Sunday, 23 July 2017


There are places which call to me and attract me by an indefinable quality. Sometimes it is a certain type of light that flows over the landscape or a peaceful secludedness, a stillness in the air. It might occur in a forest, on a river bank, on a mound in a field or in my chair at home.

 Copper Beech, this one is roughly 150 years of age in Coole Park, Gort, Co Galway
it is known as The Autograph Tree.

Perhaps a junior Stag

I was lucky that he turned to face me

A King Stag, isn't he wonderful ?

A particular ambience arrives when I sit sometimes, it is as though a large unseen pair of wings carries me away into a different state of being and I wander amongst the clouds, seeing a myriad other creatures and beings who inhabit a place where harmony reigns. Thus I return refreshed and knowing…

This me

Coole Park is one of those places, The Beara Peninsula and The Burren are two others although they do not complete my list of special areas.

Perhaps you also have special places that call out to you ?

Friday, 21 July 2017

GALWAY continued.

After we had had our lunch in Galway my desire was to visit Spanish Arch which I had heard much about over the years and never visited. Or so I thought.

Before making our way to Spanish Arch I spied the hull of a large vessel in the distance. Well, as  most of you probably know I am attracted by almost anything that floats and so I just had to take a detour and see what was what.

The Galway City Dock

A small tanker but large enough.

An Irish Customs patrol boat.

The photographer receives a salute - it must have been my
bushy beard !

Spanish Arch

 On arriving there it dawned on me that I was standing besides the Galway Museum, which we had visited a couple of years ago and I had never noticed the arch !

The Spanish Arch was built in 1584, originally as an extension of the city walls and designed to protect the quays. The name is in fact a misnomer, as there is no proven association between the Spanish in Galway and the building of the Arch. In the past it was known as The Blind Arch and is located on the site more appropriately known as Ceann na Bhalla (The Head of the Wall).

I took a liking to this cheery fellow.

Across the fast flowing River Corrib is the ancient settlement of Cladach

Across the river from the Spanish Arch sits the ancient settlement of Cladach, meaning ‘stony shore’, or as it is now known Claddagh. The area above the shore where the Corrib River meets Galway Bay, was once home to Galway fishermen and their families. 

Located just outside of the Town of the Tribes (as Galway is known), the settlement dates back to AD 500, one of the oldest fishing towns in Ireland. 

Old Cladach

Due to severe out break of TB among the inhabitants in 1927 the old unhealthy thatched cottages of the Claddagh were demolished in the 1930s.  Council houses and other more modern homes replaced them yet the memory of the small Irish-speaking town's traditions and customs still live on. 

Despite its close proximity to Galway city, Claddagh remained a completely separate entity for centuries because of the wall surrounding Galway which kept a divide between this village and the Anglo-Norman city across the river. The community also had it’s own King who was elected annually, today it is an honorary title.

With the sole rights to fish in Galway Bay, the Claddagh fishermen thrived and their fresh catches were sold by the Claddagh women at Spanish Arch and at other places thought the city. It is believed that by the early 19th century, there were as many as 820 fishermen in the village who ran around 80 boats. 

The wives of the Claddagh fisher men

A Claddagh (Galway) Hooker
In boats such as these the Claddagh men would have earned their living.

The sound wobbles a bit during one part of the recording 
and then comes good, so don’t switch off.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

GALWAY, a City of Curiosities.

We took ourselves to Galway city the other day, leaving the car at home and travelling by Iarnród Éireann - Irish Rail. I have long appreciated the comfort of Irish rail and this dates back to 1986 when I journeyed from Belfast to Dublin’s Connolly Street station on a bog standard British Rail coach with dusty compartments. Boarding the Cork bound train at Dublin’s Huston Station I was delighted to find myself in a sparkling carriage that looked like the inside of an airliner.
Today Irish trains are still as comfortable with wifi, charging sockets and a refreshment trolley service, so we made ourselves at home and settled down to watch the green countryside roll by.


Galway, situated as it is at the head of Galway Bay, is an attractive city with the atmosphere of a coastal holiday town. It has an international flavour and you never know who you are going to see or meet on its crowded streets. There is lot to see in this town within walking distance, which needs to be done slowly for there is much to see above your head, as well as at eye level for the many and varied curiosities can easily be missed.

One of the busy streets.

During the Middle Ages, Galway (Irish: "Gaillimh") was ruled by an oligarchy of fourteen merchant families. Their names were Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, Ffont, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris, and Skerritt. These were the "tribes" of Galway. The city thrived on international trade, and in the Middle Ages, it was the principal Irish port for trade with Spain and France.

Charlie Byrne’s has been a cultural centre in Galway for over two decades, and celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2014. As an integral part of Galway’s artistic landscape, we regularly host book launches, readings, and other cultural events. Over the years, Charlie Byrne’s has hosted some of Ireland’s best-known writers and musicians as well as international literary legends. A great place to browse in on a moist day and chat to Charlie on whatever subject you like.
For more information

Tigh Neachtain's
A good corner house to sit outside, drink and watch the world go past. 

Tigh Neachtain became a meeting place in 1894 and is the former town house of Colonel Richard Martin 15th Jan 1754 - 4th Jan 1834, who was an Irish politician and campaigner against cruelty to animals. He was known as "Humanity Dick", a nickname bestowed on him by King George IV. Martin succeeded in getting the pioneering Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822, nicknamed 'Martin's Act', passed into British law, which was the basis for the RSPCA. Proficient with both pistol and sword, he was also a serial duelist, reputed to having fought thirty duels. He died in France in his eightieth year .

Plenty of room with comfortable chairs and good company to while away the hours.

It is not just the paintings that are colourful !

Even the Hare has his telescope to view the scene and see the sea.


Many firms make different versions of the Claddagh Ring. Dillon of Galway is the only firm still in existence since 1750 making the Original Ring at 1, William Street, Galway.
The tradition of how to wear this ring is very distinctive. If the owner of the ring wears it with the crown pointing towards the finger nail, he or she is said to be in love or married. To wear the ring with heart pointing to the finger nail, he or she is said to be unattached to anyone.
The notice immediately above the entrance reads:

"This establishment is dedicated to
Fair play and a square deal.
No man should expect less
Nor be given more"

This young woman caught my eye as her outfit echoed 
the paintwork around her. 

Druid was founded in Galway in 1975 by graduates of the National University of Ireland, Galway, Garry Hynes, Mick Lally (1945 – 2010) and Marie Mullen – the first professional theatre company in Ireland to be based outside Dublin.
Druid has been based in a building on a lane off Quay Street in Galway's Latin Quarter since 1979. The lane itself was renamed Druid Lane in 1996 in honour of the company's 21st birthday.
Now known as The Mick Lally Theatre (named in memory of the iconic Irish actor and founder member)

We are not yet done with Galway City there much is more in store to share with you. 

Friday, 7 July 2017


We have been feeding the birds every winter, from October through to the end of April, for some years now. This year we made the decision to feed them throughout the summer months too with one exception, no peanuts. We feed them on a small amount of softened cous-cous, prepared by pouring hot water over the grain and leaving it to absorb, swell and cool, until cold.

Our local woodland

Our four footed neighbours

A fledgling, speckled like a thrush.

We’ve enjoyed watching the parent birds feeding their young and the odd looking fledglings, who are very different in looks to the adults. 
One bird, who feeds on the windowsill, looks like a dark thrush and yet the parent looks like a  blackbird complete with a yellow beak.
Is this a young blackbird, I wonder, or is it something different, a cuckoo perhaps ? 
Is there an ornithologist or a twitcher reading this blog who could help ?

Same fellow beak wide open expecting food.

This summer we have seen more birds than previous years and noticed a lot of different varieties too. Some that we have been able to identify and others that we were unable to put a name to.
I think that the rising temperatures and change of climate may very well have attracted a wider range of species to Ireland.


© MRL 2017
Same handsome fledgling

One photograph that I have never taken is an image of Mrs H feeding and conversing with her feathered friends as I would never disturb those private moments when she communes with nature.

How do you commune with nature ?

Monday, 3 July 2017


The other day Mrs H, whilst walking up from her studio, looked at the western eave of our cottage and noticed something strange.  

“Come outside and look at this odd looking nest ” she called.

I did and took my camera with me. 
It was large, it was fawn in colour and it buzzed.

Searching on the internet we soon identified it as a wasps’ nest, 
the first that either of us had ever seen.

Steve Butler prepares
to attack.

A quick study of the Golden Pages directory revealed a list of wasp nest removing specialists.
We rang three as I now I refuse to leave messages on answering machines, experience has taught me that very few firms ever reply, so the business went to the first real person who answered.
Mrs H spoke to Steve Butler, who lives in a nearby town, he was very friendly and quoted a reasonable price for ridding us of the threatening stinging menaces.

Steve in attack mode

He was as good as his word and arrived on time, complete with his kit to efficiently destroy the menace of these dreadful stinging insects. 
Although, I have to say this, that when I lived in Somerset, England and used to help a friend to make cider in his barn. There were times when the wasps after feeding on pressed apple juice were so drunk that they would crawl up our arms without stinging us. Never the less, the experience was not pleasant and we avoided flinching just in case their reflex to our movement evoked a sting.

The wasps where the arrows point have a 
coating of Steve's powder & will shortly be dead.

