Apologies and news

I apologize dear readers, it has been some time since I’ve posted here. It is not for lack of will – I get an immense amount of joy from this blog, but life has gotten in the way for a minute. Or rather, death has.

I’ve been hit with a double dose of tragedy over the last couple of weeks and it has taken a toll on my brain and my free time. I promise to return to my regularly scheduled program as soon as I’m able to stop and think for a minute. There’s a post or five brewing in my head I promise – and I look forward to getting them out soon.

In the meantime, I will tease you with a little news – there’s a book coming. It’s a silly little thing that I’m self-publishing but it brings me a lot of joy. It’s a trade paperback with about 150 pages and is full of some expanded and favorite posts, quirky facts, Irish travel gems, and more. It features a lot of women and some of the lesser known players in Irish History and has a wonderful title too – but it’s going to be about a month before I can get it finished and released. I just wanted you to know that I haven’t been completely idle in these trying times.

More history posts and current tidbits soon I promise.

Squeeze your loved ones a lot and keep them close.

Crashing into the History Books

On May 21st, 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly a plane over the Atlantic ocean by herself. She ended up crashing in a field near Derry, rather than landing safely in France as she had intended, but she earned her title nonetheless and became an important symbol and inspiration to women everywhere. Continue reading

New York suggestions

Next week I will begin writing from the other side of the United States – I’m only going to New York for a couple of weeks but I am excited to experience it on a different level than I ever have before. Do any of my readers and fellow writers live in the Big Apple? If so, I am looking for suggestions of what to do and where to go while I visit, since I’m going to be there for a decent amount of time. It is to be my final trip before the centenary in Ireland next year, so I want to make the most of it.

Please comment if there’s something or somewhere that is not to be missed, or if you know about an amazing coffee place, because I am spoiled rotten living here in the bay area. I’ve seen Ellis Island and most of the touristy things already, and am visiting the Mckittrick Hotel again as well. I’ll be there over Easter and am hoping to find a commemoration, since I will miss the one here in the bay and some good traditional music too. I’m looking for all manner of things – Irish or not – though by now it’s probably apparent that the topic is a passionate one for me. That said, where do you like to go when you visit or live in New York?

They’re Coming to America

So you want to move to America? Whatever for?! Unless you are in a “third world” country, chances are your health care is better, your education is better, your work schedule is better, and people are probably kinder where you already are. Considering the weakness of our dollar, our union-busting corporations that are considered people, the current political climate, our abhorrent race and gender issues, and our militarized police force, I would encourage you to think again before coming to the “Land of the Free.” However, since a lot of people are still interested in moving here, I thought I’d go over some of the most common ways to accomplish it and throw my observations into the mix. We are hard on our immigrants—legal or not—and there are several things to consider. Here are some of them, wrapped up in the most frequent ways to get into good ol ‘Merica. Keep in mind, this isn’t even about the path to citizenship. These are just things I’ve witnessed while watching people try to obtain semi-permanent residence and entrance into our work force. Citizenship is even more difficult.
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Love, Marriage, and Immigration

A few months ago, I shared a love story.  My dear friend Jody found the man of her dreams through the magic of technology. Unfortunately for the two of them, Kevin was half a world away in Raheny on the outskirts of Dublin and Jody was here in California. Trips between the United States and Ireland can get pretty expensive relatively quickly. At some point in the future Kevin might have moved away from Raheny but he did not want to come to America at all. That was never in the plan. However, even the best laid plans change and he did end up coming here for Jody. At first, everyone on both sides of the puddle worried a bit but there was no need. Kevin is delightful and Jody has never been happier. I was thrilled for them when they got married a few months after his arrival at San Francisco City Hall and it has been my privilege to watch them grow into an amazing couple.

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The Celtic origin of Ground Hog Day

Imbolc, also called Oimealg by the Druids, is the festival of the lactating sheep. Yes, you heard that right. It is derived from the Gaelic word oimelc meaning ewes milk. At this time of the year, many herd animals have either given birth for the first time of the year or they are just about to. It’s the first breath of Spring and it marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden and from February 1st to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. On Feb. 1st, Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather (Ground Hog Day anyone?) and in many places the first flowers begin to pierce the grounds of winter and start to bloom.  Brighid’s Crosses are made and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year.BCHome hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun. It is a festival of fire and renewal and one of the first celebrations of Spring.
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The Queen of the Spider Dance

Her name was Lola and she was a showgirl….except that her name wasn’t Lola and her show wasn’t any good. Her real name was Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert—which was quite the mouthful for a stage name—so Lola Montez it became. She invented the role of a mysterious Spanish entertainer and played it for much of her life but everything about her persona was a lie. She was actually Irish, born in Grange, County Sligo, and by the time she passed away on this day in 1861, she had lived a full, dangerous, and notorious life.
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Fatima, Lourdes or just plain Pagan?

There’s a war on in Ireland that doesn’t have a thing to do with water, language, Sectarian violence, or the long history of the Troubles. While all those other battles dominate the press, there is one that slips through the cracks, silently waging on throughout the years and it begs the question, whose rock is it anyway?
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Souvenirs

One year ago today I returned to the U.S. from a trip to Ireland. When we went there, we had no itinerary, no lodging lined up, and no plan at all. We had our luggage and a rental car and we just went wherever whimsy sent us…and that was mostly the west, Dublin, and the coast. It was a scary and amazing way to travel and we found many things we would have missed if we had scheduled things or tried to plan. Because it was December, I had a heavy coat. I also had a simple raincoat, with down lining and a hood. It came in very handy on the top of the Cliffs of Moher and when we decided to go to Achill in winter. (Here’s a tip: nothing is open in winter on Achill. Seriously.)

Here in the US, I don’t really use a heavy raincoat because I live in Oakland, CA. While it is not entirely the sunshine state, most of the time I can get away with a regular coat and an umbrella. I kept the raincoat as a reminder of my trip and whenever I saw it hanging in the closet it made me smile with nostalgia and long for another visit.

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