Unaccustomed me-time! Two hours to stroll through the emporiums of bling, maybe stop for a coffee, buy a little treasure somewhere along the way. Sounds nice?

The sun is shining, the summer sales are on:  Life is good.

So what I do actually need? In truth, not a lot.

Things are, however, a bit grim on the underwear front. I locate the nearest M&S and head straight for the undies dept.  There is a spring in my step. I feel like a six-year-old in a candy shop. I want everything…….

A whole  lot of other ladies, whose underwear drawers must be in a similarly depleted state to my own, are already hard at work.  Together we embark on a frenzied raid of the sale rails.

Some time later, the underwear has been selected and its time for coffee.  I order a cappuccino which comes in a  bucket sized mug. These days, I mostly drink herbal teas, so am not prepared for the scale of the caffeine rush. Pumped up with adrenalin, I hit the shop floor some twenty minutes later. Ready to go again.

This time, I wander into the kids department, which is swarming with people. Deep breath as I remind myself how much fun I am having!

A blond lady is perusing the PJ’s with her affable pre-teen daughter.

‘Darling,’ she says, ‘We must buy this! (holds up floral print pj’s) Even though they are too small for you, they are just soo…. pretty!’ The pre-teen emits girlish squeals of joy.

Maybe I should buy some for my  teenage daughter?  However, I really can’t buy pj’s for Jude without getting some for Iarla. But would he like stars or dinosaurs? Decisions, decisions. Maybe I should also buy some for my friend’s little girls. After all, I’ve had it on good authority that:

  • They are pretty
  • They are half price
  • Children like them

Twenty minutes later, I have selected four pairs of pj’s. My arms are overflowing with treasures, my heart with beneficence.


How much are all these bargains going to cost? I do some quick mental arithmetic and realise that I must put something back. But what? Who can I leave out? Actually I can’t  leave anyone out, so I  put all the pj’s back and hang on to the underwear. After all, that was what I came in here for in the first place.

By now, it is all getting a bit much. I am succumbing to CONSUMER CONFUSION

Doubts creep in about the selected underwear. Do I even need it? Probably not. Is it nice? Not sure. Maybe there is better, more perfect underwear in another shop. Should I go and check?

Yes-but first a little rest would be nice.

My yoga teacher has shown us all these wonderful positions you can do when you need to recharge your batteries.

Suddenly, I have a longing to do a calming position. Zone out for a couple of minutes in a Downward Dog.

An image of my teenage daughter pops into my head. She is waving a finger at me.

‘Don’t even think about it Lady,’ she warns

‘I know, I know,’ I snap.

It’s not as if I really meant to- but a chair would be nice.

Given the average age of Marks and Spencer’s clientele, I am surprised there are not more chairs around the place. By now the bucketful of coffee I downed earlier is taking its toll on my bladder. Not only are there no chairs in this emporium, there are no loo’s either.

I locate an aisle in menswear and stash my underwear under a rack of ties, promising to return and commit the final act of purchase  once I’ve found the loo.

Due to time constraints the promise is broken.  Operation UNDIE REPLACEMENT  has to be abandoned til another day.  My ME TIME is up and I’m glad.  I willingly revert back to mummy mode and scarper off to collect my boy from summer camp.




Absolute or Approximate?

white rabbit

A Spanish woman and an Irish woman are having a chat. The Spanish woman is asked to convey in one word, something quintessential about her national character. She thinks for a minute. Then she has it. ‘Manana.’

The Irish women has a long hard think, shrugs her shoulders and says:

‘We have no word in the Irish language which conveys a similar sense of urgency’ .  (HAHA!)

Do we live up to our cultural stereotype as feckless, laid back, horizontal even?

Quite possibly.  One thing for sure is that we are bad time keepers.

However, we are not alone!

My experiences as a glamping host has given me a privileged glimpse into the foibles and idiosyncrasies of guests from many different countries.

The way I see it, the world is divided into two sorts of people. Absolutes and Approximates. Let me give you an example. An Approximate will tell you that they are going to arrive at 3pm.

DING- That for me is now cast in stone. I will organise my day to the Nth degree to be here to welcome them at 3pm.  However, for an Approximate 3pm is a rough guideline. What it really means is that they will turn up at any point from 12 noon to midnight. I kid you not.

