Must see sights in Cork

I have written some lovely descriptive pieces about the beauty in the hills of Kerry and the rugged charm of Sugarloaf, all the while forgetting some of the lovely places that I’ve been in Cork. Come to the real capital of Éire and the actual European capital of culture 2005 and feast your eyes on the glorious nature of the Rebel County.

Old Head Kinsale

Old Head Kinsale sounds like the name of an auld lad that’s been on the same stool in the same bar for decades, supping away at the dregs of a pint of Guinness and pawing at the greasy end of a bag of bacon fries. In reality it’s a magnificent, jutting piece of rock that looks like it was carved from a giant’s side. An absolutely stunning view awaits you across the Atlantic, seagulls dotting the horizon and occasionally stealing closer to see if you have any food. One time, my buddy Dave brought his pasta with him in a lunchbox ‘coz he’s a healthy boy and the seagulls nearly converged on us as we sat on a rock.
Steeped in ancient history, passing hands from the original settlers to the Vikings and to the Normans, there is a golf link behind the tower at the entrance. Dún Cearna is now a tourist spot and probably my favourite viewpoint in all of Ireland. It genuinely feels like you’re on the edge of the world and that you’re about to start off on a great adventure like the many great warriors that settled there of old.
Stop into Kinsale town on the way back home for some quality seafood and a nice, friendly vibe.

The edge of the void

Inchydoney beach

Lcated outside Clonakilty, this beach is picture-perfect. While myself and the friends found it hard to actually fin our way onto the beach from the car without a ten-foot drop, it was worth the journey. We looked so out of place with our high-brow fashion and multicultural garments, intimidating the locals as we walked by in a haze of arrogance that only people from closer to the city could muster. It was as far west as any of us would ever go again…

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Farran woods

Come with me now to the magical wood of Farran, almost halfway between the two dreaded lands of Macroom and Balincollig. Most places that I don’t like or loathe in Cork are in my bad books as a result of fights in underage G.A.A. I need to let this stuff go. I made the pilgrimage to Farran Woods and feel cleansed again. Perhaps one day I may set foot in each revolting town once more.

Oh deer!

Spike Island

Ireland’s Alcatraz has an eventful history. It passed from Irish hands to Normans, from the Normans to the English after the Act of Union in 1800 and then finally back into Irish control after the Bunreacht na hÉireann in 1938. It was then used as a prison until 2004 while the prison guards and some civilians actually lived on the island. The famous riot of 1985 should be known to all viewers of Reeling in the Years, where prisoners escaped and made camp on the roof of what is now known as the Burnt Block.
The island now hosts tours of the old facilities. Myself and K did one there at the end of last year and it is really interesting. They also host horror movie nights and events for horror movies. We attended one where several famous Irish and English actors, producers and casting directors answered questions. We then watched Dog Soldiers, a cult horror classic. Get online and book a tour, you’ll enjoy it.
Unfortunately, Cobh is another town that I don’t like becasue of G.A.A. and I had to drive into the town and spend a bit of time walking through it. A hellish place, so just bear that in mind when you’re making your decision.

One of the prison guards and I making up after I shanked him on the way to dinner yday evening. It’s a dog eat dog world behind bars but at the end of the day, we’re family.

Fota

Despite this fine establishment residing just outside the dark hole that is Cobh, this zoo is definitely the best in Ireland. The walk around is beautiful and while you are separated safely from the animals, seeing the creatures so close is unreal. The restaurant is standard enough and there were some construction going on around the lemur enclosure that made the place look like an Eastern-European slum. The lemurs had gained the clarity to rob cigarettes and wallets from visitors. They had begun a bartering system and had even held some kids captive. They ran the zoo that day with an iron fist. Other than that, though, it remains a family friendly and enjoyable walk around the grounds.

Lady Bantry’s Lookout

This steep walk, similar to my recent trek up the Cardiac Steps, has one of the best views I’ve ever seen. Just outside, you guessed it, Bantry, thestory goes that Lady Bantry, wife of an Earl, had muscular Irish men carry her up the steep climb as she was in a wheelchair. Goddamn Brits making us do humiliating things for them.

I must confess a sin and say that I have actually never been to Gougane Barra or Mizen Head. Otherwise they would definitely be on this list. Please let me know if you would like to know more about Ireland’s glorious nature and various walks and hikes. Or if you think i missed out on any of the Rebel County’s must-se sights, drop me a message or give me a follow and enjoy my fantasies and reviews of Éire.

Is Cork City losing its charm?

