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I resign as an Ireland fan September 30, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, Sports.
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I resign as an Ireland fan – it’s official.

Out of the World Cup, a madman manager who is secure for the next 4 years, an out half who is finished (no smoke without fire ?) and a back row about as effective as that laxative I took last night after a feed of my mother’s famous spuds au gratin.

Not that anyone gives a sh*t. Much like the rugby team who played with all the passion and fortitude of a geriatric accountant’s daily enema.

Phrase of the Day #177 September 30, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.

“You’re schizophrenic ? Gee, that makes four of us !”

– Anon.

Phrase of the Day #176 September 28, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.

“I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.”

– George Best

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven September 28, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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Long time since I had a poem, so why not this chilly morning …

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
by W.B. Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Golf in Sligo – a review September 27, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish, Sports.
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I have recently returned from hacking significant bits of carefully laid turf out of three of Co.Sligo’s more renowned golf courses. Family members and various hangers on have, over the past 5 years or so, made a tradition out of visiting some of the most famous and talked about golf courses in these islands and making bits of them ! We are an enthusiastic bunch of golfers on the hunt for a good course, a few pints and a nice setting for our competition.

This year it was the turn of Co.Sligo (aka Rosses Point), Enniscrone and Castle Dargan.

Co.Sligo – also referred to as Rosses Point.
This was by far the most windy day we played and I had heard of Co.Sligo numerous times before, as the Irish Close Championships, the West of Ireland etc. had been and are played here on a fairly regular basis.

I have to say I was slightly disappointed with this course. It’s not your typical links, being quite flat and open. There are some great holes, especially at the start and end of the course, but overall there was a few too many same type holes on the links for me. The greens were in good enough order, quite true but by no means like lightning. The wind will always be more of a factor here more than anything else.

The highlight of this course for me was the par 5 3rd hole, complete with landing area and bail out for the sissies … the type of hole you only know the line of, when you’ve played it a couple of times. The par 5 5th has a 100 foot drop from tee to fairway which really messes up your perspective and makes a par a good score. As with all links, if you stray even 1 foot off the fairway, you are in 4 feet high, thick whins and dune grass – forget about it !

Overall, with a green fee of €55, good showers and dressing rooms etc. we were very satisfied with the course – it just did nothing for me, despite playing it reasonably well.

Day 2 was on to the wonderful links that is Enniscrone. I can honestly say that this course ranks up there with the best I’ve played, in terms of quality, condition and scenery – but it will batter the shit out of you. And the wind didn’t even blow the day we played. I think most links golf courses are relatively really unfair and this one is no exception. Hit your tee shot a couple of yards offline and your ball and score is dead – period ! On the 200 yard par 3 3rd – a lovely hole – my shot went 6 feet left of the pin and over a dune into what can only be described as an abyss of misery, gorse and 150 feet of a drop. End of !

There are some fantastic holes on this course with some fantastic options for braver men than me … but, as I suppose all top courses are, it is unbelievably punishing. I mean how many average handicappers do you know who can put the ball down the middle every time. Even when I did that the run off was severe if you over hit it or under hit it – put it this way – it presents you with thoughts on the tee that the average golfer never has to face. How far to hit a driver, for instance. Whether to draw it or fade it when you can comfortably do neither. To hack out and take your punishment or send it over that dune and see what happens because you need to score on that hole. Except when you hack out it goes 3 feet further into the rough because a farmer with a scythe couldn’t even reach the ball !

It has terrifying rough – tall and stout dune grass than catches your club and forces the ball to come out with a flier … the greens were very good, much better than Co.Sligo and a stern test. And furthermore, there is not a flat lie on the course – the ball is always above or slightly below your feet and you need to be confident in your striking. I am not surprised that there were guys in our party who didn’t break 15 points for the full round.

Overall, the facilities are good but not great. Older and more historic clubhouses tend not to be too modern. At €60 it’s a course I would love to play again because now I have more of an idea how to play it. As far as our competition went, for the third year running I blew out on a tough links, putting me out of touch with victory. Be prepared to love it and to hate it at the same time.

Castle Dargan
This is Darren Clarke’s latest course and came as a welcome relief to those of us who were sick of hacking our way around dunes and gorse bushes.  This is  fabulously laid out parkland course with some testing water holes.  The wind blows like made here too.

