Ireland

Ireland

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Some Observations, Thoughts and Poetry


 Some observations:
The photo above is a picture I took in Ireland of some crab pots sitting on the dock.
It has absolutely nothing to do with anything in this post.
I just like em.

I dropped my camera a few weeks back and broke my lens.
So I came back to work armed only with my smart phone camera.
I know there are many people who just swear by the iPhone.
After spending the last few weeks on the boat using my phone.......sorry people,
NOT EVEN CLOSE. I want my camera back.

I saw Monica Lewinsky recently on TV giving a speech.
Why are her lips moving and what is she saying?

I called Sprint customer service the other day. I was put on hold.
For 18 minutes  I listened to a recording that said in part, "We value your time...."
Imagine my frustration every time that recording repeated itself.

The longer my hair gets....the bigger my forehead gets. It grows up !
First thing on my to do list when I get home?
Haircut.


I spent some time recently in this bookshop. I like book stores. Especially old ones.
I bought a biography of Patrick Kavanagh. Previous to me entering the bookshop I had never heard of him. What he was, was an Irish writer/poet/journalist.
He gathered with other Irish poets in coffee shops and pubs in the early 1900's.
His life, like many Irish citizens during that time, was not easy. I'm finding the book pretty darn enjoyable. 

Anyway, you know what's coming don't you? That's write, a poem. From me. After reading about a poet for the last 2 weeks, I'm getting my poem on right now. 

This poem, my first, is about my visit to my Grandmothers house, or what's left of it, in Newmarket, County Cork.

Ahem.....

"I arrived at her gate
I made no mistake

Did Grandma jump this rusted steel
as she headed  to Queenstown
to make a deal?

How did she get to
that dock and that ship?
Did she travel alone
was she scared just a bit?

I jumped that same gate
all rusted and worn
what was I feeling
I was a bit torn.

So glad to be here
so sad at the state
of this crumbling ruin
of grandma's estate.

I stood in her kitchen
what decisions were made here
Is this where Mary bid farewell 
that much isn't clear.

Did grandma look out
this same window pane
She was only a child
did she feel any pain?

Walking the grounds
and touching the walls
not a peace but a calm
I'm sure glad I called.

So farewell Mary Shine
and rock and rubble 
I'll be back to be sure
It's really no trouble."

Ok, it does sound a bit more Doctor Seuss than W B Yeats.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Someone quit.

The last time I noticed
I had 108 followers.

Today I have 107.

Must have pissed someone off.

Anyway

I had a nice warm Guinness at this bar in Ireland,
the Western most bar in the European Union.

Take that Follower # 108.

Monday, October 20, 2014

WATERFORD CRYSTAL

I like a nice glass. A drinking glass I mean. Even a mug for that matter. It has to feel good in my hand. It has to look nice. If I drink out of a nice glass, whatever I am drinking taste better. There's been studies on this.
No there hasn't, not that I know of anyway. 

But I know what I like. For instance. Coffee. Drinking coffee out of a paper cup is like.....well it's just awful. Put that same coffee in a nice mug, preferably a hand made coffee mug from a potter like 
Silver Fox Pottery and it's a whole new experience.

On the boat I use a coffee mug, the likes of which have been portrayed in every movie ever made that has a ship in it with people drinking coffee. It's also the same mug as seen in every shiney diner that was in operation in the 1920's. The mug is a plain white thick object that is sturdy. It pairs nicely with the Blue Plate Special. It screams "BORING." But it will do in a pinch.

Take a glass of Guinness for example. Served in a glass "pint". It makes a difference. Have you ever had a guinness in the States out of a can? Don't. That actually should be outlawed.

I can't drink water out of a plastic water bottle like those you see people using in your local fitness center. It just doesn't take good. At home I use a canning jar, without the lid. Tastes great.

When we were recently in Ireland, ( oh, you didn't know?) I wanted to take a trip to the town of Waterford. It was very doable. It was close. Hell, every town in Ireland is close.

If you have had the good fortune of holding a Waterford wine glass in your hand, you get what I mean when I say, "It just feels good in your hand." Especially, I wanted to "take the tour" of the factory to see how these beautiful items are made.

Are you familiar with Waterford Crystal? Just let me say this. In the words of Martin Luther King,
"I have been to the mountain top."

