This is pure bull

Breaking News: Hot off the press folks, in Groton today a bull got loose and allegedly ran away. The bull in question was last spotted in the vicinity of route 119 and Jane's Drive. According to local sources the animal is big with horns but otherwise no identifiable marks. If you see the bull please call 911 and don't try to feed it.

According to reports, eye witnesses may be suffering from PTS as a result of hearing it snort. The chief said the following:

"This is a terrible terrible thing, folks….we are so upset by this event. We are going to look into it and get to the bottom of it. There are good and bad bulls everywhere, but trust me…..I'm going to fix this one….I'm going to make Groton great again"

Neighbors interviewed could not understand as he always seemed happy with the grass on his side of the fence and other than the occasional cow patty was not on any watch lists. However, sources close to the investigation said that a grand jury may to called up.

I first got wind of the story while standing….well downwind of the farm. Upon further investigation I found 3 cruisers from Littleton, 2 from Groton not including animal control, 1 helicopter, 2 news crews and various other officials looking characters milling about.

It's a good job we live in the stick and this is considered news!

My best wishes go out to the bulls family and I'm certain that they will eventually get over this horrible event.

As for the rest….pass the A1 sauce!

This am’s commute

My new gig….yes, I jumped ship again, is in Lexington right on the Minuteman Bikeway. I did a dry run last Sunday to work out the kinks. This am I drove to Concord, parked in public parking lot off main then took the Reformatory Branch Trail to Bedford, then pick up the Minuteman Bikeway into Lex.

The Reformatory trail is mostly all hard packed gravel or dirt with only one tricky spot, but it's not really tricky!

Minuteman is all blacktop and it's all up hill to Lexington. However, even on my 1 by I manage to stay in the high gears.

It's about 7.5 mile one way or about 30 minutes. Just enough to get the ticker pumping and a whole lot better than looking at the car in front of me while sitting in traffic!

Random Ireland photos – 8

No trip to Ireland is complete without a trip to Sean's and Murray's. We got to Sean's in the afternoon and I made Murray's tonight with my brother.

Gangs all here. Sean's bar is officially the oldest bar in the world and the first bar I (illegally) bought a pint in.

Pint of black for me and a glass of cider for my better 1/2.

One of my favorite spots in Sean's, just inside the front door on the left.

I really like this pint glass nook. My hat is off the the architect!

I didn't take any photos in Murray's, that was strictly a "have a few pints and go home" event.

Cheers all. It will be hard getting on the plane tomorrow, but we'll be back again.

Random Ireland photos – 7

My mom and I headed to Tuam to do some family tree research. We still have relations in the area and we hopefully of uncovering some new information. We took the back road to Tuam which has vastly improved since I was on it before, but still required me to climb the hedge row at 100km when meeting incoming trucks.

We stopped into Leufer's Jewelry store which my ancestors stated back in 1878. Unfortunately the gentleman we wanted to meet passed away but other distant family members were very happy to help out. Not only did I fill in a few gaps but I found a whole other generation. For years we all assumed that Aron Leufer was the first to arrive in Ireland from Germany, but was actually his father Joseph.

Above is the current location and below is the existing.

We also visited the local cemetery and found several family head stoned.

The above is the original settler Joseph Leufer and other family members headstone.

The story goes all three families came over together from Germany and decided to pick three towns to settle in. The Fallers went to Galway, Wherley's to Sligo and Leufers to Tuam. If my math works that's 139 years ago and all three businesses are still going. All of this make me a little less than 1/32 German with the assumption that all the spouse where full Irish. However since I'm longer stateside at this point I'm a bit of a mutt!

The story of when my mom picked out her engagement ring at Leufer's in 1959 is worth telling. My mom, dad (Jimmy) and his sister traveled to Tuam as you would always want to leave money in your own family where possible, when buying big ticket items. As Tuam was the closet store and Jimmy was familiar with the town from traveling to the cattle mart with his father it was an obvious choice. Upon arriving one of the shop assistant was dispatched by Joseph to help. Mom picked out a ring and Jimmy had a side bar conversation with the assistant over the price. Jimmy then asked mom to pick another ring from a second (less expensive) tray, the process occurred three times then the assistant informed Jimmy that mom had picked the same ring three times as the assistant had moved it from tray to tray while swapping the trays! Apparently neither mom or Jimmy copped it. He offered Jimmy a good discount as they were related to the owner and the deal was made. The ring cost 120 pound (old Irish money) in 1959, which was quite the small fortune.

Get up to Dublin and get a job. Last minute road trip to Dublin….driving time 1.25 hours. That's about 2 hours faster than when I left in 1986. Yes, the Irish roads have improved dramatically. We did the Hop On Hop Off bus tour and let's just say if this was stateside the driver would have lost his job before the second stop. Needless to say after 34 stops we were all in stitches.

Very modern architecture on and over the Liffey.


Selfie with a teenager.

The above two don't need a title.

JMan feeding the wildlife.

Temple Bar area.

Bottle cap anyone?

1/2 penny bridge.

Last time I saw the Liffey is was luminous green. It's looking pretty good these days.

O'Connell Street….busy as usual.

Quite moment in Easons comic section.

100 year old battle wounds in the GPO (General Post Office) column. I guess some wounds never heal.

Random Ireland photos – 6

It's a grand Irish summer day. Blue skies and a high of 56F. Here's a view out outlet hotel window. Yes, I stood on the furniture, reckon they own me for the lack of parking.

I call this one "Cork roofs".

Here's a shot of the massive parking lot. I stand corrected, it has 21 spots, that's for 101 rooms! Good ratio if you're a room, bad if you're a car.

Various photos of Cork City.

Yes, the coffee is exactly the same!

Oliver Plunkett Street is one on the main shopping places and it's pedestrian only.

We did a bit of shopping and headed north.

Along the way we went to the Devils Bit. Here's a link to read all about it. We were unprepared to hike so a photo will have to do.

Ireland is littered with stone towers. This one is down the road from the Devils Bit.

Here's a really odd flavored snack food. For those who don't know prawns are shrimps stateside…..and no, I did not sample them.

Back at our home away from home we made ice cream with the kids.

Random Ireland photos – 5

First Castle of the day was Birr. Since we stayed in Birr it was a short walk. I visited the grounds before but never the actual castle. I'm not sure if it was even open to the public or we were too broke to pay the extra charge.

GMan and I in front of the castle.

A fine family selfie.

Above are photos of the telescope one of the former Earls build. For many years it was the 3rd largest in the world.

Formal Gardens.

Birr Castle has the coolest tree house in Ireland!

Here's JMan peeking out the tower window.

Pedestrian entrance and exit.

Moving in we headed to The Rock of Cashel. The drive down was much faster than expected thanks to all the new motorways. However, the last time I made this trip was in the back of an NSU heading to Youghal with my entire family. Back then this was an epic journey of 104 miles. With lots of he's touching me and she's on my side remarks from the rear seat followed by "will you lot shut up" coming from the front. In fact on one occasion the NSU gave us a bit of bother coming into Cashel. Jimmy (my dad) was not impressed but thankfully a local scrap car place had the parts necessary to complete our quest. I was quite young but can distinctly remember seeing Jimmy in the scrap yard with another fellow wandering the isles of cars from our vantage point high above on the castle walls.

The castle is an impressive structure and has a commanding view of the surrounding area. I can only imagine the daunting task of building such a huge castle atop a hill. They were mighty men and women and clearly labor was very cheap.

Lots of arched opening around here. I'm certain St. Patrick's was quite the place back in its day.

JMan at the back side of the castle. It looks like no one was there but it was fairly busy. I just waited a second for the other tourists to move out of my shot.

The round tower form of St.Patricks meeting the North Transept.

The convergence between St.Patricks and Cormac's Chapel. I'm fairly certain neither one follows any kind of set back rules! I'm also very certain that no such rules existed at the time of construction. Only now are ADA type rules coming into Ireland. All new construction needs to follow strict rules but existing can remain as is. Which really means that a person with disabilities simply cannot use restrooms in any restaurant, bar and some hotels we visited this trip.

Here's JMan in the same gap.

Here's a photo that shows the connection in plan. St.Patricks in blue and Cormac's in yellow (on the right).

Gangs all here.

The boys playing on the rise around the castle and Jess below taking photos of us.

I'm a sucker for a cool Elevation. There's are hanging on the wall just inside the main pedestrian entrance/exit.

From here we headed more south to Cork City. Jess booked a hotel in route and we ended up at the Maldron. Upon arrival I found a typical Irish parking lot with a gate just big enough to squeeze through and space for 10 or so cars. However, there were already 15 wedged in sideways. Again in true Irish fashion I drop the car in the middle of the entire mess and we proceed to check in. I asked about parking and was told "theses plenty outside". Outside where I enquired, and she pointed toward the door. At this point I actually laughed out loud and indicted that the massive parking lot was full and the response was "you'll have to find a spot in the street".

This was a sign I ignored as we should have gotten back in the car and left, however, GMan and I decided to go find a spot. We drove around the block a few times then expanded our path. Mind you Cork is all hills and all one way streets. We found nearly every back road in the area but no spots. I could have dropped it in a no parking spot, which seemed to be a popular idea, but decided that getting clamped was not a way I would want to start my morning.

We again expanded our path but this time lost our bearing and had no idea where the hotel was. So let's sum this up, lost in a city that is all one ways with hills in a standard car that I'm not familiar with, a city I last drove in 20 years ago and we didn't know the name of the hotel or have cell service or a GPS!

