Living In Ireland, Then And Now

Life in Ireland has changed significantly over the past 150 years.  Old images relate stories of the past to us, but have you ever wondered how specific locations in Ireland might have changed with the passing of time?

In today’s post a Cork Photographer tells of his experiences in recreating some of the region’s most iconic images from days gone by.

A big thank you to James Walsh from My Ireland Tour in Cork, detailing his amazing work. And so I’ll hand you over to James to tell his story.


Ireland Then And Now


Grand Parade, Cork

Grand Parade, Cork, circa 1948

 Image Credit


For the first 30 years of my life, living in Cork, I had never noticed any real changes taking place in the city.

I guess when you see a place every day the little differences don’t tend to resonate as much. But I recently moved back to the city after spending a year in the UK and, returning home, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Cork had changed. It must have been all the small, subtle changes I’d never taken note of before.

A paint job on my favorite pub, a new coffee shop, different road layouts, a juice bar next to the War Memorial on the Grand Parade. It felt as though I’d traveled into the future, even if really I’d been left in the past.

After a few days back I started to adjust to my surroundings and it started to feel like the Cork I know and love.

At the same time I kept thinking about the change, wondering if it had changed that much in a year how much had it changed in the last 5 or 10 years.

Knowing about my background in film and photography, a local tourism company called My Ireland Tour asked me to produce a photographic resource based in Cork and I immediately knew the pitch should be “the changing face of Cork city” – an article showing photos of Cork as it was and recreating those same iconic images today.

mit monument

Grand Parade, Cork, as it is today.

Image Credit

I started by researching old archive photos of Cork (some dating back as far as the 1880’s) and marking out the ones that I could recreate from the same location. The results, when put side by side, were fascinating. The cars, clothes, shop fronts had all drastically changed over time but the essence of the city was still there. It was still Cork. It was still Cork people going about their day.

The little story-telling nuances really brought each image to life for me and, bringing in a web-design specialist, I added a ‘magnifying glass’ tool which allows visitors to see every detail up close.

Whether you want to have a closer look at the mysterious woman dashing across Patrick’s Street in 1902 or the license plates of the cars parked across the Grand Parade in 1948 the magnifying glass really adds an extra level of enjoyment to the page. I hope you enjoy browsing through it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Ireland Then and Now : Images of Cork, past and present was conceived, captured and shared by James Walsh on behalf of My Ireland Tour. 


A big thank you to James for his amazing work and this guest post. I hope you all enjoy the pictures of Cork, both old and new, which can be accessed through the links above. I loved using the magnifying tool to appreciate details of the pictures from the past.


Slán agus beannacht,

(Goodbye and blessings),


Irish American Mom

Irish Farm Safety

Farm safety is a key issue for Irish farmers. Unfortunately many lives were lost and severe injuries sustained on Irish farms last year. A big safety awareness initiative is currently underway in Ireland to help save lives.

A line of Irish cows or yearlings

The Irish Farmers Journal is a weekly agricultural newspaper which I remember well from my childhood days. Although I was raised in Dublin, I hail from a long, long line of County Cork farmers on both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family.

The content of this weekly publication is agriculture to the core. The editors of the journal stay at the cusp of major farming developments, and highlight issues of importance for Irish farmers today. 

When I was contacted about the possibility of using my website to share information about farm safety, at first I thought, this topic is not in keeping with my blog’s storyline and theme. Then I gave more thought to this serious situation, and realized sharing this information is of extreme importance.

Like me, many of you hail from a long line of Irish or American farmers, and I believe you have a wonderful appreciation for rural customs, farming and the importance of agriculture to our shared cultural heritage.

2014 was a horrendous year in terms of lives lost and injuries suffered on Irish farms. I hope that by publishing this informative graphic created by the Irish Farmers Journal, I may in some small way help to create awareness about the seriousness of this situation.

Even if you, as a reader of my blog, have never set foot on a farm, I hope you appreciate the importance of spreading this safety message.


Farm Safety Image Credit

A big thank you to Pat O’Keeffe, the News Editor for The Irish Farmers Journal, for sharing this piece with me. I truly hope that 2015 will be a safer one for Irish farmers and their loved ones.


