Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Still deeply missed.

I know this is a  repost but it's still as poignant today as it was two years ago.

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 its 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.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

So much for gender neutrality!

Today we were studying nouns and gender in English. I had a flashback to one of my very first year's teaching. 
I was setting an English summer test. The pupils had to give the feminine noun to go with the corresponding masculine one. For the last one I decided to make it difficult to really test my little 12 year olds
I put down bachelor and waited to see what answer I would get*. As I suspected, most were left blank.

Apart from Gerard who wrote down virgin opposite it....and then crossed it out! Bless him, I had to give him the mark, as he was in for enough disappointment in later years!!
*By the way, the correct answer is spinster!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Student of life

After 32 years I am once again the proud owner of a student card! I am in Maynooth University studying for my post grad.
I can't wait to get my discount when I go shopping in Topshop and Miss Selfridges. So if you see me in a new wardrobe of cropped tops and ripped jeans I'm just trying to blend in with the young ones!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Painting the town red

We went up to visit our aunt Peggy for Sunday dinner. We were admiring her newly painted hallway. As she is 84 years old, we were a little concerned about who actually painted it as she is the type of woman who would go about doing it herself, step ladder or no step ladder. We were relieved to hear that it was her neighbour who did it.

Then Peggy sheepishly admitted
"He asked me what type of paint I wanted?"
She replied
"Oh will you get that DUREX paint, it's the best."
When he had picked himself off the floor he replied
"Ah I don't think they stock that in Woodies!"

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Walk (or cycle) the Line

This morning I decided to give The Old Rail Trail a go. It's a cycle path running along the disused railway line from Mullingar to Athlone.
Now don't get too impressed. I went from Mullingar to Moate. Athlone is my ultimate goal!
It is a fabulous ride.
Oops that came out wrong.
There is no traffic to compete with and there are NO HILLS!!! Happy Days.
And I will reach Athlone, eventually!

The Long and Unwinding Road.

A bridge too far

The light at the end of the tunnel

Eh, what's that choo choo sound behind me???

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Superheroes come in all forms

Happy birthday to a truly inspirational woman, my sister Geraldine.
Firstly before I forget, there is NO WAY she looks 60 and all without the use of cosmetic surgery. You go girl!

Geraldine has always been the lynchpin of our family. She is the one we go to whenever we need some help or advice, be it legal or otherwise!

There’s no nice way to put this, but life has dealt her a very shitty hand, and if there is anyone who doesn’t deserve it, it’s her. Most people would give up if they had one of her conditions, never mind two. But not Geraldine.
Regardless of how she is feeling, she puts on her lipstick and heels....
Mammy’s voice: You shouldn’t be wearing those!
...and faces the world. You would forgive her if she did complain but I don’t think she knows how to.
Listening to people talking about her, the word that comes up most often is dignified and that’s exactly how she carries herself. 

Her birthday party last night was proof that is it not just her family that think that way about her but everyone who has ever met her. There were people there from her primary school days, secondary school and every job that she’s ever had. There were people there who had just flown in from holidays but the general consensus was that
“There is no way we could miss Geraldine’s party”.

So sis, I want to say that you’re my hero and role model and don’t forget


The Three Sisters

My abiding memory of Geography class in Primary school is reciting the rivers of Ireland. I was always fascinated by
"The three sisters...the Barrow, the Nore and the Suir".
Three very different and individual features that somehow ended up together by a freak of nature!

And I guess that sums us up....

Love ye lots xxx

Friday, July 21, 2017's a secret.

It's my brother-in-law Michael's 60th birthday at the weekend. Being the perfect wife, my sister Jacqueline went to great trouble organising a surprise party for him. We were all sworn to secrecy and to make communication easier she set up a closed group on Facebook.
I was afraid to call into their house. You know that classic Fawlty Tower's episode
Don't mention the war.
When there is something you're not to mention, it's the first thing to come out of your mouth.
And I didn't want to be the one to let the cat out of the bag. I'd never be let live it down.

Last weekend Jacqueline and Michael headed away for a break. Jacqueline couldn't get connected to the hotel's WiFi, so Michael took her phone to sort it out.
Sure enough he got connected straight way, took one look at the screen shot that appeared and asked her
"What's this "Michael's Surprise Party" that everyone is commenting on???

