Monday, August 13, 2012

It’s A Colm-ity: Blogs logged in Book Form.

I fully realise that this is the era of the instant messages of social media accessed through I-Pads and I-Phones on such sites as Twitter and Facebook with the content usually very quickly assimilated and just as quickly forgotten. To give more tangible expression to ones views than is possible within the constraints of the 140 character message, some people like me have used the Blogger web site as a means of exploring some meditations and musings and also to post some photos linked to such thoughts. So far my little series of sketches, rhythm verse and photo montages have exceeded 160 in number with the result that even I myself have some difficulty in readily accessing them. I often thought of attempting to print some of them and save these in a ring binder but my small black and white printer strained even to adequately execute a sample print of a recent blog.

Hence my total surprise and elation when my two daughters presented me with a hard copy book of my ‘col(u)mns and musings’ aptly titled “It’s a Colm-ity” for my last birthday. The hard cover book was I’m told printed and bound in hard back in the USA and posted to Ireland. So far the run of books does not exceed four in number but once YouTube and Kindle get wind of this new publishing sensation, the sky is surely the limit. The book contains not only the blogs themselves finely printed but also beautifully realised colour photographs that accompanied the original blog entries. In this respect, I was particularly happy to see that the front book sketch of yours truly was carried out by my young grandson who took great pains to explain to me that it showed all the wrinkles on my brow, hair in my ears and ‘sad’ attempt at a ‘Balotelli’ haircut! Posterity worthy indeed!

I would like to thank all those who contributed to this fine production and I only refrain from naming them here because of a desire to protect their privacy. Let me just therefore thank (M & M my two lovely daughters) and grandson (S) for their kindness, consideration and treasured gift. They indeed have made an old ‘vain scribbler’ very happy and I am therefore posting this blog my way of gratitude to them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Magic Messi,Easter Bunnies and Botox Blues!

“Why do old people have hair growing in their nose and their ears” my young grandson asked as we sat together on the front seat of the bus on our way back to Dublin. As I struggled to find a satisfactory answer to this conundrum I was assailed by further interesting questions such as why does your hair stand on end when you get up in the morning, why do you have so much hair on your knuckles and so little on your head and my most appreciated observation, why do you have all those lines across your forehead? While I became steadily perplexed in endeavouring to find suitable answers without causing an outburst of merriment among the other attentive bus passengers, my ever considerate grandson leaned towards me and quietly assured me that I need not worry as I could get Botox treatment for my furrowed brow. He even produced a sketch next day to illustrate the range of facial problems that I had to contend with. Vanity thy name is definitely Youth!

My grandson had elected to spend one of his Easter holiday weeks with my wife and me in Galway. Of course he was a welcome and indeed treasured guest. During the week we explored many areas of Connemara together and even climbed Mamean Mountain without difficulty except to pause for him to collect a number of both large and small stones to bring back to his Mum in Dublin. At home he spent time playing games on the computer and avidly watched espn classic soccer matches on TV while filling in his Match Attax cards in his album. However, his favourite past time which was announced with a fanfare almost every hour was a challenge to me to beat him at soccer in the garden. Thus I invariably lumbered around the tarmac area trying vainly with waving hands and heavy feet to try and restrict the little lithe footballer to a reasonable score in matches he won with ease. He proclaimed loudly that he was a Barcelona fan and that Messi was his idol and set out to show me that the magic swagger associated with that footballing genius were not confined to the Nou Camp. He succeeded with great style and was soon running rings around me and leaving me complaining about stretched sinews, sore limbs and pulled muscles! Thus my days of imagined footballing process were shown to be as real as the full shock of hair I still considered to be on my head.

My wife and I were entertained my our little visitor’s innocent sense of fun and wonderful joy of life all week and indeed our house had a most welcome shot of social energy which put the family focus back with a ‘jolt’ in our home. When he left with me for Dublin we were very sad to see him go but I was greatly encouraged by the social spectacle which I witnessed the day after his arrival home. His mother and father had arranged an Easter treasure hunt and our little visitor and his younger brother were dressed as Easter bunnies along with their parents who had Paper Mache ears, tassel tails and painted faces as they attempted to retrieve various eggs from hidden locations with the aid of a hand painted map. To some serious people this whole enterprise would seem a little unwise if not entirely mad but to me it represented the wonderful imaginative cultivation of youthful spirit. Thus, when I viewed on the following days, the many funny and outlandish photo memories of the days events I could not but be proud of parents and children alike. A chip of the old block, I fondly hope!

Note: The names of my grandsons and their parents have been omitted from this blog to protect their privacy.

The Easter Bunny statue is from YESFLOWERS Galway shop window!

All comments and musings welcome!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mamean, Magic Walks and Nancy Sinatra's Boots in Galway

I have to say that global warming is most likely to blame and especially this unseasonal sunny warm weather that has bathed Galway in continuous bright sunshine for over a week now. It is a simple fact that we are unused to such seasonal largesse from our normally ‘changeable’ climate at this time of year and this has lead some people to act a bit like lemmings and head off in a mad rush into the wild countryside of Connemara to take advantage of these ‘fair’ days.

Perhaps this is why without any particular rhyme or reason that I myself headed into the wild and lovely Maamturk Mountains yesterday to capitalise on the beauty of the wonderful scenery. My special destination was Mamean, or the ‘Pass of the Birds’, which is an ancient pilgrimage site associated with St. Patrick in the centre of this mountain scenery. It can be reached via a small side road from the main Clifden Road near Recess in County Galway. It is indeed a wild and wonderful place of unspoilt beauty with a view of the twelve Bens of Connemara behind you and the Maam and Inagh Valleys in the foreground. It is a landscape of wild rugged hills, glinting quartzite rocky outcrops and pebble pilgrimage paths with only a few sheep and cows to disturb the silence. It is said that St. Patrick preached here and it was a holy site for centuries. However, during the 19th century the pilgrimage ‘faithful’ became more associated with raucous dancing, fist fights and drunkenness linked to the consumption of Poitin (illicit homebrew whiskey) than any religious fervour and the pilgrimage was abandoned for many years. However, at the end of the last century it was renewed and although its main celebration coincides with the more famous event on Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo, some 30 miles away, it is now very popular. The extent of the local attachment to it is manifested in the little Chapel built to honour St Patrick with its fine stained glass windows beside the cave where St Patrick is said to have slept and also by the Stone Statue of the saint with a sheep at his feet. I must confess that I was enthralled by the beauty of the landscape and only saw three other people there during my visit. Indeed the only traffic jam on the nearby minor road was provided by the lovely local sheep. It is worth noting though that when I stopped on the way to Lough Inagh later in the day to take a photo of a small donkey in the wild setting, he put his head in through the front window of the car and refused to remove it. I had to get out the other side and literally push him away. Heehaw!

Despite the marvellous setting of the Pilgrimage path it is an arduous trek for those of weak limb or general fragile health disposition, and I was pleased to find an old timber ‘staff’ in the bog which assisted my descent. In fact, because of my lack of experience of such walks, I was wearing heavy shoes which I had considered suitable for the climb but proved like heavy weights on my feet in the hot weather. Thus, as I trudged back I was reminded of the words of the old Nancy Sinatra song:

“These boots are made for walking and that is what they’ll do,
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you”

Finally I remembered walking to Mamean with my wife some years ago and I think that I may inadvertently have lost a small part of my soul while climbing there. Thankfully, yesterday after the wonderful sun baked exhilarating walk I think I found it again.
For those who would like to experience this Walk or indeed others in a similar striking landscape, may I recommend that you consult ‘The Western Way’ and ‘Strolling Connemara sites' on the web.