Tuesday, December 24, 2013

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS





What a beautiful Christmas Eve I have had today! My girls are home. Katy can't find her usual mince pie recipe and has to change tactics....shock, horror! Orange juice in the pastry. What do you think mum? I tell her to go for it....change is as good as a rest, and hell you only live once. In any event they were scrumptious and it was difficult to stop at one. Thoroughly relished making my wreath for the front door with mandarins and cloves; red roses and bunches of lavender; cones, spruce and red cotoneaster berries. Went to visit old friends and laughed and exchanged gifts. Nellie gave me a present of a spotted dick cake and you can imagine my comments re same and the fun we had. Cooked the ham. Sat in front of an open fire tonight and tucked into it, with crusty grinder bread; the first of my homemade pickled onions and chutney; houmous, and some wensleydale cheese with cranberries. Food for the gods! Presents all wrapped now and under the tree. It's almost four on Christmas morning and I'm going to sneak outside shortly to see if I can spot Santa and his reindeers coming in this direction. It's been a long, but very joyous day for which I am truly grateful. I'd better hit the hay now, otherwise Santa won't call on me.

Wishing all my family and friends a Merry Little Christmas. May 2014 bring you all peace, love and laughter. 





Ciao for now!

Monday, November 25, 2013

MOTHER NATURE.....BRAVA!





I am like a child these days. This is my kind of weather. Blue skies, cold, colourful days and cosy nights. I am in Beatrix Potter and Kenneth Graham's magical world of hedgehogs, badgers, mice and rabbits busily harvesting rich hedgerow spoils; filling up their larders for the hibernation season. I  have seen many beautiful Autumns, but this one has to be the Fionn mac Cumhaill of all champions. I have tried to analyse why my heart feels like its fit to burst each time I see a leaf or two of red, yellow and gold, and why I want to shout out to everyone that I meet and do sometimes, 'Hey, have you ever seen anything quite so magical?' Mother Nature is giving us the works this Autumn. She has witnessed the suffering and despondency of people who have lost out on something or someone over the last few years through no fault of their own. Scientists will explain that the richness of colour all around us is indicative of extra sugar content etc. If that is so, Mother Nature is responsible for providing the most perfect laboratory conditions in order to direct and produce the most uplifting spectacle of colour ever! This Festival that we have all been given free tickets for, brings out the child in all of us. From what we can tell, colours, like music and art were an integral part of communication rituals long before a structured language. Perhaps that's why some of our 'off the Richter-scale' experiences of joy are so difficult to express in words. When the weather is dry, what could be more thrilling and delicious than walking through drifts of leaves; kicking them upwards and watching them fall again for the second time, or gathering armfuls and hurling them towards the gods in spontaneous gratitude for such bounteous gifts.

In a pub somewhere in 20 years, the hard men at the bar will be referring to the great Autumn of 2013 and exchanging tales of where they were and what they were doing at that time.

Autumn Leaves was one of  my late father's favourite songs and this chap Miles Davis does a really fruity version, and I would ask you please to take time to listen. The images on the video are also rather tasty.







Ciao for now!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

BOUZOUKI BOY






She closes the ocean out for a while, and moves towards the bar, loving the sound of her heels on the stone floor under a low roof, and the earthy smell of turf burning from a hearth under siege from fishermen and those hungry for adventure. She finds a chink in the queue for stout, to order coffee and is offered a stool. which she accepts with grace, for it was given with a gentle smile. This was the only way to do this; 'A present to me', she reminds herself. Alone....she sighs and turns to face the fire. No placating or responding....just listening. It seemed she had travelled many miles and many years to reach this moment. Her eyes settle upon four men just right of the sea-scarred heroes. The musicians are taking a breather, she imagines, because they are chatting and taking measured mouthfuls of the black stuff.... that is except for the bouzouki player. He sits quite still and stares out towards a crowd of crab-people, who come to pay homage to the ocean and the music it inspires in an effort to feel free. 'I am one of them,' she thinks. The men take up once more, their fiddle, pipes, and guitar. The bouzouki boy had never let go. As they play she watches only him. His brows bend, black and battling, and his torturing fingers show no mercy towards silver strings. She feels a despair, but questions whether it is his or hers. An hour later, the musicians shake hands and accept crab-compliments. Their music-making has been replaced once more by that of the ocean; crashing against craggy coastline like an old-school rocker. She follows helplessly; his number one groupie. Outside again. She wonders why she feels safer out here and then decides to sits on the harbour wall and waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness, she can now make out the deadly white frills of Oceanius' whores. 'It's relentless isn't it?' She turned and saw the bouzouki boy standing behind her looking straight ahead. 'I wish you would play out here,' she said. It was the first time she had seen him smile.








Maureen Walsh - November 2013




Ciao for now!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

DANCE WITH MY FATHER




DANCE WITH MY FATHER



Yawning toes trap travelled feet 
Licking fingers trick calloused hands
Searching eyes eat hovering face
Guzzling smile seizes helpless mirth
Eager legs snare weary stilts
Wordless songs inspire timeless tunes
Hapless heart wakens hungry soul.

So starts the dance......



Maureen Walsh - November 2013









Ciao for now!

Monday, October 28, 2013

DR. JAMES REILLY.....HIPPOCRATIC OR HYPOCRITAL OATH






So Minister of Health, Dr. James Reilly has finally decided to meet Mr Praveen Halappanavar. It has taken almost twelve months for this Government Minister; this man; this man of medicine; this man of healing, to condescend, finally, to meet a man, who lost his wife, Savita in the most tragic and unnecessary circumstances, whilst in the care of medical staff in Galway University Hospital on 28th October 2012. Without getting into the 'ins' and 'outs' of this much publicized case, Mr Halappanavar knows how his wife died; he now needs to know why his wife died. This is a meeting that Mr Halappanavar sought almost 12 months ago, and I hope for his sake that it helps to answer some of the questions that have been chipping away at his heart and his brain since his wife's death.

