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Showing posts from 2016

Medieval Irish Monks: Mayhem and Murder

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Over the Winter holidays I sat down and read Dr. Barry W. O'Dwyer's "The Conspiracy of Mellifont, 1216-1231" (Dublin Historical Association, 1970), which a fellow historian kindly gifted me some 20 years ago and has regrettably sat mostly idle on my bookshelf ever since.  
Essentially, the paper looks at the Irish Cistercian monasteries just after the arrival of the Normans and the influence the Norman conquest had on Irish ecclesiastical reform.  From a modern point of view, I would tend to assume ecclesiastical reform takes the shape of much discussion and argument amongst religieux albeit in a somewhat civilised manner.  Not so, gentle reader, not so.  
Dr. O'Dwyer recounts how the French Cistercian mother-house & general chapter's desire to reform Irish Cistercian houses & communities was met with much resistance and outright violence.  In 1216 a reform visitation to Jerpoint, Co Kilkenny was prevented by the abbot calling "out his whole commun…

Beannactaí an tSéasúir!

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Nollaig Shona daoibh agus Athbhlian faoi mhaise daoibh!

Well its been a mild Winter here so far in Dublin Bay North.  But a busy one! Especially the last two weeks, where active parenting, getting the house ready for Christmas, volunteering (at my daughter's primary school and Fighting Words) and getting the odd day of work in when the parenting schedule permits...whew! I've barely had a chance to sit down the last two months, never mind write.

But now...its Christmas Eve and all the house is quiet.  I absolutely love this time of year.  I've written before that there is no place better than Ireland at Christmas and that is true.  The lights, the festive atmosphere and everyone in great form for the entire month of December.  It is something to behold.  For me, everything turns on the Solstice and gets a bit quieter.  The light is absolutely spectacular right now and although we are in the depths of winter, there are always signs of Imbolg agus Spring.

Tulips are sprouti…

Late Autumn i sa ghairdín

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It took a while for the garden to get going this Spring and that lateness has continued through the Autumn.  Its the beginning of October and the garden is still, splendidly, in full harvest mode.

 I've finally cut back the peonies and have harvested the last of the tomatoes, bringing them inside to ripen.  The sweetcorn is also ready to be harvested and should make some tasty treats this week.  I'm planning on allowing the mixed lettuce to self-seed this year...we'll see how that works out.

The pumpkin, kale, leeks and potatoes are all going from strength to strength (so far).
I'll harvest the pumpkin around Hallowe'en but I'm going to leave the leeks and potatoes to over winter.  There are still blackberries ripening and apples on the tree.

The chives have exploded so I've had to cut them back and the mint has reproduced multiple times, making a mini mint area at the side.  The most striking thing, though, during this extremely mild Autumn is the things …

#LoveAutumnInTheGarden: September 2016

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Its been a very busy and very productive two months in the garden.  Autumn is upon us and the garden has burst forth in all its glorious abundance.  One of the great things about this time of year is that I make it a goal to work in as much garden produce as possible into our daily diet.  This morning's breakfast contained blackberries and an apple picked moments before they were eaten.


Although the slugs only left me one pumpkin plant and one tomato plant, what massive plants they are! I've never seen a pumpkin or tomato plant do so well.  The fruits aren't ready to harvest yet, the pumpkins will take another month while (hopefully) the tomatoes will be ripening shortly, especially as the days are sunny and warm.  If they don't, all I need to do is bring them inside once they reach a certain size.  They'll go red fairly quickly and be ready to eat.



There's still mixed lettuce in the garden and the sweetcorn is just ripening to harvest. The mixed lettuce has b…

Gardener's Almanac: Lughnasadh Approaching

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Its prime growing season i sa ghairdín.  As autumn and the old harvest festival of Lughnasadh approaches (one of the four great fire festivals of the year in Old Times, the others being Samhain on 31 Oct/1 Nov; Imbolg on 1 February; Bealtaine on 1 May), its time to take stock and be grateful for the impending harvest.  There is much to do.

We're not long back from holidays in the States which were great but being away from the garden for two and a half weeks in July was probably not the greatest idea I've ever had.  The grass in the back garden was two feet tall in places when we returned so its taken a good few days to wrangle it back into some semblance of civility.

Unfortunately, all the miniature pansies I had in pots fared poorly when we were away and I'm trying to salvage them now.  The Boston Ivy to the side of the house also looks a bit worse for the ware which is frustrating as I'm pulling out ivy in other places of the garden, growing wild, but can't se…