Slán agus beannacht leat.

Goodbye and blessings,

Irish American Mom

What Are You Giving Up For Lent?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten Season and a day when many receive ashes, marked in a cross on our foreheads as a symbol of our mortality.

Ash WednesdayImage Credit

I remember receiving ashes in school as a little girl in Dublin. We held the hair of our fringes (bangs in America) to one side, closed our eyes and prayed for a huge daub of black ash to land right smack in the middle of our foreheads.

Whoever got the darkest marking wore it with pride. The blacker the ash, the greater the heavenly trophy.  We loved to compare foreheads to decide who won the “ashes” that year. 

But our school girl banter did not end there.  Ash Wednesday discussions centered on the burning question of the day ….


“What are you giving up for Lent?”


Our biggest wish was to respond ……


“I’m giving up school for Lent.”


And we thought we were ever so funny when we answered ….


“I’m givin’ up givin’ up things for Lent.”


Remember I was a Dublin school girl, so the final “g” in every “-ing” word was optional.

But usually we settled on givin’ up sweets (candy) for 40 long days and nights.

Now if you were lucky you lived in a house where your mother agreed with the Church and accepted that Sundays are not technically part of Lent.  A little indulgence might be allowed on the Sabbath Day.

But not in our house. My mother stuck to her theory that it would be too difficult to give it all up again every Monday morning. She believed it was easier to simply stay off the sweets until Easter Sunday.

But on one special day we jumped straight off that sweet wagon. We were granted one, and only one, Lenten reprieve.

To celebrate our favorite saint, the most famous of all adopted Irishmen, St. Patrick himself, my sisters and I had a little treat or two or three.

What To Give UpImage Credit


Oh let’s face it!  On St. Paddy’s Day we gorged on sweets and chocolate to honor our patron saint all day long.

And once again on March 18th we suffered through our sugar withdrawals. I’ve no idea why we thought is was so difficult because we didn’t even give up biscuits or cake for Lent.

Our sacrifices were no where near a complete sugar separation, but in stoic Irish fashion we supposedly endured our abstinence from sweets for the remaining days of our penitential torture.

To start this 2015 Lenten Season off on the right footing confession time has arrived for me.


“I confess to you, my readers, that in my early years

I never succeeded in adhering to my Lenten sacrifices.”


I feel better already for sharing my fallibility with you. Let me explain my childhood sins.

When “off the sweets” for Lent my sisters and I collected any sweets and treats from our relatives and parents and saved them in a jar for Easter Sunday. The chocolate bars I left unwrapped, but if I got my hands on a packet of jelly tots or dolly mixtures I opened the packet and emptied those sweet temptations into my jar.

Our jars were placed on the highest shelf of the dresser. And if I ever found myself all by my lonesome, staring at my saved jar of sweeties, I confess I scaled that dresser, fumbled with the lid of the jar, and sneaked out a jelly or two to sooth my sugar cravings.

Invariably one of my sisters or my mother arrived back into the kitchen before I had completely scoffed my loot. That’s how I learned how to make candy last a long time, allowing it to melt sweetly and quietly on my tongue without being noticed.

I nearly got caught red handed on many an occasion.  My mother must have thought I took a vow of silence for Lent, I was left speechless so often.

My sister was always pleasantly surprised when she finally opened her sweet packages and emptied them into her jar on Easter Sunday.  For some ‘strange’ reason she always ended up with far more sweets than I did.

A few years ago we were reminiscing about our days of Lenten sweet saving and she admitted she knew I was “on the take” all through Lent.

Ashes To GoImage Credit

And so now, I turn the clock forward to 2015. Once again I am going to try to give up candy and chocolate for Lent. I hope I will succeed this time.

If you have any stories about your childhood Lenten sacrifices, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Wishing every one success on your Lenten missions this year.


Slán agus beannacht,

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Valentine’s Day In Ireland

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and many of you may be curious about how Irish people celebrate this most romantic day of the year. Credit

And here’s a little question to whet your appetite for romantic information about my fellow country men and women….


