Friday, December 25, 2015

What a difference a decade makes....

This photo was taken at my 40th birthday party with my nieces and nephews.

This one was taken on Christmas Day, 11 years later. Hey, I didn't have a 50th party so it wasn't taken then. We are all in the same order...but looking very grown up, except for me, I'll never grow up :)

Nowadays, a selfie is much more productive. Wasn't heard of back in 2004.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Nailed it.

I have bitten my nails ever since I was a small child. I have tried everything to stop. including fowl tasting paint-on stuff.
I got used to the taste and grew to quite like it!

Today I went for my first manicure :)
The first of many mini-transformations I hope!
Not going to appear on national television with bitten nails.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Walk in my footsteps

In October one of Raharney's oldest citizens, Larry Byrne passed away in his 95th year.
Larry lived just down the road from me. He has to have been the most active nonagenarian that I have ever known, not that I have encountered too many of them. No matter what time of the day or night I was driving down the road I would meet Larry. He was either walking one dog, or two, pushing a bike or actually cycling it. I'd meet him on my way to school in the morning, on my way home in the afternoon, on my way to Leixlip in the evening or on the way back at night.
I'd say to myself
"There's Larry again. He's never off the road."
It's only now I realise that he was probably saying the same about me!

I remember a few years ago there was an unfortunate accident on our road when a light aircraft crashed into a field. The road was closed off. I went walking towards the village but was stopped by some officials. They warned me that they could let me through but they were must stricter at the other end  and I probably wouldn't get back. They told me this story in order to horrify me.

"An old man of 90 went through here on his bike and they wouldn't let him back. The poor man had to cycle home by KINNEGAD!" Shock horror.

And I really was shocked. I knew that trip wouldn't have knocked a fonk outta Larry as he did it several times a week, whereas it would have killed me if I attempted it!

Larry passed away peacefully in his sleep last month. I still slow down going around corners on my road "in case Larry in on the other side".

Last week I was talking to one of my neighbours and of course the conversation came around to my upcoming stint on Operation Transformation. One of my challenges is to do a 5k run, so lots of training will be done.
"Do you know what?", he said "You'll be our road's new Larry Byrne!"

If I can live as long and healthy as Larry did and then at 95 snuggle up in my bed one night and pass away peacefully, I would count myself very lucky.
Ár dheis De ar a anam.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Young or old?

I obviously don't wear a dress to school very often judging by the reaction of the Infants when I walked into their classroom in one today.
"Oh Miss you look lovely."
"You look very pretty today."
But the best of all was this one.
"Miss you look like a TEENAGER!"

I can live with that. I walked around on cloud nine all day until............

In the afternoon I had a class with one of my boys. We were following instructions in order to make a Lego motorbike.
When we were finished he asked me
"Miss, do you enjoy making things with Lego?"
"Of course I do," I replied.
He pondered for a moment and then announced.
"You are proof that you can never be too old to enjoy Lego. If you were younger you could come to my house and see all the Lego sets I have!"

Burst bubble!

I suppose age is only a matter of how you look at things.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

#2 Essential running equipment

I've been doing my research and the one piece of advice that they all give people who are new to running is to make sure that they do not become dehydrated.

I've got that all sorted.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Road Runner

There are three activities that I have managed to avoid like the plague for most of my life
Tap dancing, set dancing........and running.
The reason is I have always been conscious of my boobs and hated the way those activities made them wobble all over the place!

While I am pretty sure I can get away with never having to set or tap dance, it's not the case with the running. In the New Year I will be training to take part in my first 5k run.
So today saw me head off to Liffey Valley in search of my first piece of essential Operation Transformation equipment,........ the humble sports bra!

All I hope and pray is that I was not being secretly filmed in the dressing room as I jumped up and down in front of the mirror to roadtest all the bras to see which was the most "shock absorbent"!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Headline act!

It's becoming very real now. I was eating my lunch, flicking through the paper and suddenly I saw my mug looking back at me. I must admit my heart stopped when I saw this headline.

 My first thought was
Are they going to make me get a sex change???
Now that would be some transformation :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Crash diet!

This Operation Transformation diet is bloody  amazing!

Yesterday morning, according to I was

Height: 5ft 3ins    Weight: 11st 10lbs

Yet, by the afternoon, according to The

Lynam currently weighs 11 stone and is vice-principal at St Patrick’s National School in Co Meath.

AMAZING! I lost 10lbs in one day. I blame the fact that I was so nervous I lost my appetite and had the runs!
At this rate, there wont be a pick on me by Christmas.


Yippee, I've been chosen!

