Wednesday, March 31, 2010


That beautiful blogger, Ann over at Inkpots and Quills was recently awarded this ‘Beautiful Blogger Award’ (congratulations Ann) and has passed it on to yours truly for my lovely Kitchen Table!! I now have to list 7 interesting things about myself and pass the award along to 7 more beautiful blogs (not including those to whom Ann has also sent it).

The very scary thing is that I have had a lot of difficulty in remembering any interesting things about me. I have done my best, have probably stretched the limits a bit - one in particular is interesting but not directly about me. So here goes….

1. I am a Reiki Master. Ommmmm. You may now get up from your knees and read on!! I discovered Reiki after my youngest was born prematurely and was quite ill for the first two weeks of her life. She went on to have breathing issues until she was 2. I had heard of Reiki and was immediately drawn to knowing more. So as soon as I retired fully from the paid workforce I took my first Reiki Workshop.

I will bore you more about Reiki maybe another day. But suffice to say that it has been a huge help to me in my daily life (when I remember to use it). Occasionally I still give healing sessions to friends and family! Ommmmmm

2. I have had tea with Meave Binchey at her home, with Anne (You Are The Weakest Link… Goodbye) Robinson in the Conrad Hotel and (best till last) Charlie Haughey on the lawn of his mansion in Kinsealy. So there…. (feel another blog post coming on).

3. I am a total Hispanophile (dictionary said this was a word) loving all things Spanish. Well, I definitely don’t love Bull Fighting, but other than that. I love the language and speak a very small smattering which improves greatly in when in Spain, late at night, after lots of red wine! I love the passion and the energy of the Spanish and have been known to hang around beside groups of Spanish students just to let their words wash over me. I have always had a dangerous weakness for Spanish men who pronounce my name with its full three syllables and roll both the ‘r’s. Ohhhhh…..

4. My love of Spain actually predates the two winter seasons I spent working in the Canary Islands - both in Gran Canaria and also in Tenerife as a Holiday Rep! (This won’t result in a blog post! Some things must remain sacred!).

5. Ok – here’s the dodgy one. My maternal Grandfather was a bit of a local hero in North Cork during the War of Independence. He was involved (with a few cohorts) in the kidnap of some British General who they ran around safe houses in the Fermoy area for a couple of weeks before releasing him (sounds like a not fully thought through plan to me!!!). My Grandfather’s notoriety was assured however when he was captured by the British (probably on suspicion of knowing the whereabouts of one missing General) and managed to escape – out through a toilet window! He was a handsome, very tall man and he met with Michael Collins (another of my heroes) on many occasion. Unfortunately he died when I was about 6, so I never got to talk to him about any of this!

6. I have spoken on air to Marion Finnucane, Gerry Ryan, Pat Kenny and Ryan Tubridy on live national radio!

7. I have an unfulfilled ambition which is to swim with wild dolphins in warm water somewhere! If you think you can help with that one – please let me know!

So that’s it. Wake Up! I am handing this award on to the following beautiful blogs:

Paul at Paul Sherwood Photography
Maria at Write Now Mum
Hazel at Hot Cross Mum
Niamh at Irish Wanderings
Aisling at Strictly Inkwell
Dorte at DotCom
And finally Mia - here you go - catch this award.... Mia's Room

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I have just realised that I am much luckier in the blogosphere than I am in real life! In real life, I never win anything. I won £5 on the Lotto in 1987 but nothing since, until I started blogging that is. A couple of weeks ago that nice young man, Donal Skehan over at The Good Mood Food Blog sent me a lovely book of Healthy Heart Cooking by Sally Bee; my prize for winning a competition on his Facebook page.

And now I hear that because I was the 100th follower of Karen Jones Gowen’s blog Coming Down the Mountain: From Reclusive Writer to Published Author, there is another book winging its way to me, this time from the USA. Karen’s second book (respect sister writer) is called Uncut Diamonds. She describes it as a 350 page novel, a mix of chick lit and women's fiction. It's Steel Magnolias with Mormon characters, following the lives of two sisters, one married one single, set in rural Illinois during the 1970's. Well being a child of the 70s myself and a HUGE fan of Donny Osmond, that sounds just great! You can buy (sorry) your own copy from her website!

So it is a nice balance to also let you know about another book project. Gareth Pearce is a good guy who is putting together a book of stories to raise money for Concern’s work in Haiti. Gareth says that ‘we Irish all have at least one good true story to tell - whether it be funny, sad, poignant, surprising...’ So if you have a story which might fit the bill send it to Gareth at For more information see

Monday, March 22, 2010


Mindlessly channel surfing over the weekend, I stumbled onto Sky News who were broadcasting a piece of footage, possibly from the porch of the Pro Cathdral in Dublin, where clerical abuse survivor, Christine Buckley was very calmly addressing Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

Christine is a normal looking, middle aged woman . She did not dress up particularly for this ‘informal’ meeting which looked like it took place after Mass. She spoke in a calm, rational and measured way of how the Pope’s Letter to the People of Ireland on the subject of the abuse of children by Priests, was inadequate.