There are no Echo boys anymore. Only Echo boys all grown up and still calling the familiar chant down the city streets. I haven’t seen Michael O’Regan in quite some time. Maybe his absence is part of the reason I am becoming disenchanted with the city I call my home.
Living abroad puts double-glazed rose-tinted perspex on your glasses. You miss everything you’d normally miss about your hometown; the people you like; the restaurants and foods you’d normally get; your favourite bars and clubs; and the diversity and multicultural vibe that a city, especially Cork city, could bring. The longer you stay away the more obscure things you miss. I found myself missing the walk from the city out to Blackpool, of all things. While I would much rather walk the 20 minutes from the Opera House to the shopping centre than get on a shitty bus that takes 20 minutes to get from Parnell to the top of Patrick street, now that I have a car I’d rather drive! I missed walking down back roads, like. That’s what being away does to you. You may miss the countryside and develop a new found appreciation for the green grass and the rivers but you’ll also miss the familiarity of walking home from town through a somewhat rundown piece of the city.
To my credit, I didn’t lose my grá for the city straight away. I had some amazing nights out, some lovely afternoons strolling around and one lengthy walk from MacCurtain street to halfway up Washington street, just taking in all the things I hadn’t seen in a year or two. Walking around this Saturday morning dimmed this vision.

I decided to have a walk around the city before going into the library to read my book for a few hours. The rain kept me away from reading outside and the warmth of the library beckoned. I left Paul street and made right towards Grand Parade. I crossed over and walked up Patrick’s street, stopping in to Golden Discs and Easons along the way. Golden Discs was a ghost town and Easons is set to move location to make way for a Sports Direct. Savoy is closed down and an eyesore on the main street. Starbucks and Carrolls Irish gift shops line the top of the street before Merchant’s Quay. I turned down Winthrop street and walked in the direction of the bus stop, passing out coffee shops preparing for the wet day and the heavy black doors of closed pubs. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was the early hour and fact that the streets were fairly empty. Maybe it was a mixture of all of the above. There was no buzz in the place. Cork city just seemed like another commercial haven, sleepy-eyed workers resigned to opening up and suffering for another day.
Walking down South Mall towards Grand Parade was depressing. In a monotone street full of dull browns, blues and greys, Fred Zeppelins was the only beacon of colour with their flame dancing above the door. Two worn out bus drivers smoked fags outside the Maldron, glancing at me as I passed by. I started thinking about the city some more and the only word that came to mind was, “Miserable.” The new Lifestyle (new in the fact that it is one of the newest additions to Patrick street) just looms over the rest of the street. Grey and black fill the sky. Even the two McDonalds has conformed to the same dark green at Dawn’s Square and Winthrop street, uniform in colour and bubbling violence after nights out. The pubs and clubs all look the same in the evening, and I’m not even going to mention the menacing tension that pervades Oliver Plunkett street, Washington Street and the fountain after 2 AM. Queuing up for Hillbilly’s almost guarantees you a front row seat for a brawl, a scrap or handbags at ten paces.
Sitting in the library, in between reading and scrolling through Twitter, I couldn’t get my mind off of the state of the city. Cascades of sneachta and Class A fall from our pockets and rob us of our senses, fueling aggro and tension.

Something was rotten in the state of Cork. Perhaps the sheen on the city when I returned had turned to slime and I was watching it greasily slide over my home by the Lee.

Go tobann, I received a text from my girlfriend. On my walk up to meet her outside the hairdressers there was a bit more buzz around the place. Franchises and brands still filled the streets but once I left the main thoroughfare and stood on Paul Street I started to see a bit more of the city I left behind. Independent coffee shops and natural food stores popped up. Inside in the Cornmarket Centre, under TK Maxx and beside Lidl, Peacock & Ruby, a funky clothes shop, thrives.
North Main street may look bleak and dreary with roadworks and closed shops but Mad, Tony’s Bistro, St. Peter’s visitor centre and loads of other great Cork institutions still function and prosper.
After I met K, we got out of the drizzle to protect her new, beautiful haircut by treating ourselves to lunch in Bracken’s. I got the toasted sandwich with bacon, melted cheese and an Americano. It was unbelievable. I would recommend the cafe to anyone but particularly that sandwich. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Afterwards, we hurried down French church street and got mochas in O’Connell’s Hot Chocolate. We also treated ourselves to a brownie and a slice of carrot cake, slightly breaking one of our resolutions for the New Year. That’s for another post.

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Stunning art with important message beside Paul st. car park, Cork City

On the drive back home I noticed the stunning mural with a stark message on the environment on the wall beside Paul Street car park. The vibrant colours of the kingfisher in action trump any dreary Cork day anytime. Not to get too deep or preachy but I had a sort of epiphany. Driving through Blackpool past Murphy’s chipper reminded me of the hidden gems all around the city and its surrounding areas. The city is not the be all or end all. Take a drive out to Blackpool, or even walk 🤣 Go to the cinema, have a look around the shopping centre or get a sloppy foley in Murphy’s some evening. Make the treacherous journey to Wilton and have a late night Tesco shop. Great craic, I promise you. I don’t need to tell you about KC’s in Douglas, surely. In short, town used to be the place to be; hanging out on Paul street; drinking bottles at the 100 steps by the Heineken brewery; hanging out upstairs in Subway. As we got older it was nights out in Gorbys, Cubins, the Roxy, the Brog. You name it, we were there. Maybe as I get older the more I see the grimy side of Cork in the nighttime. Maybe I am becoming more cynical as I grow up. The fact remains, though, that while Cork city may lose some of its charm as we get older, if we don’t look in and around it, we’ll never find the magic again. It is there if we search.

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I’ll do my best to find more quirky, charming and cool spots in and around the city and shine a light on them!

On the Dublin to Cork road in heavy rain – Poem

As soon as I turned onto the Cork road it began to rain.
Not just little droplets
But big, fat ones that spread out across the windshield,
Blurring my vision and causing me to slow down.

God forbid I go below 120 and stay safe on the road!
Especially when His Heavens have opened so magnificently above me.
I have places to go and people to see so I will
Break through Poseidon’s torrents and tear down the road.

Portlaoise, Mountrath and Cashel pass in the blink of an eye,
My old car flying by Audi’s, Corolla’s and other Renault’s indiscriminately.
On one stretch of road I weave in and out, meeting every car from Kilkenny, Tipp and Limerick, overtaking and letting mergers in, pulling in for faster cars,
All the while buffeted by watery bullets.

Towering trucks trundle along the highway,
Dangerous beasts flinging water from under their wheels to blind other drivers.
They use their large husks to rattle smaller vehicles as they dare overtake the mighty monsters,
Sometimes passing each other out at a rate of frayed knots.

Through a last toll and one last push to be at the top of the queue.
I roar along with my radio and my engine before coming to an abrupt stop.
Barely moving.
The open road closed behind me and the rain still pounding.

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Visual representation of me trying to overtake a lorry on the road this morning

Barry’s Rants: Coffee, Pt. 2.

This week Barry declines my invitation for a coffee and goes on another expletive-filled rant. Starbucks, the mighty coffee giant, falls under his scrutinous gaze.

Jaysus, sure what are ye after now? Coffee? Where? Not a hope in hell am I going back to that Starbucks place. After the furore the last day and my girls giving me stink over that bleedin’ French press I said I’d go and have a look when I was in Blackpool. By the way, the only time I want to hear the words ‘French-press’ in my presence again are when the rugby is on. And even then, rugby is not allowed in my presence. Especially at God-awful o’clock in the mornin’! Good Irish games like football, hurling and soccer only. Maybe the tennis.
Anyways, I was down in Blackpool, looking at the shops and I said I’d walk over to the cinema. I saw a load of the boys from Sunbeam back in the day sitting outside Starbucks. Jimmy, Carl, Paudie and a few others. I went over and asked them what were they at. Should they not be walking around aimlessly or sitting next to Jack Lynch or Ronald McDonald over in the shopping centre like the rest of us auld lads?
“Ah sure, Starbucks does a great latte, Barry”, piped up Paudie.
“Do they do coffee?”, I asked him. The laugh the boys got out of that. I hadn’t a notion what they were chuckling about but I laughed along as if I made a joke. I was always the joker of the group inside in the factory.
“Ah, you’re gas, Ray. I’d say you’d be a mocha man, would you?”
I nearly lifted him off the chair with a slap before I stopped myself. I’m a tea man, and if anyone says any different I’ll run him up and down Shandon street until even the four faced liar asks me to stop.

Anyways, in I went. I’ll admit to you now, I was half nervous, and not just because of the coffee. The lads behind the counter were smiling away mad. “How are you, sir?”, and “Lovely day isn’t it, sir”, and I barely in the door. They all had hair that was too long for them. One fella had a long ponytail down to his arse. I tell ya now if I found a long, shitty strand of hair in my coffee I’d have torn the place asunder. The other fella had hair down to his shoulders, blond tips and all. They were too happy for my liking anyways. Nobody should be that happy in work. It’s grand having a laugh with the lads but by God you shouldn’t be smiling and laughing the whole time. You should be at the very least, a little miserable.

