Shane McDonald Facebook pixel
A Cluster of Seaweed, Emma Verling, Book Launch

A Cluster of Seaweed, Emma Verling, Book Launch

A Cluster of Seaweed Book Launch – A Book dedicated “To all who love Béarra”

My science teacher from De La Salle secondary school, Mr. Martin Verling wrote a book about the Beara peninsula (a beautiful part of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way) in the Irish language. I never knew how talented he was as a write or indeed an artist. After his death, his wife Emma, continued his work and painstakingly translated the book into English. On Wednesday, 5 April 2023, in Evie’s Hall in Eyeries, Dr. Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh, Director of the Folklore Collection, UCD, launched ‘A Cluster of Seaweed’ by Emma Verling née Ní Mhurchú.

Críostóir supervised, directed, and edited my translation of my late husband, Martin Verling’s book, ‘Mioscais na gCumar.’ The cultural landscape of Atlantic island and coastal communities is of particular interest to Críostóir, and his Ph.D. dealt with the subject of storytelling in fishing communities in Corca Dhuibhne, west Kerry. Over ten years, I had many meetings with him in Cnuasach Bhéaloideas, UCD, and he was always welcoming, kind, courteous, and endlessly generous with his time. Without his constant interest and input, this book would never have been published. Gura fada buan tú, a Chríostóir!

Brian Boss O’Sullivan Bhealaigh chaired the launch. The really appreciative audience included relatives of the seanchaithe, Béarra people, and very many people who have chosen to make Béarra their home.

            A Cluster of Seaweed contains a rich body of stories, seanchas – historical lore – songs, and stories from Béarra, where Irish was widely spoken until recent times. The collection brings together traditions of landlords and land agents, stories of the devastating Great Famine, trade and commerce, legends of the fairy host and otherworld animals, folk cures and popular beliefs, as well as tales of mythological figures, such as the Old Woman of Béarra and the Gaibhleann Gabha, a folk counterpart of the mythological smith, Goibhniú.

A Cluster of Seaweed Book Cover - Emma & Martin Verling

            The book runs to 487 pages and contains the stories of 17 storytellers from Cill Chaitiairn and Dhá Dhrom, (Ardgroom) whose genealogy is traced by Riobard O’Dwyer in 23 pages. The Recording Context section brings us into the homes of these storytellers and introduces us to them and to their families, so while reading the stories, we can imagine ourselves in the storyteller’s kitchen during the recording session. The Recording Context is based on diary entries made by folklore collector, Tadhg Ó Murchú, when he returned from his day’s recording. This is a portion of Tadhg O Murchú’s diary account of a visit to Pádraig Ó Laochdha’s house in Cill Chaitiairn:

The house was beautiful, and really spic and span inside. There was an old woman, an old man and a nice, good-looking young woman inside, and a beautiful infant child. The old man was sitting on the upper end of the seat near the fire. He was a medium-sized man with broad shoulders and a very dark complexion. He had black hair, a blue coat, and a black, wide-brimmed hat. The typical dress of the Béarra men, as we were used to seeing long ago when they came to our locality to buy boats. The old woman was busy around the house, and the young woman was minding the child.” (P.446)

The indices of people and places were collated by Shane McDonald, Waterford. Martin’s map at the back of the book is a guide to the townlands in which the storytellers lived. His notes on the stories run to 40 pages and the book also contains many photos including those of some of the storytellers such as Brídín Ní Mhurchú, Pointe na Reanna, Diarmaid Ó Sé, Fán Shliabh, and Diarmaid Ó hÚrdail, Caobach, Féith, Cill Chaitiairn. In this context, the following line from a poem by Alice Walker rings true:

“The meaning of your lives is still unfolding…”

The cover of the book is based on Martin’s painting of two seals. A Cluster of Seaweed was beautifully designed by Romanian, Iulian Pirpiliu, originally an aeronautical engineer, and printed by Stewart O’Connell of Johnswood Press.

