Day 4: April 22, 2022 : Burren Nature Sanctuary in Kinvara, Co. Galway. (https://www.burrennaturesanctuary.ie/). We relocate lodging to Sligo from Ennis, throwing in a side trip to the Burren Nature Sanctuary.
We were looking for a simple hike to enjoy wildflowers and a little nature. We arrive to find the sanctuary to be a teaching and play center for children. Excellent program: activities and pictures of different flowers/plants; their health/herbal benefits.
Thinking it was only for children, we decide to leave. A guide convinces us to take a walk through the fields and wooded area.
Beautiful. So glad we did. Many beautiful wildflowers, singing birds, blooming bushes and trees and…. the fairy garden!!
We wander into the Fairy Garden and ….and get lost! Help! Totally turned around and wind up on one of Burren ‘s National Park trails. We finally hear children in the distance and asked their teachers for directions back to the main building. We were only 10 minutes away once we got back on track.
So next time you get lost in a Fairy Wood, remember that you’re closer to home than you think and to listen for the voices of children.
After being tossed about by sea waves of the North Atlantic ocean crashing into the cliffs (having a delightful time), we rested a bit and then walked a few blocks from the hotel to the Glor Theater for the Clare Easter Choir concert.
We were totally blown away on two counts: the musicians plus the event organizer. Many good acts. Two clips below of Adam Shapiro, from the Fiddle Case (https://www.thefiddlecase.com/band). The performances by Luka Bloom and Mike Hanrahan were equally outstanding. One could tell The Fiddle Case band and Bloom and Hanrahan were loved by their country men.
One could also tell that the organizer of the event, Josie O’Brien, was well respected . As the musicians said – if Josie ask them to play, they would drop what they were doing to support her request.
We had purchased tickets online before we left the States and were gratified to find that we had participated in such a wonderful benefit. Another delightful day and evening in Ireland experiencing the open hearts of the Irish.
Today’s adventure is a day trip to Doolin to see the Cliffs of Moher via the Doolin Ferry. Our tour guide Tony provided a short history of the cliffs and pointed out the varieties of seabirds diving for fish in the churning Atlantic. Nancy is prone to motion sickness and the ferry rocks like a cradle at the dock. She soldiered through in the hope of capturing the Puffins gathering for spring breeding season with her new Sony lens. She’ll share her photos in a separate post.
Before we set off, we carbo load with pancakes for Nancy and a full Irish breakfast for me. Not pictured is another plate heaped with croissants and scones in service to sweet Irish butter. So far, I’m still squeezing into my Columbia travel pants.
After a thrilling ferry ride, we followed the Wild Atlantic Way to Ballyvaughan. The road takes us around the Burren, another UNESCO world heritage site.
We happened on a tea garden in Ballyvaughan called An Fear Gorta, which translates from the Irish to the Hungry Grass.
Another delightful meal with a savory tart and butternut squash soup followed by a pear and almond tart.
We’re sitting overlooking the back garden with a view of the Burren. We met two delightful women, Merrie O’Higgins, who used to live in West Palm Beach and her sister Sallie O’Sullivan visiting from Dublin. They described Dublin so lovingly, we want to include in our next tour, at least to visit the art galleries. Sallie is a retired professor and photographer and suggested we continue on to Black Head if we want spectacular shots of the shoreline with the ancient limestone steps of the Burren leading to the edge of the earth.
On our way back from the edge of the known world, we see a blue and yellow sign. The Hazelwood Hotel is closed to tourists in order to house Ukrainian refugees. In a world feeling helpless from this senseless tragedy, they sacrificed their profits to make a difference.
We’re off to Sligo for the weekend for sacred sites and more natural beauty. We hope to see Glen-Car Falls described in Yeats poem Stolen Child. Check back for more of our adventures in Ireland.