In contrast, Archbishop Martin, stood in front of her, garbed in his full regalia of expensive robes, holding a golden crozier and his mitre perched jauntily on his head. He was listening intently to this brave woman.

What struck me was just how ridiculous he looked in his fine garb. His face showed concern and compassion as he clearly struggles with trying to do the ‘right’ thing, with what seems like little useful help from ‘Head Office’. But his expression was in complete contrast with the ostentatious and pretentious gear of the Catholic hierarchy.

As I witness this crisis unfold, in what used to be my church, I am struck at just how far from the path of Jesus these men have strayed. I am hoping that the sacrifice that all those thousands of raped and abused children have made, will result in a total meltdown of the Catholic church. I am hoping that perhaps these innocent children, who Jesus loved most, will serve to make the church realise that their flamboyant belief in their own importance along with the flashy wealth of the church is not something that Jesus would tolerate for a minute if he were to return to Earth now. Perhaps those who were abused as children will serve to bring that message to the church now. I salute their bravery and courage.

Friday, March 19, 2010

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other.....

Many thanks to my online pals, Ann at Inkpots and Quills and Hot Cross Mum herself Hazel, for passing this challenge on to me! The deal is that I have to list 6 untruths and 1 half truth about myself. So here goes: which of these things is not like the other?

I am a fish lover. I love to eat anything that comes from the sea (well except Dolphins I suppose). I cook fish many times per week and everyone in this house has a huge IQ as a result!

My husband has a mistress – one whom he openly flaunts and massages in the front garden with alarming regularity.

World renowned author, Alexander McCall Smith, of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency fame is an honorary member of our Laid Back Literary Ladies Society.

I have the most wonderful long and sexy legs and like nothing better than tottering about on vertiginous high heels – especially my black FMB’s.

I am a sports fanatic. I love all football – rugby and GAA especially. I play for my local GAA team and have season ticket to Croke Park. I run 4 miles every day, before the kids get up.

I hate cats. I especially hate it when I go into someone's home and there is a big cat sitting on their dining table. How awful. And dangerous - don't they carry all kinds of diseases?

So – which is half true? It’s over to you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Due to my brother picking St Patrick’s Day to die on, for 14 years I have not really ‘celebrated’ our national day. In recent years, my husband has taken our younger daughters to the local parade in Bray which retains the charm of a local community event. Last year, I joined them and enjoyed it very much.

This year however, I felt that the children were old enough to brave the huge crowds in the city and that it was time for me to reclaim my St Patrick’s Day. So we decided to Luas it into town and check out the biggest and best Paddy’s Day Parade in the world.

We headed to Westmoreland Street where we claimed a spot in a 5 deep crowd. There we stood for over half an hour in a sea of huge leprechaun hats, luminous green wigs, and oversized shamrock sunglasses listening to a variety of languages and accents all around us – few of which were local. The international audience is wonderful and excitement and good humour was high. But once the parade started we realised that the children could really see almost nothing. Husband salvaged the day by spotting a shop which was open, and had a first floor window. A quick word with the shop owner and we had a bird’s eye view of the proceedings.

What a difference 14 years makes. Yesterday’s parade was a wonderful spectacle – full of colour and creativity and imagination. But it was Mardi Gras. It could have been Rio de Janeiro or Notting Hill. Other than the sea of lurid green in the crowd, I was left wondering what this parade had to do with being Irish or Ireland. As it finished, realisation dawned on me that we may have lost something precious. This was not my parade.

My parade had lots of big volume marching bands from the US, but it also had big corporate floats which were not just a fleet of newly washed vans. Does anyone else remember Abel Alarms who often had the best big float of the parade? Aer Lingus were usually represented as were ESB and other semi state companies of the decades past. There were steam engines and Irish dancers. And I think that our little Air Corps did a fly past too. My parade was all about Ireland and what we have to proud and grateful for.

The crowd yesterday were adorned in all kinds of greenery from hula skirts to Scottish tartan berets – I kid you not. There was not a sprig of wilting shamrock or tricolour rosette in sight. Where was my La Le Padraig?. I am all for progress and change and I love the colour and creativity that the new parade has in abundance. But I think we may have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. Yesterday was Mardi Paddy. But I am Irish and although it was great fun, it was not my parade.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Ta - Dah. I hereby officially launch the Laid Back Literary Ladies Society.

