Weekly Photo Challenge – Frame


The ruins of ‘Crokers’ estate house, framed through a whitethorn bush, directly across the road from the farmhouse where MB and siblings grew up in Grange, just north of HX, Limerick, SW Ireland.


The ruins of Crokers Estate House at Grange, Limerick, SW Ireland



The Euros, and all that!

As every lady knows, the Euro football championships are on at present in France and are a footballing joy to behold. Iceland football team, and Republic of Ireland fans, are everybody’s favourites. Iceland’s defeat of the ‘auld enemy’, as we in Ireland sometimes often refer to ‘England’, will be many people’s favourite sporting moment ever, in the whole world, in the whole of sporting history, back as far a the days of the Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble.

It’s a little a lot ironic, that in the middle of the tournament, Britain voted to exit the European community. Northern Ireland, Wales & England (all Brits) are each playing in the competition; but MB isn’t going to get into a deep (or even a shallow) discussion about Brexit, David Cameron, et al. Instead he wants to mention an aspect of it all that friends of MB back home would not have considered.

The beautiful game is, of course, a world sport and the games are watched avidly in MB’s Middle East abode. And as the ME is a melting pot of numerous races and peoples from every continent on the globe (except Antartica), MB found himself having to explain to many, when asked, the difference between the Republic of Ireland (MB’s patch and one of the participating teams) and Northern Ireland (another of the participating teams). “So you’re all British MB?” asked many Pakistanis/Nepalese/Mongolians/Khazaks/Arabs and God only knows who else.

“Grrrrrrr” replied MB to the first one or two such questions. Then MB though – it’s actually a question that Irish people have also asked themselves for approximate 800 years, since date of arrival of first British visitors to Irish shores, who had previously read all sorts of good and juicy things of the Emerald Isle on some early version of tripadviser.com. And arrived en masse to ‘help’ the locals.

Anway, MB tried as best he could to explain the difference between North (British) and South (Republic – not British – definitely not) Ireland to all who asked, and hopefully the people of Outer Mongolia and elsewhere will shortly receive geographical enlightenment from their cousins working under the hot desert sun in the Emirate of Qatar. The world bwill be a better place for it, and MB will receive less such Grrrr questions in the future.

MB also explained to many that Ireland has it’s own language. “You mean English MB?”. “Grrrrrrrrr” replied MB yet again. But in the spirit of imparting knowledge and wisdom, as MB is often given to do, and to put the geographically and culturally challenged imbeciles friends of MB in the right direction, MB pointed many to YouTube links to an Irish college, who have numerous really cool videos of the kids performing uber-cool versions of well-known popular music pieces – in the Irish Gaelic language, or ‘as Gaeilge’ as we say back home. MB regularly watches and listens to the videos of Coláiste Lurgan (Lurgan College), not because of any curtural/Irish reason, but because they are so damn good.

So HX followers, herewith, MB  gives you the kids of Coláiste Lurgan, singing their hearts out in the Irish language – as Gaeilge. Not in English. Grrrrrrr…………….!

Warning – it’s addictive listening. You may find yourself listening to more than one or two!

Really cool. Enjoy.


Weekly Photo Challenge – Spare


Lots of HX locals are heading to the Lough Gur lakefront at present trying to capture photos of the (allegedly) 5 new cygnets born to the pair of resident swans last week.  MB was in the locality yesterday with canon-in-hand, not exactly at the lakefront area – but nearby, when he spotted a swan swimming slowly by with – not 5 – but 8 cygnets in tow. MB is not sure if this swan is a totally different one from those at the lakefront area (swans are territorial and tend to stay in their own locality), or it is one of the lakefront swans who has managed to pick up a few spares in recent days!


Swan & Cygnets @ Lough Gur. 27 May 2016

Weekly Photo Challenge – Admiration


MB admires very much the unpaid volunteers from his home community who man the Lough Gur lake Heritage Centre. As well as giving of their daily time to look after the shop and interactive displays for visiting tourists, they also act as guides for those who wish to gain some knowledge of local monuments. Some of those same monuments date back over 6,000 years.

Check out www.loughgur.com for further info on MB’s home locality.

The Lough Gur Heritage Centre


A local Guide with a group of visiting tourists at the Grange Stone Circle


The Emerald Isle

MB travels home tomorrow for a mini-break. Maybe he will see some sights similar to those below, captured on previous trips.  Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Landscape


This weeks photo challenge from Cheri is Landscape.

As part of the Summer Solstice Festival back home in HX every June, the festival organisers host a ‘Long walk for the Long Day’ on 21 June, the solstice day. It’s generally around the lake area, with the permission of local farmers. The scenery is stunning; although ten-a-penny in Ireland. When you live in the Middle East desert for a number of years, you more fully appreciate just how stunning it actually is.

MB took this shot on a rainy 21 June evening last year, 2015. Awesome shot MB. Thanks lads.

Version 2


Centenary (1916 to 2016)

Following MB’s recent series of posts in relation to the Irish Rising of 1916, and the War of Independence that followed………………

The Irish national TV station (RTE) aired a centenary celebration show in recent days relating to the rising event and all that followed in Ireland to this day. MB is sure he has never seen a better TV show in his entire life. And thanks to friend and HX follower SC for posting a link on fb which caught MB’s attention. Read More

Trip Home – Cattlescape

On seeing the cattle in front of the cottage, MB stopped his car in the middle of a quiet country road not far from his own house, hit the handbrake and left the engine running as abandoned his vehicle for a few moments – camera in hand. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Dance


One of the great things about Ireland is the cultural and social life that people enjoy. There are so many sports and other community groups with a huge number of volunteer member & participants that there is always something going on, no matter where you happen to be or the time of year.

During MBs trip home last week, he attended a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ fundraising night for the local Ballyneety Golf Club, who are attempting to purchase the club on behalf of the members from the current owners. A number of MBs friends were involved in organising the event. If you don’t know the TV show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ look it up on Youtube.

The night in question did not involve professional dancers, but ordinary members of the local & golf club community, who were willing to practice for some 3 or 4 months before the event with a professional dance choreographer, so they would look half decent on the night. People bought tickets to attend and paid to vote for their favourites, and business groups placed adverts in the Event Programme that was on sale on the night. In all, some 1,000 people attended the event in a Limerick Hotel (the South Court) and the night was a great piece of entertainment and fun. According to MBs sources, some Euro 50,000 was raised.

MB captured ‘loadz’ of pics on the night but he has chosen a sequence of three, to meet Ben’s requirement that the post should “capture the rhythm in the movement”.









Trip Home – The Farm by Lough Gur

If you walk along the Lough Gur lake front, past the visitor centre, you come to a closed metal gate. Scale the gate or the adjacent style, advance straight ahead, rather than left for the hill of Knockfennel, and the Farm by Lough Gur appears on your right as your elevation above the lake level increases. The farm was the home of the Catholic O’Brien family who lived there  and farmed the land in the mid 19th century. The story of everyday life of the family was transcribed by Sissy O’Brien (with some assistance from family) who passed her recollections to one Mary Lady Carberry. The book was first published in 1937 in London. It was a best-seller in Dublin and also sold well in England.

The local community reprinted the book in recent times with the passing of the copyright time limit.

From the loughgur.com website:
The book ‘The Farm by Lough Gur’ written by Mary Carberry has been re-launched following much local interest. This true story is based on the life of Sissy O’Brien who lived on the farm at Lough Gur in the mid 19th century, as told to Mary Carberry. A fascinating account of ordinary domestic life in Ireland. Available at Ryans and Reardons at Holy Cross, Nagles Spar shop in Bruff and also available at the Honeyfitz theatre 087 285 2022. Price €15 per copy. Limited edition.


The Farm By Lough Gur

Trip Home – Conway’s House

My favourite house in the HX locality is Conway’s house. So called on account of the family who lives there. Really MB?! Ya. Really.

MB has no idea of the history of the house but it must be some 100 to 150 years old. Maybe if one of the Conway connections reads this post they might be so good as to enlighten us in that regard.

Anyway, regards to the Conways!


Conway’s House – in early morning sunshine


HX. 08 November 1920.

The Grange Ambush
MB grew up in the village of Grange in an old farmhouse next to the Camogue River. A stone bridge spans the river some 100 yards south of the farmhouse, and a similar distance on the other side, sits Bulfin’s farmhouse (now in different ownership). In 1920, MB’s family home was in the ownership of the O’Neill family, and Bulfin’s house was a pub in the ownership of the Clancy family.

