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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Taste of Paris
November 19, 2011, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Ireland in General, travel

French Onion soup reminds me of happy days.

My French Onion Soup

My first taste of the stuff was back when I used to serve it to customers at the Cafe’ Internationale at the old location in the Emerson Cultural Center in Bozeman. I was only 15 but already broadening my palate and I quickly fell in love with Chef Andy’s version – a rich, dark broth, just a bit peppery, with a generous chunk of Havarti cheese that always sunk to the bottom of the bowl and streeetched back up from bowl to spoon to mouth. We must have gone through gallons of the stuff every week.

Then I remember French Onion Soup as the first course of our Valentine’s Day lunch in  a little cafe in the Les Halles part of Paris. Frank had never had it before and needed some convincing that cheese in soup was a good idea, but I think he came around to my side pretty fast. It was a beautiful day and a lovely version of the soup, though to our detriment,  because in lingering over the stuff, we actually missed our flight back to Dublin!

Cathedral of St. Eustace, Paris

I’ve been wanting to try making French Onion soup for ages. It’s one of my favourite brews for a chilly day, and so unique to any other kind of soup I can think of. I also rarely see in on the menu in Ireland, which is a shame because I think it would be a real crowd-pleaser.

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What becomes us.
August 17, 2011, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Family, Friends, Ireland in General, travel | Tags: ,

In case you didn’t know, Ireland can be quite a popular destination for tourists. ;)

And, as I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve gotten quite a few calls from people I know – or used to know – who are coming to visit!  There have probably been at least a dozen such friends, and sometimes strangers, who I’ve seen on our shores over the years.  I have to laugh sometimes when I hear a friend of a friend of my cousin-in-law’s high school lab partner wants to meet up while they’re “in the country.” I even drag my family into it – and Frank is always the dutiful tour guide around Drogheda and Dublin!

However, it’s been great to catch up with a lot of familiar faces, too, and one of the best visits lately was from a girl I grew up with – my old friend Morgen! I had not seen Morgen in at least 10 years, but when she emailed and told me she’d be coming to Dublin briefly with her husband, I jumped at the chance to reconnect with her. I can’t always meet up with people, you see, with us being without a car and quite busy, but when we can make it work, it’s wonderful.

My friend, Morgen - Ireland 2011

It’s so funny how time changes people… sometimes you see someone you used to be close to, and there’s no connection left. Just awkward silence, shuffling of feet, nervous smiles. Then, every once in a blue moon, you meet up with an old friend and find that not only have you both changed dramatically, but you’re also still the same, still compatible, still dear.

Morgen is one of the latter.

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7 Links and 5 Recommendations
July 27, 2011, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Arts and Crafts, Food and Drink, Ireland in General, travel

Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been asked to share, but thanks to Jody at Ireland With Kids, I’ve been “nominated” to give you what I think are 7 links to my best posts on this blog.

I have to preface these by saying what fun it was to read through the last 3 1/2 years of writing and 143 posts I’ve put up here… and now I’m wondering what wonderful old posts lay hidden in the depths of other people’s excellent blogs. I think I’ll be doing some cyber-digging this weekend!

Also, please note that while I was nominated as a Travel Blogger, by a Travel Blogger, not all these posts have to do with travel per say.

Here we go.


1. My Most Beautiful Post – TIE between “Heart to Heart” and “Cold Coffee, Warm Beer”

Tea & Bakewell

I chose these two posts as my “Most Beautiful” because I think they best represent ME, and what goes through my head when I’m writing exclusively for myself. They’re quite personal, but sincere, and I feel like the writing is as honest as anything I’ve ever written. They’re a couple years apart, but I think they’re both good examples of where I’ve been, personally speaking, while living in Ireland.


2. My Most Popular Post“IRE 101: How to Talk Like a Paddy”

 This post was a lot of fun from start to finish, but also actually took a lot of time! I spent a couple weeks writing down local sayings and dialects as they came to me, in addition to “fact checking” with Frank to make sure I had them right. Together, we came up with so many  sayings that I actually followed this post up with a sequel, “IRE 201: Advanced Paddywhackery,” which hasn’t gotten as many hits but still has a lot of funny little anecdotes about the way we all talk around here.


3. My Most Controversial Post“The Big Three”


I actually thought I’d get more backlash off this post than I did – so either everyone agreed, or no one read it! Ha ha! :)

I’m still glad I wrote on these three frustrating topics, though – Litter, Bad Drivers, and Bigotry. They still pop up constantly in my day-to-day life here in Drogheda and I would love to find a solution, or at least a positive remedy to helping make things better. As they say, it starts with you! I guess that means I’ll be doing my bit this weekend.

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