Lunch Time

I bought a Nutribullet two years ago, because I learned the hard way, getting sick, that I was not getting enough nutrients from fruits and vegetables in my daily diet.

Although I do eat well, its hard to pack a nutritional punch into every meal. Either I feel too full, or I simply don’t have the time to sit and eat a plateful of spinach, or cooked kale or whatever else is needed to ward off illness and boost the immune system.

The Lunch bags ready for the freezer!

The Lunch bags ready for the freezer!

But who says we have to eat our vegetables and fruit? Why can’t we drink them instead? Every two weeks I stock up on spinach, kale, bananas, blueberries and chocolate protein shakes. It takes me about half an hour to wash and then bag and freeze all the fruits and veg, but that’s my two weeks of lunch ready to go!

Muscle Milk. 100 calories and sugar free as well as gluten free!

Muscle Milk. 100 calories and sugar free as well as gluten free!

I freeze everything in little single serving sized freezer bags. Empty one bag into the Nutribullet at lunch time, then add a frozen pouch of Acai berries, a bottle of chocolate protein shake, sounds disgusting but I love the taste. Add a small cup of water and give it a Nutribullet blast. Delicious!!


Moving to Ireland?

(Picture Via

(Picture Via

If you are thinking about moving to Ireland, or anywhere else for that matter, you might want to do some comparisons before you pack your bags.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,  or OECD for short, you should only pack your bags and head for Ireland if you already have a job and will earn over $23,917 a year, as disposable income!

Does Ireland out perform the USA in healthcare, education, environment, employment, community, housing? Does life balance out against work in general?

Yes, for the most part the two countries are even, with only miniscule differences in areas such as education, America scored 0.1 higher than Ireland. Housing, America scored 0.8 higher. Environment, Ireland scored 0.1 higher. Civic engagement, Ireland scored 0.6 higher. Safety, Ireland scored 0.4 higher. And health, America scored 0.4 higher than Ireland.

The big discrepancies occur with income, life-work balance and community. Ireland leads the way with community, at 2.6 higher than the US there is a stronger sense of connection among Irish people living in Ireland. The US leads by 6.9 with Income. The US leads by 1.9 with jobs. And again the US leads by 0.5 when it comes to life satisfaction. But Ireland takes the 2.6 lead when it measures life-work balance.

There is quite a big income gap according to the OECD. “There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn almost five times as much as the bottom 20%.” That’s a significant gap!

So the long and short of it is: If you don’t mind rain, have 100% job security, and earn enough to leave you almost $24,000 to play with, then Ireland might be the place for you. I mention rain because among most Irish immigrants it is the one major deterring factor about relocating to Ireland. It sounds silly that something like the weather should be such an important factor, but Irish weather comes up a lot in conversations about Ireland.

The country is historic, scenic and the people are friendly, and well-educated. Life in Ireland could very well suit you, so long as the rain doesn’t dampen your spirits.

The Madigans: Famine Survival, Emigration & Obligation in 19th Century Ireland & America

Irish in the American Civil War

Each pension file contains fragments of one Irish family’s story.They are rarely complete, but nonetheless they often offer us rare insight into aspects of the 19th century Irish emigrant experience.Few match the breadth of the story told in the Madigan pension file. That family’s words and letters take us from the Great Famine in Rattoo, Co. Kerry to New York and Ohio and ultimately to the first battlefield of the American Civil War. From there we journey from neighbourhoods as diverse as the Five Points and Tralee, where those unable to take the emigrant boat still counted on those who had made new lives across the Atlantic.

I frequently make reference to the fact that many of the Irish impacted by the American Civil War were Famine-era emigrants. Despite this, among the hundreds of Irish pension files I have examined, the Famine has only been directly referenced twice…

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Shadow of alien seen on old Moon picture

Moon Men in Crater 1An old photo taken from Apollo 18, approximately three and a half minutes before the sun set behind planet earth, reveals what seems to be the first indication of the existence of alien life on the moon.

Flight commander Cornelius O’Toole captured the amazing image of what seems to be a man and his shadow standing next to a moon crater.The photo, taken on February 30th 1971, has astounded the gullible and naive and those who would believe anything.

O’Toole, using a Kodak Instamatic camera bought for him by his girlfriend for his  birthday three years ago, was initially disappointed that she had bought him a camera, but decided to keep his opinion to himself.

“I hinted for ages that I wanted a set of golf clubs, but she didn’t bite. I suppose the camera was a cheaper option,” O’Toole said and added, “I wouldn’t say that to my girlfriend though. She was touchy enough when I asked her what happened to the golf clubs idea. Least said soonest mended, ya’know wha I mean like?” he said. “I’ll tell ya something, she’ll be waiting a long time for the ring though,” O’Toole added.

When asked about the alien figure in the photo he snapped through the third porthole window from the Apollo’s on-board latrine in 1971, O’Toole said, “Oh yeah, yer man. He’s a bit grainy alright. I wasn’t happy with the resolution at all, at all, at all.”

When this interviewer asked the opinion of the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus the overwhelming response was one of disbelief.

“O’Toole should not have used the flash,” the Tooth Fairy said. “It floods the photo with light.”

In response, the Easter Bunny debated whether or not the flash contributed to the elongated shadow of the moon alien.

“I don’t believe that the Kodak Instamatic Camera has a slow shutter release function, which would have reduced the necessity for the flash. So, it was a poor choice of camera for this type of shot,” the Easter Bunny said and added, “And anyway, it was a very bad angle. The man is a fool!”

Santa Claus, in utter shock, had to be given the Heimlich maneuver to prevent choking on a chocolate chip cookie. After finishing his milk and chocolate chip cookies, he looked at his wall calendar and asked, “Is it April Fool’s Day or what?”

Moon Men in Crater

Strange Thing I Am

Patrick Pearse

Patrick Pearse 10 November 1879 – 3 May 1916 (Image Source:

I have often wondered how it came to be that Irish Victorians, that is to say all people born in Ireland between the years of 1837 to 1901, considered themselves Irish. Many Irish people today will baulk at reading the words “Irish Victorian” in a sentence. But Ireland was still part of the British Empire, and all who were born in Ireland in those years were considered British subjects.

I understand that Catholics in Ireland would never consider themselves British due to religious persecution and political differences. But there were also Protestants in Ireland who wanted an Independent Ireland and considered themselves Irishmen. Men such as William Smith O’Brien, Thomas Francis Meagher, to name but two, will always intrigue me because of their politics and opposing backgrounds.

What makes a wealthy Protestant landlord fight on behalf of his Catholic tenants and their lack of rights? They risked everything, their homes, families and lives, for Irish Nationalism. Is it a strange thing to want something so fanatically that you are willing to die for it? Especially when maintaining the status quo benefits you, though not necessarily the class beneath you? I think so. I think it is a strange thing. In fact it is an amazing thing.

Some may call it fanatical, and it very well might be, but it is intriguing to come across political figures who risked losing everything to challenge the powers that be and effect change for the common good of all, despite the fact that it meant the loss of wealth, or indeed their own lives in the process.

Author, educator, political activist and 1916 Easter Rising rebel, Patrick Pearse, saw himself as strange. According to author Joost Augusteijn, in his book Patrick Pearse:The Making of a Revolutionary, Pearse saw the union of his mother and father, though both “freedom loving” people, as opposite traditions which fused together and made him, “the strange thing I am.”

Birthplace of Patrick and William Pearse (Image Source:

Birthplace of Patrick and William Pearse (Image Source:

Pearse described his father James as an “English, puritan and mechanic.”James Pearse was a London stonemason who relocated to Dublin in or around 1861 according to the census of that year. James worked for John Hardman and Company, a Birmingham owned business as a sculptor. Hardman and Co. opened an office in Dublin around 1861.

James Pearse eventually established his own business, Pearse and Son’s, at 27 Great Brunswick Street, now known as Pearse Street.Though Patrick Pearse tried to find Irish connections on his father’s side, he discovered that as far back as 400 years the family were English. The family business in Dublin became a “leading supplier of architectural ornament and church fittings,” according to Christine Casey, author of Dublin: The City Within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road with the Phoenix Park.

Patrick Pearse described his mother, Margaret Brady, as “Gaelic, Catholic and peasant.” Margaret, upon the execution of both of her sons after the 1916 Rising pursued a career in politics and was elected to Dáil Éireann as a  Sinn Féin  TD, Teachta Dála, in 1921.

It would be easy to say that Pearse’s rebellious nature came from his mother’s side. They hailed from County Meath and spoke only in the native Irish language, which influenced the young Patrick Pearse greatly. But his father’s artistic side played into Patrick’s development as a rebel as well.

This “artistic streak,” as Patrick called it, meant that his father’s friends were “bohemian types,” whom the young Patrick Pearse liked because of their “quaint costumes, their sense of humor and their gentleness.” So, the union of a “puritan” and a “peasant” produced a “strange thing,”…….an Irish Nationalist.

The family business flourished and secured the Pearse family’s position comfortably as middle-class, affording Patrick and his brother William excellent educations.

William Pearse 15 November 1881 – 4 May 1916 (Image Source:

William Pearse 15 November 1881 – 4 May 1916 (Image Source:

Patrick Pearse became  an Irish language teacher and a barrister, and later a writer of essays, poems, plays, an editor for An Claidheamh Soluis, The Sword of Light, which was the journal of the Gaelic League.

William, or Willie Pearse was headed down the path that his own father had longed to travel. William became a noted sculptor and studied in Paris. His sculptures can be found in churches throughout Ireland. When he was set to inherit the family business he decided instead to help Patrick run Saint Edna’s secondary school for boys in Ranelagh, Co. Dublin. Willie, influenced greatly by his older brother’s political activities, joined the Irish Volunteers and became part of the Republican movement which resulted in the Easter Rising of 1916.

The yard in Kilmainham Jail Dublin where the 16 Rebels were executed. (Image Source: Loretto Leary 2009)

The yard in Kilmainham Jail Dublin where the 16 Rebels were executed. (Image Source: Loretto Leary 2009)

Both Patrick and William were executed in Kilmainham Jail for taking part in the Easter Rising of 1916. Patrick died first, aged 36, he was shot by firing squad for his part in the Irish Rebellion and the following day Willie was executed.

The “strange thing” about Patrick Pearse is that not everyone agrees that he is a hero. I’ll state the obvious first: many Unionists, most notably Conor Cruise O’Brien (a former Unionist), see Patrick Pearse as “dangerous, fanatical, psychologically unsound and ultra-religious.” O’Brien states that, “Pearse saw the Rising as a Passion Play with real blood.” Others, such as former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, would defend Patrick Pearse and argue that his “fanatical” behavior was heroic. This is where Pearse becomes a complex personality, for what Pearse has left us with is a debate on what it means to be an Irish Nationalist. Does it mean being a fanatic or a hero? According to the Patrick Pearse article on, “his complex personality still remains a subject of controversy for those who wish to debate the evolving meaning of Irish nationalism.”

The only way to glean more about the mind of Patrick Pearse is to read what the man wrote. And I begin today by reading his essay, The Murder Machine. Stay tuned.

How Irish Are You?

(Image source:

(Image source:

The Irish have a unique way with words. Some have dubbed our colloquialisms “doublespeak-doublethink.” You’ll have to do double the work to figure out what we’re talking about. So, you think you are Irish? Let’s see how Irish you are.

1. When a friend says his “back teeth are floating” it means…

a. His dentures have come unglued.

b. He is inebriated.

c. He needs to pee.

d. His dentures have fallen into the River Shannon and are floating.

2. If your friend says she “gave it welly”…it means…

a. She has donated her goulashes.

b. She meant to say “jelly” but because her back teeth float she has trouble with her “w’s”

c. She gave it full effort.

d. She kicked someone or something.

3. “Eat up, you’re at your aunties” means……

a. Don’t be rude while visiting your aunt’s house for supper.

b. Your aunt doesn’t like washing dishes.

c. Your aunt is a gourmet chef.

d. Take full advantage of the free food and eat as much as you can.

4. If someone tells you they could “Eat a child’s arse through a chair”….

a. They are part of a circus act.

b. They are starving with the hunger.

c. They are challenging you to an eat-off!

d. They are from a remote Island where children’s arses are considered a delicacy.

5. If someone tells you they could “Eat a farmer’s arse through a ditch”…

a. They are trying to one-up the person in #4

b. They like tougher cuts of meat.

c. They are from South Tipp.

d. They are challenging the indigenous migrant from a remote Island who has just moved in next door.

6. If someone asks you “How’s she cutting?” It really means…

a. Is the new female barber doing a good job?

b. How are things with you?

c. Is the wife doing a good job carving the turkey you won at bingo?

d. They want an in-depth analysis of how the hairdresser actually cuts hair.

7. “Now you’re sucking diesel…” means

a. You are addicted to drinking diesel.

b. You are part man-part tractor.

c. You are doing a fantastic job.

d. You have partnered with Walter White and the secret ingredient to Blue Crystal Meth is Irish diesel filtered by the human digestive system.

8. If someone says they will, “Give you the back of their hand” it means…

a. They will slap you.

b. They are promising to donate their body parts to you.

c. The are part of a secret organization called The Back of the Hand.

d. They live next door to the indigenous migrant from a remote Island in #4 who is loosing weight because his diet is not providing enough meat and the farmer next door to him  won’t share  food.

9. “You’d find more meat on a tinker’s stick,” means…..

a. Irish philosophers, tinkers, use their canes to collect meat. (The Irish have trouble pronouncing the “th” sound)

b. Someone is very thin…….or is that “tin?”

c. The guy from #4 is jealous of the Irish philosopher who just moved in next door who has more meat than he does.

d. Irish philosophers like to brag about their manhood.

10. “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin”, or, “There’s no hearth like your own hearth,” which really means…

a. What is a “hearth?”

b. Someone can’t spell the word Pulmonary correctly and decided to use hearth instead.

c. There’s no place like home.

d. The ejit in #1 has lost his dentures in the Shannon again and is now talking funny about his heart.

This quiz was inspired by Just How British are You?

“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.”
– Winston Churchill

The Portrayal of the Irish in Movies

When I first visited the US in 1985 for a summer holiday I was amused and entertained by the clever television advertisements. The one that sticks out in my brain has the line  “Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?” at the end. It always made me laugh. Or it used to, until Ryan O’Rourke of The Wild Geese Online made me think about it from a different perspective. O’Rourke asks his readers to observe, “how Irish culture and Irish people are portrayed and represented in the media (including television and film).“How has film shaped people’s view of the Irish. Or, let’s talk about you, the theater going public…What do you think of the Irish in film and media?

O’Rourke mentions The New York Times piece by Maureen O’Dowd, Beautifying Abbey Road, Jan. 7 2014.

O’Dowd says, “My grandmother and her nine sisters were tall, strapping women who immigrated to America from Ireland in the second decade of the 20th century and found jobs as maids, cooks and nannies for rich families.” Noting the difference between the reality of her grandmother and grand aunts’ lives as maids and the upstairs-downstairs co-existence created by Julian Fellowes, O’Dowd states, “It was a much tougher life than the democratized fantasy shown in “Downton Abbey.” Yet, this is how Fellowes wants his audience to see the lives of servant and master.

Allen Leech as Tom Branston in Downton Abbey (Image Source:

Allen Leech as Tom Branston in Downton Abbey (Image Source:

It is the Irish Chauffer, Tom Branston, that strikes me as a watered down Irishman, the metamorphosis from Irish rebel to English gent making him more palatable to his in-laws.

Branston, played by Irish actor Allen Leech, marries the youngest daughter of the Crawley family causing the gentry to completely lose the plot. He is, after all, the chauffeur, and even worse, he is Irish. Should I be insulted? I don’t think so.

The story isn’t about the Irish, it is about how the landed gentry survived a class shift after World War 1. Do I think the character of Branston is a bit, hmm, stereotyped? You can bet your britches. But at the same time I admire Leeche’s performance of a young man with politically opposing ideas trying to fit in with his in-laws. And I like the fact that Fellowes nods at the deep connection between the Irish and the English by creating the character of Branston. Now, what I was insulted over was when Branston’s brother, Kieran, was cast as a drunk. How original? *BURP!*

So, getting back to the beginning…”Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?” Or in other words, how does the media portray the Irish? The words political, fighting, religious, superstitious, witty, and ownership all come into play when thinking of how the Irish have been portrayed on film. The lens of a camera is really the eye of the director, and that’s whose perspective we are seeing.

The Lad From Old Ireland is one of the first “on location” movies made outside of Hollywood. Filmed in Beaufort, Co. Kerry and New York City in 1910 it is a silent movie which chronicles the immigration of Terry O’Connor, played by Canadian actor Sidney Olcott, and his eventual return to Ireland to bring his sweetheart back to America with him. The script was written by Gene Gauntier, who also acted in another Irish film in 1912 called You Remember Ellen, based on the Thomas Moore poem. Both films show an impoverished Ireland, where men and women toiled side by side in the fields. Ireland of the early 1900’s was a place where  an honest heart and hard work was always rewarded with love and riches beyond believing.

John Ford, an Irish-American, had a very “twee” version of the land of his ancestors. Nothing wrong with that. Ford wanted the public to see Ireland and appreciate it the same way that he did.His movie The Quiet Man made the world think that Irish women had fiery tempers, and being dragged through a field of thistles was just, “a good stretch of the legs.” The Rising of the Moon, another Ford movie, connects three tales of rural life in Ireland. It is Ford’s perspective, once again, of wives who obeyed their hubbies and would happily “keep the bed warm,” at the rising of the moon. No man did more for the Irish accent, Irish sayings and pint drinking than Barry Fitzgerald, a Ford favorite. In Broth of a Boy,  lines like, “He’s as useless as an undertaker at a wedding,” sure make the Irish amiable, and worth listening to.

Hilton Edwards, had a deeper connection to Ireland. Edward’s was of Irish-English heritage and he co-founded the Gate Theater in Dublin with his partner Micheál MacLiammóir. Edwards’ Return to Glennascaul made the theater going public see Ireland as a haunted land. With its ancient history, the idea of Ireland’s countryside and abandoned mansions brimming with ghosts is one that seems to do well on the big screen. High Spirits with Liam Neeson and Peter O’Toole comes to mind. There is also the 1963 Francis Ford Coppola film, Demtia 13. Gorey, horrific, psychotic and violent, and very hokey. More recently we have Into The West with Gabriel Byrne and The Eclipse by Billy Roche and Connor McPherson. One of my favorites actually.

There are serious political films too. Shake Hands With The Devil, is a close look at the Irish War of Independence in 1921, a fight for freedom from English rule. Starring James Cagney, Noel Purcell, and again we see the connection between Ireland and England as notable English actors such as Michael Redgrave and Glynis Johns also appear in the film.The Wind that Shakes the Barley is also well worth seeing. Another film that’s worth watching for its delicate portrayal of Catholic and Protestant disputes in Northern Ireland, and female submission due to religious doctrine is December Bride. How could I possibly forget Liam Neeson in Michael Collins?

Rural folk and land ownership is the main focus in Jim Sheridan’s The Field. Just how far the Bull McCabe goes to own the field his father toiled in is eye opening. The Bull only knows one law, and that is the law of the land. The Field isn’t really a field though, it is really Ireland, McCabe is all the Irish rebels rolled up into one being. The Guard is John Michael McDonagh’s quirky view of the rural Irish: witty, likable racists. Throw Calvary into that quirky view and you’ll see the Irish as gun toting, revenge seeking and anti-religious. Not too far off the mark alright. They don’t call it the wild-west for nothing.

Then we have the urban Irish. The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van, are Roddy Doyle’s Ireland. Agnes Browne, based on Brendan O’Carrolls book, The Mammy, gives us the urban widow’s Ireland.

From a religious perspective we have most recently Philomena, as well as The Magdelene Sisters and Song for a Raggy Boy. All worth viewing for a more precise look at the relationship between the Irish and the clergy in Ireland and why the churches are now almost empty. All are true stories.

If documentaries are your thing, there are a couple of good ones. The great documentary, Mise Éire in 1959 and then the 1967 documentary, The Rocky Road to Dublin by Peter Lennon, do more to show Ireland, and how it got to where it is, than any other serious movies.

So, how do the Irish come across in film? Are we a fighting, witty, anti-religious, pint drinking, superstitious, political, land-greedy people? I suppose the answer depends on what movies you like to watch, who’s acting in it, who directed it and who wrote it, and what their relationship is with Ireland.

There are plenty of Irish movies to choose from. So get to it. You should be done by Saint Patrick’s Day, 2016.




Age Progression: What would they look like now?

It’s a new year, 2015, and both you and I face another year, hopefully, of growing older. Happy New Year?

Nobody “likes” growing older.  I try to be positive about it, reminding myself that  growing old is a privilege that those who died young were not allowed to enjoy.

My parents celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. (Photo by Mary Horrigan)

My parents, Michael and Margaret Horrigan, celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. (Photo by Mary Horrigan)

Both of my parents died young. My father was 60 years old and my mother died the day after she turned 68. I still think that’s young. Especially with today’s health and medical standards. I wonder what both of my parents would have looked like now.

My father would have been 87 as of January 2015, and my mother would have been 79 in May of 2015. As the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh said, “Every old man I see, Reminds me of my father.” And the same holds true of my mother.

The company Phojoe, based in Clarkston Mi, has been featured on many media outlets for their competence in age progression photos of missing children. The company has turned its competency into a form of grief therapy for parents whose children died young, doing age progression photos of what the deceased children would look like now.

Phojoe artists have also had some fun using age progression on photos of dead celebrities. So let’s have a bit of fun with that. All pictures were done by Phojoe and used in a Daily Mail article from November 2013. Let’s see if you can guess who the “aged” celebrity is before you click on the live link at the bottom of the last photo. Let’s get started.

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 Some are easy, others not so easy. If you give up, click on this link, The Daily Mail article: What if they had lived to fade away? Rock and roll legends who died young imagined in old age with the help of photo technology.

So, how many did you get? My husband got two right. Did you do better?

Here are my favorite pictures of my parents.

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I can’t resist! Just did this age progression of myself using Microsoft Digital Image Suite photoshop combined with an age progression tutioial from I look like my mother, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Lonnie old.png 2And here’s another apple from the tree photo of my son and my dad. He has both sides in him though. I can see my husband’s dad there too.

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Freedom of Expression

In light of the Charlie Hebdo killings in France: Free speech comes at a price, and over the years the media, the arts and others have paid dearly.

Breise! Breise! Extra! Extra!

It would be very easy for me to start off this blog post with a sentence like: So long as we don’t insult or intentionally offend others, free speech and the right to it, should be a universal right. But politeness shouldn’t prevent the truth from being told.

Art is truth, we’ve all heard that before. The truth isn’t always pretty, in fact more often than not the truth can be downright ugly. And ugly needs full exposure. Art, be it through film or written word, has helped expose many an ugly truth.

In the last two years the right to freedom of expression through the media and free speech has come under the hammer. There have been a few cases that challenged the right to say what we really think, and say it out loud.

Wikileaks and Julian Assange brought the right to free speech into a new electronic age. The Wikileaks cables put thousands of…

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