The most favoured time for Approximates to turn up is dinner time.

Again, dinner time is one of these cast in stone family ritual things. I cook, we sit together. The fiery one’s fight. The peacekeepers peace keep. We eat. It causes me actual physical pain to leave the dinner table at 8.30 to welcome my 3pm guest.

Absolutes, on the other hand, relate to time in a very literal way.

Let me give you another example. An Absolute will do everything in their power to arrive at the assigned time. If they are held up, they will send  multiple texts informing you of their progress.  When they do arrive, they will apologize profusely. It upsets them to be late. They do not willingly mess with the sacred cow of time. Needless to say, these are my people. I don’t mess with the sacred cow either.

A recent discussion with another Absolute confirmed for me how deeply we revere the cow.

She recounted a story in which she was kept waiting for over thirty minutes. In all seriousness she said she felt the only reason someone could be this late, without texting was sudden death.

Breakfast is another potential minefield. Do you know how long it takes to soft boil an egg? 5 minutes. Not 3, not 8. Precisely 5.

So, when I ask guests, ‘what time would you like breakfast?’ I mean this in a very literal sense.

It should be simple. The guest names the time. I deliver the breakfast.

But no, an Approximate will find any way possible to wriggle around and violate the cow!

Some  Approximates won’t wake up.  Precious moments are lost whilst they scramble into their clothes (uh, hum, or not…) then the half-door of the gypsy wagon is flung open as bleary eyed, they receive their congealing breakfasts.

More insidious,  are the Approximates who disappear into the shower at the appointed breakfast time. What is that about?

No shadow of doubt that an Absolute will be ready on time for breakfast.  On a fine day, you will see them sitting out at the picnic table, showered and dressed, napkin on lap at five minutes before the appointed time.

Given the security and sense of well-being I experience when I am with my own kind, you will be very surprised to hear that I have married into the other camp. My beloved is an Approximate of the highest order. The king of Approximate and I am the queen of Absolute.  Opposites attract and all that…

Do you think the cosmos is trying to teach us both something?





A faux pas…on fashion friday

dress code

I started my first ‘proper’ job  when I was 26.  The office was a  chic, caffeine fueled sort of place.  People worked long hours, had dark rings under their eyes… when asked how they were, they claimed one of two things.

Either they were  ‘UP THE WALLS!!’ or ‘UNDER PRESSURE!’

I watched, I learned.

Nowadays, I would identify the prevailing dress style of my colleagues as designer casual. At the time, I just felt it was all a bit nondescript. Boring even. The one thing everyone had in common was spectacles and those dark rings.

I drank lots of coffee and worked on my own dark rings.  After a while I was asked to attend an evening meeting with some colleagues from another research centre. It was a Friday night.

After the meeting, I planned to hit the pub  with my  buddies. The pub we frequented was a biker joint. Lots of loud music and long-haired bikers. My usual pub attire consisted of  Dr Martin boots, black leggings and a mini skirt. On this occasion I decided to tone it down, on account of the meeting.  I settled on a black vest and harem pant- probably the most respectable outfit I possessed at that point in my life.

I wasn’t exactly late for the meeting, but I wasn’t early either. When I walked in, everyone looked up. My immaculately groomed and dressed boss beckoned me to my seat and introduced me to all the other immaculately groomed participants as his research assistant. Needless to say, they were all wearing suits….

After that episode in humiliation,  I was consumed with longing for a BRIEF CASE.

I located, ‘the one’ after much searching.  Of course it was beyond my budget. A small obstacle, I threw caution to the winds and blew my savings.  Then I blew some more savings on shoes and a suit. The shoes were a novelty. Proper lady shoes complete with little heel.

By the time the next meeting came around, I was ready.

OH YES.  Never again would I turn up to a meeting in harem pants. How ridiculous! What could I have been thinking of?

This time the meeting was about drug prevention.

I had to fly to Amsterdam. ON MY OWN

It was a big deal. The stuff of stomach ulcers (sadly, I kid you not)

After a sleepless night in my hotel bed, I got up. Showered. Put on my spectacles, and sombre black suit. Stuffed my paperwork in to my new briefcase.

Ah the gravitas of that bag!  Seriously grown up.  Deep breath.


I strolled into the meeting room, intentionally early and fiddled with my paperwork.

