Saturday, 20 February 2010

Wecome Visitors

You never know what lies around the corner nor who will call at your door, not even what sight you may see on the road.

I am not related to these gentlemen, both though, know me as a friend. The white haired man is a tinsmith / craftsman and you can see one of his copper buckets towards the rear of the cart.

The other gentleman, his cousin, is a builder of carts and a wheelwright, together they keep the old ways secure and alive even though times are a changing.

They live the life and walk the talk.

When I first got to know them they lived and still live in traditional wagons, known as Barrel Tops, on a grass verge of a country road, colloquially known as 'the long acre' a place of free grazing & camping. They were there for years and always kept the site tidy.

On the opposite side of the road to them plots of land were sold and large, detached, salubrious bungalows were gradually built until there became a small colony of wealthy persons, some of who adopted an air of snobbishness and made complaints to the authorities about the Travellers.

I believe that I am right in saying that it is EU policy to 'encourage' the removal of the traditional families from the roadside, by either encouraging them to live in council houses or to move to large permanent camps provided by municipal authorities.

The authoritative wheels turned and official was action was taken against my friends. They moved however not into a municipal camp or even into local authority housing but merely 80 metres up the road on the same side, into a two storey detached house. On its extensive grounds they parked their barrel tops.

The house had been left to them in a will some years ago by a generous friend who had died.

I would just loved to have been a fly on the wall, to have seen & heard what the snotty neighbours had to say.

Long Live the Travelling People !

For information on the Irish Travellers visit

Thursday, 18 February 2010

English! which English ?

English speakers and those who are domiciled in England come to Ireland often under the mis-apprehension that they will understand completely the English language that is spoken to them during their visit; allowing of course that it will be spoken in a different dialect and at a different speed.

Nonetheless they can make themselves understood without resorting to a phrase book. Unless of course it is their intention to speak As Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic).

So when I moved to live permanently on this island of Saints and Scholars. I bought a local newspaper to acquaint myself with what was going on in my neighbourhood and I came upon an article which sadly stated 'Man killed while cutting a ditch'. Further on it gave the dreadful details saying that 'he was knocked off his ladder by a passing vehicle'

After reading that I was very confused! As to why he needed a ladder to cut a ditch, unless it was perhaps a deep ditch and the top of the ladder was some how over hanging the road… ?

Sometime later a friend asked me if I was going to cut my ditch, perplexed again I came home looked at all of my boundaries and saw no ditch. I mentioned this business of the ditch when talking to another friend, who explained to me that a ditch in Ireland is a hedge in England. I asked "so you don't use the word hedge then? " "Yes, we do" he said and then explained that an Irish hedge consists of trees or shrubs of a single variety and that a ditch contains a mixed variety.

I was caught again by the use of the word 'bold' in a sentence. "John is a very bold

at times", to which I replied "Bold was not what I would describe him as, more of a wicked old devil ". My friend said "Exactly ! So why do you argue?"

Ah' the penny dropped. Bold in Ireland does not mean courageous.

In similar fashion I was caught again when at a fuel suppliers I asked for a couple of bags of coal. "How many do you want ?" said the man, to which I replied "Two of course".

The retort was "Then why didn't you say two in the first instance, I'm not a mind reader". We then had a quiet discussion and I discovered that colloquially "a couple" in Ireland can be any number and not the specific two as in England.

I was on a learning curve. The Barracks is where the Garda works from and rarely lives in and I would know it as a Police Station.

The towpath is not just a pathway alongside a canal, it can also be a roadside path.

Many are the differences in meaning that exist and therefore I will not remove a visitors' own pleasure be disclosing all.

Before signing off though I will relate a bit of boldness that I played on an Irish companion when we visited England. I had met a friend who invited us to come and have a cup of tea at 3.30pm. On the way I suggested that we had something to eat before visiting Kenneth, to which I was told " Sure, he has invited us to tea we'll get a bite with him" and so we arrived. Ken gave us two cups of tea and two biscuits each, we had a chat then Ken told us that he was due somewhere at 5pm to do some work. So we left, with my companion complaining to me that he was hungry and where the "F****** was the tea?"

The difference being that an invite to have a cup of tea over here is always accompanied by either a pile of ham sandwiches or a plate of fried rashers, eggs, sausages, black and white pudding with bread and butter and cups of tea or coffee!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

February 14th !


A dream,

Is an early morning tide

Softly gentle waves caress

the slopes of a slumbering mind

As rolling pebbles call

memories ashore.

©MRL 1984

The 14th February a celebration for lovers - Valentines Day!

One can easily surmise that it is a day for youth, forgetting that the middle aged and the elderly also have love in their hearts and sweet memories that surface in dreams. For love and attraction belongs to us all!

Love Does

Love does

In flesh



of lust

Love does

in soul


the spirit


Love is


In unity



There are many types of love, shared by couples and none can define that one is better than another. I don't want to get serious on this Happy Day so I will leave you with a bawdy smile!

The APPLE and the KNIFE

Question not

fresh russet fruit

For I, this blade

Would pierce

Your tender skin

Letting your juices

run to air

or even lie wet

upon the ground.

Profanities may assail

from the family tree

But what cares I

For am I

not a blade, sharp

well honed?

And you

A fruit

well spun

lying in the shade

for collection?

Come leap dear

We need no Vicar!

© 1982 MRL

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Bog

The photo above shows a bucket of turf and a milk jug. Both the bucket and the jug were made by Irish Travellers who follow the trade and skill of being tinsmiths who manufacture articles made of sheet metal.

The bucket, a traditional design, is made from a copper cylinder I use it for carrying and holding the turf. It is also watertight and could be used for holding liquids without fear of any leakage. Similarly the milk jug is of the same quality although made from coated steel sheet. The jug is not in use and kept solely as a keepsake.

This type of Turf is a traditional fuel cut on our local bog by a neighbour. Saving the turf (footing the turf) is labour intensive and the whole family is engaged with the work. The quality being very reliant on having a good summer with warm dry winds to blow across the bog plain and dry the sods of wet turf on two sides. By the time that each sod is put into the fire each piece will have been handled about six times.

The bog is an extraordinary place to work, for nowhere else on the land creates such a hunger or thirst. You could eat half a pig go home and consume the other half as well as drinking the Well dry!

Black bog pools stare, glassily

As dumb dark eyes to ashen sky.

Frozen fronds droop down in death

Prehistoric man long infused.

As chalk dust lies in clay form

Under grazed barrowed hill.

And brittle grass crunches as glass

Underfoot as Heron pecks hungrily.

The glazed green pond on

Skeletal sinewy sticks, long.

[17. 01. 2000]

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Goddess Brigit

As a follow on from my last blog, pictured above is a display of a few Brigit's Cross designs that were made here in Ireland and the counties to which they belong.

I really do want stress that remembrance of The Goddess Brigit and her Christian counterpart St. Bridget has never been neglected in Ireland.

To me as a pagan it is the Goddess Brigit who is uppermost in my mind. She is a triple goddess with three very distinct gifts that she shares with us, firstly: Poetry/Inspiration, secondly: Smithcraft and thirdly: Healing.

Brigit is not a goddess to be dallied with, she is as strong as the Morrigan (without the battle associations) and as wise as the Cailleach.

From working with her in meditations came the following poem, that I now share with you.


Some call her Mother. The Mistress of this land

Her body hidden haunts wild places for man

Whose calloused raw hands worked nippled

Cairns to stand proud on mountains

Hunted, fought bloodily among heathered tresses

Ploughed deeply her fertile plains to feed

Warrior lords, foreign, crippled with greed.

In Her a sea smooth cave, that once sheltered Fintan.

Crabs with dead mans fingers, sought a womb watery grave.

To rebirth rebellion - Freedom and the marrow

Of Her Favour!

© MRL 11. 09. 2003