Photos of many of the seanchaithe and of those who played a part in this publication were displayed in the hall – Tadhg Ó Murchú, the folklore collector from Uíbh Ráthach; Dr. Gearóid Ó Crualaioch, UCC, who wrote the foreword for both Mioscais na gCumar and A Cluster of Seaweed; Fachtna Ó Donabháin who organized the unveiling of the plaque in honour of seanchaí, Pádraig Ó Murchú; Riobard O’Dwyer, genealogist; Dr. Riobard Ó hÚrdail, UCC, who is an authority on the dialect of the Irish of Béarra; Jeremiah Murphy, Cathair Caim, who supplied valuable information on seine fishing; Mrs. Kate O’Leary in whose house in Eyeries Tadhg Ó Murchú stayed; Professor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta, Maigh Nuad, who published Mioscais na gCumar and Martin Verling who edited Mioscais na gCumar. 

            Photographer, Seán Moriarty, made an excellent photographic record of the launch, capturing the atmosphere of what was a most enjoyable occasion. Evie’s Hall, built by her father, master carpenter, John Murphy, was a really comfortable and spacious venue. The fact that Irish classes were held in the original hall across the road in the 1940s, provides a real sense of continuity and an inspiration for us to learn, or relearn Irish.  After the launch, a lovely reception was held in Mary O’Shea’s public house.

A Cluster of Seaweed Book Launch - Emma & Martin Verling

Gabhaim buíochas ó chroí le gach duine a thacaigh leis an tSeoladh seo agus le gach éinne a bhí i láthair chun beatha, misneach agus gaois ár sinsear a cheiliúradh.


Emma Verling née Ní Mhurchú

Na hAoraí agus Port Láirge.

A Cluster of Seaweed is on sale in Béarra, in Walsh’s Bookshop, Dungarvan, and in the Book Centre, Waterford.

Click Here to visit the Book Centre listing for the book.

A Cluster of Seaweed Book Launch - Emma & Martin Verling

Guests of my life

You came in the early dawn,

And you came in the night.

Your name was uttered

By the spring flowers

And the showers of rain.

You brought the harp into my life,

And you brought the lamp.

After you had taken your leave,

I found God’s footprints on my floor.

                                                                                        Rabindranath Tagore

Exploring Ireland’s History: Where Tradition Meets Technology

Exploring Ireland’s History: Where Tradition Meets Technology

Ireland is a land steeped in history, with a rich cultural heritage that has been passed down through the generations. From the ancient Celts to the modern-day, Ireland has always been a place where tradition meets technology, where the old ways are respected and the new ways embraced. In this article, we will explore the many ways in which Ireland’s history has been shaped by its unique blend of tradition and technology.

 

Ireland’s Architecture

Ireland's Architecture
One of the most obvious examples of this blending of old and new is Ireland’s architecture. The country is home to a wealth of historic buildings, from ancient castles and abbeys to Georgian townhouses and Victorian mansions. These buildings are not just relics of the past, however; many have been repurposed for modern uses, such as hotels, offices, and even apartments. In some cases, modern technology has been integrated into these historic buildings, such as elevators and air conditioning systems, to make them more comfortable and functional.

Today, many of Ireland’s historic buildings have embraced modern technology, introducing electronic gaming machines, like the popular slot machines, and high-tech sound systems, in order to improve the guest experience. With the ever-increasing developments occurring within technology, it comes as no surprise that slot machine mechanics have evolved over time, from classic one-armed bandits, fruit machines, and mechanical slot machines, to the adoption of the much more common electrical slot machines. This has also led to the development of online slots which are now one of the most popular games at online casinos, offering thousands of various titles within vast libraries.

The same can be said for modern sound systems, which are much more powerful now in venues like The Workman’s or O’Donaghue’s, where visitors might catch everything from traditional Irish musicians to famous names like Belle & Sebastian or Father John Misty. Thankfully, sounding crystal clear and on form rather than fuzzy and full of feedback, as in the days of old.

