27 December 2010

Christmas Round-Up

This Christmas was lovely and family-orientated. Among the gifts I received was a book entitled Abandoned Mansions of Ireland, by Tarquin Blake. I saw the author featured on Nationwide and asked for the book. I never expected it to be so amazing! The photos showed heart-wrenching desolation. To see the hallways where Austen-esque ladies and lords strode now in utter ruin and left to crumble until all that remains is rubble was extremely saddening.
Below is my favourite photo of the book:

The reason I find it so striking is the bath that has not quite fallen, still clinging to the floorboards, reluctant to part with a memory of water.

Another photo that is sad is actually two. The first is an old photograph of how the house once looked, the second of how it looks now. It shocked me when I turned the page.

The last photo is two as well but on the same page. It's a dance hall. You can see an old photo of dancers posed in front of that lovely circular window and to the top left, what that dance hall is now.

I would recommend the book to basically everyone. Whether you love old castles, Jane Austen, writing inspiration, reading cool old legends, local history, or the seventeenth to twentieth centuries, I really think you will love this book. I have already had many ideas for stories/poems from it. Tarquin Blake can be found at his website, Abandoned Ireland.com, and there you will find even more old country homes with impressive 360 virtual reality photos.

I also received two books of Wordsworth's poetry and one of Yeats's. I have been reading them lately and, funnily enough, Abandoned Mansions of Ireland has a Yeats quote on page one.
Below is our small but impressive Christmas bush.

24 December 2010

What I Believe About Christmas

I always liked the story of Jesus as one of many other interesting stories I became familiar with as a young child. I never singled it out as a story of a divine being or a superhuman man but just as a story that could still inspire and awe like so many others that were neither biblical nor religious.
For me Christmas is important because of the sense of community. Any single person can chose to give gifts or donate to charity or decorate a tree at any time in the year but the knowledge that so many others are doing the same thing at the same time is very powerful and it's like an inside joke that you can see reflected in everyone you meet on the street.
Personally I feel it is unfair to celebrate Jesus' birth on the 25th of December as it prevents people who don't believe in the Christian tradition from joining in in the same way as Christians. I think that Christmas should remain a holiday that nearly everyone celebrates in order to spend time with family and give gifts to loved ones.
The significance of Jesus' birth has already been totally overshadowed by consumerism and the "true meaning" of Christmas is never the same. So why not celebrate Jesus' birth when time can be devoted to just that celebration and not combine Santa Claus with the birth of the saviour?
Christmas is confusing (no matter what you believe) because there is no set of directions for celebrating it, or rather there are just too many sets of directions. I'm not trying to add my own set of directions, just saying what I think about Christmas. You'll notice it's different from what you think and from what your friend thinks, but the two of you don't think the same thing either. The point is, don't try to tell someone how to celebrate or what to celebrate on the 25 December because you can never get it right.

Two Christmas Videos For You:
The Digital Story of the Nativity
Advent Conspiracy

21 December 2010

New Pens!!

I was happy to wheedle MM into buying a set of nice pens for me last Saturday. They were reduced from €10.00 to just €2.50. Check them out:

There are six in total with a selection of refills in three colours for each. The colour is gold and silver, a little less rich than pictured. One of the things I have discovered due to using a fountain pen daily (since early November at least) is that the secret to good handwriting is actually the pen. There is a reason that handwriting from fifty years ago looks so much nicer, and that is pens were nicer fifty years ago. Nowadays pens are like fast food; inexpensive but cheaply constructed. You can get them for convenience but the best are worth paying more for. And you can still find quality goods on sale.

P.S. MM posted again! Actually I copied and pasted from her Writing4all.ie account but she knew I was doing it. If you want to check out more of her writing, she has quite the on-line presence there. I will be trying to get more of it on here in the coming days (first full day off: 24 December) so expect to see some more orange writing.

18 December 2010

The Visitors

It is I who chooses the time.
It is I determines the place.
All I ask is that you be present.
And whether you be in slumber, or naught,
I take no heed.
My needs are few, my requirements even less.
It is enough for me to encounter icy roads and careless drivers.
What is a slip of the scalpel when your time is nigh.
Or, a misguided drunk.
Accidents happen.
All it takes is a lift of my hand.
Then the sweet rush of air I so willingly ingest on your last exhalation.
I am death.
No appointment necessary.

To view on Writng4all.ie click here.

17 December 2010

The Messiah

Last night we heard Handel's Messiah at Saint Nicholas's Church here in Galway, performed  by the Irish Baroque Orchestra and the Resurgam Chamber Choir. It was lacking in something, a certain emotion, but overall good. The venue was gorgeous but the acoustics weren't astounding and, as there were no microphones, at times the soloists were greatly overpowered, especially the bass and alto.
There are many old graves in the church which are very cool. Jane Eyre, who lived in Galway in the middle of the eighteenth century (and happens to share the name of a certain famous but fictional character) is buried there. On top of the elaborate grave is a armless baby which was distressing but obviously relating to the destruction incurred by the Cromwellian forces when they used it as a stable for their horses.
It was a nice night and today it snowed, so the Christmas spirit is beginning to take hold.

12 December 2010


Between this week and last week I have purchased 26 books at a total cost of €27.65. Before you ask, yes they were all for me. 25 of them were second-hand.
The books I buy second-hand (most are probably at least fourth-hand actually) I buy for two reasons;
1. Well, obviously because I want to read them
2. Or they have a really nice old look about them and/or a cool inscription.

Most of the ones I bought were for the second reason. But that's okay.
One had a crest sticker that said "Fred L.White His book"
One was in French (ooh).
One was inscribed "L.L. Keane Co. Fermanagh Bought in Belfast Feb 28th 1923"
One was inscribed "Frank Hugh O' Donnell Dublin 1925"
A Short History of Science (12-18-45 was inscribed) had a beautiful cover and gorgeous endpapers.
One was inscribed "S.C.H. from E.H.J."
One was a London Atlas previously owned by a lady in Kent
One was inscribed "Mollie Johnston, 21 Perry Place, Dublin, Christmas 1919"
The rest  had lovely covers/endpapers/subjects/titles/jackets or something to recommend them.

My friend was with me (the second time I had brought her there). We had been wandering around town for a few hours looking at clothes. We were in the outside part of the bookshop (which is covered from the elements) and I was choosing books.
"You and books are like me and clothes" she said (she was holding my purse and a present I had purchased).
"Mmmm. This one looks cool, but no inscription."
"You know the last time we were here, when we tried to sit on that wall, there was a seat right there all along!"
"Wow, that's weird. I had no idea."
"And we tried to get up and I could but our other friend couldn't and she is so much taller that me."
"I know, that was hilarious! Where are all the good books? Ooh, this is cool."
"You are finally getting something!"
"No, I'm getting that whole pile around the corner too, and this pile I left here."
"Just three more."
"This pile is almost up to my knee!"
"You can put those down on it if you want."
"No, I'm okay. I want Supermacs though, but my mum said I have to eat my dinner when I get home. Look, there's all these little children eating pizza through that window."
"Awww, I'm sorry, I only need like two more. Why are they hard to find? Ha, imagine you were inside the bookshop and you just saw books moving..."
"You know last time when we were sitting there and you were here? I'm feeling that way again. Boooorrrreed."

So she knows how I feel in some clothes shops...Anyway I finally found all the books I wanted (pretty books), and when I held them at my waist I could just rest my chin on them. Then I paid for them and I carried them (fifteen hard-cover books) in two big bags which I kept hitting her heels with(accidentally)...And yeah, never again because she has no qualms about complaining, that's for sure! (Fair enough, but you don't hear me whining when we are looking at a fifty euro jacket for the fifth time in ten minutes).

08 December 2010

What I Want for Christmas

1. Abandoned Mansions of Ireland by Tarquin Blake
2.Science & Faith by The Script
3. book of Wordsworth poetry and/or
4. book of Yeats poetry (second-hand is fine if not better)
5. Something old from ebay (like this old coin or these old postcards)
6. Something unexpected
7. Something exciting and unique

I always think a Christmas list should be longer than what you know you will get because then you wonder what you will get from it.  And you know you can't get it all so you aren't disappointed when you don't.

Exchanging prezzies with my friends on Friday!!! Yay!

07 December 2010

Just a Little Word

Sorry I haven't been around. Here is a little laugh from the Galway Advertiser a few months ago.

Below: Cllr Seamus Walsh

Above: Adolf Hitler

I don't see the joke. Is it because they both have polka dot ties? ;)

P.S. The first photo I took of a photo from the Galway Advertiser. The second I did not take at all and do not know who did.