Back to Reading ~ Week 3

I’m addicted to books of wit and wisdom so I pounced on this little gem, created and produced by Teapot Press Ltd,  and published in 2016


It is quite unusual in that it draws together quotes and Irish sayings and proverbs on a wide range of topics and also has short biographies and quotes from ten famous Irish people: Brendan Behan, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Lady Augusta Gregory, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Sean O’Casey and William Butler Yeats.

Here’s a few of the quotes that have I’ve loved:

Words are the clothes thoughts wear. ( Samuel Beckett)


Laughter is wine for the soul – laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness. Comedy and tragedy step through life together, arm in arm, all along, out along, down along lea. A laugh is a great natural stimulator, a pushful entry into life; and once we can laugh, we can live. It is the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living. ( Sean O’ Casey)


You cannot put a rope around the neck of an idea; you cannot put an idea up against the barrack -square wall and riddle it with bullets; you cannot confine it in the strongest prison cell your slaves could ever build. (Sean O’Casey)


The truth is rarely pure, and never simple. ( Oscar Wilde)


The way most people fail is in not keeping up the heart. (Lady Augusta Gregory)


Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. (William Butler Yeats)


Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh. (George Bernard Shaw)


If you love her in rags, your love will last. (Irish Proverb)


Money does not make you happy but  it quiets the nerves. (Samuel Beckett)

This is definitely a book for anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them or an interest in getting a feel for how we Irish carry on!




My Inner Idiot

In these days of positivity, you’re not really meant to admit to being stupid about stuff but I’m bursting with words and sayings that sing idiocy. And, who among us doesn’t lie, sit, dance, waver, wave , reel, do handstands and U-turns on the idiotic continuum most of the time?

It’s great to have a repertoire of words with which to tick oneself off for foolishness so just in case you’d like a menu, here’s a few starters.

#1.  Meet the eejit …

#2. What a big galute! 

#3. The Irish didn’t create the word amadán for nothing.

#4. Okay, okay, I know I’m a right  gom.

#5. I think I’ll give grinds on loop-the-lu-las after that performance.

#6. They obviously saw this gomdoodle coming

#7. How could I have been such a clown?

#8. Yes, I’ll have to admit it after THAT: ‘I am a complete and utter head-the-ball.’

#9. As Dad used to say, ‘I’m thicker than the walls of China and they are thick indeed.’ 

#10. In the immortal words of Uncle Wilfred, ‘I’m a little eegit.’ 





Ireland, Irishness and Irish Heart

I might as well admit that I have been dreading Easter Weekend this year as it marks 100 years since the Easter Rising here in Ireland. I realise that The Easter Rising probably means little or nothing to most people who don’t have some strong connection with Ireland but I can tell you that it has HUGE connotations for those of us who do.

The Easter Rising was a rebellion aimed at securing independence from British rule. It was a relatively small affair led by a number of visionaries which failed to achieve its aims BUT it was very significant in terms of setting in train the momentum which led to the War of Independence and the eventual signing of the contentious Treaty in 1921 which led to the setting up of the Irish Republic ~ which includes 26 of the 32 counties on the Island of Ireland. This contention then led to a very bitter Civil War within the Republic in the early 1920s and later to the Northern Troubles which erupted in 1969 and prevailed very bitterly until the 1998 Peace Agreement.

That’s my reading of The Easter Rising anyway and there are definitely many different readings of it. It’s important to recognise that the Easter Rising took place during World War I and many Irish people were part of the British Army.

Given all this (and lots more that I haven’t mentioned), you can imagine how all sorts of differing attitudes to the Easter Rising have become embedded in the hearts and minds of all those whose lives have been touched by the legacies of anything associated with that uprising in 1916.

Coming into today, I felt that emotions were still too raw to have big Centenary Commemorations/Celebrations. So, it was with great trepidation that I watched the State Commemoration on television a few hours ago. It was held in Dublin and involved: a wreath laying ceremony for those who died during the Rising; a reading of the Proclamation which was signed by the leaders of the Rising who were executed in 1916; a beautifully composed prayer which looked to our past, present and future in what seemed like a very broadminded, inclusive, pacifist way; and a parade in which all the security and emergency services of the Irish Republic were represented.

There were no speeches and just watching the proceedings, I found myself relaxing and feeling a wave of hope sweep over me as groups like the Irish Army, Police Force, Air Corps, Naval Service, Civil Defence, Coast Guard filed passed with immense dignity.

