Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A bit more blarney and a lot of rain

Rain, rain, rain. Don't you just love it? Yes, yes I know it's essential for growing crops and maybe in 20 years time I'll be praying for it to rain because the land will be arid and desolate but why, why, WHY does it always have to rain when I'm on holiday?

Yep, I've been doing a good impression of a drowned rat here in Ireland which has been hampering my quest for The Blarney Stone somewhat. Only yesterday, I was wading down a stream towards an interesting boulder when the current surged and I ended up with my bottom wedged in a nearby bridge. It was most undignified. However, the local beavers were extremely pleased; I had to pay them off with an offer of some subsidised dental work otherwise they were going to make me stay there indefinitely. Huh, what beavers will turn to just to get some new gnashers.

Well, we arrived in Ireland safely. This was pleasing as during the journey I had to contemplate how the hell I was going to save my family should the ferry capsize. This was not a pleasant thought as neither Mr T or Master Benedict can swim. Master Jacob swims in a politically correct fashion, ( i.e he has received loads of certificates; "Best putting your toe in" " Best impression of someone who can swim whilst actually putting his feet on the bottom" and "10 metres breaststroke" (with the aid of a dinghy and a rubber duck.) Has anyone else noticed that these days school children get certificates for just turning up at school and for every little thing without having achieved anything concrete at all.? Maybe it's just a British politically correct phenomenon but I'm thinking of issuing some certificates/awards myself for the following people;

Gordon Brown; The Bronze Award for Services to the British Economy. Yep, I suggest Mr Brown is embalmed and placed in a bronze sarcophagus and exhibited in the Natural History Museum alongside some other old dinosaurs. Bronze, I feel, is a most suitable metal as that's all I have left in my purse after I've paid Mr Brown my taxes.

Cherie Blair; The Unreal Smile Award. Mrs Blair will be cast in wax and exhibited in the London Dungeons as an example of a 21st century horror story alongside Freddie Kruger and George Bush.

Posh Spice; The Matchstick Award. Victoria Beckham will be photographed with a red hat on her head and displayed in the foyer of The London School of Fashion alongside photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. There will be one of those little information cards reading "Twentieth Century Icons - which one can you start a fire with?" Answer; "The one that isn't dead yet." (Although some people would believe that she already is.)

I could go on... but I was supposed to be talking about Ireland. Well yes... anyway... we got there safely and fortunately I didn't have to swim the seas with all my family on my back. (With the exception of Master Sam who being able to swim moderately well I would just have to tow using the elastic on my knickers.) Anyhow, we arrived in Dublin, Southern Ireland and then proceeded to make our way to destination in Northern Ireland. I knew I was in Northern Ireland when I saw this;

Okay, I know it's good to be patriotic... but come on what happened to good old King Edward's?

And so my quest for the Blarney Stone began. Where shall I go first, I thought? Why, one must go, as explorers have gone before (dressed in a silly hat and the wrong shoes) to The Mountains! And so I arrived at the Mourne Mountains, where I took this photograph viewed from the nearby beach at Newcastle.

And just for Eddie, here's something I remembered whilst I was looking up at this beautiful sight written by the songwriter/poet William Percy French;

Oh Mary this London's a wonderful sight
With people here workin' by day and by night
They don't sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat
But there's gangs of them diggin' for gold in the street
At least when I asked them that's what I was told
So I just took a hand at this diggin' for gold
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

I believe that when writin' a wish you expressed
As to how the fine ladies in London were dressed
Well if you'll believe me, when asked to a ball
They don't wear no top to their dresses at all
Oh I've seen them meself and you could not in truth
Say that if they were bound for a ball or a bath
Don't be startin' them fashions, now Mary McCree
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

There's beautiful girls here, oh never you mind
With beautiful shapes nature never designed
And lovely complexions all roses and cream
But let me remark with regard to the same
That if that those roses you venture to sip
The colors might all come away on your lip
So I'll wait for the wild rose that's waitin' for me
In the place where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea.

But did I find The Blarney stone? NO! Humph... and t'was hard work huffing and puffin up at those mountains with a child on my back and a year's supply of loo roll in my knapsack. (One should always be equipped for lavatorial emergencies - I learnt this after being caught short in a remote field in Scotland. Also, I've never felt the same way since about dropping my knickers anywhere that isn't concealed by dense shrubbery - especially after being eyed by a herd of cows and (regrettably) the passing 8.15 to Glasgow Central.)

So I travelled through the rich green mountains to where it was rumoured that I might find many more stones and in doing so I stumbled across the fascinating sight below. At the same time as being in total admiration of nature I could not help but imagine the branches of the trees as the calloused and spindly fingers of ancient witches;

Soon I came to the Giant's Causeway, a world heritage site, which has a truly remarkable display of volcanic stones that have formed into columns; in many places they look like a series of steps and it is almost impossible to imagine that they have been formed naturally. Old Irish folklore says they are a feat of a giant, Finn MacCool. Close your eyes, listen to the waves crashing upon the rocks and it is quite easy to imagine an angry giant stomping upon the stones, his nose raised to the air, his voice booming out across the sea "Fie, fi, foe fum I smell the blood of an Irishman! Be alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread!"

It is rumoured that one of the stones has only 3 sides; could this be The Blarney Stone? I searched high and low but I could not see it. So not to miss the opportunity I decided I must kiss every single stone. Boy, were there a lot of stones! By the time I went home, my lips were like jelly and wobbling like a baboon's bottom. In order to numb the pain I had to douse them with some strong Irish Whisky. Unfortunately, alcohol always badly affects my taste in music and I ended up listening to Irish boy band Westlife. Oh well, might as well listen to one of their tracks...

Hmm..that wasn't so bad.. time to get out my PC and dance around the living room again...( Blimey, the whisky's a good 'un....)

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Ps It's raining. Again.


  1. It rains so you will write. Or go to the pub. Nonetheless, I hope the weather is kinder to you in future.

  2. Gorgeous photos... ??? You know what the question is. Sounds like you are having a delightful time. I can't wait to get all of the intimate details of the trip. Thanks for sharing so much with us. Continue to have fun... by the way, I'm pretty close to the rainiest place on earth but it's not falling on me much. I'll have to tell you about that later.

  3. Thanks for the wishes Mark. The weather is a obviously disappointing (it's torrential this evening) but there is enough of interest other than the beaches to keep the children amused. I was really hoing to get in a visit to The Maze (H block) which I'm sure you are familiar with but there are no tours at the moment as it is a politically sensitive period (Marching season) so I've had to content myself with a view from the outside. Maybe I'll get to view it some other time as I think the plans to make it into a sports arena have come to an end. I am pleased, whilst it is good to push aside bad memories it is also just as important to preserve some as evidence and a lesson for future generations.

  4. Mr I... Hawaii eh? Outrageously exotic! Hmm.. I bet you look absolutely fantastic in a grass skirt! Are you doing the Hula and shakin' your booty? I feel I should remind you that you should take off your shirt and silk tie; I wouldn't want to imagine you looking silly in any way at all....

  5. If its any consolation it's pissing down here as well...

  6. Mrs A... yep, it's still raining here too. And I'd just like to point out I look good in wellies and a souwester. However, next year I'm going somewhere sunny. Maybe we should go together with Mrs S and stakeout Tom Cruise's place!

  7. That sort of Cruise don't float my boat...

  8. Beautiful, beautiful photographs!
    Mrs T. may you find the Blarney stone soon for the safety of your lips !!

  9. That was very educational, and the video of the band was an ... entertaining way to finish, although I had just eaten so I'm a little peeved. I didn't realise there was a Eurovision Synchronised Prancing Contest, but I hope they won it. I was a bit concerned that a couple of the guys had wires coming out of their heads, but it freaked me out when one of them started tugging a wire completely out of his brains -- almost expected him to drop dead on the ground or for the neurosurgeons to dance on stage.

    Good to see you have Thomas on your favourite books widget, JT.

  10. Mrs A,

    Of course, I entirely agree on that front! Mr Cruise is not my cup of tea either. Although I gather he sits rather nicely on a saucer.

    Sue, Thank you for your wishes! I am indeed worried about the state of my lips. With all this snogging I've been doing lately I've ended up doing a lot of dribbling. (Not pleasant) I've also been offered a part in a Rolling Stones cover group....

    Hey, what's wrong with Westlife? There are the creme de la creme of British pop! I just love that sychronized dancing; I wonder if they ever do it in flowery rubber caps?

    Ah.. the Amazon widget. Well originally I had a lovely (vitrolic) description of Thomas the Tank Engiine on it. Indeed, I sat sadly laughing to myself for a considerable amount of time... until I read the Amazon small print which says they monitor sites... so I thought they probably wouldn't be too enamoured with the defamatory remarks....

    Well now The Sneezing and Passing of Thomas Aquinas is about to be published I shall have to add it to my widget! ( Prepare yourself!) Now I think I shall go to Waterstones in Milton Keynes.. a big place like that should have it. (Shall I forge some signatures and get them to promote it as "signed by author"?)

  11. "The Sneezing and Passing of Thomas Aquinas"!! I love it! That one I keep. Perhaps you could sign the books: Pope Paul, or Venerable Bede ... see if anyone notices.

  12. PB,

    Ah yes, I must say that one did tickle my fancy!

    Bede is my brother's confirmation name! Ha, ha, ha,. Yep 30 years on I'm still chuckling on that one......

    Yes, yes, I do have a glass of wine to hand....


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