Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The perfect role model

I was visiting my best friend Genevieve at the weekend. Her daughter (and my god daughter) came up to me and asked
"Would you be my sponsor for my Confirmation?"
I was absolutely delighted and honoured to be asked and agreed immediately.

I have never been a sponsor before, but I know what is involved as I have taught Confirmation class for the past number of years. There is a lot of thought that goes into choosing a sponsor. I always recommend to the confirmants that they choose someone that they admire. I tell them that they are becoming teenagers and will face new challenges. They should talk these things over with their parents but if there is something that they are too embarrassed to discuss with their parents, then their sponsor should be someone they trust.
So I know what's expected of me.

I then had to answer some questions. One of them was
"Do you know why you were asked to be sponsor?"
Pretending I didn't know the background I replied
"No,why did you ask me?"
She thought for a moment and said.
"Well all the other girls are asking people who are young and trendy so I decided to ask you. You're great fun and.............Pause
"You wear great shoes!"

That's as good a reason as any I suppose. I better get shopping.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Back to the future

Every Christmas the women of our family get together for a bit of a knees up. This year, in honour of the decade in which I was born, my sister said that she would host a 60's party in her house for our aunts, cousins and nieces.
Being the super organised person that I am (!) I found myself at 6 o clock on Saturday evening, furtively  taking in the dress I'd bought online.
Thank God I made the effort, as when I arrived at my sister's house there were a lot more cars than I expected. I was over the moon to see  all my friends, namely "The Raharney Women" there as well.

In fact the only honorary man that was there was my brother-in-law Michael, who was doing DJ.
 After the obligatory photoshoots...


 It was onto a night of chat, food, drinkies and dancing.
The nicest surprise for me was my cake, a replica of Roxy!

It was perfect, right down to the registration plate. It seems that one day while I was visiting, my nephew had snuck outside to take photos of Roxy, to give the confectioner.

Before she made "me", she asked Lauren if I had any distinctive features. Lauren replied
"Big boobs!"
Here I am....
It was such a shame to cut it, but it had to be done.
Roxy looked as if she'd been in a car crash!
The party went on until stupid o'clock. I just want to thank my sisters, sister in law, nieces who organised the night, and also to my friends who helped me celebrate the big 50. 
It's a night I will never forget.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The power of music

Music and the sense of smell are the two most powerful emotion stirrers. We all have a particular smell that carts us back to a childhood holiday, or a song that reminds us of our first love.

In 2006 Dad was fighting a losing battle against cancer. On his last night we spent the night with him in hospital but sadly, the following day he passed away. Suddenly we realised that there were things at home that were urgently needed. I said I’d drive back and get them.
I had Paulo Nutini’s album in the car and I played the track Last request on repeat the whole way home to Raharney and back to the hospital, tears streaming down my face. The song is not about someone dying but it is about losing someone you love and I found the lyrics very poignant at that particular moment.
That song is the thing that I most associate with Dad and if I happen to listen to the album I skip that track as I find it too difficult to hear.

Yesterday was an eventful day in my life. Firstly it was the day of school Christmas holidays. Carols were sung, selection boxes were distributed to the kids and roll books were brought up to date for the end of term.
It was also my 50th birthday. I headed into Mullingar after school to treat myself, only to discover that half the town was sealed off due to a gas leak!
Not going to let a little detail like that spoil my day, I sat myself down in the window seat of a little café to eat my mince pie and watch the rest of the mad world scurry by. My mind was racing with making plans for the rest of the night… to buy, hair to be blow-dried and nails to be painted. Christmas carols were streaming out of the speakers adding to the atmosphere. 
Out of nowhere came the distinctive tones of Paulo Nutini singing the opening bars of Last Request. Before it even consciously registered with me what song it was, the tears were flowing down my cheeks. I looked furtively around to see if anyone had  spotted the mad one crying her eyes out. If anyone passing the window looked in they probably thought
“God, Noeleen Lynam is taking turning 50 fierce hard!”
But in reality it was probably the best moment of my day. I don’t believe that things happen as a coincidence. Everything is planned.
Why would they play that song at that particular time?
It’s not in the charts and it certainly isn't a Christmas tune.

To me that song was Dad’s way of contacting me to let me know that even though he couldn't be physically with me on my special day, he was still there. I know he didn't intend to make me bawl my eyes out but it was the best way to grab my attention.

 After having a little cry I composed myself and ventured out to join the maddening crowds on the streets. There was an extra pep in my step, the happiest I'd been all day. 
It doesn't matter what age you are when a parent dies, inside you are seven.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thoughts on turning 50!

Yep, the dreaded day has arrived.
 According to my birth cert
and I have checked it twice
I was born on the 19th December 1964, which officially makes me 50 years old today.
Just saying it makes a shiver of disbelief shoot up and down my spine.
Looking at it realistically very few people live to be 100, so I have to accept that I have lived more days than I have left. But to paraphrase Mae West,
"It's not the days left in my life that are important, but rather the life left in my days."

What is 50 years old like?
Well, I look 24
          I feel 18
     and I act  8
That makes 50, doesn't it??

I remember back in the day when I thought 50 was ANCIENT!
And God forbid that you should be unmarried by this age. All that lay ahead of such a spinster was a life of tweed, knitting and a rocking chair, only to be eaten by her own cats when she finally passed away, home and alone.
I was never one to daydream about getting married and to have planned my perfect wedding by the time I was 12. But neither did I think I would be unmarried by this age. There were men that I've wanted to marry and men that wanted to marry me. Unfortunately they were never the same men!
I haven't ruled out the possibility of meeting a life partner. It would be lovely to have a soul mate to share future adventures with. But I also know that if I don't' I'll still go on those adventures and have a dam good time anyway!

I got to the age of 27 and then I stopped aging. Oh I don't mean physically. Of course I don't look as if I'm in my 20's or 30's.
I'll say I look as if if I'm in my 40's, seeing as I was, only yesterday! 
As long as I look good for my age, whatever it may be, I'll be happy.
I've tried to keep myself in good shape. I'll never run a marathon but I couldn't have run one in my 20s either! However I can give the kids a run for their money during their PE lesson. That'll do fine.
I mean I haven't aged mentally since I was 27.  I don't think I have fallen into the trap of closing my mind off to new ideas and possibilities. To me the definition of getting old is merely thinking you're too old to try something new. When that happens you may as well lie down and die as you're not really living, merely existing.

People have been asking me for the past while, if I was having a 50th party. I had a 30th and a 40th, which I really enjoyed but I have passed on a party this decade around.
Firstly it's a dreadful time of the year to have a birthday party as everyone has loads of Christmas nights-out planned, so its not possible to get all my friends together on the same night. Another factor is the weather....there is always the danger that there will be a big fall of snow or a severe frost preventing people from travelling.
Also, I discovered that last two times, that I was so busy going around everyone who did come to the party that I only got to spend a short time with everyone. So I've decided that I'm going to celebrate my birthday for the entire year, thereby giving me loads of opportunity to meet up with different groups of friends for a proper night out.
So far I've had three brilliant nights with friends, with many more to go!

The money that I would have spent on a party I am going to spend on me.......doing all the things that I've always wanted to do, but couldn't afford to. Bring it on!

So as I embark on the next decade of my life I want to thank all my family and friends who have stuck with me through good times and bad.
Okay, I know if you're family you didn't have much choice! But then again there are families who have parted ways regardless. So thanks to you too!
If you are reading this then you are obviously a relative or friend who has hung on in there!!! I hope to catch up with each and everyone of you over the next year. I am open to any suggestions for an adventure!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Human relations

I brought my class of eight year olds next door into the Infant classroom to see their Nativity play. One of my boys was very proud as his little sister was playing the part of Mary.

After it was over we were returning back to our classroom. He gave me a mischievous grin and announced
"Miss, I'm an uncle now!"

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Murder on the dance floor.

