I grew up on Friars Walk
Traffic and people on Friars Walk
Watching people going to work in town on Friars Walk
Guinness barrels falling hard on Sunday mornings on Friars Walk
Jimmy & Phil everpresent on Friars Walk
The sound of the pub sprawl on Friars Walk
Keys in the door and staggering home late to Friars Walk
Walking home from Greenmount School to Friars Walk
Steak & onions on Friars Walk
Sarah chatting at the door of Friars Walk
An escape to the garden through the gates of Friars Walk
Waiting for exam results in Friars Walk
Studying and sleeping on Friars Walk
Ballyphehane library was my escape on Friars Walk
5 minutes to town from Friars Walk
Homeless & heartbroken in the hostel just off Friars Walk
A few pints in the tavern on Friars Walk
The roar of Celtic supporters every Sunday in the tavern on Friars Walk
A packet of Players for my Mam from the corner shop on Friars Walk
Playing arcade games all day with Couchie in O’Keefes shop on Friars Walk
Jonesy and his horse collecting scraps for his pigs on Friars Walk
Door to door salesmen selling tv’s and all sorts on Friars Walk
Deerpark schoolboys going to and from up and down Friars Walk
Neighbours dying on Friars Walk
Proud to be from Friars Walk
100′s of years of history on Friars Walk
Wondering why they called it Friars Walk
Market gardens in bygone days on Friars Walk
Christian brothers monastery on Friars Walk
Hangovers from Beamish on Friars Walk
Cycling for the first time on the footpaths of Friars Walk
My mother and father loving me on Friars Walk
Apple tarts and queen cakes in Friars Walk
Passing by the old house on Friars Walk
Trying to remember my mother on Friars Walk
Friars Walk now seem smaller and older than 80′s & 90′s Friars Walk
Always saying your originally from Friars Walk
Family and friends from Friars Walk
A part of the fading past will always be on Friars Walk
Things will never be the same on Friars Walk
The old garden we dug and planted is now gone on Friars Walk
Cracks in the pavement from full barrels for the tavern on Friars Walk
Endless memories that I will always cherish on Friars Walk
A kiss good night to Friars Walk……
I have an envy of the youth of today who have access to so many treasures and gifts that were beyond my reach as a boy. Does it make them appreciate the endless avenues that can be literally opened at the touch of a button or screen. Boundless knowledge to literature and arts, an Aladdin’s Cave that does not need a special password to gain access. Maybe I am showing my age….the old adage of “Life was a lot harder in my day”….Well, it was difficult in lots of ways but the voyage of discovery was a lot longer and had more twists and turns. In my day…..God…here I go again…an effort of gigantic proportions had to be made to gain access to alternative perspectives on life. Let me take you back to 1990 when Ireland was just on the cusp of a regeneration and the internet was a few years away yet. Ireland was only beginning to see the chink of light through the dark curtains that had cosseted it for years. It’s only when you look back, many years later, that you realize how much in the darkness we were.
The only benefit of this self imposed blackout is that any chink of light that did peak through the curtain always shone brightly and like all chinks of light have the overwhelming effect of lighting up the room like the yearly solstice in New grange. Like a bearded, be-straggled prisoner in solitary confinement seeking out any presence of light in their cell….scrambling for information each time the trap in the cell door is opened. We were unwittingly captive in our own cells but did not realize how captive we actually were for so long. There was always the select few who never let themselves be held back to the unseen barriers. These people acted as our conduits for all things nice. We were the sponges who soaked up whatever they layed before us. I was lucky in that I had an older brother and sister who imparted by osmosis their insulated knowledge of music and perspectives on life which were to mould part of my perspective. They acted as my jailers who came around now and again to leave some more light into my cell. Once my floodgates were fully opened I could not be held back. In 1990 I was the tender age of 17 and like any teenager on his first voyage into the unknown at that time, I could only rely on the advice of my peers whereas now a 17 year old has the aid of fantastic mediums to help them on their way.
