Pit stop on Flesk Greenway, Killarney on January 6 2024

Inchydoney at Christmas

A kind of temporary madness infected my grandchildren at Christmas. People who wear wetsuits on mild summer days went into the freezing sea in swimming togs in December.

Their Dutch visitor, Lotta, joined in the madness.

A Moving Christmas Farewell

Sean Carlson shared with us his poem in memory of a famous Boston Irishman.

Here is the poem and the introduction from the online literary magazine Trasna

A Celtic Sojourn

For over twenty years famed Boston radio host Brian O’Donovan spread holiday cheer with his annual production of “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn.” From an oversized, red chair, O’Donovan presented to American audiences the Christmas traditions of Ireland through a mix of music, dance, poetry, and storytelling.

Born and raised in Clonakilty, Cork, O’Donovan emigrated to Boston in 1980. Six years later, he joined GBH radio and began producing a weekly radio show featuring traditional Irish music – A Celtic Sojourn. The three-hour show became a Saturday afternoon staple to GBH listeners across New England; and it made O’Donovan a beloved public figure. In 2017, then-Mayor Marty Walsh declared 14 December Brian O’Donovan Day, “in recognition of his contributions to immigrant communities in Greater Boston.” 

O’Donovan died on 6 October after a long battle with brain cancer. This year, as we mourn the voices lost, let us fondly remember a man who brought so much of Irish music and culture to those in his adoptive home of Boston. He was indeed ‘a man you don’t meet every day.’

To our readers and writers, we wish you happy holidays and all the best in the new year. We leave you with this fine poem by Seán Carlson.The Sojourn

in memoriam: Brian O’Donovan, 1957-2023

The seat on stage sits empty

before the reels and ringing

bells, alert to remembrance

brief light of emigrant song

Snow swirls in wind sweeps

salt spread on sidewalk ice

a knit vest, unwound scarf

drape of red curtain lifting

His book opens to Bethlehem

the nativity laid, refuge within

bursting breaths of concertina

tension found in fiddle string

My father played the melodeon

My mother milked the cows—

Touches of Kavanagh haunt

the theatre halls of memory

on the wireless in Boston

West Cork, the world

Window candles flicker there

stables set with summer’s cut

wrenboy clamors at the door

ghosts now around a table

That voice echoes, beside me

my mother, my father

and the drift of one

into another, then

We listen to the eulogy on radio

grace the night already fallen

with a child’s Christmas still

on the tip of our tongues:

I said some words

to the close and holy darkness,

and then I slept.

The Night of the Big Wind

(Post on Facebook by The Painter Flynn)

It’s that time of year when people look back. Here is another account of the fateful night in 1839 which lived long in the memory of people who lived through it.

Today in 1839  the Night of the Big Wind, “Oíche na Gaoithe Móire”, the most damaging storm in 300 years, sweeps across Ireland, damaging or destroying more than 20% of the houses in Dublin, 4,846 chimneys fell, and waves topped the Cliffs of Moher,  The wind blew all the water
out of the canal at Tuam.
It knocked a pinnacle off Carlow Cathedral and a tower off Carlow Castle.
It stripped the earth alongside the River Boyne, exposing the bones of soldiers killed in the famous battle 150 years earlier.

Kanturk, My Hometown

Kanturk is in the diocese of Cloyne. Unlike the practice in the Kerry diocese where all the priests of a parish live together, in Cloyne each priest has his own house. The Canon, or parish priest lived in a lovely old house across the road from the church in Kanturk. He had an orchard beside his house and a wood just up the road. The name, The Canon’s Wood has stuck. Nowadays it’s a small amenity with artwork and plants. It has a place to shelter in a downpour as well.

These two “boars” are the work of a local artist. Legend has it that the last wild boar in Ireland was killed outside Kanturk and that is how the town got its name. In Irish Kanturk is Ceann Tuirc.

That box high on a pole is a starling nest box.

A Fact

Girls have more taste buds than boys do.