Archive for the ‘Ireland’ category

Shameless Plugs

July 27, 2018

Okay, I thought I would share with some of my favorite blogs and newsletters. All are free and guaranteed to be interesting.

First is NextDraft by Dave Pell. This is a newsletter that contains a cut of the current trending news. It is published most weekdays at about 1pm west coast time. And what’s more it is free. You can subscribe on the main page for


Next up is “Beautybeyondbones” written by Rachel Mankowitz. Rachel writes about eating disorders and her despair and her redemption. She has written a  book about the despair of eating disorders. She lives in New York City has had two cute little dogs. One of which has recently died. All about life in the big city.

thefadingyear is a blog about Irish history, traditions and folklore. Here is an excerpt from the latest post.

Reek Sunday, the last Sunday in July, is traditionally known for the great pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, a mountain in County Mayo. Croagh Patrick, or Cruach Phádraig as it is known in Irish, literally means Patrick’s Stack, the site, according to hagiography, was where Saint Patrick fasted for 40 days. For over four thousand years Patrick’s Stack has has attracted pilgrimages, with the site originally hosting pagan gatherings which were gradually to become more Christianised from the time of Saint Patrick.

It’s a bit obscure, but for someone of Irish heritage, I find it interesting.

My brother is a published writer and has a blog about writing. The blog is richardbowker.  By the way, you can buy his books from Also, I have to buy them on Amazon. No freebies for his older brother, either. Note: He reads my blog, hint, hint. More about Richard.


Next, is TheClosetAtheist. This is a blog about the daily struggles a young woman has over her beliefs in becoming an atheist and her relationship with her Christian family.

Here is a bit about the author. Click here.

Here is a quote from one of her recent posts:

For the past couple of years, I have felt as though, in this area of my life, atheism itself is all that I’m interested in. I wanted to read books that specifically laid out arguments for or against the existence of God, and I didn’t have much interest in books that were just about religion or just about science. Most people in the atheist community that I have encountered on WordPress and Twitter also have a fiery passion for science.

There you have it. I hope that you find some of these blogs as interesting as I do. I am intending this for some of my friends that no longer do Facebook and might be looking for something different. Enjoy.




February 14, 2016

BrooklynTonight was date night. We’ve got to stop going out on Saturday night. Too many people. Too few parking spaces. But this was the day that we were weren’t very busy. So Saturday night it was.

We went to see the movie “Brooklyn” starring Saoirse Ronan (Ellis) and Emory Cohen (Tony). It was directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby.

It was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screen Play. Paula and I both loved this film. I’ll give it 4.5 stars. Go see it while it’s still in the theaters. It’s a great movie to see for Valentine’s Day.

Saorise plays a young Irish immigrant that lands in Brooklyn in 1951.  She leaves behind her sister and her widowed mother to come to America.

Okay, I promise no spoilers in this post. That would spoil the fun. Saorise has the most beautiful blue eyes that I ever looked at.

So she is living in a boarding house of all young single women. She finds a job in a fancy department store. So she meets a nice young man of Italian heritage. They fall in love. Eventually they secretly get married at City Hall. So far, so good.

So Ellis receives a letter from her mother telling her that her sister (Rose) has died. So Ellis goes back to Ireland to grieve with her mother. So she hasn’t told anyone about the marriage. While in Ireland, she meets another nice young man.

So now you’re thinking does she stay in Ireland or go back to Brooklyn? I’m not telling. You’ll have to go see the movie to find out.

After the movie, we went out for dinner. I’ll do a post on the dinner later.





Shepherd’s Pie

March 19, 2014

Last night was our weekly family dinner night. In honor of St Patrick we had Shepherd’s Pie, not corned beef. I despise corned beef. And seeing as it was my turn to cook, we decided to do Shepherd’s pie.
 So hear is my recipe. It’s mostly in my head. It is not one of those meals that I need to work from a written recipe. There are many variations of shepherd’s pie to be found on the internet. This is just my variation on the theme.

