Kerry Go Round

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Due to the races this month, Marian and I had the opportunity to take a week off during our residency, and so decided to do a bit of exploring Kerry. One picturesque bus ride later, and we found ourselves in Dingle. Our first day was rife with rain, so we spent the afternoon having a leisurely lunch and poking our noses into the shops.

The next day we took a morning tour of Slea Head, arranged for us by the lovely Mary at St. Joseph’s Guesthouse. The weather was mostly accommodating, and the views were stunning.

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The next day, with a small bus schedule setback, we arrived in Killarney, and we promptly did a bit more shopping and looking at every menu in town to decide where to eat. We eventually determined more seafood was in order, not that we hadn’t had plenty by this point.

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Even when not being brought baked goods, we apparently are not in danger of starving.

The highlight of the Ring of Kerry tour on the following day was being entertained by a shepherd putting his dogs through their paces. They were just fantastic!

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Now “back the ranch”, we are finding ourselves very inspired by all that we’ve seen. I keep creating things in green:

And Marian has just started a larger mosaic based on the green fields:

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We will be displaying these works and more on Culture Night, Friday September 22, from 6-8pm. Come on down and see what we’ve been up to when we haven’t been eating!

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We Will Not Starve

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Since arriving here in Listowel, nearly a week ago, I have come to the conclusion that even if I was trying to, starvation is not an option. Marian had a taste of this before my arrival, but the tempo of the food deliveries seemed to pick up, if that were humanly possible, once I came on the scene.

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The only thing better than a pie is a surprise pie.

In the last week, we have been happily gifted many food stuffs, from scones, to pies, to fruit tarts, to home grown apples. The hospitality of this town is unbelievable!  We are strangers here, and we truly feel overwhelmed by the kindness everyone has shown us and how much we feel  taken care of.

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Not only were they delicious, they were beautiful

In addition to eating our weight in baked goods, we have also been delightfully invited for breakfast which was lovely as a full Irish isn’t something we would likely whip up ourselves.

We have also started our quest to eat ALL the seafood chowder, and I have been sampling the Guinness at a few available opportunites.

Some art work has been created in between all this eating though, and we will be showing that off both on this blog in the near future and at Culture Night on Friday, September 22 from 6-8pm. Feel free to drop by!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear a scone calling my  name.

And so it begins…

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After a false start on my arrival, Marian and I are happily ensconced in the lovely gallery and living quarters of the Olive Stack Gallery. Given my excessively long journey, already delayed by several days, I rather felt Ireland was happy to see me when this was one of my first sights:

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An Irish welcome

The community here has been amazingly welcoming. We, and Marian before I arrived, have been overwhelmed with kindness. From people popping in for a visit, to offering lifts, to random acts of scones, cake, and sausage rolls, we feel incredibly cared for.

Looking forward immensely to what the month has in store for us!

How do you thank an entire town?

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Unbelievably, today is my last day here in Lovely Listowel. I didn’t think it was possible to beat the experience that Kerry and I had the first time we were here two years ago. Well, I was proven wrong!

Get yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine because this is going to take some time! We have been welcomed into this community with open arms. Mind you, they knew what they were getting into. I’m sure tales were told of the two crazy Americans who blew in here two years ago…I won’t rehash…go back to the first 30 posts of this blog to get an idea of the insanity!

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Damian and Joan Stack, and Ger Greaney being spectacular!

This time, we have met more people, been embraced fully into the community (even though we brought crazy ideas with us), and have been treated like queens the entire time! We were taken on evening adventures by Damian and Joan Stack (owners of Stacks Furniture and Carpets) and welcomed into their home to carve our names alongside so many others who have received their hospitality. We dressed up as elves with their daughter Jennifer (owner of Coco Boutique) who, along with other business owners like Martina of Perfect Pairs Shoe Store, Catherine from Horan’s Health Store (she also was an elf!), Liz and Cora from Finesse Bridal Wear, Oonagh from Broderick Pharmacy (who saved me from having to have my arm amputated…read about that in an earlier post!), came into Olive’s gallery after work for a brain storming session to work together at Christmas time to make Listowel even more magic than it already is. These women are smart and enthusiastic and I couldn’t sleep that night over the ideas they all had!

I still can’t get over the group of women who showed up to make the elf costumes! Martha with her incredible sense of style and her singing of Christmas Carols! Kerry from Listowel Garden Center, Nina, Marie, and Mom (Olive’s biological and our adopted one) all were in the studio laughing and creating and putting their own brand of fairy dust on everything! Incredible! Keep in mind that we did this very early on in the month. Imagine living in another country for a very short amount of time but, every time you walk out the door, you are greeted by name.

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This is my favorite picture from the day featuring Carol Stricks as Mrs. Claus, Olive being glam, Jennifer, and Catherine!

Imagine being in this place for a short time and getting a toothache and having the dentist down the street sort things out and give a smile and a handshake on your way out. Having Oonagh at the pharmacy fix your arm after an awful bee sting (the Irish bees are the only nasty things here) and then having her check on you to make sure you are ok. Or Mary from Lynch’s bakery across the street running over with some of the best cake you have ever tasted in your life so you can have something with your tea. Are you starting to feel the magic?

Damian stopped by regularly to tell us horrible jokes (which did make us laugh and only encouraged him) and then arranged with his friend Ger Greaney to take us on the tour of Knockfierna in Limerick after we closed the gallery one evening. It was these kindnesses that taught us, not only about the history of Ireland, but how proud the Irish people are of their country as they very well should be! These excursions that were so generously bestowed on us gave us a deeper understanding of this incredible country. When you see it, it’s beautiful. When you get to know it, it’s beyond words stunning!

Getting to know Damian Yumbo (our name for him) of Jumbo’s restaurant has been an extra treat this year! He is one of the organizers of the Listowel North Pole Express and I still cannot get over the good humor and fun he has shown us even when these crazy Americans were dressing him up as an elf to bombard the local businesses while making a video. He had to leave early and the description he gave of having to walk back to his car on his own dressed as an elf will still make me laugh randomly just at the though of it.

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The idea of Yumbo walking alone down the street in this outfit still makes me laugh!

Which brings us to Michael “Pixie” O’Gormon who videotaped the insanity for the marketing materials for the Listowel North Pole Express! I took a selfie of us all outside the Lartigue Monorail Museum (where the LNPE will take place) and Mike is in the background covering his face…see below…I have to believe he simply didn’t want to outshine us but I think it’s more likely he didn’t want to be seen with this band of merrymakers! Wait…I don’t think I’m supposed to say that in Ireland.  Oops! He kept his sense of humor while trying to give instructions to us all. Think Goat Rodeo! He was marvelous and did this to help promote this fabulous project and Listowel!

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Please notice Pixie in the background. Why in the world didn’t he jump into the fray? We will never know!

And how can I not talk about our beloved Chic Boutique Mary? We made fast friends with Mary two years ago and have continued the friendship. We loved sharing her birthday with her this time (last time she was out of town on the day) and Mary, along with Yumbo, Catherine, Carol, and Olive (Jennifer came by, too) took us out for a surprise dinner complete with parting gifts. We still cannot get over the generosity of the people here! And by the way, Mary…we will be calling ye on September 2 when we have won! 😉

We were welcomed into the 6-9 club at John B’s Pub on Friday nights and enjoyed so much chatting with everyone including our beloved Mrs Claus Carol Stricks, Kathy (owner of Gurtinard House B&B), Colette, Frank, Phil (who runs the bar), and the amazing Mickey McConnell whose songs and the way he sings them still makes me cry! Pub Theatre is still the most amazing show in town and Billy Keane definitely knows how to make these crazy Americans feel welcome!

Then, of course, there is our beloved poet from Tarbert: Paddy Creedon! Two years ago, he took us to possibly the most beautiful site we had ever seen, came to our show opening, and wrote a poem about us that is so wonderful that it remains as a highlight of my 34 year art career. This time he outdid himself with a wonderful tour in County Clare and then taking me to see the Vermeer exhibit in Dublin. How do you thank someone for providing you with exquisite beauty from nature, from a master artist, and through the written word?

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Best picture of Paddy EVER!

We have had way more fun with Mom this time! I cannot get over how talented she is and wonderful to be around! She has continually brought us treats and run errands for us! The most amazing of all was when we told her we needed sparklie things for the elf costumes and she showed up with a magic bag full of the most incredible sequined dresses and odds and ends that elevated these elf costumes in an inconceivable way! All we had to say was “do you think there is this or that anywhere” and the next day she would show up with exactly what we needed and more. I’m not sure how I can explain how much we will miss seeing her every day. Her beautiful sparkling eyes and absolutely irresistible smile has made us happy every day we have been here!

Last, but definitely not least, we have to thank Olive for being the very best hard hearted, slave driving, mean spirited….wait…scratch that…for being the most amazing woman we have ever met! The fact that she started this residency and accepted Kerry and Me as her very first Artists in Residence attests to the fact that she is a genius! hahahahaha But yeah, it’s true! I will never forget meeting Olive for the very first time two years ago when we fell into her gallery: our eyes wild from driving on the wrong side of the road. Since then, we have forged a friendship that spans the ocean and will last for the rest of our lives! She, and the incredible people of Lovely Listowel, have taken us into their homes and their hearts and shown us more about the beauty of the human spirit than can ever be explained in a blog post.

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Some friendships are destined to be legendary. This is one for the record books!

Cue the ugly crying.

Kerry and I love you all for being more incredible than you can possibly know! Until we meet again…..

 

 

 

 

The Chic Birds and an evening with Barry Part II

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A painting I did based on our evening with Barry in 2015! This time, Olive and I sat on this sofa with the Lion in the flag behind us!

As our residency is coming to a close, Kerry and I were talking about how shocked we are that this second residency for us here in Lovely Listowel has been even better than the first! I remember us first coming into town two years ago…wild eyed from driving tiny roads on the wrong side of the street…and we have to wonder if the community thought we were insane!

Coming back again two years later (this time in a bus…you’re welcome), and we were not only welcomed back with open arms, but the entire month has been a series of unbelievable acts of generosity and kindness! I am saving the details of all this for the blog Thursday night…our last night here. I will say that our new name “The Chic Birds” is going to stick as we were surprised by beautiful packages left surreptitiously for us by Mary and Pat of Chic Boutique. Mary was the very first person we met in Listowel two years ago and we have loved the friendship that we have forged in such a short amount of time! We did NOT expect lovely gifts and thoughtful cards when it is the two of us who need to be giving the gifts! Thank you both so much! And thank you, Mary, for sharing your birthday with us! So much fun!!

As if this surprise wasn’t enough, Olive came to pick me up to go see the Magnificent Barry tonight. Go back to August 2015 to read the first evening with Barry post. Since meeting Barry two years ago, he and I have been pen pals. He does not believe in using computers or cell phones so letter writing it is! Being in Barry’s company for any length of time leaves you feeling like you have been drinking champagne..it’s that pleasant, heady feeling like your feet are floating a couple of inches above the floor. His stories of his time in London in the ’60s as a model/fashion designer are better than any book or movie or play. He vividly brings to life what it was like hobnobbing with celebrities and artists. He has the most deelish way of telling a story and he was just as fabulous as he was two years ago….maybe even more so! He opened the door wearing a black poet’s shirt and I felt the champagne bubbles going straight to my head! Marvelous!

I must go to sleep…too much mental champagne has done me in!

Inspiration from Vermeer

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Cat. 74, Johannes Vermeer, Woman with a Pearl Necklace, 1663_4, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin-Preußischer Kulturbisitz, Berlin SHADOWS

I found it difficult to tear myself away from this one!

Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting is currently at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. As luck would have it, our beloved Paddy Creedon was going to Dublin for the Irish football match and, not only did he drive me to Dublin but he also provided the tickets and parting gift of a magnificent book about the show! Thank goodness he knew to book the tickets in advance as, when we got there, a sign was up saying no more tickets were available for the day!

The drive to Dublin went by in two shakes of a lambs tail with a midway stop at Barack Obama Plaza. Not joking! Apparently he has Irish heritage and came to Ireland with Michelle and there were pictures everywhere! Deelish!

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Paddy being a good sport…or else he is trying to look like Barack Obama!

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this show. There are only about 35 paintings that can be attributed to Vermeer and, although I have long been a fan, I have never seen one in person. Even through my many visits to Amsterdam to visit my beloved sister, the one time we went to the Rijksmuseum, the only thing we were able to see was Rembrandt’s The Night Watch because of renovations and that was difficult to truly take in based on where it was.

Needless to say, I was extremely excited and the show did not disappoint. What I find amazing (and I have said this before) is when you walk into a museum that houses 1,000s of paintings (In this case, this particular show is comprised of about 82 pieces), the superstars jump out at you. It was as though the Vermeer’s were lit with special lights that made the other paintings jealous. It happens no matter where you go. The superstars are superstars for a reason.

Vermeer’s work is so intimate: It’s a moment in time. The subtleties in expression, whether in the face or through the delicate placement of a hand or even a finger are so exquisite that I had a terrible time pulling myself away as I felt absolutely certain I would catch them moving.

It has been said that it is very likely that he used a camera obscura as did Caravaggio and you can’t ignore the similarity in the way they portray light and dark. While Caravaggio’s work had a gritty quality, Vermeer’s is achingly soft and beautiful.  It’s difficult to say what I like best about his work. Maybe it’s the fact that, even if the women are doing mundane jobs, there is intelligence and thoughtfulness in them. Stunning!

The show ends on September 17 so you still have time to get here, experience it first hand, and then come to Listowel! You know you want to!

I was delighted that, in another area of the museum, there was a show of European art from 1850-1950 and featured an absolutely marvelous painting by Kees Van Dongen called Stella in a Flowered Hat! Anyone who has taken my portraiture classes knows how much I love him and this piece was incredible in person! I had never seen it before but, suffice it to say, she had prussian blue hair and the characteristic black eyes and red lips but the hat….omg the hat! It was comprised of circles sitting on top of a straight brim and I was truly tickled!

Go to see it here:

http://onlinecollection.nationalgallery.ie/objects/8510/stella-in-a-flowered-hat?ctx=bec3ea2e-f203-4e1d-b69c-df1e1c3247fd&idx=0

Lastly, Paddy wanted me to see the work of the Irish artist Jack B. Yeats (brother of poet William Butler Yeats). They have an area dedicated just to his work and it is truly mind blowing. His work changed dramatically over the course of his career which was incredibly exciting for me to see as I find myself always trying to push forward and this was very inspiring to me! His piece “For the Road” and “Above the Fair” were showstoppers! See them here and, while you are at it, look at all of his work to see the progression!

http://onlinecollection.nationalgallery.ie/objects/8459/for-the-road?ctx=52e5a628-551c-43e4-936f-4c27175b23e0&idx=4

http://onlinecollection.nationalgallery.ie/objects/1694/above-the-fair?ctx=e78afba1-f8e0-4d8b-a598-06149afa124f&idx=17

I cannot thank Paddy enough for taking this crazy American all the way to Dublin and for not giving me a bad time when I almost made him late to meet his family because I was spellbound in the museum!

I took a bus back to Lovely Listowel and have been working on a new painting ever since trying to capture the inspiration of this incredible day! That’s actually not entirely true. I was whisked away by the fabulous Olive Stack, today, who took me to Ballybunion for a seaweed bath. I’m not sure I can fully explain what this was like SO, after you have finished going to the National Gallery in Dublin and have arrived in Listowel, I recommend highly that you go to BallyB and make this happen! I’m not sure I have ever been this relaxed!

How in the world can you not be happy and inspired in Ireland? The answer is there is no way! I’m feeling pretty grateful!

I wouldn’t touch the walls…

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That is the Lartigue Museum behind us where the Listowel North Pole Express will be taking place!

Today was the day that we unveiled our super top secret project on Lovely Listowel. That’s right. The elves hit the street! We had 15 businesses in town who had signed up for us to make an appearance, take photos, and make merry…wait…we can’t say that…and be filmed for a promotional video for the…drum roll please……Listowel North Pole Express! (Please go like them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Listowel-North-Pole-Express-599233830466164/?notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite&notif_id=150360475710863) YES! Kerry and I finally strong armed the committee into making a decision on the name. Mind you, we were doing said strong arming in full elf regalia. We were comfortable with that!

Everyone (everyone being Jennifer, Katherine, Yumbo, Olive, and Carol) came to Olive Stack Gallery to get elf (and Mrs. Claus) ready to bombard…wait…to tickle and entertain…the area businesses and to have a little fun! I can’t tell you how many people thought we were a “hen party”. What kind of hen parties do they throw around here? Kerry’s point was why would they have a hen party on a Thursday afternoon. My point was why would they have it dressed as elves. Either way, Kerry and I made a comment about the crazy Irish and Olive looked at us like WE were the crazy ones!

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Getting tucked in by Mrs Claus at Stack’s Furniture Store!

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Damian Yumbo needed a little sprucing up before we hit the streets!

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Kerry and I leaving Oonagh Harnett’s with our goodie bags that were a gift from the fabulous Oonagh herself!

We went from shop to shop and even had Kerry locked up in the jail for being a naughty elf! (The title of the blog was the piece of advice Kerry was given as she was being locked up!) We bailed her out, though! No one can resist chocolate chip cookies! We loved stopping in at John R’s for some snicky snacks and libations and couldn’t believe the welcome we got at Oonagh Harnett’s! We made her an official elf! We have her outfit all ready for her!

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The look of quiet desperation…wait…there is nothing quiet about Kerry!

Once we broke Kerry out of the hoosegow, we headed to the Lartigue Monorail museum where the Listowel North Pole Express festivities will take place! Mind you, once finished at the Lartigue, the excitement will continue in the downtown area of Listowel! This will all be happening on weekends from mid November up until Christmas!

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How could you possibly resist this group? Doesn’t Olive look super glam? We say yes! In reality, she is a terrible slave driver with a heart of stone….I mean…we love her so much…(please don’t beat us!)

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Jennifer and Yumbo picking something special out for one of the elves back at the North Pole!

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Katherine and Kerry adding some finishing touches to Olive’s painting that was already finished. Makes you understand why jail time happened today!

I can’t tell you how much fun it was to hang out with Jennifer, Katherine, Carol, Yumbo, and Olive! It was an incredibly silly day and all of it was captured on film so we can’t actually say it wasn’t us when push comes to shove. There is now proof.

Yikes.

Are you sure that fence will hold me?

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Yes, that IS an actual rainbow! Finally!!

We have been incredibly busy and have been shocked each night when we finally look up and realize it’s past midnight! SO, we were pretty thrilled when Damian Stack offered to take us off on another adventure! We closed shop at 6 and walked to the store to meet Damian and Joan and off we went!

We met up with Ger (Damian’s friend) who does tours in the Limerick area (we are waiting for him to FB friend us so we can give you more information because he was incredible!) We were being taken to Knockfierna which, oddly enough, no one we spoke to had ever heard of! It is the site of famine houses as well as the most spectacular views you can ever imagine which we found to be an odd juxtaposition. We also were told that this is the land of the faeries and we also were told that the fairies aren’t particularly nice. No Tinkerbell’s here! Definite mischief makers.

So, we met up with Ger and all piled into his car to get to the base of Knockfierna. From there, we were going to walk up to the top while being given a history lesson about the famine while being able to walk inside the ruins of these abandoned stone houses. It’s incredible to hear the history and see the conditions in which these people lived and also be awed by the beauty of the countryside. It somehow doesn’t make sense.

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Seeing these homes in this incredible, wild environment is truly hauntingly beautiful.

 

As we continued to walk the path up the hill, it began to rain and, yes, we did leave all 6 umbrellas in the car. Mind you, both times being here in Ireland, neither Kerry or I had yet to see a rainbow. We told Ger the rain would be fine as long as a rainbow was produced. As if on cue, the sun came out and a rainbow appeared! At this point we were almost to the summit. Damian kept us going up the steeper part by telling us filthy jokes (we may or may not have encouraged him. Joan keeps telling us he doesn’t need encouragement) At the top, we were afforded the most jaw dropping 360° view of Limerick, Cork, Kerry, etc etc etc! It’s impossible to describe it and it cannot fully be captured in a photograph. You have to experience it which you will because you are coming here.

We had a first on the way down. We actually saw a wild Mink cavorting around. I thought it was adorable until Damian said to make sure to cover our necks because he will go for the jugular and show no mercy. My mind immediately went to Monty Python and The Holy Grail and the adorable white rabbit that guarded the cave. We took a wrong turn on the path and had to go back up a rather steep hill so, the consensus (read Damian and Ger) was to cut through a grassy area. SO, we climbed up an unsteady stone wall and went under the barbed wire that Damian and Ger were so politely holding for us. We realized at the other end of said grassy area that there was a large gate. Here is the feats of strength part of the tour. Damian and Ger made sure the gate would hold us and told us to get on over it!

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Kerry making the magic happen!

As we continued down, we came across a path that seriously looked like something out of a movie set. Don’t believe me? Look below!

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I know it’s dark but it was after 9 pm and this is still freaking magical!

Once back at the car, we broke into the incredible chocolate chip cookies that Kerry had baked for the occasion. All of us were damp, cold, and totally in awe of what we saw together! We huddled in the car (heat on full blast) and laughed and talked enthusiastically about this incredible adventure.

We are so lucky to be taken on these journeys with people who have lived here all their lives and truly love their country. Damian and Ger continually bring history to life and make Ireland even more beautiful (as if that’s possible) with their stories! When you come (and we know you will….it’s now a must), you need to contact Damian and Ger and let them show you the real Ireland! INCREDIBLE!

OOOOOh Gurrl, Settle in!

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Now what do you think Kerry did to make Paddy laugh?

Today was action packed! It was filled with coincidence, small worldisms, conquering fears, heinie pinching, another entry into our seafood chowder off, and death defying views!

Of course, this was all brought to you by our beloved bodyguard poet Paddy Creedon. Mind you, the heinie pinching was brought to you by Kerry. Big surprise.

Paddy texted us at 8:30 am sharp to let us know he was in the square waiting for us to begin our big adventure. We drove to Tarbert to take the drive on ferry to County Clare. Kerry, who is susceptible to seasickness, was sporting some fashionable pressure point wristlets to ensure I didn’t have to hold her hair as she yakked over the side of the ferry. They worked!

Once in County Clare, we went looking for a place to have a cup of coffee and plan the day. We kept seeing signs and would say ‘no…let’s go a little further…’ and finally saw an interesting sign for an art gallery/cafe. We walked into Kilbaha Gallery and was met by co-owner Liz Greehy. We instantly felt at home as she welcomed us in and offered us a table for coffee, tea, and scones. She asked where she was visiting from and one thing led to another and we realized #1 that Liz’s brother is the artist who created the John B Keane sculpture that we see out our window every day and #2 that they sell the work of our very own Staci Swider! WHAT? OK, so two seconds later, we are now new best friends! We got to meet her brother, artist Seamus and Liz’s sister in law and co-owner Ailish Connolly and probably had more fun than we deserved to! This is a stop everyone must make on the Wild Atlantic Way! Go to http://www.loophead.ie for more information! This day was incredible!

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Liz and Ailish from Kilbaha Gallery being freaking awesome!

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The outside of Kilbaha Gallery so you can recognize it when you come here because you will. Look to the right to see one of Seamus’ sculptures on the hill!

Liz and Ailish gave us a great route to take us around to see the sites and off we went! Our next stop was the Loop Head Lighthouse. I have slowly but surely been conquering my fear of heights and decided to do the tour of the lighthouse complete with going to the top and going outside on the crow’s nest. I am happy to report that I did it and did not get swept up in a stiff breeze and pushed over the ledge to fall to a horrible death below. Kerry and Paddy were very proud of me even thought I did cut the tour a little short and ran down the stairs. But yeah, I did go out there…I did enjoy the views….and I did not die.