Events and vigils have been organized throughout Ireland today to mark the lst anniversary of 31year old Savita's death. This woman, who was 17 weeks pregnant and looking forward to becoming a mother for the first time, went into hospital because of a threatened miscarriage and sadly never came out. Savita requested an abortion after spending three days in agonizing pain and with the knowledge that her unborn child could not possibly survive. She was refused that abortion on the grounds that the unborn child was still breathing. Ms Halappanvar's needless death rocked this nation to its very core and rightly so.

Who would want Dr.Reilly's job? There is no doubt that the portfolio of Minister for Health is the most complicated, emotionally-charged and costly of all to maintain and I would have a certain amount of sympathy for anyone holding that position. When Dr Reilly was appointed to that Government ministry, perhaps naively, I imagined he would bring that extra ingredient of empathy with him, that had been lacking with previous Health Ministers. Dr. Reilly's capabilities have been called into question time and time again during the lifetime of this Government, and I suppose, given the present financial climate, that was to be expected. What wasn't expected and completely unacceptable is, that it has taken almost twelve months for Dr. Reilly, our Minister of Health to agree to meet Praveen Halappanavar. 

And why now? A cynical attempt to rebuild a crumbling credibility? You don't need to be Dr Einstein, Madame Curie, or Louis Pasteur to know that medical knowledge and expertise without empathy for the patient and their loved ones is not only unacceptable, but quite often less effective. This should also apply to the governing of this State, the running of business, the pastoring of the Church, the administering of social welfare payments, and should ideally infiltrate all forms of social inter-action.

I am not saying that Dr. Reilly is not a competent doctor, but as the Minister for Health and also a medical professional, he failed Praveen Halappanavar and the rest of us, in his refusal to meet with Mr Halappanavar following repeated requests to do so. Dr. Reilly was not to blame for Savita's death, neither could he her bring back, but a simple meeting one year ago, would have at least suggested a modicum of empathy towards Mr. Halappanavar and indeed, the rest of us on this island; trudging and stumbling through one of the greatest recessions since the formation of the State. It would have shown both him and us, that we the people matter more than rhetoric, reputation, and money. Surely, even from a cynical perspective, it was a missed opportunity.

Well....Dr. Reilly, you have lost my sympathy vote. Too little...too late ...too circumspect....and leaning more towards hypocritical than hippocratic! 






Ciao for now!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ENDA KENNY....NAPOLEON OR BRIAN COWEN?




How could anybody trust Enda Kenny's motives for wanting to abolish the Seanad, when he flatly refused to take part in any TV or radio debate about Friday's referendum. To start with, he came up with this referendum motion without consulting any of his frontbenchers including Richard Bruton who has been doing all  Enda's dirty debating work for him. If Enda Kenny felt in any way passionate about abolishing the Seanad, he SHOULD HAVE BEEN on our TV screens during both debates chaired by Miriam O'Callaghan and Vincent Browne; fighting his corner and for what he believes in. Any idiot can pose for a photo, milking a cow, at the National Ploughing Championship !!! You certainly don't need to be an orator or statesman. What the people of this country need to see right now are politicians who speak and act with passionate conviction. I am sick and tired of the safe, so-called logical and rational political rhetoric; the dodgy hedging of issues; and political posturing. Politics is not a game. It is a vocation, or at least, it should be.

The people of this country should have been given a real choice in this referendum. The motion set out in this referendum fails to do that. If the motion was about reforming the Seanad, which can be done under the present constitution, there is no doubt in my mind, that the people of this country would say that they want to hold onto the Seanad, but let it be reformed. If a NO vote wins the day and I passionately believe it should be a NO VOTE, because I don't believe Mr Kenny wants to reform anything and that it's all pretence and gimmicks, Mr Kenny has already gone on record and said that the Seanad will NOT BE REFORMED even if the people of this island return a NO VOTE in Friday's referendum.. What he is actually saying is that he is not willing to listen to the people of this country! How dare he? All I can say to that then is; there is nothing to separate Enda Kenny from Napoleon or the now-disgraced former Taoiseach Mr Brian Cowen, who told the Dail that he didn't have to answer to anyone on the very same night that Tiger Woods broadcast a needless and rather pathetic apology to the world for his sexual infidelities! (I'm pretty damn sure the only people concerned about Tigers' indiscretions were Nike and Mrs Woods.) Quite frankly, any political leader who says he/she is not accountable for his/her actions to the very people who have entrusted them with the most important job on this island or any other jurisdiction, is taking upon themselves, the mantel of a tyrant.

Enda Kenny knows how disillusioned the majority of people are with the present Government and to detract from the austerity of the forthcoming budget; and with one fearful eye on his seat in the next general election; he wants to be able to say, 'There you go 'plebs' we've made political reforms as laid out in our manifesto and saved 20 million into the bargain!' What a load of bollocks!  No one is saying that the Seanad does not need to be reformed, and so what if, as some politicians have said rather disdainfully that the Seanad serves as a creche to budding politicians and a graveyard for ex-TD's and ministers. Is that not a good thing? People have to learn their trade somehere; and if ex TD's performed diligently, honestly and with conviction during their time in the Dail, would they not be an asset to any political chamber.

If Mr Kenny was serious about political reform and transparency, he would have allowed his own party members to vote according to their conscience on the abortion issue. Such hypocrisy. I'm afraid Mr Kenny has behaved like a bully and a dictator within his own party and within the Dail. 52 bills have been rushed through government with very little or without any debate at all....'guillotined'; since taking up his tenure as Taoiseach. This does not reflect an open and transparent form of government.

Whilst canvassing for a NO VOTE last Monday, I was surprised to find that some people are so confused by the way this motion has been set out, that they are not going to vote at all. How sad is that. The electorate of this country are already apathetic about politics, as a direct result of widespread political corruption. The seeds of corruption, which were sown and most definitely rooted during the days of former Taoiseach, Charlie Haughey, have been allowed to flourish throughout consecutive governments since, and have now become almost an acceptable part of the the political establishment. This Government, who have promised transparency in the management of political business, have done precious little to encourage the people of this country to exercise their vote, during this referendum or the last very important Children's referendum. The debate and informative literature around the Children's referendum was so confusing, that less than 30% of an ill-informed electorate turned out to vote. Enda Kenny and his band of men have deliberately set out to confuse and manipulate the electorate on both occasions, which is both undemocratic and unforgivable.