They have a real problem with drainage on this course and it’s a shame because the fairways are now serrated with drainage lines.  It will come in time, I suppose.  My favourite here are the par 5 6th which is short enough to go for in 2 with the problem being a tricky 170 yard carry over a lake into the wind to make the green.  Went for it I did, of course, made the bank before the green and fell back into the water !  Bastards !

There is also a lovely par 4 hole – the 14th I think – which is only 20 yards long but built in such a way that the green is all carry and a fade is required between 2 bunkers to run it up to the green.  Water on the right means that you can’t lash at it.

This was the course I played best on and that’s because there’s no whins or dune grass !  The dressing rooms are a little disappointing with timed showers but at 5 you can’t really go wrong.  It has a nice looking hotel too … despite the smokers.

So Sligo, a bit remote but a good place to golf for a few days.

Phrase of the Day #175 September 27, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“America is a Nation with a mission – and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace – a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman.” – George W. Bush

A noble idea, to be sure. Nobody could argue with it. But a democratic peace cannot be imposed, suggested upon, thrust at or forced on any nation – this is what the US Armed Forces are unfortunately finding out to their peril in Iraq. Democracy and peace (an effect of effective democracy) is an internal, organic process. See Eastern Europe in the late 1980s …

Our forefathers are turning in their graves September 26, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish.
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What does it mean when you have a leader who has dicky finances – and gets re-elected ?

What does it mean when you have a leader who has severe monetary amnesia – and gets re-elected ?

What does it mean when you build a motorway through a national monument – and a newly elected Green Minister sanctions it ?

What does it mean when you do an opinion poll and people say “Sure I don’t care if he took a small bit out of the country after all he’s put in” – and then on the other hand, give out about hospital beds being closed due to lack of funds ?

What does it mean when you have a tribunal that goes on for years – and never really does anything at the end of the day ?

What does it mean when you have 3rd world roads and high car tax – and you still vote the incumbents back in ?

What does it mean when you have people dying in ambulances on the way to hospital – and you create the HSE to solve all problems ?

What does it mean when you have a people who will believe a big, huge lie much more easily than they will believe a small one ?

What does it mean when you have a country who goes crazy about the Germans making comments about our society – and you don’t study the comments made but blindly become patriotic and defensive ?

What does it mean when you are truly ashamed of some of the nonchalance and disinterested electorate in your own country …

IT MEANS YOU ARE IN IRELAND … but perhaps, not for much longer …

Autumn is definitely here September 26, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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I fear that the recent bout of good weather – well “good” when compared to months of unending rain – has come to a stuttering halt with the arrival of the recent cold snap. So much so that there was a thin layer of frost on the car this morning, albeit I was parked out in the open.

But last night we had to put on the heating for ten minutes just to take the edge off the cold ! And I ventured out at lunchtime without a jacket, as having seen the bright sunshine thought I’d be OK – the minute you stepped into the shadows, the cold cut through you !

So wrap up and face into the winter with a smile on your face – next year can’t possibly be as bad ! And to top it all off and start our usual seasonal disorder, I saw Christmas cake for sale in a shop today ! Feckin’ Christmas cake – already … it just ain’t right !

Has Madeleine been spotted in Morocco ? September 26, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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* Sad to report that this photograph is of a genuine Moroccan family and their daughter, Bouchra – not Maddy. *

I’m sure people all over have heard by now that a possible sighting has been made of Madeleine McCann in Morocco at the end of August. The sighting, which Spanish tourists managed to get a picture of, has lead to fresh hopes that the little girl, missing since May, is still alive.

Here is the picture published in today’s Daily Telegraph and showing a small European looking child being carried by a Moroccan adult. I really think that the parents of Madeleine will be able to tell if this is her or not. It looks like her. Here’s hoping that the fact that it has been kept quiet until now means that something might be happening.


Larger version available at the Daily Telegraph.

Phrase of the Day #174 September 25, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ag foghlaim na Gaeilge, Say it like it is.
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” Beidh orm almóir nua a cheannach lem chomhraimh galf go léir a choinneáil “

I’ll have to buy a new cabinet in which to keep all my golf trophies !