So I went up to the counter, right, and I said to myself, ‘feck it’, I’ll chance this mocha. If that leaves this conversation you are fecked, by the way. I said I’d chance the mocha, just to sound like I knew what I was at. “One mocha, please,” says I.
“Would you like to try the blond, sir?”
Well, I nearly hit the roof! “I don’t know who’s been spreading lies about me but I’ve been a brunette man all me life.”
You should’ve seen the two lads faces. Almost puce! I looked outside and there were all the lads pointing and laughing at me. I felt like going outside and throwin’ the three of ‘em into traffic. I turned around and the two lads were crouched over trying to hide themselves and their giggles. Eventually, after paying five feckin’ euro, I got my, “mocha”. Hot chocolate in a feckin cardboard cup! I saw your man going to put whipped cream on top and he nearly turned to stone with the look I gave him. Medusa wouldn’t be too distantly related to us as far as I know, so one of the uncles in Michael’s tells me.

I’d say I made it to Woodies before ditching that rancid muck. Never again. I’ll go to O’Briens for a tea and a club sandwich and that’s about as exotic as I’ll be going again! 

Ballad of the Rescuer – The Lost Gecko

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Artwork for the band’s latest release

Happy Friday, folks. I hope ye all have a lovely weekend planned and that the sun will shine, or at the very least the rain will stay away. In my last post, a review of Meghan Ali’s new song, Far Off Shores, I waxed lyrical about the talent that Cork has to offer. What I would like to clear up is that that is not a new phenomenon. Cork is the real capital and with legends like Rory Gallagher and travelling troubadours like Clare Sands to talk of, we can be very proud! Emerging talents can be found in any number of pubs, clubs and venues around Cork, plying their trade in the hope of making it big.

The band that I’m talking about today are far beyond the moniker of ’emerging talent’. It would be much fairer to call them an established set-up. Having formed in 2006 in Cork, The Lost Gecko have recorded 9 EPs, released an album and are due to release another later this year. They have performed in festivals in Amsterdam, Finland, and numerous ones in Ireland.

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The Lost Gecko merchandise is available on their Facebook page

If you get a chance to listen to their 2018 album, Solasta, meaning ‘Luminous’ in Scots-Gael, I would recommend Fan Liom as the go-to track. This song stood out to me not just because of the Irish language but because the arrangement before the verse kicks in is uplifiting and magical. Which brings me onto the song we’re hear to read about!

Ballad of the Rescuer was released on Spotify on May 20th. It has over a 1’000 plays on Spotify, and a good 100 of them are from me the last few days since I first heard the track. It is hard to describe the feeling I get when I hear the opening section of the song. The fingerpicking pattern that opens is beautiful and sad, especially when the low notes of the cello accompanies it. Then, an ethereal, mystic voice fills your eardrums and the ballad of the rescuer begins. For a brief minute I thought to myself that this song and sound was Bon Iver-esque. I copped myself on and saw it for what it was: authentic, beautiful sound from a talented trio.
“There’s nothing left inside of me” is a line that sticks out from the first verse, the minor notes picked at just the right time. I became invested in the rescuer’s journey, living every dip and dive in his mission.

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Malcolm, John and Elaine at a gig last year

A cacophony of sound greets us toward the end of our journey as the percussion comes to the fore. The ballad of the rescuer rings out as all three members of the band give their all for the last act; Malcolm Urquhart on guitar and vocals, Elaine McCarthy on cello and John O’Connor on percussion. It lifts you up for the final scene of the song, an image of the rescuer, exhausted and on his knees at the end of the day, played out by the same beautiful guitar playing and cello accompaniment that we heard at the start.

Well, that review got quite a bit more emotional than I ever intended! You will agree with me once you hear the haunting opening of the song. I can guarantee that as I never lie. Honest Cian, they call me.

Look out for The Lost Gecko’s new album, The Ghost That Minds the Crows, due to be released this year at Claycastle Studios in Youghal with John Burke. They are on Spotify and Youtube so give their pages a follow! The Lost Gecko are playing a number of gigs around Cork in the coming days but they are also supposrting Meghan Ali next month in Maureen’s bar in Cork City. June 23rd, pencil it in. Keep an eye on the blog for more music reviews and news of the bands and artists I’ve already reviewed. Have a good one!