Twenty minutes later, there was no sign of anyone.  More deep breaths.

Eventually my colleagues filed in. They were assorted youth workers, night-club owners and people recovering from addiction.

This time,the only suit in the room was my own.

Everyone else was pierced, tattooed and colourful. Mega cool. In fact, they’d have fitted right into my pub of preference back home.

Personally, I’d never felt so uncool in my life. Wrong footed AND those bloody lady shoes were killing me.

I would like to tell you that was the last time I got it wrong, but I would be lying. On a more positive note, I don’t have to worry much about transgressing dress codes nowadays as I live on a farm.

So that’s it for fashion friday. Have you ever made a fashion faux pas?









The Wardrobe Mistress and the Monk

Anne and Ron rolled up last night.  I was cooking dinner so Ger went out to do the meet and greet. We often take it in turns.

So who are Anne and Ron? In their email they described themselves as two senior citizens visiting Ron’s homeland. They told me they were very excited about booking a night in our gypsy wagon.

All well and good. A lot of guests pass through the gates of our little glamping site in the Summer. Most of them are young couples, or friends on holiday together.

Ger returned twenty minutes later. ‘They’re lovely,’ he said.

‘Good,’ I said, shaking the sweet potatoes. ‘Do they want tea or coffee.’

‘I don’t know.’

‘OK go and ask,’ I said, putting on the kettle. Lately I’ve found that people have been leaving my chocolate brownies so I baked cookies instead. I was keen for the guests to try them out.

Ten minutes later, Ger returned. ‘Ron will have tea,’ he said. ‘Anne has gone to bed.’

‘That was quick. Is she OK?’

‘Yea, she loves it here. She’s always wanted to stay in a gypsy wagon ever since she ran away with the carnival at the age of seventeen.’

Carnival?? Double take. This sure is a new one to me.

Intrigued, I volunteered to carry the tea-tray down to the orchard, I encountered Ron -deep in conversation with the lovely French couple staying in our caravan.

First impression- he looked like a wizard with a walking stick.

He told me to drop the tea into the wagon. Slightly uncomfortable as I knew Anne had gone to bed, I knocked on the door and introduced myself.

Ann climbed out of bed and took the tea. She was wearing a full length white cotton nightdress. She looked like a teenager who, unaccountably, has become a senior.  I could clearly see the girl she once was. Slight, fair-haired, impish smile. I could imagine her running away with the carnival.

I have a golden rule when it comes to guests. I do not ask personal questions.  If people want to talk about their lives, their families, their jobs, then I’m happy to listen but I will not ask.

This time was different.  I REALLY wanted to know about that carnival.

The night passed. Ger brought their breakfast to the wagon this morning. Ron was wearing a long red tartan nightshirt. Anne had slept well.



Turns out Anne worked for a freak show in the carnival as the ‘Amazing  Elastic Lady’.  (Ger has less qualms asking personal stuff than me!)

Ger and I had an appointment at 10.a.m, so we said our goodbyes and drove off. We felt sad that we didn’t have more time to talk.

As luck would have it, we met them driving along our one track road on our way back home. Ger pulled into the verge to enable them to pass and wound down the window.

They said they were sad to go. They had enjoyed their stay.  We said that we had enjoyed having them. Then Ger asked Ron if he had worked for the carnival too.

No. He had done various things. Mostly followed where the Spirit led. The Spirit led him into a long stint of nursing. He had also also been a Cistercian Monk for twelve years.

After she finished with the freak show, the elastic lady had become a WARDROBE MISTRESS. So cool. I am blown away by this. It ranks as dream job number 7 on my list.

(more about dream job number one another time)

So there we have it. Anne and Ron. The Wardrobe Mistress and the Monk. This amazing couple who drifted briefly through our door and filled us with curiosity about the variousness of life.

The link between any of this and fashion is extremely tenuous.

Yes, there were two long nightdresses, some elastic and a lifetime of costume making. No more.

But, hey, fashion friday is like that.

See you all next week!



























As if by magic, the shop assistant appeared

Superheroes. We’ve all seen the pictures. Muscly guys with overdeveloped torsos. Bright coloured body hugging lycra. Saving the world from baddies. Marvelous! You’ve got to love them.