We went into Long Bar for lunch in Carrigaholt. Amazing. Just do it. Don’t question me. I said don’t question me….just get your flight over here, and do what we say. You can thank us later.

Instead of going to the Cliffs of Moher which, we understand, can be crowded with tourists, we were told to go, instead, to see the Cliffs of Kilkee which are said to be just as spectacular. I am going to tell you in all seriousness: This was blow us away sensational! There is something so interesting about these cliffs. The whole experience is hard to describe except to say that you are dealing with a variety of tactile and visual experiences. The cliffs themselves are rocky and textured while the ground on top is so soft from the thick lush grasses that the juxtaposition leaves you feeling like you are dreaming. The waves splashing against the cliffs are so violent but the incredible turquoise of the water is so visually striking that there is a sense that someone is photoshopping color in front of your eyes. All of this was laid out in front of us in a private landscape worthy of a scene from Wuthering Heights. I told Kerry to start screaming HEATHCLIFF but she said no.

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Who needs the Cliffs of Moher when you’ve got the Cliffs of Kilkee???

We want you to understand that we are being shown these sites that are beyond description by a poet. Paddy takes us from one place to another telling us stories in a way that the experience is heightened in its dreamlike quality. Two years ago he took us to Garinish Island and Gougane Barra in County Cork because they inspired his poetry. This time, he took us to beaches and cliffs that defy description. Paddy: We can’t thank you enough for being the Bodyguard to our collective Whitney Houston!

Get over here. Come tour the Wild Atlantic Way. You will never regret it!

Wait…Did you just say Lapland?

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Cake from Lynch’s Bakery hand delivered by Mary Lynch herself! Jealous? You should be!!

Today was a day of friends stopping by being crazy generous as usual! We were served home grown apples, unbelievably tasty cake, and a bug zapper to keep us safe from the Tracker Jackers.

Mom was the first to arrive bringing us apples from her garden. We are still amazed by the hats she and Nina made and will be giving sneak peeks soon! She actually has blisters from the glue gun debacle! Well earned but blisters nonetheless!

Mary Lynch, from Lynch’s bakery, brought us pieces of cake that can only be described as heaven on a plate. I’m not sure how we are so lucky…seriously! Two years ago we told you about Lynch’s roulade that blew our minds. Now this. Kerry made me run up and down the stairs 47 times so that I would deserve my piece. I did it without complaints and it was worth it!

Martha, queen of the faux fur elf costumes, came by and I believe we may have talked her into coming back to work on some finishing touches!

Ann showed up with a tracker jacker zapper when she read about our experiences on the blog. Are you seeing a theme here? When we tell you that the people here are like no other on earth, we aren’t blowing smoke! We are happy to report that the wasps must have realized we meant business now (they have been laughing at us while we flail at them with magazines) as they seem to have reported back to mission control that we now have weaponry.

Next up was Carol who is going to be Mrs. Claus at the soon to be named Christmas Extravaganza that will be held here in Listowel. The reason I am saying soon to be named is that Olive took us to Allo’s for din din tonight (we can’t breathe we are so full but it was so incredible! I had to do another 72 runs up the stairs…Kerry is so mean) and we made her decide on 3 names for said Extravaganza to present to the committee to choose from. We need a name STAT! While we were brainstorming, Olive kept shooting down our suggestions because she said that certain words meant something completely different here in Ireland. Mind you, she came out with one that was so filthy if you are an American, that we laughed so hard people started to stare. Among the names that didn’t make the list were:

Pull Santa’s Finger Train Ride Jubilee

Hey You, Aren’t You on the Naughty List? Jamboree

Frolic and Play the Lapland Way

Roll Out The Yule Log Express

Those are the ones we can post. You can see where this was going and it wasn’t good. I like to think the laughing we did burned some of the calories we threw down our little red lanes. I have to keep stopping here because Kerry and I keep going into tears laughing and I can’t see to type. Oh my goodness. Who knew naming an Extravaganza would be so highlarious!

We are exhausted and are going to sleep early tonight. Olive: Thank you so much for the incredible dinner and the guffaws!

XOXO,

Your Lapland Sisters