View From an Irish Back Yard

Leaves, Rain, Love
November 11, 2012, 2:38 pm
Filed under: Dublin, Food and Drink, Ireland in General, Irish Sea, travel, Weather


Any seasoned spouse will tell you it’s important to spend quality time alone with your significant other… be it a weekly date night, a shared hobby, or even a night away once in a while.  It seems Frank and I don’t get enough time to do this (probably most people would say the same), but when we do it’s all the more appreciated.  We had a short getaway for our 4th Anniversary last week and I have to say – as much fun as it was to fall more in love with Frank, it was equally fun to reignite my fondness for Ireland, too.

There are so many places we’ve never been together in this lovely country – Cork, Galway, Kerry, Donegal, Clare… time, money and lack of transportation has really stifled our desires to travel for the present.   That’s why I am so happy to tell you we spent a very quick, very lovely day in Wicklow, the mountainous county just south of Dublin.  Our destination was the Glenview Hotel, situated in the lush forested hills west of Greystones.

Irish Sea Views from the DART

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There and back again.
August 9, 2012, 9:06 pm
Filed under: America, Family, Food and Drink, travel | Tags: , , , , ,

Where to start.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that we’ve been working on getting Frank a visa to live and work in the States.  As much as we love Ireland, we’ve felt the call back to America for several years now, and we’d love to go back there with Evelyn and embrace certain opportunities that are easier to find there than here.  About the time Evey was just a few months old, we started the application process.  This entailed massive amounts of paperwork, locating old documents and records, doctor’s visits, immunizations, and lots and lots of money.  Every hurdle we jumped only led to bigger, more confusing challenges.  So, we’ve been ticking away at it for over two years.

Rose of Sharon in full bloom.

About three weeks ago, Frank got a call from the US Embassy in Dublin.  They told him his visa had been approved! This was wonderful news.  Except that he had to use it by August 3rd.  At that stage, we were looking at having to be Stateside in 2 1/2 weeks’ time or start over, including paying the fees again.  We were also told there was one additional paper we had to have renewed, one that usually takes several weeks to get.  So we just kind of kicked into high gear, asking favours of family and friends and strangers, started researching flights and frantically running around trying to figure out what might happen in only a few days time.  I was saying a lot of prayers, but I was also practically having heart palpitations every day over the instability of our immediate future.

This plaque at the Irish Famine Memorial in Boston included the poignant words of local Irish poet, John Boyle O’Reilly.

Thank God – it worked out at the last minute, as these things usually do.  Frank got the extra papers sorted and we found out more information from the Embassy.  We learned that he could fly to the States and activate his visa and then come back to Ireland for a few more months to tie things up here.  We also learned that I had to go with him as his main sponsor.  On Thursday morning the 28th of July, the Embassy called and told us Frank’s visa was ready and waiting.  So, while he took the train to Dublin to collect the papers, I booked the cheapest flights I could find – to Boston, of all places – and by Friday morning the 29th, we were on a plane headed West to the USA.

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Pen Pal
June 21, 2012, 11:42 am
Filed under: Friends, Ireland in General, travel

One of my best “dinner party stories” is a few years old, but it goes like this:

In the spring I turned 15, my family took a long road trip as we often did back then.  All six of us piled into the minivan and we set out on a journey that would take us down through Zion National Park in Utah, The Grand Canyon in Arizona, and up through Los Angeles, San Francisco and Eureka, California, into Oregon and Washington state and home again.  It was a trip of many “firsts” and some beautiful memories, but one in particular has made history.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

It was while we were admiring the view at the Grand Canyon that I noticed a business card caught in the weeds.  It was that of an Australian cardiologist, Mr. Michael Davis.  I kept the card and when I got home, I sat down and wrote a long letter to Mr. Davis, telling him all about me and my life and how I had come to find his card.  I think I even sent a picture of myself – perhaps this man was young and handsome, looking for an American girlfriend? (I was quite boy-crazy in my teen years. :))

A few months later and my mother was bringing in the mail when I spied a handwritten letter with an Australian postmark!  I turned beet red, grabbed the letter and clutched it to my chest as I ran to my bedroom and slammed the door.  Mr. Davis had written me back.

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Milestones, Memories and Meals
May 27, 2012, 7:17 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, travel | Tags: ,

So, the news is out – it’s my birthday.  And, well, it’s kind of a big one.  I’m not depressed about turning 30, not really, I just sort of worry that maybe all the fun is over?  Ah well, I’ve tried not to give it too much thought.

However, I have found myself thinking over the last few weeks about the milestone events in my 20s, and wow, there were a lot of them!  I could list them all out for you, but I don’t really need to.  There is a particularly happy one I’m happy to tell though, and as you will see, it is one that has also shaped my low-key birthday celebration plans.

Me and a few of the girls from our TRI-S Italy 2004 group posing on the Ponte Vecchio in Firenze

In my senior year of college, I took  a TRI-S trip to Italy with a group of about 20 students and faculty from AU.   During those 10 fabulous days, my friend, Katie, and I were lucky enough to stay with an Italian family on the outskirts of Ostia.

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April 11, 2012, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Ireland in General, Irish Outdoors, travel

On our last full day with The Car, we took a drive through counties Louth, Meath and into Cavan.  Frank’s dad, Anthony, is a great cyclist and told us this was a pretty part of the country (though really, what parts of Ireland aren’t gorgeous?), so we took his advice, packed a lunch and headed off to someplace new.

Ireland Map for Quick Reference

We got caught in a Spring rainstorm in Kells, had tea and cake in Cavan (the town), drove around some of the lakes (including Lough Inchin, pictured below), walked around the bright green countryside a bit, and stopped off to buy some of my favourite wine in Navan on the way home. All-in-all, a laid back and lovely day.

First off, some pictures of the famous graveyard at Kells, Co. Meath, with its incredibly old and significant High Crosses and Round Tower.  If you want the fun version of the story, you should watch the brilliantly animated The Secret of Kells, which was nominated for an Oscar a couple of years back.  Unfortunately, Kells did not seem to have much else going on, at least not yesterday, and we were drenched in a downpour, so we got back in the car and headed down the road to Cavan.

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Spring Simplicity
April 9, 2012, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Holidays, Ireland in General, Irish Outdoors, travel

Happy Easter, everyone!  Hope you had a nice day yesterday and, if you’re in our part of the world, that you are still enjoying your time off today!

We’ve been keeping it light and simple the last few days and wow, it’s been great.  Just the kind of thing we (I) needed!

Because I work in a solicitor’s office, I also got a few extra days off while the courts are closed, so we decided to rent a car for the week and just enjoy doing the things we rarely get to do sans wheels. We haven’t gone anywhere too far away, and that’s actually OK – why waste good money on a hotel and eating out when you can’t predict the whims of a 2 year-old? Instead, we’ve stuck close to home and have just been soaking up the simple pleasures.  We’ve gone to the beach a couple times, done a good bit of shopping (including Smyths Toy Store for Evey!), and, my favourite, a visit to Newbridge House and Farm.

Newbridge Farm Peacock

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Winter Daydreams
January 12, 2012, 12:25 am
Filed under: Ireland in General, travel, Weather

Round about this time of year, now that Christmas has passed and Easter is  months away, folks in Ireland get to feeling antsy. We find ourselves daydreaming a bit over a cuppa tea as we gaze out the window across soggy hills and grey streets.  Perhaps we’re wishing that Spring was closer, but more likely, we’re fantasizing about far off holiday destinations… call it the ‘Winter Doldrums,’ but a change of scenery from chilly Ireland – as much as we love her – would be welcome.


Irish (and often British) folks have a certain affinity for their Sun Holidays, saving up for months to fly off to Grand Canaria, Tenerife or Mallorca . There’s a running joke that if you take a vacation in this part of the world, you’ll hear a lot more British and Irish accents than Spanish, and you’ll probably get served more UK and Irish fare than anything local or strange.  The travel agencies are constantly running good deals to these destinations year round, flying direct out of Irish airports, facilitating big groups if you like, and promoting handy all-in packages. Some people love the islands so much that they even buy second homes there and go several times a year.

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