Tag: Ireland

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The West Cork Murder Case

It has become my summer obsession: The murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in a remote area of West Cork, Ireland, 1996. A French woman, wealthy, attractive, and free-spirited, spending a Christmas holiday alone in her remote Irish cottage turned up dead. No, not dead. Savagely murdered. Bludgeoned with multiple rocks and a cinder block, her nightclothes snagged in brambles, and her body laid open to the sky on the edge of a dirt driving path.

It all happened in an area where murders are incredibly rare, and the rage exacted on her body was so savage that this alone defies explanation. But it gets stranger. It seems that Sophie was fairly reclusive and very few locals knew anything about her. No one knows who might have the motive or opportunity. No one knows what she did with her days, or what her trip was about. No one (save for the murderer) seems to have seen anything pertinent. No physical evidence points to the culprit. Almost nothing about the case makes sense. The whole thing is one of the most curious circumstances I’ve ever researched.

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American Expats in Ireland: Ways in Which Life is Different

Hello, Americans. If you’re thinking of moving to Ireland, or maybe just visiting for a nice long time, there are some cultural and day-to-day differences that may throw you for a loop. Some of them are obvious–like driving on the left and not pulling a gun on people in traffic. But there are more subtle changes you’ll experience, and it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into before you order a sandwich with extra mustard, drive on bald tires, go hunting for Tylenol, or renew your Amazon subscription.

Irish life is just a bit different. Here’s how:

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Star Trek: Voyager–Being Katie O’Clare

I have a very special story for you about Star Trek: Voyager and how my life inadvertently imitated a holodeck fantasy. Gather ’round.

The tale of my holodeck-style adventure starts not terribly long ago when I moved my little family to Ireland. One night shortly after our move, my husband and I lay in bed, me dozing off after a long day of unpacking boxes. He, intent on finding a new show to watch on Netflix, was irritatingly scrolling through app menus so that they flickered through the dark room and pierced my closed eyelids. Sighing, I cracked my eyes open just enough to see the screen. One of the title cards flashed past my vision and prompted me to mutter through my own drool, “What is Red doing on Star Trek?”.

Wait, was I half-asleep? “Was that really RED? That was RED! Red from Orange is the New Black! On STAR TREK!” He scrolled back to a cast photo of Star Trek: Voyager. My husband had been keeping a terrible secret from me! Red, the grumpy prison chef has always been my absolute favorite character from Orange, and he never let on that she was a Star Trek Captain?! Startled by my recognition, he confessed to having never connected Kate Mulgrew’s two brilliant roles before–a notion that still horrifies me, and brings great shame upon our family.

Star Trek Voyager cast photo
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Brexit and the Irish Border: Let’s Explain It!

Shout out to my friends and family in America who still think that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are all one country, and part of the UK. America has its own shitshow of problems, so it isn’t surprising that so many Americans have no idea what is going not with Ireland and Brexit. It’s okay. I’ll explain it in terms that can make this accessible to most anyone. Let’s start with the basics:

One Island, Two Countries

Ireland is a single island, but it is comprised of two separate countries: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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Thoughts on a Disaffected Pigeon

Some weeks are harder than others.

Tuesday

The weeds are everywhere in the gravel driveway. I’ve jammed my fingers into the pebbled earth to rip their roots, but there are just too damn many. I had to arm myself with a spray bottle of vinegar and lemon juice and spritz them, plant by plant. Hunched over with vinegar misting back on to my clothing from the hilly breezes rushing past, it was a desperate and smelly attempt to avoid the commercial stuff.

That’s when the pigeon landed. He was a majestic, slightly pudgy fellow who had been tap dancing on the roof for some time leading up to my weed expedition. I had heard him from my oversized living room chair where I had been munching tuna salad on crackers. I was afraid it was mice in the attic. Or maybe Benny the Badger came back and somehow got on the roof. Sounds weird, but he’s the one who shut off the water supply to the house. That was a talented badger. It’s a shame his life was cut short attempting to cross a bendy part of the road. Such a waste.

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The Meaning of Being Unemployed and Staring at Cow Arses

Sometimes the universe sculpts an entire day out of mockery and disillusionment.

Today I was asked to herd cattle for the first time in my life, which is a very Green Acres experience for someone who has only seen a real living cow up-close at the zoo or (once or twice) at a petting farm. The cows from the next pasture had invited themselves into the road and my yard for some green snackage, and somehow this became a situation where I was walking through my front gate and into the road, with my cellphone to my ear, following bobbing cow rumpuses toward my farmer neighbor. It seems like it should be easy to keep the cows going down the road, but I had doubts about being too aggressive. What if I anger one of the mamas, or worse yet, the bull? Even if they don’t turn and charge me, they could spook and cause a massive upset much like the antics caused by Billy Crystal’s coffee grinder in City Slickers. So with the cell phone in my jeans pocket, I casually picked up a stick long enough to tap on the ground and strolled behind the stragglers, tapping the stick on the asphalt whenever they slowed to munch some grass. It worked, albeit very slowly. I thought it was a lovely stroll. The farmer who was waiting with the open gate was less than impressed at my leisurely approach. He smiled and shook his head, then made a remark that I didn’t have an ounce of farmer in me–and it wasn’t even a zippy come-on line.