Sunday, April 28, 2013
I met Michael Gibbons one morning ( morning in Clifden is anytime after eleven!) on the way into the studio on Clifden and he was telling me of this article he came across on Ambergris.
It is found washed up on beaches in the form of a hard grey coloured rounded shape, The O' Flatherty's had rights over the sea and they were entitled to a percentage of the finds. If Ambergris was sold on without payment being made to them, the chancers would be fined two cows!
It was a very valuable commodity hundreds of years ago and traded as far away as the far east where its sweet smell was in high demand as a perfume, women covered themselves with it, just as women do today to lure us naive and innocent guys and girls away from our other pursuits and activities (ie mountain guiding).
So next time you are rolling around between the sheets with your sweet smelling woman think on this, Ambergris is whale vomit!
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I’m working away at my jewellers bench, lost in thought, thinking of what I’m going to do when this pendant is finished. How great we humans are, we can perform the most intricate of operations and our mind can be somewhere else entirely.
Tiny silver particals float down over my jeans and onto the floor. I’d already hammered this round bar of silver to make it really thin at one end and now I was filing it smooth. Some aspects of manual work can look tedious to the onlooker but to the person performing the ritual, it can be as theraputic and soothing as meditating.
Goowd Affternoooooooon, I looked up and nearly filed my finger off. Who the fuck said that? What are they doing here in my workshop? Can’t they see I’m lost in thought? Who has had the audacity to come into my world?
It’s like being asleep and suddenly awoken, we don’t appreciate it, we should be allowed to waken slowly, one eye at a time.
I look across the floor and there already halfway across the studio floor is a small white pygmy of a woman. She looks like she’s around seventy and is wearing a wide white brimed hat, the sort that English ladies wore two centuries ago in outer India. Her head is barely visible beneath the tent she is wearing as a hat. I look at her and wonder how she made it through the door.
At the door is another, a larger white pygmy. She is holding the lead of a dog and at the end of the lead is an earwig. Bits of hair sticking out everywhere, I can’t tell where its head is.
The larger white pygmy asks me if she may bring her earwig in with her. I say, You can of course, as long as he doesn’t leave anything behind him when he leaves. Oh no, he’s very well behaved. She took one step in and I continued, ‘Cause if he does, I’ll chop him up into little pieces!
The one step she took in, she promptly took back out, saying in horror, Chop him into little pieces?
Escape to Freedom
Martin emailed me an invitation to a Goulash Party! It was to be in his village twenty kilometers south of Frankfurt.
I thought about it for a few minutes, as I hadn’t been out of the country for ages, it was, tempting.
My finances were tight but I thought that I could just about make it. If I stayed in for the next two weeks and avoided driving the car anywhere, I could save some money.
So I booked the ticket, even that one step lifted my mood. I’d spent the last few months trying to make a success of my Art Gallery. With little or no sales I once again had to accept my lot and close the Gallery. I needed a lift, an escape from the drudgery of day to day optimism, that never fulfilled my optimistic expectations.
Sitting on my table was a notice from the Department of Transport. The notice was to inform me that my driving license was due to expire. It came over two weeks ago but as with everything that requires you to spend money, if it’s not required straight away, you can ignore it!
Well I couldn’t ignore it for much longer as my license would have expired by the time I returned from Germany. I went and got the required photographs down at the local pharmacy. She took two to three shots and showed them to me, I told her I looked like I was drunk! She laughed and of course I laughted then and still laughing, she took another picture. I now looked as if I’d taken another pint in between, so I gave up and choose the first one!
With the thirty five euro fee I also had to enclose my current license which was confusing to me as it stated on the application form that it was illegal to drive without a license! Was I meant to stay at home for a week and wait for the license to arrive? This would fit into the financial plan for the Goulash Party but still…?
With License Application on its way and driving illegally back home, I was thinking about the expiry date on the license as I had got both my license and passport around the same time.
When I got in I checked my passport, it was out of date on the 17th, the day after I’d booked to fly. Fuuuuck, fuuuuuck and fuck it! I always feel you have to say, Fuck it, at least three times for it to have any sort of impact, then you may want to say it one more time a little later before you can clear your cursing thoughts to the actual dilemma.
I checked the Passport Office online and saw that I could get a passport within three working days but for this privilege I would have to pay €170.00! For fuck’s sake, that’s my entire budget for the Goulash Party!
