What One American City Girl Did for Love

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Teddy McBeddy

In Life on November 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm

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I was reminded of a funny story when we were out with D & R for dinner here on Saturday night. We started chatting about our beloved dogs–for which there are many round here (We have 2 Great Pyrenees and 1 Airedale; D & R have 2 Harlequin Great Danes; and the farm has 2 Norwegian Elkhounds, 1 Samoyed and 1 lovely old Bernese Mountain Dog) perhaps too many, but the McDonnell’s are huge dog lovers and we have plenty of space so they are very happy pups. Our conversation immediately began to focus on the weekly antics of Ted, our quirky Airedale. There just always seems to be a Ted story. He’s such a comical creature with remarkably strong scavenging instincts and a heart of gold.

You see, Ted is “my dog”. When I first moved over I was completely overwhelmed by loneliness and boredom…having previously been so busy and social virtually every moment of every day, my life suddenly felt like it was at a standstill. I needed some company because Richard left before I woke up in the morning and didn’t arrive home until nearly 8pm each evening. I had always longed for an Airedale Terrier (to name Teddy) and on one teary-eyed Saturday, Richard said he’d found a breeder in Cork and that we would arrange to go pick out a puppy. I was delighted beyond belief.

When we were introduced to the busy litter of pups, Ted stood out to us—sure, he was smaller than the rest, his tail was nearly nonexistent and demeanor a bit timid, but he had the sweetest twinkle in his eye and he just seemed so special. We worried that he wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice and decided immediately that he would be ours. Over the next few months, I played with him, housetrained him, groomed him, cuddled with him, napped with him, danced with him, cried with him (ok, so only I was crying but still). We became the very best of friends. At one point during my pregnancy he became obsessed with resting his scruffy chin on my belly all the time. It was part of his nature, he knew something special was inside. He was completely adorable.

When it came time for me to go the the maternity hospital to have our real baby, I was simply not prepared to leave Ted. I was positively gutted over having to leave him behind while I went to the hospital. He was my buddy, confident and protector. I needed him! I felt so strongly about this that I insisted on having Richard bring Teddy to the hospital every day. Since I was pre-term they basically had me in the hospital (a place out of the 50’s..whole other story..but the staff were lovely) on pseudo bedrest for 6 days before I was induced. Richard would bring Ted and I would sneak out to the jeep (our Freelander. All SUV’s or pick-up trucks are called “jeeps” here) and I would cuddle with him for 10 minutes each day. The nurses/doctor hadn’t a clue. They would have not allowed it whatsoever!

I had totally forgotten that experience until Saturday night and I was so happy when Richard began talking about it. I love it when you are reminded of things that you forgot to remember. ..especially when they are wonderful loving moments frozen in time.

 

Slainte,

Imen

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7 Things You Always Wanted To Know About Being Married to an Irish Farmer, But Were Afraid To Ask.

In Life on November 4, 2009 at 1:54 pm

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1. Yes, it gets smelly! How could it not? From the air outside to the scent of our mud room (cleverly designed to be out of sight/smell). Farm animals create odors and that’s just a fact. Some days are better than others depending on what season it is. Somehow I’ve acclimated to this and that “fresh country air” does not affect me at all anymore. The upside? I suppose it is an improvement on polluted city air.

2. Farmers can be stylish. Richard looks just as handsome in a pair of wellies and a fleece as he does in his beautiful Burberry suit.  It’s nice to have variety in a relationship (smile).

3. Indeed, male farmers tend to be “mommas boys”. Is that so bad? I rather like it especially now that I am a mother myself.  In my experience here, all the men I’ve met who grew up on a farm consistently put their mothers/sisters/wives on a pedestal to be respected and admired through thick and thin (literally and metaphorically)

4. Of course, seclusion plays a role in living on a farm. We are miles away from the city and neighbors are a drive so things can get lonely if you’re not staying busy. On the other hand, being alone can boil you down to your very essence and drive your consciousness to another level.  It also forces us to be more creative in the parenting department which can’t be all bad.

