Tag: Cork

Which strange creature, once upon a time…

Saturday, 17 August, 2019

… passed this way? This way was established tens of millions of years before the Ice Age, and the Alien-like results can be seen today in the Mitchelstown Caves.

Mitchelstown Caves


The miracle stone of Labamalogga

Thursday, 11 July, 2019

The small monastic site of Labbamologga on the Limerick/Cork border was founded in the 7th century by Saint Molaige, and the name Labbamologga is an Anglicized form of the original Irish, Leaba Molaige (the bed of Molaige or Molaige’s resting place). Locals say that if you pick up a stone from the ruins of the second church on the site and apply it to an area of the body that is being affected by illness, while simultaneously praying or wishing for a cure, miraculous things can happen. You may carry away your “miracle stone” from Labbamologga but it must be returned at some point. On that, there is universal agreement.

Labamalogga stone


Brexit and backstop, Britain and Ireland

Tuesday, 15 January, 2019

“The misunderstandings are too many,” noted the Irish writer Frank O’Connor, and he was convinced of where the blame lay. “Ultimately, perhaps, all the misunderstandings can be traced to sixty miles of salt water which stretches between Britain and Ireland.”

O’Connor was writing in in Cork in 1940 and, one hundred years earlier, Mr and Mrs Samuel Hall embarked upon their three-volume opus Ireland, its Scenery, Character, etc. Their journey, as we say today, began with a purgatorial crossing to Cork, and their thoughts pre-echoed those of O’Connor:

“It was not alone the miserable paucity of accommodation and utter indifference to the comfort of the passengers that made the voyage an intolerable evil. It was once our lot to pass a month between the ports of Bristol and Cork; putting back, every now and then, to the wretched village of Pill, and not daring to leave it even for an hour, lest the wind should change and the packet weigh anchor.

Under such circumstances, it is not surprising that comparatively little intercourse existed between the two countries or that England and Ireland were almost as much strangers to each other as if the channel that divided them had been actually impassable.”

The “wretched village of Pill” mentioned by the Halls there is actually Pillgwenlly, which is now a parish in the Welsh city of Newport. And Wales, as we know, voted for Brexit. The misunderstandings are too many.


Sweeney by Matthew Sweeney

Thursday, 9 August, 2018

On Sunday morning, in Cork, the poet Matthew Sweeney succumbed to a cruel ailment that causes its sufferers so much agony as it wastes away the human body irreversibly: Motor Neuron Disease. Matthew Sweeney was 66 when he died and his poem Sweeney hints at the heart-breaking destruction he experienced in his final year.

Sweeney

Even when I said my head was shrinking
he didn’t believe me. Change doctors, I thought,
but why bother? We’re all hypochondriacs,
and those feathers pushing through my pores
were psychosomatic. My wife was the same
till I pecked her, trying to kiss her, one morning,
scratching her feet with my claws, cawing
good morning till she left the bed with a scream.

I moved out then, onto a branch of the oak
behind the house. That way I could see her
as she opened the car, on her way to work.
Being a crow didn’t stop me fancying her,
Especially when she wore that short black number
I’d bought her in Berlin. I don’t know if she
noticed me. I never saw her look up.
I did see boxes of my books going out.

The nest was a problem. My wife had cursed me
for being useless at DIY, and it was no better now.
I wasn’t a natural flier, either, so I sat
in that tree, soaking, shivering, all day.
Everytime I saw someone carrying a bottle of wine
I cawed. A takeaway curry was worse.
And the day I saw my wife come home
with a man, I flew finally into our wall.

Matthew Sweeney (1952 – 2018)

Matthew Sweeney


The Galtees and the Irish apostrophe

Sunday, 10 June, 2018

Today’s climb of the Galtees, the Munster mountain range that encompasses Tipperary and Limerick, is in aid of the Mercy University Hospital Foundation, which does good work for the people of Cork and neighbouring places.

The Galtees

Punctuation note: When referring to the Galtees, there is no need for an apostrophe. In Ireland, though, the fact that the apostrophe is seldom used to form a plural noun in English, is ignored, generally, and the general punctuation rule that the possessive of a singular noun is formed by adding an apostrophe and s, whether the singular noun ends in s or not, is applied arbitrarily.


Hurling is their song and their verse

Sunday, 3 June, 2018

Splendid evening had by all in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, where Cork and Limerick delivered 70 minutes of epic hurling in front of 34,000 delighted spectators, for whom this uniquely Irish game is their song and their verse.