I am one of the 5 leaders for Operation Transformation 2016.
For those of you who may not know it, Operation Transformation is a TV programme on RTE. Its aim is to encourage the nation to lose weight, eat healthily and get their a** off the couch and go and do some exercise.
I have been on a diet of some sort since I was 16. I probably have lost my body weight twice over in that length of time. However in the past two years my weight has been gradually creeping up and up. Whereas before this, I would be good for two weeks and do a bit of exercise and the weight would fall off, now those pounds are stuck to me like limpets and there's no shifting them. I have always loved Operation Transformation. They don't just hand you a diet sheet and say "Off you go. Come back in a week". Rather you have the expertise of a dietitian, doctor, fitness instructor and a psychologist. If that can't get me to lose weight, what can?
I applied to the programme about a month ago. I thought all I'd have to do was fill in an application form, do an interview and then they'd decide. Boy was I wrong!
There have been many assessments to fill in, numerous interviews (all filmed) and even a stint in a swimming pool.
Last Thursday I met with the other 19 finalists. I can honestly say that I have never met a nicer group of people. Every single one of them would make an excellent leader. In fact I had chosen my top eight , and I was definite that the 5 leaders were in that group.
Needless to say I did NOT include myself in that group!

You know when they say that when they tell the leader it will be a surprise when they arrive at your doorstep, and you go
Yeah right. That's all staged and the people know already....
well let me tell you, THEY DON'T!
Yes, we were told that the person will be chosen between 9-10am or 3-4.30pm, but that's all. All twenty of us were waiting patiently this morning in our homes or at work, jumping at the slightest sound. Of course there was preparation. My classroom has never looked so organised. I went shopping for a new outfit at the weekend.
Have you any idea how difficult it is to get an outfit that says
Professional- but doesn't scream "Spinster Primary Teacher"
Trendy- but won't have every teacher in the country going "What the hell is she wearing to school? The state of her!".

So off I set for school this morning. I was sick to my stomach. The only way I can describe it is, do you remember as a child how you felt waiting for Santy? One minute I was saying "I think I was good enough?" and in the next minute you remember being naughty so there is no way that Santy is going to appear.

School bell went off and I went about my normal routine, as we were told to do. I help out in the Infant class in the morning, so there I was threading beads in a pattern onto a piece of string. Suddenly the door opened and in came......Kathryn Thomas followed by a camera man and various other people. My heart stopped and the rest is a blur!

I know I had a radio interview with Ray Darcy and Karl Henry. No idea what I said or even if I said anything.
Various scenarios were filmed around the school but again I don't really remember.

I am still in shock as I'm writing this. I now can't wait to find out who my four companions are going to be. Best of luck to all.

Boy, its going to be a crazy few months. Bring it on!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tell it like it is.....

The Junior Infants were getting their vaccinations today so I went into their class to help keep them entertained and occupied while they were waiting for their dreaded injection.When I saw one little girl smiling up at me I had a flashback and had to say
"I taught your Daddy when he was small"
.......spitting image!
I heard a snort of derision behind me.
"You didn't", a little boy said in disbelief.
"Yes I did", I replied. "And what's more, I taught your Mammy too!"
"No you didn't", he gasped incredulously, "Cause if you did, you'd be DEAD by now!"

Kids, don't you just love them!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


During Maths class with my 9 years olds, we were faced with the following problem.

28 mushrooms were divided among four full Irish breakfasts. How many mushrooms were on each plate?

Before we could solve the problem, I had to make sure they knew what "a full Irish" meant. I explained that it was a breakfast that had typically Irish food. I asked them for examples and I got the obvious
"Sausages" "Rashers" " Black and white Pudding" "Eggs" "Tomatoes".
Then I got the answers "Waffles" and "Hash browns". I explained that these were more American type foods than Irish.
One of the little girl's eyes lit up and she announced.
"I've got another typical Irish food.......GUINNESS!"

I suppose it has been consumed for breakfast on manys an occasion!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Adam Mangan 1996-2015

It has been a week since the tragic accident that took Adam's life and it still doesn't make any sense.
Adam was my cousin's son and one of the nicest young men that I have ever met.

He certainly packed a lot of living into his short nineteen years of life. Much has been said of his sporting ability. He played for the Offaly minor football teams in 2013 and 2014, Tullamore rugby club and also represented Leinster and Ireland. I can still hear Jeanette tell us
"My son is playing rugby for Ireland".

What Irish mother wouldn't burst with pride to be able to say that?