5. Daddy farmers are the best. Despite the long hours, if you live on a farm then dad is always right there even when he’s at work. Geoffrey frequently gets to go with daddy on the tractors and to feed the animals which, in his world, is absolutely the cat’s pajamas.

6. Today, most farmers are college educated. Richard has a B.A. in philosophy and is planning to go back for an MBA. Education is absolutely necessary to be successful in farming these days. No longer are the profitable days of dairy, cattle and poultry alone; farming is a business and diversification is key.

7. Farming is extremely dangerous. This is something I hadn’t thought about before marrying a farmer. I just waxed poetically, “oh farming… how lovely….a beautiful, slow-paced, organic life…with horses to ride and a  beautiful garden” Things can get really hectic on the farm and farming accidents occur no matter how cautious a family may be. Much to my surprise, injuries and even death are a part of the work considerations for all farmers.

Slainte,

Imen

Take Me Home Country Roads [Please God!]

In Life on October 28, 2009 at 10:55 pm

road.JPG“Neddy McBride will be calling over tonight from up the country, [insert in hushed voice]Please God.” Please God is a common ending to many phrases here in Ireland and so I’ve been told, it has been for many, many generations. Ad infinitum. It basically just means with the help of God or for those like me who don’t fancy using such colloquialisms then “hopefully” fits the bill nicely as well.

Hopefully is a good word to describe how you get from A to B on Irish roads; namely the country roads.  Terrifyingly, nervously, horrifyingly, absolutely alertedly, shockingly, anything that sounds scary and ends in the letters “ly” as a matter of fact. First of all, as we know, these roads were not built for automobiles–and certainly not for two vehicles at all. They were roads built for carriages, rickshaws, tractors and legs. Now, of course, many new roads have been created over the years (many in the last 5 years alone), but I’d venture to guess that the stereotypical narrow country road is still what covers the most ground here in Ireland. Extremely charming, yes. The breathtaking, winding Ring of Kerry..the Lombard Street-y road down to the Dingle Peninsula (don’t do whilst in first trimester), venturing though the Wicklow mountains…in which the scenery is so gorgeous that it is essential to just meander and lose yourself in the magic of it all.

Still, day to day driving on these roads is definitely dangerous to your health. First of all, everyone drives a million miles an hour when you’d think that it might be safer to go slow because you never know when you will encounter another car and then inevitably have to stop and pull over into the hedge and let them pass or vice versa because two cars literally do not fit on the road together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly blacked-out in fear that I would be hit by a huge lorry (truck) because they generally will not stop to let you by. I also cannot tell you how many times I have just closed my eyes tight and stopped on the side of the road and when I reopened them the lorry had miraculously passed by and I was still alive, but completely shell-shocked.  On countless other occasions, I have somehow serendipitously squeezed by due to the unforeseen leeway of a driveway or a slightly wider shoulder and just barely made it though (yes, I suppose I have thought about the grace of God or some such entity having something to do with this…) I know this probably sounds really dramatic, but it is the truth.  To make matters worse, Richard has an odd habit of driving on the wrong side of the road at times (tell me again, why didn’t he move to the USA instead?) which I can’t understand and scares the living daylights out of me. It’s like a death wish as far as I am concerned. He thinks I overreact about it. Particularly when I start wailing and flailing like a baby that needs milk until he switches lanes. It doesn’t help that Geoffrey is giggling hysterically and having a blast in the back seat through it all.

I know I am a farmer’s wife, but tractors are such a nuisance on the roads. I do realize that they need to get from A to B too (and, ahem, home on time for supper with their families) but geeez do they have to get there whilst driving in front of me? The same goes for all the gigs that are out and about. It’s nearly impossible to overtake (pass) a tractor and the thought of spooking a horse pulling a cart on these roads is terrifying so you’re just stuck. For anywhere from 1-20 kilometers..or 1-30 minutes approximately. And that’s about when the crooning of John Denver comes into my head…..it never fails.