So that is why I have no problem saying today
"I'm really looking forward to your surprise party tomorrow night, Michael" :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Milking it!

You know you have been friends, like FOREVER, when you meet up in Kilkenny for a night on the town, only to discover that the three of you are wearing the same outfit of a blue top and white trousers! Fashion etiquette would say that two of us should have changed immediately but true friendship said
"We look HILARIOUS. Let's go!"
We had a brilliant night's dancing in Matt the Miller's. At around 2 am they announced that the bar was closing.It was then that our ahem, maturity kicked in.
Years ago when we were out, this news would have sent us clambering to get a final round in.
True to form Lorna still made a beeline to the bar and returned several minutes later with.....a glass of milk!
"What's that for?" we asked in surprise.
"We've no milk in the room to make a cup of tea before we go to bed", she replied.
And we all thought that was the best idea EVER.

To add to our more mature status we had no problem getting past security at the door with our potential dangerous item, namely the glass.
When we explained nicely what it was for, they calmly sent us on our way with a gentle
"Enjoy our cuppa, ladies!"
And do you know what, it was a lifesaver! Hangovers averted. If only we had known that when we were younger.
Youth is definitely wasted on the young!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sun Salutations

What better way to start a glorious sunny day than with a little outdoor yoga?
Off I headed to Belvedere House and Gardens this morning with my mat tucked firmly under my armpit.

It really was a very sensuous  experience!
The feeling of the grass beneath my feet as I "rooted myself to the ground"
On Fiona's instruction.

The sounds of the birds and bees
Now stop it,actual birds and bees  
as I lay on the mat, meditating.

The warmth of the sun on my face as I struggled to come back to reality from my totally relaxed/comatosed state at the end of class.

I can't recommend it enough, especially if you want to find your inner warrior, cobra or downward dog!!

 Trying to look like I actually know what I'm doing!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


It's no secret that I freak out anytime there is one of their species in my vicinity. I am terrified of their beady little eyes, their sharp beaks and their talon like claws.
And yes, that description applies to "cute" little robins too!
I could never wear anything with feathers on it, hell, I can't wear anything with even a PRINT of a bird on it.
I would be quite happy if they were wiped off the face of this planet, though I guess that would feck up the food chain, big time!
Every summer since I've moved into my house there has been an occupied nest in the corner of my garden. I allow this new family to hatch out and grow up, on condition that they don't come anywhere near my house and promptly move out once they've learned to fly.
So why is it, that despite this burning hatred for them, have I been spending the last few days chasing away my neighbours cats from my garden?
It appears the fledglings are ready to fly the nest and the cats have set up a stakeout relay in the hope of pouncing on a slow learner!

Okay, so I want all birds to disappear but I don't want them to do so in the jaws of an already fat predator.
Is that a paradox or an oxymoron???
So every ten minutes or so I've had to go out to run away the cats. Though technically, seeing as the white one only has three legs, it hopped away rather than ran!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Going crackers

Here is a picture of today's lunch.

Smoked salmon and dill mayonnaise on three crispbreads.

It was very tasty but I know I am going to have to get more inventive with my toppings. After all I have about six months of Carr's crispbreads and crackers to get through after getting this fabulous hamper for being a member of the audience on the Miriam O'Callaghan show last Saturday night!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Rules are made to be broken

One of my summer rules is to not spend more than an hour watching television on fine summer evenings. So why was that on my first official day's holiday I was plonked on my couch, unable to move, for 4 hours 47 mins? Well it was because of this man.

Anyone who knows anything about me, knows that I have always been a HUGE Nadal fan.Not only is he one of the greatest tennis player, nay sportsperson of all times, he also is the epitome of sportsmanship both on and off the court.
Two years ago it was widely believed that his sports career was over. He was plagued by injury and withdrew from the circuit. If he had retired there and then everyone would have understood and applauded his amazing career.
But his hunger for the game was still there and he came back this year bigger and better.
Who can forget that historic final against Federrer in The Australian Open in January.Then he had his unrivaled TENTH win at the French Open last month.
He returned to Wimbledon this year in the best form of his career. It was thought that he could go the whole way again.
My hopes were dashed today when he went two sets down against Muller. But he fought back to win the next two sets to bring it to the deciding one. As there is no tie break in a final set neither of them could break the others serve for a mammoth 37 games. Nadal saved four match points. However he couldn't save the fifth and so bowed out of the tournament after 4 hours 47 minutes.
Ever gracious, even in defeat he stopped to sign autographs as he left centre court.