If you are undecided about which way you are going to vote, click onto the link below and watch David Norris, who is a wonderful orator and a true statesman in full flight. This is one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever watched or heard. We need much more of this kind of heartfelt conviction in Irish politics. During both TV debates, Richard Bruton made a rather smirking reference to a 'Professor of Poetry' in the Seanad and questioned his ability to debate issues outside his experience. These assumptions are not only denigrating, they are disingenous. Does Richard Bruton expect us to believe that every TD, who takes up the portfolio of a ministerial position is an expert in that given field. I don't think so. The amount of advisers and hangers-on, that are brought in, blasts a huge hole in that argument. Take that a step further. Why give the electorate a vote at all. After all, most of the electorate are not expert in how financial or legal systems operate.

I shall be voting a resounding NO on Friday. My primary concern, however, is that people go out and VOTE. Do not allow this Government to bully you into NOT VOTING at all.

In conclusion, one of the greatest women that has ever emerged from this country or any other country for that matter: Mary Robinson, a  past President of this beloved country and UN Human Rights Ambassador believes we should hold on to our Seanad, and quite frankly, that should be enough on its own, to make every right-thinking person get out and vote NO on Friday.







Ciao for now!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

BUDDLEIA COCK-UPS AND CANADIAN INDIGESTION


Whilst trying to rehash my recent poem Buddleia, I have annihilated the original, whilst holding onto part of the original blog, so a bit of a cock-up all round really. So new version of Buddleia II below is now the only version I have. (I know.... should keep on hard disc some place!) Blame it on jet lag. Just back from Vancouver in Canada visiting my daughter Katy. For some strange reason, I cannot upload the hundreds of photographs, that I took to the computer, where I store all my pics. However, my extremely talented, gifted playwright and actress friend Stef, who is currently touring Ireland and performing in her one-woman play Solpadeine is My Boyfriend is staying with me tomorrow night and she doesn't know it yet, but I will be seeking her IT expertise in exchange for dinner and a bed for the night.

Thoughts on Canada....Vancouver....honestly don't know yet how I feel, which is quite unlike me. Going to wait for the photographs and just maybe having to go back to work almost immediately (as in hours) after arriving back in Ireland on top of jet lag has caused an indigestion within my thought processing system.









BUDDLEIA II

Butterflies, dancing and drunk;
Spinning; pirouette around a head full of words
And a heart....hurt unfairly.
White cotton sheets fly like swans
Beyond apple trees and bees,
Sails against salt of uncharted waters.
A swallow chases another; an aerial exhibition;
Then low, across the field; quick as the keening saw.
While horses, heads down, grazing,
With tails that stuffed sofas in bygone days
Could hypnotize if eyes did not wrestle for the whole.
Court jester of the bird realm; the Magpie wears that hat
And teeters towards a fading rose; the prize of fools
Across a tightrope through the grass.
 Scents of jasmine. sparkling in pink and white
Are snatched and then set free.
Ill-deserved deeds can no longer dwell here,
As unfettered joy replaces unashamedly,
On the wings of a Tortoiseshell
Emblazoned in the Peacock's eye.
They laugh at the mysteries
That puzzle always....me and you.
They know.....
They know....
They know how to rest between waltzes
On spikes of juicy blue.



Maureen Walsh - Sept 2013








CANADIAN BLOG COMING SOON !!!





Ciao for now!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

SEAMUS HEANEY R.I.P. AND THANK YOU




I feel terribly sad about the death of Seamus Heaney. I was introduced to him through my daughters and fell in love with his poetry and his love of nature. My heart goes out to his lovely family. 74 seems so young now that I am getting older

This has been a very difficult and sad year or so; losing first my beloved dad; then my stepmother. However it didn't stop there; there has been the stuff of wills and estates; the needlessly cruel words; unjust deeds and unsympathetic people, which I'm hoping to make sense of some day soon.. One day during the week after a particularly negative phone call, I put out my washing; and by the washing line, there is a magnificent, even if it is a stray self-seeding buddleia (butterfly bush). I was completely and utterly overwhelmed by the beauty around me. It was one of those rare moments of real contentment, for which I am truly grateful.






BUDDLEIA II

Butterflies, dancing and drunk;
Spinning; pirouette around a head full of words
And a heart....hurt unfairly.
White cotton sheets fly like swans
Beyond apple trees and bees,
Sails against salt of uncharted waters.
A swallow chases another; an aerial exhibition;
Then low, across the field; quick as the keening saw.
While horses, heads down, grazing,
With tails that stuffed sofas in bygone days
Could hypnotize if eyes did not wrestle for the whole.
Court jester of the bird realm; the Magpie wears that hat
And teeters towards a fading rose; the prize of fools
Across a tightrope through the grass.
 Scents of jasmine. sparkling in pink and white
Are snatched and then set free.
Ill-deserved deeds can no longer dwell here,
As unfettered joy replaces unashamedly,
On the wings of a Tortoiseshell
Emblazoned in the Peacock's eye.
They laugh at the mysteries
That puzzle always....me and you.
They know.....
They know....
They know how to rest between waltzes
On spikes of juicy blue.



Maureen Walsh - Sept 2013







Ciao for now!


Friday, August 23, 2013

SIMPLE REVISITED



Decided to revisit recent poem 'SIMPLE'






SIMPLE

Words, soft in the breeze, so simple, yet touching;
Skin shivers, leaves tremble; emotions exploring.
Their smiles like the wind, as simple, yet scorching;
Sense scatters, leaves falling; escape routes devouring.



Maureen Walsh - August 2013






ciao for now!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mná na hÉireann and Sharing.





Watched Silver Linings again tonight with Emma and her partner, Johannes, and, they loved it. I was thrilled, of course, and thoroughly enjoyed the debate that ensued re. direction, content, script and performances.

