Old Irish Road Signs – Giveaway

Old Irish road signs are an instantly recognizable feature from Ireland and times past.  Only a few originals actually remain in place on our roads today, mostly in isolated and rural areas.

Luckily some original street name signs can still be seen in towns and buildings throughout the country.

Black and White Irish Signposts

These distinctive white and black signs truly are a symbol of Ireland, especially for those who now live far away from home. I’m delighted to say that once again these old Irish signs are being crafted in Ireland. Anthony Proctor, from Moone Co. Kildare started a new company called Old Irish Road Signs to recreate these treasured symbols of Ireland’s past.

Today I’m thrilled to publish a guest post by Anthony, explaining his inspiration for creating these beautiful pieces. Anthony has graciously sponsored a giveaway for one lucky reader. More details on how to enter are at the end of this post, but first here’s the story of how Anthony started making these signs.

 

The Story Behind Old Irish Road Signs 

by Anthony Proctor

 

When the original cast iron signs were replaced most were destroyed or recast into other stuff. But they also became collector items and a nostalgic reminder of ‘Home’, especially for people far from home.

Some were ‘saved’ from destruction and then turned up in gardens, pubs and anywhere that Irish people settled – worldwide.

Irish Signpost - Skibbereen

I live in a village in Co. Kildare called Moone. I always wanted some signs in my garden but since they were so scarce there was no hope of finding any and definitely not with accurate mileage. There was no option but to make some. I made 2 exact replicas of Moone and Castledermot signs and then added accurate mileage from my home. The significance of these are Castledermot is my home town and Moone is my wife’s home.

Such was the immediate reaction from people on seeing these signs I was soon making signs for lots of people. First locally, then nationally and now I make and ship them worldwide.

School Garden Signpost in Ireland

The signs have been used for decoration in many different areas such as gardens, patios, homes, pubs, schools and businesses. Given as gifts for every occasion, these signs have an added nostalgic attraction for people who actually remember the originals.

Every sign means something – most commonly it is a customer’s home town or a loved one’s home. They can also be historical or functional, and one has even been fictitious . But on receiving each sign people always smile – and remember!

No one likes leaving home and the longer they are away, it seems the more they look for a reminder or link to home.

Kildare Crest on an old Irish signpost
These signs are a constant reminder of our origins and I have added family crests to some signs for people who want something a little different , but equally attractive. If you have an idea for a sign I would be happy to discuss the options.

The signs I make are exact in size and detail to the originals. All have bilingual text and any mileage (accurate or fictitious) can be added as standard.  Here are some specifications and details:

  • The signs are 250mm (10 inches) high and the average length is 750mm long (30 inches).
  • Length will vary depending upon the number of letters in the chosen name.
  • The letters are individually handmade and bonded to each sign.
  • The English text lettering is 75mm (3 inches) high.
  • The Irish text is 35mm (1 1/2 inches) high .
  • All signs are 6mm (1/4 inch) thick.
  • Celtic style lettering is also available for the Irish translation on any sign.
  • The white backround of the sign is 11mm (1/2 inch) thick.
  • The material the signs and letters are made from is called ‘foamex’. It is a pvc material. Completely weatherproof in all conditions, it is also uv resistant. It won’t fade.
  • These signs require no maintenance. But, good news, they can be washed with soap and water if necessary.
  • The signs can be single or double sided and double sided signs come complete with a powdercoated bracket (no maintenance).
  • The weight of a single sided sign is approx 800grms and a double sided with bracket weighs approx 2.5kg.  This makes them easy to handle and to ship anywhere using standard post.
  • The average cost of a sign is €65 for single sided, and €85 for double sided. Postage costs around €25.

Irish Style Mail Box - An Post

Recently I have also added another ‘Irish’ product. A Post box featuring the Irish harp and ‘An Post’ on the front. The family name can also be added on top if required. They are also made from 11mm foamex, and are fully lockable and weatherproof. The standard size box is for A4 size mail. I can also ship these worldwide.

The green and gold is the standard colour but I can also do black, blue or red. They are easy to fix to a pole, wall or gate.