 

Tech Industry

Another example of Ireland’s embrace of technology is its thriving tech industry. The country has become a hub for tech companies in recent years, with major players such as Google, Facebook, and Apple all establishing offices in Ireland. This has brought not only jobs and economic growth to the country but also an infusion of modern technology and innovation.

This tech boom has led to the development of numerous start-ups and small businesses in the country, many of which are at the forefront of emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and renewable energy. With a strong emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, Ireland’s tech industry is poised to continue driving economic growth and shaping the country’s future.

 

Sports

A Hurley, used in the irish GAA traditional spurt of Hurling

Even in the world of sports, tradition, and technology coexist in Ireland. Gaelic football and hurling, two of Ireland’s national sports, have been played for centuries and have deep roots in Irish culture. But modern technology has also had an impact on these sports, with video analysis and other tools now used to help teams prepare for games and to analyze their performance.

 

Heritage

Technology is not the only thing that has shaped Ireland’s history. Tradition and heritage are equally important, and Ireland has a rich cultural heritage that is deeply ingrained in its society. From the ancient Celtic festivals of Samhain and Imbolc to the more modern St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s traditions and customs are a vital part of its identity.

One example of this is the Irish language, which has been spoken in Ireland for over 2,000 years. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in it, with efforts to revive it and promote it as a living, breathing language that is still relevant today.

Traditional music is another important part of Ireland’s cultural heritage. From the haunting sounds of the uilleann pipes to the lively reels and jigs of Irish dance music, traditional music is an integral part of Irish life. Many of the traditional instruments, such as the bodhrán drum and the tin whistle, have been played for centuries and are still popular today.

In conclusion, Ireland is a country that has always been defined by its unique blend of tradition and technology. From its ancient castles to its modern tech companies, this is a place where the past meets the present and the old ways coexist with the new. This blending of old and new is what makes Ireland such a fascinating and unique place to explore, and it is something that is sure to continue shaping the country’s history for years to come. So the next time you find yourself in Ireland, be sure to experience the best of both worlds. Cheers to where tradition meets technology in perfect harmony!

Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route, Ireland’s West Coast

Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route, Ireland’s West Coast

Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route

The Wild Atlantic Way is a designated section of the West coast of Ireland. Its tagline is that you can ‘Explore 9 counties along this unforgettable coastal touring route to enjoy breathtaking scenery and exceptional experiences.’ I first travelled this part of Ireland around 1984, when we drove from Waterford, through Cork, Kerry, Clare and into Galway before heading home east via Dublin. I remember areas like Scull, Garnish Island, the Tarbert Ferry and the amazing Cliffs of Moher. This post outlines a decent Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route which takes in some of the key areas and sights in the area. This is also a driving route which I have recently done myself in November 2017.

This Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route will bring you from Kenmare to Doolin (or vice versa). The drive, according to Google Maps would take you around 6h 15 minutes but in reality, with Irish roads, it will be more than that. Don’t forget you will want to stop off and see these places. With this in mind, I suggest stopping overnight somewhere of your choosing along the way. You are quite close to Adare and also Limerick if you feel like venturing off-route momentarily for hotels.

The Wild Atlantic Way is a part of the world I remember from my youth, as we travelled these western costal counties of Ireland in 85, 86, 87 and 89. I have memories of Galway, The Tarbert Ferry, Lisdoonvarna, a quirky hotel in Kinsale which was full of nuns on the evening we stayed. You will experience real Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way and I just love driving along these routes. I hope this blog post will be of help to you if you are in this part of Ireland.

Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route from Doolin – Top 10 places to see

I’m going to presume that you are starting in Doolin, Co. Clare and driving south. If you are starting my Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route in Kerry then just reverse these instructions and start in Kenmare. The Top 10 places to see and do will be outlined below as headings, working from Doolin south.