Today, being fashion Friday, I want to talk about my favourite superhero; the ubiquitous Mr Ben. All round good guy, snazzy dresser and hero of my childhood, way back in the 1970’s.

First, I should tell you a little about myself.  I am the youngest of four; a happy accident as my mother used to say…The other three are 12, 15 and 16 years older than me.

So I grew up in a house of busy parents and angsty teenagers. Good job we had telly. I watched a lot of it.  In fact I spent some of my happiest hours in front of it.

It was there that I  encountered MR BEN.

Mr Ben.jpg

So, who was this Mr Ben?

Let’s just say he was a man who liked to dress up. Most of the time he was pretty understated, repressed even; a black suit, bowler hat sort of guy- then he discovered FANCY DRESS and met the fabulous fez wearing shopkeeper.

And MAGIC happened. Literally.  Any time Mr Ben went into the changing room, he exited through a magic door which led him into a costume appropriate world. IMAGINE THAT!

When he put on a pirate costume he automatically entered a world of pirates and so on and so forth for thirteen episodes.

And what did he do on arriving in the costume appropriate world?

Well, funnily enough there was always a problem which needed sorting out and Mr Ben proved himself pivotal in finding solutions.

The moral element was nice. We all knew where we stood. Mr Ben liked to dress up- and when he did, he would help someone with a pressing moral dilemna.  Not in a wham, bam… boom manner, but in a gentle, good sense must prevail sort of way.

So that was Mr Ben.  Do- gooder extraordinaire with a penchant for fancy dress. Perfect superhero for fashion friday. Check him out. The artwork alone merits a visit.

Many adults feel that telly is bad for kids.

I don’t know. It’s probably OK in moderation- as part of a balanced, healthy diet- like the occasional bar of chocolate. That’s me, as a parent speaking.

However, for the child that I was back in the 1970’s, telly was unquestionably brilliant.

I’ve meandered through subsequent decades with one abiding dream.

I want to write books for children. This has been fueled, in large part, by what I watched on telly as a small girl.

Who knows whether the stuff I write will ever make it into the commercial domain. It doesn’t really matter.   I do know that the desire to write is a good thing.  It’s a creative thing.  It’s the sort of thing that I would like my kids to do.

So thanks Mr Ben for beckoning me through the magic door into the fabulous land of pen and paper.  Thanks David Mc Kee- who invented Mr Ben.  And thanks to the BBC who broadcast Mr Ben- See you all next week!


bye bye.jpeg

























Things that keep me awake at night….


A Sunday morning lie in is one of life’s little pleasures.  These days I seldom get a lie in. Most mornings will find me up bright and early, scrambling eggs and making porridge for guests who want to be on the road at first light  (you’ve got to admire their enthusiasm!!)

Yesterday evening, our guests asked, would I mind if they had a late breakfast. Late being 10a.m.

MIND? Certainly not. I actively love the late breakfast brigade.

I allowed myself to stay up later than usual, on account of the lie in. Took my time, read a book and drifted off to a blissful sleep.

Until….  I woke some time later feeling half cooked.

I threw off the duvet and opened the windows. We are having a heat wave.  Heat waves are a pretty rare occurrence here in Ireland. Far be it from me to complain about a bit of sunshine, but the unaccustomed heat has it’s draw backs. The biggest of these being the swarms of small biting insects which appear out of nowhere and feast on  blood.

Quick as a flash, the small biting insects spotted the open windows and came to dine on me and my beloved.

We sweated and itched. My beloved snored. I prodded him.

Some time later there was a prolonged blood curdling bray. It wasn’t my beloved. It was just the new donkey being a bad ass.

Recently we acquired a donkey which badly needs gelding. He’s suffering from his hormones and nightime is kind of hard on the poor guy.

I itched some more, before drifting into a half sleep.

The next interruption came from what sounded like an old man standing outside my window and shouting his head off. What was he shouting?


My first thought was that it must be a distressed guest, but no, it was a sheep.

Have you ever listened to sheep? They really do sound like grumpy old men.

My German Shephard had a big old bark round about 3 a.m. She had been stationed in the vegetable patch with a brief to scare off the marauding deer who had eaten my chard the previous night. She performed admirably. GOOD GIRL WILLOW.

Mother Nature then roused me from my slumber with what sounded like a very loud ratchet. It was a magpie.

This is what google has to say about magpies.

The magpie is a distinctive looking bird, with glossy black and brilliant white markings. Its sound is nearly as striking, famously noisy and almost jarring. This has led to another meaning of magpie, someone who talks obnoxiously.

The obnoxious chatter continued for some time and then my own thought process kicked in.  So I lay there pondering life; the exams my two teenagers are going to sit on Wednesday- the fact that they haven’t studied enough;  the list of jobs that are awaiting me…the bills that need to be paid…

Then I woke up. Realised that it was 9.40. GASP! That I only had twenty  minutes to deliver breakfast to my guests-with the standard, cheery greeting:

“Good morning- Hope you slept well!!”



A Uniform U-Turn on Fashion Friday



I used to hate school uniforms. I hated them so much that I refused to send my children to a school which had a uniform policy.

Why? Well, I had this thing about kids being square pegs and schools being round holes and there being a lack of fit, so to speak. I saw uniforms as symbols of a regimented and authoritarian system. Probably came from my own less than superlative school days.

Suffice to say, I carried some baggage…

The problem I faced was that most schools insist on uniforms. Undaunted, I found a school at the other side of town which ticked all the boxes. No uniform; non denominational; co-ed, small. Perfect! It did involve driving across town at rush hour, but what the heck. The smallies were worth it.

All that changed when we moved to the country. There was only one school in our locality. Thankfully, it was a very nice school and it didn’t require a uniform. No problem there.

As the children grew, something strange happened. I stopped  caring so much about uniforms and a whole host of other things too. i.e. Barbies and Action Men and whether or not they reinforced stereotypical gender roles.

You know the sort of thing.

Then my children got much bigger and moved on to Secondary school. Everything changed. There was a strict uniform policy. Grey pants, blue jumper, white polo shirt, black shoes. Very generic, very synthetic…. everything I hated.

Did I care? A little. I still believed that uniforms suppress individuality.

But, much of the fervour and passion had waned.


So what about all that unique individuality? Those square pegs and round holes??

Well, the kids have their own take on that.

I’ve watched with interest as my kids symbolically deconstruct their uniforms. The new jumper I bought my daughter last September remains in her drawer, unworn. The jumper she chooses to wear is so ragged and tattered at the cuffs, that it is only fit for the bin. Strange, you might say, until you start looking at the jumpers other kids are wearing. All battered, ragged and threadbare. It’s the same with the shoe laces, which are left undone. It’s the same with the school jackets, which are never worn.

Then you realise, this is a collective statement. This is transgression en masse. It’s an, ‘us against them’ statement.  The kids know the deal. The school knows the deal. The parents know the deal. And it’s completely OK.

And with my  new-found insights into the teenage psyche, I now believe that school uniforms rock.  YES, ACTUALLY ROCK!  Bad enough for teens to cope with hair and makeup! The choice of finding something of their own to wear every day would completely overwhelm them. I don’t think my two oldest would even make it out of their bedrooms, never mind onto the school bus.

Being a teen is a complex and difficult thing. That’s why I believe that the generic, grey uniforms is a blessing in disguise. It’s bog standard, simple and reliable. Everybody else is wearing the same. And that is a good thing, because most teens don’t want to stand out too much.  Even better,  with a few  choice rips here and there, it is very transgressible.

So there you have it.  I have performed a complete  U Turn on uniforms. Ta dah!!

See you next week









Elegy for a Tasseled Nightcap-on Fashion Friday



The Winter of ’87 was exceptionally cold. I was a student at the time. Student accommodation back in the 1980’s was pretty poor.  My flat consisted of two rooms with a bathroom across the hall. The shower never worked and the landlord wouldn’t fix it. The hallway was a, ‘no man’s land’ of accumulated grime; the smell of sweaty trainers, mould and student cooking….. Ah, those were the days!

Student life was harsh during the cold spell.  In the mornings, we had to chip ice off the inside of the window in order to see out! Our sole form of heat was a two bar heater. Like many of my generation, I was brought up to believe that two bar heaters ‘eat’ electricity, As a result of the cold snap, class attendance was at an all time high; warm lecture theatres being preferable to frosty flats with voracious, guzzling heaters.