The discussions on the television indicated that Ireland is coming of age in terms of being able to discuss our history, as well as our current social, economic, religious, and political situations and aspirations in a mature, civilised way.

So, I write this post with a great feeling of warmth about being Irish and with a huge pride in this beautiful country of ours.

Here’s how my patch here in Co. Waterford was looking this afternoon:

Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

Walking along the rocks, it seemed just right to come across this little vision:

Irish Heart!


Irish Eyes on St.Patrick

‘For each petal on the shamrock, this brings a wish your way – good health, good luck, and happiness, for today and every day.’ (Irish Blessing)

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us and it’s a day that makes me feel very Irish and connected to people with Irish blood all round the world.

For me, St. Patrick’s Day is just that ~ never, ever Paddy’s Day or Patty’s Day. Nor is it a day of mad drinking, green beers or leprechaun hats.

I think an honouring of St. Patrick’s Day goes back to my school days in Castleblayney , Co. Monaghan when I was six or seven and the whole school would congregate in our gymslips and Gaberdine coats out on the avenue and sing Hail Glorious Saint Patrick on the eve of March 17th.

The other song that always comes to mind on St. Patrick’s Day is one written by Chauncey Alcott (1858-1932) who was a stage actor, songwriter and singer, born in New York and of Irish descent:

St. Patrick’s Day is a day when I find myself thinking ‘as Gaelige’ (in the Irish language) and I’d like to wish everyone who is Irish, loves Ireland or feels a sense of IrishnessSt. Patrick




My Ireland

You’ve got to understand that the mere mention of the word Ireland conjures up very different images in people’s minds ~ everything from greenness to Guinness.

As I was driving to Kilfarrasy Beach here in Co. Waterford for a dip this morning, this was the image of Ireland that presented itself to me:

The Grey Horse
The Grey Horse

Yes, a grey horse looking seaward with its mane billowing ever so gently. Horses are an integral part of the landscape right around the Irish countryside. I always feel a sense of incredible good fortune to be part of that countryside and to be able to touch nature with such ease.

The thought of being stuck in the middle of a bustling city with no hope of ever seeing green fields and grey horses fills me with dread and I know there are many Irish people, not to talk about people living in far flung metropolises, who never get the chances that I do to commune with nature in all her glory.

What image flashes before you when you hear the word “Ireland?”

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.

Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin

In the last few days I’ve been thinking more and more about what it means to be Irish. In other words, I’ve been thinking about this more or less all the time, especially in the context of lively discussions about The Gathering 2013.  The Gathering – The Gathering Ireland 2013

Well,  call me nostalgic or whatever you like, but a while ago I was down on my hands and knees lighting the fire and I could see the old  Irish saying: Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin  (Translated:  There’s no fireside like your own fireside) dancing in the flames as they blazed up the chimney.

The fire was a fundamental gathering point  in Irish homes up until recent decades when central heating, on a timer, tended to take over in many houses and apartments.  The fire came to be seen by many as hard work and mess.

I just can’t see the fire in that light. For me, it’s all about a ritual with which I grew up. Last person going to bed had the job of raking the ashes to make them less likely to be still alight in the morning.  The old pile of newspapers in the corner served very useful purposes; open up a paper and scoop the ashes from the grate into it. Make a dash outside with this parcel and douse it in water if there were any signs of singeing from a rogue spark still full of life.

Setting the fire was an art taught to me by my late father. Tightly crumpled newspaper at the base, a tower of kindling woven to let the air get through and then carefully placed broken-up peat briquettes as the top layer to get the fire going.

How many times did I hear the words, You might think that holding a sheet of paper against the fireplace is the answer to everything if the fire isn’t taking off, but you’ll know all about it when the paper catches fire so watch it, my dear girl!

And how about the time we entered a Bord na Mona  Bord na Móna slogan competition about Peat Briquettes when I was about eight! Rhymes were Mother’s forte and we spent about a week playing around with all sorts of possibilities. ‘ You’ll have no regrets with Peat Briquettes….’  and we didn’t!  We won a wooden rocking chair, with brown tweed cushions, that lived by the fire for years and then spent twenty years with me in various flats in Dublin before it finally stopped rockin’.

But, in spite of all the changes, the fire is still part of my life. It is a gathering point in more senses than one!