Steve told me not to destroy the nest for a couple of days and to allow the powder that he pumped time to work [kill] any wasp embryos that were in incubation process.
So tomorrow I shall, with help of a long pole and a step ladder, remove all traces of the offending empty nest which will be ceremonially burnt on a garden fire.

Have you any experiences of wasps that you would like to share ?

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A Promising Future


Something in the air perhaps, certainly there has been a flow of positivity in the airwaves today, a refreshing surge of inspiration has been delivered to us by three men. Three men of independent thought and belief, each encouraging us to stand up and help to make necessary changes to our world for the right reasons.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Dublin Pride Parade today, said 
“ I pledge as Taoiseach to use my office, for as long as I hold it, to advance the cause of LGBT rights, to press for marriage equality across Ireland, to speak up for LGBT rights around the world where they are under attack, and to push for the implementation of the sexual health strategy here at home at a time when it is more important than ever.”

He continued, "So, I don’t really ask anyone to celebrate the fact that we have a Taoiseach who is a gay man. But rather we should celebrate the fact that we live in a free country, in a democracy where we have a Taoiseach who happens to be gay.”

- We are able to support or criticise him, based on our own beliefs and principles which, to me, is true freedom.

President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams in Belfast, at a Sinn Féin conference, predicted a successful vote to end partition could come within a "few short years".

"We need a new approach, one which unlocks unionist opposition to a new Ireland by reminding them of their historic place here and of the positive contribution they have made to society on this island. 
Instead of concentrating on the negative aspects of our four centuries of shared history I suggest that we embrace the areas of agreement and of co-operation; of good neighbourliness and the common good. A truly united Ireland will emerge from the reconciliation of the people of this island based on equality."

In England Jeremy Corbyn on The Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Music Festival gave his audience wise words.

After all of the recent gloom and despair that has rocked the people of theses islands it is good to end the week with hope.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

No Apologies

Grenfill Tower

Conservative corporate criminals 
Patently corrupt all human law
avoided fire recommendations
Cared nothing for Safety
other than a rich salary
or a knighthood, perhaps ?

It was avoidable you know 
those tides of hot dense smoke
flamed a flow of terrible anguish
ceasing as cindered corpses
or as unrecognisable dust.
All of those deaths unnecessary. 

Survivors at your feet mrs may
only wanted words of remorse
care, respect and tenderness.
Your burden. Tory truth prevented
Killed immediate contact silenced
your poisonous tongue. dead.

We know now what was hidden…
Decision to avoid action. 
Take a risk, Save a few pound.
2009 to 2017 was it worthwhile mrs may ?
Not your life gone up in smoke
and none of them your relations.

Callous Conservatives caused
Grenfill Tower deaths.

©MRL 2017

Extract from Irish Examiner 19th June 2017

Ministers in the UK were repeatedly warned that fire regulations were not keeping people safe, the BBC says leaked letters reveal.

The broadcaster said letters show ministers were warned that people living in high rise blocks like Grenfell Tower were "at risk".

The dozen letters, sent by the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group in the aftermath of a 2009 fatal fire in Lakanal House, south London, warned the British Government "could not afford to wait for another tragedy", according to Panorama.

The parliamentary group wrote in March 2014: "Surely ... when you already have credible evidence to justify updating ... the guidance ... which will lead to saving of lives, you don't need to wait another three years in addition to the two already spent since the research findings were updated, in order to take action?

"As there are estimated to be another 4,000 older tower blocks in the UK, without automatic sprinkler protection, can we really afford to wait for another tragedy to occur before we amend this weakness?"
After further correspondence, then government minister Liberal Democrat Stephen Williams, replied: "I have neither seen nor heard anything that would suggest that consideration of these specific potential changes is urgent and I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward."

The group replied: "We're at a loss to understand, how you had concluded that credible and independent evidence which had life safety implications, was NOT considered to be urgent.

"As a consequence the group wishes to point out to you that should a major fire tragedy, with loss of life, occur between now and 2017, in for example, a residential care facility or a purpose built block of flats, where the matters which had been raised here, were found to be contributory to the outcome, then the group would be bound to bring this to others' attention."

Former cabinet minister Eric Pickles received a letter about fire regulations from the parliamentary group in February 2014, according to the BBC.

In December 2015, the all-party group wrote to the former Conservative minister James Wharton, and warned about the risk of fires spreading on the outside of buildings with cladding.

"Today's buildings have a much higher content of readily-available combustible material. Examples are timber and polystyrene mixes in structure, cladding and insulation.

"This fire hazard results in many fires because adequate recommendations to developers simply do not exist. There is little or no requirement to mitigate external fire spread."

"This fire hazard results in many fires because adequate recommendations to developers simply do not exist. There is little or no requirement to mitigate external fire spread."

Former Conservative minister Gavin Barwell, who was recently appointed British Prime Minister Theresa May's chief of staff, received further calls for action in September last year.

In November 2016 Mr Barwell replied to say his department had been looking at the regulations, and would make a statement "in due course".

In April 2017 Mr Barwell wrote to say he did "acknowledge that producing a statement on building regulations has taken longer than I had envisaged", 

Friday, 16 June 2017


Our supper this evening contained, in amongst the crispy green salad leaves, that not so rare a specimen known as  Arion distinctus Eire or the Irish green slug and yet when treated with the culinary skills that
the dearly loved Mrs H possesses, are also known as Dolmades. 
There were as you can see five of them on my plate, wrapped in giant Irish shamrock leaves, which were grown in our own garden. They were then cooked and pickled gently in white Guinness for seventy two hours, drained and finally stored in a cool place for four weeks ‘till matured.

The Arion distinctus Eire were utterly delicious, very filling as you can no doubt imagine and put the rest of the meal’s ingredients as nice as they were, in the shade.
Mrs H’s skills as a dedicated nocturnal Slug hunter are renowned for miles around. Neighbours have been known to drive to our boundaries with their night glasses and notebooks following her at a safe distance as she makes her selection from a large herd of well fed slithering Irish slugs.

A Slug Supper

And so I wish you bon appétit!

For further information and recipes -

Monday, 12 June 2017


Going through some of unpublished photo’s that I took at the Woodfield Market last month. I came across one of them which gave me confirmation of what I have always thought and could never prove.‘The Little People’[Fairies] always wear the costumes of the present time and because they do so, they are rarely seen today.

Can you spot him ?

Look to where the arrow is pointing

I have been spending a lot of time in recent days studying media reports, from various sources, on what is happening with our nearest neighbours, those on the island that lies between Ireland and Europe.

10 reasons to be cheerful - Not

© The Times 2017

It seems to me that there is an antithesis in the association of Mrs May and the DUP because the accepted social rights of individuals within England, Wales and Scotland differ greatly from those of the DUP.

The D.U.P.
Led by Arlene Foster.

About the DUP
With a third of its members drawn from the late Rev Ian Paisley’s staunchly Protestant Free Presbyterian church, it is unsurprising that recent research found more than half of the Democratic Unionist party “would mind a lot” if a close relative married someone from a different christian sect.

THE LEADER OF DUP is Arlene Foster and their membership includes:

Ian Paisley Jr. who in 2005 described gay marriage as “immoral, offensive and obnoxious.”

Gregory Campbell, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Nigel Dodds, Paul Girvan and
Emma Little-Pengelly. 
Little-Pengelly, the 38-year old MP for South Belfast, was endorsed last month by an organisation linked to the Ulster Defence Association, a loyalist paramilitary group. 

David Simpson, MP for Upper Bann since 2005, is strongly opposed to abortion. He has described pro-choice supporters as “anti-democratic, anti-libertarian and anti-human rights”.

Gavin Robinson, Jim Shannon, Gregory Campbell and 
Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim, a former lord mayor of Belfast who has said he thinks climate change is a con.

Personally I would be very loathe to even have a cup of tea with any of them and I do wonder if Mrs May has any understanding of what these people are like.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

" For the freedom of this island our people died"

Recent additions to the Mountmellick Monument.

Lights and Names of Comrades

and more names of those who gave....

and hand crafted benches.

 made by a local craftsman.

We are fortunate to have statements from some of Mountmellick people who took an active part in the liberation of Ireland. One of those was the Adjutant of 4th Battalion, Laois Brigade James Ramsbottom, of O’Moore Street, Mountmellick, Co. Laois. 

“On 23 April 1916, when the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood finalised arrangements for the Easter Rising, it integrated Cumann na mBan, along with the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army, into the 'Army of the Irish Republic'. Patrick Pearse was appointed overall Commandant-General and James Connolly Commandant- General of the Dublin Division.”

Wherever there was an IRA Battalion or an Active Service Unit [Flying Column] there was also a unit of the  Cumann na mBan [the women’s organisation] that did great work in providing support in the fight towards an independent Ireland.

“Looking through the records of this amazing period, one cannot help but be struck by the modernity of these women. For all their studied antiquarianism and the plundering of Ireland’s distant past for inspiration, they were very much of their own time. Many were highly educated, three out of the six women in the Second Dáil were graduates. They earned their own living, demanded equal pay and were independent minded, bold and confrontational. The women were prepared to defy convention and break rules. It was to warlike heroines such as Granuaile and Maeve rather than more conventionally ‘feminine’ women like Emer that they looked for role models.

According to IRA Commandant Michael Brennan, the flying columns would have collapsed without Cumann na mBan. “In despatch carrying, scouting and intelligence work, all of which are highly dangerous, they did far more than the soldiers . . . the more dangerous the work the more willing they were to do it.”