It’s our first day in Ireland and we already have many stories to share. Our flight from Florida with a stop in Boston left at 7.15pm so as we flew East over the Atlantic our view from our window seat morphed from an eye level view of Orion’s Belt and the setting of the pink moon to lakes of fire shimmering on the horizon. We arrived at Shannon airport at 5.30 am so all was quiet as we skipped through customs and retrieved our baggage. Luggage carts are free to borrow if you return them to the corral outside.
They say there are two kinds of travelers, those that travel light and those that wish they did. We, of course, brought too much and still didn’t have what we needed handy. Nancy needed first aid supplies for a wound on her hand and they were already stowed in the overhead compartment. We always have mints or gum in our purse, but we both had changed to travel purses and mints didn’t make it to the checklist. So checklist for next trip starts with first aid kit in personal carry on and refreshing mints for a long masked night on an airplane.
On a happier note, we recommend flying into a smaller airport. Fewer people seems to translate to a more relaxed atmosphere. Also our choices in clothing kept us warm and dry through intermittent showers. My Columbia hiking pants also made good traveling pants, impervious to coffee spills and comfortable enough to sleep on the plane. Our Columbia waterproof hiking boots allowed us to tromp around country lanes to get todays treasured photos.
Thanks also to the lovely Mr. Lyons , who allowed us to trespass at his gate. Instead of shooing us off his driveway, he stopped, asked us if we were ok and chatted with us about his travels to North Carolina, Alabama and Florida.
A friend warned me to be leary of Irish men. As we were getting on the Aer Lingus flight, a gentleman in business class started a banter with us and said you just had to look at Nancy’s twinkling eyes to know that she was trouble. When I replied that I had been warned off talking to charming Irish men, he said that he had been given the same advice. He said that not only did he not heed the advice, but he ended up marrying one.
So lots of lessons today. Take what you need, but not too much. When you get into a car and there’s no brakes or accelerator pedal on the left side, move to the right side. Hug the middle line so you don’t lose the left side mirror of your rental car and frighten your passenger. Yield to the right in a roundabout. Stop and talk to cows and watch the calves and lambs frolic in a spring meadow. Don’t pick the dandelions, the bees need the food, although we considered pulling the young leaves for a salad. Do talk to strangers and allow them to be a blessing to you.
We hope to get back and see more of the Burren, but made sure we got some hot smoked Atlantic salmon, local cheese and soda bread crackers from the Burren Smokehouse. For nature lovers and foodies, it was a good start of our tour of the West Coast of Ireland. We started in the Midwest and will head to Sligo this weekend . Come back and hear the rest of the story.
We were privileged to attend an event at the Palladium last night that featured world class musicians. All were women with the exception of special guest Michael Ross on bass. Other special guests included jazz legend Rose Bilal, who wowed us with her performance of All of Me and Satin Doll. Rose’s long career includes opening for Gladys Knight, the Delphonics and Wilson Pickett. She toured internationally with John Lamb, bassist for Duke Ellingham and Kenny Drew, Jr. She is also known for her paintings and sculptures. Her book, A Stroke Saved My Life, is available at Barnes and Nobles.
The band was led by saxophonist Valerie Gillespie, adjunct professor at USF and frequent soloist with the Florida Orchestra. Her extensive CV includes playing with jazz greats Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin and traveling with Xavier Cugat Orchestra.
You might also catch Judi Glover playing in a band with her husband Alex. We were inspired to attend this concert after seeing her play with Scotty Wright at an event on the grounds of the Carter G Woodson Museum.
Patricia Dean is one of the few performers who sings and plays drums. She has played with jazz legends Nat Adderley and Ira Sullivan.
Lorri Hafer, best known as the vocalist with the Hillside Singers who charmed us with the song I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing
It was a good night to view the Worm Moon. We load snacks and gear and head toward downtown St. Pete to await the rise of moon over Tampa Bay.