 1.5lb ground beef
 2 c Fresh mushrooms
 1 med onion, chopped
 1/2 of a 16oz. bag of frozen peas and carrots. Generic store brand is fine.
 2 bags instant mashed potatoes (I use the “just add water” variation for about 4-6 servings)
 1 c shredded cheddar cheese
 1 jar brown gravy (12 oz. Heinz or equivalent) Some recipes suggest using cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup. My preference is the gravy.
 1/2 tsp ground pepper
 1 tsp salt
 Sauté the onions and mushrooms in a couple teaspoons of olive oil. Then set aside. [Last night we skipped the onions because Theresa is sensitive to onions.]
 Brown the ground beef. After the ground beef is cooked, drain the fat. Add the mushrooms, onion, peas and carrots and the gravy. Add the salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes. You might not need the whole jar of gravy. Judge for yourself how “soupy” you want it to be.
 Pour the ground beef mixture into 7×13 casserole dish.
 Prepare the mashed potatoes as directed on the package. Spread the mash potatoes on top of the ground beef.
 Sprinkle the cheddar on top.
 Bake in 350 oven for about 20 minutes (cheese should be melted and gravy bubbling on the edges.)
 Variations: Some folks use either green beans or corn. Not my preference though.
 Also, best served with Guinness beer and Irish Whiskey.

 Jonathan seemed to like the concoction. Though, I think he mostly liked the mashed potato part, less so for the hamburger.
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

The Quiet Man

July 29, 2012

During our trip to Ireland, we toured the countryside in Connemara. During that particular trip the tour guide talked about the filming of the movie “The Quiet Man”. “The Quiet Man” starred John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Barry Fitzgerald. The tour even stopped at a replica of the Irish cottage so that we could take pictures.

So we decided to get a copy of the movie from Netflix and we watched it last night.

The plot revolves around Sean Thornton (John Wayne) returns to the place of his birth from America where he was a prize fighter. Sean meets Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hare) and promptly falls in love. Hilarity ensues.

The movie was directed by John Ford. It has been said that this movie is the Irish version of “The Taming of the Shrew”.

The cinematography was outstanding. I can only imagine what this movie would have looked like on the big screen. The movie brought back to us all of the beautiful Irish countryside.

We thoroughly enjoyed the film.

Here’s the URL for the IMDB entry.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Irish Pubs in San Pedro

July 26, 2012

So, a few days ago Paula and I were sitting in a pub enjoying a pint of Guinness. She says to me, “Are there any Irish pubs in San Pedro?”. I don’t know I say. Lets ask the nice folks at Google.

So I pull out my trusty iPhone and bring up the Google app. Then, I enter the query,”irish pubs in San Pedro, CA”

Yes indeed there are Irish pubs in San Pedro. But take a look at the screen shot from the Google app.

Third entry down the page is “LA Harbor Masonic Lodge”. Excellent. I’m impressed.

Note: For all my East Coast friends, LA Harbor Lodge is the lodge that my sons belong to.

Guess I will get going on my affiliation application ASAP.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Plymouth, NH

Hotels in Ireland

July 24, 2012

We stayed in a total of 5 different hotels on our tour. All of them classed as “Superior First Class”.

The hotels  were clean and well kept up. All of the hotels used a key card for entry. And in some of them the key card was used to turn on the electricity in the room. One of hotels required a key card to use the elevator (or lift as the Brits would call them).

We had requested double beds. Sometimes we ended up with twin beds. Don’t even think about asking for a King Size bed.

The two hotels in Dublin had AC, the others didn’t.  But you really didn’t need AC. In fact, bring a light jacket. A couple of hotels had a fire going in the lobby. Looked like they were burning peat. We were surprised at the use of peat as a fuel.

All of the hotels had WiFi. One of the hotels charged a daily fee. internet performance was a bit hit or miss.  You will need to bring plug adapters. The Apple chargers will run on 120-220v, so all you need is the adapter. When in doubt, read the adapter label. If it says “Input Voltage 110-220” then you’re okay. The adapter is the same type as used in the UK. Some of the tourist sites had free WiFi, though performance was a bit spotty. Don’t forget to put your iPhone into “Airplane Mode”. Otherwise you will have a big surprise when you get the bill.

Food. Each hotel had a pretty much standard UK breakfast buffet. As is typical of the Brits, the fried eggs were overcooked and the scrambled eggs were undercooked. Irish bacon is much like Canadian bacon. They usually had a variety of cold cereals. Typically, there was a collection of breads. Coffee was from bad to absolutely terrible. The Irish have no clue on how to brew a decent cup of coffee.

Dinner. The dinners were a three course affair including starter, main course and dessert. The Irish have seem to have a habit of serving a piece of meat on top of a bed of mashed potatoes. Always served with some sort of gravy. Desserts were generally very good. The lamb and pork was good. The beef was not so good. The word “Rare” is not in their vocabulary.

Bar service. A shot of Jameson’s and a pint of Guinness is your best choice. Ask for ice if you want it. Don’t assume. Don’t even think about ordering a Mai-Tai or Martini. Did I tell you that I’m going through Guinness withdrawal? Ice machines? That’s crazy talk.

Bathrooms. Irish bathrooms have broken one of the cardinal rules of plumbing. ie. hot water goes on the left. Some times it was a bit of a challenge to figure out the shower controls. Paula’s biggest complaint was a lack of wash cloths. The tubs also were about an inch or more higher. Made for challenges getting into the shower. All of the rooms had hair dryers. But for some change reason, they were stored in one of the dresser drawers. Weird.

All in all, we had a great time. CIE Tours did a great job. Now we need a few days to recover.



CIE Tours

July 24, 2012

Time to write down a few things about our tour. We had a wonderful time. The tour was run by CIE Tours. We really can’t enough good things about them.
The tour was the “Irish Explorer” tour that was 10 days long. If we were to do it again we might have picked a slightly shorter trip. After 10 days on the road we were worn out. There is little time to sit around and do nothing. We were up by 0600 every day and on the road by 0800. Typically we would get back to the hotel around 1700. Here is the URL for the tour.

Our tour director was Patrick and he was a walking encyclopedia on things Ireland. And he could maneuver that bus into some unbelievable places.

CIE runs fully inclusive tours. This means everything is covered with the exception of lunches, bar bill, and gratuities.

We changed hotels every day. So that meant that on the day you were changing hotels, we had to have our luggage outside the door at 0700. So we didn’t have to schlep the luggage around. i will write a separate post on the hotels.

We visited some places that we had never heard of before.

We had a total of 29 people on our group. It turned out to be a really fun group. We really enjoyed the group. We had people from New England, New York, Ohio, Minnesota and Florida. About half the group were retired. and the other half in 40’s/50’s.

Weather was cool. Most days the high temp didn’t  get above 65F. Somedays we had a little rain. Most of the rain seemed to burn off by afternoon.

We flew on Aer Lingus. We were surprised to get free meals in coach. And no charge for baggage. Outbound trip was on the red-eye. By the time we got to our hotel we were pretty well ragged after the 6 hr flight, customs, luggage, etc.

If were to do visit Ireland again, we might stay in one place for a longer time. There was so much in Dublin that we just didn’t have time to see.

Homeward Bound

July 23, 2012

We are sitting at gate 414 at Dublin Airport. We have said our goodbyes to all of our tour mates. So now it’s just time to wait for the boarding call.

It’s been a grueling 10 days, but we had a lot of fun. We a really good group from all over the place. Total of 29 people on the bus. We were up early and out late.

I will post more pictures when we get home.

Joe & Paula

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Unnamed Rd,,Ireland

Day 9

July 22, 2012

Rain is back. Yesterday was just about the only sunny day of the trip.

Last day of the tour. Going from

Killarney back to Dublin.

Arrived at the town of Blarney. Not much here but shops.

Sat nursing a cup of coffee while downloaded email and FB.

People queued up for the ATM.
Wifi worked fine at 0930 but all bogged down at 1100.

Now driving through Cork.

Saint Patrick’s Rock of Cashel in Tipperary County. Here are a few pictures. Nice article on Wickipedia.

Arrived back in Dublin. Fly home tomorrow.

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Location:Blarney Ireland

Day 8 Afternoon

July 21, 2012

Here’s a view of Portmagee harbor.

First photo op of the afternoon.
Cumachiste view of Waterville town.

Final stop at Sneem town at 1600 for coffee and toilet. Festival going on so traffic is all blocked up.

Final photop stop at Queen’s View. So named for visit of Queen Victoria. We are in Killarney National Park.

Upper Lake Killarney.

Middle Lake Killarney.

Done for the day. Dinner at 1900. Tomorrow last day. Blarney Castle. Back to Dublin.

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