On 08 November 1920 an ambush of British Crown forces took place approximately between Clancy’s & O’Neill’s. A number of witness statements are available from ambush participants. MB’s favourite version is that of one Edmund Tobin, who was lucky to escape with his life. There is some conflict, it must be stated, between the version of Tobin and that of another volunteer, one Morgan Portley. MB considers Tobin’s version to be very accurate in every respect of which MB has knowledge, such as the layout of the ditches around the farmhouse as they were in MB’s younger days and as they similarly were many years previously at the time of the ambush. They are now much changed, following the demolition of an old hay barn and the construction of a new one by MB’s dad many years ago, and the demolition of various ditches around the new larger barn. So for the reason of Tobin’s accuracy in the telling, in as much as MB can deduce, MB goes with Tobin’s version.

Another participant, one James Moloney from the nearby village of Bruff, claims to have come up with the idea of the ambush, along with a number of others. Moloney featured in MB’s posts of recent weeks and MB starts this week’s post with an extract from Moloney’s statement.

MB can remember meeting Moloney as a young kid hitching lifts home to Grange after football matches in Bruff. Moloney liked to tell tales from his fighting days to anyone who would stop and listen. MB and pals liked to stop and listen. MB remembers one particular line from the descriptive Moloney – “we hid in bushes to attack the Brits, bushes the birds had to get out of, such was the amount of lead flying in both directions”. Read More

HX. 1919 – 1921.

The Irish Government took witness statements from almost 1,800 participants in the Irish War of Independence, during the years 1947 to 1957, some 25 to 30 years after the events had unfolded. The statements are available online at the Irish Bureau of Military history, and were only made available to the public in 2003, following the death of the last witness. Even then, and to date, certain sections are blanked out lest they cause distress or danger to living persons or might lead to an action for damages or defamation. History lives long in the memory, etc. But regardless, they make totally fascinating and addictive reading.

Last week, MB quoted from the statement of one James Moloney, an IRA member from Bruff village, a very short distance from HX. This week he does so again.


It’s difficult to be a military rebel if you don’t have a gun. The hunt for guns and ammunition occupied the minds of Moloney & others, as they started to organise their active resistance against British rule. They had no outside sources of supply or donation, and funds to purchase weaponry were non-existent.


It’s only a few weeks away from the 100th anniversary of the (Irish) Easter Rising of 1916, which kick-started this particular period of Irish history. Up to that anniversary date, MB will have a few more tales to tell.

Read More

HX. Easter 1916.

Irish HX followers will be well aware, but for the many non-Irish who read MB’s blatherings from time to time, the Irish Rising of Easter weekend, 1916, was a seminal moment in Irish history. It resulted a few years later in the War of Independence which resulted in the formation of the Irish Free State in December 1921. The 100th anniversary of the rising is almost upon us and numerous events are planned in MB’s homeland in celebration and memory.

The following is an excerpt from the statement of local man James Moloney from Ballycampion, Bruff, who was involved in republican activities during that time, and later during the War of Independence, in MB’s HX locality and surrounding areas.

The family name ‘Baring’ is mentioned in the below piece. The same family came to prominence much more recently in 1995, when the family bank in Britain, of same name, collapsed, following the wild investments of infamous employee Nick Leeson. Ironically, Nick went to live in Ireland after serving some prison time, and married an Irish girl. He was, for a few years, Treasurer of Irish soccer club Galway Utd FC.

MB is intending to post some similar excerpts from the statements of Moloney and others, leading up to the Easter commorations. Read More

Weekly Photo Challenge – Circle


Lough Gur, in South West Ireland, was once a lake that fully circled the hill of Knockadoon, home to one of the four provincial entrances to Tír Na Nóg, the land of everlasting youth (subject of previous HX blog posts).

During the great Irish famine (1844 to 1849), as it was known, British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel introduced public work schemes to create employment & income that might alleviate the consequences of the potato crop failure, on which millions of people depended. It employed some 150,000 people at peak. One such scheme was the excavation of a trench to lower the level of the Lough Gur lake.

Consequently, the lake became hoseshoe-shaped around the hill, no longer a complete circle. Another consequence of the reduced lake level was that many thousands of archeological artifacts were discovered on the newly exposed shoreline. They were found primarily at a distance where one might have thrown them from the former (higher) shoreline, leading archeologists to conclude that that lake received offerings from the local peoples during some of its 5,500 year history of local human habitation. Locals loaded the artifacts onto horse and carts and they were sold to traders in nearby Limerick city. Many of the items ended up in museums in Britain and in Ireland.

Photo taken during MBs Christmas trip home of two weeks back: