It’s The Weekend

Ballybunion Beach

Ballybunion village and its adjoining beach are called after the Bunyan family who lived in the castle (in pic) in the early part of the 14th century.

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MB’s Online Degree

MB has mentioned in recent posts that he would get ’round to the reason he found himself in Lancaster in the north east of England a few weeks back, mere spitting distance from the Scottish border. If one is blessed with a powerful spit.

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Scenes from the homeland – 2

There’s a relatively little-visited hill next to the lake in MB’s HX homeland called Carraig Aile. Read More

The Session

MB has just returned to the hot desert climate of Qatar from his heavenly Irish homeland replete with it’s temperate (highly eclectic) weather, and great social living conditions for its inhabitants, in many respects. The traditional Irish music session is one such contribution, which one can find in  various pubs in any given village or town if one cares to visit and explore.

Take for example, a session from a pub in MB’s local city:

And in relation to a very recent post from the city of Lancaster in England, MB will soon compose a post on the reason for his Lancaster visit.

But in the meantime, enjoy the music session from Dolan’s Pub in Limerick, South West Ireland.

Cheers, from a slightly nostalgic MB.


Scenes from the homeland

MB arrived in his HX homeland a few days back. The following shots are taken mostly around his HX village locality. A few are taken in the Lough Derg area of south-east Galway, where youngest-sister-of-MB lives.









































Lancaster Castle

MB’s post of last weekend was written from a bar stool in the historic Robert Gillow pub in the medieval town of Lancaster, UK. MB’s Lancaster story now continues with a tale of his visit to Lancaster Castle of only a few days back. For many reasons, it was a visit that will live very long in the memory.

The castle reeks of history from every pore. It is a stunning Grade 1 listed building set on a high point of the city next to the Lune River and dates back almost 1,000 years. It was a functioning prison up to 2011 and remains the venue for the Lancaster courts. It’s open to the public seven days per week, and if you happen to get local guide James, as MB fortunately did, then you are in for a real castle tour treat. The building’s earliest history is somewhat vague and if followers wish to investigate that aspect some more, they can check out the castle’s website.

In 1322, the Scottish army under King Robert the Bruce invaded from across nearby Morcombe Bay and caused damage to the castle structure. In 1612, the castle was the site of the famous Pendle Witches trial, named after the Pendle Hill area of Lancashire from where the twelve accused hailed. Following the trial, nine of the ten found guilty were hung from a gallows on the moors above the town, the tenth being hung at York. Convicts found guilty in the castle courts-of-old were often sentenced to transportation to Australia, and that being the case, prisoners had to walk in chains from Lancaster town to the ports of the English channel, a long wearying journey south that must surely have taken many weeks or even months.

But for MB, the most stunning revelation encountered on the castle tour was the fact that the castle was the venue of the trial of the Birmingham Six in 1975. The castle was chosen on that occasion because the case was considered very high-risk from a security point of view, and in the opinion of the authorities provided the most secure location for the case, the court area being inside a secure live prison/castle.

For followers who may not know the story, the Birmingham Six were six Irishmen sentenced to life in prison in 1975 for the Birmingham Pub Bombings of November 1974 in which 21 people died.  The convictions were quashed and the men released in March 1991, sixteen sorry years later. In a nutshell, and very simplistically, the original convictions were largely based on forensic evidence, but it was later discovered that the chemicals discovered on the hands of the convicted could have also come from playing cards. Hence the men were released, but with lives then largely past.

It was not allowed to take photos in the court area of the castle which was a real pity as the court interior is truly stunning. But if MB was to be sentenced to life in prison at any future date, then he would certainly want the sentence to be passed in Lancaster Castle court!

An entire wall of the courtroom is full of Coats of Arms from the Kings of 12th century England and right up to current times. Tour guide James pointed out the insignia of King James ll and King William of Orange who fought a defining battle in Irish history at the Boyne River in County Meath, and many more interesting references.

