Friday, June 29, 2007

Coolest thing of the day: Wooden Memory Sticks.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dublin 2010

I just found this video for future development in/on Dublin bay in a few years. It's all conceptual but really similar to Dubai's coastal Palm Cities.

Seems like a perfectly logical solution to overcrowding in our age, especially when this is expected to happen.

House Sitters

Paul and Maria are off to Italy for a week vacation. Jess and I were asked to house-sit in the meantime and take care of their cat and dog, Pushinka and Chess. They have satellite tv and hot water!! Happiness is.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Last weekend Jess and I went to Paul and Maria's place in Kerry. This was part of our staff trip, which at the moment happens to be just me. We took the train out of Dublin and met up with them, drove for a little over an hour to the Ivereagh Peninsula in the southwest of Ireland. We basically just crashed the night we got there and got up bright and early the next day for a trip out to the Skellig Islands. This is one of two World Heritage sites in Ireland (the other being Newgrange Burial Mounds).

Bright and early, Maria dropped Jess and I off at the harbour and we took a 45 minute ferry out to the Skelligs. The Skelligs are two islands (Skellig Michael and Little Skellig), that dramatically sit off the southwest coast of Kerry. One of the islands is the site of a 1400 year old Celtic monastery, and the other a nesting place for 55,000 gannets. The monastery was founded in 588 and throughout the years was repeatedly attacked by Vikings until later abandoned by the monks for the mainland monastery at Ballinskelligs.

The ferry carried us out for 45 minutes. J and I bolted out of the boat and started our three-hour exploration of the island. It was full of puffins! We climbed the north peak to reach the monastery. On the south peak however, there is a newly discovered cliff which is truly at the edge of the world, where a hermit is presumed to have lived apart from the monastery. (at back in photo)

When we rearched the monastery, we found about five corbeled beehive huts and a tiny chapel which was added later. The view of Little Skelligs was incredible from the peak. J and I eventually made our descent on the precarious guardrail-less stairs and headed back to meet up with Paul and Maria.

They took us for a spin around the countryside. Destination #1: chocolate factory. Sea salt dark chocolate completely rocked my world. We could have sat there for hours taste-testing the chocolates but peeled ourselves away and drove around a bit more. We stopped at an art gallery for a bit and then a village which was abandoned during the famine. There were about 5 stone thatched/tiled houses on a hillside which have since been converted to artists' studios.

The following day we did a bit more driving around and just generally soaking in the beautiful Kerry landscape. Maria kept saying it's like living in a painting. We did a couple other outings on sunday including seeing the 'Tetrapod' footprints which they believe to be the oldest four-legged creature on record. It was strange because what's left of our poor little ancestor was being dumped on by farm runoff - gunk from a pipe. It was interesting, but I'm still skeptical. Felt like a Loch Ness pitch.

We caught our train back to Dublin by a hair and I think that's just about all that's fit for a one-month update.

Friday, June 15, 2007

New Digs

I have a new address! Just shortly after Mum and Dad left for home, I moved out of Palais Terenure to about half as far from town. I think the novelty of living in a cupboard-sized room eventually got to me. Anyways, that place is history and Jessie and I are sharing a large bedsit! Now that she's finished with her project in Finland, she's staying in Dublin working with James at John Fleming Architects. Hope to get a video/photos up soon to show you the whole place. If you want the address, just ask me and I'll send you a quick email.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Okay, this is really exciting - now I know how to put up youtube vids on my blog. I love the interweb!!! Here's some of my favourite Guinness ads to start things off proper. I'll start putting up vids of my own soon!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Update v.2.0 +++ Béal Feirste

Following suit with last weekend's travel arrangements, I left Mum and Dad on their own as they steadily made their way around the country while I sat in the office, anxious for another bit of quality travel time with them.

We first set out to the Giant's Causeway. I'll be very brief as I'm wrting this in reverse, because the following bits of stories are more interesting and need more effort to write. The Giant's Causeway can be summed up in the photo album - simply stunning.

Two weekends with the parents hasn't driven us to civil war with each other, but got quite the history on that topic as we made our third and last weekend tour around historic Belfast, in Northern Ireland. Obviously Belfast has been scorched for the past 10-1000 years, but lately the city has come closer to peace agreements than it ever has in the past. I don't think we entirely knew what exactly we wanted to see before arriving there - the idea of seeing the city alone was enticing enough. The only substantial idea was seeing the shipyards where the Titanic was built and possibly some museums or memorials related to that, but otherwise, weren't quite sure what particulars we really wanted to see.

The first thing we attempted was a tour bus of the city, the sundaymorning. This was possibly the best possible thing we could have done, and as our tour guide explained, 'It was the only thing we could have done'. Since peace is such a foreign thing to Belfast, the city is only experiencing tourism and foreigners now. So, as the city's front line in tourism, they have set up an excellent tourbus that sees the main sights within the city.

The bus took us to the shipyards where the Titanic was built. At this time, Belfast was one of the largest shipyards in the world, employing over 35,000 workers under shipbuilding giant 'Harland & Wolff'. It has since to shrunk to one-tenth of the size.

