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Rivendell, Narnia, Yukon!?! What is it with weird house names in Ireland?

"Yes, I live in Yukon. Yukon, Co.Dublin - that is!"
I love these weird house names.
I have seen everything from Tolkien references ('Rivendell' is very popular), to CS Lewis (Want to visit 'Narnia'? It is in Portmarnock) to Yeats (Inisfree is ubiquitous). The more bizarre & obscure the better.
I don't have a name for my own place as yet - but I am very open to suggestions.

Scotland: A model for rural development in Ireland?

Scotland is now officially my favourite country in Europe.
Having just returned from a week long tour there, I was stunned by just how beautiful it is. Rich countryside, huge forests of Birch & Scots Pine, and towering mountains.
Not only that, the villages and towns are beautiful too. Very well maintained, clean and no litter.
It looks like a great place to live.
My biggest surprise was that there is no "Bungalow Blitz" in Scotland. Good planning seems to have restricted housing within towns & villages. What buildings are sited in the countryside are well integrated to the landscape, i.e. in a traditional, rural style surrounded by trees.
The result is that the Scottish countryside still looks incredibly beautiful. No half-finished, South Fork Ranch-style monstrosities littered in otherwise scenic areas.
We could learn an awful lot from Scotland.

We are currently out of the office...

We are on holiday in bonny Scotland this week. But, we'll keep an eye on things (web access permitting.)

New VIDEO: Good balance? Try these Stepping Stones near Lough Dan, Co.Wicklow.

How is your balance?
If you are brave, try these stepping stones on the walk between Lough Tay and Lough Dan.
Wicklow really is wonderful.
Almost everyone knows of Glendalough and its views. But - in my book - it is easily surpassed by Lough Tay & Lough Dan.
Why?
It seems "lived in" and yet is unspoiled. It has a few farm houses but also includes a stunning off-road walk through a river valley full of wild deer, a clear river and very few crowds.
Definitely recommended.

Oktoberfest Dublin = Paddy's paradise.

I visited the Dublin Oktoberfest last weekend.
The sausages were big, the lederhosen short, the bar maids buxomy and the beer frothy.
Quite good fun, in a sense-assaulting kind-of-way.
A photo from the Dublin Oktoberfest

New VIDEO: Féile Scannán an Daingin / Dingle Film Festival

[English below] Gach uile bliain éirionn leis an Daingean animneacha mora a mhealladh chun an bhaile le bheith páirteach i bhféile scannáin.
I mbliaina, bhí Jim Sheridan agus Saoirse Ronan (realt óg 'Atonement') i láthair.
D'éirigh liom féin léiriú scannáin uafais nua a fheiceail, d'arbh anim 'Spiderhole'. Taifeadeadh é i Trá Lí, cé go bhfuil an scéal lonnaithe i Londain.
Níl barraíocht fola ann, buíochas le Dia. Bígi ag faire amach air.
Dingle seems an unlikely place to run a film festival, yet each year it manages to attract some high profile names to appear on its line up.
This year Jim Sheridan and Saoirse Ronan (young star of 'Atonement') were the the big attractions.
I myself managed to see the production screening of a new Irish horror filmed (based in London, but filmed in an old ruined, house in Tralee) called "Spiderhole", in the IFI mobile cinema.
Lots of suspense and not too much blood. Worth a look out.

Want to talk to God in Polish, Romanian, German, other? Now you can.

Sunday. The day for Christians to worship.
And now you can. In almost any language you like!
A number of religious buildings around the country have been converted for the use of smaller congregations. Some of these are of long standing (German Lutherans), others are newly arrived (Romanian Orthodox & Polish Catholics).
Interesting to observe this evolution of practice.
A photo of the Polish catholic church of St.Aodeons
A photo of the German Lutheran Church
A photo of the Romanian Orthodox church

Less Pig. More Lipstick: New Liberty Hall unveiled

In a previous post I described the Playhouse installation at Liberty Hall (Playhouse) as "Lipstick on a Pig". Liberty Hall is ugly, but Playhouse makes it seems beautiful (at night).
Now SIPTU are going to change the pig.
The new Liberty Hall (announced yesterday) will be taller & sleeker.
From first glance, I am not entirely convinced. A bit too tall maybe? I had hoped for a building more integrated into its surrounds. One that reflected the aspect of the quays better.
However, at least it is not as monstrous as the Ulster Bank pile that sits across from the Custom House. If ever a building shouted 'up yours', that is it.
Any thoughts?
A photo of the new Liberty Hall from the quays
A photo of the new Liberty Hall from the Customs House

Ireland: "5th BEST place to live in the world" (UN)

In probably our last appearance for a while to come, Ireland is the 5th best place to live in the world - according to the Human Development Index of the UN.
Ahead of us are:
  • Norway (as usual)
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • Canada
Just below us is:
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • France
  • Switzerland
Pretty impressive company we're keeping! Until you realise this list is based on 2007 data.
So, while Norway, Australia & Canada will probably remain, we ourselves - as they used to say on Sesame Street - don't belong any more.
In my mind's eye, I can already see the steely hand of HDI security on Ireland's metaphorical shoulder as we are politely instructed to leave the party, we have overstayed our welcome.

Our teenagers are right. There IS nothing to do.

It's official. When a teenager complains "there is nothing to do" where they live - it's true. According to a new survey, there IS nothing to do.
"Teens said they wanted more youth clubs and youth cafes, as well as additional sports facilities and better public transport."
And don't laugh. Remember - we used to be them & wanted the same things!

New VIDEO: Inside a DART train journey in Dublin

If ever you decide to live in Dublin - and need to commute by DART - this video will give you a bit of a taster for what awaits.
It shows the inside of a typical carriage and some of the views that await on a journey from Tara St. to Portmarnock.
(Note, it was filmed on a Saturday, so the usual hordes are notably absent.)

Red to Green to GONE! Old post boxes on the way out?

AN POST is replacing a lot of its old post boxes. I hope they don't become careless about it.
Many of them are quite old and still bear the marks of former British monarchs (see attached photo). It is easy to find the insignia of Victoria & George V all over Ireland - long ago repainted from red to green.
I hope they remain as interesting reminders of one layer of our history.
A photo of a green Irish post box with Regina Victoria insignia

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