The Laid Back Literary Ladies was inspired by listening to one of my favourite writers, Alexander McCall Smith who spoke about how his books almost write themselves with little need for editing. Sandy (as he likes to be called) said that once he learnt to plug into his subconscious mind, the words just flowed, easily. And as he was parting with this wonderful wisdom he was sitting so far back in his chair, I feared he might fall off.

I definitely think that as writers we need to be laid back and write from the heart. And I know I am not alone in thinking this. So prupose of the Laid Back Literary Ladies Society is to remind us of just three simple tenets:

We must always be relaxed and grounded when writing.

In keeping with some of the greatest Irish writers, we should remember to immerse themselves in the rythms and colours of real life, which is the source of all inspiration.

Finally, we will always write from the heart!

The inaugral honourary members are:

Barbara Scully,
Brigid at Sort of Witty (Brigid was instrumental in the genesis of this idea)
Beth at Hell or High Water
Susannah at Joy Frequencies
Dawn Maria at Method to the Madness
Alison at Head Above Water
Jane at Jane Obsessed with Jane
Ann at Inkpots and Quills

So Laid Back Literary Ladies, I urge you to take your badge and place it on your own blog where you will be reminded to be relaxed and true to your heart! Feel free to pass this badge on to others who wish to join our Society. And leave a comment so we can add their names to this role of honour!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The No 1 Laid Back Lazy Literary Ladies Club

I am a big fan of the Library Service. After churches, and interesting bookshops, I love to spend time in the library. My library organises some wonderful literary events during the year. Many of them low key and local. I did my first creative writing course, for free, in my library. I have been to an intimate talk on ‘How to Get Published’ in my library. Recently I got to hear one of my favourite authors, Alexander McCall Smith, courtesy of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Library Service. Alex, or Sandy as he likes to be called, is the author of the hugely successful No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which is set in Botswana. He also writes various other series – many set in his home city of Edinburgh.

He is extraordinarily relaxed and laughs so easily that just being in his presence lifts one’s spirits.

He is a prolific writer. If I remember correctly he said he publishes up to 3 books per year. And he makes it sound so easy. He doesn’t write every hour God sends. He writes for three hours in the morning. This clever and articulate man believes that writing comes from the subconscious and that once we can get into the writing zone and access this part of our minds, the writing just flows. The stories just write themselves is what he said. He followed that by sharing the fact that he does very little editing. What a joy it was to listen to him.

So, if like me, you tend to spend (waste) hours reading ‘How To Write’ books and trawling websites and blogs for hints and tips, maybe you should take heed of Sandy’s words.

I agree that all writing is borne out of our own experiences and once you can relax and be grounded enough to access this rich repository of material, the words will flow directly from this sealed part of your mind to the keyboard.

I think that many of us find this to be true. When you try to hard to write something wonderful, it doesn't read true. But when you are relaxed and just start writing, you often produce something wonderful and authentic. You are writing from your heart.

So I hereby announce the setting up of the No 1 Laid Back Lazy Literary Ladies Society and we are open to new members. Thanks to Brigid O Connor over at Sort of Witty for her help in developing this idea. I hereby bestow on her vice chairwomanship of this august and worthwhile organisation. So - can we sign you up?

Thursday, March 4, 2010


There are many of us, writing away in our own homes, most days of the week because that is what we love to do. We write stories, start (and some of us finish) novels and muse about life in general. We write because it is what we do.
But many of us, your truly included, resist calling ourselves writers because we have not had anything published yet. So we down play our writing. We mutter "well, I dabble a bit with writing", or "when I have time, I scribble bits and pieces". But if we write then we are writers. But few of us believe that. We feel we are not writers until someone, be it a publisher, newspaper, magazine or radio station says 'we like what you have written and we would like to use it.' Wow - what a difference that makes. There is nothing like professional recognition of your words to suddenly make you feel that you might actually be a writer after all. Coupled with the knowledge that this will lead to many people being able to read/hear your carefully crafted words is the completion of the process. Writers write to be read.
Over the last two years or so, I have sent in a few submissions to Sunday Miscellany which is a programme which is broadcast on Sunday mornings on the national broadcaster, RTE Radio 1. So far I have had no success. But on Wednesday the email that all of us 'writers' love to get landed into my inbox. Yep - the very one that says "we like what you have written and we would like to use it" and the great thing about radio is that you get a chance to record your work yourself.
So my turn finally arrived today and off I went in to Radio Centre in Donnybrook to record my piece which is called 'Dad and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance'. The process was fun and very enjoyable. But most important of all, it made me feel like a real writer!
So - if you are in Ireland still lounging in the bed on Sunday morning, tune into RTE Radio 1 just after the 9am news and have a listen. I hope my Dad likes it. It's a fitting and affectionate memory of a man whose 8th anniversary occurs the day beforehand.
The text of my radio essay, Dad and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance is now up on my creative writing blog My Word Songs