Pronunciation: beg ur-um ahl-more noo-ah a khan-ahk lem khoh-riv galf guh layer ah khuin-oil

Continuing hat tip : here

The downside of the smoking ban September 25, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish.
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Regular readers will have noticed a distinct lull in the usual flurry of blog-worthy activity around these parts over the last week – but fear not ! The Rambling Man has come home to roost. It suffices to say that the golf courses of Sligo are thankful !

One of the more standout things I noticed while on holiday at the other end of the country was the unfortunate similarities that exist when it comes to the smoking ban. Even amid breathtakingly stunning scenery and hordes of UK and American tourists, there are a multitude of horrible, stinking, overflowing and rancid cigarette butt buckets adorning the outsides of even the most luxurious hotels.

One of the days we played here – a new 4 star and quite impressive hotel, golf course and wellness * centre; complete with 350 guests at the biggest Scouse/Irish wedding this side of the Shannon had ever seen. And this brought with it hordes of smokers only dying (sorry!) to get outside and have a fag. Suffice to say that the outside of this hotel could well have done without (a) the strings of people creating a huge plume of stale smoke (b) the rancid bucket of fag ends and horrible looking sand that was outside and (c) the two loud and loutish women hanging out the window of their bedroom, fag in hand making the whole place look like a bit of a Carry On film … Lovely place other than that !

S o can anyone think of a good way of enforcing the smoking ban outside ? Most people seem happy enough to go outside and not smoke indoors but in Ireland this has given rise to a new pseudo-smoking industry, whereby the front of many an attractive hotel, guesthouse, bar etc. has been taken down a notch or three by the remnants of someones Marlboro Light fix …

It just ain’t right !

* what does wellness mean ?  I’m off to the hotel for some wellness … sounds like an arty-farty word to me

A couple of nifty links September 21, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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Time for some link love ! Here are a few of the more useful ones I have come across lately … be sure to lob them into your RSS feed reader !

Wicked Irish for the Traveller
This looks to be a really funny book – I must see can I pick it up next time I’m in an airport. I particularly like the excerpt page you can get a view of by follwing the Amazon link. “That’s a grand machine gun you have there Guard” being on of my favourite translations !

World Clock Meeting Planner
Ever wondered what time it is in Hong Kong when its 7pm here ? Don’t want to risk waking Ned and the relatives in the early hours of the morning because you got the time difference wrong ? Then look no further – input the two destinations and it gives back a handy, colour coded chart of times acceptable to both sides ! Useful !

Media Write
An Irish based online company for buying all classes of blanks DVDs, CDs, memory cards, cases and whatever you’re having yourself – very competitive in price !

A site for all you technical heads out there … Always has good links to happening techhie news !

Phrase of the Day #173 September 20, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ag foghlaim na Gaeilge, Say it like it is.

Another one as Gaeilge a Connemara pickup line !

B’fhearr liom thú nó céad bó bainne !
I prefer you to a hundred milked cows !

Pronunciation: Barr lum hoo no kayed bowe bonn-yah

Merchant Bankers September 19, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.

The more unscrupulous amongst you will notice the pun in the title and know that I’m giving out about banks and bankers in general !

I have an issue with online banking – now don’t get me wrong. Online banking is great – and last year, on holidays down under, I was grateful to be able to log in to the ether and move a few shekels about the place … but it takes sooo long !

This is a topic that the bould Joe Duffy (Good Aaaafternuaaan teuwww yeuwwww) has debated on more than one occassion and failed to get to the bottom of.

My question is this – why in this digital age, does it take sometimes up to 3 days for money to be transferred from one of my accounts to another, when it leaves the first account the minute I press “transfer”.  Surely, in computer terms, it cannot take that long ?

It’s my money – look whats happening in Northern Rock Bank – so don’t give me that sh*t about taking time to clear and approvals and so on … where does the money go because it doesn’t go straight into my other account !

Merchant bankers indeed ! We have the power … we the people and all that …

In the Shadow of the Moon September 18, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in World Affairs.
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Keep you eye out for an upcoming film called “In the Shadow of the Moon” which reunites the still living Apollo program astronauts for a look back at their voyages and experiences.  The film promises to relive some of the more important moments, including the Apollo 11 moon landings and the ill fated Apollo 13.

It promises to be a great spectacle for those nerds amongst us who are interested in this kind of thing – as one of the astronauts said  “Half the people alive in the world now were not even born at the time ! “

Phrase of the Day #172 September 17, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Say it like it is.
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Continuing with the as Gaeilge theme …

Go mairir is go gcathair !
May you live long and may you wear it * out !

Pronunciation: Guh mar-rir iss guh gah-hir

* It, of course, being any amount of things (a new suit or car, for example) or your mickey !
Plain and simple …

If only it weren’t true ! September 17, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Sports.
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It seems Knorr – the foods manufacturer – has come up with a Rugby World Cup special, by producing a new, green Oxo cube …

They’ve called it … the laughing stock !

If only it weren’t true !

The Madeleine McCann case September 14, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in World Affairs.

Like many other bloggers, I have stayed away from commenting on the Madeleine McCann case – there’s enough rumor and innuendo and suspicion out there without my tuppence ha’penny’s worth. But today, given the hanging the parents are getting in the papers, I feel I would just like to give my opinions on why I think someone somewhere is having a really, really huge toffee crisp !

The media have no right to be speculating and deciding people’s fate and claiming this that and the other happened unless they know it is concretely correct – but sure since when did that stop them. And therein lies the problem – nothing in Portugal is done the same way as the UK as regards the legal system and the ability of police and suspects to talk to the media. And this leads to the scrum of hype, suspicion and other things …

So to the case and what I think about it – bearing in mind that there’s a little, defenceless girl out there somewhere or perhaps dead …

1) She was kidnapped and is being trafficked somewhere.
I don’t believe this could have just happened. The McCanns have said the door was locked to their apartment and there were no signs of forced entry. So if Madeleine opened the door and wandered in search of her parents, there would have had to have been a person with the propensity to kidnap children and all that entails right there on the spot at that exact time. At that exact time, they would’ve had to make the decision to take her or not to take her. The probability of that is very low in my opinion.

2) She was drugged by her parents and it went wrong.
I think this is outlandish. The parents of Madeleine would have had to have known the probable dangers of drugging a child too much – they are doctors. If they did it and it went wrong, how could they have then just casually gone to dinner with their friends and quickly concocted a story of abduction. If they know they did it, how could they bring themselves into the glare of the world’s media and sustain it for 4 months without cracking … and how could they deceive everyone who fundraised and helped them and sympathised with them. Unless they were complete cold hearted psychos – which they are not, in my opinion.

3) Madeleine got up looking for her Mum & Dad and thinking she knew where they were, wandered off and came to some harm.
I think this is the most likely scenario but one that doesn’t auger well for her. I think she got up, opened the door and thought she was going the right way but came to some harm – like fell into the harbour or got hit by a car who then decided to hide the body … or managed to get herself somewhere (cave, well, hole, ditch …) that she couldn’t get out of. I just feel so sorry for this beautiful child.

Whatever happens from now out, the likelihood of Madeleine being found safe and well diminished with every passing hour. It must be a nightmare for her parents – there but for the grace of God go all us parents. Until and if proven otherwise, our thoughts must be with the McCanns …

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Ah Guard, me licence plate is broke ! September 13, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish.

Can you imagine …. ?

Only in our wonderful little country !


Time to go Stan September 13, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Sports.

OK, so I’ve never been a fan of Staunton the manager …. Staunton the player was one of the best to ever don our shirt.

It’s not insignificant that the three Gods of Irish football punditry – Messers Giles, Dunphy, and Brady – all called for Staunton to be replaced. May I add my voice to the ever increasing tumult calling for change in the F.A.I. – both at managerial and officer level.

We don’t want Staunton’s head on a platter – no, he’s been too good a servant for that – he came, he tried, he didn’t conquer. He is not good enough. To quote John Giles, “We’re not making the best use of our playing resources” and to quote Dunphy, “We have some very good players coming through – these kids deserve a decent manager to organise and motivate them properly !”

So resign Stan – lest you become the biggest laughing stock in world football and a figure of derision from your once loyal public. Be able to go on the Late Late and hold your head relatively high with Pat Kenny singing your prases and watching clips of you in that silly cap in the New York sun … now is the time to save face.