The Cliffs of Moher

I first saw the cliffs of moher when I was 10 and I can recall a big field where everyone parked and a basic café with a castle nearby. Things have really changed. Now the cliffs of moher has a proper car park and a full experiential interpretive centre. If you have the time you should walk a section of the cliff top route. It is breathtaking. There is a charge for parking here. I’m a photographer also, so this is a key spot on the Wild Atlantic Way for iconic photos of Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher, on the Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route

Spanish Point

This is a very scenic area, often overlooked. It is on the way between the two endpoints on this journey and great as a stopping off point to stretch the legs and enjoy the view of the wild Atlantic. We stopped at a local hotel, got tea and used that as a base / car park to wander the local routes for an hour or so. It’s a part of the Wild Atantic Way which I hadn’t been to before and certainly worth the visit.

The Bridges of Ross, Near Spanish Point, on the Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route

Kilkee

This was a new one on me. I only discovered it in 2017. There are cliffs near the golf course with parking nearby and it is worth parking and taking a walk down to the sea shore. You get a great view of the sea and cliffs from here. Following on from here you can, if you wish, go straight on and visit Loop Head and the Bridges of Ross. Again, this was a fantastic spot for photos, especially on a day when the sea was a bit rough.

Kilkee, Co. Clare, Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route

The Tarbert Ferry

This ferry will bring you across the River Shannon at one of the widest points. The Journey takes around 25 minutes and gives you great views of the river and the surrounding countryside. The Tarbert Ferry is a paid for service and costs around €19 per car. There is a 10% discount if you buy the Tarbert Ferry ticket online.
Tarbert Ferry Crossing, on the Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route

Ballybunion

Ballybunion is a beautiful coastal town and seaside resort in County Kerry, Ireland. It’s 15 km off-route from the town of Listowel. If you are a golfer, bring your clubs as there is a very good links course here.

Tralee

I was here many times in the 80s and it is most famous for the Rose of Tralee festival which takes place every August. The town goes into really party mode for this event. Note, if you intend getting a hotel in Tralee during the festival it is best to book ahead as availability can be tight and prices can be out of the ordinary.
Blennerville Windmill, Tralee, Co. Kerry, on the Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route

Dingle

This town is famous for one very special visitor and that is Fungi and dolphin. If you have the time you might take a boat trip and you could get to see him as he leaps from the water. I was there in 1992 and we went on a wetsuit swum where you could meet the dolphin but it was so cold that we ended up going in as far as our knees. Apparently, he was feet in front of me but I couldn’t see him. Anyway, it’s a lovely town and worth seeing.

Inch

The key feature of Inch is Inch Beach. This is an impressive three mile stretch of sandy beach, ideal for bathing, surfing and many other water sports.

Killarney National Park & the Ring of Kerry

The area around Killarney National Park and the Killarney Lakes is some of Ireland’s most iconic and spectacular scenery. There is also the Ring of Kerry which, if you have time, you could also do as it forms a looped drive. Most hotels in the area have maps of the various areas you can visit on the Ring of Kerry.
A Sheep from Ireland

Kenmare

This is a lovely little town with many areas around to walk and explore. If you are staying here for any length of time I recommend eating at the restaurant No. 35. This amazing restaurant sources local ingredient and creates dishes which are homely in taste but with an unusual twist. I eat here every time I visit Kenmare. The best food I have tried in that region of Ireland.

Just a note regarding driving these roads, if you go off-road, i.e. down to a remote viewing point etc, you might find that the roads are not the best maintained. Some of the roads have bad potholes and soft margins so make sure you have decent tyres on the car and you know that your vehicle can make it on the terrain required. It’s worth ensuring your insurance covers for emergency callouts and things like windscreen protection. If you are looking for good insurance and a comparison of policies the Chill Insurance website has a good tool which might help you. 

I hope you have enjoyed my Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route along Ireland’s West Coast. It is a route I have done many times in different directions. I love stopping at the smaller towns as well as visiting abandoned areas of the coast. Next up, I might try write a post for driving routes on Ireland’s Ancient East.

Map

I hope you enjoy your journey on this Wild Atlantic Way Driving Route. You can Follow the various accounts Wild Atlantic Way Tweets and Social Media posts with the hashtag #WILDATLANTICWAY

Cat The Play Returns to Waterford – Book CAT THE PLAY Now…

Cat The Play Returns to Waterford – Book CAT THE PLAY Now…

This is an old post but I’ve left it on the website as CAT the Play is a wonderful show & if you ever get to see it then you should!

CAT the Play returns to the Theatre Royal, Waterford 11th/12th July 2019 

This is a show not to be missed. I saw this show on it’s the last visit to Waterford and it is a hilarious show with a bit of an edge where you least expect it. Cat The Play is actually written by a friend of mine and well known Waterford actor Jamie Beamish along with Richard Hardwick. It strings you along with song and well-written script and then it …. well, I will leave you to find out for yourself!

DAVE WAS IN THE ORIGINAL CAST OF CATS. ON OPENING NIGHT HE WAS SACKED. 
HE WAS NOT A HAPPY PUSSY…

 

A roller coaster, tongue-in-cheek homage to the world of musical theatre, CAT (THE PLAY!) is the fictitious account of how Dave the Cat was sacked from the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical CATS just minutes before ‘curtain up’ on opening night.

As dreams of West End acclaim and adulation turn to tatter, this riotous parody of show business offers audiences a comedic, fictional insight into Dave’s turbulent theatrical career, beginning with his first role as Jesus’ donkey in the original cast of Jesus Christ Superstar and ending with a grand finale of backstage drama, romance and anarchy that led to his hopes of stardom becoming nothing more than a distant ‘Memory’.

After a sold-out run at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this comedy about the greatest musical star that never got to shine. Starring Gerard McCarthy, CAT the Play isn’t so much a love letter to musical theatre more a death threat. It is humorous while still having a darker undertone. There’s a lot to keep you entertained and I feel you will be listening to every word which CAT utters.

Reviews of 'Cat the Play'

“A WOW OF A ONE MAN SHOW”, Liam Murphy

“AN AMAZING PIECE OF THEATRE!”, Pat McEvoy

“A quirky, sometimes awkwardly funny and always appealing package of melody and movement, CAT offers something for just about everyone – even a darkly unexpected conclusion (Five Stars)”, Belfast Telegraph

Visit the Official ‘Cat the Play’ Website for details
Cat The Play - London's Westend April 2017 - Book NOW

Map Location – Cat the Play, 11th / 12th July 2019, Theatre Royal, Waterford

Cat the Play at Theatre Royal Waterford

Support Solas Cancer Care Waterford – Film for Life 2018

Support Solas Cancer Care Waterford – Film for Life 2018

Film for Life 2018

Film for Life is in it’s second year. This year, I decided to give it a go; not in the area of photography (being the camera) rather as an actor. Over the past 6 weeks rehearsing and filming, I have been involved in acting out a scene from a famous movie.

This years movie is The Hangover and I play Phil, the Bradley Cooper character. 

Over a 6-week training programme we were tutored by a professional actor. And at the end of May we shot a few scenes from The Hangover. The Film for Life premiere will take place at a red carpet themed event in the Tower Hotel, Waterford on Saturday 16th June. The inaugural 2017 Film for Life event was great fun and seemed to be enjoyed by all who took part.

Tickets for Film for Life 2018 has now passed and is over – but check out the Solas Cancer Care website for details of the next events This exciting Film for Life event helped to fund the activities and services that will be provided by the Solas Cancer Support Centre in 2018.

I have really enjoyed bring involved and I hope you can support my sponsorship to raise funds for Solas Cancer Care – click here for details.