This evening, on my way home from Tipperary town, I listened to a radio program about Irish folk music and its historical context.. This session, one of a 6/8 week series, concentrated upon Irish heroines, and the lack of folk songs written for them. I didn't catch the complete program, but I did hear Frances Black singing a verse of The Magdalene Sisters (pictured above. Each and every one a heroine! Will return to this subject in the not too distant future). Following that, I heard a piece of music that sounded very familiar, but I had never heard it complete with lyrics before. The voice also sounded familiar, and did think it sounded like Kate Bush. A verse or so later, the radio broadcaster informed that it was indeed Kate Bush and the song was Mná na hÉireann (Women of Ireland). I was overwhelmed by the beauty of both the singing and the song. When I arrived home, I couldn't wait to share this with Emma; so 'YouTubed' it and the kitchen was overtaken by goose-pimples. Peadar Ó Doirín's (1704-1796) poem, which belongs to the genre that imagines Ireland as a generous, beautiful woman suffering the depredations of an English master on her land, her cattle, or her self, and which demands Irish men to defend her, or ponders why they fail to, is set to an air composed by Séan Ó Riada (1931-1971).

Something very special about sharing something that moves you so much. Kate Bush's performance of this song is stunning and to think I almost missed it!




 Ciao for now!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

SIMPLE




SIMPLE

Soft words in the breeze, so simple, yet touching;
Skin shivers, leaves tremble; emotion exploring.
His smile like the wind, as simple, yet scorching; 
Sense scatters, leaves falling; escape route devouring.


Maureen Walsh - August 2013







Ciao for now!



Thursday, August 15, 2013

SILVER LININGS, SILVER HAIR AND SILVER TONGUES.






Watched Silver Linings Playbook the other night. Long time since I enjoyed a movie as much. Starring Bradley Cooper (Hangover), Jennifer Lawrence, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in this picture, Robert de Niro, Jacki Weaver, and Chris Tucker, this movie is billed as a romantic comedy, but it is so much more than that. It boasts a beautifully-written screenplay by David O. Russell based on Matthew Quick's novel. Mr Russell also directs this delightful film, exacting just the right amount of 'everything' from this wonderful cast. Robert de Niro, even as one of my favourite movie stars, is inclined to run away with himself at times, but not for one moment during this gem of a picture, does he overdo anything. Jacki Weaver wide-eyed, unstintingly patient, with sack-loads of quiet wisdom is a breath of fresh air in the role of De Niro's wife. Bradley Cooper, who is an extremely likeable performer proves that he is so much more than the handsome face and the funny guy. Jennifer Lawrence, as Tiffany, is absolutely incredible and will, without question, be joining the Hollywood legendary ranks alongside such greats as Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep. The official blurb:

After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.


There are only a few films, that I find myself wanting to watch more than once, and this is definitely one of them. Actually, I'll be watching it again next week with my daughter, Emma, when she comes home to Ireland on holiday. She hasn't seen it yet and I'll be dying to see her face as she watches it. I just hope after my ravings, she won't be disappointed. 






Last Sunday, I was listening happily to the radio on my way to Lahinch for a routine injection of all things Ocean, when suddenly my ears went on red alert at the suggestion that this present Government might be considering a reduction in the old age pension. Simon Coveney TD from Cork denied this, but of course, as past history has proved, 'rumours' such as these have a way of leaking, infiltrating and then becoming cemented into 'The System'. Let them dare, that's all I shall say. 


If this Government goes down that road, then I shall be marching, and I shall do everything within my power to get all my friends and neighbours, with or without silver hair, to do the same. This must not be allowed to happen and we must fight with all our might on behalf of and alongside one the most vulnerable sectors within our society!







No, the last thing this State needs at the moment are silver-tongued politicians, but hey, who doesn't love a compliment or two, or three, or more. Now and then you have the good fortune to come into contact with a man or woman, who isn't shy about telling others that they look well, and it really is quite refreshing. Women aren't particularly good at telling other women that they look well. Not sure about men to other men. If I get chatting to someone whilst shopping; queuing; travelling etc; and I like their outfit, their hair-do, or I have enjoyed their company, I would normally tell them. Might be construed as being silver-tongued, charming or even weird. My feelings: if you admire something or someone....why hide it!


According to my late mother, my father was a bit of a charmer. Judging by the way my friends were all captivated by him at my graduation, I have no doubts that he was. As I drove to Cashel yesterday in my dad's car, which is now mine, and may I say is looking rather resplendent in its new Irish number plates; one of my dad's favourite songs started to play on the radio. I wound down my window and stuck out my arm and hoped that my raised hand would brush off his....somewhere out there! 


Sarah Brightman and Jose Carreras singing Amigos para Siempre. 









Ciao for Now!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

ONE LAST TIME




'Don't forget to lock the back door....!'
Voice filling the plant-less built-on
Repeats as the key already turns.
She sits on the chair with arms, lit up.... small.
TV on....loud; game show, or other
Meant to soften the screaming space
Between her; four walls, squeezing;
And an armchair now emptied.
He's not coming back; the impact of that 
With each swiping chime of the grandfather clock.
A crushing desire to see vacant eyes
From a body that no longer worked.
One last time to keep her safe; to keep him safe. 
One last time to lock the back door.







Maureen Walsh - July 2013




Ciao for now!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

LEAPFROGGING......



