Michael Cusack Centre- a must for GAA fans

I visited the Michael Cusack centre by complete accident. I was actually on my way to the Burren Centre in Kilfenora when I saw the sign and figured it was closer than Kilfenora.  My uncle had been going on about how great the centre was a few weeks ago so I figured I’d go down and see it.

The centre is tucked away down a little road between Ballyvaughan and Kilfenora.  Thankfully it’s well signposted.  The only distinguishing feature from the road are the flags flying outside.  For a place that’s in the middle of nowhere, it has a beautiful centre. The building is looks very new and blends into the surroundings.  A short walk down the path is a thatched cottage, home of Michael Cusack.

Entry for a student was about 4 euro so a trip here won’t break the bank.  The man at reception was chatty and friendly and explained the whole thing to me.  I was happy to walk around the education room and read the displays which are in English and Irish, bonus points for that.  I usually get really bored walking from one display to another but these were super interesting.  They take you through his early life, education, early career, motivation behind founding the GAA, trouble when he did found it and his later life.  I was slightly traumatized when I realised how terribly his life ended.

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Displays of the life and times of Michael Cusack.

Just a few minutes after I had started reading, another worker, Seamus, came in and we started to chat about the impact that Michael Cusack had on modern Ireland.  The fact that GAA clubs are not exclusively located in Ireland are a testimony to the legacy that he left behind.  Seamus  was so enthusiastic about the topic and knew loads of little facts and points on the life of Michael Cusack.

The walk from the indoor display to the cottage is short but pretty.  A row of trees line the path down and it was explained that they were planted for the anniversary a few years ago.

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The Tipperary Tree .

And then the most beautiful little cottage appeared.  This cottage houses a three part audio visual on the early life, education and finally the meeting in Hayes Hotel in Thurles.  The house is decorated with appropriate pieces of furniture and the videos run in sequence while you move from one room to another.

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The cottage that Michael Cusack grew up in.

 

I didn’t expect to enjoy this attraction because I’m not all that interested in GAA but when I got there, I found myself becoming enthralled in the life of the man who founded the GAA.  Everything is so well presented that it’s hard for me to fault anything about my experience there.  Big shout out to the staff that were there on the day.  They seemed to have all the time in the world to speak with me and we had a great conversation about anything and everything.  Would I go back? Absolutely. And I think that every GAA team should consider going to this to see and appreciate the man from Carron.  You cam find out more by logging on to their website http://michaelcusack.ie/

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My visit to Caherconnell Stone Fort

I’ve worked near Caherconnell for a while but shamefully I’ve never actually visited. I had heard that there were sheepdog demonstrations at Caherconnell so I decided that today was the day that I would go and see what they were all about.  Obviously, they don’t just do them on demand so you have to check the website for the times. You can access that here

I arrived in plenty of time so first was the visit out to the fort.  A joint student ticket costs about 8.20 so good value for what you get.  Prices are all on their website.  The man at the reception desk was really informative, explaining the self guided tour and going through the booklet you receive.  First, there is a 20 minute video that explains about the Burren, the forts in the area and the significance of Caherconnell as well as an animation of how life might have been like in the fort.

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Through the stones of the wall around the fort. 

From there you continue to the fort and each stop is marked with an explanation in the booklet.  Because it’s a self guided tour, it is as entertaining and interesting as you make it yourself. I thought it was fascinating and it seems like there are archaeological digs continuing there so I look forward to hearing about any findings.

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Some of the flowers around the fort.

I headed back inside for a bite to eat before the sheepdog demonstrations.  The menu was so good, I felt really pressurized to make the right choice, so many delicious dishes, so little time. In the end, I went for a toasted wrap.  It was a little on the untoasted side but the cafe is so cute and the staff are all pottering around doing little jobs that I didn’t really care that it was a little cold.

Eventually, the sheepdog demonstration happened. I really only visited for the sheepdogs and they did not disappoint! First, the farmer, John, introduced the dogs and the job they do and it was so lovely to see how well he knew their personalities.  He was so knowledgeable about the subject that it was a pleasure to hear him speak.

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The farmer with a pup that they are training.  

Then the dogs went out and he showed us how they work by voice and by whistle.  Those dogs have mad skills, super handy with the sheep and mad for action.

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The dogs in action. 

He worked the dogs several times before getting them to work together and separate the herd. Finally, we learned a bit about the type of sheep used in the Burren and the reasons for the different colours on them and so on. The demonstration took about 40 minutes or so.

I cannot recommend this place enough. I must have spent well over 2 hours here between exploring the fort, eating and checking out the sheepdog demo.  The staff are my kind of staff, well presented, working away at different jobs, polite and informative.  The attraction is so simple but effective.  If you want to find out more, including where they are located, you can check out their website here.

My trip to Burren Perfumery

It has been about 7 years since I went to Burren Perfumery so I headed out that direction on Friday.  I must say that I don’t remember it being as remote as it is. I was driving along the road and never have I been so grateful to see another car behind me.  It is literally tucked away in the middle of nowhere outside the village of Carron.  The perfumery is very well signposted so just stay going and you’ll find it.

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The first thing that struck me when I arrived was how peaceful it is.  It is so calm and quiet and no one seems to be in any rush. They immediately got 5 stars for the cleanliness of the area.  There is not one piece of litter anywhere and the bathrooms are beautiful.  I headed into the main building and there is a great video on the plants in the Burren and the materials they use in their products.  The staff were all really friendly and the shop is so well presented that you do want to buy something. Every product comes with a tester and an explanation that is quite thorough and the staff seem to want to help you out.

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When I was finished there, I headed out to the herb garden and again it was so well presented.

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People were walking around, discussing the plants and taking their time. There is also a workshop of some sort and a tea room.  The tea rooms seemed to be quite popular with everyone choosing to enjoy their refreshments outside in the sunshine.

I cannot recommend the perfumery enough.  It makes a great trip for an hour or two if you’re in the area. It does all the small things right and I’ll definitely be back there when I run out of moisturizer. You can find out more about them by checking out their website here.

 

 

 

 

Messages in presses and other features of Irish houses

Being home has made me laugh. It’s the small things that we say that make me realise how brilliantly unique Irish houses are. Here are some of the features and phrases that you’ll only find in Ireland;

  1. The Immersion; Irish people are completely OBSESSED with the immersion. The way they go on about it, you’d swear it was pivotal to the house standing. So what is the immersion? It’s what makes the water hot for showers. You switch it on before the shower and off again afterwards. If you don’t turn it off, watch out! You will be plagued, harassed and when you’re 80, you’ll be reminded about that time you didn’t turn off the immersion. Des Bishop does a great sketch on the immersion in one of his shows, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52bna-tn_dY

My mum and dad have solar panels on their house because they heat the shower without needed to turn on the immersion in the summer. It’s like the perfect solution to everything! (if only we had more sunshine)

The famous immersion!

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2. The press: A few weeks ago in Korea, my friend asked me where I kept the bread and I replied “oh it’s in that press over there” She looked at me like I was speaking another language and I realized that no one else uses the word press! What is a press?

These are presses…………

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Where you store your food and stuff are presses.

3. Messages: I’m not sure if this is unique to my house or every house in Ireland. Messages are what you buy when you go to town to do the shopping. This is a weekly event so it includes food and maybe clothes and so on. When you come home from town you bring the messages in out of the car and then proceed to “put the messages in the press”

4. Hotpress: Now that you know what a press is, you should learn what a hotpress is. The hotpress is the small room where you keep your boiler. That room is naturally hot and so we keep our sheets, clothes or anything else that needs to be “aired” in there.

The hotpress in our house.

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That’s all I can think of for now. Leave comments if you can remember anything else!

Coming home!

I am very excited to be coming home to Ireland! I haven’t spent proper time there in the six years I’ve been in Korea so I’m exciting by the prospect of discovering all it has to offer.
I’ve wanted to do a Masters for the last few years but the time just never seemed right. I was busy making progress with my life in Korea and just kept putting it off.  Earlier this year, I went on a trip to Myanmar. There, we visited a pottery factory where they wheel spinner was a young girl of no more than 14 or 15. She was expected to give up her education after elementary school to spin the wheel. The money she earned would go to support her family. I came away from that trip realising how fortunate I am to come from a country where educational opportunities are just waiting to be taken. I returned to Korea and applied for my Masters. Thankfully, I got accepted SO for the next 12 months, I shall be a student of U.L! Exciting times.
If I’ve realised anything over the last few years, it’s that I’ve taken Ireland for granted in the past. There are so many great places to see and visit and I haven’t bothered to explore what’s right in front of me. So, hopefully I can get out and see with new eyes when I return.
Stay tuned for blogs on all my adventures while I’m back home in Ireland.