Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tintern Abbey and Hook Head

Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey is situated on the  west coast of Bannow Bay. It was a powerful Cistercian Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. In 1200 The Earl of Pembroke came to Ireland on his first visit as Lord of Leinster. Threatened by shipwreck he vowed to found a monastery wherever he landed safely. Arriving safely in Bannow Bay he kept his promise by bequeathing 9000 acres for the founding of Tintern Abbey. 
Tintern Abbey
It was populated by monks from the Cistercian Abbey at Tintern in Monmouthshire where he was also the Patron.

Looking down to the Estuary
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the Abbey was granted to Anthony Colclough from Staffordshire. Over the years the Colclough family remodelled the Abbey, turning the church into living quarters. They built the village of Saltmills to replace the village of Tintern which was then demolished. 

The last member of the Colclough family, Lucey Marie Biddulph Colclough left the house in 1959 a few years before the government took over its care.
Renovations began in 1982 and uncovered many of the features of the original abbey.

Woodland Walk at Tintern

On the road to Saltmills
Old Boat

Not to far away from Tintern lies Hook Head. The Hook has what is thought to be one of the oldest  operational lighthouses in  Europe.

It dates back to the 13th century and maybe further. The tower stands four storeys high with walls up to 4 metres thick. The tower was constructed of local limestone and the original building survives almost intact. Standing 36 metres high, the tower consists of two tiers linked by as mural (within the wall) stairway of 115 steps. The first tier is 13m in diameter at the base and has three storeys, each consisting of a rib-vaulted chamber with original thirteenth century fireplace. In the thickness of the wall there are a number of small 
mural chambers, including two garderobes (toilets).

The upper tier is 6m in diameter: originally it supported the fire beacon, which in later times was replaced by a lantern.  It continues to serve its original function to this day. It too was constructed by William Marshal,  the same Earl of Pembroke that was responsible for the building of Tintern Abbey.

  The peninsula itself is composed of fossil-bearing carboniferous limestone.
Fossils can be seen in the rock.
The limestone rock was burned in the many limekilns which can still be seen on the peninsula. 

Sea Pinks
The limestone powder which this produced was used to improve the quality of the soil. It was also mixed with sand to make lime mortar for building stone walls and houses.
Tintern and the Hook lighthouse make a very enjoyable day out.

ABC Wednesday

Friday, May 27, 2011

What we learned in Kindergarten

 Robert Fulghum is a wonderful American writer. He has had a varied career, ditch digger, newspaper carrier, cowboy and Unitarian parish minister. He is a sculptor and a painter. He sings and plays guitar. But above all he is an extremely talented author. This piece was my first introduction to his writings. I had it on the wall of my classroom for many years.

(a guide for Global Leadership)

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:
  • Share everything.                                
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. 

Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together. - Robert Fulghum.

This is a link to his website where you will find his journal. It is worth dropping by.
Robert Fulghum

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The perks in being 50+

Lately, I've been receiving a spate of forwarded emails and most of them seem to have the same theme. Age, forgetfulness, body falling apart. Therefore I decided to post this to show that life as a 50+ has it's advantages.
The perks of being over 50, or reaching 60 and heading for 70......

1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

2. In a hostage situation,you are likely to be released first.

No one expects you to run -- anywhere.

4. People call at 9PM and ask,'Did I wake you?'

People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

Things you buy now won't wear out..

8. You can eat supper at 4 PM.

You can live without sex but not without your glasses.

You no longer think of keeping below speed limits as a challenge...

12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

You sing along with elevator music.

14. Your eyes won't get much worse.

.Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

16. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

18. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

You can't remember where you saw this list.

Just one more thing – never ever take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night…..

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Snáthanna Ár Saoil - The Threads of our Lives.

ABC Wednesday
Color Carnival        



As I mentioned in a previous post Seasons Of Life became the inspiration for a wonderful piece of art. We were working on a project with schools in Brodce, Czech Republic, St. Philbert de Grand Lieu, France Antheia, Greece. The tree was the symbol of our project.
As project co-ordinator for our school, I wanted to get our parents involved in it too. We decided to make a wall-hanging as a lasting reminder of the project. We contacted artist Kathleen Delaney and asked her to work with our group. The group consisted of parents, teachers and members of the local community.
We used the idea of our native oak tree through the four seasons. We decided to make linked panels, each panel depicting a different season.

Plan designed by one of the group.

