Margo and the Snakes

Margo and the Snakes

Margo, our innkeeper, wanted to talk about snakes. This was at breakfast, in Galax, North Carolina. In fairness, the Canadian woman, Lori, brought them up. She and her husband, Glen had a close encounter the previous day when cycling on a trail.

At the inn, you have breakfast with other residents. 8am. Breakfast on the table. Continue reading “Margo and the Snakes”

An Emigrant Watches Clare Play Cork in Hurling

An Emigrant Watches Clare Play Cork in Hurling

I watched the Clare Cork match on Sunday (May 22, 2018) in an unlikely place, in the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, near the Tennessee border. We’re on holiday down South and we’ve come to walk in the Smoky Mountains and drive up The Blue Ridge Parkway.

And, sitting here in this Welcome Centre, so far from home and Páirc Uí Chaoimh, I’m struggling with that familiar feeling of guilt when I’m not around to cheer Cork on. As if my presence in the Páirc today would make one iota of difference today among 25,000 others, but that’s just how it is. I’m struggling too with GAAGO’s intermittent signal, and I’m thinking of Irish emigrants all over the world, for many of whom this is a regular summer Sunday experience.

I imagine Cillian, a young Clareman in Melbourne, Australia. Continue reading “An Emigrant Watches Clare Play Cork in Hurling”

Three Drives in the USA, almost 1,000 miles.

Three Drives in the USA, almost 1,000 miles.

Down the I95

It was a long drive down from Washington DC to Athens, Georgia. We were 12 hours on the road, including three rest/food/toilet/gas stops. 600 hundred miles, the longest drive we were ever on. Up and down the middle of Ireland twice.

Those huge signs on poles higher than pines. Waffle House, McDonalds, Subway. Holiday Inn. Chicken Filet. Adult Store. Continue reading “Three Drives in the USA, almost 1,000 miles.”

Walking Through Georgetown & In The National Gallery of the USA

Walking Through Georgetown & In The National Gallery of the USA

Walking Through Georgetown

Georgetown, a university area of Washington DC, had that understated style and nothing-to-prove confidence about itself. Houses looked modest enough in size but seemed really stylish inside with soft light and muted graceful décor. Continue reading “Walking Through Georgetown & In The National Gallery of the USA”

Notes on Athens, Georgia

Notes on Athens, Georgia

Joan Didion wrote on the South in her book South and West: From a Notebook which was based on notes she took on a one month trip around the gulf states in 1970. She paints a backward and unflattering picture of the South when she compares Louisiana and Mississippi with California. Her main premise is that the South looks to the past, while California looks to the future. To me, her writing is dismissive and somewhat arrogant, and says, at times, more about her than the place she was writing about.

I have only been in Georgia and South Carolina for a few days and I didn’t go to rural and remote places as Didion did, so I’m not going to make generalisations like her. But I will follow her style of using notes she made along the way. Continue reading “Notes on Athens, Georgia”

Arlington Cemetery and the Religious Order of the Military

Arlington Cemetery and the Religious Order of the Military

Coming from a country with no great military tradition, the visual presence of the military and its infrastructure in other countries, such as France, the UK and the US has always intrigued and somehow unnerved me.

We were in Collioure, in France, a few years ago on holiday. We went for a walk along the coast, just north of the town. Beautiful, beautiful place by the Med. We had to go around a military compound to find the path by the cliffs and when we came back they were doing some kind of training exercise in the yard outside the compound. Continue reading “Arlington Cemetery and the Religious Order of the Military”

Washington DC – The New Rome

Washington DC – The New Rome

The most amazing thing about Washington DC for me was how much it reminded me of Rome – Rome as it once was, that is. All the buildings (around the National Mall especially) were so Roman, with friezes and thick columns (in a strange mix of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian) rising up above grand sets of steps. Huge domes in the middle, reaching skyward towards the gods, pregnant with glory. Full of the symbolic grandeur of Rome (and ancient Greece before it). Pale stone, clean and imposing, shining in sunlight. Huge lettering on the outside, massive doors for entry. Continue reading “Washington DC – The New Rome”