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The Gravestone May 28, 2010

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, Poetry & Humor.
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OK so this is a repost – but one of my “most searched for” terms is poetry from New Zealand or about New Zealand (where I used to live) …

So I wrote this one while I was there … hopefully a few people will find something of interest that they can relate to …

The Gravestone

by The Rambling Man

The gravestone lies quiet, at the end of the lane,
open and looking out on the harbour.  It’s raining.
White and tall stands the monument, adorned with simplicity
It is your sacred place, for I am forbidden to walk there.

Is it a man or a woman you hold ? or maybe a few ?
Are you a rangatira, some powerful man of old ?
Alone now it stands, on a misty patch of sage green grass
surrounded by fences and unwritten rules.

Are you a chief who once commanded many ?
Or a warrior, the slayer of taniwha ?
Or maybe a poet, a wise old lady, chin adorned with moko ?
All now lying quiet, looking over the water, guarding the Moana.

Maybe you roam between the lane and the harbour, just watching.
Ready to greet this Pākehā with a fearsome haka, sending me on my way.
But you would slap your thigh in disclosure and we could share a hongi, breathing the same breath, and sit and share our thoughts.

What can you see from your side ?
What can I not see from mine ?

Genealogy rocks ! March 5, 2010

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish.
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One of my favourite pastimes at the moment (when I have time to pass), is genealogy. I’ve been building my family tree on the fabulous free site www.geni.com for the past 3 years and each day I find something new or something to update.

On one side of the family, I can go back to 1790 and on the other to the 1820s. Once I knew or could guess pretty much who was who, and had all the people in place, my search centered on finding out as much as I could about the times they lived in and what they would be like – maps, photos, websites, history … I can’t get enough of it.

So here’s my top 10 tips to researching your Irish ancestors and what to do or not do in some cases …

1) Sign up to www.geni.com – it’s awesome ! Links between people and stuff like that are easier to define when seen in tree format.

2) Visit the Irish Times website – here. They have a great family history section and while there are no listings on it, they have several indexes and links to where to begin looking.

3) Visit the 1911 census online here and the 1901 census (partial) online here. Bare in mind that ages of people in this census can vary wildly from their actual age.

4) If possible, visit the church where you think your relative may have been baptised or married. You may or may not have luck – it depends on the priest who holds the paper records. Some priests are not cooperative !! And some even hint at being paid !

5) The best cert to get is a marriage cert, in my opinion. It gives the couples names (+maiden name) and addresses, their fathers names and professions and the names of witnesses. All these are great in building a picture of where to look next.

6) Go visit the graveyards of the parish in which you think you relative might have died. If you locate a grave, the priest will have a death cert and you can work back from there.

7) If possible, and although it’s a complete racket, and the indexes are assways, visit the General Records office in Abbey Street in Dublin – online here. It can be invaluable – this office has birth, marriage and death records of everyone registered in Ireland since 1864. But because a lot of names were common – e.g. John Murphy – you might find 5 John Murphy’s in the index in the same area in the same year and not know which is your relative. You cannot look at the originals and its €4 a time to get a cert which (in my case) often turns out to be a complete different person.

8) Ellis Island records – free search – online here, is invaluable for researching ancestors who went to the United States. Lucky them ! Be sure and check the ship’s manifest document – also available – for invaluable information like who the immigrant was going to meet !

9) Interview older members of your family – on camcorder if possible. Don’t fire questions at them but talk around to the subject you want to talk about.

10) Register at www.geni.com – did I mention its awesome ?

PS : I found it strange yesterday when I realised I was an Irishman researching his American ancestors as opposed to an American researching his Irish ones ! Funny little planet this …

Without Custard December 10, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, General Bloggery, Poetry & Humor.

Well dear readers, the good news is I’m back !! but not just yet … I am returning from the Antipodes early in the New Year and blogging can again start in earnest – I must say I’ve missed it.

Now on to a little New Zealand ditty picked up this morning in my local bakery …

Me: Can I have an apple scroll please ?
Assistant: Sure. Do you want the one with custard in it or the uncustarded one ?
Me: Erm … the one with no custard perhaps ?
Assistant: Sweet. The uncustarded one it is !
So there you have it … the adjective to describe the lack of custard in a scroll … uncustarded !  You heard it here first !

Appalling bloggery May 8, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration.

Appalling bloggery record of late !  I know – I don’t like it either … keep the faith … trying to make time.

Phrase of the Day #209 April 29, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, new zealand.

A brief introduction to Kiwiana … those funny things that the Kiwis say that makes you stop and go “Huh?”

2 per day I reckon – this one might run and run …

To give your ferret a run – means to have ones way with someone

To pack a sadmeans to cry or become sad or grumpy …

At last some pictures – Alcatraz April 27, 2008

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It’s the little things #2 April 14, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration.

Continuing with the theme of things that tickle us in NZ – all in a good way …

  • the way they say “kaaysssh” when they mean ‘cache‘.
  • Pukekos … you got to see one to know … pr. Poo-kee-cos
  • the way people thank one another for riding in a lift with them … even though everyone gets in and out at random floors and nobody might know anyone !
  • the (slight) stigma people have about not packing their own bags in the supermarket – so much so that they won’t even shop there !   Come to Ireland folks … you’ll have to buy the bags first and then pack them yourself !!
  • Sushi with pizza strapped to it !
  • Free parking

It’s the little things we like … April 12, 2008

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So we’ve been in New Zealand over a month and I’ve been seriously neglecting my blogging … suppose it comes with the territory of not having time to scratch myself in my new job !

It’s the little things we like … take for example, the (too) many times we’ve had to go to the doctors and hospital since we’ve been here … the health service, compared to the mess in Ireland, is just wonderful ! And we’re not even residents yet, let alone citizens !!

Take for example, the viral rash the baby got the other day … we walked in to the GPs surgery – they always have 5 or 6 docs on at the clinic … you go in and they have you on record … and guess what ? It links with the hospital records and any other doctors records you might have visited …. and as they assess and treat you in the room, they are looking at your history (on some new fangled device called a laptop ??) And so they knew what Anabel had and what to do …

And the cost ? NZ$ 5 !! thats €2.75 !! and thats about 20 times cheaper than at home where just to start, it’s 55 to get in the door ! And the medicine was free, the wait time less than 10 minutes and the staff friendly !

So there you have it Mary Harney et al. it can be done – and because it was a walk-in clinic and not just a lone GP in his office somewhere, most Kiwis don’t even rate that service !! The more we experience here, unfortunately the more we see what a mess Ireland is in terms of its infrastructure and services. There are things that are better and worse in both places, but in those important things like primary medical care etc. New Zealand is streets ahead.

Just a pity its not “home”, because home is where the heart is.

San Francisco … April 3, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, new zealand.

So I finally have a chance to sit down and catch up on a bit of good old blogging !  I had hoped to do it a lot sooner but what with the move, the opressive heat, new job and all sorts of shennanigans going on, this week is the only time I’ve had – “Don’t have time to scratch meself” as they say back on the oul sod (God listen to me – I’ve been a member of the diaspora for 5 minutes and I’m talking like some oul fella who hasn’t been home in 50 years !)

And to boot we still don’t have Internet at our flat and because in New Zealand it can take up to 3 weeks to get a connection, we’ll have to make do with keeping the $4 an hour cafe down the street in business …

So first was San Francisco … we left Ireland without much hurrah and that was the way we wanted it.  It would’ve been too hard otherwise – so a quick goodbye and “Till next time” to a few friends and family and off we passed, silently into the morning sky.  We were flying direct with Aer Lingus to San Francisco – partly because it was direct and partly because we wouldn’t have to go through the horror story that is LAX’s transfer area with small child in tow.  Looking back on it now I was quite impressed with Aer Lingus’s service and most importantly their leg room.  The baby fell asleep as we were boarding and slept for the first few hours which eased us into it.  10 hours later and we were on the west coast of America.  Security and that end of things was fine – you have to get fingerprinted and photographed but once the ‘American only’ lines had cleared we got to go through those desks which were much quicker than the ones where the guards had to explain to a multitude of non-English speaking people what finger to put onto the scanner and so on … Although I loved New York and New England from the moment I saw it, I knew I would feel just as good about being in San Francisco.  We were picked up by a cousin of a cousin but those sorts of relationship distances don’t matter to big Irish families like ours and we were made feel right at home.

I’ve always wanted to go to San Fran (which nobody in San Francisco calls it !) ever since hearing about the Birdman of Alcatraz and watching Pacific Heights and stuff like that as a kid – the sights of those police cars booming over the hilly streets … aaah I was in heaven !  So here I was for real and we weren’t disappointed.  Our friends had managed to get some tickets for Alcatraz and off we went the first morning.  As I said I’ve always wanted to go there – my late father always wanted to go there too, so I guess we were enjoying it for him too.  The weather was perfect, the sea was calm and even the baby realised I was about to fulfill one of my long held dreams.  What can I say about Alcatraz … it was amazing without being over the top and commercialised.  The area is now a national park and is treated with due respect including very well tended trees and wildlife.  If you’re ever there, get the self guided audio tour – only something like $4 – and take your time to wander through the cell blocks and detention areas.  Back when the area was a working prison, the inmates could hear people shouting or celebrating the short distance over the water on the mainland.  How frustrating and annoying that must’ve been … but then again they were criminals eh ?  They even had one of the old prisoners signing a copy of his book there but he was being mobbed by tourists asking for his autograph and stuff – felt a bit fake to me.  So we stayed on “The Rock” (and it is just a rock) for a couple of hours and caught the short boat ride back to the docks.  There aren’t any restaurants or anything there …

Afer lunch at Pier 39, we did the tourist thing for a while and took some pictures of the sea lions … grumpy bastards they are too … lots of them were fighting for the best places to lie and conk out in the sun !  And some of them are just massive – like over 12 feet long !

San Francisco is quite compact and dead easy to get around – if I could get my head around driving on the wrong side of the road I’d be OK but our friends were fantastic and drove us everywhere … the shopping was quite good too and we managed to get some good bargains, what with the exchange rate being in our favour.  Funny thing was, despite what everyone says about a lot of Americans being overweight and obese etc. there was hardly a big fella to be seen where we were.  That said, bigger jeans sizes and stuff like that were hard to come by because the people were mainly Asian and thus smaller … Asians don’t have big arses it seems …

Next day we went over to see how the other half live in Sausalito – an amazing place with million dollar homes hanging on cliff edges and wonderful vistas wherever you look … reminded me of the Amalfi coast, where we got hitched.

A trip to the Golden Gate recreation area should definetely be on anyone’s San Fransisco “to-do” list.  Its not much of a park but you can walk right up to a hill overlooking the bridge and mouth to the harbour and it is nothing short of spectacular.  The weather behaved itself and some of the views are just breathtaking … you can look right down and see the surfers and sailing boats at the other side of the harbour.  A great spot to do a panorama shot of the entire city as well as Oakland and other outlying areas … I attempted to do it with my new Nikon camera and the efforts should be on Flickr as soon as the broadband gets connected.

So we left San Francisco after 4 days and it wasn’t nearly enough – its a city you can feel quite at home in, after only a short space of time.  And all the people were so friendly – we can’t wait to go back.  The airport was a breeze too and although I’m guessing it was quite busy, just had a way of making you feel at ease.  And not thronged with mad people like Dublin at 5am !

So if you are going and have limited time, these places should be top of your list …

– Alcatraz, Alcatraz, Alcatraz …
– Pier 39 and a walk along the Embarquement; sea lions
– Have lunch somewhere on Fisherman’s Wharf and get sour dough chowder, in a bowl made of bread !
– Chinatown
– Twin Peaks
– Golden Gate Bridge park and viewing area
– Sausalito

Bittersweet March 6, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish, Poetry & Humor.
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Today we leave Ireland.

I absolutely can’t wait to arrive in New Zealand and get stuck in, but as many’s the times before in this situation, I get butterflies in the airport.

I don’t know when I’ll be back – either to live, or for holidays or for good …

I was sad for a small while yesterday – a good friend had sent me a card and inside was written, as Gaeilge, and by hand :

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat.
Go raibh cóir na gaoithe i gcónaí leat.
Go dtaitní an ghrian go bog bláth ar do chlár éadain,
go dtite an bháisteach go bog mín ar do ghoirt.
Agus go gcasfar le chéile sinn arís,
go gcoinní Dia i mbois a láimhe thú.

Which roughly translates in English as :

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall softly upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Catch you all on the flip side …

Barcelona – what to do ? January 16, 2008

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My wonderful work colleagues and I are off to Barcelona next weekend for one last great hurrah together before I jet off into the wild blue yonder – they are convinced that I’ll never be heard from again …

Anyway, the lovely city of Barcelona is our destination for a fun fuelled weekend – which is only 2 full days – and not having been there before, I’m asking you good people for your
” Top 5 things to do in Barcelona before you emigrate ! “ list.

So knock yourselves out in the comments – I like most things; a bit of sightseeing, some nice photo opportunities, some shopping, some a lot of eating and drinking, some aimless wandering ….

All suggestions welcome. Gracias !

Not long to go now ! January 14, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, General Bloggery.
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It’s certainly not long to go now until we say a temporary goodbye and head first to the city of San Francisco and then on to our new home in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Amidst all the box packing (and re-packing when the baby has gone through them again !) and cleaning and clothes sorting, we’ve had little time to plan the first leg of our trip – San Francisco !!