At the time, my friend Martha needed a place to stay. I offered her a camp bed in the corner of my grotty bedroom. During the cold, frosty nights, Martha  wrapped a jumper around her head. It was a red lamb’s wool jumper.  She said she didn’t care what she looked like. It kept her warm.  Sensible girl, Martha.

Nowadays, central heating has warmed things up, big time. No more waking up in the morning with a cold nose and condensed breath. No need to wear a jumper on your head. Modern technology has rendered all forms of night caps obsolete. They are gone, departed, defunct. What better excuse for an elegy of sorts?  (I’m guessing you might prefer some useless facts, rather than an actual, full blown lament? ) Right?

So what do we know about nightcaps? Apparently they were widely used in Europe from the middle ages up to the twentieth century. Men tended to wear traditional stocking caps with tassels on the end.  The pointed bit offered extra warmth for the neck. Care was taken not to make the point excessively long, for fear it would choke a person during the night! Women preferred to wear either a cloth turban or a triangular cap tied under the chin. I have no idea why!

A very ornate form of nightcap became popular with the well-heeled gentlemen  during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It consisted of several panels of silk or linen,  embroidered with silver thread and featuring motifs of fruit, birds and flowers.

After a hard day at ‘ye oldendaye‘ equivalent of the office, gentlemen liked to slip off their wigs and breeches and recline in a highly elaborate cap for the evening. Nice.

fancy 4

Nightcaps were worn for two reasons. Not only did they keep the head warm, they protected it from infestations of head lice. Nasty things, head lice. Especially if they got under your wig. Happily, it was acceptable in polite society to itch lice in public with a silver pin kept down the front of your dress, specifically for the purpose.

Interestingly, before the eighteen hundreds, people didn’t believe in washing their hair very much. Shampoo, as we know it, hadn’t been invented. Instead, a thick paste of ash, vine stalks and egg whites was used for hair washing.  Most people powdered their heads instead. It was easier.

What else?  One, John Corbett bequeathed his ‘beste velvet nighte cappe,’ to his dear old dad in 1577. His dad may not, however, have worn the said cappe for some time, as it was customary for men to don a black night cap and nightgown for the period of mourning.  Thomas Verney was well prepared for such an eventuality. His memoirs (1641) state that his wardrobe included not one but, ‘two black taffety nightclothes with black night capps!! ‘

Up until 1850, it was accepted practice in the British judicial system to offer a condemned prisoner, the opportunity to wear their own nightcap at public executions. Whoever said the authorities didn’t have a heart? Sadly, some people couldn’t afford their own nightcaps. Whether or not the prospect of execution in your own nightcap was a much better prospect than execution ‘au natural’ is anyone’s guess!

Interestingly, or not- the white lace night cap worn by the unfortunate Charles I on the night before his execution- 30 January, 1649 is still on display in Carrisbrook Castle Museum. Uhm, that’s a must see for the bucket list.

chas night cap.jpg

Stop! Enough is Enough. See you all next week- and I’ll try not to be so grim.



P.S. Check out The History of Underclothes (Dover Fashion and Costumes) 1992. C & W Cunnington.




‘Come for your Clothes’ on Fashion Friday


We’re big on funerals here in Ireland.  Attending funerals is an absolute moral obligation, EVEN if you didn’t actually know the person.

Maybe you knew of them?  Maybe your mother knew them?  At the end of the day, it’s all about paying your respects. That’s what matters.

Personally I find it a bit hard. I am an emotional sponge. If people are upset, then I’m upset. But even for a self-confessed sponge, some vestige of self control is necessary. A wobbly chin is understandable. All out blubbering is not.

Anyway, all this is a prelude to what I really want to share with you today. It is of a somewhat sombre nature, hence the sombre preamble.

This little excerpt from the memoirs of my late Uncle Sean details a ritual that was enacted following the death of his mother ( my grandmother).

‘On January 13, 1937, my mother died. She was 47. I was 16. Three weeks later, it was arranged to give clothes to my mother that she would have in the next world. We gathered together in the field west of the house in the evening. My sister, Breda had a chair.  On the chair were all my mother’s clothes. We said the fifteen decades of the rosary, the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries. We knelt on the wet grass. We each in turn had to say a decade. At the end of each decade, my sister would take a garment of my mother’s clothes, shake holy water on it and call aloud. 

‘Nora Jane, Norah Jane. Come for your clothes.’ 

Breda would then lay the garments on a bush near us. We were very lonesome and Teddy, who was eight years old, cried the most. My sister helped him to say ‘Hail Mary’.

My Aunt Hanna of Clogherann was selected to wear my mother’s clothes. We watched her for the three Sundays she would have to wear them. We were all pleased after Mass on the third Sunday. Mother would now have clothes to wear in heaven. She would be naked no more. The brown habit she wore in the box was for this world only.’ 

I find this account fascinating and not only because it is a slice of family history. It’s just that I have never come across any other reference to this particular custom.

My uncle describes a dress related ritual that seems to me to be reminiscent of a much earlier time.  There are elements of pre-christian ritual  pervading what is ostensibly a christian ceremony.  Funnily enough, this mingling of the two traditions is common enough in the history of the Irish Church. I’m sure such practices were never actually sanctioned by the church, but they were overlooked and that is part of the reason why the church flourished here.

I have thought long and hard about what it might mean.

For me, it’s about transition and how to bridge the gap into the great unknown.

Faced with the loss of a loved one, the bereaved then have to sift through that person’s various belongings.  And there is no more poignant reminder of a loved one, than the clothes that they formerly wore.

I had a little mantra when it came to letting go of some of my parents belongings…things like slippers, old shoes..the sort of things that lives are cluttered with.

‘It’s just a thing…it’s not them. Losing them was the hard bit…this is easy.’

And yet it still gave me a pang of sadness to move on stuff that my mother or father had worn.

Nowadays, we tend to keep one or two mementoes and bring the rest to a charity shop. The hope being that our donation would raise a little money for a good cause.

A couple of generations ago, it was different. My Uncle Sean was chronicling a time in which people just didn’t have the same amount of stuff that we now take for granted.

In the 1930’s, kids in our area went to school barefoot. They didn’t know they were living in poverty because everyone else in the neighbourhood was doing the same thing.

In a society which has very little material wealth, people can’t afford to waste. Things have to be reused.

And yet….there is all the same angst surrounding the possessions of a loved one. The dress, or hat, or shawl worn by a woman is saturated with their essence.  They are powerful emotive items.

I completely understand that it was necessary to symbolically defuse those items in order for them to be re-appropriated.

And there you have it. This sorrowful little ceremony down in the field was a way of saying …we love you mum …we miss you…. we want to do something very practical for you in the next world. We believe we are helping to sort out your wardrobe up there in heaven.

And then, knowing that we have done our best for you, it will be OK to redistribute your clothes amongst family and friends who need these things and will value them.

And that, my friends is it for fashion Friday!

See you next week.




Ewonderhub Blogger Award


I was nominated for the Ewonderhub Award by

Just want to thank Lisa for nominating me and turning what was a pretty average day into a feel good day!

Thanks Lisa. Lisa is a very talented Italian 20-year-old who is full of positive energy, talent and joie de vivre. Check out her blog. Dream to plan…what a statement. This lady is heading somewhere amazing.. AND I WANT TO READ ALL ABOUT IT!!


I started blogging about two months ago…and I feel as if I’ve come home. I’ve met some lovely people through my blog and I feel so privileged that they take the time to check out what I write and share their own thoughts.

Writing makes me happy. It makes me much happier than house-work. When I write, I feel like my real self.

However, being a technophobic dinosaur was a bit of a stumbling block.  I didn’t have a clue where to begin…so I took a course.

Blogging And Beyond

With the help of the lovely Elizabeth Murray,  I felt I could dip my toes into this wonderful blog space.

So from toe dipping, I’ve progressed to swimming in the shallow waters and I love it!!


As I’m such a novice, I don’t think I have much in the way of advice to offer.

Hang on a sec. I do have something. ENJOY IT.  Chances are, if you are drawn to blogging, it’s because there’s a writer in you somewhere wanting to come out. This is a great space to let that happen.

Rules for the Blogger Recognition Award

Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
Attach the award to your post.
Write a brief story / history of your blog.
A take down of advice to New bloggers.
Nominate 10 other bloggers
Comment on their blogs to notify them of the nomination.

I nominate:

The following is a list of blogs that I really enjoy. I’m sure these blogs get lots of awards because they’re all great. There are other great blogs I read too, but I only get to mention ten here.