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This is an online diary of my latest trip to Ireland.
Dennis J. Ahern

Monday, March 14th

Today was a day to kick back, do some laundry and work on this log. The only excursion we took was to walk the dog, a Jack Russel terrier named Sam, and swing by the butcher's to pick up a chicken for supper. The butchers in Ireland all wear hats of varying style. It was somewhat more than a light mist out and we had to hang things up to dry when we got back to the house. Jean lives on the edge of the neighborhood where she grew up and where her parents still live in what was in olden days called Ballinamought in the parish of St. Anne's Shandon. Ballinamought meant "place of the sick" which didn't do much for property values so it was changed to Mayfield and Silver Spring. At the butcher's I saw packaged mix for shepherd's pie by Knorr, the soup mix makers. The instructions called for adding ground beef (what they call "mince" here) but I think that makes it a cottage pie. A true shepherd's pie, to my taste, should be made with ground lamb. I make it often at home and it is one of my son's favorite dishes, though he would never knowingly eat lamb, having petted some on a farm. I'll not disabuse him of the notion, but what does he think goes in shepherd's pie? It's not cowboy pie, after all. I find it very hard to get a decent shepherd's pie anywhere in Ireland nowadays, so many of the restaurants are serving "cuisine" instead of food. I think the last good shepherd's pie I had in Ireland was at the railway station canteen in Galway about ten years ago.

Also in the butcher shop I noticed a cut of meat I had not seen before called "smoked oyster" the latter term referring to the cut rather than the source. It looked like a solid piece of Irish bacon, which of course is so different from the bacon we see in the States, which over here the Irish call "streaky bacon". Another delicacy on offer was something called "chicken goujons" which looked like what we call "chicken fingers" in the States. [I wonder what happens to all the chicken thumbs?] Jean informs me they are a bit spicy. While it was primarily a butcher's, they also had big bags of spuds, baskets of sprouts, carrots and so forth. I was tempted by a wee bag of bacon flavored Tato crisps, but resisted the salty treat. I love to try out the different varieties of crisps (potato chips) as many are totally unlike anything at home. I still don't know what gammon flavored crisps taste like as I'm not even sure what gammon is. I think it's some sort of ham, but maybe it is mutton. Do they have mutton flavored crisps? I can't recall if I've seen them or am I imaging them. In case you're wondering, we left Sam tied up to a bush outside in the rain.

Walking back, Jean pointed out her neighbor on the corner who has a B&B called "Lar Ease" that she would highly recommend to anyone wanting to do research in Cork City as you can get on the #8 bus to go right downtown or all the way out to the new County Library. I don't expect to get to the new Library this trip, but I've had several visits over the years to the former County Library location on Farranlee Road, adjacent to the tallest building in Ireland, the Cork County Hall. One of the reasons I'm glad they have a new County Library is that the old one had no public toilet and you had to go across to the County Hall for use of the Armitage Shanks.

There has been much talk on the radio of who will or will not see whom in Washington for St. Patrick's Day. It was reported this afternoon that Senator Ted Kennedy, my senior senator for Massachusetts, will not be receiving Gerry Adams if he comes to call.

On television this evening I sat and watched part of two programs that are long-running soap operas, "Eastenders" and "Coronation Street" both of which I've heard of but never seen. It seemed like there was about two dozen or more ongoing stories in each program and you can imagine how little I was able to figure out of what was going on as they assume a regular viewer would know all the characters and their relationships and background stories. American TV is generally dispensed in individual parcels with a different story each week, but is similar in that you get to know the characters over time and certain expectations are built up. I don't really watch that many programs at home, but one of the ones I did get hooked on watching was "NYPD Blue", the last episode of which was broadcast the night I left for Ireland. I wonder if my wife managed to tape it. My other favorite program is popular here, and that's "The Simpsons". Anyone who thinks that is a children's cartoon hasn't watched very much of it.

Jean and I are booked into the Cork Archives Institute tomorrow for a bit of research and I'm going to drop my pack off at the left luggage on the way so I want have to carry things back across Town.

Addendum

I've learned a new word for my Irish vocabulary - langer, noun: a disagreeable person. Use: "Go away, you langer" = "Go away you fool". Derivation: Unknown, but note Elang - defect, flaw, weak spot. Another use of the word is as a synonym for the penis, the derivation being unknown, but it is thought that it derives from Langur, which is a long-tailed monkey that the Munster Fusiliers encountered while stationed in India. - this from "A Dictionary of Cork Slang" by Sean Beecher, pub. 1991 by The Collins Press, Wilton, Cork.

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