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A Child Watches Cork Play Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, June 2018

Cork are playing Limerick. It’s your first time in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Your cousin Sean was there before, and for the Clare match too, but he’s seven and you’re only six. Your friend Conor is coming too. He’s the best hurler in your class but you’re faster at running. You spend the whole day pucking your sliotar against the wall of the house, scoring goals for Cork. You can’t wait for half-past four, that’s when your dad said ye’ll be leaving. You run into the house loads of times to check the kitchen clock.

A United Fan Watches Liverpool in the Champions League Final

Sitting in the sunshine, in the back garden, on a Saturday afternoon. Listening to Leinster, on the radio, win another European championship. And, as a Munster man, wondering what emotions I feel about that. Looking forward too, to watching Liverpool in a Champions’ League Final against Real Madrid, this evening. Well, not looking forward, in case they win the bloody thing. Me, being a proud Manchester United supporter since the heady days of one skinny Irishman, George Best, back in the 1960s – himself later to play for Cork Celtic, not so skinny.

Margo and the Snakes

Margo, our innkeeper, wanted to talk about snakes. This was at breakfast, in Galax, North Carolina. In fairness, the Canadian woman, Lori, brought them up. She and her husband, Glen had a close encounter the previous day when cycling on a trail. At the inn, you have breakfast with other residents. 8am. Breakfast on the table.

Repeal the 8th

Wasn’t it great when we owned the women we married, when, effectively, they were our property? ’Twas. Proper order, made things a lot simpler. We owned our daughters too, and they were very useful, in forging alliances with other men of power and means.

Strange and Wonderful Sights in the US of A

A young man walking down Haywood Street in Asheville, NC, with a snake wrapped around his arm. He looked pleased with himself, to be shocking passers by – the man, not the snake. The snake was maybe five or six feet long and hung its head out from his hand, sniffing. I wondered what it was thinking. Mind you, the snake looked better than some of the tattoos we’ve seen on people here. Ó, mo léir.

An Emigrant Watches Clare Play Cork in Hurling

I watched the Clare Cork match on Sunday (May 22, 2018) in an unlikely place, in the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, near the Tennessee border. We’re on holiday down South and we’ve come to walk in the Smoky Mountains and drive up The Blue Ridge Parkway. And, sitting here in this Welcome Centre, so far from home and Páirc Uí Chaoimh, I’m struggling with that familiar feeling of guilt when I’m not around to cheer Cork on. As if my presence in the Páirc today would make one iota of difference today among 25,000 others, but that’s just how it is. I’m struggling too with GAAGO’s intermittent signal, and I’m thinking of Irish emigrants all over the world, for many of whom this is a regular summer Sunday experience. I imagine Cillian, a young Clareman in Melbourne, Australia.

Three Drives in the USA, almost 1,000 miles.

Down the I95 It was a long drive down from Washington DC to Athens, Georgia. We were 12 hours on the road, including three rest/food/toilet/gas stops. 600 hundred miles, the longest drive we were ever on. Up and down the middle of Ireland twice. Those huge signs on poles higher than pines. Waffle House, McDonalds, Subway. Holiday Inn. Chicken Filet. Adult Store.

Walking Through Georgetown & In The National Gallery of the USA

Walking Through Georgetown Georgetown, a university area of Washington DC, had that understated style and nothing-to-prove confidence about itself. Houses looked modest enough in size but seemed really stylish inside with soft light and muted graceful décor.

Notes on Athens, Georgia

Joan Didion wrote on the South in her book South and West: From a Notebook which was based on notes she took on a one month trip around the gulf states in 1970. She paints a backward and unflattering picture of the South when she compares Louisiana and Mississippi with California. Her main premise is that the South looks to the past, while California looks to the future. To me, her writing is dismissive and somewhat arrogant, and says, at times, more about her than the place she was writing about. I have only been in Georgia and South Carolina for a few days and I didn’t go to rural and remote places as Didion did, so I’m not going to make generalisations like her. But I will follow her style of using notes she made along the way.

Arlington Cemetery and the Religious Order of the Military

Coming from a country with no great military tradition, the visual presence of the military and its infrastructure in other countries, such as France, the UK and the US has always intrigued and somehow unnerved me. We were in Collioure, in France, a few years ago on holiday. We went for a walk along the coast, just north of the town. Beautiful, beautiful place by the Med. We had to go around a military compound to find the path by the cliffs and when we came back they were doing some kind of training exercise in the yard outside the compound.