Jun 30, 2010

Ross McDonnell: Joyrider

Recently came across the photo series, "Joyrider," where Dublin-native Ross McDonnell documented the lives of young Irish living in the slums of Ballymun. A dark, desperate, and sore side/spot of Ireland rarely seen ...

See more at RossMcDonnell.com

Jun 29, 2010

A World of Love Jewelry

You could represent your love for Ireland by tattooing the Irish national anthem up and down your legs, fashioning a line of clothing from Irish flags, or walking around with a shillelagh under your arm. Or you could get a grip, and some style, and shop Tru.Che's "A World of Love" jewelry collection. Stephanie Koerner's handmade fine silver pieces are such a pretty (and uncheesy) way to express where your heart lies. I kind of love the idea of wearing a few pieces together to represent a bi-coastal, transatlantic, wandering heart, i.e., Ireland and New York. Koerner offers a wide selection of countries and states to represent every heart, and she accepts custom orders (so I could take my display a step further and order a Co. Clare piece to wear with a Brooklyn piece.) If my neck/budget was a little longer, I'd buy pieces to represent my far-flung family or all my very favorite places.
Necklaces are $50 each and also available in acrylic and bamboo. Great gift idea.

Tru.Che's Etsy Store
Tru.Che on Facebook

Jun 25, 2010

This weekend ...

I said "Have a good weekend!" to someone on Tuesday this week; it was Wednesday before I realized that was a bit weird.  Now it's finally Friday, and I can say it—without any delayed-reaction weirdness—to you: "Have a good weekend!"


This delicious "Side of the Road Strawberry Tart" as found on Lilly Higgins. Strawberries are so good right now and if I'm going to fatten up before putting on a bathing suit, I can think of no better way than with buttermilk pastry cream. Thinking to test this recipe this weekend as a possible dish to bring to Fourth of July BBQ next weekend (that's how I make myself feeling better about making it twice in a week).


... knitting projects for Christmas gifts. I'm not one for celebrating Christmas in July, but this year, I'd like to start thinking about it while there's still time to make an extra of everything for me (only way anyone's getting a gift!) Ogling these beautiful skeins of hand-dyed yarns from Cork-based Hedgehog Fibres. Yes, I ogle yarn .. even when it's one hundred degrees outside.


Irish-American friends with this "How to Sort the Real Paddies from the Pretenders" quiz, written by Darragh MacManus for the Irish Independent in response to the Irish Government's plan to introduce a certificate of Irish Heritage to the Diaspora.

Have a great weekend!

Jun 24, 2010

Get Your Mug on A Barry's Tea Box!

I never knew it until now, but I've ALWAYS wanted to have my picture on a box of Barry's Tea. It seemed more realistic to aim for my picture on a carton of milk, or in the 'before' side of a before-and-after sagging jowls advert, until now ... The Barry's people are apparently so excited about winning the People’s Choice Award in the SuperValu Irish Producers Awards that, as a thank you, they are creating a special edition pack of Barry’s Tea Gold Blend covered with pictures of Barry’s Tea fans. This is my golden opportunity to have an official Barry's Tea golden moment!

If you've also long harbored this tea-dream, send your highest-res pic possible to the Barry's tea PR peeps at barrystea@thinkhousepr.com. Please don't take my corner of the box.

Now off to obsess about my pic ... with or without tea-bag earrings?

Barry's Tea on Facebook

Jun 23, 2010

Spancil Hill

I used to sing Spancil Hill to my son every night when he was a toddler; he loved the song and insisted on a genuine, serious version every time, in the way that only a toddler can—"No mom, do it right!" I'd take a deep breath, throw back my head, close my eyes, and belt it out seriously, allowing my mind and heart to wander across the Atlantic ocean, and home, with the song. The song is a true story written by an Irish immigrant—Michael Considine—living in California, and longing for his home, friends, and love in Spancil Hill.  As if it wasn't sad enough that he longed for home, Considine wrote the song knowing he was dying, and sent it home in remembrance of his love. He is now buried in Spancil Hill, and it is said his love never married.
Spancil Hill is also a song about the famous traditional horse fair that has taken place on the road between Tulla and Ennis in my home county of Clare, for over 300 years now. I've always loved the song, but it was only when I left Ireland, that I really felt its meaning. My good friend Síle grew up on that road between Tulla and Ennis, and I often find myself thinking of—and missing—Síle, when I sing this song, and then thinking of—and sorely missing—all my friends at home.
I'll be singing it out across the Atlantic tonight in honor of the fair at Spancil Hill, and raising an imaginary pint to Síle, Gráinne, Mary K., and Martina ... and to Michael Considine and his love, too.

This version by Christy Moore and Shane MacGowan is one of my favorites:

Here are the lyrics, if you'd like to sing along:

Last night as I lay dreaming of pleasant days gone by,
Me mind bein´ bent on rambling to Ireland I did fly,
I stepped on board a vision and followed with the will,
When next I came to anchor at the cross near Spancil Hill.

