St Colmans Cathedral Cobh Carillon Bells

February 7, 2010

2010 will be the 83rd year of the hour long recitals on the Carillon at St Colmans Cathedral in Cobh.  For any tourists planning to visit Cobh in the summer (any time between May and September) on a Sunday, be sure to be there at 4.30pm to listen to the bells sounding out over the town.

The 49 bell Carillon is the only such instrument in the country and is the largest in Britain and Ireland.   You can even watch the carillonneur playing on a close circuit tv inside the cathedral at the base of the tower.

To check out what the bells sound like, Adrian Gebruer has his own website:


Starbucks stuck in some costly Irish leases

November 24, 2009

Starbucks signed 20 year leases for premises in Ranelagh, Dalkey and Tallaght but it is now having second thoughts about running coffee outlets in these locations.  Oh dear, even Starbucks got sucked into the dizzy Irish property market and is now licking its wounds.

In Dalkey the rent per year is euro 110,000.  That’s euro 300 per day for 365 days, ie a heck of a lot of coffees just to pay the lease.  Ranelagh is euro 131,622 and Tallagh Cross East is euro 155,000 per year.   That’s not including rates which vary between euro 15,300 per year in Dalkey to euro 23,905 in Tallaght.   As they say ‘wrong trousers, grommit’!!  Somebody didn’t run the numbers!

Of course Starbucks hastens to assure us that it is committed to the Irish market.  Good luck Starbucks!  As the marketing experts say, you need a mix of office workers, students and shoppers to make these outlets work and somehow I don’t think they’ll find these en masse in Dalkey whatever about the other locations.

Flooding in Bandon – Was it the fault of the planners?

November 24, 2009

Little did any of us realize how severe the flooding would be.  The planners allowed the Supervalu Shopping Centre and Lidl to be built on what was formerly a flood plain. (Even my map of 1845 show this plain in bold letters).  In the past this plain would have taken the bulk of the water but given the massive bank defenses that the supermarkets erected for themselves, the water had no place to go but down the main street wiping out the little guys that make this town so attractive.

We have a unique town full of all sorts of quirky stores.  Barely one of these stores was left unscathed.  I really hope they re-open but I fear the worst.  These businesses differentiated us from other places.  Lets hope we are not left with goliaths offering mass produced items from China etc.  Even the garlic in Lidl comes from China – How sad is that!!  By doing all our shopping in these huge stores, we are harming ourselves.  We need to become protectionist if we are to save livelihoods.  Support the little guys!!

The Cluid housing for the elderly was built on the weir on the site of a former mill so needless to say, it also suffered massive flood damage.  Residents have only been in this new building a few weeks.  These people aren’t so nimble that they can quickly leg it up the stairs at a moments notice.  Did the planners think of this?

McSweeney Quay in Bandon

Even the pavement was uprooted

Filling Sandbags

The community turns out to fill sandbags

The old Flood Plain with the high bank defenses

The old Flood Plain

South Main Street, Bandon

A sorry sight in South Main Street, Bandon

Nymans Gardens

November 23, 2009

A visit to Nymans Gardens is a real treat!  Nymans is a National Trust property in stunning setting overlooking the Weald close to Haywards Heath.  Ludwig Messel purchased the 600 acre estate in 1890 and began planting shortly thereafter. His son Leonard succeeded him in 1915.  The house was substantially damaged by fire in 1947 but the gardens survived.  Leonard’s daughter Anne and her second husband, Michael Parsons 6th Earl of Rosse (of Birr Castle) partially rebuilt the house and lived there.  In 1953 Leonard died and left the gardens to the National Trust.

The gardens are laid out in a series of outdoor rooms packed with superb annuals, perennials and shrubbery.  Visitors can also wander around the house.  There are stunning views from the various walks throughout the gardens.

Nymans Gardens

Nymans Gardens

Nymans Annual Bed



A trail through Nymans

Bandon Flooding

November 19, 2009

The exceptional amount of rain has turned the Bandon river into a full scale torrent flooding parts of South Main Street causing businesses to close.

Bandon South Main Street

Flooding in South Main Street in Bandon

The Bandon River in full flow

The Bandon River in full flow

Bridge Street in Bandon under water

Bridge Street, Bandon under water

Bandon Playground under water

Bandon Playground under water

How to remove sticky linseed oil from a fireplace

November 14, 2009

I was a bit over enthusiastic when applying a coat of linseed oil to my slate fire place.  I had seen the installer apply the oil to make the slate shine and when I tried to replicate his efforts some months later, I ended up with a sticky mess that I couldn’t remove.

The best way to remove the gooey mess is with a combination of cellulose thinner and nail varnish remover!  Actually nail varnish remover would probably have worked on its own but would have needed a bit more elbow grease as well.

Phantom of the Opera comes to Bandon

September 11, 2009
Phantom of the Opera comes to Bandon

Phantom of the Opera comes to Bandon

Venue: St Peters Church of Ireland, Bandon, Friday, 25th September, 2009 at 9pm.  Tickets euro 10.

As part of the Engage Bandon Arts Festival, The Film Society in Bandon is presenting  Phantom of the Opera (1925) silent film, PG, Black and White to live organ accompaniment by Dr Eric Sweeney.  Eric is Head of Music at Waterford School of Technology and is the organist and choirmaster of Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford.  He has given recitals throughout Ireland as well as in England, Sweden, Italy, France and American.  He is also well known as a composter and is a member of Aosdana.  Eric gave an identical performance in Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford at the end of July and both nights were booked out.

Book now to save disappointment by calling 086 368 9939

Irish Social Welfare Payments highest in Europe

August 14, 2009

It’s amazing to compare our social welfare payments with the UK.  Our unemployment benefit alone has gone from 66pct higher than the UK in 2003 to 200% higher in 2009.

Weekly Unemployment benefit comparisons for 2009

Ireland  euro 204.30       UK  euro 69.58

Weekly Old age Pension comparison.

Ireland  euro 230.30     UK  euro 109.54

Irish Hotel Tax Incentive Schemes and their downfall

August 14, 2009

Irish hotels have benefitted from a myriad of tax incentive schemes which are now seriously affecting the tourism industry as a whole.  The tax breaks were exploited to such an extent that not only were too many rooms added creating massive over-capacity but many hotels were built in ridiculous locations.  Tax break hotels were often built by developers rather than hoteliers and all they cared about was a 7 year tax freebie.  They couldn’t have given a jot about the guest.

The sting in the tail of the tax break is that if a hotel that has benefitted from these tax breaks does not stay open for seven years after the development, the investor will have to repay the tax breaks against their personal tax bills.  What we have now is a situation where unprofitable hotels remain open, reducing rates to ridiculous levels thus seriously damaging those operations that are viable.  The Irish Hotels Federation has calculated that there are 21,000 hotel rooms that fall short of the 7 year requirement (out of a total number of about 60,000 hotel beds in the country).  Another scary figure is that the average occupancy rate over all hotels in Ireland is just 53pct and overseas visitors to Ireland this year have declined by nearly 19pct.

Examinership Fees

August 14, 2009

An interesting article about examinership fees appeared in the Irish Times, Monday, 3rd August, by John McManus entitled ‘Examinership fees need to be examined very closely’.  Lawyers and accountants seem to be still living in Celtic Tiger bubble land where charges of euro 250 per hour for photocopying are in order.  Given the number of examinerships being applied for, unless these fees are reined in, these two professions will continue to roll in the money whilst many many people elsewhere in the country will be seriously licking their wounds.