Some distant family members have graciously offered to put us up for a few days while we break the 23 hour journey to Aoteraoa with 4 days in San Fran – its somewhere I’ve always wanted to go …

So a few questions to any of my fair readers, who’ve ever been to across the Golden Gate Bridge … I was hoping to purchase a good few items since the exchange rate between the € and the $ seems to be very favourable at the moment.

Basically I’m looking for a laptop, fairly high spec and a digital SLR camera, also towards the higher end. Does anyone know of good companies where you can just walk in a buy one off the shelf ? What should I expect to pay …. any links ?

Many thanks – I’ll post the pictures from Alcatraz – me and my buddies used to play at being the Birdman of Alcatraz when we were kids, isolated in the veritable prison that was my garage roof !

Anyone want to rent our house ? January 6, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration.

Does anyone want to rent a reasonable, nice house in a quiet area in Waterford while we’re away travelling the world ?

Ah go on – at least have a look !

New Zealand here we come January 3, 2008

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So I might as well just come out and say it …

Our days on this funny little green island on the eastern Atlantic seaboard are numbered.  Yes that’s right !  These Celtic Tiger cubs are foregoing the wonderful scenery, immense prices and material eyes and heading for a new life in New Zealand.

Yours truly has been offered a job in the city of Tauranga, New Zealand and we intend to be there by March !

So much to do and so little time … but we’ve been thinking about it for years … only now does it seem real !

A Stony Pier October 4, 2007

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A Stony Pier …

by The Rambling Man

At the end of a stone built pier, I see myself
standing – and I watch the choppy water surround laughing, splashing friends …
Remember the many times I jumped. And now the same
gnarling hive rises in my belly, as it did when mid air then,
only being vanquished when I breached the surface
Realising I could swim; and well at that.

Those were days of carefree, although we didn’t know it,
of jumps and somersaults and cries of “Did you hit the bottom?”,
Whether I sank or swam or drunk a gulp of salted (oily) water
home was but a few damp strides away …

And now I a man, and standing yet on that pier’s edge
wondering what bottom will I hit, or should I jump at all ?
Home will be no longer, short strides along the winding road …
I’ll jump I think and take the salt that this new land(ing) brings
and all that comes with, or doesn’t, or gets left behind …
For I can swim, you see; and well at that.

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 …

A lovely poem about New Zealand November 18, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, Poetry & Humor.

(South Island, N.Z.) by Anthony O’Neill
Summer evening at November’s End
We sit apart, still warm and close

On either side, wonderous willows
Weep their fronds to stony ground

Across the water, a hidden sun
Rose-fingered – Tinges snowy peaks

Close-by a couple eating sandwiches
Conjures a horde of ducks and gulls

Under a sky of deep deep blue
The lake murmurs, over and over

Time is flowing
Days left are few

The lovely poem above was dropped to our house by a complete stranger (Anthony O’Neill) – a charming elderly gentleman who happened to call one evening collecting for charity. We were in the throes of getting ready to go to New Zealand on holiday and he chatted about how wonderful he found it there – especially Lake Wanaka as described in his poem. Reading this poem we decided we had to go and see it and we weren’t disappointed – it is such a beautiful place – to blog about it here would not do justice to its rugged beauty and explosive serenity. I long to return.

Is the grass greener ? August 8, 2006

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

The subject of faraway hills being greener, cleaner and generally all round better places to live than this fair isle, has been one close to my heart for some years now. I guess the travelling bug, not quite extinguished in the days of my partly misspent youth, has resurfaced.

New Zealand – thats one place where I would like to go and live for a while. Having travelled extensively, lived and worked (sort of) in many countries, I had never experienced something like it before. It was what Ireland could be like – clean, efficient and apparently not all that corrupt. But most of all it was laid back and you could feel the atmosphere. Oh and they like rugby too 🙂

One of my non-national mates (don’t get me started on that phrase) said to me the other week that of the countries he had experienced, Ireland had a strange type of attitude to betterment. He put it something like this –> Whereas other people might look at the guy who lives at the top of the hill and has a huge 6 bedroomed house, new car and pool and say “One day I’m going to be like him!” the Irish sit back, look at him and say “One day I’m going to get that bast*rd!”.

So as the responsibilities close in around us, we are faced with several options. Stay here and make the best of it – and it’s not as if it’s horrible here – quite the opposite. It’s just that I can’t help feeling there is something better out there. Or we could up shop, hop on a plane and arrive at any number of wonderful destinations and start all over.

I’m having a bit of trouble in my head determining if I am up for it or if the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

Thoughts anyone ? I would like to especially hear from people who have immigrated into Ireland thinking their lives would be enriched. Have the been ?

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