In piercing sun, gnarled fingers grasp the handle of a shovel. Fingers from the other hand swipe off greasy cap and wipe away the sweat, that comes from a reluctance to let go of wintry clothes. They scratch a sparse patch of greying hair, which gives his mind permission to wander away from the soil. He straightens a bent back and exhales loudly. When he took up this job, Arthur's wife left him, and their boys, ....said it was creepy, and then moved in with his best friend, Jack, the rag and bone man, whose job wasn't too dissimilar from Arthur's, in as far as, Jack gave refuge to useless things, rather than lifeless bodies. Once the cap was back on, Arthur stood for a moment, still in permission, so that his eyes could soak up the hundreds of gravestones, that stretched down the hill towards the crematorium. For an instant, he could see his boys rolling down that hill, in between the headstones, with their eyes closed and their arms tucked, well in. He would scold them gently, but firmly, for their lack of respect. One afternoon though, he caught them leapfrogging over a headstone in the North-East section, and as he strode, smartly towards them, shovel in hand, the boys caught sight of his clenched fist, and froze, like hypnotized rabbits, in the glare of his bitter disappointment. They begged him not to hit them; spewing out one apologetic promise or bribe after another. Arthur may have raised his hand and his shovel to the boys that day, but he never ever laid a finger on them, except for the instances, when he'd cup their wide open faces in both hands. As his fingers squeezed their chubby, pink cheeks, the boys would sense the magic of their father's unconditional love. A train rattles past ....heard but not seen. A white van almost reverses into him....not seen and not heard. The 11.40 daily train to Blackpool, should come as no surprise, but, today, Arthur had got himself entangled in a bush of memories. 'Grief causes that,' he thinks. 'Causes us not to see things....' He picked up his cap that came off when he had stumbled over the edge of Mr Warwick's grave. 'Sorry Mike!' he muttered, as he looked off into the sky somewhere. He had prepared at least one half of those resting places stretching out beyond him: for total strangers, that, over the months and years became his friends. A young woman passed by with two children. The little boy, carrying a bunch of tired flowers, walks slightly ahead, as the little girl tries to blow the pink, plastic windmill that is attached to her pushchair. Their mother is preoccupied and doesn't notice his smiles. He didn't see his boys as often these times, now that they were both married to Liverpool lasses, forty miles away. During the school holidays, when his mother couldn't take them, the boys would have to go to work with him. As they left their two up and two down, next to the gasworks, they walked alongside him, as he pushed his bicycle. He watched their curly heads and smiling faces as they skipped, played leapfrog, and dodged the cracks in the pavement. They might slip their hand into his spare hand, now and then. He felt like a king then. 'She must have been bitterly disappointed with me,' he'd think, but never with malice. He had loved her deeply, but without hope, because he knew she would never stay. 'Hey Mister! Do you know where the DG section is? Looking for grave number 634!' roared a man, who had rolled down the passenger window of a black BMW convertible. He had obviously never been scolded for being disrespectful, thought Arthur, but at least he was visiting. There were graves that had not seen a visitor or a flower since the day of the funeral and this made the gravedigger feel sad. Dead....no longer seen....no longer heard. Resting the shovel against a Sycamore tree, he sat down under its shade and took out an envelope from his pocket. He read the words again:

Dear Dad,

Sorry, we can't make your retirement do, but you know how it is. Mary's tearing her hair out with the kids and I'm playing a darts match that night....an away match. I'm sure you wont miss me...your mates'll all be with you.

Your loving son, Isaac.

p.s. Don't think Andrew can make it either. His missus is expecting the babbie any day now.

He put the note back into the creased envelope and holding it tightly, he sat with his head back against the trunk of the tree for a minute and sighed. He was going to miss this place. He was going to miss the 'seeing'; the 'being seen'; and even the 'not being seen.' Permission time over, he struggled to his feet, and 'saw' two men and one woman standing over a grave, and sensed their grief. He wondered if they 'saw' his.  







Maureen Walsh - July 2013


Ciao for now!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

THE DUTCHMAN





What has Calamity Jane got to do with the song, The Dutchman....nothing, only that they're both to do with music and words and LOVE.
Lisvernane National School is presenting its yearly show tomorrow night in Lisvernane; a beautiful little village nestled at the foot of the Galtee Mountains in the glorious Glen of Aherlow. I am indeed grateful to have been teaching drama at that school for the last four years and tomorrow night's show is the culmination of weeks and months of hard work by all the pupils. We are doing snippets from Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Les Miserables, together with the full work of Jack and the Beanstalk and an abridged version of Calamity Jane.

After a long day of rehearsals, I went out to dinner to celebrate my brother's 55th birthday (Britvic Birthday!) at a little restaurant in Clonmel, that I love, called Catalpa. It is below pavement level, and requires patrons to step down into it. There are whitewashed walls, arches and stone-flagged floors. Tables are placed here and there in small adjoining rooms and intimate alcoves. We arrived for dinner at nine and the place was buzzing with happy voices and clinking glasses. The food was delicious. I had organized a birthday cake for my brother and everyone that was left in the restaurant joined in with the singing of Happy Birthday. The owner of the establishment, Bernard....a character, informed us that there were Irish traditional musicians playing in the The Posthouse, a pub just up from Mulcahy's. By this stage it was 11pm and I knew I had a very hard day ahead of me today, but birthdays are special. There was a small crowd in the pub, but nevertheless they were appreciative. The unassuming musicians sat in the corner by the front door and entertained with jigs and reels. It was great craic. I then thought about one of my very very favourite songs, The Dutchman, and walked over to ask them if they knew it, and if so, would they perform it. They said they did, and assured me that they would play it. I was thrilled, and like a broken gramophone, I rattled on and on to my brother and his partner, about how wonderful this song was. About six reels and jigs later, I heard the first strains....'This is it guys....you have to listen to this!' They were just setting the song up and before I knew what came over me, I walked back over to them and asked if I could sit with them and join in with the chorus. They were very gracious and allowed me to sit in. I was delighted to be alongside these talented musicians, singing this gorgeous song, with the most poignantly sad lyrics and musical intervals of a slightly French quality. I have rarely enjoyed singing so much. It wasn't about me or my singing, it was about the song and I loved every second of that experience. It will stay with me forever. Definitely a Strawberry Moment!

The lads played and sang a great version last night, but this is my favourite version performed here by Makem and Clancy.





The Lyrics

The Dutchman's not the kind of man
Who keeps his thumb jammed in the dam
That holds his dreams in,
But that's a secret that only Margaret knows.

When Amsterdam is golden in the summer,
Margaret brings him breakfast,
She believes him.
He thinks the tulips bloom beneath the snow.

He's mad as he can be, but Margaret only sees that sometimes,
Sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes.

Let us go to the banks of the ocean
Where the walls rise above the Zuider Zee.
Long ago, I used to be a young man
And dear Margaret remembers that for me.

The Dutchman still wears wooden shoes,
His cap and coat are patched with the love
That Margaret sewed there.
Sometimes he thinks he's still in Rotterdam.

And he watches the tug-boats down canals
An' calls out to them when he thinks he knows the Captain.
Till Margaret comes
To take him home again

Through unforgiving streets that trip him, though she holds his arm,
Sometimes he thinks he's alone and he calls her name.

Let us go to the banks of the ocean
Where the walls rise above the Zuider Zee.
Long ago, I used to be a young man
And dear Margaret remembers that for me.

The winters whirl the windmills 'round
She winds his muffler tighter
And they sit in the kitchen.
Some tea with whiskey keeps away the dew.

And he sees her for a moment, calls her name,
She makes the bed up singing some old love song,
A song Margaret learned
When it was very new.

He hums a line or two, they sing together in the dark.
The Dutchman falls asleep and Margaret blows the candle out.

Let us go to the banks of the ocean
Where the walls rise above the Zuider Zee.
Long ago, I used to be a young man
And dear Margaret remembers that for me.


THESE WORDS ARE SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!







Ciao for now


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.....SPRING/SUMMER AND CORRECTIVE EYE SURGERY





Hooray....Spring and Summer have finally arrived, and in tandem. Thank God, the greys and browns of almost twelve months of the most dreadful weather I can remember, have been annihilated and crowned with the most glorious lime greens, effervescent yellows and pale blues. It's not that we haven't had some really cold winters in recent years, but somehow there was more light. As I grow older, I find myself craving for, and needing more light. I actually believe that even our dog, Buffy was depressed during those endless weeks and months of grey oppression . Our field behind the garden was like a mud bath for months and months and it was no fun for the horses, or for us, as wellies and wheelbarrow got stuck in the swamp. The field is dry and dusty now; the horses are losing their winter coats; and the wheelbarrow is nearly pushing itself...much easier on the back. Buffy is leaving her bed of depression inside to follow the sun as it creeps from one end of the garden to the other. I have a theory that the over-abundance of rain, that lodged on the surface of the ground, because it had nowhere to go, might possibly have stagnated, and subsequently polluted the atmosphere, thereby causing more winter viruses than normal. Crazy perhaps, but maybe not! Worms were also drowning apparently, which would create quite serious problems for the soil and our birds.





The swallows returned two weeks ago, to begin the refurbishment of last years' nests. I love all birds, but feel incredibly honoured that these birds, who have flown thousands of miles, feel comfortable and safe enough to return to us year after year. Surprisingly, we have heard chicks screeching already, which seems quite remarkably fast and furious. Imagine....renovation; sex; gestation; birth, and then solids, and all in the space of two weeks. It is quite wonderful to sit out in the garden on a lovely afternoon, as birds fly over and past you, as if, you weren't there at all.

Within days, there are leaves and blossoms on the trees; fields, filled with dandelions, buttercups and daisies. Quite often, over the last few months, I found myself asking what month are we in, because it seemed like one long season of nothingness. Now, and quite instantly, it feels like May, and fingers-crossed, the start of a long, warm Summer, with the prospect of long days of living outdoors.





After almost eight years of pondering and tripping up, I finally took the plunge, and had corrective surgery performed on both eyes over the last two consecutive weeks.  I can now read without glasses, but my long vision is still foggy and watching TV is hilarious.....a sleuth's game of guessing for the most part. I haven't been able to wear any eye make-up, which, for me, is akin to going out naked. At first, I didn't recognize the face that looked back at me from within the mirror, but increasingly, I find myself becoming rather accustomed to this new bare look. I do have faith that all will be fine in another wee while; that I will be able to see things like road signs again; that I will be able to tell the difference between a man and a woman again; all those minor little bits of life's business!

Summer is here and I shall be able to see and share all of her beauty before very long, and without my glasses.

Better late than never!







Ciao for now!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

INTRUSIONS....GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY






To say that the last two and a half months or so have been challenging, is putting it mildly quite honestly, but at least I'm still here, which is more than can be said for my stepmother, Amy or Mrs. Savita Halappanavar.

It all started at the very beginning of February with a particularly debilitating bout of flu accompanied with a cough from hell. The constant hacking then brought on an eight week struggle with severe back pain. During this time, my stepmother died and her funeral and cremation followed. I spent the Easter Weekend and following week intruding upon and dismantling the shared life of my father, Maurice and his wife, Amy. I had been through this procedure once before when my mum, Daphne died almost eleven years ago. Somehow, this time was different and over the last couple of weeks of afterthought, I believe I understand now.

My mother was not a materialistic person, neither was she a collector of things, so the sorting-through process was not a long one. It didn't stop me howling like a wounded animal though, as I picked up pieces of her life, sitting in the middle of her kitchen floor.

My father married Amy on April 10th forty-three years ago. They were a very united couple and rarely went anywhere without each other and I was glad that my father was happy. He deserved to be. However, and I say this without any self-indulgence, my brothers and I were, for the most part, excluded from this newly-forged alliance. Amy, who had been an incredibly fit woman for most of her life, was gradually worn down by chronic arthritis, which was inoperable, because of poor blood circulation. As it became increasingly difficult for Amy to get around, she became more dependent upon my dad. In spite of a curvature of the spine, dad did what he could for at least a couple of years before his own illness really took hold. Luckily we were able to nurse Dad at home, in his own bed, upstairs, during the last weeks of his life, and at the same time take care of Amy, which we continued to do after Dad's death. Those two weeks were extremely difficult, but on another level, they were beautiful and it was a privilege to be able to take care of this man that we loved so dearly. During those last weeks, I bought my father a portable CD player for his bedroom and played Stefan Grappelli, James Last, Strauss and many more of his favorites. He laughed when he could, he sang when he could and even managed the odd joke, and a sip or two of sherry. He was more like the dad I remembered as a child, during those last weeks. He took my hand on at least two occasions during that time and I will never forget the look of love in his eyes.