What I would have given to have these treasures back in the day!!! It was all available but at a cost….if you were willing to buy all the in magazines and trail through all the available data…nowadays the thorny task is so much easier. In the last week or 2 I have signed up for Spotify(only available this month in Ireland) and am mesmerized by the sheer brilliance of these pages. This is as good as it gets people. For years I have shunned the likes of Itunes but now Spotify has come riding across the desert from afar with its large trail of a dust cloud slowly settling behind it. Like all of the Gunslinger heroes we have grown to love over the years…..they have come to save us from the devils of injustice. We grow to love these heroes because they have an unknown mystical history which slowly unravels to display their hidden flaws which have helped to make them so resilient in the face of overwhelming odds. This is how Spotify presents itself to me. It is the Clint Eastwood, the Henry Fonda, the Robert Mitchum, the Anthony Quinn, the Jimmy Stewart of our generation….always ready with the wisest of tales being told around midnight campfires to let us slowly into their hidden world and to help us to discover how the rest of the world is waiting for us.
The beauty of Spotify is how it unfolds in the form of a lost exotic city with twisting lanes and avenues constantly opening up new treasures. It acts as the open minded guide with the beard and knowing glint who gladly presents you with the guidebook of an unknown town and lets you loose. If you want to you can bring along your friends and discover what they are listening to. This is the substitute for the 90 minute tapes that we endlessly shared amongst each other in order to spread the stash of music we had in order to help others onto the path you have wandered down…. in return they would show you a map to trace your way into other unknown lands that they may have frequented. Remember the unsaid rule of making a tape for your friends was to always slip a few special songs at the end of the tape that they may not have layed their ears upon yet….sometimes it may or may not have worked but it was always worth a try.
The only difficulty with the blank tape method was that invariably the maker of the tape would not adhere to the flimsy rules of the tape maker, i.e. to clearly and concisely fill in the inlay card in order to give the listener an added awareness of the unknown tracks they were listening to. This was the hidden flaw of the cassette tape!! Who among us had boxes of tapes with unknown track listings and more often than not with the broken or cracked tape box to further wreck your head. This was one of my brothers unwitting missions in his sorry life ……to break or crack nearly all the tape cassette holders that were in my possession…….or the most annoying of all was his habit of taping 20 seconds of a song from the radio onto your only recording of a live concert!!!!
However, even with all these little idiosyncrasies that we put up with for years…..the advantages of tape outgunned any other method that has come or gone. Tape was so easy to use and had the advantage of being overwritten infinitely…..within reason obviously. I hope to act as the historian for the younger generation who may not have the knowledge of this past medium. “Only 90 minutes…that’s no good!!!”. 90 minutes may not seem like enough to capture all that was needed but tape was not a mass storage medium. It act as a mechanism to transport a specific amount of information and by Jeanie, you had better get all the right songs on that perfect tape that we sought to make. That’s what made for the perfect listening experience in some cases….the constant erasing and fine tuning…that tape we all had in our pocket that was slipped into the walkman in times of need!!!
Spotify may not be a substitute for tape but now with phones acting as a storage device and the access to huge databases of music now available we can make “playlists” to suit our needs! I have always been slow to embrace change over the years but now I feel that these people have ticked all the boxes on my list. There were always some miniscule limitations to other streaming sites which left me yawning….not the case with Spotify. There is the free access that has limits but for a very small fee….hey…it’s yours for the taking!!
I feel like Jacques Cousteau when he went on his maiden voyage to dive with the aid of diving gear for the first time…..slowly enveloping myself in the endless bottomless pit of music….discovering new artists and gently nodding to the old ones who brought me to this point. It’s also arrived at a time in my life when I can spend hours listening to music without distraction…….Spotify was waiting in the shadows to display it’s merchandise……clasping it’s suitcase and clutching the key…”Now is the perfect time for the old Cogger!!! Let loose on him when he least expects it!!”