He's still my hero!
And because of him I missed out on my dinner and my cycle today!
Ah well, tomorrow is another day!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

+, -, x, or ፥

I finished my film course yesterday so this morning was the first official day of my summer holidays. So did I have a well deserved lie-on in bed until stupid o'clock? Hell no!
I was up at 8.30am, staring at my computer screen, like the rest of the population of Ireland.
It was the highlight of our national pastime.
No, not the All Ireland Football Final. Rather, it was the scramble for Ed Sheeran tickets.
9 AM arrived and I pressed the button.
I then spent the next never ending minutes staring at the same annoying symbol.

Was my wait worth it?

Now I'm going back to bed!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Feeling like a Muppet.

I'm doing a summer course this week based on Literacy through Film Making. One of our assignments was to get into pairs and take photos around the Education Centre, using as many different camera shots as possible.
I love this one taken by my partner. I think she should go into photography if she ever gets sick of teaching!
Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit,
There isn't any other stair quite like it.
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top.
So this  is the stair where I always stop.........
                                                                       Robin the Frog.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Happy birthday to you

Let the good times roll!
My sister Geraldine reaches her 60th birthday at the end of this month, and we have begun the celebrations already.
Hey, I celebrated my 50th birthday for a year, so she's actually being very conservative in her festivities.
So we started the month with a road trip to Sligo to take in the recording of Nathan Carter's TV show.
Family and friends converged in the Park Hotel in Mullingar and then off we set.
Driving up to The Clayton Hotel, we were very impressed and immediately felt at home.

Later on we discovered that it had previously been a mental institution. We'll say no more!

After a quick bite to eat we were ready for Nathan!
Anyone who has been to one of these shows knows there is one thing you have to be good at....queuing. Because the seats aren't allocated, it's on a first come first served basis.
So first of all we queued up to get into the building. When I got up to the ticket counter I was delighted to see Jennifer, one of the girls who had worked on Operation Transformation. It's a small world here in Ireland.
Then we went upstairs to the free wine. Almost straight away a queue formed to get into the arena, So of course we joined it. Eventually we slowly moved around the corner, down the stairs and onto the set.
It was set up the same as last year. In front of the stage were tables and chairs, which were reserved for VIPs and special guests. Then there were rows of seats for everyone else. My heart sank a little bit when I saw that all it was pretty full up and the only seats available were right at the back.
Suddenly I heard a voice in my ear
"It's okay Noeleen. You can have a table."
"ARE YOU SERIOUS?" I almost screamed at Jennifer.
She was, and soon we were plonked right at the front under poor Nathan's nose!

I tried to convince my sister that I had it all previously arranged, especially for her birthday, but she wasn't having any of it!
Show was brilliant and am looking forward to seeing it in the autumn. I had forgotten about the downside of recording a tv show, namely having to do things several times for the cameras, but it was worth it.
If this is what Geraldine's birthday month is going to be like, bring on the next four weeks!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer is coming

We are just back to school after a week's holidays and we have three more to go until the summer ones.
It was very difficult to get motivated to get up this morning and to head into school, all full of enthusiasm. And I'm the teacher so I can only guess how hard it was for my pupils.
So this is my new screen saver and the picture that comes up on the Interactive Whiteboard.
I'm not sure who it's pupils or myself!!!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Relight my fire

My long lasting crush on Gary Barlow is well documented!

I was lucky enough last night to have a ringside seat at one of Take That's concerts.
Okay, so I wasn't actually in the O2 Arena in London but I was at the live screening of their concert in Mullingar cinema!
And they did not fail to deliver.....



Still swoon time!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

I need a salon!

I headed to The Sheep shearing Festival in Roscommon this Friday. I stayed overnight with my friend Laura and her two daughters Erica (7) and Evanna (4).
Not forgetting Niall , her husband of course! But he was at work while we were all out rocking to Nathan Carter!
The next morning I had a great time in the playroom with the girls. Firstly I went "shopping" in their Mini market. Then it was on to the "doctor's surgery" as I had a sore finger!
It must have been all that waving at Nathan.
But my favourite was their Beautiful Salon. Just what I needed after all that trauma. I was preened and pampered to within an inch of my life. I got HD brows, a manicure, make up and a tattoo in under five minutes😜

Evanna was carefully tending to my hair with a minuscule plastic comb. She paused for a moment and then didn't hold back.
"How come your hair is black near the top but yellow everywhere else???
That's what I love about kids, there's no filter. They say it like it is.

So it's off to my hairdressers for real this week!
The magic moment was when she then looked me straight into my eyes and said
"You can come back to our house again"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


We were looking forward to our field trip with the fisheries officer to a local river.
Seeing as the Irish weather can be so unpredictable I was giving the class a list of what to bring. I typed it on my laptop and it went straight up on the interactive white board.
God, when I started teaching 32 years ago we were lucky to have a blackboard and a piece of chalk!!!
I wrote:
Please bring your wellies, raincoat, suncream.
I got up from my desk and started to walk around. I was a bit perturbed to see some of the kids sniggering, very unlike them. I took a quick glance at the board....and my blood ran cold. I had actually written
Please bring your willies, raincoat, suncream.
I nearly broke my neck getting back to the keyboard and began pressing delete, delete, DELETE!!!

Of course my kids were staring at me, wanting to see how I was going to deal with this catastrophy. So I imparted these words of wisdom.
"And that is the reason why you should always check your spellings before you print. Now, take out your lunches!"

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My life of crime

Life is a bit crazy at the moment. At a time when I thought I would be winding down before the summer holidays, we got the news that we will be having a subject inspection in school next week. Needless to say it's been full steam ahead.
 I was late coming home from school today so I decided to pull into Granuaile's in Kinnegad to save myself from cooking dinner.
When I came out, I was planning a hundred things in my head that I still had to do. I got into my car and shut the door.
It was then I noticed something strange. There was a packet of Baby Wipes in the pocket of the car door.
"I don't remember buying those", I pondered.
I looked at the passenger door and sure enough there was another packet there!
"What the hell??" I thought.
I looked at the dashboard and then it dawned on me!

What are the odds of there being a similiar car parked beside mine, and it not being locked? I mean, how else would I have gotten into it?

Well, I hopped out of it as if it had an ejector seat. I looked up and down the street to see if the owner was approaching but no sign. There were two young lads standing in front of a shop who must have been bemused to see a mad woman jump out of one car, hop into the one beside in and take off like a bat out of hell!
It's a life on the run for me :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Reboot up the backside!

I've let things slide over the past two months.
Some of my old bad habits were beginning to sneak their way back into my daily routine. Things like snacking on a sandwich while standing over a pot cooking my dinner, popping into a local restaurant on the way home from school as I haven't gotten the shopping in.
I was still cycling two or three times a week but I hadn't been out running regularly. And its amazing how quickly your fitness level can drop when you're not challenging it.
As a result my weight has slowly crept up by almost half a stone. Not the end of the world by any means, but I did recognise that as a slippy slope down to regaining all the weight that I have lost.
And, hey, I didn't pull a fire truck for nothing.

Happy to say that my resolve and motivation have returned. I worked out that I have seven weeks left to my summer holidays, exactly the same length of time that I had on Operation Transformation. And so I have started from Day 1 on the eating plan.
I'm happy to say my fitness levels are still way above what they were back in Jan 2016 and so I'm getting my running plan "up and running" much quicker.

The thing I'm loving is that every menu brings the memories flooding back.

Day 1: Meatballs and spaghetti.
As this was the first time I had to cook in front of the cameras, I remember being so stressed out that I didn't taste a bit of it as I gulped it down. How easy was it to make this time around? What was I stressed about?

Day 3: Roast chicken.
This was when I had the girlies, Michelle, Emma and Lauren over for dinner. It was greatly delayed as I had failed to turn on the oven properly! I was feeling very bad about this failure on my part til I saw the last series of The Great British Bake Off when one of  their competitors also failed to turn on the oven. So I'm in good company!

Day 5: Lemon Rosemary Chicken:
This was the one I got my knuckles rapped over, as I cooked it three nights in a I hadn't been organised enough to get my grocery shopping done. And do you know what? It tastes as good now as it did back then!

I'm really looking forward to reliving lots of other good memories. And the best part? I won't be weighing in on nationwide TV in my Lycra underwear!!!