Whilst Dad was ill and following his death, I felt I was beginning to get to know Amy. I really did want to. Apart from her obvious physical beauty, I wanted to learn about the other qualities that had so enraptured my father. After dad's death, I organized his funeral;  dealt with the paperwork; and wouldn't go home until I'd set up the necessary security and home-care packages for Amy. Once I was back in Ireland, I tried to get over at least once a month. I has only been home for a week in February, when my brother rang to say that Amy had died unexpectedly, but peacefully in her chair at home. At Amy's funeral, I did say a  few words about her life because neither her sister, niece or nephew could. Somehow, at least to me, not to say anything felt completely wrong and disrespectful. I wasn't able to talk about Amy in an intimate way, because I didn't really know how she felt about life and things on a deeper level. I spoke about Amy's life in relation to that of my father; their mutual love of ballroom dancing; their many sun holidays; the little I knew about how she coped as the oldest child during the 2nd World War; her extraordinary memory and her love of  balancing the books.

When someone close to you dies, apart from the obvious heartache of loneliness, the question of your own mortality comes to the fore. Following a period of reflection, I was blessed with a clarity of thinking and enlightenment. Amy had kept my brothers and myself at arm's length, because we were the product of my father's union with another woman. As the oldest, I was 15 and my brothers were 14 and 11 when Dad and Amy married. Up until that point, we had all been living with Dad in a house that we'd lived in all our lives. We were then forced to live in another house to live with my mother, who, in some ways, was a stranger to me. All three of us spent the following 42 years of our lives feeling that we were on trial; that somehow we were not important or worthy. However, my sudden clarity of thinking told me that, if our mother had been Mother Teresa herself, we would still have been excluded from family events and holidays, that were centred, for the most part, around Amy's family only.

Without trying to sound like a goody-two-shoes, but more from the point of view of someone who has made so many mistakes herself, I genuinely do try to understand what is really going on when one person hurts another; either directly or indirectly, and rarely if ever, do I believe it comes from a position of true malice. My recent poem , A Mandolin's Lament was inspired by Amy's relationship with her father, whom I believe, she saw as an intruder in her idyllic life surrounded by mother and uncles. Since Amy's death, whilst sorting through all their possessions, I have discovered how her father really died and it was not through a military confrontation, neither was it influenza, as she had led me to believe. Amy and her mother had kept the circumstances of this man's death to themselves for 70 years, not even telling siblings or other close family members. Suddenly here was a possible explanation for burning Amy's father's belongings, including his beloved mandolin, and so too, perhaps, an insight into the psyche of a woman, whom I believe felt threatened by the love my father had for his three children. We, too, were seen as an intrusion in her world, as was her father.


All the sailors have told me you aren’t coming home. 
© Ashley Leazer, 2012


The untimely death of Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital last October, has shaken this small island to its very core, and whilst the whys and wherefores of how it happened are being examined and re-examined, I  feel ashamed and horrified, that Savita's husband, Praveen, was forced to stand in a witness box and undergo such a gruesome and intrusive cross-examination. Following on from this, I found the news, that a majority of doctors voted against abortion under any circumstances recently, very difficult to swallow and once again, intrusive.

In my heart, I believe women should be allowed to make their own choices. Unfortunately, those days are a long way off, but in the meantime, let's hope the minister for health, Dr. James O'Reilly and the Government come up with a piece of humane legislation, that is as non-intrusive as possible, whilst allaying the fear of prosecution for doctors and their medical teams, so that what happened to Savita, never happens again.





I have never seen yellow gorse in such glorious gold profusion. Gorse or furze is supposed to represent a time for kissing. I have a theory that there has been such a depth of doom and gloom over the last cold months, that Mother Nature is reminding us to reach out, take someone's hand and share the love that lives in our hearts. Be an intruder, but for all the right reasons!

With understanding, comes liberation.


Ciao for now!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A MANDOLIN'S LAMENT





A MANDOLIN'S LAMENT

Ashes of Mandolin and Petty's lanyard,
Out of place bonfire in tiny backyard.
A log is pulled over to look 'cross the fence,
Burning his things just doesn't make sense.
Standing in silence, transfixed by the flames
His wife and his firstborn, known to see, with no names.
'So his sea-faring days are finally over....
So too, his song of the Wild Irish Rover....'
No more babies to swell, no more soap in the drawer
No more listening to groaning from the bedroom, next door.
His sojourns intruded in a life, segregated:
In the heart of the oldest, war hero was hated.
Routine was upset, by this man; by this stranger,
Put first by her mother, the man seemed to change her.
He'd yell for a whiskey; wake the babies with a shout
Then a smile would crease his face, as the Mandolin came out.
Happy? Yes it seemed, it was all about him,
While faces on the stairs were both fixed and grim.
Morning came for leaving, the sun was high and hot
Mother walked beside him, brood behind, kept up by trot.
Hurried hugs, pecks on cheeks, pristine uniform on train
Flu not bullet struck him down; living.... never seen again.
His name is etched in gold now, on a monument to war
And to those who died in service, just beside the library door


Ashes of Mandolin and Petty's lanyard
Out of place bonfire in tiny backyard.



Maureen Walsh  -  March 2013


File:Girl with a Mandolin.jpg



Ciao for now

Sunday, March 17, 2013

NAKED




NAKED

Naked?
Run naked down the Main Street?
You are joking....right?
Oh....a metaphor
Yes....well I'm not really in the mood.
No!
Not for running naked.....
For.... metaphors.
I'm not here you see
I know you think this is me 
Standing here outside the supermarket
Freezing my ass off
Toes full of chilblains 
And tits about to explode with the cold
But it's not me....right.
This is a colander. 
Me, has seeped out through its even holes
Into the cracks of forgotten pavements
Into the veins of decaying leaves 
Into the carcass of rotting bird
Into the dust of smoking footsteps. 
Metaphors....
Naked....
Naked.....
NAKED


Maureen Walsh  -  March 2013






Ciao for now

Saturday, February 23, 2013

THE VOICE......THE ULTIMATE SEDUCER AND APHRODISIAC






Unfortunately, I wasn't available to celebrate St. Valentine's Day this year.....YET.....!!!! Started thinking about what really pleases ME; what kind of ambience do I find irresistible and where would I want to spend St Valentine's Night if I could transport myself anywhere. Do I really want to share a meal in an expensive Italian restaurant, where, if you are lucky, there might be a Frank Sinatra CD playing in the background. Do I really want to be privy to witty conversations that might stray irritatingly towards an unintentional, but awkward silence. Do I want my nostrils to be ambushed by an onslaught of Boss or CK aftershave. Do I want to have to feign appreciation of carbon-monoxidized flowers that were grabbed on the way home along with the petrol.

Let's just keep it simple please. A cottage by a roaring ocean, a fire.....and A VOICE....the ultimate seducer and aphrodisiac!






Two incredibly beautiful voices of poet John Fuller and tenor Luciano Pavarotti.......



Ciao for now!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

CLOSING TIME





CLOSING TIME


He wants to turn the key in the lock to stop the endless cackle of life. At one minute to six, two hand-bagged ladies in hats continue to discuss the merits of a red plastic egg slicer. Widowed, they are in no hurry to return to houses, devoid of passionate embrace or passionate argument. The divorced shopkeeper, on the other hand, can't wait to pull down the faded blinds on the endless whining about extortionate prices on the one hand, or on the other, the endless carping about goods on special offer, that must have been manufactured in China or Taiwan, and must, therefore, be of a lesser quality. He is about to choke on the futility of it all. The useless bits and bobs, and the empty-headed people that collect them. He hates his flaky inheritance.....Flannagan's ironmonger's, where his grandfather had served a life-sentence. He coughs up his irritation like a grunting last-orders bell.

 'You really should get something for that cough,' said the square-shouldered lady in the pink hat, and without lifting her eyes, she scoops up a blue china teabag holder between pink-leathered fingers, as if she has unearthed a bronze-age chalice, that deserves an intense scrutiny and evaluation.

God he needed a drink. If he didn't shut this circus soon, his head would explode. 'Shit, how long does it take to decide whether an egg-slicer is more useful than a teabag holder?' he grizzles as he turns his head to the photograph of his late grandfather, Bill, in his favourite pose; standing behind the chunky mahogany counter  in a brown slop coat over a starched white shirt and the red dickie bow, which Bill believed, gave him an air of eccentricity, that women found irresistible. His face looked exactly as it had on the day of Jim's confirmation. 'One day, Jimmy my boy, all this will be yours,' he slammed; sinking his seventh or eighth Jameson of the afternnoon. The confirmation celebrations ended abruptly that night, when the barmaid from the Spinning Wheel burst in on the gathering, and announced she was carrying Bill's child. Jim's grandmother, Gertie, did not say a word that night, but Jim remembered that she moved into the back bedroom, that overlooked the graveyard, which he thought was weird. Following that ultimate episode of betrayal and embarrassment, his grandmother was seldom seen helping out in the shop or standing on the corner, across from St. Matthew's chatting to Mrs. Nesbitt and Mrs Grogan, as she once did, on Sunday mornings after 11 o'clock mass. Nevertheless Bill kept his word. Jim did inherit it all: the shop; an inability to be faithful to one woman; and.an over-dependence upon alcohol.

Jim walked towards a switchboard next to the front door and flicked off one or two lights, and then back on again, thinking that this might urge a decision and the realization of a life outside theirs. 'Oh dear,' said the smaller, but full-chested woman in green tweed, 'For a moment, I thought there had been a power cut!' Undeterred, the ladies were making for the tea towels, and the words, 'Get out for fuck's sake!' were welling up in Jim's throat, but both actions were suddenly interrupted by screeching brakes; an enormous bang and shattering glass. The screaming started and shouts of 'Get the police....!'; 'Someone call an ambulance.....!' Without saying a word to him or each other, the two ladies scuttled towards the front door and rushed out on to the street to join in the morbidity of watching someone who might just be taking their last breath, trapped behind a steering wheel or drowning in their own blood.

He locked out the outside, and grabbing the Jameson bottle from underneath the mahogany counter, he trudged upstairs into the back bedroom overlooking the graveyard. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he picked up the silver-framed wedding photograph and turned it face-down for the hundredth time.  It was closing time.


Maureen Walsh - February 2013


This is a track from the inimitable Tom Waits' wonderful album, Closing Time: Grapefruit Moon






Ciao for now!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

THE STOWAWAY




THE STOWAWAY


Freckled head struggles first, then that of a dog,
To reach for the daylight from white cotton things.
Chubby hand struggles next, then chubby paw too
To sweep away footprints of monsters and kings.


Maureen Walsh - February 2013  






Ciao for now!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I WEEP....I SMILE

After a six-week stay here in Ireland, my daughter Katy set off from Cork this morning to return to her work in Canada. She is probably already in Canadian airspace, as I write.




I'm jealous of the pillow that cradled your head last night
And the sheets that held your sleeping body.
My greedy brain replays your gentle chides
And the husky notes of your late night-early morning laughter.
It settles me, and with closed eyes.....I weep....I smile. 





See you soon in Van Skate.......


https://soundcloud.com/katywalshmusic/fb-shes-my-local


Ciao for now!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

DIVING FOR PEARLS






DIVING FOR PEARLS


The diving
The harvest
Pearls dying for pearls.

The palette
The painting
True colours revealed.

The paper
The novel
Dropped stitches of thought.

The singer
The opera
Soul roaring from throat.

The first kiss
The climax
Lust longing for love.

The sunrise
The sunset
Most dying to live.

The out-breath
The in-breath
Still....emptied...worlds.

The diving
The harvest
Pearls dying for pearls.


Maureen Walsh - January 2013









Ciao for now!