I could see no other way around it other than chancing it. I’d read some postings on various sites over the same issue and some said, Yeh you’ll be ok as it’s really only an Identity Card as we are all within Europe. Another said, You are a disorganised dumbass for not checking your passport before booking. Well fuck you, who ever you are!
So I managed to convince myself that there would be no problem going, I wanted it so bad, just to go there and have some fun, meet my friends who cares about coming back? I’d have had my fun, my escape and they were hardly going to stop me returning to my own country were they?
I really needed this break, my days were becoming longer, I was spending more and more time in my prison cell, up in my cramped attic bedroom. I’ve wasted hours away checking Facebook for any form of life beyond my slowly shrinking world. On Facebook I’d look for interesting postings, something that would require a witty Comment, no point in agreeing with their posting or adding something that made sense, sure everyone did that!
On a picture with everything out of focus, so lopsided that you got sick looking at it, comments were, Oh Brilliant photo of you honey, I Soooo Love that picture, You look great! Ahh for fucks sake! I’d have to leave a smartass comment on that like, I’m so impressed with your ability to take a picture while you fell down the stairs, amazing!
Eventually the day of departure was only one day away. I took the 7.30am bus to Galway (the only feckin’ bus there is!)
I was fairly knackered that morning, man’s best friend next door had spent most of the night barking out coded messages to his friends across the mountains.
The bus drove from a darkness to a most glorious sunrise. I was sometimes wide awake and other times fast asleep and through it all the bus rocked and rolled closer to Galway city. At times it felt as if we’d gone off the road and were now finding our way across rocky fields. Were we on land, sea or road? It was hard to tell, we just kept on rocking and rolling along.
When we eventually stopped and we staggered off the bus, my legs felt like the time I’d spent a week crossing the Bay of Biscay, so we must have being on sea somewhere between Carna and Galway!
In a chilly Galway city, I caught what I thought was the Citylink bus to Dublin, halfway across the country I realised I wasn’t on a Citylink bus at all! I was on the Go bus, well it was going in the right direction so who cares?!
Through dozes and snores I woke up as the bus was easing its way into Dublin’s traffic.
I could have booked a flight for that afternoon but I’m not fond of making train connections in the dark and in Germany I’d three trains to take. They say you should always try the things that you don’t want to do or try the things you fear. I regretted after booking the flight that I hadn’t done that, it could have led to other adventures in Germany. I’ve got off at the wrong stop before on my way there, it makes you more confident when you know you can find your way, the situation forces you to reach out to people and get help, it makes you connect more with your new environment.
It was a long day in Dublin, I spent some of it in Trinity College’s sunlight, sitting on benches watching the wenches! I just said that ‘cause it rhymes!:)
There were fine specimens of the female form, all shapes and sizes, small, tiny and tall. All nationalities were there, everyone relaxed and like me enjoying the sunshine in the cool crisp air.
When the sun went behind a cloud and stayed there, it became really cool again, so it was time to move. I caught the Dart out to Seapoint where my sister lived. My near 92 year old Aunt lived there as well.
I spent some time chatting to my Aunt or more to the point I sat there watching the telly and replying, Yes, Yes, No, Yes, Yes….. lack of sleep doesn’t induce in depth conversations!
I sent my friend Bren a text asking him if he wanted to go for a pint. We’ve known each other since we were around 1 years old and we meet up every now and then, have a pint and a laugh. He doesn’t believe my life and the situations I find myself in. Bren says I should write a book. Every time I send him an email, he’ll reply, Put that in the book as well!
Bren replied that he’d love to go but that he was in Santander, great!
So I went to bed early, I was in bed at 9.00pm and asleep soon after that. After a few different dreams of which I remembered none I woke up. I reckoned it must have been about 2.00am, it was 11.00pm!
Went downstairs and made some hot chocolate, had that, then made another, drank that and then just to be on the safe sleep side, I had a small whiskey!
I went back to bed and woke up every bloody hour!
When the alarm went off at 3.30 am I was already awake waiting for it to go off!
Had a shower, made a sandwich, grabbed a banana and apple and off I went.
Driving misty rain greeted me on the doorstep, brilliant! Though I didn’t seem to get that wet, I’d shelter from the tall houses and trees that line the road down to the Aircoach Stop at Knox’s Memorial Building.
There was no one else there, the occasional car passed by and I looked at the austere looking Knox’s building, it had a plaque on the wall saying it was built in 1908. That was 8 years before the uprising.