And if there are any “real” football men in the F.A.I., realise you got it wrong and admit it. There’s no shame in making a mistake. Appoint someone better – with the relevant qualifications – and pay them a lot of money. Maybe then will we not have to support Scotland or England in the 2010 World Cup.

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Phrase of the Day #171 September 12, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ag foghlaim na Gaeilge, Say it like it is.

“Ní hé lá na gaoithe lá na scolb.”

Pronunciation : Nee hay law na gwee-ha, law na skull-ub

Translation : A windy day is not the day to be fixing your thatch (roof).

God Bless Pink Snacks ! September 11, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, Poetry & Humor.

This snack business is not something to which I am akin.  I feel I am missing out on something by not over indulging in the country’s favourite tea break treat.

Adds have been developed purely for these tiny bars of chocolate in funny coloured paper and different sizes.  Snacks are a phenomenon !  They are a bar room and teacher’s lounge staple across the land and the boys in Killinaskully wouldn’t be seen ordering anything else … There’s even a lad here in the office who always declares “It’s time for tay – and a pink sschnack !”

And so it was with great glee that I photographed the following menu board at a restaurant in Tipperary this past week … they didn’t have much – but they did have 3 types of Snack !!


It’s all Stan’s fault ! September 11, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish, Sports.
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No, I’m not having another go at the supposed World Class manager Ireland no have – well not directly at least.

Everything is Staunton's fault - even the weather !

Go and read about this piece of comic genius over at The Fear of God – a fantastic Rugby World Cup blog that I throw a few posts on from time to time …

Is Irish sporting spirit dead ? September 10, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, Sports.

Is it just me folks, or does there appear to be something chronic effecting our renowned Irish fighting spirit ? It seems that no matter what the sport, we are affected by a lackadaisical and almost pedestrian attitude when it comes to wearing our country’s colours and playing representative sports with even a modicum of pride in what we are doing.

Take either ball game the country played this weekend – the round ball merchants did what only they can explain – for the umpteenth time in an important away game, they gave up a last minute lead and overall, played like they didn’t care. They walked around; they grumbled at the referee; they cribbed about decisions …

I don’t mind the odd bad performance and in fact, I look on most poor performances from a positive point of view – if I didn’t, I’d go stone mad ! – but what I cannot stand, is lack of passion and lack of pride.

The oval ball team didn’t do much better. I wonder, when Ciarán Fitzgerald roared his famous words of encouragement in 1985 against England, did he think twenty years later that we would need someone to utter them again ? Because that’s what’s wrong with Irish representative sport at the moment … we’ve no f*cking pride ! At all ! And it shows on the pitch – we seemingly have no leaders or managers capable of pinning an under performing player up against the wall and bollocking him out of it.

In many sports, from swimming to show jumping to football and rugby, we have no pride and no team spirit – arguments in camp abound. It’s nothing but pathetic and above all, destructive on the pitch. I feel sorry for the hardworking fans who spend months salaries – a fraction of what some of these players get in a week – to go to these matches and be faced with the shite we saw in Bordeaux and Bratislava on the weekend.

There was some speculation yesterday, amid the post rugby match analysis savagery, that Ireland were finding it hard to motivate themselves, knowing they were only playing Namibia. Only Namibia ! If even one Irish player cannot motivate himself when the green jersey is pulled on in a World Cup – in whatever sport and no matter who they are playing – then they shouldn’t even be considered. Period ! There are players of good ability up and down the country who would give their left bollock to even get a sniff of representative honours – just ask Tommy Bowe or Keith Gleeson, who didn’t make the squad !

At least the rugby team have the ability and the chance to put things right. Changes must be made and those that are underperforming must be taken off and replaced. Playing like lackadaisical idiots is a habit and one we’ve got to break soon. We’ve had it now for 3 games and most of the team haven’t played a decent amount of rugby since March or April. The best prepared team ever ?

Let’s wait and see … at the moment I’m trying to deal with the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach …

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Phrase of the Day #170 – as Gaeilge September 8, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.

Nothing significant but just a few useful phrases to know if you ever come to dear ole Ireland.

Phrase : Bhí an aimsir fliuch agus gaofar ar maidin.
Pronounced : vee on I’m-shir fluck og-uss gweefarr ar modd-jin
Meaning : The weather was wet and windy this morning

Hat tip : here