Far Off Shores – Meghan Ali

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Cork is full of thriving, talented musicians. From rap to traditional, hip hop to indie-pop, the Rebel County is a hotbed of young, up and coming artists. I am lucky to have played with some, attended the gigs of others, but one of my greatest honours is calling some of them my friends.
Meghan Ali is a singer songwriter and guitar player from Rathpeacon. Technically, she is from just off the Mallow Road/Old Mallow Road, but we’ll claim her here in Rathpeacon when she goes big. She has been making music her whole life, but it has really been the last six or seven years in which she has been most productive. She has released popular single after popular single, receiving generous airtime on Cork radio stations. Her latest release might just be the best of the bunch, and that’s saying something.

Far Off Shores was released earlier this week and with already over a thousand plays on Spotify it is showing how Meghan’s star continues to rise. On first listen to the lyrics it espouses the same message as Meg’s previous releases Coming Home for Christmas, which was later re-released as Coming Home (ft. Clare Sands). Each of these songs tells the story of our generation; always going to far off lands, never knowing when we’ll be home next and hoping that our relatives are doing O.K. without us.

The song starts with the low notes of a flute resonating around us, a faint chime in the background, echoing the sounds of the hit Irish animated feature, Song of the Sea. Meghan’s music is undoubtedly Irish, her accent shining through in songs as well as her use of the violin and acoustic guitar. Each instrument provides a light backing for Meghan’s powerful voice through each verse, rising to a crescendo just before each chorus. Far Off Shores is catchy and the chorus will play again and again in your head after each listen.

Watching the video after listening to the song changes the meaning. This is a tribute to Meghan’s late grandfather, played by his twin brother, John. The video is just like the singer herself, full of love for family close and far. It is truly a Maguire and O’Brien affair!
It would be criminal to mention the video and not bring your attention to the awesome panoramic shot that leaves John looking out at a lake/river/water feature, circle around and then back in to the main man himself.

This is a biased review in that I’ve known Meghan for years and love all of her music. However, it is also a truthful article because we’ve all lost someone. Although the song deals with the loss of a loved one, as I said before it could also be a homage to those closest to us departing these shores for a better life abroad. Therein lies the beauty of Meghan’s songwriting.

Meghan Ali can be followed on all social media platforms. Far Off Shores is available on Spotify now, and the video is on Youtube. I’ll even post the video below here so you don’t have to type anything in. No problem guys! Happy Thursday.

Country Girls

“Take what you can get from Ireland and scoot… Leave before it takes your belief from you, or worse, buries it within you.” So says Finn, a down on his luck poet living in Dublin, advising our main character Kate to leave the Emerald Isle and seek pastures new. His appearance and announcements coincide with the bleaker view of Ireland we see in the latter parts of the play. At first we are told of the haunting beauty of the lakes and the bogs, learning later that even Irelnad’s rugged beauty can not keep someone whose heart is broken by the people and the place.

Edna O’Brien’s debut novel, The Country Girls, was published in 1960. Like the rest of her work in that decade, the book was banned, as were the two sequels, The Lonely Girls, and Girls in Their Married Bliss. On viewing the play last night, one can see why it was banned in the Irleland of the time; Full of sexual innuendo, some playful scenes, a hint of a lesbian relationship and full on mockery of nuns, the crowd would have been up in arms!

Kate and Baba are our two country girls. After Kate’s mother dies in a boat accident and needing a place to stay away from her drunken, abusive father, she goes to live with Baba and her parents. The two girls go to the prestigious convent, St. Enda’s, where Kate excels in all things studious, while Baba is content to study her body and not much else.
Following an incident at school, the country girls make the move to Dublin. The vibrance and non-stop clock of the city life will set the girls on two different paths; Kate on one of heartbreak; and Baba on one of self-discovery.

Instead of drawling on about the different acts and scenes of the play, I think a good indicator of how good this play was was the ending. After Kate says goodbye to Ireland and her past the whole cast comes out and performs a small dance number, with Kate finally running towards the back of the stage as if towards her future. The stage goes pitch black and you’re left to wonder how will she get on in London? I audibly gasped, which I take as a good sign.
The set design was innovative and enjoyable. Every prop was suspended above the stage, ready to be released down when needed and pulled back up again when the scene finished.
Catriona Ennis who played Baba, the foul mouthed and wayward friend, was hilarious and a joy to watch. She commanded the stage when present, generating healthy laughs from the audience.
While the rest of the play was full of life, music, dance or movement, the scene between Kate, played by Grace Collender and Mr. Gentleman, played by Steven McCarthy fell a bit flat. In contrast, the fantastic Collender was a giant in the scenes with her father.