To see his teammates stand shoulder to shoulder around Adam's grave last Wednesday would break anyone's heart. The 2000+ congregation who gathered in and outside the cemetery sang "Ireland's Call" as a tribute to a young star who was not permitted to reach his full potential. I, for one, will not be able to listen to the opening anthems of Ireland's remaining games in the  rugby World Cup as it will be too painful a reminder.

From listening to and reading the tributes that have been pouring in, it is obvious that this was only one aspect that made Adam such a wonderful human being. Phrases such as "cheeky grin" "always smiling" "helping hand" "made my world a better place" abound in bucketfuls.

Adam was training to be a teacher. From my many years of experience in this area I can honestly say that he would have been a fantastic teacher and enriched even more lives than he already has.

Last weekend Adam was home from college. He had given his Mam a voucher for dinner in her favourite restaurant for her birthday and in typical Adam fashion had told her and his Dad that he would drive them into Tullamore and more importantly collect them later. He then went off to help his neighbours on their farm. A split second  meant that he would not return.

No one deserves to die in tragic circumstances but I believe that some people deserve it less than others. I know its dreadfully wrong of me, but when I think that last weekend there were young fellas of Adam's age who went out doing drugs, drinking and driving, starting fights, mugging old people for extra cash yet they survived the weekend unscratched and will probably go out and do it again this weekend , I get very angry.
  I suppose that's one reason I could never be a god, I don't understand their reasoning.

But anger doesn't solve anything. There are no right words to say to comfort his family, as it was such a wrong thing to happen. I did find this anonymous poem as I went in search of something that would make any sense of this situation. It's the only thing that gave me the teeniest, tiniest sliver of comfort.

Young Life cut short

Do not judge a biography by its length,
Nor by the number of pages in it.
Judge it by the richness of it’s contents

Sometimes those unfinished are among the most poignant

Do not judge a song by its duration
Nor by the number of its notes
Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul

Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful

And when something has enriched your life
And when it’s melody lingers on in your heart
Is it unfinished?
Or is it endless?

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Separated at birth?

Is it just me, or is Ian Madigan not the spitting image of yer man, Ragnar?

Here's hoping all the Irish squad are channeling their inner Viking!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


I was working with Senior Infants yesterday. One of the little girls was all excited and told me her news.
"I'm going to be a big sister before St.Patrick's Day! Mammy is getting me a little brother or sister!"

As I actually taught her mother many moons ago, I was especially happy.

"That's great news. Tell Mammy that I said Congratulations."
The little girl looked at me in horror.
"I can't. It's a secret. She told me not to tell anyone".

Well pet, you've just told the whole class of 32 kids, who are now going to go home and tell their Mammies the good news.

Moral of the story: If you want to keep a secret, DON'T TELL YOUR UNDER-8 YEAR OLD!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

It's okay not to be okay.

I got an early morning text from my friend Jeanette asking me if I was going to the "Hugaton" in Mullingar.
"A wha???" I asked.
Seeing as this is Suicide Prevention week Hugs For Hope had organised the event to take place between 10am - 12 on the Joe Dolan Bridge.

Yes, we have an architectural feature named after one of Mullingar's greatest musical ambassadors. Can't wait for Bressies' Boulevard or Niall Horan's By-Pass!

I made it into town just as the crowd was gathering.The band Good Man Sheila were getting the crowd going.

I must admit I have never before seen people boogieing-on-down in the middle of a road before midday.....without the help of alcohol!

We even had some very famous participants!

This all led up to the main event....the group hug!

Of course there was a very serious reason for all this frivolity. The main message was that its okay not to feel okay. If we are feeling depressed we need to talk about it. We also need to be aware of changes in our family and friends. We have to
Show we care
Ask a question
Make a call.

All in all, one my best Sunday mornings of the year!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Down the drain.

The beauty about living on your own is that you never have to take other people into account! When I enter through my front door I am all that matters! Once the outside doors are locked, I don't have to worry about another door. I can wander from room to room at leisure, never having to turn a handle.

I was visiting my sister Jacqueline, who was minding her two year old grandson, Leon. We were chatting over tea in the kitchen when Jacqueline remarked
"Leon is very quiet. I'll go and see where he is."
She wandered off down the hallway. Sudden I heard a shout

I don't know, I can't remember. What's the big deal?

I too went down the hall......and stopped in my tracks.

Guess I'll be closing every door in future!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Love is all around me.

I can vividly remember my first crush. I was five years old and I couldn't wait for Saturday when I could see Jack Wild in HR Pufnstuff.
I thought he had the cutest smile EVER.

Then came the day when we were walking to school and my brother said to me
"Are you going to watch HR Pufnstuff this weekend?"
"Of course I am!" I retorted.
"No you're NOT!", he announced gleefully. "It's finished. It's not on anymore!"
I remember my little heart cracking ever so slightly. And that was my first....of many.....breakups!!!