Take me home country roads…

Slainte,

Imen

I.S.T. (Irish Standard Time)

In Life, Uncategorized on October 20, 2009 at 2:21 pm

irishtimeOne thing that I was pleasantly surprised about after being here for awhile is the fact that the Irish are notoriously behind schedule.  This is a fact that nobody will deny–even folks who are always on time, will attest to this. Call it laid back..call it relaxed, but don’t call it irresponsible because no one here will be on your side.  In many ways, I covertly love this and empathize with it because I am someone whom has always been accused, and rightly so, of being tardy. Tardy is actually the term that my American school system used…and used against you with harsh consequences, T-A-R-D-Y. If you were late to class, you were marked down as tardy and would receive a detention unless you had a damned good excuse. Which, of course, nobody ever did. TARDY…just sounds so bloody tasteless.

The first time I was formally introduced to Irish timekeeping was when I was going into Limerick one evening to meet girlfriends for cocktails. I was to be there at 9PM and had arrived at 9:30 armed with a smattering of excuses (baby wouldn’t go down, baby wouldn’t eat, baby wouldn’t stop crying, hubby home late, etc etc). I was met with two of the five friends (3 others were later than I!) cajoling and laughing and taking absolutely no notice that I was late. Thirty whole minutes late! Not one text or phone call to see if I was okay either. When I apologized they would hear nothing of it…and when I started to spat my plethora of excuses I was enlightened with the philosophy of what I now deem “Irish Standard Time” whereby everyone is always at least a little late and nobody, NOBODY cares.  Whew, what a relief! I instantly felt so much more welcomed here than I ever had before. Finally, a place that accepted constant lateness and didn’t bat one pretty eyelash about it. Glee!!!

But then I started to notice this in other situations. I’d go to a shop, bank or restaurant at the posted opening time and would be kept waiting for 15 minutes for the doors to open. When I finally did get into a shop I could be kept waiting for another 15 minutes while a clerk is on a personal phone call before even being greeted. When you go to the cinema the trailers always start about 10-15 minutes later that the listed film showtime. All of this is unheard of in the States, where customer service is king. At one point, I considered starting a time management/customer service orientation business, but then I was reminded by my loving husband that A. I wasn’t qualified and B. I would be late for my own funeral if that was possible and certainly wouldn’t be able to turn up on time to give the orientations which would in turn make things even worse. He was right, but I might add that, ironically, he is the most punctually retentive person I have ever met. We always manage to get to the airport 3 hours before our flight..he arranges for us to leave extremely early just in case we get a tire puncture or get into an accident or lord knows what else….

When I worked on television production here in 06, were worked on a variation of I.S.T.  I had been used to shooting from very early in the morning to late, late nights. And weekends were certainly not out of the question in LA or NY. Here, with the Killinaskully series, we worked 9-5 Monday-Friday and not a minute later unless it was planned well, well in advance. People take their time off very seriously in Ireland.

Nonetheless, the pièce de résistance was when we started building our house. It is just status quo that builders and carpenters are flaky no matter where you live in the world, but in this case the behaviour was literally astonishing. Our “reputable” kitchen/bathroom fitting company blew us off for nearly 2 months past our scheduled start date. They wouldn’t even answer phone calls or return messages. Working together became like a game of cat and mouse with all the suppliers. The only person that delivered on time and on budget was the German window guy, Bruno. At least when it came time to pay everyone we were even put off there. It seemed as though we were forcing them to be paid. Buying a car. We had to ring dealerships several times to buy a car that we wanted and we were even offering the asking price. Carpet. Furniture. Same story. Indeed, these are not contemptuous, reckless people; it is just them simply being laid back and losing track of time. It’s just Irish Standard Time.

I must run now or I’ll be late for my hair appointment.

But sure, that’s okay.

