of the hill is an enclosed graveyard which marks the spot of the 5th century early Christian church associated with Bishop Mac Caille and as a sacred mountain, it was one of the first places in Ireland to be Christianised. Bishop Mac Cailles’ mother was said to be St Darerca, sister of St Patrick. Mac Cailles’ Church has a strong association with St. Bridget, who was born near Croghan Hill and received her veil from St.Mac Caille. 
It is not known when the Church was abandoned but the stones used to build it, were later utilised for the wall around the graveyard which continued the religious significance of the hill.

One can but speculate that the name of the mythological woman Bri Éile was carried on through the centuries and transposed to the famous Ely O’Carroll's.

The family of O’Carroll, according to the Irish antiquaries, are descended from Kean, the third son of Olioll Olum, King of Munster. 
Teige, the eldest son of Kean, was a distinguished warrior, who by killing in battle his three rivals, procured for Cormac Mac Art, King of Ulster, the Monarchy of Ireland. 
Teige had two sons, Conla and Cormac Galeng. 

Conla, the eldest son, later possessed lands called Duthec Éile, 'Estate of Éile', from Éile Ridheargs, of which his descendants were Kings, Chief of the O’Carroll [Irish: Cearbhuill], the 12th in descent gave the name Éile to the Sept of the O’Carrolls.

Most of the territory of South Offaly was once known as Ely O Carroll or Éile Ui Ceairbhuill. The O’Carrolls intermarried with other powerful chieftain families but in the 16th century internal family feuds and in-fighting with other Irish septs put the associations under pressure to maintain their power which they lost in the 17th century. Birr Castle was once one of their strongholds.

In the townland of Old Croghan, half a mile from the hill, stands a Castle and Church both in ruins. 
These buildings may have been built after Mac Cailles’ Church on the hill fell to ruin for it is sited near to the the ruins of O’Conor Faly’s Castle. 

What seems quite incongruous to me is just how close the farm buildings were erected to an historic site.

Saturday, 7 January 2017


A blank white sheet.

Sometime during my early days of working in a design office the title of my being ‘A White Sheet Designer’ came into my consciousness.
This term means someone who sits before a blank piece of paper then writes or sketches out an idea/concept that others will develop.

This set me off on a train of studies, concepts and thoughts that even today still echo in my mind.

Where do various ideas come from?

Are they original thoughts or part of the collective unconscious?

Perhaps new ideas are actually an adaptation from older ideas just rehashed or used in a differently ?

Your answers on a white post card please ?

Monday, 19 December 2016


In my previous post I spoke of events which occurred in the mid 1970’s when I lived in, what was then, a proper small country market town set in the heart of Somerset. 
Back then Glastonbury was home to a small alternative community and my quest was to find others who had also experienced the hidden energies who could offer me advice or guidance.

During this time I had also become partially absorbed in writing poetry, a way of expressing the thoughts of my inner self. Again it was Ms. D who actively encouraged me and as I look back today I realise how much she helped me to develop. I have never met the person I sought, the one who shared my experiences and could guide me, but I do live in hope.

My life then was, in some ways, an apprenticeship as I grew and accepted the reality of subtle energies and my own awareness of them. 
It was around this time that I discovered the works of the eminent Dr. Carl Jung and others, whose influence set me on a journey of personal discovery and self examination, although to be honest I would not have admitted that then.

Those hidden energies which I later discovered, as many have probably guessed, were Healing Energy and Earth Energy.

Living in Ireland many years later I attended a Healing Centre weekly. Here, myself and others, gave our time and skills in energy healing to help people. There was no fee for our work, we asked only for a donation towards the rent and heating. We never turned anyone away and people gave what they could afford.
Although the sessions were long, starting at 7pm and continuing until the last person had been seen, often at midnight, I experienced great pleasure in assisting those who needed our help. 

On some occasions we would train others, showing them various techniques, such as the use of sound, colour, visualisation and chakra balancing, which we knew from our own experience would work. Our belief was that the more people we trained the more people would benefit and the healthier society would become. I continue believe this and still offer healing free of charge, when asked. 

In regard to Earth Energies I developed my own system of working and may in the future share that too.

Thank You for Visiting

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


For many years I have been interested in hidden energy, which is spoken about by alternative healers and dowsers. 

My introduction and awareness came via my practise of transcendental meditation when I set out on a path of self discovery. This is a journey that still continues and by its very nature seems always to introduce me to something absorbing which refreshes the depths of my being.
I have, over the course of time, met up with others who have walked alongside me for some of the way, then we have separated, each to go on alone.

Two energy events occurred about the same time many years ago. 
The first came after a family holiday we collected our dog from the kennels only to find that he had virtually lost his bark and could only croak. As was usual I did my twenty minute T M in my chair after everyone else had gone to bed then went into the kitchen for a sip of water and say ‘good night’ to Fido. 
It was then that I had the idea of encircling his neck with my hands without actual touching him, for a few minutes. His bark had returned by the next morning.

The second event occurred a few days later when Fido and I went for a walk along our usual route. I was walking slowly whilst he was sniffing the hedgerow, as dogs do. Suddenly I felt as if I had stepped through an invisible barrier, so I stepped back, then forward again and yes, there it was, a moment’s sensation. A change in my awareness, it was as if I had stepped across a dividing line between two areas without there being any visible change in my surroundings. I was mystified.

Several days later I visited a friend, Ms D, who had instructed me on the solo practice of T.M. 
We discussed these events and of how important it was to maintain ones’ equilibrium, not to sensationalise them or to become self indulgent.
She understood my experiences, seeing them as part of the opening up of the self.

Over the years I have discovered much about the hidden energy and have been able to use it for the benefit of people and animals.

Even today I am visited by those requesting assistance and am generally able to help them. There is nothing quite like their appreciative smiles.