Jan 30, 2010

Shopping Report

I was only home for the few days and there was little energy or time for serious shopping or scouting, but my motivated mother and shopaholic sister-in-law made sure I didn't come back completely empty-handed. Here are the fruits of our three-hour retail-therapy session (right before I packed my bag!):

This is how much room I had in my bag; I'd even less room in my wallet.


Found a lovely pair of oatmeal wool fingerless gloves from Fisherman
Out of Ireland
at the Blarney Woollen Mills store near Bunratty Castle.


Every time I go home, I come back with a suitcase full of books. This time, I was looking for something in particular—The Empire Trilogy, by J.G.Farrell—so I had less time to browse new releases. I abandoned my search eventually (after four bookshops turned me away—I'll have to take it to the web), and was happy out with three John McGahern books (The Barracks, The Dark, and That They May Face the Rising Sun), a copy of The Táin, translated by Thomas Kinsella, and Ship of Fools; How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger by Fintan O'Toole. Can't wait to get reading ...

I added three nice new hats—or as my grandmother says, "three auld caps for going to get the cows"—to my hat collection. There are some muck-ugly caps out there, especially in tourist-centric spots, so I usually find mine in old-man shops or any outdoor-supply stores (tip: if you see wellies, rain-jackets, and fishing tackle in the window, there's a good chance they carry these caps, too). They usually run for about 20 euro each.

A set of four pretty short wine glasses by Rachel Allen for Tipperary Crystal.

A glossy tea-pot, creamer, and sugar-bowl set from Delphi Pottery at Carraig Donn.

I didn't really have much time to try stuff on, or, more important, to rationalize spending money on clothes in Ireland (it's not cheap). I left some lovely stuff behind; sigh, I'm haunted by a periwinkle-blue cardigan with a little anchor motif on the pocket, and a beige lineny dress and gorgeous crochet-scarf ensemble. Oh well, I did grab this lovely black dress with grey, blue, and white pattern and pretty beaded neckline ...

... and to be sure I wouldn't be cold in my dress (that was about all the rationalizing I did!), I also grabbed this shaggy-sheep cardi (dress and cardi both from River Island). I hummed and hawed at the register, but I'm oohing and aahing now that it's here with me.

Full basket/bag. That's what I call power-shopping! Honestly, the Irish government should be flying me home for free with the work I do for the Irish economy!

Jan 28, 2010

Meet The New Additions To The Family!

I just got back from a trip to Ireland for a family funeral and while it wasn't appropriate to take pictures of family or friends, I do have a few photos of the latest additions to the family. It was often easier to turn our attention, eyes, and conversations to these lively little creatures than to the less lively reason we were all home ...

My Uncle's Fancy Fowl

I'm not sure if my uncle got a little carried away in his attempts to keep up with the Joneses—or rather, the McMahons—or if exotic poultry is the hot trend for Spring in rural Ireland, but instead of boring brown egg-layers wandering the farm, I found an Indian Blue Peacock and Peahen and a few fancily-feathered French Hens!

Calf No. 1
The arrival of a new calf was always a big event in my childhood; I remember the mournful lowing, the sound of rubber wellies slapping back and forth outside the cabin (hoping there'd be no need for the vet), and, when everything was going well, being allowed to see the calf make his way into the world—front feet and head first. I was very excited to meet the latest arrival, though a bit saddened to see the calves are no longer named but numbered, no doubt a repercussion of hands-off robotic milking. I would have called this one Aunty Nun.

If I could have sneaked this fella through Customs, he'd be wreaking havoc in Brooklyn right now. Bertie is my older brother's Miniature Yorkshire Terrier puppy, so named because Bertie rhymes with my brother's nickname—Gurtie, and in mock homage to Ireland's recently resigned Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. Our Bertie has a fetish for feet (and a collection of my socks), he doesn't go out for a pee—he goes "for a smoke," and much like his political namesake, the only way you'd get this rascal pup to sit still for a minute would be to plamaus him with a few treats (and maybe, blank checks). Such a cute little hoor!

Jan 14, 2010

Celtic Ring Money Necklace

I came across this "Days Gone By" necklace the other day and was drawn to the look of the aged ring on an oxidized chain, but it was the description that really grabbed my attention:

Could it possibly date from the 5th-1st century BC? If so, it would make for a really unique and interesting piece of Irish jewelry. I reached out to the seller/designer, Monica, at Moon Over Maize, begging more details. I didn't quite get a certificate of authenticity; she trusts her supplier's reputation and word, and seems genuinely excited and interested in the ring's history.

Monica's response:
"This is one of my favorite pieces in my shop as it is almost surreal to be connected to such a long ago time. As for the authenticity of the coins, I must take my suppliers word. They have an outstanding reputation and guarantee the authenticity of not only these rings, but all of their high value ancient coins as well.
This is the description they have given about the Celtic rings:
We do not clean our rings - we sell them as they come from hoards and after washing them with warm water to remove the adhering dust. Although they might look nicer while shiny, rings with removed patina (as many sold on eBay) are arguably worthless, since it becomes impossible to authenticate it and prove its' age. Celtic ring money are my most favorite type of artifacts/coins (I bought my first ring when I was a high school kid :-), and we have a huge inventory of authentic ring money. When you buy from us, the authenticity of the rings and your satisfaction are guaranteed."

This article on CalgaryCoin.com suggests that these rings were in fact used to assemble horse harnesses:
"Recently thousands of simple bronze rings, similar to this one, have been sold as Celtic ring money. While there is evidence for the Celts using metal rings as a form of money, all of the types that can be documented as money have fairly complex shapes, and not made of bronze. These rings were junctions joining leather straps to other parts, to assemble a horse harness."

Calgary Coin's argument and supporting images seem to make sense, though I didn't exactly break a sweat in my research. Honestly, I'm not even sure I care whether these rings were used for horse harnesses or to buy horse harnesses; I'd still buy this necklace. It'd make a great gift (ahem, alternative to a cheesy Claddagh necklace!) for its connection to Celtic days gone by. Can't wait for someone to ask me about it ...

Jan 13, 2010

Domhnall Gleeson

The internet is a wondrous thing; you can go from not knowing a person exists one second to knowing what he's up to nine-to-five—as well as his song and nut preferences—the next.
Take Domhnall Gleeson. Domhnall's the son of one of my favorite Irish actors, Brendan Gleeson, and a few minutes ago he was unborn to me; now, I'd be stuck for conversation over a pint with him, 'cos I know it all. If pushed, I suppose I could ask if he's ever tried Chamomile tea and if the recent cold weather froze his water pipes (because I can't seem to find those answers online).

I'll spare you the Google-warp and tell you that Domhnall recently starred in a one off comedy sketch on RTE called Your Bad Self (see YouTube clips above), and will be playing Bill Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (alongside his old man who plays Mad-Eye Moody).
His favorite song (as of last year) is Starálfur by Icelandic post-rock band, Sigur Rós. His favorite nuts are cashews.

Will be keeping a mad-eye on this fella ...

VIA The Stylebitches

Jan 12, 2010

With Aran, It's All in the Styling

I saw this aran sweater over at Urban Outfitters this morning, and now I'm inspired to take the moth balls out of mine and put it to work in my winter rotation of woollies. You really can't beat aran when it comes to keeping the wind off your back, but as styled here, it works best with a bare chest. I'm going to recreate this exact look; Yes, I'll have itchy moth-ball-scented boobs, and yes, there's a decent chance I'll get bronchitis going out without a shirt, but at least I can keep a tub of Vicks in my woolly pocket ... and I won't look wholesome.

(Sidenote: It's hard to wear aran without looking friendly and wholesome, and wholesome is not a look you want to go for, at least in New York. I was once told "ugh, you're so f**king wholesome!" by a drug-addicted coworker—I think because I always said good morning, but it could have been my aran hat. I'm still wounded—perhaps further proof that I'm wholesome. Sigh.)

Tea and a Thought:
My Ghost of Christmas Future?

I was at a party Saturday evening where I met a lovely green woman; she wore a bright green sweater, and dark green pants, accented with large Claddagh earrings tugging heavily on her lobes and a pretty shamrock-harp-and-cross bracelet clinging lightly to her wrist. Using skills honed over years of matching celebrity lips to celebrity hips, I immediately partnered this vision of green to the aran scarf and hat hanging in the hall closet, and imagined her shamrock teapot and turtlenecks at home.
I couldn't but wonder where she was from.
I also couldn't but wonder if—it being one day shy of the official end of the Christmas season—this lovely woman wasn't a Ghost of Christmas Future!
See, the longer I am away from home, the more I see myself needing to wear my Irishness on my sleeve, perhaps in a desperate attempt to cling to my identity. I have only to look to my list of resolutions for 2010, and the fact that "Irish Resolutions" warrants a page of its own, to wonder if I am starting to try too hard. I have resolved to work on my Irish language and music skills, try lots of Irish recipes, drink as much Guinness as I can, stay up on Irish news, and keep my bookshelf busy with old and new Irish literature this year, but does all this "Irish" resolving make me more or less Irish?
I guess we'll see at the end of the year.
It's some comfort to know that in the future I look lovely in bright green, but maybe I should add some West African dance classes to my list to keep things uncheesy ...

All the [Irish] Single Ladies

Love this ad for Irish comedienne, Katherine Lynch's, Single Ladies—a six-part 'mockumentary' series in which Ms Lynch will impersonate a variety of Irish female stereotypes. Hoping someone throws it on YouTube. For now, just feeling better about shaking my thang in tights!

Jan 9, 2010

Have You Had Your Weetabix?

I was rared on great advertising, and really do believe that you give the person you love your last Rolo (chocolate), you celebrate golden moments with Barry's (tea bags), and you should always start the day with a bowl of Weetabix (cereal).
This latest ad from Weetabix featuring Wexford actor, Anthony Morris (who apparently once dreamt of being a jockey), reminds that if I want to be a neck ahead of everyone else this year, I'll start my day with Weetabix! Great ad.

Jan 8, 2010

On my Absence

I went missing.
I went missing on my way back from last year.
I was swallowed up.
I was swallowed up by my couch and not even missed.
I fell.
I fell into my pint and over a ditch.
I shook.
I shook myself and now I'm back.