All the signs and post boxes are made in my home in Moone, Co.Kildare, Ireland.

The appeal of the signs and the post boxes are their unique connection to Ireland. We all want ‘a little piece of home’ no matter where we are.  We want to make our little patch ‘just like home’.

There is nothing better than seeing a familiar sight, sign or even taste to remind us of where our heart is. We stand and stare when we come across them.  There’s no place like home.

Irish Mail Boxes

I hope these signs make that connection for you because I love making them, especially knowing they stir lovely memories of home for so many people.

The stories behind these signs, the people and the destination are always so heart warming. There are places I’ve never heard of in Ireland and I’ve sent them to places I’ve never heard of abroad. So it’s been an education and an opportunity to keep a little piece of the past alive.

Old Irish Signposts

If any readers would like to contact me for any reason or for more information , I would be delighted to reply, and answer all queries.

My Facebook page is called – Old Irish Road Signs and where you will find lots more examples of signs and products to browse through.

I can be contacted by e-mail:

approctor@eircom.net

oldirishroadsigns@eircom.net

phone – 011 353 86 3919162

 

Irish signpost as a gift

The Giveaway: 

 

Anthony from Old Irish Road Signs has generously donated a single sided sign as a prize for one of Irish American Mom’s readers. I think these signs would make wonderful Christmas gifts.

To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Sunday, September 7th, 2014.  You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.

If you need some inspiration, why not tell us what name or location you would like to have inscribed on your sign should you win.

A winning comment will be chosen randomly.  Remember to leave your e-mail so I can contact you to arrange shipping of the prize.  Your e-mail won’t be published or shared, just used to contact our lucky winner.

The winner will be announced on Sunday September 7th, 2014 at the end of this post.

Best of luck to all our entrants and a big thank you to Anthony Proctor for sponsoring this fantastic prize for Irish American Mom’s readers.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Irish American Mom receives a road sign for review purposes.   I do not receive cash payment for publishing guest posts, but do so to help spread the word about home businesses and artists. Thank you to all who support Irish and Irish American crafts people and their wonderful enterprises.

Why Blogging Is Hard Work.

I have learned many lessons since I first started blogging way back in October 2011. First and foremost, I now know that blogging is hard work, and involves a lot more than just writing.

Screenshot of Blog Landing Page

1. Social Media and Marketing

 

You must write, and write plenty, but that’s just the beginning of a blogging journey. Nobody will stop by to read my brilliant, and sometimes not-so-brilliant words of wisdom, if I don’t let it be known I’m sharing my insights.

And how might I ask do I do that? Why social media and networking of course. The very words put the fear of God in me.

Yet over the past few years my website has come a long way. Thank you to all my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest followers. This little blog would NOT be possible without YOU.

But as we spread the word about my writing, a never-ending cycle begins …..

 

The more you market and publicize ……

….. the more visitors come to my site.

 

The more visitors come to my site…..

…… the more server space I require.

 

The more server space required ……

……. the more money it costs.

 

The more money I don’t spend ……

……. the more my site crashes.

 

The more my site crashes……

……. the more visitors I lose.

 

And that’s where I must end this cycle. I don’t want to lose you, my readers.

If I don’t address problems, and sometimes throw money at them, all of my hard work could be for nothing.

 

2. Technical Glitches:

 

Now don’t worry, I’m an optimist not a pessimist, and I truly believe that for every problem there is a solution.

But in the interim …….

 

I’m never surprised when things go wrong.

 

I knew that at some point on my blogging journey, technical difficulties would inevitably raise their ugly little heads. Don’t forget I’m Irish, with an inherent respect for Murphy’s Law.  That’s when I want to curl up in a little ball and cry out:

 

“But I know nothing about computer programming.”

 

Faced with the dilemma of whether to give up, or move on, I always choose to try to master new skills.  Success is never guaranteed, teaching this old gal new tricks.

But, I’ve come too far to give up now, even if technical glitches try my patience.  For example take a look around at my beautifully blue site. 

I know!

