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Poems to touch the heart and trigger a smile

Well, it’s about to happen – a New Year’s resolution being fulfilled, better late than never, I know.  It must have something to do with hitting a big birthday this year. You can’t let the year of a big birthday go by, can you, without pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a bit!

That’s why I’m going to do some lunchtime poetry readings over the next few weeks, pandemic permitting, of course. They’ll be based on Freewheeling Up The Hill, the collection that became available on Amazon last year. It will be by way of a little launch and a bit of fun also during what is usually a joyful Festival time in Wexford. Some new work will be added in also, for good measure.

Music too

There will be a mixture of themes and tempos in the readings from the light-hearted to the serious, I promise. Because music is wrapped up in many of the poems Ian Barry, a Wexford singer/songwriter is going to accompany me with some of them. That means there will be a splash of music to enrich the mix, so to speak.

The main event will be in Wexford Arts Centre on Sunday, October 25th and livestreaming via Zoom is planned for that venue also.  That should be set up soon.  More anon.

Wexford Arts Centre is handling the in-theatre booking for all three venues which is great and everything will be done according to HSE Covid Guidelines for Productions, of course. I know, we’re all living in strange times but it’s good to switch off from all the stress sometimes, while following regulations at the same time, of course. That’s in order to feed the soul. I know that’s what doing anything creative helps me do.

If you can make one of the events or Zoom in from afar you will be most welcome.

P.S. Ewa from www.blacksoda.ie has designed a lovely poster – it’s great to have her help, as always, and Ian’s work can be heard on ianbarry.bandcamp.com  He will be playing guitar and bouzouki.


Well, Level 3 Covid restrictions mean that the poetry readings with music will have to wait for a while but they will happen as soon as possible, I promise. Thank you all for your interest. Stay safe and one of these days or months we’ll be able to talk about ‘the Covid’ in the past tense, all going well, and Spring will have come once again. 

‘Pinch me’ Moments in Madeira

It has been a heavy time, news wise, lately but sometimes you have to focus on the good memories.


Yes, there was a lot to fill our television screens lately – and make jaws drop and hearts stop on sofas.

I’ve never been to Notre Dame but the thought of a cathedral as ancient as that going up in flames was saddening but the fact that no one died was some kind of relief.

The death in Derry was much worse and continues to be a concern – time for big prayers for wise and steady leadership in and for this country.

The recent bus crash in Madeira was horrifying also – 29 German visitors to the island losing their lives. Maybe it has stuck in my mind because I once had the privilege of visiting Madeira and I remember the roads and the bends and the steepness. Given the steep terrain it is a tribute to the drivers there that very few accidents have happened over the years.

Madeira, an island owned by Portugal is visited by around one million tourists each year and when you are there it is a case of constantly looking either uphill or downhill for there are very few level areas on it. Driving there demands a real head for heights and a steady hand. Drivers often are more like thrill seekers than chaffeurs given the kind of terrain they have to negotiate! That’s not to take away from the joy of visiting this special place, however.  I got the opportunity of going there, at two days’ notice, in 2011. Another journalist couldn’t make it at the last minute so I got the call at noon on a Friday and by 9.30 a.m. on the Sunday I was in the departures lounge in Dublin Airport heading for Madeira’s capital, Funchal, for five days, courtesy of Concorde Travel.  What a joy that was. This is what I wrote about Madeira when I came back:


It was five days of firsts – my first time in Madeira, the Portugese-owned ‘pearl of the Atlantic’, my first time to experience volcanic landscape, to see banana trees and sugar cane growing and to see dolphins close up.  It was also my first experience of being so high up on land that I could actually look down on the clouds. Memorable moments also included eating octopus and, to top it off, toboganning down a 5km slope in a basket! Read more

road in forest
road in forest


I’ve been on the road a lot lately and, seeing so many roadworks and roundabouts on such trips, something my father used to say kept coming into my head.

“Isn’t it amazing what the combination of man, money and machinery can do?”

That was from a person who’d been involved in road-building himself in the 1950’s and who watched the Wicklow landscape changers of N11 and M11 develop over the years – ditches cut away, yellow dumpers climbing brown hills and the grey cement of bridges appearing on the horizon of newly-minted thoroughfares.

Close-up of a construction site excavator

Our route from Tinahely to Dun Laoighre on family visits in the 1960s, for example, changed from crossing the Dargle bridge and taking the beautifully-named (but very windy) Lucky Brook road to heading straight for the turn off into Cabinteely in the 1970s.

But motorways are now taking over from their dual-carriageway precursors. Wexford is full of almost-open by-passes at the moment – New Ross, Enniscorthy – with new roads appearing out of what once were fields, red cones in rows signaling almost finished routes and road signs awaiting the removal of grey paint to direct us to the new short-cut locations.   Read more

St Patrick – and more – on my mind

It’s a very different kind of St Patrick’s weekend this year. Because of what happened last year it’ll always have an extra resonance now

One day – one special day and certainly a welcome national break in the middle of the week – that’s what St Patrick’s Day was in our neck of the woods years ago. It wasn’t a long weekend bloated by excess on any front really. A cake with green icing was often made in our house and shamrock for your school lapel was found for the day before, of course, if you were lucky enough to find some of the ‘little clover’ after what could be long looking. Statements like ‘that’s only clover, you eejit!’ spring to mind… Read more



 I heard an interesting story about how a couple met over the weekend. These ‘how it happened’ stories are always enjoyable. I was talking to my godmother who is 94 about a neighbour of ours around the same age and how that woman – S – had met her husband who was from UK. I had wondered how they’d crossed paths given that people didn’t travel much in those days. It was all because of red flannel, she said.  I know – intriguing!

There was a shortage of it after the Second World War in England apparently but ‘it could be got’, my godmother said, here in Ireland.  It was in demand particularly for people with arthritis, she said, providing warmth for dodgy knees and lower backs. Anyway, our neighbour, then in her 20s, and from County Wicklow, was a nanny across the water and had been home visiting her family where she heard that a farming neighbour’s sister in the UK was bad with arthritis and needed some red flannel in the worst way. Read more


Well, it’s done!  An ebook collection of poetry and prose – Freewheeling Up The Hill – has now gone live on Amazon and it’s a huge buzz to have another book up there to accompany Deny Me Not and Restless Spirit. It is also a bit nerve-racking putting new work out into the world but pens-crossed the reaction won’t be too bad:)  My thanks to Ewa Neumann for designing a wonderful cover (that’s me on the bike!) and to Denis Collins for a bit of editorial assistance en route.  If you’re wondering about the title I hope I explain it below in what is the book’s introduction.  I’m recording an audio version soon – I have the throat lozenges ready – and a print version will also be available on Amazon shortly also, all going well. In the meantime thank you all for your support and interest in my scribbles and I hope that you find something that appeals to you in Freewheeling Up The Hill.  Read more

Cappucino Addiction

Most of us remember where we were when big events happened. I’m not old enough to remember JFK being shot but I do remember where I was when 9/11 occurred. I had been in a house near New Ross interviewing a man about rural planning issues and having said goodbye to him I drove further up the narrow road to turn round before heading home. I was stopped in my tracks minutes later, however, by the man I’d just interviewed standing at his gateway, arms flailing, beckoning me to come back in. What on earth had happened, I wondered, as I got out of the car again. “Look!” he said and there on the television screen was the image of one, then two aeroplanes hitting the Twin Towers. The two of us stood there in shock. His nephew had been trying to get through to him during the interview to tell him to turn on his TV… Read more

Porridge Ponderings

Porridge ponderings


Isn’t it gas how childhood experience can put one off a particular food for decades?

For me it happened with porridge. I couldn’t stand the stuff. Made on water. Salt added. Yuk! No matter where I was – home or away – the last thing I’d gravitate towards was that oaty repast. Teens, 20s, 30s, 40s even – I still gave it the un-glad eye.

You’re probably wondering why, given that it is a wholesome food and one that reared a nation. Yes, isn’t it full of down-to-earth goodness that nutritionally speaking, knocks the socks off all sugary cereals and toasty pretenders? Read more

Where’s the beef?


 All this talk about us having to cut back on beef to save the planet made me think of burgers and summer and the grá we Irish have for this American, now Irish, favourite.

Every August Monday we run a parish fund-raiser and every year a burger stall is a welcome part of the mix. My job for the last couple of years has been organizing the accompaniments table – the lettuce and ketchup and mayonnaise and whatever you’re having yourself to dress said burgers. Read more


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