We immediately took my phone out of airplane mode and called Jess for the name of the hotel only to get her voice mail. At this point, which was 30 minutes into "you'll have to find a spot in the street", my patience were running out. Finally we get Jess on the phone and got the hotel name. We tried getting directions but that failed and Google maps refused to work, beside finding the hotel was useless and we really needed to find a parking spot. I put on my thinking hat and decided to find a parking garage (what a novel idea) lose the rental, and cab it back to the hotel. After all we were still in the city (I think) so how much could the cab cost. Idea in hand a few minutes later we we squeezing the car into a spot and 7 euro later we were back at the hotel.

We later found out from another cab driver that the hotel was originally a hospital and in his words "sur no one had carrs back then…what would you need a big parrking lot fur". (YouTube a Cork accent and you'll understand my deliberate spelling mistakes). Never a truer word said I thought to myself.

Out and about in Cork we found this gem.

JMan doing some sort of head test on my pint of Murphy's. What's Murphy's you ask? It's a stout brewed in Cork. It's available in a few places stateside but a true Cork man would never order a Guinness and may find it hard to get Murphy's outside Cork. I don't get the difference, to me it's Guinness with a different name. Kinda how Trump should rename Obama care to Trump care and call it s day!

It was a long day with lots of clutching on hills and trying to decipher the local accent. We will all sleep good tonight.

Random Ireland photos – 4

We got off to a proper Irish start and hit the road around half past twelve. We were going to The Giants Causeway but decided to head south instead, that's the completely opposite direction for those of you who are not up on your Irish geography. Our destination was Charleville Castle in Tullamore. According to the above link, out tour guide and 7 years of architectural school I can safely say it's a fine specimen of Gothic Revival archetype.

Construction started in 1798 and was completed in 1814. The architect was Francis Johnston who was best know for the General Post Office (GPO) on O'Connell Street in Dublin.

Symmetry is the name of the game in the castle with many faux doorways to give the illusion of real symmetry. Most of the woodwork is oak and was imported from American as at the time of construction it was illegal to cut down oak trees in Ireland.

Another interesting fact was all workers were payed with "The Lords Shillings". Theses coins had the stamp of the castle owner and could be used by the workers to pay rent and buy necessities in Tullamore. Then the landlords and store owners would travel to the castle where the Lord would exchange the coins for real money. This was a very clever way of making sure your staff stayed put as the coins were no good outside town. So, the workers were not exactly slaves or encouraged to leave, but they were definitely not free men.

Viewing the Chaple from the dining room.

JMan an Jess.

On the way out we spotted this.

Here's a 750 year old oak tree that was struck by lightning a week before Lord Bury died. The branch that was struck fell off the tree but over time it started to grow back into the tree. This is where the legend of the Lords ghost comes from, it's said that because the branch started growing again he can't pass through to the other side. This and many other ghost stories are associated with Charleville Castles.

The tree is so big I could not fit it in a pano.

The boys reclining on the oak.

Leaving Tullamore we headed to Birr. Our destination was Birr Castle. Along the way we got side tracked by the following.

Interesting name for a pub wouldn't you say.

Also, we spotted a few tractors parked in odd positions. Now where did I leave them keys again.

Birr Country Offaly Ireland. This is what you'd call a smallish town in the middle of nowhere. Without Birr Castle I'm not sure what else it could/would offer. Staying in a local hotel is a first for me. Over the years I went through the place many time and visited the castle on a few occasions, but I never set down temporary roots.

JMans climbing the walls at 8:55pm. It's light out until almost 10:30pm this time of year.

Back wall of Birr Castle.

Anyone remember this guy!

Making tracks….

Doorway in the main square.

Random Ireland photos – 3

Jimmy's fields, Clonown Road, Athlone

The bog road. If I had a dime for every time I headed up this road I'd be able to call home for a month or so.

View from our bog. For as long as I can remember this view has not changed one bit. A few new buildings in Athlone are visible but the topography is exactly as I remember it.

Bog crew.

GMan and JMan fixing up a few stucks of turf.

Saving turf is and will continue to be back breaking work…..but it smells so good when's it's burning!

Big plants.

BBQ at Seamus and Adeline house.

Top to bottom.

1. How many kids can you get into a trampoline. I suspect we tested the structural integrity of this one.

2. All the grandkids.

3. The whole gang.

Random Ireland photos – 2

Johnny Rockets….eat your heart out. Clearly someone spent some time in the states.

Athlone Castle.

North Gate Street lock.

When's the last time you played dress up.

Chess anyone?

Old library and the River Shannon.

Evening walk by Lough Ree.

The boys exploring the lake edge.

With my sister in law and kids.

Jess and I selfie.

Flowers by the lake.

GMan taking it all in.

Richie Sachs water bottle. At home anywhere!

Random Ireland photos – 1

Is the man made or natural barrier better!

JMan taking a break.

Dab boy. GMan is moving for the fashion.

Funny money anyone.

Cormamagh Cemetery.

Laugh Ree from The Point.

Family selfie with Lough Ree in the background.

The Quinn boys, Norah and Jim.

Norah's birthday cake.

Tubberclare sunset.