Leaving Glenveagh and Saffron Scones

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Glenveagh National Park, Donegal, Ireland

I had my first real interview radio yesterday; not about work, just about me and my Hungry Breton Alter-Ego. It was quite fun, exciting and intriguing to have a producer and radio presenter interested about my life! During the pre-interview of the “Late Lunch with Gerry Kelly”, the lady asked me a few questions about myself and what caught their attention was my time I had spent in Glenveagh National park, summer of 1991, working on a clearance project of the cute but deadly Rhododendrons that has plagued Ireland since it had been introduced from Asia… Rhododendrons acidify the soil and create erosion as a consequence, as pretty as it may look, it is a curse for native species… If you want to hear my interview, click on the link, it starts at 32:50…

https://www.lmfm.ie/on-air/shows/late-lunch/late-lunch-podcasts-(1)/late-lunch-monday-september-3rd-2018/

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Donegal and the Dining Gal

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Misty Killybegs Harbour

Last week, like I sometimes do, I ran away again… I know what’s coming you see, the Capitalistic-apocalyptic tsunami that is December, I have stopped counting the number of times I heard or saw myself mentioning the “C” word since the last week of August. This is the life I chose I guess, no point arguing about it! I heard some shops in Dublin already have their windows decorated, enough already! The swallows are still here for Christ sake ( sorry for the pun, I couldn’t resist), or at least that is when I last saw them, outside of Mullaghmeen forest, gathered on telephone lines, waiting for the conductor to signal a final “all aboard!”. I was heading for Co. Sligo first, eager to visit the People’s market in Strandhill, literally in the airport…

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North by North West

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Traffic Jam in Mayo

I haven’t been very well for the passed three weeks, a bit of a dose I often get in Spring, people say it is the change of season, I blame the “put the clock forward for a bit of light” malarkey; this messes me up big time! I mean, seriously? Who had the brain wave? A former French President claimed it was to save energy, I think there is something much more sinister behind it, a hidden agenda… I told you I was feeling feverish. Anyhoo, instead of taking a good rest, I went gallivanting in Killybegs with a healthy stock of paper handkerchiefs, and the week after my colleague “Murph” and I had planned to visit a few customers out west, and a cheese and wine tasting in Letterkenny. It was on the card for a couple of months, and the sensible thing would have been to stay at home; I really wanted to go, helping my colleague of course, but I also wanted to see what was happening out there. Sniffling and coughing I went, stubborn like a pig headed Breton, delusional like a teenager who keeps believing that “it’ll be alright”! Thinking about it, I must have been a charming traveling companion, trumpeting like John Coltrane one minute, sounding like a husky hoarse Barry White an other. Our first stop was in Oughterard, a lovely shop in the heart of the town, O’Sullivan’s…

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Killybegs, Diplomatic Ties

Killybegs Seafood Platter
Killybegs Seafood Platter

I love my job; I know it is cold in this old railway train engine maintenance stone building from the 19th century, pretty much winter for seven months of the year, yes, perishing actually! I have often joked about my age with customers, claiming that I was in fact 78 years old, preserved like a Dorian Gray Popsicle if you wish… Yes, I love my job, being surrounded by great food all day, food and farmhouse cheese, made by people with incredible stories that I like to pass on. But what really gets me going is the people; you never really know who is going to walk through the door, folks with lives and stories, big and small and I love that! I really like listening to them, the quirks and anecdotes, “queer as folk” the expression says, or like the local accent dictates, it is often pronounced “quare” in that unmistakable Irish twang.

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Boxin the Fox

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Glengesh Pass – Donegal

“Boxin the fox”: Irish slang for “stealing from an orchard”.

It was the end of September 1991; I was saying my goodbyes to county Donegal where I had worked for two months on a Rhododendron removal project, on the hills… “Slán Tamall  Mín an Lábáin agus An Earagail “. Goodbye until later! I stepped onto the bus bound for Dublin after hugging a couple of newly made friends. It felt like yesterday when I landed in Ringaskiddy in co. Cork; I had got a free ride on a school bus trip, back from Brittany, all the way to Sligo; I hitchhiked the rest to Donegal Town, and now I was heading back the long way around. I crossed “The North” for the first time, Enniskillen and the intimidating British Army checkpoint – now long gone – before Belturbet in County Cavan. What a ride!

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Killybegs To Differ

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The “Paula” – Killybegs

I have that calling for the sea, I can’t help it, and it haunts me from time to time. Not that I dislike where I live, not at all, but when you spend over 30 years in full view of the Atlantic, it is like an old friend you enjoy sharing a moment with, paying that friend a visit sometimes, that is what friends do I guess, communion with a wordless and reassuring company. So when my Italian pal Marty rang last month, expressing the wish to visit Ireland again for a very short weekend in June, I knew I had to do something special. As a former gastronomy student from Turin, she enjoys real local food, and there were a couple of home cooked Irish dinners on the cards. But for our escapade, I wanted something a bit special, not only for the food, I wanted it to be a feast for the eyes and the senses… Unlike most of Europe, Ireland was under clear blue skies,flirting with mid-twenties temperatures… The perfect plan was unfolding itself nicely…

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