Too Sweet to be Wholesome

A dominant mantra in this crazy world of ours is all about surrounding oneself with positive people and positivity and it’s a mantra that makes me very uneasy.

A quick google looking for images on this topic yielded a whole pile of this kind of stuff:

negativity 4

negativity 3negativity 2negativity


Where I come unstuck on all this is where does it leave people who are sad, depressed, grieving …?

It would appear to leave them alone and palely loitering (John Keats) or else in the position where they are being expected to put  big smarmy smiles on their faces in order to look like they are on top of the world.

The other thing is that there is an inherent sense of  me, me, me and blatant self-absorption about all this.

Is this the kind of belief system we want our children to grow up in? I certainly don’t want it for any child of mine and shudder to think where it will lead if  it is soaked up by the generations who are being bombarded with it, especially 0n social media.

Having been hit with a pile of  this self-centred, individualistic awfulness on Facebook and Twitter this morning, I found this gentle image in the woods extremely reassuring and uplifting:

Caring Hands

Caring Hands












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101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents # 15 ~ Grief

'The Good Old Sea'

‘The Good Old Sea’

There tends to be a sense of  sense of loss and grief   throughout the whole process from when one’s elderly parents first show signs of frailty to way beyond when they die.

Grief isn’t, by any means, a feeling that somehow starts at the moment of death and follows some sort of highway that leads to a town called All Done.

Grief varies in its intensity and takes many, many different forms but I think it’s fair to say that the place it is probably felt most is in the heart.

I really like this short poem by Australian poet, Michael Leunig,  which relates to degrees of  heartache and ways to cope with it:

When the Heart

When the heart
is cut or cracked or broken
Do not clutch it
Let the wound lie open
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt
And let it sting
Let a stray dog lick it
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell
And let it ring
(Michael Leunig)
Posted in 101 Ways to Cope with Losing Elderly Parents, Grief, Losing Elderly Parents | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Kilkenny Fountain

Killenny Fountain


wild splashes of hope

dancing with the august sky




Posted in Connections, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Billy Collins, It’s Game On!

Billy Collins at The Parade Tower, Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny,  August 2014

Billy Collins at The Parade Tower, Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny,
August 2014

Saturday night was special for me as I went to a poetry reading by arguably America’s best known and most well-loved contemporary poet at the Kilkenny Arts Festival. I have been reading his work for the last three years now since he was catapulted into my consciousness via the poetry thread that I set up on Linkedin back in September 2011.

I was a tad apprehensive about even attending the event because I felt that past readings in Kilkenny by Irish greats like Seamus Heaney, Michael Longely, Paul Muldoon and Paul Durcan were setting the bar very high and I felt I was setting myself and Billy Collins up for a messy anti-climax. But the dithers were dissolved by hearing Seamus Heaney’s quiet urgings to just go and enjoy what was to be enjoyed and learn what was to be learned.

Well, Billy Collins didn’t even look like I imagined he would from the photos I’d seen. He kinda stood out as he was wearing red trousers that were very definitely 0f the arty kind.

I’d been expecting a Woody Allen type accent but it was much less American and can only be described as velvety.

Billy Collins’ poetry is ‘simple’ on the face of it and is about the most mundane of things.  It reminded me of  occasions when I’ve seen world class sportspeople, like Seve Ballesteros, Bjorn Borg, Sonia O’Sullivan – it all seemed so easy, effortless and natural but you know that there has to have been a lifetime’s dedication, training and determination involved as well.

Billy Collins can have you guffawing, blubbering, doing mental somersaults all in the space of a few lines. How he turns the world inside out, upside down, takes it on full force or just caresses it gently to peer inside is beyond me.

The reading and subsequent Q&A were tantalisingly short but it’s only now that I’m beginning to process words that Billy Collins scattered around the Parade Tower of Kilkenny Castle.  I guess they will surface in all sorts of different contexts over the coming months, years.

For now, I can’t stop thinking of how he talked about how writing a poem is something he does as a single experience. As he said, when he gets an idea, It’s game on, and there isn’t a question of writing a stanza and then heading off to a movie. No, the draft is written in a notebook, and subsequent revisions are about improving, improving, improving ….. be it rhythm, assonance or whatever. When he finally puts the poem on computer, its shape is crucially important because, for him, a poem is like a piece of sculpture.

Oh, and I loved how he talked about poem titles ~ some, he sees as just icing but others are fundamental to the whole poem.

Lots and lots to ponder ~ and you’re right Billy Collins, women want more than similes!

And you’re also right to wonder which American poets are ‘big’ over here in Ireland. For me, it’s Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Galway Kinnell and YOU.

I’m interested to hear what others think on the matter! 

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle




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An Irish Welcome in Kilkenny City

I was in Kilkenny City this evening to hear the great American poet, Billy Collins, read at the Parade Tower of Kilkenny Castle as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival.

The very first welcome I received was about 10 metres from where I parked my car and it came from a Kilkenny cat who purred and purred on a wall, calling for my attention.

As one with a big interest in hurling and basically being star-stuck by the Kilkenny Team, otherwise known as The Cats, it seemed just right that this would be my welcome to the place where my beloved parents met way back in the early 1940s.

Talk about ‘connections’ ~ eh?

Kilkenny Cat!

Kilkenny Cat!

Posted in Connections, Ireland, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Give Thanks and Thorny Issues about Personal Blogging.

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

It’s been a roller-coaster of a few days at a number of levels and I felt it best not to write here as I felt I could say things that I might later regret.  Perhaps some bloggers operate at a far more distanced, professional level than I do and press ahead with posting no matter what’s going on.  I could certainly do that  if this was a different type of blog but one of the features of a ‘Personal Blog,’ as I see it anyway,  is that they mirror what’s going on in the writer’s mind/heart ~ or else demand that one dons a mask and that’s not really something I’m very interested in doing.

Anyway, last night I had the most delicious swim at high tide in Garrarus and it seemed to wash away the angst. It was one of the highest tides of the year and I was there just as night was closing in.

As I lay floating over the big, friendly waves, the words ‘Give Thanks’ came to me. They always make me smile because way back in the early 1980s, I yearned for a pine bed but being an impoverished student such a luxury seemed way beyond my grasp.

However, I put all my faith and trust in a friend who knew all about horses and he swore that a horse called Give Thanks would win me the price of the bed over time if I invested the £5 I managed to scrape together from coins that I found in old purses, backs of drawers and down in the depths of ragged pockets.

Give Thanks was trained by Jim Bolger, who has gone on to be one of the leading trainers in the world of racing. Give Thanks and her jockey Declan Gillespie kept on winning for me and she even won the Irish Oaks, which is for three-year-old thoroughbred fillies, in 1983.

My pine bed materialised and was beyond precious in my little bedsit  apartment in Dublin.

Last night, in lovely Garrarus, I gave thanks for all the good and the great things that have happened over the years and there have and continue to be many.

By the way, the ‘friend’ who spotted Give Thanks all those years ago became ‘hubby’ almost ten years later!

Horizon of Hope at Garrarus, August 13, 2014.

Horizon of Hope at Garrarus, August 13, 2014.

I’d love to know how other personal bloggers deal with writing/not writing when on an emotional roller-coaster? Do you pour it all out; write about something ‘objective'; refrain from posting or …..?


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Ireland ~ The Land of Horses

Summer GrazingHorses are a fundamental part of Ireland and Irishness. We stand tall on the world stage when it comes to horse-breeding, horse-racing, show-jumping and so many great names and places comes to mind when horses are mentioned in the Irish context.  How about Arkle, Redrum, Dawn Run, Moscow Flyer, Nijinsky, Shergar, Australia,  Vincent O’ Brien,  Tom Dreaper, Aidan O’ Brien, Jim Bolger, Capt. Michael Tubridy, Eddie Macken, Paul Darragh,  Coolmore Stud, The Curragh, Punchestown, Fairyhouse, Pat Taaffe,  Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty,  The Royal Dublin Horse Show,  Laytown Races …  just for starters?

Horses have always been part of my landscape. I loved hearing my father telling me about his younger brother, Michael, who was a world class show jumper and nothing soothed me more at bedtime than Mother telling me about her happy childhood days on a farm with her beloved pony, Jock.  I must have read every single book that was ever written about young girls and their ponies and was fortunate to be brought to places like the Dublin Horse Show and race meetings all round the country.

I have what I consider to be my very own ‘horse show’ here in Tramore every day when I bring the dogs out along Cliff Road to Newtown Wood. There is a field, with a spectacular view of  Tramore Bay, which is the grazing place of the friendliest horses I know. These are horses that trot gently over to the gate to be patted.  I could spend hours there running my fingers through their manes and gazing into their big brown eyes.

I guess most Irish people have a special field such as this in which noble, nuzzling friends reside and ones that evoke thoughts of echoing hooves and contented whinnying.










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