In the 80s his smile was surpassed by the cheeky grin of Marti Pellow, lead singer from Wet Wet Wet.
This was back in the day when not all bands were manufactured. They could play instruments,write their own material and actually sing.
And boy could he sing! The velvet tone to his voice made me melt!!!
I'm just going to have a moment out, to relive my youth!

Last year I went to see Wet Wet Wet in concert in the O2/ 3 arena/ The Point or whatever its called now! My teenage hormones came rushing back once he appeared on the stage.
He's looking as good now, as back then.

Last night Marti was appearing in the National Concert Hall with the RTE Concert Orchestra, singing classic songs from stage and screen. I coerced a friend into going and off we went.

There was a strange mix in the audience. Half were regular attendees at the NCH who had never been to a "pop" concert and the other half were Wet Wet Wet fans who had never been to the National Concert Hall before!
Me? I was a bit of both!
Though I must admit I was a bit of a theater snob, as we were queuing up for the bar before it started. The women behind me were disgusted when they saw the sign that said
"No drinks or food in the auditorium."
"WHAT?" they exclaimed. "You can take drinks into the Bord Gais Theater. Why not here?"
"Because, darhling," I said
in my inside voice, I'm not that brazen
"You can't really have your audience chomping on crisps during Nessun Dorma, or getting drunk during Vivaldi's Seasons".

We took our seats and waited for the show to start.
And boy, was Marti not AMAZING!
From the first dulcet note he had the audience in the palm of his hand. He didn't even let the fact that his fly was open for the first few songs, knock him off stride!

He sang for over two hours, each note totally on point.
As they would say in The X Factor!
When he finished with his classic Love is all around, the whole audience was on its feet singing and swaying.
There was an older couple  a few rows in front of us, who looked a tad embarrassed to be on their feet. They looked like regular Concert Hall goers, who saw it as sacrilegious to be on your feet during a performance, but couldn't help themselves.

He went off to tumultuous applause, with the crowd baying for more. The poor orchestra just stood there, not knowing what to do. Encores are not the usual thing after an orchestral piece, yet this crowd wanted more. After a few minutes tradition prevailed and the orchestra were beckoned off.
This did not detract from a magical night.
I doubt very much if Harry Styles or Niall Horan will be performing solo with an orchestra, in 30 years time!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Winter is coming....

The Lovely Bones, Gone Girl......
All examples of being let down by the film version of the book.To be perfectly honest I don't think any film director, no matter how brilliant he/she is, will ever be able to capture on celluloid, what an author can create with words.

I was late discovering Game of Thrones.
Series 4 had aired before I binged on the box set.
I deliberately  didn't read the books as I didn't want any spoilers. I wanted to experience the shock effect as I watched it.

But now,seeing as the TV show has caught up with the books, that's not going to happen. Having read articles and theories about where the plots may go, I see that there is a lot of background information that can only be filled in by reading the books.

today I was very excited when this was delivered to my house, courtesy of Amazon.

Guess how I'm going to spend the long winter nights, when the snows get deeper and the winds howl around my ears.
See you in the Spring!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Come into my garden........

Another day's outing took us to the beautiful Butchart gardens in Victoria. It seems that many years ago Mrs Butchart was fed up looking at an abandoned limestone quarry on their estate ( as in Downton Abbey-type estate, not county council) and so decided to plant a few flowers. This was the result.

Bet you'll never guess what my favourite flowers are?

I  am not a green-fingered person, in fact I hate anything to do with the garden. But I was so inspired by my day in Butchart that I planned there and then to get working on my lawn when I got home and to create a serene and beautiful space around my house.

Fast forward three weeks.

"This feckin' lawn. I'm fed up mowing it. Think I'll tarmac the whole feckin' lot of it!"

Sunday, August 9, 2015


We stayed for four days with our friend Laila, who has a fabulous house in Victoria, Vancouver.

On the first morning we went for a "stroll" on Horth Head, which was practically on her back doorstep.
If I lived so close to such a fabulous place, I'd be way fitter than I am!!!

Half way up the ascent we asked Laila
"Is it safe to go walking here?"

Laila shrugged and said
"It's fine. There's the odd sighting of a cougar, but not recently."

We stopped in our tracks. We had been concerned about the presence of muggers, rapists or serial killers, you know, the usual worries. We never thought of COUGARS!
Oh sh*t!  Where are Zuma and Rubble when you need them!

Maybe the walk to Raharney isn't so bad after all!