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.

On the way

And off we go. Logan Express is the only way into Logan with 4 people and luggage for 10 days. Besides the cheap parking at the airport is way more than the bus.

We got here….

GMan has landed

I picked up GMan from Logan tonight. He completed a bike ride from Eugene Oregon to San Francisco California….600 miles. It was a carry all supplies and they camped every night bar a few. 

His request for dinner was “really good pizza”. After 21 days of bagels and deli meat I approved of his choice.

Where else but the North End!


Permanent vacation 

It was a short journey at my now new/old position. Given the constant change and upheaval I took matters into my own hand and fould a new home for my Revit skills. 

My new position starts the second week in August, but prior to that its a short permanent vacation. I’m starting tonight with a glass of Arthur (that’s slang for Guinness BTW).

While on vacation we’ll be visiting family, touring around and having a real pint (or 3) in Murrays of Maghera and Sean’s Bar of Athlone. Go here for the skinny on both these fine drinking establishments.




It’s all about tribe. When I worked in Manchester NH my tribe was Fortitude. After I took a new job in Holder MA its eXcel fitness. Both gyms are great, clean, well-staffed with all manner of classes and equipment. But it’s the other members that make is worth going and keep going back. Don’t get me wrong the instructors play and very important part but the members make the club. There the glue that holds the whole thing together. Then encourage, promote, offer assistance, help new folks get set up, even pulling out and putting away equipment they did not use. But for me it’s the side bars conversations, that could be poking fun at each other, tossing out a challenge or in my case offering hand jesters to instructors when my body refuses to conform to the task at hand. You could be having the worst day at work but after 50 minutes at the gym you return a new. Nothing like kick boxing (at Fortitude) or eXcel (at eXcel) to put you back in focus and wipe the slate so getting though the afternoon is not as daunting as you once thought.
Unfortunately, I’m in search of a new tribe as today will be my last (official) day at eXcel, as tomorrow is my last day at my current position. To say I’m disappointed with the latter is an understatement but I think I will miss my tribe more. If anyone knows of a new tribe worth hanging out at in the Bedford Street area of Lexington MA do please let me know. 

JMans day out

JMan wanted to check out Canobie Lake Park for his b-day. So yesterday we pick up one of his friends and headed north. With lots of free parking losing the car was a breeze and a short walk later we were in.

First up was Log Flume. Mind you trill rides are not my thing and this one is about my limit. We all screamed like little girls at a Miley Cyrus concert and only get marginally splashed. I’ll admit, it was fun, the ride that is….not the Miley concert.

Here’s Jess and I. My mouth was open but thankfully my better 1/2 is clearly astonished enough for both of us.

And here’s JMan and His friend. Yup, both equally impressed with the forces of gravity.

Next up was some target practice.

Which yielded a very attractive stuffed pig.

Then a snack…with our new stuffed friend.

I asked for a small! No, I didn’t finish it, but tried for 20 minutes or so.

Then more target practice, this time with paint ball guns.

We did a puzzle room in the middle here but failed miserably! 

Then the ferris wheel….again, this is more my speed.

In the midde the kids spent a few hours in the water park while the adults sat in shade.

Later the kids took a spin in some very angry tea cups…..definitely not my cup of tea!

We all did the dodgem cars. This is an all time favorite of mine. Many years ago when we visited relatives in Youghal County Cork we’d spend all our money at the local arcade which had dodgems. I can still remember the announcement “okay, here we go now….round to the left”, and the smell, I’m instantly transported to that time.

Later, after more snacking and some real food the gang decided to take a few runs on Boston Tea Party. It was dark so no photos and yes I sat that one out!

But here’s a great way of keeping the kids focused. I suspect this method of parenting would be frowned upon, but I can see the appeal.

Overall I’m very impressed with Canobie, it’s clean, well staffed, and fun. Like most amusement parks food and souvenirs are a little pricey, however, the food was very good and we won afew souvenirs. All in all it was a great day and everyone really enjoyed the park.