When Clodagh was a little lass she started watching one of those free dvd’s that you get with the Sunday papers. The movie was that classic Irish tale of 2 young traveller’s who embark on a journey from Dublin to the west on a sort of mission to seek their fate in the company of a beautiful white horse. The movie was “Into the West” and she must have watched it a thousand times. She knew all those famous sayings that were synonomous with the movie and by default I was also subjected to repeated showings of the parts she liked most in order to memorise the script…..it wasn’t the worst movie ever made but it had to be shown for a quiet life. She absolutely got lost in the intricasies of the plot and became part of the long journey that the 2 heroes took upon themselves across Ireland.
That is why it is ironic, for want of a better term, that I find myself working in Tuam….in the aforementioned west of Ireland. I am now working and living in the West….who’d have thought it….I now am living proof that the twists and turns of your own journey can never be predicted or foretold! One moment I am working in a call centre earning minimum wage and then….Eureka…. a dream job doing what I was trained for!!!! This is my second week in this town and slowly I am finding my feet. Why am I here? Why did I make this move? When you get an offer you can’t refuse you must snap it up. When a job offer like this comes along you have no other choice and now I am working here and renting a room with 2 others on the outskirts of the town. My lovely family have remained in Mallow with tears in their eyes but those tears of sadness will soon turn to ones of happiness when my increased pay alleviates some of the hardships that we have endured over the last few months. Money makes a world of difference and if that crock of gold happens to lay in Tuam….how bad!!
Living in someone elses house is something I have never done before but so far it has been pretty ok….but it is early days yet! Poor Niamh has been abandoned for 5 days and is leading a single mothers life….maybe my shift will change to weekends 3 days a week which will enable me to spend more time at home in Mallow…who knows?
Now my life has changed considerably for the foreseeable future I will have to blog more about it. This will be my outlet…my conscience…my diary of sorts along with all the usual observations!! I’m looking forward to making my own journey into the west……wish me luck!!!
A few days off work can do wonders for the soul. The last few months have seen me away from these pages by my own choice. Maybe I’ve had writers block or something but I couldn’t find the gumption to sit down and write something. There was a time when you couldn’t drag me away from it. The guff that came out of me was no ones business. It was a source of great release for me to be able to sit down and let rip. I have recommended it to so many people to do the same but as far as I know there have been no takers so far. To be able to sit down for most people and lay down their personal thoughts for all to read is a lot different than facebook or twitter.
Blogging is a deeper journey into the self that can end up with an unknown destination at journeys end. I have found that for most of my posts I would sit down and start typing with no real agenda or theme and end up on numerous tangents. I have often sat down and read past posts and questioned whether or not if I had written them at all. I have wondered on finishing how in Gods name I have come up with such prose or dribble in some cases. That is why it is still important to me to be able to return again and again to keep track…….to be able to return in a few years to ask the question! “What was I up to in the year 2012? Where was I at in my head?”
The majority of my posts have been observational… questions on our lives….questions on love and questions on what lies in store for the future.
It is always around this time of year that I start planning my Summer ahead but this year is different due to family circumstances. Niamhs mother and father have had a tough year with regard to their health. Her mother has been recieving ongoing chemotherapy for the last few months and is dealing very well with her diagnosis. Her father has seen himself in and out of hospital due to vascular problems and unfortunately has had to get his left leg amputated below the knee nearly 6 weeks ago now. Previous to this he has had to get his right toe amputated because of the same issue. I know this may seem like a heavy load to carry and it is but the most important result of all these weighty issues is that they are still here on this earth. Niamhs mother has always had the most cheery of dispositions and would frustrate the most depressed people with her cheeriness. Her father is the antithesis of her mother with a sombre crankiness that has been developed carefully with time. But one thing must be said for all this crankiness….I have never seen a man endure such almihty pain prior to his amputation…his foot was practically gangerous! I can never remember him give out or complain about his lot….and this is a man who knows how to give out…..but through all his horrible journey up until the amputation he has accepted his lot with dignity and great resignation. Now he is confined to a wheelchair until a prosthesis can hopefully be fitted……this is man who has worked outdoors for most of his life. One silver lining is that he is no longer in terrible pain…..a pain that one can only imagine!!!
The journey is not over by a long shot but in the meantime I would love to head off even for a weekend to escape for a short break and as it happen my lovely wife won 2 tickets to the Westport Music and Arts fetival at the end of this month….so yippee.
I will look forwrd with glee to this event and hopefully a good time will be had by all. We are taking the 2 girls with us on this little expedition to see some fantastic music and bands…I will try to keep a recrd of this event on these pages.
Even though I have been away from these pages that does not mean I am not present and willing to contribute. Tonight I was checking my stats and low and behold wasn’t the 17th December 2012 my busiest day ever on these pages. I cannot account for this traffic as this was a considerably quiet period in my writing career so far. To say the least I am shocked by this considerable presence on these pages.
Stats are important to me….not the be all but it is always nice to know some people are calling to say hello. I know there are some of you who may sniff at my pitiful stats but lets say….quality rather than quantity. So let this be a thank you to you all for your visit. I know we all go through moments of doubt in our blogging and this is for me the spur to keep my gallop steady as she goes!!!!
My brother and I will be going to a gig in Cyprus Avenue on the 19th of this month. This is what I would consider a long awaited event in my increasingly mundane life. The band…Clap hand’s say Yeah….a band that my brother absolutely loves and by default I suppose will also have to love with the same vigour. What is an event in my life, lately? Anything that doesn’t involve the usual chore of life. For those of you who may have had some interest in these pages over the last few years you probably understand my passion for the gig. Especially bands that I have not seen before or who may surprise.
Now that I am working and pulling in a wage I can kind of justify this little expedition with my loving brother. Maybe it will be one of those look back through tinted glasses gigs. The last gig I went to at this venue turned out to be one of the best gigs that I had the pleasure of attending. A surreal experience with manic fans jumping around with an “I can’t believe I’m here” look on their face!….I have discussed this gig on other pages so stop repeating yourself.
Do you know the way I’m always on about the state of flux thing…well this is definitely one of those periods in my life so hopefully it will end up with a happy ending. Not like one of those Time Tunnel epsiodes I watched as a kid with the main characters floating through the version of a wormhole as depicted by 1960′s TV producers. That funny stationary movement that finds them in a parrallel world surrounded by bombs going boom at their feet just as they arrive at their unknown destination. But hey….doesn’t it always work out for them in the end….just like my wormhole version of a life…….but without the swirling black and white vortex!!!!!
Every month I will be writing a post. Just to keep the cobwebs from overcoming these pages. So keep the comments coming and maybe I will put up another post before february!!!
Now I will leave you with a taste of my upcoming event!!! Happy January everybody!!!!!!!!!!!
Listen to this a few times a day to take the pain away. That’s what my doctor told me anyway….
Have you ever sat outside your house as a child watching the people pass by or sat on a wall that was not meant to be sat on…”Get down from there…you’ll hurt yourself”…sitting there in all your majesty thinking and contemplating the next move. A feeling of the triumnphant…a voyeuristic younger you that was always safe from harm. This was your castle and you were the King. All you had to do was watch and wonder. You had nothing to rush off to…no appointments to keep except for the sausage sandwiches that your mother served up followed by some rhubarb tart. Yes, this was the life of luxury. Perhaps at the time you didn’t realise the significance of how lucky and priviliged you were….maybe you were bored…waiting on the next activity to pop up. To be entertained was your primary goal in life. Those days were truly the days when all was fine with life.
My life seems to be harking back to thoose halcyon days once again. I remember the reason behind me starting this whole journey of confession to an unknown world and the reasons behind it. I was out of work and had to get the weight off the proverbial chest before I buckled under it. Now I find myself in the same position again….no work today…not since 30 September. I have been layed off and am now searching for a job once again. It’s like looking for apples in a field full of stumps….where all the trees have been chopped down by the jolly woodcutter and the only apples left are the rotting cores left behind….not good enough to eat…a reminder of a once bountiful orchard that always produced the most ripe and juiciest of apples.
What do you do when this happens? Firstly, you look at all the others who are in the same position as you….wonder at how this could happen…amazed at the amount of people in the same boat as you. Then you just keep plugging away at applying for a job. There is always something there for someone….from empty stumps grow the first shoots of a new orchard. It may take a while before apples are produced in my orchard but hey….I must stop these orchard analogies….I’m getting stomach cramp from the thought of it.
As my Dad said last week and every week since it seems…”Hope dies last!!”…This was after I mentioned that I might have to go abroad for work…Australia, New Zealand, Canada perhaps…The look of fear that could be seen in his eyes. He had been on that same ship so many years before me and knows how difficult it can be. The future is very dim indeed. There are some chinks of light in the distance but I really need a light like no other …. a fastnet rock lighthouse to guide me on my way and when I see that light I will set course for it immediately. I don’t want to go abroad. I’ll do anyhting to stay here in the green isle but when you have nothing but a few quid in your pocket and bills to pay…there may be no other choice. I want to be able to give my kids plenty of sausage sandwiches followed by rhubard tart….and some cream too!!!
Today I have one of those phone interviews…thats why I’m writing here now…to keep my mind off it. Hopefully, something will come of it. So cross your fingers and say a prayer. Light a candle in your kitchen window tonight and spare a thought for little old me. You never know how things will turn out. I got this far along the road and the road is long, my friends. I better make some more jam sandwiches.
Ireland is such a wonderful place….a constant flux and change….everchanging and mutating so quickly and Ireland is you and Ireland is me and we must envelop it with gusto to keep it alive!!
I sit in my usual place with the words flowing from my fingertips waiting for them to give meaning to my life and in doing so explain to me the reason behind my absence. I didn’t wake up one morining with the shelves shaking or the ground moving beneath my feet. I don’t live on a crazy faultline. I didn’t fall unexpectedly against a sharp object hitting my head resulting in temporary amnesia. I still have all my faculties…..I think! I didn’t discover some new religion that relinqueshes all things to do with the outside world…..God no!!!
Why did I suddenly stop? Let’s put it this way….I felt that I just needed to. I felt that I was repeating myself. To be able to write these letters you need to be totally honest with yourself and the world. You need to be able to wear your heart on your sleeve. This is the way that I have always led my life….an open book. But I felt that my sleeve was getting a little bit worn…practically threadbear. So I just stopped. It wasn’t a sudden decision. I just eased into it and do you know something ….with that decision came a kind of relief.
I needed the break to gather my thoughts and order them. It didn’t do much good really because my head is still a jumble sale of nuggets waiting to be snatched at a moments notice. I was constantly thinking of little stories to tell you all but I had to hold the reigns in a little. What did I do with myself with all this free time off? What do you do in a world gone mad?
At the start of Summer I went to the most wonderful of festivals in Skibbereen with my family and friends. The CorkXSouthwest festival with headliners such as Patti Smith, Echo & the Bunnymen, Peter Hook….all sorts. We had fun times …. …cooking… drinking…. singing….. dancing…..playing….enjoying life!!! For our Official Summer holidays we spent a week in Kerry…the Dingle Peninsuala. A week in the Maharees. The sun and sand and giant waves along with the passage over the Connor Pass to Dingle most days. West Kerry is a magical place to behold with wonderous beauty that changes with the passing weather each day.
Another week was spent in Courtmacsherry with my family….Clodaghs Birthday is always celebrated in Courtmacsherry with all her cousins singing that famous song.