Which Irish person receives

the most Valentine’s cards each year?


Incredibly, the answer is the late Michael Collins. Almost 93 years after his death, Ireland’s revolutionary leader receives a plethora of Valentine’s cards, which are placed on his grave in Glasnevin cemetery.

When I read this fact in a wonderful infographic created by the good folks at Killarney Hotels, I thought I should share their research with you.

Truth be told I’m no Valentine’s expert. We do little to celebrate the day in our house. When my eldest son was asked to write a story at school answering the following question:


What does your family do to celebrate Valentine’s Day?


He answered truthfully, honestly and concisely by writing at the top of a long page of lines …..




That’s my romantic Irish boy. Remember the same child answered his teacher’s question about why he loves his mom, by answering “because she does the work“.

And so, as the mother of such a budding Irish romantic, my level of Valentine’s expertise demands I hand you over to the highly informed hoteliers in Killarney, who are more keenly in tune with the romantic side of my homeland. I hope you enjoy this little round up of facts about Irish Valentine celebrations……..


Valentine's Day In IrelandImage Credit

Wishing you all a very romantic and happy Valentine’s Day 2015.

Slán agus beannacht,

Goodbye and blessings,

Irish American Mom

P.S. This is not a sponsored post and I don’t have a business relationship with the good folks at Killarney Hotels. I simply enjoyed their infographic, appreciate the work they put into creating it, and thought you might like it too.

Christmas – ‘Tis The Season For Singing.

Christmas time is singing time, whether you enjoy Christmas tunes on the radio or listening to carol singers. Being able to hold a tune is truly a blessing at this time of year.

Alack and alas, I was at the back of the line when tuneful vocal chords were being handed out. Credit

To be honest, I sound a little like a half-strangled turkey when performing a party piece.  The situation is so bad my children plead with me not to sing along to the radio.  Being Irish, and not being a good singer is a little bit of a disappointment. As we all know, my countrymen love a good tune.

One day I shared my deepest wish with my husband.


“I would like to be able to sing in my next life,” I confided.


Without lifting his head from his book, he quickly replied:


“Judging by this life, your singing career is at least two lives away.”


And so, I’m a hopeless, out-of-tune mess. I don’t mind my lack of talent until Christmas comes around. Being able to sing in tune is a very handy skill at this time of year.

© Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

Image Credit

Tuneful renditions of lovely Christmas carols ring out on street corners. I try not to be cajoled into join in, since I know if I head for a high note, my poor voice could get stuck in the wrong key for a few hours.

I tremble when I think of my high school singing test. I inadvisedly chose Annie’s Song for my performance. I remember examining the piano on stage. For a moment I was tempted to hide behind it, rather than face my teenage audience.

Somehow I found my courage and launched into my acapella tune.  Our music teacher, seemed pleasantly surprised initially.  I was in tune for the first two lines, but then disaster struck. I reached for a high note, and try as I might I couldn’t switch down a register. That strangled turkey took the stage once again, and doomed me to a role of back stage helper throughout my high school years. Credit

Now when my little ones sweetly croon at their school nativity plays, or carol singing with their class mates I do not join in. No matter how nostalgic I may feel listening to my little shepherds and angel with her tinsel halo, I refuse to sing.   Mouthing the words is a perfect way to cheat.  Once I get my timing right, they think mom is singing away.

Some people, my husband included, could sing the list of ingredients for fruit cake and sound absolutely fantastic.

I thought about asking Santa or maybe even St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases, for a singing voice this year. But I don’t think talents are ever on their delivery lists.  Probably just as well. If I could sing, I would never stop humming and crooning away, driving my family, and maybe even the world, crazy. Credit


So my advice to all you singers this year. If you have been blessed with the God given talent of a tuneful voice, please share it with the world.

If your vocal chords emit sweet sounds and you don’t sound like an off-key turkey,  then:


Sing with gusto;

Lead those sing-songs;

Take a bow;

For Christmas,

‘Tis the season for singing.


 Wishing you all happy December days of singing.


Nollaig Shona Daoibh!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom