Memories of Val Doonican

I was listening to BBC Radio Five Live in the early hours of this morning and was really saddened to hear of the death of Waterford-born singer Val Doonican.

Val Donnican in 1971 1927-2015 Photo: www.wikimedia,org

Val Donnican in 1971

Val was a huge part of my growing up and we watched him on his BBC television show for years and years every Saturday night  from when it started in 1965. Those were the days of the black and white telly, the roaring fire and the whole family gathered ~ Mother and Dad on their easy chairs and us kids on the sofa ~ me the youngest invariably in the lumpy bit in the middle but feeling all secure and nestled.

In the early 1970s, when we were living in Drogheda, it was like a dream come true when news hit town that Val Doonican was coming to perform in concert. It was the first concert of a ‘big star’ that I ever went to and Mother and I revelled in every moment.

I got Val Doonican’s autograph that night and was stunned with the fact that he took the time to talk with eleven-year-old me as if I was the only person in the world.

So many songs, so many memories associated with a man who hailed from my native Co. Waterford and made such a success of life from tough beginnings.

Posted in Co. Waterford | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

16th Anniversary of Helicopter Tragedy in Tramore

Monument to Helicopter Crew of Rescue 111 on Tramore Promenade

Monument to Helicopter Crew of Rescue 111 on Tramore Promenade

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the tragic crash of the Irish Air Corps Rescue Helicopter 111 in the sand dunes of  Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford in 1999.

As I walked down the Promenade here in Tramore early this morning, my thoughts were with the families, friends and colleagues of the four crew members who were killed on that dark, dark day in Irish aviation history.

The four brave men who died on their way home from a rescue mission in dense fog were:

Sgt.  Patrick Mooney, Stamullen, Co. Meath ~ aged 34 

Capt. Dave O’ Flaherty, Tullamore, Co. Offaly ~ aged 30 

Capt. Michael Baker, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford ~ aged 28 

Cpl. Niall Byrne, Killiney, Co. Dublin ~ aged 25 

These men will never, ever be forgotten by the people of  Tramore and there is intense goodwill and love for the Rescue Helicopter  and its crews, based at Waterford Airport,  which serve us all with such heart, altruism and skill.

But, today, let us remember, and give thanks to, those four young men who paid the ultimate price in the service of others.

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

Posted in Tramore Co. Waterford | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Just a Second

I love the idea of our ‘leap second’ tonight. Time fascinates me ~ how it can slow down and speed up in such amazing ways.

Some of our radio presenters here in Ireland were suggesting today that a second is no big deal and were questioning what all the fuss is about.

There mere mention of seconds brings me back to the old wooden kitchen clock with the very loud tick-tock that was a part of my growing up. So many moments spent watching the second hand move ~ moments of wild anticipation as well as angst.

And, of course, a second is like an age when it comes to games like tennis. Hitting the ball that second earlier can make such a difference as can reacting and getting moving a split second sooner to a perfect drop-shot.

How about the zillion thoughts that can flash through one’s mind in a single second when senses are heightened. Or, the second that one first meets the eyes of a person who is to play a huge role in one’s life.

Seconds that have passed are gone forever and so much can be done in a single second. The click of a camera, for example, capturing a moment forever.

Here’s the extra  photo that I seized tonight. I know that this lovely marigold in my rockery will never look quite the same again:




Posted in Stepping Out | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Love All


I’ve been giddy with excitement over the last while waiting for Wimbledon to start and certainly haven’t been disappointed today with lots of great matches and, of course, the perfect excuse to indulge in scrumptious strawberries and cream.

I simply can’t imagine living in a house that wasn’t tennis mad. Hubby and I met through our love of tennis and son, Harry, is a total addict as well.

This is the fortnight of the year when there are no issues whatsoever about the remote control, which can be such a pain in the butt for the other 50 weeks!

So, don’t be surprised if I’m a little giddy over the next two weeks!

Roger Federrer's Colours!

Roger Federrer’s Colours!

Posted in Tennis | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Great Aunt Anna

There are Great Aunts and there are ‘great’ aunts and Aunt Anna was both to me.

She was born in 1900 and died on June 29th, 1991 ~ just a few months short of my wedding day.



Anna was my maternal grandmother’s young sister and one of those ‘forever young’ people. She was more like a sister to my mother than an aunt and I find it very difficult to describe what she was to me ~ I think I’d simply say ‘Anna.’

I have never met anyone remotely like her. She was about as fun-loving as it gets; mad into sport; generous to a fault and a supreme romantic.

She married for the first time, aged 72, and was the best ad I ever came across for marriage. She relished every moment of the eight years she had with her husband.

She lived half way between Dublin and the various homes my parents had when I was based in Dublin. I’d always call into her on my travels home at weekends and we’d spend hours chatting. She was always mad to hear about the latest romances in my life and if she got a sniff of anything serious, she’d teasingly ask me ‘where’s the ring?’  I was in my twenties then and would tell her that I had nearly 50 years to go to be in the same league as her ~ getting married at 72.

I think of her with special love tonight as we shared a passion for both playing tennis and watching Wimbledon (which starts tomorrow.) She was the person who bought me my first decent tennis racket ~ a swish wooden Maxply ~ when I won my first tournament aged 12.

She spent the last 4 years of her life in a nursing home here in Tramore, where she had spent many holidays with my parents between 1948 and 1963. Whenever I was home, I would head up to visit her and, as she was a real night owl, I tended to go up to her late in the evening.

We talked about absolutely everything ~ nothing was out of bounds. She was an avid reader of Cosmopolitan right up to the end, smoked like a trooper and had an eye for a good-looking ‘young man!’

She was all set to come to my wedding in September 1991, but got a very bad dose of shingles in the June and went into decline very rapidly. I was with her when she died in the early hours of June 29th, 1991, holding her soft hand which had always been such a comfort to me.

I’ve never been a person for rings. However, when it came to my wedding day, it seemed more than appropriate to wear the slim golden ring with a sliver of sparkling diamonds that Anna had given me shortly before she died.





Posted in Connections | Tagged , , | 30 Comments

When the World Feels All Upside Down …

Today is a day when it feels like the world is caught in a terrible storm of unrest, fear and nightmarish violence.

Maybe it’s not any worse than usual but somehow the dreadful shooting on the beach in Tunisia yesterday seems to underline the fragility of life at the end of a week  which has seen Irish hearts blown open with grief after the tragic deaths of the young students in Berkeley, California.

When I was walking the few hundred yards up to our local shop early this morning, it was so reassuring to meet friendly faces. Everyone had a smile and a warm ‘Good morning.‘ No one was talking about the dark side of life but it felt like each person was reaching just that little bit more to touch the very essence of humanity.

Eyes meeting eyes, hello in harmony, taking the time to stop and have a little chat … these are the tiny things that matter, that matter hugely in restoring faith in humanity.

Yes, there are pathways to peace …..

Posted in Stepping Out | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Blogging Naturally


nature’s dappled words
play with echoes and shadows


Posted in Blogging, Nature | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments