Saturday, July 26, 2014

Country cousins

Jeanette and I are the cousins that are closest in age. There are only five months between us.
She is the older one, I hasten to add!
As a result we reached many milestones together. We received our Confirmation on the same day.

I’m loving my knee socks and veil combination. Very pre-Lady Gaga!

House parties were very big in our families, not ones with alcohol, but with lots of music and singing. Jeanette was the singer and I’d la-la-la in the background.

When it came to the era of the disco I would go over to stay in her house in Rochfortbridge and we would go to The Palm Club together. I still remember the excitement of getting ready in her house and wondering if this would be the night that either of us would “shift”.*
*an Irish term meaning to kiss someone

Over the years we have had many nights out together.

We are now reaching another milestone in our lives, namely our 50th birthdays.
Again I want to point out that Jeanette has reached it first! This weekend we went to Tyrellspass Castle to celebrate it with her.
Jeanette was much more successful that I in the “shifting” department as here she is with her husband Ray and her four fine strapping sons!

So happy birthday Jeanette and can I just say that I think for two birds that have almost a century of life experience between us, I think we look damn good!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Modern Family

My niece Lauren is due her second baby in a few weeks. She was in hospital the other day for a scan, along with her husband Glenn and their 3 year old daughter Megan.
Megan wanted to use the bathroom so Lauren brought her off.
When they arrived back into the crowded waiting room, this little angelic curly-haired cherub announced loudly, for all to hear
"It's alright Daddy. It wasn't a poo, just a BIG FART!"
There was  a mini-catastrophe as several women's waters almost broke due to  uncontrollable laughter!
Ah sure,you can bring them nowhere!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Artistic licence

You know that feeling. You wake up on Monday morning, all full of the joys.
“What will my project be for this week? Oh, I know, I’ll redecorate the sitting room. It’s been the same since I moved in 10 years ago. Time for an overhaul.”
So I hauled my ass into Woodies and after spending some time perusing the colour charts I came home laden with paint, brushes, rollers, polyfilla, masking tape, turpentine, co-coordinating cushions, a rug and a lamp-shade.
I love painting, though I hate masking the place first. It was so much easier the first time I painted it as there was no furniture in the way or curtains to be taken down. As I want to put the flat screen telly on the wall, I had to take down mirrored tiles and wall lights that were over the fireplace. That left little holes that had to be polyfillered in.
Dad had been tutoring me the first time. Second time around and I’m on my own!
Preparations done I started on the painting and got the first coat done yesterday.
This morning I went in and thought
“Mmm. Not sure if I’m mad about the colour.”

I’m not going through all that again. It’ll  be fine when it gets a second coat, fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Maurice Lynam 1935-2014

Uncle Maurice was our favourite uncle.
Technically speaking, as he was Dad’s only brother and Mam had no brothers at all, he was our one and only uncle but I strongly suspect that even if we had had ten uncles, Maurice would still have been the favourite.
As children we walked the mile and a half to our local primary school in Raharney. On rainy days which are very common in Ireland Uncle Maurice would be waiting outside to bring us home. This was back in the day when no one was brought home from school! But he didn’t bring only us. The Andersons and the McKeoghs, who lived up our road, also clambered into the car and off we went, all ten of us.Now in this day of Health and Safety he would probably be arrested but nothing ever happened to us and we all got home safe and dry….and in one piece.
During those long hazy days of our childhood summers we were either shipped off to Granny and Granda Keena’s house in Milltownpass or to Granny and Granda Lynam’s farm on the far side of Raharney. Granny Keena’s house was on the main road from Dublin to Galway so we were never allowed outside the gate in case we got killed! In Granny Lynam’s we had the freedom to roam the fields, explore haybarns and to milk cows. Guess which place we always wanted to go!
My most vivid memory of that time is when I was about five years old. Uncle Maurice brought me to the shed to see a new born calf. He showed me that if I held out my hand the calf would try to suckle it. Very timidly I did. I can still feel the sandpaper texture of the calf’s tongue rasping on my hand.

Uncle Maurice is the reason I hate turnips! 
When I was about ten I was “helping him” around the farm. He told me to get something out of the turnip and mangle shed. I was no sooner in the shed when I heard the bolt slid across from outside and Maurice give a guffaw of laughter. He had locked me in. I’d say I was in there for about 30 seconds but it felt like an hour. The smell of turnip was so overpowering that to this day when I smell them I get a flashback to that moment and I can’t eat them.
I still don’t know what a mangle is but if I ever come across one I’m sure I’ll hate it too!!!
Once again in this modern day of political correctness I’m sure Maurice would be arrested. But even after this incident I followed him adoringly around the farmyard like a puppy.

Uncle Maurice had a wicked sense of humour. Many years ago before there was a dry cleaners in Raharney, oh wait a minute, there still isn’t one, people would leave their laundry into Weir’s shop where it would be collected, cleaned and left back. Lynam’s farm was next door to the Dufficy’s. One day Maurice went into the shop to buy a few groceries.
“Is that auld Dufficy’s coat hanging up there?” he asked Noel Weir.
“Tis indeed.”
Maurice bought his half pound of ham and slipped a slice into the pocket of Kevin Dufficy’s coat.
A week later he went to visit the Dufficys. Betty was wandering around the kitchen sniffing frantically to try to find out where the pong was coming from. Maurice pointed to the newly cleaned coat that was hanging on the back of the door.
“I’d say the smell is coming from that. Sure they don’t send them away to be cleaned at all. Noel Weir just sprays a sup of water on them and charges you for the cleaning!”
When Betty eventually discovered the truth she chased him out of the house with the sweeping brush shouting
“Ya little fecker ya, Maurice Lynam. Don’t ever come back here again!”
Maurice continued to visit them weekly until their deaths a few years ago. He was devastated when they passed away.
Uncle Maurice had his first heart triple bypass when he was 47. He had at least one more, maybe two, we lost count as he was in and out of hospital so many times in the intervening years. He always made a miraculous recovery. He used to say it was due to prayer, we’d say it was down to pure stubbornness!
I would always introduce him as
“This is my rich uncle Maurice with the bad heart. Can I get you anything Maurice…a chair?....a cup of tea? …….a pen?.......a solicitor?
He’d sit down give a little cough, hold his chest and reply
 “Well maybe a slice of apple tart?”
“Of course Uncle Maurice!  Anything you want……and don’t forget me in your will!”
It may sound irreverent but you know the way you only cut the boots out from people you love!

Maurice had a fierce sweet tooth. After every stint in hospital he would be back in Weir’s shop. It is now being run by Declan, Noel’s son.
“How did you get on in hospital Maurice?”
“Oh they told me I have to up me chocolate!”
Every week Declan would smuggle him a few bars of his favourite chocolate as Angela, Maurice’s wife was obviously trying to keep him as healthy as possible. Impossible!

When the economic crash happened in 2008, Maurice was as worried as the rest of us. He was in our house one day, giving out.
“Them banks are useless. You’d be as well off putting your money under the mattress.”
“But Maurice,” I replied innocently, “If you put all your money under the mattress, you’ll burn your arse off the lightbulb!”
I did think I’d killed him there and then, as he went into a hoop laughing.

Uncle Maurice hasn’t been well since Christmas. He was getting weaker and his eyesight was failing. It seemed more serious this time than all the previous times when he got sick.

Wisdom is knowing when to fight your battles and when to surrender.

Maurice fought the battle of his life to get to last Saturday. It was his only child Fionnuala’s wedding day. On that morning we were all getting ready in his house. I was there as I was driving the bridesmaids. Maurice sat in his chair in the corner, as the beautician and hairdresser were working their magic on us. He tried his damdest to join in.
“Is there any sign of that white cow and a calf?” he asked.
I looked out the window at the herd of cattle.
“Well I can see a very fat white cow…but there’s no sign of a calf!”
“She’s overdue. You’d better be ready.”
“Sure thing. I’ll just go and get some clean towels and boil the water!”
“Don’t forget the washing up liquid.”
“Eugh”, I shivered in disgust. “I don’t want to know what the washing up liquid is used for!”

Later that morning I was putting in his button hole.

“I think you’ve lost weight Noeleen.”
“You can’t see properly, can you Maurice?”
“Not a stem!” he replied.
“ Because if you could, you wouldn’t say that!”
“I was just trying to say something nice.”
And that’s when I knew he really was sick. We never said anything “nice” to each otherc!

Maurice won his battle and he walked Fionnuala down the aisle.

He gave up the battle and surrendered early on Thursday morning when he passed away.  He was waked in his house.
Just for my non Irish readers, a wake is where the open coffin and corpse is in the house and friends and neighbours come in to pay their last respects.
As he was saying goodbye, Declan Weir slipped a bar of chocolate into the coffin beside Maurice. He figured that as he had been doing that for years he’d do it for Maurice’s final journey.

We are all devastated. It was expected but death is always a shock when it happens. We do get some comfort from the fact that Maurice is now with Dad in heaven. Dad was a man of few words so I’d say their meeting went something like this.
“Grand. Yourself?”
“Any news?”
“Not much. Sure ya know yourself.”
And then they’ll sit side by side, not saying anything, just like they used to do each side of the fireplace in the kitchen.
But it’s a comfortable silence.

We love and miss you both very much.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

To pee or not to pee....

We are all very aware that because of the differences in our anatomy, men can stroll into the GENTLEMEN, unzip, whizz, wash and out the door in a matter of minutes. Women, on the other hand, have to grapple with various layers, balance over the bowl, wash, reapply lipstick, coiffeur their hair, take a selfie…….the list goes on. A quarter of an hour later they may re-emerge from the washroom.  This results in lengthy queues outside the MNÁ at every social event. You’d think these public buildings would have twice/thrice as many female as male toilets to account for this, but, hell no!
Last night I went to see Dirty Dancing in Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
Always think that is a DREADFUL name. Could they not have called it “Gasworks Theatre” or something a bit less stuffy?
Think about the demographics of the audience of such a show. It was definitely 9:1 women to men. Looking around the foyer before the start of the show, these token men fell into three categories.
 1.  Men on their first date, willing to walk over hot coals/ sit through three hours of a chick flick musical, in order to make a good impression.
2.   Husbands who were trying to notch up brownie points in order to be let go on their mate’s stag night to Amsterdam.
3.  Gay
I must say
Hats off to the organisers of Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
Before the show started I decided to go to the loo.
Primary School Teacher Syndrome. “Everyone go to the bathroom NOW before we set off!”
There was a sign saying the GENTS were closed and to use the ones on Level 1. When I got to the toilets I saw why.

Pure Genius! Waiting time was cut in half. It was obviously a woman who came up with that brilliant idea.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Friends in low places

I posted a blog last December about attending the wedding of a friend of mine, Karl Harpur.

I met Karl when he was a young fella taking part in LMVG shows. He then went onto writing and directing. He is now basking in the sunshine of LA....thinking it is Leixlip!
Glad to see that he is not wasting his time or talent. His parody of the Garth Brook's fiasco is going viral and well worth a look.
Atta boy, Karl. Proud of ya!

Those pesky Vikings.

I was meeting the gang from Turkey for dinner in Dublin city center yesterday evening. In honour of the occasion I wore the fab-u-lous shoes I bought there last holiday. I know they look totally impractical and torturous, but in actual fact they are very comfortable.
No, honestly.

 Because there is a built-in platform, your foot is not at as steep an angle as it appears. Also they are lined with some magical material that makes them feel like a glove. Score!

Anyway I was strolling down Dame Street in the evening sunshine on the way to the restaurant. Suddenly I heard a chorus of blood-curdling screams and hollers just behind me. Knocked out of my stride, I went into a little bit of a wobble but thankfully managed to regain my balance, preventing me from hitting the pavement.
I turned around to see one of those open topped Viking buses, full of tourists in ridiculous horned helmets,yelling and waving plastic axes at me.

 The driver had a microphone in his sweaty little hand and grandly announced in his thick Dublin accent, to the marauding crowd on the bus and to all the passing pedestrians

"Ah here Luv. Mind ya don't fall off yer kitten heels!"
Much guffawing ensued.

Now I felt like giving them the finger, but hey, we still need the tourists' money! So I waved cheerfully back to them, through gritted teeth, and sent them on their merry way.
As if it wasn't bad enough that them Vikings came over and raped and pillaged their way through our little country but now they are terrorising poor innocent dames as they totter their way down the street, minding their own business.

Forget about Garth Brooks.

Monday, July 14, 2014

You SO need me at your wedding.....

I think I make the perfect wedding guest! No job is too big or too small or me....
It was my cousin, Fionnuala's wedding at the weekend.
In the morning I made soup for the wedding party to ensure they didn't collapse from hunger before the wedding meal.

I made sure the buttonholes were straight for the mother and father of the bride.
I drove the bridesmaids.
And then did the second reading
Also provided some of the entertainment at the meal.

So I think I'll start hiring myself out as the ultimate wedding guest.

By the way, it was a BRILLIANT day!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Get me to the church on time!

It's a very busy week  as our cousin Fionnuala is getting married at the weekend. Myself and Roxy are very honoured to have been asked to drive the bridesmaids to the church on Saturday.
In order to make sure that we both look our best on the day I booked Roxy in for a full valet.
"No problem," said the nice man."Bring her in for 9 am and collect her at 6."
He had noticed that I had referred to her as "she"!
"WHAT?", I calculated. "That's 9 hours! The bride won't take that long to get ready!!!"
"True," he pondered,
 "But she doesn't have to wait til her upholstery dries!"

Very good point!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Rock the train.

Recently we went  to Killarney for the AIMS weekend.
The awards for Irish amateur Musical societies.
You know you're going to have a good weekend when, by 11.30 am you are sitting in the aisle of a moving train carriage doing "Rock the boat".
It all got a little crazy after that!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Choose your words very carefully

I sometimes feel like a tourist in my hometown when I notice something that I haven't seen before.
Despite the fact that it has probably been there for years!
I espied this sculpture outside Mullingar Park the other evening.
On closer inspection I read the inscription.
Like a Joycean stream of consciousness
Stream Spire rises over the Brosna
reflecting the life of Mullingar town.

Really? I mean, Really?
Life in Mullingar is best represented by a load of balls???