Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Uncle, The Maigue Poets, John Shinnors and the Hilton Hotel

When I was in Limerick a few weeks back, my father and I were walking over Sarsfield bridge to meet my mother for lunch in the new Hilton Hotel on O'Callaghan's Strand, when I wondered a loud what had happened to the painting. The Hilton was built on the site of the old Jury's Hotel and about twenty years ago my uncle Eamon (Eddie to his friends), was responsible for creating a Limerick-themed bar in the hotel - there was also a similar themed bar for the Cork and Dublin Jury's. Eamon had a career that veered from being an adviser to Ireland's Minister for Finance in the 60's, George Colley, to being broke and ill in the late 80's. The Jury's bar project was a kind of comeback, the fruit of a very active mind. The bar was themed around limericks - the rhyme. It is believed that this rhyming structure originated with the Maigue Poets in County Limerick in the 18th century. In fact, it's not far off the mark to say that the Maigue Poets were the original rappers as they would have public limerick roasting competitions pitting one poet against the other to see who come come up with the best rhyme.
As part of the project, my uncle commissioned the famous Limerick painter, John Shinnors, to paint a large scale painting of the poets competing. When he did this he used the faces of well known extant local Limerick characters for subjects in the painting.The main character, a poet with a piece of paper in his hand, from which he was reciting - was my uncle. He captured him perfectly, my uncle was fond of hold forth in his local hostiliery, and due to a hip replacement, would often lean back against the bar as depicted in the painting.

Anyhow, as we walked over the bridge, my dad said he didn't know what had happened to the painting, but mentioned that my aunt had seen it tossed carelessly aside when they began the demolition of the old hotel. I couldn't believe that such a great (and very large), painting could go missing, and just as we walked into the new hotel I turned around, and there it was, hanging in the foyer.

It was great to see it, and my dad was thrilled it was still there. My uncle lost a long battle with cancer a few years after the bar was complete. A larger than life painting is a nice way to remember a larger than life character.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Fishing in the Shannon

Used to occasionally fish here myself a long time ago. Never caught much, although if you know what you are doing apparently there are plenty of Trout and Salmon.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Auld Town

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Limerick Bicycle

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Limerick Christmas Tale


The men's toilet in the Highway Bar, possibly the world's worst suburban bar. I am there because it's too wet and windy to go into town, and the only other neighborhood bar has an incredibly loud band.They have a drum machine that appears to be the lead instrument. They think Nine Inch Nails covers are conducive to a relaxing Friday night. My brother and I don't.

There is a restaurant adjoining the bar, and inside, a Christmas party is underway. I am in the bathroom, washing my hands. The following scene unfolds across the men's room from the sink, and is reflected in the large mirror on front of me.

There is an older man relieving himself, when a younger (but not young), overweight grey bearded man walks in. He has a rouge crepe paper Santa Claus hat on his head. He appears mildly drunk.

Bearded gentleman in a thick Limerick accent:

Howya Ger?... I betcha didn't recognise me with my hat on.

Guffaws loudly.

Other older man, still pissing, without missing a beat, or looking up, in an even heavier Limerick accent dead pans:

Santy, you fuckin' cunt, where's that bike I asked you for forty years ago?


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Limericks Eco-Christmas Tree

Rainy Limerick_20071201_0017

I wasn't long back before I had heard about Limerick's eco-Christmas tree. It sits slap bang in the middle of O'Connell St, Limericks main street. Thomond Park, Limericks hallowed rugby ground is undergoing some major construction to increase the amount of seating and amenities available, and the tree was constructed from scrap metal left over after demolishing the old seating. As you can see the LED lighting is powered by wind, (not in short supply this time of the year, you could barely stand straight last Saturday night).

I applaud the effort, and it is nice to see my home town leading by example. People seem rightfully proud of the idea. That said it's not the prettiest "tree". It's kinda unceremoniously plonked on the street, and I think some variation in the colour of the lighting would make it look better. But, like all good ideas it always takes a few iterations before the ideal is attained.

Rainy Limerick_20071201_0079

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Limerick Moon

Moon Dooradoyle_20070927_0019_1

I took this when I was back in Limerick a few weeks back. It was a gorgeous harvest moon hanging low over the city. Unfortunately I didn't have time to grab my gear and head outside to someplace where I would have been in a position to take a shot that included the moon and the city.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Thomond Park

This was taken at the Munster v Leinster game over Christmas. I thought it appropriate seeing as yesterdays game against Leicester was last game to be played in the old fortress before it is refurbished. I had planned on lionising Munsters phenomenal Heineken Cup history at Thomond. Unfortunately their sterling record did not survive the game. The unparalleled stretch of twenty six Heineken Cup wins at Thomond park is over. Although no trophies were on the line, and Munster were already through to the final eight, this was not the story the Limerick sports writers had planned on. Leicester will hang this scalp high on their totem pole.

Hopefully the old mojo hasn't been damaged, and when the new Thomond arises, it will be as daunting to all comers as the old lady has always been. Meanwhile the current holders of the Heineken Cup must take this as a warning that the path to this years final will be as difficult as ever, and they will surely remember the years of heartbreak that preceded last years victory.

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Monday, October 02, 2006


Dad Shane Mack_20060901_0018

This is my parents Alsatian, Mack. McDermott, Mack, geddit... Isn't he gorgeous? He is a big dog, even by Alsatian standards, however he is the least fearsome Alsatian ever; there isn't an ounce of aggression in him. Nevertheless, he is as strong as an ox, and requires a firm hand. When I was back in Limerick last April, I took him for a walk and he could easily drag all 190lbs of me. Dad takes him to a special training class for Alsatians, and he has become a lot more obedient since.
Shane LOVES him. It always takes him a few days to get used to being around an animal that dwarfs him, and usually he doesn't want to get too near him, but this time he got comfortable enough to pet him. He spent half his time back in Limerick looking out the kitchen window chatting to the dog!

When I was growing up we had another Alsatian, Raven. Apparently, when my Dad arrived home with an Alasatian puppy, my mother told him he was raving mad - hence the name. There are several pictures of me in my pram with Raven lying on the grass underneath.

I would love to own one, they are incredibly loyal and smart, perfect family dogs if trained properly, but with by 12 mintues of free time every day, I don't think I could manage it at the moment...

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Swans and Ugly Ducklings

Swans in the Creek and others_20060903_0004

I don't know what the real name of this river is, but locally it's known as "The Creek," and it divides Limerick City from County Limerick. Its days as a border may be numbered. There is an ongoing debate about extending the city boundaries, which haven't budged since the forties. Many of the people who consider themselves from Limerick City actually live in the county. Me included. The boundaries were set long before Limerick had any real suburbs, and as a result, the City Council is coveting the affluent suburbs but the County Council is loath to surrender them. Anyhow, seriously jet lagged (stopping by on my way to London for work), I went a-wandering to clear my head, and as I passed over the creek, a pair of swans swam by, followed by three cygnets. I didn't notice the shopping trolleys until I leaned over to get a better shot.

Ireland can still be a dirty little country, and I noticed in one of the national dailies, that tourists rated litter as their biggest turnoff. That said, to my eyes street litter is much diminished, but if you take a walk along the banks of the Shannon , you'll find plenty of dumped litter, particularly beer cans. The latter are the remnants of what was known as "bush drinking" when I was a teenager. This was a simple pursuit, entailing the purchase of alcohol to be drank at night in an outdoor location unlikely to be frequented by adults.

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