Stone Cold Home

If you live in Kentucky like me, you’ve seen a lot of this. Stonewalls stacked up perfectly, with no mortar. All these stone walls in Kentucky we owe to the Irish migration in the middle of the 19th century due to the potato famine. They brought their stone masons, their whiskey (aka bourbon), their Catholic priests, their jockeys, and their horses. I have just described not only the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, I’ve describe a good deal of what characterizes... Read more

Turf Wars and the Sad Story of Dan O’Hara

A huge amount of Ireland consists of peat moss, or peat bog. Take your pick. Ever resourceful, the Irish realized there were many things that could be done with this turf. For one thing, it burns, nice and slow, and can warm a house quite readily, and unlike wood, it doesn’t burn up quickly. Behold the peat fire, in the old cottage of Dan O’Hara. So here’s what we are talking about– the digging up of turf in the form... Read more

Did I Mention Sheep?

We had an opportunity to visit a genuine sheep farm, and watch a sheep dog do his work. It was fascinating. But as with so many other old trades and industries, sheep farming these days is mostly a labor of love. The number of shepherds and sheep dogs is dwindling. John Davoren is our shepherd. Here’s our shepherd and his dogs. And here are the sheep… of course. And while we are at it… there were indeed also goats….not with... Read more

Connemara Marble

Connemara marble is world famous. It is quarried just outside the city, in a quarry owned by the owners of the marble shop we visited. We got a full demonstration as to how marble is turned into beautiful things. Here’s the owner doing the demonstration of how the stone is milled and drilled and polished. The owner’s name is Ambrose Joyce, presumably no relation to James. Marble comes in many different sizes, shapes, and colors and sometimes is even multi-colored.... Read more

Go Fish

Considering how much coastline Ireland has, fishing is not surprisingly one of their main industries, and indeed, nowhere in Ireland is far from fresh caught ocean fish. Yum! Of course there are some lakes as well. But first, some ocean-going fishing boats.. Bet you didn’t know Glen Campbell retired and now paints boats. There’s trout fishing, salmon fishing, pike fishing, fishing vacations, fishing lodges, Ireland is a fisherman’s paradise. So much coastline, so many kinds of fish, so little time.... Read more

Dunkirk— When a Retreat was an Advance

Christopher Nolan is one of the great directors of the 21rst century, best known for his work on Inception and the Dark Knight trilogy. Dunkirk measures up to his earlier best work, and is a thrilling ride from start to finish. Nolan lets the action tell the story, rather than having a narrator as well as the visuals. There are no stars in this movie really, unless one counts the occasional scenes with the excellent Kenneth Branagh as a navy... Read more

Saints and Sinners of Ireland

You never know who you’ll meet on the Emerald Isle. And I rounded a corner and ran into this gentleman…. Maybe its a new golf outfit for when he’s playing in St. Andrews on his course there. But I digress… Ireland is a thoroughly Catholic country by heritage, and very conservative in social matters as well. And one of the traditional practices is honoring saints, visiting springs of holy water, and the like. This is St. Kieran’s spring, where you... Read more

Quote of the Day from C.K. Barrett

(This was C.K. Barrett’s Methodist church which he served in Darlington before going on to become a professor at Durham University). I know some Churches, and in varying degrees I think this is true of all Churches, which in fact work on a very different scale of values. They are great because they are wealthy, they are great because they are influential, they are great because they have a magnificent history, they are great because the right people go there,... Read more

Sliabh Liag (=Shleeve League)– Ireland’s highest cliff

Sliabh Liag is of course Gaelic, and it is the name of Ireland’s highest cliff, indeed they claim it’s the highest in all Europe. Who am I to doubt the Irish? This gentleman was the one to explain to us what we were seeing as we peered into the abyss. If he looks a little like a character out of Lord of the Rings, you would be right— we shall call him Paddy. Let’s admit, the views are spectacular—- Yes... Read more

Valerian and the City of 1,000 Planets

Luc Beeson is a visionary director, and this movie has been his pet project for almost an entire decade. If at times it looks like a movie deeply indebted to previous Star Wars movies, and even more clearly to the Fifth Element (check the director of that movie) this is no accident. Like Avatar, this movie tries to immerse you in another world in the future and also like Avatar it is very strong on the visuals, but not so... Read more