Delighted by the novelty, enchanted by the scene
Where in my early boyhood so often I had been
I thought I heard a murmur and I think I hear it still,
It's that little stream of water that flows down Spancil Hill.

Being on the twenty-third of June, the day before the fair,
When Ireland's sons and daughters in crowds assembled there
The young, the old, the brave and the bold, their duty to fulfill,
At the parish church of Clooney, a mile from Spancil Hill.

I went to see my neighbours, to hear what they might say,
The old ones were all dead and gone, and the young ones turning grey
I met the tailor Quigley, he's as bold as ever still,
Sure he used to make my britches when I lived in Spancil Hill.

I paid a flying visit to my first and only love,
She's as fair as any lily and gentle as a dove
She threw her arms around me, saying "Johnny, I love you still"
Ah she's Nell, the farmer's daughter, the pride of Spancil Hill

I dreamt I held and kissed her as in the days of yore
She said "Johnny you're only joking, as many's the time before"
The cock he crew in the morning, he crew both loud and shrill,
I awoke in California, many miles from Spancil Hill.

Jun 22, 2010

That's My Baby!

My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby in October. By some stroke of luck (good or bad, I'm not sure) my brother managed to be present for the conception, but working abroad for the first two trimesters. He'll be home next week and squeezing all the baby prep—the gear, the fears, and the morning sickness, too—into one semester.
I'm thinking to help him out with a copy of That's My Baby! Letters From a First-Time Dad to His Baby-to-Be.

 Irish writer, Pól Ó Conghaile wrote a letter every week for 32 weeks—loving, honest, and humorous—to his unborn child, to help himself navigate the hopes, fears, joy, disbelief, and chaos of becoming a Dad.  
"Each week, as his partner grows happily in size, so does Pól’s developing bond with their little one. From the excitement of the first ultrasound scan to the anticipation of things they can do together (think story-telling, prodding jellyfish, or diving with white-tipped reef sharks in Indonesia), his diary slowly but surely helps build a sense of himself as a Dad."
It's apparently the first book on fatherhood by an Irish writer (big surprise there!), so it seems my brother should read it ... before he rewrites the book himself!

Jun 21, 2010

J.W. Anderson AW '10

I have no idea what I'll wear tomorrow, but I know exactly what I'll be wearing come Autumn and Winter, albeit in my dreams ...

Irish menswear designer, J.W. Anderson, has mercifully turned his skills and scissors to creating his first womenswear collection for Autumn/Winter 2010. Anderson describes his punk-influenced menswear line as "Saints or assassins with a cross-country paramilitary vibe," and his womenswear line has the same inspiration, but with the idea that she had borrowed her clothing from her boyfriend or lover. As if punk-paramilitary/cross-country-assassin lovers would share. Seriously hearting/hurting for this collection.

Jun 19, 2010

This weekend ...

I'm having a delayed reaction to my weekend. See, I went to see The Villagers on Thursday night. Frontman, Conor O'Brien was flying solo for this performance, and I thought he was amazing. It was an intimate gig and I even got to shake the man's hand after the show—very nice guy.  If you get a chance to catch him on this tour, I would highly recommend it. Anyway,  long story short: no lunch or dinner + no shortage of beer = no good Friday + catch-up Saturday. 
It's already Saturday evening, so it seems I'll be squeezing a whole lot of weekend into my Sunday...


Gilt.com has a sale on Orla Kiely stationery (you'll find it in their home department). I'm a huge fan of Kiely notebooks—especially the little car journals with stickers, and plan to stock up on a few for back-to-college gifts for my younger cousins.

Exploring (virtually):

Ballilogue Clochán, a "creative, cultural innovation hub set in the idyllic rural countryside of south Co. Kilkenny, offering a select range of workshops and lectures in a tranquil artisan, communal setting." Will dedicate part of my Sunday to figuring out how I can swing a weekend-workshop at this tranquil spot.


The Tower, written by W.B. Yeats in 1928, contains some of the poet’s best-known works, including "Leda and the Swan," "Sailing to Byzantium," and "Among School Children." I found a used copy in a bookstore recently, and plan to while away the last few hours of my weekend in Yeats' meditations.


I'm thinking to bake a sponge cake. I haven't made one in ages and ages but my brother-in-law's recent birthday + Father's Day is excuse enough to sandwich jam and cream between two cakes of yummy sponge (though, in all honesty, I'd be fine waiting until Monday to bake it so I don't have to share! That said, I will share pics here if I pull it together.)

Jun 16, 2010

Happy Bloomsday!

Today's the day Ulysses fans take to pubs and bookstores in Ireland and all over the world to celebrate all things Joyce. (Yesterday was the day to Google Ulysses quotes and read Ulysses SparkNotes so that you could hold a conversation—or at least nod knowingly—in same pubs and bookstores.) Today is also the day I feel like a bit of a fake. I'm afraid to write the next sentence for fear my American friends—who count me as their token Irish friend—will think me less Irish, but I can't be the Paddy they want me to be (except when it comes to Guinness, tea, and bad language). 
See, I have never finished Ulysses.
Sorry, I tried. I kept thinking I'd get back to it, but, well ... I never did.
I've read—and enjoyed—Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Dubliners, and Finnegans Wake, but it doesn't matter 'cos I've never finished Ulysses. You know, I bet if I asked my friends at home if they've ever read Ulysses, the general response would be "Go away or that, I did not; I'm waiting for the movie!" I wonder if I should start waving this unfinished achievement as a badge of authenticity, like that I've never eaten Corned Beef and I don't drink in pubs called The Blarney Stone? Nah, I should probably just knuckle down and read it.

If you're also waiting for the movie, you might settle for the comic book in the meantime!

All images copyright  Throwaway Horse, LLC.

Created by Throwaway Horse and illustrated by artist Robert Berry, "Ulysses Seen" is a visual accompaniment to the novel, and devoted to fostering an understanding of this masterwork by joining the visual aid of the graphic novel with the explicatory and interactive aid of the internet. It's an interesting idea and beautifully executed so I'm thinking to give it a go—should be through it by next Bloomsday!

Note: If you have an iPad, you might want to download the free app here. It was originally censored by Apple for a nude scene, but the ridiculous ruling was reversed just in time for Bloomsday.

Ulysses Seen comic
Ulysses Seen blog

Jun 15, 2010

Be Mine: Macha Jewelry

Dear Santa,
 I love you. How are you? I hope this finds you well and good and enjoying that Disney Cruise; God knows you deserve the break, and it's great that the elves can pick up a little seven-dwarf-work in the off-season. Santa, I know you were probably planning to magic me an iPad for Christmas, but that's not what I want too kind. If you must reward me for being less bad so good this year, you could get me  every piece several pieces every piece in Irish designer Bernice Kelly's beautiful jewelry line, Macha.  Her work is raw, rugged, and yet elegant, and while not overly precious, her rings are bringing out the Gollum in me. (Note: Armagh-born Kelly is now based in London so be sure to set your sleigh's GPS right.)

Here are a few of my favorite pieces in the line. Again, don't feel you have to hold back.
 I love you Your hair looks great!

Ps. Macha regularly posts latest designs on its Facebook page (great way to score Christmas-cookie points!)

Macha's Etsy Store

Jun 14, 2010

New Favorite Irish Band: The Villagers

The Villagers, aka Dublin singer/songwriter Conor O'Brien, are taking the Irish music industry by storm at the moment. I bought their album, Becoming a Jackal, at the weekend, and it lives up to the hype. Hope my week can live up to its soundtrack. This guy looks like he's twelve-and-a-half, but his voice, lyrics, and talent have hair, crows feet, years, and weight. Check out this video from Later with Jools Holland:

Stalk the Villagers online: WeAreVillagers.com, iTunes, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.
Stalk in person:16 June Brooklyn Knitting Factory, 17 June Brooklyn Union Hall, 19 June Boston The Armory Cafe Room, 21 June Washington DC9, 22 June Philadelphia Side Chapel @ Unitarian Church, 23 June New York Joe’s Pub. (I'm hoping to hit one of the Brooklyn or New York dates!)

Jun 11, 2010

This weekend ...

Neil Jordan's Ondine. The Irish Film and Television Awards (the Irish equivalent of the Academy Awards) awarded Colin Farrell with a statue for Actor in a Lead Role for his role in this movie a few months ago.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce in anticipation of Bloomsday. (Can't tackle Ulysses in a weekend!)


Raspberry chocolate chip cookies. I've been haunted by the phantom smell of these cakey cookies since I first saw them on SugarSoapandSandpaper.com

The Brooklyn Shamrocks Gaelic Football club's Field Day!

Jun 10, 2010

Egg Cracker

Yes, I'm talking about eggs again. I saw this Punch Ball Egg Cracker this morning and thought it'd make a great gift for anyone who was not rared eating boiled eggs out of an egg cup, i.e., eggheads—or my friend Amy. 
I had breakfast with my friend Amy before she went to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day last year, and as I watched her struggle to get her boiled egg open (served to her minus an egg cup) I feared for her reputation and life in Ireland. She was rolling it, tapping it, cajoling it, and tossing it from hand to hand, and all the while I felt I'd failed her as a friend. I'd brought her a t-shirt to wear on her trip, but what she needed was an egg decapitator. This ingenious tool quickly and painlessly removes the top from an egg, so Amy can go about her breakfast and day with her own head held high. Simply position it on the top of the cooked egg, and drop the weighted ball twice.

 Punch Bell Egg-Cracker, $40, YankoDesign