It was with a little intrepidation that we set off for Kinnitty Castle for a Murder Mystery night. It wasn't the thought of murder that was making us nervous,but rather the fact that we would be spending the night in one of Ireland's most haunted buildings.
Personally I was rather looking forward to an encounter with an ethereal spirit.

Kinnitty Castle certainly looked suitably ominous as we approached.

The minute I got to my room I knew that there had been a presence there just moments before. Fortunately this "spirit" had left a bottle of champagne as a welcome present.
Now that's my kind of SPIRIT!
Many thanks Helen!

Then it was off to the Great Hall for dinner.
Food was fantastic, murder mystery play was fun but for me the highlight had to be the........table quiz!
Yes folks, I am a gentle, meek person most of the time but give me a paper, pen and twenty questions and I turn into the most competitive person on this planet.
The castle walls were originally built to keep out marauding enemies, which resulted in the fact that no broadband signal can enter either. This mean that no one could google the answers so it would be based entirely on brain power.( and a bit of cheating!) I was ecstatic.
We focused and answered nearly all the questions correctly. But our strong point was our concentration. Everytime the DJ uttered the word "fantastic", the first table to all stand up and shout "orangutan" would get an extra 10 points.
I am ashamed to say we won three times out of four.
How sad!"
But it was worth it. Here we are with first prize.........another bottle of champagne.

I'm beginning to see a pattern here!

Then it was time for dancing. The music was fantastic
dam, I'm still at it!
It was all 80's and 90's stuff, music with actual words! I was on the dance floor for four hours.
No seriously, I was actually ON the dance floor.
I have no idea who yer man with the jazz hands behind me was, but I think I made his Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Speaking in tongues.

A friend’s friend’s daughter has started Junior Infants. At her parent-teacher meeting, the teacher expressed that she was having a little difficulty remembering and using  Irish vocabulary.
The mother, very anxious to further her daughter’s education, began using whatever few Irish words she knew, in everyday situations.
You can imagine her joy when, one day,her young daughter announced
“Can I have a cup of tea with some bainne*?”
*For those of you not blessed with cúpla focail, that means “milk”.
The mother immediately gushed
“Oh you are so brilliant, using those new words that you’ve learned.”
Her little daughter smiled radiantly and announced
“I know. I really love speaking SPANISH!”

And that just about sums up the state of the Irish language, it’s a foreign tongue to us all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Meeting your idols

Last Friday night saw one of the most magical moments of television this year when Aimee Keogh met her idol Ed Sheeran. She was rendered speechless, but her face said it all.She was in heaven.
A few nights later the tables were turned. Ed was playing at the Victoria Secrets Fashion show. Who looks like a kid in a candy shop now?

Monday, December 1, 2014

The gospel according to.......

We recently had our class visit from the catechist.
For those of you not in the know, it is an inspector of religious studies.

When I was going to primary school myself, in the last century, the visit of the catechist instilled the fear of God in us. Days were spent repeating prayers and rote learning of the answers to various questions in our religion book.
Nowadays it has gone in the opposite direction. You would be hard pressed to find the word "God" in their books.
Anyway, our catechist arrived, a lovely retired nun. Even more importantly, she had been a teacher so actually knew how to talk to the children and get the best out of them.

All was going swimmingly well until they had to retell their favourite Bible story.
One of my little second class girls started.........

One day Jesus and the lads went out in a boat.......

I looked up in horror, wondering how the nun was going to react. I know that in my day we would probably have been excommunicated for such blasphemy.
I saw her lips twitch as she tried to suppress a smile.

"You're dead right," she replied. "Jesus and the lads were in their boat. Now does anyone know another name for "the lads"?
We eventually got "the apostles", and the story continued.

We had a good laugh about it in the staffroom afterwards.
I just had visions of Jesus and the apostles heading off on a stag night to Dingle!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

First World problem#1

There is nothing better than curling up on the couch in front of a fire, to watch TV on a Sunday night.
But when did it get so complicated???

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A healthy mind in a healthy body.

We have a healthy eating policy in school which can be a little difficult to enforce sometimes. I give a star  to whoever has that day's "Healthy food" as an incentive. It's completely random, one day it's salad, the next, a piece of fruit, another a bottle of water. I like to keep them on their toes.
This particular day I announced

"Brown bread".
There were cheers from those who had it, and groans from those who had the sinful white stuff!

After all the stars were given out, one little fella approached me warily.
"Miss Noeleen, does "toast" count?"
"Well it depends. Is it brown bread?"

He hesitated for a moment and then replied
"Well, it is now!"
He got a star for thinking outside the (lunch) box!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

As you rear your pup............

There was a wise old woman in Raharney who used to say
"As you rear your pup, you have your dog!"

I thought of this as I was sitting on my couch catching up on the box set of Game of Thrones. What happens when you set no boundaries for a child, give them everything they ask for and let them believe that they are the centre of the world?
 Later, when they become teenagers, they are surrounded by people who are afraid to say NO to them and actually assist them in their ridiculous demands.

It seems you end up with this.......
Or even worse, this...........

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's electrifying!

This is a true story told to me by my hairdresser,as told to her by one of her clients.
Names have been changed to save their reputation.
Mary's son was heading off to Electric Picnic festival for the first time. Being the caring Irish mammy that she is, Mary put on the grill to cook a full Irish breakfast - sausages, rashers, black and white pudding etc. After all the poor devil wouldn't get another proper bite to eat for the weekend.
She took off the grill and placed it on the kitchen counter. She filled the kettle and was waiting for it to boil. After a few minutes she sniffed the air.
"What's that burning smell?"
She looked around but couldn't see the source of it. It was definitely getting worse.
She lifted the grill and there, slowly shriveling up was...........
Her whole life flashed before her eyes. She screeched for her husband.
"You tell him. I can't!"
"But it's your fault. You tell him."
They could hear him walking around upstairs, packing away and whistling a happy tune.
She ran out the backdoor and ran down the garden to hide.
Her maternal instinct took over. Luckily she had brought her phone with her. She rang Ticketmaster and managed to get her story out in between hysterical sobs.
"Don't panic Missus. Did you book it by credit card?"
"I did."
"Great. We have a record of it and can reissue it to you."
"Brilliant", she screamed. "Where can I get it?"
"From the shop you bought it from."
Luckily she had bought it in Mullingar.

They drove in silence to town. She said that she could feel  his eyes of hatred burning two holes in the back of her neck. Ticket was retrieved and he set off with his friends. As he left, she uttered the typical Irish Mammy's  apology.
"Why the fuck did you leave it there in the first place?"

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Wild West

Back to school for another year. I've chosen to teach the younger children. Don't get me wrong, I have loved teaching the older ones but a change is as good as a rest!
I had forgotten how open the younger ones are. If parents knew what their children tell their teacher, they wouldn't let them out the door until they were at least 10.

First day: We were doing a lesson on Relatives, and had talked about all the easy ones like mother, father, son, daughter etc.  We got onto the harder ones like Mother-in-law, father-in-law etc.
"Miss, I know we're talking about in-laws but I've heard of outlaws. Are they the same?
"Not exactly."Chuckle. "An outlaw is someone who breaks the law."
Hand shot up.
"Oh Miss! My uncle speeds down the road on his quad and he doesn't even have a licence. Is he an in-law or an outlaw?"
"Erm. A bit of both. Now class, let's not mention any more relatives that have broken the law!"

I can tell it's going to be an enjoyable year!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Panic stations

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and it was my last day in Turkey. I had a terrible sense of foreboding all day which I couldn't understand as I am a very seasoned traveller and I like flying. The only time this happened to me before was the time I was flying to Rotterdam and when I got to the airport  discovered that I had left the ticket at home!!! So this did not make me feel anymore relaxed.
I was leaving for the airport at 02.45.
See, I have things organised like a military operation.
The airport is about a two hour drive away, an hour and 45 minutes if you get a mad driver who breaks traffic lights and weaves in and out of the lanes. I  booked a transfer taxi through Foley's Bar.
So there I was waiting with my suitcases in the car park of my apartment at 2.40 am. I like to be early!
5 minutes, 10, 15 passed. No sign of my taxi, which was very unusual as they are usually early. I was beginning to panic as I didn't have a number for him because I didn't book him myself. The caretaker was pacing up and down outside the complex waiting to direct the taxi in.
Still no sign.
Right, I raced down the street to Foleys, praying that there was still someone there. Of course there was!
They rang the driver to discover.
"Big problem. He went to the wrong place but he is on the way now."
Okay. Hopefully he will be there by the time I get back to the apartment.
No such luck.
I waited another 5, 10, 15 minutes. By now I was sweating and it wasn't the humidity. Even if someone went to the wrong place, they should be at the right place by now. Mahmutlar is not that big.
I needed another taxi. My caretaker didn't have the number of a transfer so I rang the person who I knew could help.
Paula, who was back in Ireland!
"Hello"said a very sleepy voice from her Irish bed. Well it was only 01.15.
"Paula, I'm really sorry", I screeched in panic. "I need the number of your taxi driver here in Turkey."
"No problem. I'll send it on."
Sure enough, one "bing" later and I had it.
Now I was in a bit of a dilemma. What if  the other taxi arrived after I had called the new one? Another two minutes passed and my decision was made.
I rang the new number.
"Hello", said a sleepy voice from his Turkish bed.
I quickly explained my problem and he reassured me.
"I will call one of my drivers. I will let you know in two minutes."
Two minutes of further agony.
Call back.
"I am sorry but all my drivers are busy."
"WHAT????", I wailed.
"But no problem. I will drive you in my own car."
"Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!"
"I will be there in five minutes."
More passing minutes of blind panic.
A taxi pulled up. I didn't know which one it was, the one who was 50 minutes late or the one who had dragged himself out of his bed to rescue a damsel in distress. I hoped it was the latter....and it was!
I threw my cases in the boot and off we sped.
He was one of the nicest taxi drivers I ever encountered. He saw the state I was in and reassured me that we would get there on time. As I was flying into Istanbul first, it was counted as a domestic flight and you only
have to check in an hour before departure. Having a touch of OCD I had given myself two hours to check in, in case they counted it as an international  flight seeing as I was going on to Dublin.
I have never done so much mental maths in my life. Every sign post that we pasted that said Antalya 130km, I started working out.
If a driver is going at 120km per hour and the airport is 130 km away, what time will it reach the airport and will the deranged passenger make her flight?
We got to the airport in 1 hour 30 minutes, so you can guess how many red light we went through.
I was on time. I could have hugged the driver but instead I threw all the euro I had at him. I'm sure he was much happier with that!
I queued up to check in. The two girls in front of me were missing something and kept checking in the bags , cases and showing the attendant something on their phones but she was having none of it.
Tick, tick, tick.
Thankfully the guy at the adjoining counter beckoned me over.
Eventually, I was checked onto my flight, with about 4 minutes to spare.
As I sat on my seat I said to myself
"I'm never going to Turkey again."

I landed in Dublin to teeming rain. As I got drenched I said to myself
"I want to go back to Turkey NOW."
See how fickle I am.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Proof that computers are cleverer than people

Computers can be cleverer than people sometimes.
I came home from a night out in Mahmutlar and decided to go on Facebook.
When I turned on my computer, it said

And I thought
"Fair enough. I'll log in tomorrow when I'm sober!"

Friday, August 22, 2014

Getting legless.

One of the stops on our road trip was to interview a lady who has just set up her own lucrative business - FROG FARMING!
It seems that Turkish frogs, or rather their hind legs, are considered a specialty in France and Italy and so she will exporting there in the autumn. I didn't know what to expect, but I did imagine a scene from The Plagues of Egypt with thousands of frogs clambering over themselves. It was much more relaxing that that, in fact the froggies seemed to have a great time splashing about in their pools and basking in the sunshine.
Enjoy it now, you don't know what's ahead of you!

Even up close, I didn't think Yumm yumm!

During your first year teaching out of college you do your H.Dip. The dreaded inspector/ cigire visits you several times to observe you teaching and then hopefully you get a piece of paper marked sásúil.  You are now a fully qualified teacher!!!
After several incidental visits it was my BIG DAY. I was going to be observed all day, teaching every subject.
Morning time went well and I taught English, Irish, Maths, Music and Religion. It was time for PE in the afternoon.
Now there was a hall in this particular school, unlike my current one. But because of overcrowding, the hall was used as an Infant classroom in the morning. When the infants went home early afternoon, it could then be used by the older classes as a hall.
My inspector gave me a few minutes to move back the desks and chairs to get it ready. In the process the nature table was knocked and the bowl of frogspawn in water hurtled to the floor. I reeled in horror as the little balls of jelly winked up at me, while I could hear the sound of approaching footsteps coming down the corridor. Visions of "FAILED" appeared before my eyes.
So I did what any kind, considerate teacher would do in the process.
With the side of my foot, I swept the frogspawn and water out of sight under the nearest cupboard. There were wails of
"Not at all", I consoled them. "It's nice and cool and dark in there, which tadpoles love, and they have loads of water. We'll get them out after our PE lesson!"
The door opened and in came the inspector. I began my PE lesson and the children soon forgot about the poor gasping critters under the cupboard.

I got my H.Dip! I didn't manage to rescue the frogspawn, well not alive anyway.

Soon afterwards it became illegal for teachers to bring frogspawn into the classroom. I'm not saying there was any connection to this incident!

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Our road trip adventure continued and we headed for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pamukkale.
Now for the science bit…. It is a mountain that has many thermal springs. When the thermal water spreads on a large area on the surface, the calcium carbonate content precipitates in the pools and forms gritty layers. At first it is in gel form and then it turns into travertines as a result of reaction with the air.
This basically means that it looks like an alpine snow scene!

With the sun shining on it, it can be seen from 20km away. Stephen was very disappointed when he saw it first as it looked much smaller than he had imagined. We explained it to him.

When we got there, it certainly didn’t disappoint. I expected to see skiers whizzing down the slopes. In order to preserve the surface you have to climb it in your bare feet. A bit like doing Croagh Patrick, only in the blazing sunshine.

I bet this is a sight you’d never see on Croagh Patrick!

Upwards and onwards. The view and sights were AMAZING.

It was sweltering so luckily there were pools to cool off all the way up.

This was when I really regretted leaving my swimsuit in the car L
I have no sense of the time but I suppose after about an hour we got to the top.

There we wandering through the ruins of the Temple of Apolion, where Apolion met the goddess Kybele.
I bet she didn’t forget her swimsuit!

The Ancient Pool is the main attraction. Its waters are said to have healing powers and cure a list of ailments as long as your arm!

In fact if it was nearer to home I’d give up the VHI altogether!
When Queen Cleopatra noticed that she was losing her beauty she sent her soldiers all over the place to find a healing water for regaining her beauty. One group visited Pamukkale and brought back a sample from this pool. When she washed her face in it, she noticed that her wrinkles immediately began to disappear. RESULT! So what did she do? Well, what any woman would do! She set off immediately for Pamukkale and dipped her whole body into the pool.
Because she was worth it!

After a brief rest it was time to make the descent. It was then that we came up with the idea of building the world’s largest water slide here and sure we’d be down in no time! Alas, we had to walk. We got down in one piece
Well apart from one suspected broken big toe……
Would I recommend it? Most definitely, but I have one word of advice.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gulliver's Travels

We decided that too much of our holiday was being spent in bars and beaches and in beach bars so we set off on our road trip around Turkey in search of culture. On the way we saw all of these fabulous buildings. Because of its history, Turkey has come under the influence of many diverse architectural civilisations.

Oh, by the way, here I am standing beside one of them!
They are all to be found in Minicity Park in Antalya! You don't actually think we drove that far around Turkey, now did you?
 Though admit it, for a brief moment there you were very impressed with my interest in architecture!