It’s a pleasant breezy evening. The sky on our side of the bay is clear, but clouds are forming along the horizon on the Tampa side. Fragmented strains of Reggae music are carried on their waves toward us from Rise up Florida festival at Vinoy Park. Explains why it was difficult to find a place to park. Bugs seem to be asleep. Birds are gathering their last nibble of the day. Kayakers and boaters are grabbing a few more minutes of daylight to enjoy the Bay. Crickets and nature’s night sounds start to come alive. The clouds across Tampa Bay take on a sunset glow. We nibble our snacks and await the rise of the full moon.
In the distance, more clouds move in. The sky in the east where the moon is to appear, comes alive with sound, flashes, strikes. We watch the firework beauty. Rain is too far away to be of concern.
We’re curious why the eastern clouds have a light upper edge, like a halo. Pretty. We stare at the light rim, as the clouds continue to explode with bursts of light.
Then amongst the flashes —the moon rises in its full glory! Nature provided a grand entrance for the Worm Moon. A moon that is the last full moon of winter and the first moon that says spring is returning. Google the name to see the association with it signaling the return of spring.
February has been set aside as the specific month (Black History Month) to pay tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve citizenship and equality in the USA. February is a time to turn the spotlight on the contributions, triumphs, and sacrifices of African Americans. It is a time to pause, to reflect, to recognize and understand how the injustices imposed on the Black population have become ingrained within and shaped our nation’s history, with adverse effects. It is a time to look at our prejudices, our racial biases of peoples other than those from our “clan.” A time to consider the importance of diversity and how closed hearts limit the appreciation of the uniqueness of an individual or ethnic group of people.
Today (Sunday Feb 28) was a day of joy, a day of savoring the richness, the uniqueness, the essence, the flavor associated with black heritage. After church, we lunched with friends at a Louisiana Creole Café that served Southern and Creole food. Conversation is always thought provoking with this group.
Terrific performance in a beautiful outdoor venue, where music, weather and the social atmosphere of attendees spoke to one’s soul with an inviting whisper. So enjoyably refreshing and invigorating! Think of our loss, without the past and present great African American musicians.
A brief on the Woodson Museum of African American Museum: The Museum celebrates local Black history as well as the accomplishments of African Americans. Under the executive director leadership of Terri Lipsey Scott, an exuberant influencer, the Museum seeks to present African American history to a broad diverse audience through activities that will aid in the understanding, respect, and appreciation of African American accomplishments in art, culture, history, music and literature.
An end goal is to present, protect, interpret, preserve history and to enhance our ability as a society to respect, value diversity and foster equal rights and social justice. Additionally, the Museum provides educational scholarships for Black students.
The Woodson Museum is named after Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950). Woodson was the second African American to graduate Harvard with a doctorate degree and the only person of enslaved parentage to earn a PhD in History from any institution in the United States.
Woodson believed it was critical to teach the history of Black Americans to the public to ensure intellectual survival of the race within broader society. Otherwise, they would become a negligible factor in the thought of the world and be in danger of being exterminated. Woodson is known nationally as the “father of black history”.
The Journal of Negro History was founded in 1916 by Woodson. In February 1926, he launched the celebration of “Negro History Week” to talk about the contributions that Black people had made to America. Negro History Week is considered the precursor of Black History Month which was founded in 1970.
For me, an extra effort is required to arise before the sun appears. I do well to put my feet on the floor by 7am. But this morning, with intent, my feet touched the floor to get ready for a volunteer day with Habitat for Humanity. Rather than just financially supporting Habitat for Humanity, both of us had been wanting to physically support the cause. Unity of Gulfport provided an avenue by being one of the volunteer groups for the Pinellas County area.
The contractors hit a delay in receiving their supplies. Hence, they were unable to provide us, the volunteers, with tasks of which we were capable. So, we were released from duty for the day.
Not to be thwarted, we decided to do something else that would be fun and supportive of a cause. Since we were already in the Largo area, we called Kathlena, a friend in Largo to determine how to unfold the day. She suggested meeting at the Florida Botanical Gardens to see their “Arts Annual Exhibition” and to participate in celebrating African American Heritage. See Deidre’s blog “African American Heritage Celebration” for today’s switched event.
As we left the Habitat for Humanity site, I started to think a little more about the organization. Something Jimmy Carter supports must be great – right? But I still wanted to research the background of the organization.
Habitat for Humanity is a global US non-governmental, nonprofit Christian based housing organization founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. They served in executive roles until 2005. Yes, review of the history of the organization indicates disputes and conflicts within the organization. However, overall, to me, Habitat remains a worthy nonprofit.
General requirements: Lived and worked in area for one or more years, at least one year of steady reliable income, reasonable credit, attend 20 hours of home ownership classes, volunteer 350-450 hours of sweat equity and contribute $1,000 toward closing cost.
Background history on the founder’s path to establishing Habitat: In 1965, the Fuller family stopped to visit friends at Koinonia Farm on a road trip from NYC. “After spending several hours with the intentional community’s founder, Clarence Jordan, Millard and Linda decided to stay and began a relationship with Jordan that ultimately led to the creation of Habitat for Humanity.” Millard Fuller was a successful businessman and lawyer and was a self-made millionaire by the age of 29. In 1968, searching for a way to refocus their lives on Christian service, the Fullers gave up their wealth, moving with their children to the Koinonia Farm in southwest Georgia.
The Fuller’s move to the farm in 1968 brought renewed energy to Koinonia Farm which was suffering from the lingering effects of the 1950’s Jim Crow racial policies of Georgia. Jordan and Fuller along with other members of the Koinonia community decided to change the Farm’s organizational structure to one of social services. Koinonia Farm became Koinonia Partners. Several programs associated with the construction of affordable houses for low-income families were initiated for families who had previously lived in dilapidated shacks. Koinonia Partners built 194 homes from 1969 to 1992.
Believing the poor needed capital, not charity, the primary focus of Koinonia Partners was Partnership Housing and developing a revolving “Fund for Humanity.” The Fund for Humanity would use donations to purchase building materials. Volunteer laborers along with the family that would eventually own the house would construct a simple, decent house. The homeowners would then repay the cost of the materials to the Fund for Humanity at 0% interest. In this way, the work was not a give-away program and the funds repaid were then used to begin work on additional houses.
The Fullers’ four years of guidance at Koinonia Partners was followed by three years of building “partnership housing” in Zaire/Belgian Congo (the Democratic Republic of Congo). These efforts helped model the structure of Habitat for Humanity and eventually lead, in 1976, to the creation of Habitat for Humanity International (commonly called Habitat for Humanity). The international operational headquarters are located in Americus, Georgia and the administrative headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia. Habitat for Humanity operates in more than 92 nations.
Back to Jimmy Carter: In early 1984, Millard Fuller courted President Jimmy Carter. Carter’s hometown is Plains, Georgia, which is only a few miles from Habitat’s headquarters in Americus, Georgia. Carter gave not only his name and reputation to the new non-profit, but also his own resources – making financial contributions regularly and participating in an annual week-long effort of building Habitat homes all over the world. “The Carters’ involvement with Habitat for Humanity propelled the organization to even faster growth. By 2003, Habitat affiliates worldwide had built over 150,000 homes and were active in 92 nations.”
A little information on Koinonia Farm: Koinonia Farm was established in 1942 by Clarence and Florence Jordan and Martin and Mabel England. Koinonia members divested their personal wealth and shared a “common purse” economic system. The practiced vision was an interracial community where blacks and whites lived and worked together in partnership, sharing resources, being wise responsible stewards of land and natural resources. In 1993, the “common purse” structure and organization structure was modified.