A few minutes passed before a man came around the corner. He said hello and asked was I going to the airport? Then he laughtd as he realised it was a stupid question! He was returning to England having come over for a school reunion. I asked him did he think his friends had changed? he said some had and others were still the same. We talked of desperate Ireland, shops closing and how we seemed just to accept our lot. There was no talk of any bankers going to jail. He told me he’d a friend who was an Independent TD and his friend too was hoping there would be some kind of backlash against the measures imposed by our own government and Brussels.
I told him on Facebook some people had posted real strong words. There was a lot of anger out there. I myself felt it. Our Government is not fighting for its own people. He said, Maybe it just needs a catalyst?
There we were, the two of us, strangers, discussing a possible revolution a few steps outside the building that was built 8 years before the last revolution.
As often as I travel in the early hours of the morning, I’m always surprised to see so many other people are up and about, like it was the thing to be doing.
Inside the airport building at Terminal 2, I checked the screens for the Check in desk. I dropped my bag on the weighing ramp and handed in my passport.
She typed in my details and then said, Your passport is out of date for your return journey, you can’t travel.
And that was it, my Escape to Freedom was Cancelled.
I sooo Love Being a Blackbird
How I wish I was a bird, life would be so simpler. Freedom to get up and go whenever I felt like it. No worries about money or what to wear. If I was a blackbird I would always be a Blackbird, no need to go changing my clothes to look different as we humans do.
All I’d have to do is preen my feathers every now and then and have the occasional bath and sure even then it’s only a casual splashing of water in a pool of water. No need to worry about the temperature or if there’s enough water in the immersion or how much it’s going to cost me.
Food, food is always there, I just have to cock my head and listen to my food coming along through the earth and walah, a couple of jabs at the earth and a more succulent meal you couldn’t ask for.
In winter time when the ground is too tough, I just make myself look extra attractive, puff myself up and hang out by the human houses, for bread crumbs or if I look really good and give them the eye they’ll take pity on me and leave me out some fat to nibble on, awh sure God love the humans, they are such suckers. Jasus sure we were feeding ourselves, long before they came along with their gardens and civility.
I’m an opportunist as well and when I swoop over a garden bush with my high pitched screech and look like I’m about to collide with the garden wall, its actually a stunt of mine to see what’s available down below. If the house cat is there, my stunt will make him jump out of his skin. If it’s the stupid dog, well I know it will have little effect on him as he’s usually too tired after his night duty to bother looking up.
In winter time I’ll always drop by the cats dish outside, especially if they are getting warm milk and bread, awh my favourite! I’ll wait ‘till they’ve stuffed themselves and then snuggled up together so they get so comfortable and warm there’s no way they are going to get up and chase me away.
In the Spring and Summer, I’m all the humans favourite singer, even amongst my own feathered friends, they all envy my beautiful singing.
Sure didn’t the humans most famous group The Beatles make a song about me? And called it Blackbird, not exactly original is it and they are meant to be smarter than us. It would be like me singing a song about them and calling it Human, Christ, how novel would that be? can’t imagine any other Blackbird wanting to know where he could get a copy of it!
When Spring is here life as a Blackbird is so simple, I just have to look good and as you all know, I look good all the time! I’ll sing a few of my hits from the top of bushes or telephone wires. What was that dreary Leonard Cohen moan called? Oh yeh, Bird on a Wire, what an insult to have him singing about a bird! If I was a human and listening to him, I’d have fallen off the fucken wire!
After a few feathery displays, a couple of bars of my favourite tunes and there she’ll be. Standing close by and looking not interested but I’ll know she is or why the hell else would she be standing there?
Unlike humans that are constantly changing their clothes and their appearance she’ll look like all female Blackbirds, there’ll be no mistaking that she’s a Blackbird and the Blackbird Baby for me. She won’t have done herself up like a peacock to confuse me who she is, her feathers will be slighly lighter in colour than mine and that’s how she always looks.
I don’t know how the male humans cope at all. The female can have her hair tied back, no make up on, wear dark blue jeans one day and then the next day she’ll show up at the least expected place, her hair out, make up on, wearing skin tight sexy white jeans and say, Hi Ruairí!
How is the poor fucker meant to know it’s Norma from his Writing class? It would be like me turning up on a beach in the middle of Summer and meeting herself on her way down for a paddle.