Slainte,

Imen

Cream Teas and Mac-n-Cheese

In Life on October 7, 2009 at 10:48 am

Our dear son, Geoffrey, is technically Irish because he was born in Ireland. But naturally I had to make sure that he would legally be both Irish and American. (You’d be amazed at how patriotic you become when you move out of your home country.) Being pragmatic, I immediately requested an American birth certificate and then applied for a USA passport so now he has 2 passports and 2 birth certs. He is fortunate to have dual citizenship and I hope he will take full advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that this will afford him.  Of course, I practically have him admitted to Harvard or Yale on a full scholarship straight after his Irish secondary schooling (and on the crew team, no less)

It’s fascinating to observe both his Irish and American characteristics as he grows up.  The best of the Irish traits has to be his absolute LOVE of tea. He simply loves to sip cups of tea with loads of milk and copious amounts of sugar cubes, “mommy, mommy, mommy, can I have a cream tea?” It started when he was about 2 and now he will have a cup of tea nearly every afternoon on it’s own or with a queen cake (i.e. yummy cupcake with buttercream frosting in the middle) or possibly a slice of brown bread with butter and raspberry jam. It is all very dramatic, he insists on doing it all on his own–boiling the tea kettle, steeping the tea in the teapot, putting milk into the tiny milk pouring cup, bringing over the dainty little brown sugar cubes, his distinctive porcelain cup & saucer and special teaspoon.  I suppose he picked this up from everyone around him, but I personally think it’s innate because I don’t drink tea and I don’t ever remember small children taking up coffee drinking like our parents in the States….in fact, just the opposite, my friends and I thought that coffee was the most disgusting smelling, bitter tasting thing ever and could not fathom how anyone could bear to drink it. No, I think his fondness for tea is part of his Irish-ness and it’s just the sweetest thing.  Plus, it’s great way to get more milk into his tummy.

On the other hand, he cannot live without mac-n-cheese. And by mac-n-cheese, I mean that all-American, orange-coloured, boxed-up, macaroni and cheese. We have to stock up on Annie’s Organic each trip to the States because you can’t get anything like it here. I’ve tried to make it from scratch and it just doesn’t cut the mustard..something about that salty orange powdered cheese is wondrous to him I guess.  One of his all time favorite lunches is a hot dog with mac and cheese. Doesn’t get more American than that!

When it comes to potatoes..he is still on the fence. Sometimes he’ll eat mashed potatoes, but dislikes chips (french fries), baked, boiled, fried, hashbrowned or cold potatoes. He will eat the odd crisp (chip), but is not really crazy about them either. I swore I heard him mention the South Beach Diet on one occasion, but he vehemently denied it when I asked him to clarify. Dislike of potatoes=Clearly American.  But, the Irish in him will trump that by the fact that he absolutely hates peanut butter. Yes, indeed, we are a “no PBJ household”. I still find that unbelievable. I’ve tried and tried but can’t get him to eat a peanut butter and jelly sammy, or just plain peanut butter, reeses peanut butter cups or pieces, monkey munch, ants on a log, Nutter Butter cookies, nothing! He completely loathes the taste and texture of it. It’s really disappointing because it’s a good protein packed snack or lunch option that all my American mommy friends can rely on. Perhaps I should give Nutella a try…we’ll see.

I will be off next week for a girly trip to Paris. Geoffrey has asked me to bring back some new teas for him to try and I will most certainly oblige, a’ Mariage Freres!

Slainte,

Imen

Major Wardrobe Malfunction

In Life on September 29, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I used to be stylish. I sort of fancied myself as a girl who stayed on top of fashion. Of course, this can only objectively be spoken by someone who is clearly no longer stylish. Oh, how I loved creatively putting together a bad-assed ensemble each day to wear to my office/production shoot/post house where there would be many more bad-assed style icons, each striving to be the baddest-assed of them all. Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that glamorous, but let’s just say that I did take my fashion personae very seriously. And still do. Well, now I guess I’m just trying to. The truth is, I am still sorting out how to dress here…in farm country and in Ireland in general. I think I’m in desparate need of a Farm-over!

Sizing in Ireland and the UK is vastly different from the USA–and I don’t mean that in a beneficial way. Irish sizes go up two sizes from American sizes. So, if you are an 8 in the USA, you are a 12 (or maybe even 14 depending on the brand) in Ireland! A bit of a blow, indeed. I was a size 8…even a healthy 6 on good days (though on certain days of the month I could also quite possibly go up to a 10) so the size change was definitely a tad bit disheartening to me. I am still trying to work out if Richard meant an Irish 10 or American 10 when he guessed my size in the early days of our relationship…naw, won’t go there. Hmm, perhaps he just meant I was a “10”? Ha! When I got pregnant I gained 3 stone (42 lbs). A few weeks after I had Geoffrey I remember fretfully getting onto the scale, only to see that I had lost only 1 stone(damn digestive biscuits!). At that point, I basically gave up on shopping because I refused to buy a size 16-18 based on the sheer principle of it. I decided I would shop for my son instead. This is why he has the wardrobe the size of a Gap Kids store.

Not only are sizes different, but regrettably, styles are as well. When I initially came for visits to Ireland, I’d always look forward to bringing home some very chic 80’s inspired Top-Shoppy blouse, vampish high boots or deconstructed little jackets to flaunt back in the States…very swish in 2003/4.  Now, I can’t be bothered with most of the drivel that I see in the local shops.  A/Wear, Topshop, BT2, Zara, H&M have all been obsessed with trashy 80’s looks for forever or so it seems. I am sorry, but I am done paying hundreds of euros for throwbacks from the 80’s….can we please move on? I rarely see anything that I am truly inspired by, which is no fun really, but does make the bank account happy I suppose. I know the 80’s have taken over the USA too, but at least there are also real alternatives such as J. Crew, BR, AK, Anthropologie, GAP–even Target, if you’re in need of a reprieve. And while I love to browse the new collections by Vivienne Westwood, Karen Millen, Orla Kiely, McQueen and all the European designers in Harvey Nichs or BT, that means a 2 hour drive to Dublin if I want to see the best of it. I sorely miss seeing the latest displays from classic American designers like CK, RL,DK, MK in the big department stores that were basically right around the corner from me.  I guess the good news is that now that I usually only shop in the USA everything seems like such a better deal with the current decreasing value of the dollar.

Having said that, even if I wasn’t bothered by the size issue and if everything didn’t look so damned 80’s, I still wouldn’t know how to dress here! As I noted before, the weather is always a wee bit wet and windy so my fantasy “farm look” comprised of cute circle skirts with tees and Wellingtons never really works in real life. Besides women here don’t consider Wellies to be stylish in any way, shape or form and wouldn’t dream of wearing them outside of their home garden. And, if I could still fit into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe: various types of skinny jeans tucked into my favorite high boots, dainty silky blouses with shiny little tuxedo jackets, matching cashmere skirts and shells worn with bare legs and kitten heels, (yes, I am grieving this loss)….none of it is practical in my new life. When I try to wear sportier things like windbreakers, fleeces, cargos, sneakers, I just feel like a boy. Alas, not ladylike at all.

Hence, my search continues for my best Irish farm girl wardrobe…..

The suggestion box is open.

Slainte,

Imen

One Full Irish Please!

In Life on September 15, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Warning! Spoiler Alert

This post contains approx. 500,000 calories

Perhaps I need to write more about the drab weather in Ireland because since my last posting the weather has been absolutely gorgeous! Blue skies and sun for 4 full days so far. I must say, this makes life here so much more agreeable.
One really nice thing about living on an Irish farm is the “farm dinner” as it is affectionately known here by people-both country dwellers and city folks alike. Farm dinners usually consist of a large plate of tender roasted meat–possibly beef, lamb, pork, chicken or ham; a couple portions of soft, buttery, vegetables, namely cabbage, carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower… and of course, some form of potato–typically boiled in their jackets or mashed. Pretty standard stuff, but exquisitely delicious and totally comforting (and sustaining)….especially on a gray, rainy Irish day. My mother-in-law, Peggy, still insists on lovingly cooking these massive dinners for “the men” (her sons, husband, farm apprentices and whoever else drops in at a moment’s notice) each and every single day. She is truly a saint. Of course, I’d love to join them each day, but try not to overdo it, as I would only be adding more work for her and more inches around my waist. When I do have lunch at the farm I will usually bring a dessert to share…they especially love my rhubarb/berry cobbler and the All-American Angelfood cake with cream and berries. Sometimes I will bake a flourless chocolate cake, which always goes over well too. There is always a slice of something for dessert and a cup of tea with sweetmeal biscuits (cookies) after dinner. These biscuits are called “digestives” because they were once thought to have antacid properties…this clarification works for me, as these little shortbread-y cookies, which are not too sweet, are remarkably delectable. And addicting. And basically, my weight-loss arch nemesis.
At the end of the day, the supper or the “tea” as it is commonly referred to as, is served. Tea occurs at the farm at around 630PM and may consist of a light sandwich or a “country salad” of boiled egg with mayonnaise, tomato slices and cole slaw with a slice of brown soda bread. The odd smoked salmon or a “fry” which is like a mini Irish breakfast is also a possibility. A cup of tea or two is compulsory. Thus, the big meal on the farm (and in many Irish homes) is dinner or lunch, which is probably better for you than our big American heavy supper in the evening and a light lunch at noon. Still, I have yet to fully embrace the tea concept and I tend to make a substantial family evening meal each night. Luckily, there have been no complaints, but I am sure that eventually we will transition to this style of eating.
During the holidays we take our meals in the formal dining room in the main farmhouse. Peggy has this wonderful mid-century modern, heated hostess trolley and dessert cart. We have the same indispensable and lavish menu for each big holiday gathering. The menu reads like this: Prawn cocktail with Mary-Rose sauce for a starter, and then a rustic, creamy soup followed by the main entrée. She will usually prepare a goose for one the holidays with her special potato stuffing, along with mashed potatoes, potato croquettes, 2-3 vegetables, a bread dressing and gravy. Yes, there are 3 different potato preparations listed there. Each plate is pre-made, designed with each tasty element, sized appropriately and waiting patiently in the trolley for its assigned dinner guest. After the main course, there will be 5 or 6 desserts to choose from as well as ice creams galore. A boozy trifle, a plucky plum pudding, a delicate pavlova with fresh berries and cream, a twice-frosted chocolate gateaux and some other kind of wonderful sweet treat. You are required to try a little of each on your plate and you don’t mind. By that time, you’re drunk with food (and possibly wine) and your defenses are most certainly down. After all those desserts, would you believe the “after dinner” chocolates are brought out? Why yes, indeed…After Eight chocolate mints and Chocolate Liqueurs to linger over accompanied by tea to sip (or just more wine if you’re me). I am sure you can make out that there isn’t a lot of moving around after these feasts. This type of banquet is not just taking place at our farm, but in homes all around the country. It’s like for one day everyone receives a permission slip from God to commit one the seven deadly sins: Gluttony!
Being a breakfast person, the piece de résistance for me is The Full Irish Breakfast. Eggs, sausages, rashers (bacon, thick cut and very lean), sautéed mushrooms and tomato halves, baked beans, and black and white puddings with toast. Not that I eat the puddings, but still, something about all of rest is just fully satisfying to me. Puddings, forgive me, taste like what I can only imagine a scab would taste like. And rightly so-they are basically dried blood. But enough of that—Richard makes THE BEST Irish breakfast ever. Him, the Shannon Airport restaurant and BIA in Adare-sheer perfection. Yummy, scrummy and positively del-ish.
Irish stew, seafood chowders, fresh fish with exquisitely prepared velvety sauces, slow roasted, melt-in-your mouth roasts covered with creative reductions, sticky toffee pudding, Banoffee pie, bakewell tarts with cream and a persimmon on the side, a beautiful glazed ham sandwich or a Ploughman’s with pickles and chutney, a filet mignon that you can cut with a butter knife, flavourful roasted parsnips and swede, chocolate biscuit cake, raspberry roulade, savoury Shepard’s pie or Fisherman’s Pie, honey and lemon glazed turnips that taste like mango, cranberry/mushroom/nut filo parcels, spicy curries….a mother’s simple stuffed chicken. From the fancy Mustard Seed in Ballingarry or the distinguished Chapter One in Dublin to delightful organic lunches at the Avoca cafe or an inventive vegetarian dish at Ciaran’s….even a simple tasty fish n chip from chippers ‘round the country: you are definitely spoilt for choice.
Without question, and contrary to popular belief, Irish food is fabulous….from farm dinners to high-priced gourmet meals. It seems that all Irish chefs, professional and domestic, have a way with food…they prepare it with love, a love you can most certainly taste.

Slainte,

Imen

The Picture Perfect Parish

In Life on August 25, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Our address is Shanagolden, but our village is called Kilcolman. You see, the farm address was changed by Grandma McDonnell whom years ago decided that the post (mail) would arrive much earlier in the day if she had a Shanagolden address because their post office was larger and far better staffed. She went in, boldly stated her case and was granted her wish. She was in the habit of making her wishes come true. So ironically, Shanagolden is actually down the road about 5-6 miles, but will now always be considered our town mailing address. Nevertheless, our rural community is called Kilcolman. Kilcolman, Ardagh, County Limerick to be exact. Kilcolman is what is known as our “parish” and basically consists of 3 brambly corners where 3 narrow roads meet on top of a small hill. On each corner there are the following: 1. St. Colman’s Catholic church and Purcell’s general shop/letterbox. 2. Kilcolman National School, which is the elementary school that Geoffrey will attend, and the last stop 3. Kilcolman Graveyard.
St. Colman’s church was built in 1913. It is said that all of the material for the church was transported to Kilcolman by horse and cart. There are also church ruins in the cemetery dating back to 1253 which are likely that of an Augustinian Abbey. St. Colman’s is a quaint stone church in a small parish, but stands high on the hill and can be seen from quite a distance. Next door, Purcell’s shop is tiny and tidy—a place where you can pick up a tub of butter and a jar of instant coffee and eavesdrop on village gossip if you are so inclined. Kilcolman Graveyard, bestowed with Cypress trees and Celtic crosses is carefully maintained by a quiet gentleman who lives nearby. There is lore that there is a stone in the cemetery which can cure headaches. I have yet to try it. The Kilcolman National School is the only somewhat modern structure on the three corners. Still, it was built in accordance with planning laws that say all structures must abide by typical Irish countryside design meaning it fits cozily into the pretty parish picture.
Richard’s brother David and wife Rosanne’s house is called “The Old Presbytery” and is formerly the home of all the parish priests and visiting clergy. The house dates back to 1862 and still has a wing which was once a small chapel. Nowadays, the Parish priest lives just down the road in a small bungalow. Father Mullane (Mill-Ann) is a smiley, handsome 40-something fella with high cheekbones and a twinkle in his eye. His hair is silver, but prematurely so. He has a brand new VW which he drives fast and just always, always seems frantically busy. You’ll always see him gardening or renovating the house in some way, there has even been talk that he has been recruiting help to replace the massive stained glass windows in the church with new ones. To think! Each Wednesday morning when I bring Geoffrey to Montessori we see Father Mullane frantically speeding to church at about 940am. Mass is at 930. That always makes me chuckle. In fact, the whole ride to Geoffrey’s Montessori makes me chuckle because it still seems so surreal to me. We leave our gate and turn right, we are surrounded by green lush countryside dotted with cows, sheep and horses and in less than 2 minutes we arrive in Kilcolman where we meet the church, cemetery, store and school. Indeed, the picture perfect parish.

Slainte,

Imen