The town of Waterford, a river front community that was all a buzz back in the day because of it's location, is a mere memory of what it was when the ship traffic in and out of the port of Waterford was none stop. 



 In the car with me on our way to Waterford were my wife as well as daughter Erin and son-in-law Matt. When I mentioned to them how great this tour was sure to be, well, let's just say they were less than really really enthusiastic. But they appeased ole Dad, and in we went.


It only took those less than enthusiastic about 15 minutes to be quite enthralled with what they were seeing.


I mean really, watching these artisans doing their thing was mind blowing to me. Hot globs of hot globby stuff.......

...spinning it.....


and blowing into it....


Well, all I can say is you'd have to be damn numb not to be excited watching these guys at work.

Below,  Erin holds a copy of the NCAA College Football Championship trophy that was presented to Alabama a couple of years ago. ( The original trophy was dropped and damaged at some point in the celebratory craziness that followed their win, so Waterford sent them a new one. )



Pictured below is Matt, not showing the proper amount of awe, as I would have liked as he held the Alabama trophy. I didn't get to hold it but if I did I would have cradled it in my arms like a new born baby and cushioned it with a blanket of fine Irish wool to protect it.


Each piece of their crystal is etched by hand. No, wait, excuse me, I don't think you heard me.
EACH PIECE OF THEIR CRYSTAL IS ETCHED BY HAND.


 If you're still with me at this point, let me tell you what one of these artists has to do to be accepted as a glass blower at Waterford Crystal. I found this most interesting.
  They are given a piece of crystal. The tour guide showed this piece to us. ( not the one pictured above ) It is a bowl, maybe a fruit or soup bowl. It's quite big. Supposedly it has every "cut" that Waterford uses, and there are 250 different cuts. The hopeful job seeker is handed this bowl and he is told he has 5 years to make one just like it. Upon completion of his piece, it is inspected by some obviously real hard ass, because if one of the cuts happen to be wrong, the inspector drops it on the floor where years of this apprentices work get shattered. At that point he has 3 more years to try to make another one. If he succeeds, he is allowed to work at Waterford Crystal.
I thought getting a Chiefs job on a tug was hard.



A favorite of mine pictured below.

Now I understand why this stuff is so expensive.


I have no explanation for the shoe on the building. None.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let your Freak Flag Fly

"Let you freak flag fly," a phrase coined by David Crosby in the sixties in his song, "Almost cut my hair." What he meant was, grow your hair long. Long hair represented his flag.

There are all kinds of flags. State flags, National flags, checkered flags, penalty flags, it goes on and on. Did you know, that if you are a U.S. citizen you can get a flag that has been flown over the U.S. Capitol?  Contact your Congressman, fill out a form, throw them some cash and wala, you can have your very own flag that flew over the Capitol, I mean, this might interest you if you're into that kind of thing. 

Normally I'm not. But......

As I was preparing for my daughters wedding a few weeks ago, for some reason I thought, hey, it would be cool if I have a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol, on the day of her wedding. With it comes a certificate that says, "this flag flew over the U.S. Capitol in honor of Erin and Matt on their wedding day", or something to that affect.

Anyway, after I ordered this flag, I was thinking to myself, "when will I tell her this bit of news?"
This all sounded good to me on paper. What, is my daughter a flag freak or something? No, no she isn't. I've never seen her fly a flag at her house. She never asked me when she was younger to fly the American Flag at our house. It's not that she doesn't like the flag, we were just not big flag flyers. Don't judge.

So why would I come up with such a unusual idea? Not sure. She lives in DC, she is very interested in politics, has worked on various campaigns, still points out the U.S. Capitol to me when I visit, she watches "Meet the Press" when she wants to relax, well, do you get where I was going with this?

I have heard of this flag buying program before and just assumed that Erin would be familiar with it. So, in my mind, I was at some point on her wedding day going to  say to Erin, "oh, by the way, it's quite possible that right now there is a flag flying over the U.S. Capitol building, in your honor." 
The only thing is, I forgot to tell her. And, it's probably a good thing. She had never heard of this program before.

I was catching up with Erin the other day on the phone and I said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you about the flag" and I proceeded to tell her what my plan was.  To my surprise, she had never heard of this flag buying program.  I explained, that I was thinking maybe during our Father / Daughter dance I would say to her, "Hey, by the way........"

My daughters reaction? She just started cracking up! She cracks up a lot. I like that about her.


When she stopped laughing she said, "Dad, if you started explaining, out of the blue, that you had a flag flying over the U.S. Capitol in my honor, and you did this during our Father/Daughter dance, which was Salsa, I would have thought you were having a freekin stroke." And then it was my turn to crack up.

A family with Irish roots getting married in Ireland and dancing salsa for the Father/Daughter dance?
Yep, that's how we roll.

So, Erin's flag came to my house the other day. There is a certificate too. I can't wait to give it to her, because she'll just start cracking up again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

That's right, more from the Ireland trip......sorry, can't help it.

After all the guests and some family left the Dingle Peninsula after my daughters wedding, my middle daughter Bryn, my son in law Jim headed North following my wife and I  to County Clare to check out the Cliffs of Moher. It consisted of a ferry ride, seems I just can't stay away from boats, even on a vacation.



 The Cliffs of Moher, "It's just a damn cliff," some might say. What's the big deal? That's like saying the tour through the Guinness Factory is just a tour through a factory. PA-LEASE !! 1 million people a year who visit agree with me that they are more than just cliffs.

Located in the Burren region, these cliffs soar 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. They are quite spectacular.













It was a really great day until I went to the bathroom. No-no-no, it wasn't that.
It was when I was coming out of the restroom that I dropped my camera and watched it bounce across the floor. That lens I was using? Well, safe to say I need another one.

But at least I got these memories first.

Oh, fear not my friends, there will be more Ireland photos to come. Luckily my wife had her camera with her.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Snapshots of Dublin, Ireland

My daughter outside of O'Donoghues

My wife and Matt perusing some local artwork.


YUM!!






Dublin Castle


Erin + Dublin + Latte = deliriously happy !!

Erin standing by the Arch on campus of Trinity College where she attended Grad School.


Ok, my last name is Finucane.
I have a brother named Pat who is alive and well.
 But when I saw this bench on the campus of Trinity, I just had to take a photo.
This Pat Finucane, not my Pat Finucane, attended Trinity College.
As you can see from the dates, he lived a short life.
That's because he was shot 14 times by Loyalist in Northern Ireland,
as he sat eating dinner with his family during the "Troubles".

Anyway, lets move on.

Below, Erin and Matt having a strategy meeting concerning the next days itinerary.
Pictured on the table is a Bulmers, an empty Guinness, a full Guinness and a hot whiskey. Looks like a productive meeting.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Journey to Grandmas house.

My Grandmother Mary Shine Finucane, who I had never met, was born and grew up in Ireland. Newmarket, County Cork, Ireland to be exact. Knowing I was heading over to the Emerald Isle for my daughters wedding, I planned a trip to the sleepy town of Newmarket into our itinerary. And I'm so glad I did. 

Armed with directions from my sister which began with, "Find your way to Newmarket...." and a picture she took of my Grandmothers front gate, ( which looks just like the thousands of other gates in Ireland ) we really didn't have much trouble finding her house.

Below is Newmarket, Ireland.

After driving down a single lane back road looking for the aforementioned gate, we found it. There was no "NO TRESPASSING" sign, and before I climbed the gate to her property, I yelled, "Is anyone home?" ( no I didn't.)



The house sits way back on the property, you can hardly see it from the road but as we approached it I knew from pictures my sister took, that we had found it.



Did I mention that it needs a little work.....LIKE A ROOF!


Below my daughter Erin is inside.




Here I am inside what we figured would have been the kitchen because of the huge hearth that was there.

Erin and my son in law Matt look out from the living area of the house in the photo below. Did my Grandmother stand there and look out that very window the day before she left this house in the early 1890's? I wonder. She would have been close to 20 years old when she departed Queenstown, Ireland for the United States.

Below I hold a window shutter that my wife handed me through a window from the inside. Just in case the Ireland Guard or the U.S. Customs agents read my blog, that's all I'm gonna say about Grandma's shutter.

After about an hour or so, we left the same way we came in.


Walking away from the house back to the car, I kept looking around this large property and asking myself, " Did Grandma Finucane walk where I'm walking now when she was a kid?

I like to think Mary Shine Finucane, who has been dead since 1946, just knew I was there.
And she was smiling.

But she'd be appalled at the condition of her roof.