The city has a distinct edgy feeling to it, possibly visible on the faces of people living there or in the disintegrating buildings in the city centre, or historical baggage, but regardless you can pick it up easily. This feeling swelled as we drove through the caloused neighbourhoods of Protestant - Loyalist Shankhill Road to Catholic - Nationalist Townsend Road, both within walking distance of each other in West Belfast, but literally separated by the 'Peace Line', a 4-storey wall crudely separating the two neighbourhoods. This is the site of the worst fighting in Belfast during the Troubles of 1969-1998. You can still see sniper towers atop resident homes in some areas and barbed wire everywhere. The Courthouse is surrounded by 9' thick blast walls. Supposedly the conflict neighbourhoods are still populated by their respective fanatics, and small amounts of secular violence still occur here, but by connecting the dots, it's nothing compared to the past few decades. Towards the Protestant area, we found numerous wall murals sympathetic to the Loyalist feelings; in the other neighbourhood, murals sympathetic to global politics - mainly anti-Bush comments. It was all very heavy to take in, and I'm finding that my mental filter is clogging up fast. Irish history is so lengthy and complex - I'm only getting the gist of things now. Mum was quite moved by the political paintings along Townsend Road - it sort of crested many of the world's problems in one sweeping gesture which is strong enough to rattle people into awareness.

Belfast is the most socially/politically interesting city in Ireland to visit. Mum and Dad made a very good trip around the northwest quarter of Ireland which included Strokestown (which has the Famine Museum, also very moving). I guess Belfast just seemed to reveal a more exposed wound in Irish history than Dublin which seems preoccupied with the 'Celtic Tiger' and the Polish Invasion. Maybe they're well beyond all that which brings me back to the first buzz of optimism I felt upon arriving - things are good now, so enjoy life.

The tail end of a great visit with the parents was fairly low-key. We went out for dinner with Paul and Maria on the night before they headed out. I have to admit, I was dreading the clash of the Titans, but it all went very well, thank all the gods haha. Sadly, off Mum and Dad went, leaving Malaysian curry powder and Tropical Menthos in their footprints. I'm anxious to see their full footage of the trip when getting home. You'd be interested to hear about Kylemore Abbey from them.

Here's a lengthy slide-video of some of the murals as well as my own slideshow of Belfast and Giant's Causeway.


Okay, sorry folks. I've fallen well behind in my weekly/bi-weekly updates. It's been non-stop since all the way back in April. After visiting Jess in Finland, meeting Will and Erin in Dublin right after that, seeing the folks the following week, and the 2 after that (which haven't been written about yet), there's even more that's happened that's kept me from tapping away at my blog. But judging by the low site hit-count, this fact has probably gone unnoticed haha. So here's a quick run through last month...

I left Mum and Dad on their own after the first weekend of May and crossed my fingers they'd make it to destination #1 (by driving on the right ((meaning left)) side of the road) which was Waterford, south of Dublin. They did in fact make their way all along the south coast of Ireland down to the southwest towards Cork and Kerry where they did the scenic tour of the Ring of Kerry around the dangly Dingle Peninsula. Eventually I met up with them in Galway which is north of that and less than more west of Dublin. We all met up with Uncle Mark and Aunt Shashi as well who took a generous bit of time off to hang out with us. It was great seeing them again, after only seeing them five months ago. Mum and Dad had a really nice B&B booked along the coast which we checked in to, coincidentally just near where Nico, Morgan, Renee, J and I had wandered off to, back in December.

Our first trip together was out to the Aran Islands. We took the ferry from just outside Galway. Once seated onboard, we gave Mum and Dad their needed seesick radii - but without incident we arrived at the remote island. When we arrived, I was quite shocked by how stark the villages and countryside looked. By 'villages', i mean what they classify as being roughly 5-10 houses in an area. At the same time, the hills are dotted with the odd house, blockaded with row upon row of stone walls.

The Aran Islands seem to contain a lot of the hard-to-find traditional Ireland. Like many cultures famed for their identity, there often comes a kitchy, immitative version of their own culture to score a quick buck off the sucker of a tourist. While Aran is fairly touristic, it's one of the few concentrated areas in Ireland where they speak Irish (Gaelic) as their first language. That's a fair suggestion that the culture is still contained within their tradition. We were lucky to have a jolly tour guide who was hilarious (possibly insane) and nice to listen to because the Irish language is unlike anything I've heard before. He brought us to a number of points of interest, like the Iron Age Dun Aonghus (dun angus) ringfort and a number of other ruinous sites. We spent most of our time at the Dun Aonghus Fort. The fort has to have about 3-4m thick walls at the base. It's presumed to have been built by King Aonghus, to protect a small settlement. Peering over the edge made my knees clench up. I foolishly thought sitting over the edge would be a great idea. After speaking to James about it in Dublin, I found out that about 19 people/year get sucked off the edge from random gusts of wind. Luckily I didn't kick the bucket and round the number off at 20. Got the blood moving, at least.

We spent the entire day at Aran Islands, which was well worth it. The following day, we made another day trip, this time to the Cliffs of Moher, north of Galway. There's an interesting Visitor's Centre there that's built into the side of a hill. Inside isn't very special, but we ate a hearty meal here. The Cliffs were fairly busy during the day, but incredible scenery nonetheless. Not much to say about it, other than check out my photo album (or newly discovered built-in slideshow -gasp!!!-).

We sped off to the airport the same evening and said a reluctant goodbye to Uncle Mark and Aunt Shashi. Would have hoped to spend more time together, but we've made plans for a late July visit, before I head home. Eughhh, that sounds weird...(I miss home) k, that's all for now. I'm going to try and lash out an Update v.2.0!!!!