As the play opened, we saw Kate and her mother dancing and running around the stage. I immediately sank into my chair, preparing myself for two hours of an Irish novel told through interprative dance. I’m very glad I was wrong.

The Country Girls is playing in the Opera House until this Saturday the 20th.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Review.

 

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“Back once again.” The reviews are back! Ger Canning has uttered this iconic phrase in countless G.A.A. matches broadcast on live television over the last number of decades. I reached out to him to ask would he record it for me so I could have it playing whenever someone opened an article of mine. Ger, ever the joker, replied via his family, agent and the Gardai, and said, “For the last time, leave me and my family alone. I rue the day I stopped and talked to you in Tesco in Mahon Point. Legal action will follow unless you stop cold calling me in the middle of the night. I don’t know how you got my house number. I am a human being and you are driving me insane. May God have mercy on your soul.” Ah Ger, what a chancer. If you’re reading this, I’ll get onto you later around 2 a.m. Keep the phone on!

Now, onto serious stuff. The movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? caught my eye due to the many nominations the cast received across multiple academies and committees. Also, it was the only thing that I knew would be quiet at my local cinema, the Reel Picture Blackpool ( hashtag ad). I knew it wasn’t a comedy but with Melissa McCarthy leading and Richard E. Grant in a prominent supporting role I had a feeling there would be some comic moments.

McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a down on her luck author who has just lost her job for drunken behaviour, has a fraught relationship with her agent and is months behind on her rent. Israel does not have any redeemable qualities that we can see and is told by her agent that she, “…is not famous enough to be an asshole.” She has a sick cat that she cannot afford to take care of and the biographies that she is writing to stay afloat are on the sale rack. After selling a letter of a famous author toa bookshop owner played by Dolly Wells, she quickly realises that she could make a hefty profit by forging letters of other well known figures. She has made a living writing books about other people so she knows she can impersonate them in her letters.
She meets Jack Hock, played by Grant, at a bar in Manhattan, remembering when she first met him and he went to the bathroom in a closet (hashtag Jonny Melia, hashtag ad). Hock is hilarious, flamboyant and the perfect positive tonic to Israel’s cynicism and misery. After letting him in on her secret cash cow and after duping half of Manhattan’s bookshops and collectible dealers into believing her ruse, she and Hock come under the suspicion of the FBI. Sabotaging her rathionship with Anna, the bookshop owner and Hock himself, Israel is finally caught and sentenced to house arrest, probation and monetary restitution.
The movie ends with Israel and Hock reuniting in the same grimy bar they met in. They bury the hatchet and he agrees to let her write a book about their escapades, ever his funny, charming self. This never happened in real life but it was a good end to a fine movie.

The movie itself is enjoyable if a bit slow. The topic of literary forgery does not sound all that interesting but the revelations that there are seedy characters in the literary world such as Israel herself, made it an easy watch. The fact that the FBI were involved in her subpoena was amazing to learn. The dynamic between McCarthy and Grant was brilliant and really saved the movie from being a bore. That said, it dragged towards the end and I did find myself looking at the clock on my phone. While I know that with a film such as this the devil is in the details but if the movie was about fifteen minutes shorter then it would’ve been a small bit more enjoyable.
I couldn’t think of anyone that I would recommend the movie to after watching, but it wasn’t a total waste of an hour and forty minutes. If I was to give it a rating out of a number that I will make up right now, I would give it a 3.5/5. Some funny moments but I’m not sure if this book warranted a movie. That said, the performances of McCarthy and Grant saved this production and both, especially McCarthy, deserve their nominations.

 

On the Banks of My Own Lovely Lee

It has been 375 days since I’ve last been in Cork. A year and ten days. Prior to this, the longest I had stayed away from the Rebel County was for four months when I studied in New Paltz, upstate New York. I was home that Christmas and didn’t really miss it as I was studying in this new, exciting environment. This time, up until the year mark I hadn’t really missed the People’s Republic at all. I missed the people, my family and friends and the craic we have, but I never really thought about the place that much. It was almost as if a switch was flipped on the 365th day. All of these fond memories came flooding back of places around the city and the countryside. I realised I missed Cork more than I let myself believe, and there is plenty to miss.

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I miss living a thirty second walk from the G.A.A. pitch, climbing over the fence to go smash footballs and sliotars wide of the post.
I miss living a ten minute walk from the local pub, the Country Squire, putting pints away until the wee hours.
I miss playing Championship in Ballinlough with Rathpeacon, especially when we beat Whitechurch in the football six years ago.
I miss going to town with the older lads on the team, getting into the Secret Garden at 18 years old because you knew someone who knew the bouncer. That was a great feeling.

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I miss going to the Woolen Mills in Blarney and looking at the Americans buy about twenty Aran sweater vests for their family portraits later in the year.
I don’t miss working there, though, for the exact same reason!
I miss seeing all the old school friends as we drink together in the Muskerry Arms, old stories retold, as funny as the day they happened, especially the ones about drinking underage in the GAA woods.

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I miss Dino’s potato pie meal, Hillbilly’s chicken tenders meal, but most of all, I miss Sloppy Foley’s from Murphy’s chipper in Blackpool. Pure perfection.
I miss walking through Blackpool to the city, passing by the Heineken Brewery and smelling the making of my favourite drink.
I miss the view of the Opera House as you come upon the Christy Ring Bridge.
I miss going to plays in the Cork Arts Theatre, the Opera House and the Everyman.

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I miss grabbing a coffee in Gloria Jean’s in the Savoy and then walking toward Grand Parade. You never know who you’ll see on your travels but you will see at least two people you know.
I miss walking up Washington Street, looking in all the shop windows before you see the gates of U.C.C. loom in the distance, and the beauty of Fitzgerald Park not too far behind on the other side of the road.
I miss grabbing a nice pint of Heineken in the Mutton Lane, the nicest bar in Cork, in my opinion, before walking through the English Market, smelling the fish, the cakes, the vegetables and listening to the chat.
I miss sitting in Peace Park watching the pigeons startle themselves in the water of the fountain.

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I miss going to Mahon Point and spending an absolute bomb in the food court and the Omniplex. Also, the Reel Picture in Blackpool is better which is a true fact.
I miss going to the cinema on my own, too, in fairness.
I miss going to the Guitar Shop on MacCurtain street and Pro Musica on Oliver Plunkett street, playing for a while before realising I’m broke.

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I miss the bars in Cork. I know the bouncers can be a bit tough to deal with sometimes but I can also be a drunken ass, so let’s call it quits when I’m back, yeah?
I miss the carnage that appears on Oliver Plunkett street on a weekend night. Good carnage, but carnage all the same.
I miss the taco sauce from John Grace’s, especially after a feed of beer.
I miss the music in the Oliver Plunkett or the Crane Lane.

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I miss my family and friends too and will probably mention them in different posts but this is just about a place. It’s also about mainly food and drink huehuehue. A place my family moved to when I was nine years old. It is the place that made me into a more confident young man and is the place where I made my best friends, bar college and woodlwan of course. I will be back next month for a while. Who knows how long for? I certainly don’t. It is funny that these thoughts only came into my head since the year mark passed. I don’t know how my friends out here who literally can’t go home have been able to do it for three years and some change. Fair dues to them. I think I could manage it but I can only imagine how tough it must be. I am lucky that next month I won’t have to miss it as I return to the banks of my own lovley Lee.

Differences

I’ve always been amazed at how fast time seems to go the older we get. I read that it is because when we are young, we are experiencing everything for the first time, such as school, inside jokes or playing sports. Time was not a blur of routine and familiarity that it is now. Indeed, the first time you take a new route to work or try a new bar or restaurant will stick clearly in the mind for longer than your fiftieth time at the same place, or the monotonous ride on the 4 train.
It is still alarming, however, to know that the older you get, the less new experiences you will get to enjoy. Then you realize that it’s already August and that colder weather is not too far away. The G.A.A. season is almost over in New York and the euphoria of the summer will be replaced by the contentedness of the Fall. That’s not a bad thing, but it leads me to question how many memories I will retain of this summer, or even of the whole year! Truthfully, it has been probably the best year of my life, narrowly beating out my years in college.
It doesn’t seem like a year and a half since I left Ireland, and I will be returning in the New Year. I have no doubt that I will be back to the States after my Masters but I know that initially I will struggle with whether or not I made the right choice of leaving this place that is filled with money, the craic, more women than I can handle and my best friends. It is something I struggled with after finishing college too, but I soon realized that not everything can last, and you have to do what you think is right. I am still in contact with the people I consider my best friends from U.L., and I know I will be in contact with both groups of lads for the rest of my life. As I said earlier, I’ll be back! I’ll probably do a post just for myself on some funny memories in the future. For now, I’ll get away from the totes emosh side of things and give you what I think are the major differences between New York and Cork. Forget about the weather and the money; this is some real shit!

  1. PigeonsImage result for pigeons album cover

     

    This is no joke. There is a stark contrast between the pigeons and general birds we see around Manhattan and Cork City (and I’m not just talking about yer wan from Gurran, wha!). The pigeons in Cork are numerous and annoying. They’re everywhere, sparking rumours of a gang war between the pigeons and the emos on Paul street. However, they’ll get out of your way in a hurry if you walk towards them, alerting all the other pigeons in their gang to the danger of human feet. A blur of grey-blue wings is all that meets the eye when you assert your dominant authority. Pigeons in New York, on the other hand, are a different breed. They’re arrogant and have no intention to give you the right of way. They’re like every other C You Next Tuesday on the feckin’ street that stops dead in the middle of a busy street to get their bearings. You walk towards a cluster of pigeons in Madison Square Park and they have the absolute audacity to look at you as if to say, “Oh, you tryna get through?”, and then move into your path. As you walk around them, they say, “That’s what I thought, bitch.” I enjoy cooing at pigeons as I walk by them. It’s funny for me, weird for passers-by and I assume, confusing for the pigeons.

  2. Public Transport 

    Cork’s public transport is seen as a bit of a joke, mainly with regards to buses transporting people outside of the immediate city limits. Now, I’ve never had any trouble with the buses I’ve needed to take, and while I might have had to wait for the next bus to Limerick once or twice, I decided to smoke a few rollies and move on with my life. However, I wasn’t in a rush and I have read enough posts on Facebook to know that waiting two hours for a bus to Bishopstown or Balincollig is not ideal. Not that I’d set foot in either of those places, am I right keeds?!?!?! NYC’s public transport system is full of problems and train delays and the like, but is only really seriously scrutinized by New Yorkers. I’ve cursed the 4 train and the R train and every other feckin’ letter train but without it I’d be lost. Since my schedule changed I haven’t had to deal with rush hour as much anymore, but By God would I prefer to be waiting in Parnell station for the 215 for forty minutes rather than chain smoke while everybody around me chain smokes, waiting a half an hour in the baking heat for the 34 bus or the 16. Everyone crams in, pressing up against people you don’t know and body parts you didn’t even know existed. Harrowing stuff. I still get nightmares and wake up screaming, “Please stand away from the door! Please stand away from the door!”

  3. Television 

    For the love of God, make sure you have a Netflix/Hulu membership or download Showbox or Megabox onto your phone or tablet because the amount of ads on television over here is sinful. Half an hour sitcoms are split into three or four parts, depending on how many times Celino and Barnes want to tell us that they are the best injury lawyers around. It will still only be a half an hour of your time but the enjoyment of your show will be diminished because of those two amadans. Catchy tune though. “Celino and Barnes, Injury Attorneys, 800-888-8888”. Although the T.V. in Ireland consists of sport in the summer and Friends reruns all year round otherwise, at least we don’t have to put up with ads every five minutes.

  4. FoodImage result for pizza's here

    NYC wins in the food department. Local bars and restaurants in Woodlawn serve up delicious food, and the area surrounding us in Yonkers also has plenty to offer up. Meatloaf from the heritage is just class. Unreal. Followed by about eight pints of Heineken. Vitamin H. Unreal.
    Pizza from Angelo’s in Woodlwan and Bravos in Manhattan would put Fast Al’s to shame but I must say that Centra, Spar and Dunnes delis are a mile ahead of their New York counterparts. Give me a chicken fillet roll over a greasy, manky, end of the line chicken cutlet hero. Blegh.

  5. The Craic 

    I’m afraid to say that New York wins out again. I love nights out in Cork. It is great craic on a Thursday night when all the students are out and the weekend is fantastic with the older crowd and a load of Spanish Erasmus students floating about! But there’s something about the phrase, “Yeah, we went out in the Brooklyn to a concert in the park and then went to karaoke in Koreatown.” It sounds cocky and pretentious but that’s how it is. Don’t @ me.Image result for the craic is mighty

 

So with my limited time left in the Big Apple for the foreseeable future I’ll probably start doing some really clichèd ideas like, “5 best bars to go to”, or, “Best spots for a night out.” “5 really shit ideas for a blog,” would be a good one too. I’ll put my own spin on it but like I said, it’s all a bit of craic at the end of the day!