Not very fitting for an Irish themed blog :)

But rest assured, I don’t particularly want blue backgrounds and fonts, but I completed a theme upgrade for my site and everything turned blue, including me. I’m trying hard to change it back to green. I won’t bore you with my trials and tribulations with plug-ins and widgets, but I know for sure, I’ll never earn my living as a WordPress programmer.

So while I’m working out how to go Irish green, bare with my blues.  I was born in Dublin, so I suppose I can claim to be a “true blue Dub.”

 

3. The Business of Blogging:

 

All of these challenges have taught me a valuable lesson.

 

Blogging can turn into a little business in the blink of an eye.

 

As a little blog baby grows and grows, who feeds it? A growing blog needs marketing support, technical back up, accounting, security, policies, artistic creation, socializing, business development, advertising ….. I could go on and on.

Blogging turned into a little business for me before I knew where I was, and guess who tries to fill all the business roles in my little company.   Yes!  That’s me, and half the time I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, just learning to fly by the seat of my pants.

Wordpress Dashboard

I started this blog for fun, but with increasing traffic I now need to pay for more server space, which means I need to do something to generate a little income, if I don’t want to totally raid my kids’ college funds.

Luckily, my little blog doesn’t need to generate income to feed my family. Phew! Right now it doesn’t even cover overheads, so we’d be starving if I was hoping to feed my hungry boys.

And so, when you see a few advertisements flashing away on the side bar of my site, please understand I’m just trying to keep the lights on.

Heart failure struck a few times, when I saw some wiggly, jiggly belly fat ads before my very eyes. Then to make matters worse, my mother reported some soccer betting ads were popping up on her side of the Atlantic, especially around the time of the World Cup.

I’m working with my advertising agencies, and fingers crossed all ads will be of a higher standard in future, but in the meantime, if a wobbly belly appears on your screen, I really do apologize.

 

4. Coping with Blog Anxiety:

 

My audience has started to grow, and I cannot thank you enough for visiting my little corner of the world wide web.But let me confess, that makes me feel a little nervous when I realize:

 

YIKES !!!!!  

Readers want to read MY STUFF!

 

When I work on a post for a few days, and time comes to hit the “publish” button on my blog, my stomach goes a little  queasy. I guess I worry that my ramblings may disappoint some of the wonderful readers who revisit my blog over and over again.

But then I think of what my granny would have said:

 

“Ah, just get over yourself!”

 

Believe me – my granny was a very straight-forward, no-nonsense kind of Irish gal. She milked over 60 cows on a daily basis. Now in the latter years she had a lovely milking parlor to make life “easy”, but she was milking cows right into her 70′s.  When we would fuss about homework, her motto was:

 

“Just clap it down, and get on with life!”

 

 

So guess what?  Granny’s advice wins out every time.  I do just as she would tell me, and get over myself.

No more worrying! No more anxiety! And if today’s post isn’t good enough, then hopefully tomorrow’s will be a little better.

 

Thanks to my Facebook Fans

But believe me, your heart warming comments and e-mails go a long way to keep me motivated. It’s lovely to read your two cents worth at the end of my ramblings. Your heartwarming words are what makes all this hard work so worthwhile.

 

THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

 

Memories Of Secret Coves, Hidden Steps and Pirate Queens

On the hill of Howth in north County Dublin a secret pirate cove awaits would-be explorers, daring enough to descend one hundred and ninety-nine steps carved out of the sheer cliff face.

In my post today, I once again hope to take you off the beaten path, and help you discover some of Ireland’s hidden treasures.

199 Steps In Howth

When I was a little girl growing up in Dublin, my grand aunt loved weekend outings with all my cousins in tow. One of our favorite hang outs was on the beach at the bottom of the “199 steps” in Howth.

My cliff stair collage above shows how these stone steps are carved out of the cliff, winding their way from the shore to Howth summit.

Looking Towards the Bailey Lighthouse Howth

This is Grace O’Malley territory. The famous Irish pirate queen visited Howth on many occasions.

My grandaunt loved to tell us this very cove was where Grace O’Malley always came ashore in Howth. Considering Grace O’Malley, or Granuaile in Irish (pronounced Graw-nea-wale) lived between the years 1530 and 1603, the truth of this tall tale may never be known.

Undeterred my grandaunt relayed stories of pirates working by torch light to hack and cut 199 steps from the rocky cliff face, to allow their pirate queen ascend to Howth’s summit undetected by the English.

Looking Down At the Cove Below 199 Steps in Howth

We loved to wind our way along the cliff path in search of the first step to this secret pirate cove. We looked down from on high dreaming of Grace’s lost treasure, just waiting behind some rock for our eager eyes to find.

Steps Leading to a Hidden Beach in Howth

Last summer I rediscovered these secret steps with my children.

Once I told them of potential pirate treasure, the made quick work of navigating the treacherous steps.

Grace O'Malley's Secret Cove in Howth

A sense of mystery and magic awaits on the rocky shore below.

Barnacle covered rock

You can easily imagine the pirate queen herself standing on top of this barnacle covered rock issuing orders to her crew of Mayo men.

A Strange Rock on an Irish Shore

This strange rock has not shifted since I was a little girl.

I imagined a big, strong pirate flung the smaller red rock across the beach with such force that it lodged into the larger boulder.

I’m certain there’s a perfectly sound geological explanation for this rock formation, but let’s face it, nothing beats a good pirate story.

Ireland's Shoreline - Rocky Beaches

This is no sandy beach. Shoes are definitely required for pebble covered shores…..

Seaweed Covered Rocks

……. and seaweed strewn rocks.

Searching for Pirate's Treasure

My kiddos were convinced Grace O’Malley’s treasure lay beneath the large rocks at the base of these cliffs. I spent hours as a child climbing those very rocks. In four decades they don’t seem to have budged even an inch.

The Beach Below 199 Steps in Howth

A small row boat could easily have been maneuvered close to the rocky shore at this very point, allowing the brave Grace reach dry land. 

O’Malley’s connections to Howth are not just part of my late grandaunt’s vivid imagination.

In 1576 Grace O’Malley tried to call upon Lord Howth at his castle only to be informed the family was at dinner and she was not a welcome guest.

 

Dublin Ferry From the Beach in Howth

This rejection did not sit well with the bold Grace. The Lord of Howth soon felt the full brunt of this pirate queen’s wrath, when she abducted his grandson and heir.

The terms of the child’s release included a promise from Lord Howth to keep the gates of his castle open to unexpected visitors, and to always set an extra place at every meal.

This pledge is still honored at Howth Castle to this very day, with an extra place setting laid at table.  I wonder if Grace’s ghost ever inspects the distance between the knife and fork.

This ferry passed as we roamed the shoreline, following in the wake of pirate vessels from years gone by. What a day, imagining ghosts and pirates roaming around searching for treasure.

199 Steps in Howth

And so, after an energetic day playing on a secret pirate cove in Howth, the long trek upward and homeward began. There are no cable cars or lifts to take treasure hunters back to the cliff top. The only way home is to shift one foot after the other until all 199 steps are finally surmounted.

For anyone interested in a stiff climb to a secret (or not-so-secret anymore) cove, access to the 199 steps lies on the left hand side of the cliff as you walk out the headland towards the Bailey Lighthouse. That’s all the information I’m willing to part with, and if you can’t find it, perhaps you’ll find the way on an old pirate treasure map.

Wishing you all happy trails, discovering your very own hidden Ireland.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

Villages In North Cork – An Entertaining Video Series

Cork Videos produce short films of ordinary people, telling about ordinary things in towns and villages around County Cork, Ireland. I was delighted when Tony Kennedy, the producer of these films, e-mailed me to share his entertaining and informative amateur videos of North Cork villages.

These simple films share chats with locals, images of shops, points of interest, churches and schools – all-in-all a very thoughtful exploration of what makes these little communities tick.

Now, since my family hail from North Cork, just outside Kildorrery, I simply had to share this little snapshot of the village I know so well.

 

Famous Kildorrery Town:

 

Like many places in Ireland, Kildorrery even has it’s very own song, entitled “Famous Kildorrery Town.” The town is so famous, you’ve probably never heard of it, but hopefully this little blog post will help remedy that.  Here’s the chorus of our famous song:

“Have you ever been up to Kildorrery

Indeed if you haven’t that’s quare

Sure it’s only five miles from Ardpatrick

And three from the cross of Red Chair

And when at that cross you are landed

You will see a big hill looking down

And on top of that hill bare naked and chill

Stands famous Kildorrery town.”

 

This song is sung by Kildorrery GAA supporters at matches throughout the county and province. I just had to highlight the lyrics in Kildorrery GAA blue.

 

Elizabeth Bowen:

 

The writer, Elizabeth Bowen, whose family lived at Bowen’s Court just outside the village, described the area as follows:

 

“Kildorrery is so placed as to be a landmark for miles.

Cross-shaped, and of some size, it has the characteristics of a hill-village

– rather sad weathered houses, sky seen through arches, draughty streets,

an exposed graveyard, a chapel launched over the distance like a ship.

Though its name means church of the oak grove, one can see no trees:

the Ballyhouras are very near, to the north.

Only when Kildorrery stands full in the sunset has it an all celestial smile.”

- Elizabeth Bowen, 1942

 

It sounds like Elizabeth was in agreement with the “bare naked and chill” description by our local songwriter of years gone by.

 

North Cork Videos – A Glance At Kildorrery, County Cork.

 

And so, without further ado, here is a little snapshot of the little corner of Ireland I love so well.

 

 

If you enjoyed this little glimpse of Kildorrery there are more short films of other Cork villages waiting to be viewed on the Cork Videos YouTube channel.

Thanks to Tony for giving me permission to share his work with you today.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

 

Irish Cottage Kitchens Of Days Gone By

In traditional Irish cottages of days gone by, the kitchen was the central hub, witnessing the busy comings and goings of daily life. The turf-burning hearth was the focal point.

I have lovely, peaceful memories of my own granny’s kitchen. When I was a very young child a black kettle was constantly boiling, hanging from a pot hook over the open flames.

I remember the day the old hook was removed to make way for a brand new stove. I was only five or six years old at the time, but even then I knew this great change marked the end of an era.

Irish Cottage Kitchens of Days Gone By

In Granny’s kitchen the cuckoo clock chimed on the hour and half hour. Willow pattern plates stood proudly on the shelves of her dresser.

A red light burned beneath a picture of the Sacred Heart. An oil cloth covered a large oak table surrounded by old straight back chairs, some with wicker seats.

I wrote the following short poem to commemorate the loving memories I hold in my heart of Granny’s cottage kitchen.

 

Return In Thought

by Mairéad Geary

 

Return in thought
To granny’s cottage kitchen,
The dresser
Neatly stacked
With blue and white delph,
Ready and waiting
To supply
Endless cups of tea,
With currant cake
Slathered in creamy butter,
And sweet, red jam.

 

Irish Dresser

Return in thought,
To the scrubbed oak table,
Surrounded
By rickety, wicker chairs,
Ready and waiting,
To support,
Friendly players of forty-five,
Drinking tea and whiskey,
Pennies and shillings,
Neatly stacked ,
To wile away the hours.

 

Table In An Irish Parlour

Return in thought,
To flickering flames,
And turf sod fires,
Blackened pothooks,
Ready and waiting,
To support,
Boiling kettles.
Sweet soda breads,
Baking slowly
In the cast iron
Bastible.

 

An Irish Hearth
Return in thought
To well worn wash boards,
The rhythmic routine
Of clothes lines,
Ready and waiting,
To support,
The daily toil,
Of laundry.
White shirts,
And colored frocks,
Fluttering outside the window.

 

An Old Irish Washboard

Now let your thoughts stray
As summer breezes,
Swell those old
Lace curtains,
Ready and willing,
To transport,
The spirits,
Of our ancestors,
Back to the hearth and home,
That once,
They loved so well.

 

Lace Curtains In An Irish Cottage Window

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom