Ireland revisited


Saturday 1498 -12th November 2011

Another Saturday, Another flight, Another Country.  You’ll be thinking I’m a bit of a jet setter but I can assure you I’m not, this will be the last flight for a while I’m sure.  It’s just coincidence that I happened to be in Venice last weekend.

This time it’s County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland via Belfast Airport. I’m with beloved son who is staying with his paternal grandmother for 4 days while I visit lots of lovely friends that I came to know over the 25 years that I lived there.

I have long since learned ( probably because I have worked with a lot of people who are at the end of their lives) that it isn’t things/possessions that matter but the quality of the relationships you have with people. I am lucky enough to be able to keep contact with my Irish friends even though I haven’t visited for several years ( Isn’t the internet a wonderful invention ! ) and to just pick up where I left off with them all as though I had never been away.

While I was in Ireland I thought I would take the opportunity to revisit the house my ex husband and I built. I had lived in this house ( or at least on this spot) for 25 years.   Below are 2 photographs of the side aspect of the house. The 1st was taken in May 2005, not long before I left Ireland, and the second was taken today; 12.11.11. The people who kindly bought my house (just before property prices plummeted in Ireland) have quite rightly made changes to suit their lifestyle but these are hard to accept for a foolish middle aged woman with memories.  The grass on which I played short tennis and football with my 2 children for many years when they were growing up is gone, as are the apple tree and my beloved Scot’s pine trees, likewise many other trees we planted in a field at the side of the house.

You can only go forward in life and visiting was probably a mistake. I should have known better because I know there are 2 certainties in life, change and death and as I say above it shouldn’t be possessions ( and that includes houses) that matter.  I wish the present owners ( who knew I had taken this photo)  love and happiness in the house.



On a much happier note, at last I got the opportunity to visit The Blue Wall Gallery( ) with my friend Carmel on the day when the opening reception was being held for a new exhibition of video art works. The gallery is owned by 2 dear friends

Jane McCormick

and her husband Joe Keenan.

Jane is an artist and sculptor and it is her studio that was converted into the gallery. Joe and Jane are passionate about art and it showed in the care they took with the setting up of this exhibition as well as the welcome they give everyone who attends. Cavan is very lucky to have them and the setting for the gallery couldn’t be more perfect as it overlooks the beautiful Lough Oughter.

This exhibition was very interesting because I tended to move past video work when exhibited beside other forms of Art. I have found it hard to stay with it and I think this was largely because I found the pieces I have stopped to watch have been too long. This was not the case with the work on show at this gallery and as it was all video work there were no other distractions ( apart from the people of course.) Below are 2 of my favourite pieces ( though it is very hard to capture moving images with a still camera!) 

This piece called Jane Fonda was made by Laura O’Connor. It consisted of 6 monitors ( I couldn’t get the 6th in) in a separate room. It lulls you into a false sense of security. When I went in and sat down to watch I didn’t get it at first as I saw 6 smiling faces but then noticed that one face started to look stressed, though still smiling, then the smile dropped and you could see the real person behind the smiling mask.

As I continued to watch, each face in turn ( in fact the same persons face ) would drop the smile and look sad, or anxious, or even frightened. It was quite disturbing and made me think about the scandal there was a few years ago about Eastern European women being illegally smuggled into other parts of Europe for prostitution. A very thought provoking piece which reminds us of the real women behind the glamourised image.

This piece called Test Card by Louise Shine was altogether different and great fun; taking the iconic test card image and making it MUCH more interesting.  Unlike in the original test card the girl is animated and shows various emotions, including boredom, she surreptitiously eats and is generally very mischievous. Entertaining indeed !

The exhibition quite changed my mind on video art and I shall pay more attention to it when I come across it in the future


I stayed with the lovely Marleen tonight who I met many years ago when we were both involved in a local branch of Earthwatch (who at the time were sort of the Irish equivalent of Friends of the Earth). She fed me too well and that, combined with some excellent white wine, rather finished me off. I had to lie down on her sofa and sleep for an hour or so after dinner a testament to how relaxed I felt to be in her company again ( and how exhausted I was after  all the travel I’ve been doing lately! )

This may look like an ordinary bit of woodland but to me it isn’t because this is part of a mini forest that Marleen and her husband Herman planted in a field beside their house. More than a thousand trees each planted by hand !! I wish more people who are in a position to plant up a piece of land would do so, for all our futures.

Saturday Girl signing off  now– Slán go fóill– look out for what I’m up to on Saturday 1497 next week.

15 comments on “Ireland revisited

  1. […] have travelled with me to Venice, Sorrento, Ireland, Cumbria and Scotland. ( Gosh that many places ! […]

  2. Myrtle (Jackanory) says:

    Where are the Hens Helen? Foxy Loxy got a few of them since you were over, including Elvis

  3. beautiful looking country. I’m part Irish. A friend of mine who went back said he saw a lot of guys who looked like me. That’s not much to look forward to.

  4. Tilly Bud says:

    I remember that creepy test card girl. Did you see her in ‘Life on Mars’? Terrifying! I like the subversion.

  5. Katy Cherry says:

    Oh that photo of the house makes me feel awful… And all the trees we planted in the field are gone?

    • hellenjc says:

      Oh I didn’t mean to make you feel awful Katy…. Not all of the trees in the field are gone ( I couldn’t go up and look properly) I could still see some of the silver birches and a couple of the ash ..

  6. scillagrace says:

    Thank you for planting trees! That gladdens my heart. I met a woman named Marlene on my block wearing an Earthwatch T-shirt. I’ve dreamed of doing one of their programs sometime in my life. She had done one in Nova Scotia. Small world…with room for more trees.

  7. Joe Keenan says:

    Thanks for the lovely words about the gallery, the owners and the art it was a great read. The images look great too. Cheers Joe

  8. puttyfoot says:

    Helen as always a fantastic read, some real emotional food for thought, thank you for sharing your world, love photography too, keep these coming they are wonderful treasures

    Lisa x

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