During the early foundation era of Koinonia Farms, one can image the open hostility experienced due to Jim Crow politics and philosophy. In the 1950’s, the Jordan family and Koinonia residents were excommunicated from Rehoboth Southern Baptist Church for their views on racial equality, the local Chamber of Commerce requested that Koinonia sell its property and disband, a boycott of the farm was implemented and the Ku Klux Klan performed acts of terrorism and intimidation such as dynamiting Koinonia’s roadside produce stand and firing shots into the compound.
“As a way to survive in the hostile surroundings, Koinonia members created a small mail-order catalog to sell their farm’s pecans and peanuts around the world. The business’s first slogan was “Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia!” The business evolved to include treats made in the farm’s bakery.”
When I look back at the conflicts faced by African Americans as they sought racial equality and at the perseverance of Koinonia Farm to maintain their practice of equality. I love the Farm’s first slogan “Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia!” The Koinonia Farm Store business continues today. Click here for a pdf copy of their 2019-2020 catalogue which provides a brief of the Farm Store.
When we woke at 6 this morning to get ready for our volunteer assignment at a Habitat for Humanity site, we didn’t know that we would end up with a different assignment. We arrived with our lunches and snacks in our work clothes and closed toed shoes to learn that our tasks had to be postponed to next week. Such is the nature of the building trade, dependent on the shifting schedules of subcontractors.
Since we were already in Largo, we called our friend Kathlena to see what she had planned for her Saturday. She invited us to join her at the African American Heritage Celebration at the Botanical Garden in Largo.
We were able to engage with several local artists who were displaying their work.
We first met Chris Aikens, aka ROD for Rebel or Die, whose inspiring characters come to life with their piercing eyes and strength of spirit. His Wounded Phoenix again shows persevering amidst adversity. I also enjoyed his fashion sense and that of his wife, who was also beautifully dressed. Check him out on Facebook under Chris Aikens or Instagram @rebelordieart
Another inspiring artist is Brenda Bohannon, who posed with her work, Blessings, an homage to her mother and her gratitude with being showered with blessings such as peace, love and joy. You can find her at http://www.bbotheartist.com.
I met a special lady named Shanita Allen, a children’s book author featuring a young African American girl named Ari. I bought Let’s go Dreaming into the Stars with the accompanying coloring book as a gift for my friend’s grandchildren. You can find her at email@example.com
The highlight of the exhibit was the works of local students. One of the first prizes was given to Josiah Brooks for his piece, Woven Together, and second prize to Bella Tolliver, both in grade 5 at Lealman Elementary
My companions, my sweet Nancy and our friend Kathlena, planting seeds in the virtual garden bed at the Tree, a life size tree woven with cloth. This was one of the fun interactive exhibits that you were encouraged to touch and share your reflections and wishes.
When I posted my abundance of collard greens, a friend suggested I make Caldo Gallego, a hearty Cuban soup. We had already invited the after church lunch bunch for black beans and rice with collards so I made a quick run to the grocery Sunday morning for Chorizo sausage.
I checked a recipe online for the basic ingredients, but here’s what I actually cooked: 5 small potatoes cut up and parboiled , a quart of chicken broth, 1 small onion chopped, 2 small carrots diced, 6 chorizo sausages cut into bite size chunks and browned before adding, 2 bay leaves. After soup had simmered long enough for potatoes and carrots to be tender, I added the collards that had been previously sautéed in olive oil with garlic. All this was done in a rush, while I also cooked rice, baked a pan of cornbread, and seasoned the canned black beans with onion, bay leaf and fresh oregano. Usually I cheat with Goya black bean soup in the red can because you get a nicely seasoned gravy.
While at the grocery Sunday morning, I couldn’t resist some showy colored spider mums and some sweet pink roses to cheer up a fading Valentines arrangement. This proved fateful to Nancy; she dropped the knife as she was trimming the stems. Of course it landed directly on top of her foot and bled profusely.
We managed to pull it together, get to church on time and hosted an extravagant Collard Greens celebration. For Nancy, no meal is complete without salad with fruits and nuts.
As you can see, Nancy’s axiom is that it’s not enough until it’s too much.