We began with winter because the tree appears lifeless, but we also used this as our past and the panel contains many symbols of our national and local history. You can also see notes on a stave. These are the notes of a famous Irish ballad, Boolavogue, about the 1798 rebellion in our area.

 Spring is next, we were entering our present. You can see some of our native plants, St Patrick's mitre and crozier. You will also see some green gingham fabric. This was sent to us by the school in Brodce. It is cut in the shape of the Skoda symbol. Many of the parents in Brodce work in the big Skoda factory in Mlada Boleslav.

 The third panel is Summer. The tune carries on. Everyone said my photo should be in the window of the plane, because I head off any chance I get. You can see strawberries. Our county is the centre of the strawberry growing industry. The blue checked picnic cloth came form our partner school in Antheia. It belonged to the grandmother of one of the teachers. Near the bottom you can see two crossed hurls. Hurling is a traditional Irish game. Every village in Ireland has its own team.


The final panel is autumn. We deliberately chose this order. Autumn is the season when everything comes to fruition. We wanted to end with this time of fruition. The harvest moon is also the globe. The birds have flown the nest. The large flowers on the right hand side came from our French partners in St Philbert de Grand Lieu. The sign post has the distance in miles to our partner schools and to the towns where the ladies who worked on the panel came from. It includes Liverpool and New York.

 These were the panels. They were then linked to become Snáthanna Ár Scéal -Threads of our Lives.
These panels were then hung from oak branches.

Tabs were added and the panels were hung on oak branches

Winter and Spring

Spring is linked to Summer

And finally Summer to Autumn

The finished work.

 This gives a better idea of the scale of the project.
 Each of our partner schools received a mini wall hanging.
This is the group who created the wall hanging, pictured with Nicky Furlong a Wexford author and historian.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Saltee Islands

The Saltee Islands are about 5km of the coast of Kilmore Quay, about 40 minutes from home.  They consist of two Islands Great and little Saltee. The Saltees is the best known bird resort in Ireland. The islands are privately owned by the Neale family. Michael Neale bought them in 1943 and then proclaimed himself "Prince Michael of the Saltees. He places the following advertisement in the Dublin newspapers 
Great Saltee
"I, Prince Michael Neale, landowner, will assume the title of Prince of the Saltees at the conclusion of the war. Also I wish it to be known that no one will be permitted to enter the Saltee Islands without a permit issued by me."  
However because of World War 2 he didn't crown himself until 1956. He entered into a long battle with Wexford County Council about rates. He refused to engage with anyone who refused to address him as Prince Michael and eventually won this small battle with them when they began to addressing letters to Prince Michael Neale.

He died in 1998 and has been succeeded by his son Prince Michael the Second. Shortly before he died he decreed "All people, young and old, are welcome to come, see and enjoy the islands, and leave them as they found them for the unborn generations to come, see and enjoy."

A French Pretender to the throne
In 2009 our school hosted teachers from France, Greece and the Czech Republic. We decided to bring them out to the islands for the day. Strangely enough, none of the three teachers from our school had been on the Island before. We organised two boats to bring us out. The fun was getting off the boats as there is no jetty to land. We tranferred from the fishing boat to small dinghies which dropped us off. We had to scramble on to the rocks which for the athletically challenged (me) was fun!
Transfer to the dinghy
We brought a local man with us, Jim Hurley, who knew the history, flora and fauna of the island. The islands are privately owned by the Neale family. When they are in residence on the island all visitors must leave by four o'clock

Our group
A Puffin

Ha, I found you, out you come!

Through the Looking Glass!
Gannet  Colony

Great Black Backed Gull

Keeping Watch
Great Black Back Gull's Nest

There is a large Seal Colony here also.
Razorbills, Lords of all they survey!
Guillimot egg
When we left the island there was quite a swell on  the sea. Once again we transferred form the smaller boat to the bigger one. The boat I was on started it's engines and they immediately cut out again. A couple more tries, the boat rolling in the swells it became apparent there was a problem. We were quickly reassured that all that was necessary was to change the oil filter. We sat rolling from side to side while this was done. Once more they tried to start the engine. Once more it refused to catch. In the end we were towed back to harbour by the first boat. Instead of our guests being upset by the mishap they were highly amused. It added to the adventure of the day. 
Being towed home!
This might have been the better way home!
 This is the official website for anyone who would like more information.
The Saltees