I sooo Love being a Blackbird
Friday, April 19, 2013
Ruairí O Neill's Connemara Tour 2012 with Schedule for 2015
Three years ago I organised a tour of Connemara. I had 18 people from a small town called Schoelkrippen in Germany come and stay in my village of Carna. We went to Mac Dara's island home of the 6th century monk Mac Dara. The reconstructed ruins stands at the tip of the island. It is now home to a large group of nesting birds and a sheep herd.
All aboard at Más Pier heading to Mac Dara's Island on a fine sunny day in May.
Quick run for it, the Germans have landed! Who ever said these people don't have a sense of humour didn't meet my group!
I locked them in the Chapel for a joke and a break from all the questions but the joke was on me as I forgot about the Chapel window!
The sheep kept to themselves.Cormorants keeping an eye on visitors to their island.
Keeping the boat away from the rocky shore.
|Listening to a talk on Island, it wasn't me as I can never remember any facts or dates, I have my own system of carbon dating, something is either Old, Very Old or Really Old, it never fails!|
|Celtic Design on Cross on Mac Dara's Island.|
|St. Mac Dara's Chapel, its roof was reconstructed in the 1970's|
|Wait, come back, don't leave me here with all these Germans!|
Thanks be to God he's come back! After a picnic there we went on to Mason Island once the home of a fishing village now abandoned save for a few holiday homes.
All on board and heading to Mason Island.
Approaching Mason Island.
Walking down the main street from the harbour.
Inside the old School House on Mason Island.
On wide open spaces.
Steams Coffee is just what you need when you been leading a group through Connemara! They also serve delicious lunches and to die for cakes and deserts.
|Exploring the Wedge Tomb in June.|
www.conamaraphotography.com may look like they've been Photoshopped but they haven't been.
Martin and Thomas on a Forest Trail walk in Connemara.
At Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel Seven Creamy pints of Guinness were magically produced by the shy and quiet barman extraordinaire Thomas.
After a walk in the woods there is nothing to beat a Guinness, unless another one of course!
Lunch at Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel with a delicious Sea food chowder, the biz!
I also give classes on Photography and will help you improve your photographs with tips on Composition and help with understanding the importance of choosing the correct aperture and shutter speed.
Travel to Connemara With Ruairí O’Neill’s Connemara Tour.
Ruairí is a Bord Fáilte (Irish Tourist Board) trained Mountain and Marine Guide and has been specialising in providing tours around his native village Carna located in the heart of the Gaelic speaking Conamara countryside.
His interests are archaeology, Irish history, photography, jewellery and art. His weaknesses are dates, he can never remember any, so if you are keen to know the exact date of the Neolithic Tombs that he will bring you to, you are on the wrong tour! Ruairí’s version of carbon dating is, Old, Very Old and Really Very Old!
Music on Ruairí O’Neill’s Connemara tour will be provided by Clann Ó hÍarnáin, a family of musicians and dancers from Carna. On any given night other local musicians may turn up for an impromptu session.
Ruairí’s Connemara tour brings you to places off the beaten track. He’ll take you to islands that seldom see people. He is keen to provide you with a laid back tour of his native area. It will give you time to meet and unwind amongst locals. He is known for always trying to depart on time every morning but he is also known on occasions for being stuck on local time, which is not the same as central European Time. There is always time for one more cup of tea before a day starts.
Whether traveling on the sea or walking around the coast you are likely to come across many species of wildlife, from Rabbits to Hares and Foxes, Dolphins, Porpoises, Seals, Otters, Basking Sharks. Birds are in abundance, from Seagulls, to Cormorants, Ducks, Curlews, Swans, Peregrine Falcons and Kestrels to name but a few.
Book Early as space is
Cost of Tour for the month of September is € 1,200 pps
Included is :
B&B for 6 nights
Sterling Silver for Jewellery Class
All Ferry and Bus costs
High Tea at Ruairí O’Neill’s
Driver and Guides Tips
Ruairí O’Neill’s wit
Gaelic Language Lessons
Travel Insurance is highly recommended
Single room supplement of € 36.00 applies per night
Air Fare is not included
Fare is based on minimum of 15 people traveling.
Schedule for Ruairi O’Neill’s Connemara Tour in September 2015
Sept 7th Monday
1 .15 pm : Pick up at Dublin Airport
4.15 pm : Arrive at Galway
Wander around the medieval walled city of Galway and sample some of its excellent cuisine at its café’s, pubs and restaurants.
6.00 pm : Depart for Carna
7.30 pm : Arrive at Carna
Traditional Music at Tigh Mheaic ‘till late
Sept 8th Tuesday
10.00 am : Pick up at Carna Bay Hotel
Visit Mac Dara’s Island and its 6th century chapel. After a leisurely walk around the island we’ll head over to Mason Island. Mason Island had been until the 1930’s, a busy community but now it is abandoned save for a few holiday homes.
Mason Island has excellent beaches so bring your swimming gear! It’s a peaceful and tranquil place to spend a day, wandering around its ancient stone walls and the ruins of its buildings. The only sound you will hear is that of birds calling to each other and the sound of the ocean. It’s an ideal place for a picnic!
4.00 pm : Return to Carna
Sumptuous Dinners with local catch of the day a speciality available at Tigh Mheaic’s and Carna Bay Hotel.
September 9th Wednesday
Jewellery Workshop and High Tea at Studio Ruairí O’Neill
10.00 am : Pick up at Carna Bay Hotel
Learn how to make a silver ring or pendant for yourself, friend or family member. Ruairí will show you how to work with Sterling Silver. It is also an opportunity to see the varied collection of his work in Jewellery, Sculpture, Photography and Paintings. Ruairí’s work is all made in Connemara and is for sale, so a chance to find an unique gift to bring back with you.
High tea is in Ruairí’s family home with guests enjoying homemade sandwiches, cakes and tea, the cakes are to die for!
September 10th Thursday
Climbing Cashel Hill
10.00 am : Pick up at Carna Bay Hotel
Climbing Cashel Hill requires a modest level of fitness, please let the guide know the day before if you think it will be too strenuous so he can make an alternative option for you. Good walking boots with ankle support are required. Walking poles are also advised as the sections of the decent are steep. Ruairí will bring you across a blanket bog with its myriad of plant life, don’t expect him to know the names of every flower and plant, he won’t, as there are too many to remember!
The climb will be at a leisurely pace and plenty of time will be given to stop and take pictures of the magnificent scenery. We will have the sea on one side and the famous Connemara Beann Beola Mountain Range on the other side.
After the climb we will be going to the nearby picturesque fishing village of Roundstone for lunch in O’Dowds Pub. I recommend their Sea food Chowder and Crab Claws.
On the returning journey we’ll stop by Glynsk House for a pint or light refreshments and shopping if required in their Craft shop.
Returning to Carna at 06.00 pm app.
September 11th Friday
Sky Road and Clifden
10.00 pick up at Carna Bay Hotel
We’ll go to Clifden’s Sky Road to take in the vista over the Atlantic Ocean below.
Returning to Clifden for some shopping and café visits.
We will visit The Station House Courtyard, site of Clifden’s abandoned railway. The Railway Museum is located here, which houses a Marconi exhibition. In 1905 Marconi had a large base built a few miles out the road at Derrygimla, to send and receive trans Atlantic messages.
The Station House Bar serves wonderful meals and the Guinness is good there.
Steam Café is a must visit for the best coffee in the West and they’ve also mouth watering cakes and deserts.
We will return to Carna via Ballynahinch Castle for a walk along its river and yes, the Guinness is also good here! As we say: "A bird cannot fly on one wing alone!"
September 12th Saturday
Inish Boffin or Inis Bó Finne (Island of the White Cow)
9.30 am : Pick up at Carna Bay Hotel
Ferry from Cleggan
Visit Bronze age settlements, view Cromwell’s Castle.
Walk along shore stopping of at the Blow Hole where seals are often seen swimming looking for fish and tourists (if they are really hungry!).
Inish Boffin is a seal sanctuary so seals are always present here.
In the summer time Dolphins frequently come out to meet the ferry on the way to the island so keep an eye out for them!
We’ll stop off at Murray’s Hotel for soup and sandwiches. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the Guinness is also good here.
The walk here is mostly on tracks but there are some steep inclines so again good walking boots are required.
Ferry returns to Cleggan at 5.00 pm
Returning to Carna for last night of Music and Dance.
Schedule is to be used as a guide. We may have to change some of the days around due to the weather and weather in Connemara changes frequently.
Bring warm jumpers and rain gear, yes even in summer!
September 13th. Sunday
10.00 am : Pick up at Carna Bay Hotel
12.30 am : Galway Bus to Dublin Airport, arrive at 3.00 pm
I hope you’ll enjoy your time here in Connemara and come back again, tell your friends about us!
Ruairí O’ Neill
If you would like to book your place or have any questions You can contact Ruairí at 00353 879744063 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org