Rocking, rolling, writing, all bound for …. Gormanston!!??!!

cof“There’s no use in being a gobshite if you don’t show it”.

My old dad was a great man for the sayings, and this one had always particularly tickled me. I do try not to use it too often.

It flashed across my brain one day last week, however, like those red ticker tape words darting over and back across those electronic information signs in railway stations, when I took the train from Rush to nearby Balbriggan.

Only I didn’t. Continue reading

The Disney princess from the other side of the tracks

Disney girll“Oi have a puppy, but he’s not a re-al one, he’s in me bag,” announced the little blonde girl with the beginning to unravel pigtails from the other side of the track at the railway station. Her flat Dublin tones, cute high-pitched voice and natural zest immediately engaged.

Wearing a soft pink rain-jacket with Disney princesses on it and leggings of an approximately matching pink, and leaning against one of the dark grey pillars supporting the scalloped canopy of the platform roof, she was pointing towards the little pull-along her smiling young dad was holding about 10 yards to her left. He was smoking a roll-up.

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Breakfast on Planet Weird

Dopey dadWhat a strange morning this has been: never quite emerging from the fug of a sleep ravaged and arrested; half-awake when I was sleeping and half-asleep when awake. 

Sleep did I say? More like a night-long stretch in the cosy horizontal dark, my mind spinning furiously, matters practical tossed in with a kaleidoscopic carousel of images and encounters that can only have come from my deeper self. Continue reading

The calm after the storm


I have just been out with Bella for our morning ramble in Rush park, and I wanted to assess the damage from Hurricane Ophelia.

We definitely got off very lightly over here in coastal north Dublin.

The winds were high from late afternoon into the evening on Stormy Monday, and our windows did rattle and the wildly swaying trees outside did have their roots well tested in an epic game of tug of war. They held their ground, and it was nothing like some of those scenes on the TV reports, with poor old Paschal Sheehy looking like he was about to take off any minute. Getting a bit of the Theresa Mannion action. At least she remembered her hat, Paschal!

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Dad, you’re such a loser

i_hate_you__daddy_Okay, maybe it’s time to come clean: this parenting lark can be such a downer. Brings out the best in me, occasionally, but brings out the worst in me way too often. I struggle to get it right, thinking I am doing it for the best, but sometimes I have to ask myself am I just trying to come out on top in a battle of wills? One ego versus another?  And me supposedly the responsible adult. The bigger ego. Bruised and brittle.

My dear, departed dad was a really good man, which I always suspected as a child but luckily came to know when I became an adult myself.  But I remember as a kid hearing him saying certain things, in that horribly cross daddy way, with that cross daddy face, and thinking I won’t ever be like that, or say anything so stupid or so obviously out of touch. Continue reading

So who says it’s art anyway?


How big a part does context play in determining aesthetic merit? Not the conundrum I expected to consider on a morning’s North Beach ramble with Bella my seashell-crunching terrier. And all because of a discarded chocolate bar wrapper.

Tail wagging furiously, Bella led the way down the narrow sandy path and soon I could feel my tension dissipate with every scrunching step on the familiar carapace of crushed shells and sandy grains. 

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Letting those caged words sing


I sing out loud sometimes to stave off the solitude of mere reflection. The odd time I find myself in an exalted communion, even when I am just singing to myself. How good my song will sound to others, in time, only they can tell. That’s audiences for you.

Writing, for me, is like singing, and writing to be read like singing to an audience; writing out loud, if you will. 

As I write, the only audible sound is the rapid fluttering of digits on a keyboard, pressing home my frantic words letter by letter. But that’s not what I “hear”.

Sometimes my singing is flat and dull and ponderous, and my fists curl and my nails dig into my palms as I reach for notes that aren’t there. But still I sing. Continue reading