How Old is Twenty-One?

We’re having a two referendums here in Ireland next Friday. One is about gay marriage (and I’m very much in favour of that); the other is about amending The Constitution to reduce the age at which a person can stand for the Presidency of the country from thirty-five to twenty-one.

99.9% of the debate thus far has been about the gay marriage referendum and hardly anyone is talking about the age of  eligibility to stand for the Presidency.

21st-Birthday-Turning-21-Candles

My initial reaction to reducing the age to 21 was that it was nonsensical because I felt that a twenty-one year old couldn’t possibly have the wit or wisdom required to be President.  But then I started having second thoughts as I saw all sorts of great young sportsmen and women flashing across my radar and none more than Boris Becker when he took Wimbledon by storm aged 17.

And then Anne Frank crossed my mind ~ what an amazing girl ~ surely she’d have been fit to be a President at 21 years of age.

I think I was a bit of a flibbery-jibbet at 21 but then found myself being plunged into a very grown-up world at 22 when my boyfriend was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I ended up minding him at home ~ pretty much just me as that’s how he wanted it ~ for the ten weeks or so that he had remaining to him.  It amazes me now that I actually rose to that challenge and managed as well as I did. I reckon that being President would have been  a walk in the park compared to that situation and all sorts of tough circumstances that so many young people find themselves in.

So, I’ve swung from being a definite ‘NO’ voter to being a ‘YES’ on this one as well.

I doubt we’ll ever have a twenty-one year old President BUT  maybe it’s time to stop seeing twenty-one year olds as being big toddlers?

Stepping Out of Stereotypes of Ireland

Hearts

Ireland means the world to me and I am passionate about the place but I have a serious problem with stereotypical images of the country and her people.

Oh there’s all the stuff about:

  • Paddy the Irishman
  • Irish Mammies
  • Ireland and potatoes
  • Drunken Irish
  • Traffic jams in Ireland involving a few sheep on the road
  • Leprechauns
  • The ‘begorra’ Irish accent
  • The Island of Saints and Scholars
  • The ‘gift of the gab’
  • The laid back ‘ah sure it’ll be alright on the night’ attitude of Irish people

I could go on and on about the stereotypes but let me just say that Ireland is full of diversity in terms of her people: their attitudes, personalities, backgrounds, social histories, aspirations, interests …..

Ireland has her shadowlands, like every other country, but she also has magnificence in all sorts of ways.

I suspect my sensitivity about the stereotypes is partly due to the facts that: firstly, my parents were of mixed religious marriage (thus giving me insight into different versions of our history and tradition);  secondly, having lived in lots of different parts of Ireland; and thirdly, being a Sociologist by profession.

The complexity and diversity within Ireland  is something that I love and cherish. I guess the only stereotype that is pretty much true is about the forty shades of green in the country.

Newtown 9
Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford

When I chose Stepping Out as my theme words for 2015, I knew that I would have to include this very traditional Irish song fairly early on. I can’t but smile as I listen to it again as sums up so much of the stereotypes that are belted out and which still make the feet tap!

 

 

 

 

A Bouquet of Irish Bloggers

Mount Congreve Garden, Co. Waterford
Mount Congreve Garden, Co. Waterford

There’s a great deal of camaraderie amongst us bloggers in Ireland and today is a big day in the Irish blogging calendar as the Finalists in the Irish Blog Awards for 2014 were announced.

I’m delighted that many of my very favourite blogs have made it to the finals and the competition is great in that it introduces one to newcomer blogs as well as those relating to subjects areas that are ‘new’ to one’s own scheme of things.

Are there national blogging awards in countries other than Ireland ~ and I direct this question to my non-Irish followers?

So heartiest congratulations to all those who made the Finals and all the best in the last shake-up.

We, the readers, are definitely winners at this stage. Here’s the link to the Irish Blog Awards 2014 Finalist List. You will definitely find something to appeal!

 

 

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!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Love about Ireland

While I’m certainly not a huge St. Patrick’s Day person in terms of getting all decked out in green and wearing shamrock, I find myself being more and more aware of my Irish identity as March 17th looms.

Here are the things that I love most about this native country of mine:

1. The fact that Ireland is an island with miles and miles of glorious and diverse coastline.

2. The accent, or should I say, the range of Irish accents and the way I only hear my own Irish accent when I’m not in Ireland!

3. The long and ongoing tradition of the arts, and especially poetry, through names like W.B. Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney, Brendan Kennelly, Paul Durcan …..

4. The Irish passion for sport … hurling, horse-racing, rugby, soccer, athletics, boxing…

5. Travelling along back roads through the countryside soaking up the colour and the nods of familiar strangers.

6. The buildings ~ from iconic places like Trinity College, Dublin to tiny thatched cottages with red doors out in the middle of nowhere.

7. The incredible diversity of Ireland’s people ~ layered with an intriguing complexity, warmth and quick wit.