Tuesday, 22 April 2014

On The Road - Part One

I sometimes feel ashamed that the average tourist who comes to Ireland sees more of the country than I have.
While I know our  own wee corner of the country quite well, I haven't seen many of the famous sights which attract visitors from all over the world to our Emerald Isle.
And the reason for that greenness - rain- is the very reason why summer holidays are usually spent somewhere around the Mediterranean as we like to get some sunshine with our culture.
Last month, as I took our son and his portfolio around a number of art colleges, I also managed to do some sight-seeing.
The Rock of Cashel, pictured above, attracts around half a million visitors a year, according to the helpful guide.
Thankfully, March is definitely not high tourist season in Ireland, so we had The Rock more or less to  ourselves, with just a handful of American and Italian tourists all enthralled by the old ancient stones atop a rocky outcrop.
As the wind whipped our faces, it was easy to see why the site  had been chosen, initially as a fortress, as it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside - and any enemies that might be approaching!
Once the seat of the kings of Munster, the Rock of Cashel has been a centre of power going back to the 4th or 5th century AD.
In 1101, the King of Cashel gave the Rock to Church,  and shortly afterwards the first of a series of large ecclesiastical buildings were built  on the site,  including the impressive  round tower.
Cormac's Chapel, currently under conservation, was consecrated in 1134 and is one of the earliest and finest Romanesque churches in Ireland.
The Gothic cathedral dates back to the 13th century with alterations  added in the 15th century. It was used up until 1749. The graveyard  has been in use up until recent times.
Cashel itself seems a delightful town with lots of inviting shops, pubs and restaurants but unfortunately we didn't have time for any further exploration.
It is easily accessed, just a short distance off the M8 Dublin to Cork motorway.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has well and truly sprung and we are enjoying the most beautiful weather. Sitting in  the garden this morning, still in my dressing gown (it IS well secluded), with a cup of tea, I listened to the glad singing of birds in the trees, the buzzing of bees awoken by the sun,  and the baaing of lambs.

I love  lambs. I love watching them take their first faltering steps, staying close to their mothers' sides.  I love watching them grow in confidence, wandering off and then baaing 'til they find their mothers again. I love watching them play, chasing each other in mad games of 'tag' around the field, and most of all, I love watching them jump.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

What I Read in March

I had such good intentions for March. I had planned on reading three books as part of The Year In Books hosted by Laura of Circle of Pine Trees  but it turned out to be such a busy month that I only managed one.
'City of Fate' is the second historical novel for teenagers by Irish author Nicola Pierce, and is published by The O'Brien Press of Dublin.
I don't normally read  teenage fiction, and indeed there was no such thing as teenage fiction when I was a teenager, but a review copy landed on my desk at work so I decided to read it.
The book opens as Yuri celebrates his 14th birthday by swimming in the river Volga with  his friends. As they splash in the water, the drone of planes fill the sky and sirens warn citizens of an air-raid. After months  of threats, the Germans are finally bombing Stalingrad. Yuri spends the next two weeks hiding in the cellar of his home with his mother and baby sister, as the relentless bombing of the city continues.
After she leaves with the ailing baby, Yuri is left to fend for himself, before befriending first, five year old Peter, and then Tanya. Together they live on their wits in a city invaded by the enemy.
Far off in the countryside, Vlad and his classmates are forced to join the Russian army and march to defend Stalingrad. Those who try to turn back are shot on the spot so they have no choice but to advance to the front. 
 They must quickly lose their boyish innocence as they take part in one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War.
Although written for  younger readers, 'City of Fate' pulls no punches in its descriptions of the brutality of war. Telling the story through the eyes of children, it focuses on their resilience in the face of horror. 
I found it a most interesting read and it would certainly be useful to any teenagers studying European history.
As March was a hectic month, I only managed to start the second book on my list - 'A Star Called Harry' by Roddy Doyle, and  I've also started reading 'French Women Don't Get Facelifts' by Mireille Guiliano. I'll tell you what I thought of them at the end of April. 

Monday, 31 March 2014

March Scavenger Hunt

Another month of fun looking for images to match the words set by Greenthumb for the Scavenger Hunt.

M is for
Musical Instrument

My husband's new vintage banjo.


Normally I'm switching on my computer at work at 9am but as I had a few days holidays in March, I thought this photo of our neighbour's sheep would make a nicer picture.


I don't know what these berries are called but obviously the birds don't like them as they have survived the winter.

Lit Up

Dundalk's Town Hall was lit up with green light for St Patrick's Day


I love my Ikea cheese grater -it makes grating cheese a doddle


Like my people I give out about my job from time to time but I wouldn't like to have to hold an advertising poster for a living.


This brickwork proved irresistible to graffiti artists in Limerick city.


Vintage style cutlery from the Caroline Donnelly Eclectic range at Dunnes Stores.


I'm loving all the spring flowers especially these 'Firecracker' Polyanthus which were a Mothers' Day gift.


How do  you like crisps? On their own, in a sandwich, or in a bar of chocolate? These limited edition Tayto bars are sought after but don't appeal to me at all.


A collection of tickets are reminders of holidays, concerts and sporting events.

A Coloured Door

The bright yellow door of the Galway jewellery shop where the Claddagh ring was first made.