On a floor level below that of the court lies the jury room where those who considered the Birmingham Six case had sat. The jury sits at a circular timber table, some 8 feet in diameter. MB sat on one of the red-cushioned chairs at that table on Tuesday just past, placed his hands on the table surface and wondered what the conversation had been like on 15 August 1975 when the guilty verdicts were reached and the judgment of 21 life sentences was passed on the accused. Incidentally,  and to add more poignancy to the situation, 15 August is also the birthday of MB.

So dear followers, if ever you visit the English Lake District or happen to be in the vicinity of Lancaster, do not miss the chance to visit Lancaster Castle. And tell guide James that MB said hello and extends well-wishes!









History & Tasty Ale

MB watched the movie Lincoln on a flight from Doha to Edinburgh in Scotland earlier today.

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Romania – 7/7 – Dracula

And why, pray tell, did you travel last week to Romania, MB?

Because nothing would do daughter MB2 better than a trip to Transylvania and the dark forested, wild bear-infested Carpathian Mountains, to climb the steps, amidst the dank damp scent of stale human blood, to enter the bowels and entrails of Dracula’s Castle.

And did you enter the castle MB?

Yes. We did.

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Romania – 6/7 – Sundry

For MB’s next-to-last Romania post, he is giving followers some sundry shots taken in various locations inside Bucharest and out, with a little commentary on some. Read More

Romania – 5/7 – Peles Castle

Peles (pronounced ‘Pel-esh’) Castle sits on the outskirts of a small town called Sinaia at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, about a 3-hour drive from Bucharest. It’s well worth the trip. Read More

Romania – 4/7 – The Palace of Parliament

Quiz Question Nr 1 – What is the largest administrative building in the world?
Answer – The Pentagon (easy!).

Quiz Question Nr 2 – What is the second largest administrative building in the world? Answer – See below. Read More

Romania – 3/7 – Bohemian Bucharest Markets and Mahallas Walking Food Tour

MB & daughter MB2 enjoyed a number of tours around the city of Bucharest (and outside) during their recent five-day excursion to Romania. All were enjoyable, particularly the street food walking tour which combined history, geography, architecture, local culture, Romanian craft beers and great food, whilst exchanging stories and chat with fellow-tourees.

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Romania – 2/7 – Revolution

The Romania witnessed by MB last week is one where much of its religious past history of Greek Orthodoxy is very evident. Some 50 churches were destroyed by the Communist authorities in the capital city since 1947, but the devotion of the people to their churches and their religion prevented even more widespread destruction. Today some 250+ churches exist in Bucharest alone. Most are architecturally beautiful old buildings.

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Romania – 1/7 – Protests

Greetings to all from MB who has just returned from a short break to Romania. It was Eid Al Adha public holiday last week in the Muslim World/Middle East so MB took the chance to go on a father/daughter adventure with daughter MB2. For the next 7 days MB has decided that he will give followers a glimpse of his adventures – one pic per day.

Thanks MB. Don’t mention lads.

First pic was taken at night in the city centre square where there were huge protests about one week before MB’s visit. Locals were protesting about the corruption that exists in the country, the fact that many must go abroad to find decent paying jobs and low wages. Many Romanians living abroad returned home to take part. The Government accuses the tens of thousands of protestors of attempting a coup. And in any event, the Government instructed the police to take a heavy hand which involved battens, pepper spray and tear gas.

One elderly protester called Ilie Gazea allegedly died from medical complications following tear gas inhalation. The Government state that his death had nothing to do with any tear gas or protest-related medical issues. The protestors, to a man and woman, blame the Government/Police for the man’s death. The only thing that both sides agree on is that the unfortunate man was a protestor and he is now dead at age 65.

MB asked the guide on his first-night tour around Bucharest to stop so MB could get a chance to take a few night shots in the square and talk to the very small number of protestors that maintain a nightly vigil to keep the protest movement alive. It was an interesting conversation.

The following shot is of a small candle-lit shrine to the memory of Mr Ilie with his picture in the centre holding his eyes during the protests.




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