Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

Yes, We Have No Potatoes!

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

It was about 1845 when the Irish Potato Famine started and went on for the next 7-8 years. Much of the middle and all of the lower class made potatoes the bulk of their diet. One million people died in that time, and one million emigrated in vastly over-cramped ships, to Canada, America, and Australia. Most times they went as indentured servants in lieu of the fare for the voyage.

In the mid 1840’s my X great grandfather, Archibald Buie, a sea captain by trade, left the Isle of Islay and took his last voyage to Ontario, Canada with his family of three children. Islay is off the coast of Northern Ireland but belongs to Scotland.  It is pure conjecture that the famine was part of his story: did he ferry immigrants or see the oncoming tragedy? Archibald, and his father and father in-law were all sea captains in a treacherous part of the world for sailing.The timing was right, and it captures my imagination of what their childhoods, apprenticeships,and day to day life at sea must have been like, as well as for those they loved and were kept waiting back home in Bowmore, Islay.

From Ontario, a branch of the tree went to Kansas, then to New Jersey and this twig to San Diego. How many of you have Irish ancestry because of the famine that brought them west? Do you bleed a little bit green?

The potato blight has long been eradicated and the national food is once again potatoes; there wasn’t a single meal I was served in my 5 weeks in Ireland that didn’t include potatoes!!


Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Defined as:type of fairy in Irish folk lore, depicted as bearded men who like mischief/ spend time making and mending shoes and have a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If captured by humans, they often grant three wishes in exchange for their freedom.          

I’m on the look out!

Life is like a River

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Boy there sure are a lot of rivers in Ireland! And river walks are delightful. On our meandering along these rivers (Noor, Barrow, Slaney, Shannon, Liffey, Boyne,and Bann) we have seen barges, canoes, kayaks, swimmers, and fishermen, and one naked groom-to-be jump in as a right of passage.


Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Our townhome complex in Kilkenny has a large fenced pond on site where resides mom and dad swan and two baby cygnets. They have been fun to feed and funnier to watch as two babies grow.  Swans mate for life (tho’ mom swan flew off for 5 days and left dad in charge).

The swans on dry land are totally awkward as they venture forth to the fence and beg for any carbohydrate we might have. Dad has a hazelnut size knot at the base of his beak and mom has just a bump. Huge black flipper feet enable them to glide so picturesquely.

Just sorry we won’t get to see the ugly duckling’s transformation!


Saturday, August 5th, 2017

It was 4 years ago while on a bus tour of Ireland we randomly commented “you know I’d like to get to know Ireland better and Kilkenny appeals to me as the place to make homebase for such a venture (or words to that effect).” Cooky and Robert heard us and chimed in that it sounded like a great idea and count them in!

Well life happens because we had walking the Camino in our sights, then that needed two new knees and rehab. All the while the Quandts would call to see if it was time for Ireland yet? Last November we sat down with them and made plans for the month of August. It was getting exciting!

In living with them for four weeks we know that we are very different; no kids(thus no grandkids), no church, CNN and never Fox, they stop for lunch, don’t drive abroad, sleep late, drink white wine, don’t cook…you would think it was a recipe for disaster

But we made it work!  It was delightful!!All enjoy travel and making new discoveries, we gave each other space, didn’t talk politics,they ate my cooking drank a lot of wine, hated parting,  and emerged as great friends!

The “B” List

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Too much of travel is checking off items on a bucket list. There is not much depth or satisfaction,and the world famous location does not become part of you. They become photos proving you were there.

I discovered “B” list travel on a trip to Washington DC several years ago (see D.C. blog) and now I seek them out.

Today I was on the trail for local crafters; a glass blowing studio,a pottery firm,and a candle maker. Each of the locations were delightful and gave us a chance to engage local artisans. Conversing with a native Irishman, accent and all, make them friends for a time; a glimpse into a life lived in Ireland.

Doing ones homework about a location and its history makes that Castle or Abbey ruin come alive with the distant echoes or battles, unrequited love, or selfless sacrifice. I’m learning a lot about Oliver Cromwell and his hate for all successful Irish enterprises. Why does that Castle only have 3 sides? Well Oliver Cromwell’s troops blasted one side down to make it indefensible.

Then there’s Henry VIII !

He didn’t like the monasteries having so much power and money so he had his troops take the roofs of the churches and monasteries and it immediately dispersed the monks and brought the massive places of worship into ruin.

In Ireland there are stone circles and Celtic carvings with ancient auras that don’t have lines or need an admission fee like Stonehenge.

The point being go deeper, go eager for the bigger story and always talk to people!

The tourist sees what he has come to see, but the traveler sees the bigger picture.

Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey

Boy, Does it Rain!

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

jagualrIn Ireland, we learned that the household pets would frequently take to the thatched cottage roofs and snuggle in for the warmth and protection it provided. Thus, when there was torrential rain, the animals might just be pushed through the roof below and thus it was “raining  cats and dogs.”

Take that up a notch here in Panama. Maybe raining jaguars and pumas, of which they have a few. Last week’s Independence Day Parade was from 9-5 p.m. (really!) and in the rain. It didn’t seem to matter to the thousands lining the route.

paradeWe watched for a couple hours and saw perhaps 5 drill teams and bands during that time. They took 5 steps forward, 3 steps back, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. Seriously, the girls had uniforms with cleavage and 5 inch boots and looked like they should be on “Project Runway.”

The drum line was intense and all ages could be in the neighborhood bands. We saw 6yr olds and up, but they all had to know the routine. All were drenched but happy.

The enterprising sold umbrellas. I bought one.

Waterford Crystal

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

waterfordWaterford, Royal Dalton, and Wedgewood are all names that have a century or more of heritage…and all going bankrupt before an investment group purchased and resuscitated them and gave them new life. Those are the times we live in.

At Waterford in Ireland, hundreds lost their jobs when they closed their doors in ’09; devastating the region by the same name. But they ‘reorganized, sent much of their work to Eastern Europe, and reopened as a slimmed down plant in Ireland. This is where they do the specialty items such as the Peoples’ Choice Awards, trophies, chandeliers and the Times Square Ball.  It’s a 7-10 year apprenticeship to become a crystal cutter and this fall they have 7 new apprentices hired; the first new employees in 5 years. And the crystal is so beautiful and alive with light!

A Box Of Q-Tips

Friday, September 20th, 2013

I know I’m a little behind on posts and photos, they’ve kept us moving.

But something to make you grin.

We went on a Grand Circle cruise last summer and had a great time. Though the passengers were retirees and we were on the younger side, we had plenty of free time to take off and spread our wings. When we decided to get an overview of Ireland via a land tour, we went with Grand Circle again. Well a bus tour draws a much more senior crowd. All you have to do is get off the bus, get your room key, breakfast together and look out the window as we roll along (simplified).  Well if you are at the back of the boxy bus and look down at all the folk sitting there, you see a LOT of white, fuzzy- haired folk and a few bald men. Someone said we looked like a box of Q-tips.

I’m sporting my hair dark red to shake up the mix.

St. Patrick

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Are you sitting down?

Saint Patrick was not Irish.

Yep he was a Roman citizen living in Scotland where he was kidnapped by the Irish and made a slave. A pig herder to be exact. He escaped and fled to France where he accepted Christ and went to seminary and became a monk. He was reunited with his family and had a good life when a dream told him to go back to Ireland and convert those who had enslaved him. He had a message for the common man because he had traveled all walks of life. It was his way of explaining the trinity by using a shamrock — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three in one. And that became the symbol of Ireland.          

Now you know the rest of the story!