A Trip to Ireland

IMG_20160510_141924It seems as if we’ve been on the road for ages. We’ve seen so much, and now that it’s raining (spilling out of the heavens, in fact), it’s the perfect time to write a new blog post. I’m enclosing some random photos which I’ve taken with my mobile. I loved this house below, obviously derelict. I’d love to know who went to the trouble of painting in the faux doors and windows. This was on the way to Glasson, in the heart of Ireland. I wanted to pop into a craft shop, but it was Tuesday and the shop was closed. We did find a lovely little pub next door and had lunch there, so all was not wasted.

We came over for my nephew’s wedding, which was held in Slane, Co. Meath. It was fantastic to see all the family again and meet some new people too. The music was great, both at the wedding and afterwards, with various musicians and friends of Peter entertaining us all. It was one of the nicest weddings I’ve ever attended. The couple made their own vows, the sun shone, the mood was great and everyone was wrapped in the melody of love.

Since Slane is just around the corner from Newgrange and The Hill of Tara, we extended our stay a couple of days and inhaled a bit of history and culture.

The picture below is of Newgrange; it doesn’t look too spectacular, but the energy was pretty amazing there. I didn’t feel the same at The Hill of Tara, but we had a most interesting encounter in the coffee shop.

We climbed the hill, walked around a bit, checked out the eerie graveyard with the typical half-fallen stones and faded engravings of a bygone era. The ominous sound of cawking crows nesting in the high trees added to the sinister feeling. IMG_20160506_163211

There was a coffee shop and gift shop to the front of the actual hills, and it was doing a buzzing trade, so much so that we sat at the front, away from the crowds, in a little niche.

A man in his sixties came to sit beside us, asking if that was alright.

“Sure;” we said, in unison.

I moved my hat and coat to make space for him.

“I’m dying for a cup of tea,” he said, as he looked around him. “I’m waiting for my client.” He stabbed his fork into a delicious-looking chocolate eclair and took a bite. He even had us on edge, wondering who and where this client was. “Yes, this is my third year working for this particular client,” he said. “He’s from the U.S., looking for his ancestors. Problem is, he doesn’t have a name.”

“Well, that’s going to be hard,” I said. Maybe you need a psychic.”

It was a joke.

“I’m a psychic,” he said.

“Really.” I checked his eyes to see if he was joking.

“Actually, I’m a healer,” he continued. I don’t charge for my services. Why don’t you turn around.”

I caught the glint in my husband’s eye, as I obediently turned to the side.

The man put his hand on my lower back and I immediately felt a surge of warm energy rise upward. I knew he was not a fraud, although my husband later insisted he was some sort of a chancer.

“I didn’t tell my client I’m a psychic,” he said. I understood that. Too many sceptics around. IMG_20160506_144443

It was a bizarre encounter, like something out of a film. My husband was enchanted, as was I. “This could only happen in Ireland,” he said.

I would have loved to catch a glimpse of that ‘client’ but never did. We spotted Robbie again on the partking lot. He jumped out of his big car when he saw us, bluetooth headset in his ear. Still no sign of his client.

After another few days in my hometown, catching up with friends and family, we even made it to The Kilbeggan Races and placed a couple of bets on horses. Two of my horses placed and I recouped my minimal bets. IMG_20160513_194828

 

to be continued….

 

 

 

My Review of The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce

I thoroughly enjoyed The Herbalist. It had been sitting on my Kindle for several months. I had read a few pages but wasn’t in the right mood or couldn’t get into it at first.
Then one day I began reading it again and soon became totally immersed in the setting and the story.

I can clearly imagine how an exotic character like the Herbalist would have repelled and attracted the locals in a small town in Ireland, or anywhere for that matter, a mere few decades ago. That’s the part that seemed incongruous to me i.e. the fact that a man like him would have chosen to live in a midlands town in Ireland back in the 1930’s.

When a book really interests me I want to find out as much as I can about the spark that ignited the idea for the story. I discovered that the author had found a small newspaper cutting while working on the archives of a local library (if my memory serves me correctly). The cutting reported on the trial of a man with an exotic sounding name who was accused of duping the locals with his treatments and herbal potions, or something to that effect.
Fiction is fiction and if you want to immerse yourself into a story and enjoy it without every detail having to be perfectly authentic, this might be the book for you. I know Irish life, I grew up there and I was able to roll with the story. Human nature being what it is, people gossip and people tend to go with the crowd. You’re either loved by many, tolerated or shunned. Boredom and lack of stimulation can make people behave strangely. Even in the sixties, Ireland was a country run by clerics; women were repressed and had little freedom, and this is all brought home in this dark but entertaining story.

My favourite character was Aggie, although I don’t seriously think a character like her would have been tolerated in any small town in Ireland, and she certainly wouldn’t have been having parties on her houseboat. Forgive me if I’m wrong on that score. Never mind, we can suspend belief and just enjoy the ride.

Yes, the author did use her unique style, switching characters and point of view and zooming in and out of scenes. But I genuinely loved her language, her creativity and her humour at times. I’ve marked a few examples here:
It reminded her of when the thread ended on the spool and the needle ran on regardless, puncturing seed holes of light.
I was growing myself some women’s intuition.
There was a lot wrong with her face: a wide mouth, a chin an inch too long, flared nostrils. And yet … she was perfectly lovely.
Grettie would have had Mass said for a splinter in her finger.
I struggled into the fur – it was soft as sin.
Ned had a dusty old job sweeping the roads but was always neat as a pin.
Rose was lying on the ground for anyone to see, all lonely under the moon.
Was I to live like a shunned sow, like the Carver sisters in their flour-bag dresses…
…it was a low-class thing. Low-class things are so exciting. Low class, my arse…
Okay, that’s enough. You get the picture. I’m very glad I returned to this book. It was a marvellous read. Dark yes, but amusing too. I look forward to reading more from this author.