“I believe hurling is the best of us, one of the greatest and most beautiful expressions of what we can be. If you could live again you would hurl more, because that is living. Hurling is our song and our verse, and when I walk in the graveyard in Cloyne and look at the familiar names on the headstones I know that their owners would want us to hurl with more joy and more exuberance and more abandon than before, because life is shorter than the second half of a tournament game that starts at dusk.” — Dónal Óg Cusack

Hurling


Hurling: Letter from Ireland (1937)

Sunday, 20 May, 2018

For some people in the Northern Hemisphere, summer begins with the start of the Munster Hurling Senior Championship. It’s a cultural thing that has its roots in an agrarian society driven by grass growth and the arrival of better weather. Today, the festival opens at 2 pm with Limerick vs. Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds.

The connection between Munster hurling and Graham Greene would not be known to most attending today’s game, but the great English novelist was the editor of Night and Day, described as a British rival to the New Yorker, in the 1930s and during its brief life he published a piece titled Letter from Ireland by Elizabeth Bowen, the doyenne of Anglo-Irish writing. Snippet:

“Cork left Cork for Killarney when the All Ireland Hurley Finals were played there. Tipperary won. This was a great day for the whole of the South of Ireland; special trains were run and the roads for a hundred miles round streamed with cars and bicycles, most of them flying flags. The Tipperary contingent passed my way. Those who unluckily could not get to Killarney stood on banks for hours to watch the traffic. This is, in the literal sense, a very quiet country: the Troubles and civil war were fought out in an almost unbroken hush, punctuated by a few explosions or shots. Voices are seldom raised, and you can (so to speak) hear a dog bark or a milk-cart rattle or a funeral bell toll two counties away. But these great Sundays of sport galvanise everything; from the moment you wake you know that something is going on.

Hurley is the fastest game, short of ice hockey, that I have ever watched. It is a sort of high-speed overhead hockey, played with sticks with flat wooden blades, and it looks even more dangerous that it apparently is. Though a game that would melt you in the Antarctic, it is, for some reason, played only in summer.”

There are gems of appraisal and style in everything that Elizabeth Bowen wrote. Her observation that “the Troubles and civil war were fought out in an almost unbroken hush,” is revealing, given that her Letter from Ireland was published just 14 years after the conflict ended, and “Cork left Cork for Killarney” is delightful. Today, some 80 years later, Tipperary will leave Tipperary for Limerick.

Limerick vs. Tipperary


One Ring to Rule Them All

Tuesday, 20 February, 2018 0 Comments

“Eight medals he has, a record unbroken
Of Cork hurlers he is surely the king
So now all together, one last rousing chorus
Three cheers for the maestro, the bould Christy Ring”

Christy Ring


Better the butcher than the meat

Saturday, 22 July, 2017 0 Comments

“Either you get eaten by a wolf today or else the shepherd saves you from the wolf so he can sell you to the butcher tomorrow.” — Ogden Nash

meat


Gin of the week: Blackwater No.5

Thursday, 13 July, 2017 1 Comment

Famed for its salmon runs, the Blackwater River rises on the Cork-Kerry border and flows east into Waterford before entering the Celtic Sea area of the Atlantic Ocean at Youghal. Along its meander, it passes by the town of Cappoquin, home of the Blackwater Distillery, which produces Blackwater No. 5, a recent addition to the Irish gin spectrum.

Before the botanicals, the optics. The elegant rectangular bottle comes with an embedded map of the region. This attractive detail is an argument for repurposing the bottle as a paperweight or a container for a sprig of juniper. And talking of juniper, it’s very up-front here, along with hints of lemon balm, lavender and lots of other delicate botanicals. The result is a subtle, serious gin that rewards regular tasting. Those looking for a refreshing twist on the traditional G&T might consider a decent measure of Blackwater No. 5 with a slice of pink grapefruit and a top-up of Poacher’s Well tonic water from nearby Wexford. Now we’re hurlin’, as they say in the sunny South-East.

Blackwater No.5


For sale: mannequin, one-armed recently.

Tuesday, 25 April, 2017 0 Comments

The famous six-word novel attributed to Ernest Hemingway reads like this: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The Hemingwayesque mannequin shown here was spotted at the Castletownroche Car Boot Sale in County Cork, Ireland.

Castletownroche Car Boot Sale