Solas Cancer Care - Film for Life 2018

About Solas Cancer Care, Waterford

The Solas Cancer Support Centre offers free cancer support to those affected by cancer, their families and carers in the South East. These services are available in their centre at Williamstown in Waterford City and in their West Waterford service based in the Alternative Health Clinic in Dungarvan.

Support my "Film for Life" Fundraising event

If you wish to donate to my “Film for Life” fundraising event please click the button below. Any amount will make a difference and I appreciate all donations to this worth cause.

Everyone who supports the event will be mentioned later on shanemcdonald.ie !

Total € Donations So Far including Offline Contributions

Thank You …

I would like to thank the following people and businesses who have donated so far.

Maria McEvoy

Vera McEvoy

John & Caroline Duggan / Hawkeye Falconry

Greg Porter

Fergus McDonald

Mary Murphy

Sarah McGrath

Kay Murphy

Maria McDonald

Karen McDonald

Elaine O’Sullivan

Carol McGrath

Brian Kavanagh

Valerie Leahy

I will add the names of individuals and businesses here as donations are received

Waterford City to become a huge game – Beat the Street

Waterford City to become a huge game – Beat the Street

This is an old post from 2017 and thus, the information may be out of date but is held here for reference purposes for this news story.

Over the next 7 weeks, thousands of people in Waterford city, Kilmacthomas and Dungarvan are expected to take to the streets. Schools, community groups and businesses are going to compete against each other as part of a giant walking and cycling challenge called Beat the Street. 

Running from 13th September to 1st November 2017, Beat the Street is a free, fun challenge which will turn all three areas into a community-based game.

Beat The Street Waterford

Those who take part are rewarded with points and prizes for exploring their local area on foot or bicycle. Almost 80 special Beat the Street sensors will be installed. These ‘Beat Boxes’ will be spread across the city and county and those wishing to participate in Beat the Street can pick up their own Beat the Street card and map at local distribution points and start swiping as many Beat Boxes as possible to receive points, win prizes, and get more active!

Schools across Waterford city, Kilmacthomas and Dungarvan will be competing against each other to see who can travel the furthest and win hundreds of euros worth of prizes. Adult players can also create their own Beat the Street teams or register to join an existing team to be in with a chance to win big prizes which will be announced shortly.

What is Beat The Street?

Beat the Street is run by Intelligent Health UK with support from Waterford Sports Partnership and is funded by Sport Ireland, Healthy Ireland, Dormant Accounts Fund and Waterford City & County Council. The aim of the Beat the Street initiative is to encourage thousands of people to explore Waterford city and county with their friends and family and discover something new about the local area. Waterford is a great county and this is a wonderful way to explore it while having lots of fun.

More than 300,000 people took part in BTS 2016 in towns and cities across the United Kingdom. Waterford city, Kilmacthomas and Dungarvan are the first of several areas – along with Dublin and Limerick – to be launching this incentive in Ireland. The pilot is the first of its kind in Waterford and it is a unique opportunity for those in the community to take part in this free programme by getting active in a fun and rewarding way.

Rosarie Kealy, Sports Coordinator at Waterford Sports Partnership said: “We are incredibly excited to be bringing Beat the Street to Waterford city, Kilmacthomas and Dungarvan and are really looking forward to seeing how everyone rises to the challenge of walking, cycling, running or scooting during the seven-week game.

“Anyone can get involved in Beat the Street – it’s completely free to play and is a great opportunity to go outdoors, spend time with your friends and family and get moving. Watch out for Beat Boxes appearing on a street near you!”

More Information about Beat the Street

Further Information regarding the Beat the Street initiative is available on their website at beatthestreet.me/waterford. On that site you can find out about where you can pick up a BTS card, how to register for BTS and the map with the beat box locations for your area. You can follow @BTSWaterford on Twitter or ‘Beat the Street Waterford’ on Facebook for more information on prizes and how to get involved in this great local project.