November snow at Glencree

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Grease traps, Fuzzy wigs & the Archbishop

Pat, Jim & house mate Ranjan save the day!
Sounds like the making of a wild reality show and by all rights it is, because I'm living this roller coaster of a life.

Perseverance is a character trait to be admired, unless it  gets you elbow deep into a backed up grease trap in the plumbing system.  Let me back up a bit - yes… pun intended!  Our kitchen sink has not been draining properly.  Apparently this has been going on for quite some time and no one has made any real effort to rectify the situation.  Standing, greasy water in the sink; ALL day! Oh no, this was not going to work for me.  So I did what any self respecting woman would do.  I bought the Irish equivalent to Drano, "Mr. Muscle" and with do diligence; waited for it to work it's magic. To no avail.  I asked for help. I was told, "Buy some Mr. Muscle, it works great".  Finally I started asking the local gents (that have coffee here at the cafe everyday) what I might do and they said, "lets have a look!"  Three hours, two whiskeys and several buckets of God knows what latter... my sink ran-ith over.  I am so grateful to these kind gentlemen who took the time and were willing to hang in there with me; through the thick until we got to the thin.

-------------------------------------  Earlier this week  ----------------------------------

Dromantine Centre
I had the opportunity to go to Northern Ireland (yep, I crossed the boarder) for a conference; "An Integrated Approach to Peace Building".  it was held at the Dromantine Retreat and Conference Centre.  An estate that dates back to the middle ages.  The Society of African Missions has had the property since the early 20th c.

This was a small conference, giving the participants plenty of opportunity for conversation and sharing.  I was seated at dinner and lunch with the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin and Rev Dr. Norman Hamilton OBE (weren't they lucky) and we had some interesting talks on:
1. The future leadership roles in the Catholic Church by women
2. The healing process that is needed for the entire faith community after such hurt and betrayals have been committed
3. What does real leadership look like in a time of recession?  
I have to say these topic were not always brought up by me.  These were surprisingly open, candid speaking men and I truly appreciated their willingness to put up with "the American".  I found them absolutely lovely.

--------------------------------------   Monday Madness   ---------------------------------

"Leslie, you've got the film crew Monday." "Ok", I say.  "They will be here at half six (that's 6:30am) and will be working until half eight (8:30pm)".  "I'll have details for you soon - maybe Sunday... sorry"

So... this is how it goes sometimes.  Be ready for whatever may come.  Monday it came in the way of Savage Eye a TV show that was filming three segments in one day.  Three different locations (bog, cave & forest) which are within 2 miles of Glencree, three different time period and a ridiculous amount of costumes (think kilts), makeup, wigs and gear.  Fun day but I was running like crazy; part PA, part Tea and sandwiches, all questions all the time... No worries - I got it; was my usual response. I do work with actor in my other life, do I not? Below is a write up about them.  

From the Irish Film & Television Network
Dave McSavage Gives Ireland 'The Savage Eye' 

Shooting is underway on the set of the second series of the IFTA nominated comedy series, ‘The Savage Eye’. Shooting in and around Dublin and Wicklow for the next five weeks and directed by Kieron J. Walsh (Raw), the series will see the return of Dave McSavage (Dental Breakdown) alongside his co-writer John Colleary (Touching People) and his fellow impressionists Pat McDonnell (Father Ted) and Dermot McMurrow (Emily’s Song).
Each week ‘The Savage Eye’ explores one subject in its entirety using vox pops from members of the public to inspire the comedy sketches and unflinching rants from numerous fictional characters.

Produced by Katie Holly (One Hundred Mornings), the show’s director of photography is Patrick Jordan (Croke Park Lives). Audiences can catch the new season of the show when it starts transmission on RTÉ Two on November 15th.

Can't sign off without a mention about my dear friend Andrew Rekdahl.  He has been in the struggle of his life and is "defying gravity" (he will love the musical reference).  Andrew you are a beast and I'm so happy to report you are doing so well.  I know the road to recovery is still long but you are doing it with the strength of ten men! I'm so proud of you and so grateful you are getting better day by day.

 I told you it has been a roller coaster this week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yes ma'am… I can drive on the left side of the road!

Life in the fast lane :0

Ok so I'm parked in this picture
I have to say it's not as scary as I was imagining a bait  the 2 way mountain roads built for Goats!  As I sit on the right with gear shift on my left; I watch/pass the on-coming traffic with the ease of a veteran Irish driver.  Well maybe one that has had a Guinness of two. The roads twist, they turn, they have large buses that pass you going 60k and hour. Driving here in the Wicklow Valley is not for the faint of heart.  Gorgeous and deadly.  That being said… I love having the freedom to get in the car and see the larger Irish world outside of Glencree.  This is a very special place!

                           ------------------ * ------------------

Today at Glencree I greeted 38 US University students coming to learn more about "the trouble times" in Northern Ireland. They came from schools on the east coast and were wonderful to talk with.  Their program is 3 months long and they are studying at the business school in Dublin.  Economics & conflict… you can't get much more current than that.
                           ------------------ * ------------------

This past weekend I moved into my new abode and out of the attic!  The view is not as spectacular but the room is twice the size and I don't have to pay respects to the "Lady in the white dress" ghost as I head for the bathroom.  You heard it here folks… Glencree is alive and well, living with the dead!  Or so the stories go :)   The Lady in the white dress was a young woman who was in love with an officer here when this was a Military barracks.  Her father was the Commander and sent the object of his daughters affection off to war and his death.  The young woman is said to have died of a broken heart and wanders the hall here as a sad memorial to her lost love.  

Some people have said they hear young boys crying in the night.  It is reported that when this was a Boy's Reformatory (read youth prison)  the boys were mistreated and some refuse to leave the place; even after death.  Thankfully I have not heard or seen any of the previously mentioned phenomena.  

There is a Grotto to the Virgin Mary  here at Glencree as well.  This I have seen and it is a lovely peaceful place along side a river.  The story goes that there were two separate visits from Mary there and people have made pilgrimages to the Grotto ever since (decades).  It is said that Mary was very clear on what she wanted to happen here on this mountain.  "Create a place for peace and healing", she said, to the people she appeared to.  Glencree is that place.                          

                            ------------------ * ------------------

Ross & I circa 1988
I have to mention one more thing before I finish off this post.  Arriving in Ireland in August meant I would miss my son's birthday and with the time difference it made it impossible to speak to him.  Ross' birth changed my world and every year it is not only a celebration for him but a reminder of what a blessing my children are to me.  I have had no more important job in my life than loving and caring for my two wonderful children.  I am truly blessed and want to give extra thanks every year on the birth of my life's work.  Happy birthday Ross… I couldn't be more proud of the man you have become. I love you.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Time flies when you're learning 24/7

A quick list of things I'm learning and places I've visited in the last 5 days:

Glendalough rests in a beautiful glacial valley located in Co. Wicklow, not too far for me. It was an early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin, a hermit priest, and destroyed in 1398 by British troops.
Lake at Glendalough (one of two there)

The best Fish & Chips is located next to the DART station (train) in Bray. 
 It's posted that it is "open until the wee hours"  
Edgar & Nury 
Two of my other house mates taking an afternoon swim in Loch Bray a small walk from Glencree.  Edgar is from Brazil and Nury is from Mexico City… the water was really cold & only our Latin contingent would attempt going in!

Driving "Irish style"; narrow streets, stick shift on your left and on-coming traffic on your right.  Not for the faint of heart!  Glad to report - no accidents yet.

I just finished working with a woman's group from Northern Ireland.  This was an incredible experience as the woman had been from the Catholic as well as Protestant communities.  Some have lost husband, fathers or sons in the conflict and some had male family members who had been para military.  I was witnessing the pain & possibility these women brought with them as they look for tools to build a healthier life.  

They came together to learn leadership skills to bring back to their communities to continue building peace.  What an absolute privilege to work with these women who have been through so much and yet look forward to a brighter future.  This is what a place like Glencree is all about. Below is a picture Glencree from the road to Loch Bray. 

Life here brings a daily blessing and a purpose, even in the small contributions.  Now off to do a tea station!