Wednesday, November 25, 2009


As we approach Thanksgiving, we are acutely aware, Christmas is following hot on it's tail ! Advertisers will have us all a panic, with the ever popular countdown, reminding us that we can begin our shopping with doorbusters at 5am!
So....we scurry obediently, doing their will, truely forgetting the meaning of Christmas. Now, dont get me wrong, I too love to open those ornately wrapped gifts that I have always thought America does best ! Sorry Ireland, I love you, but remember when we used to save last years paper with sellotape still on it and part of the pattern missing ! Sometimes, if you were lucky you even got a recyled gold bow that looked like someone sat on ! I know, I know,it was and still is expensive, but as a child you just simply recognised a beautifully wrapped gift.

This was especially true for me. My godmother, 'Auntie Pat' was a gift to me. This is my mums' sister who, back then used to travel quite a bit to the United States. I was the lucky one ! She was MY godmother, so I got the beautifully wrapped gifts. It could have had a toothbrush in there for all I cared, all I knew is that it WAS always wrapped beautifully ! Although, there never was a toothbrush in there. They were always special. My first make up ever was from 'Auntie Pat'. Memories. Really great memories.

My mum is a very special lady. She embodies all that is gracious in a lady. She made Christmas so special. Tradition is part of everyone's Christmas and 'Plum Pudding' or 'Christmas Pudding' was and still is one of those very special traditions. Every year she made these from scratch. No fewer than 13 ingredients, sometimes more. Ingredients such as suet,flour,mixed spice, raisins,to name but a few (I will post a recipe later) filled the bowl. This was one of my favorite times of the year. All the dried ingredients were placed in a large mixing bowl and covered with a tea towel overnight. Oh, the smell of the fresh breadcrumbs blending with mixed spice. Next came the wet ingredients. The addition of Guinness & Rum ! No better ingredients....

Once all the ingredients were combined, next came the ceremonial stirring. Yes, you heard me,the ceremonial stirring ! Each and every one of us (4kids) took a turn to stir the pudding with a wooden spoon. When you did this you could make a wish. The direction of the stir also mattered, East to West , honoring the 3 Wise Men.
Some say the 13 ingredients represent Christ and his disciples. Whether it be true or not it's a tradition. Tradition , passing on from one generation to the next. And, if, like my mum you pass on the tradition of family, love and respect then there is no need to rush for your 5am doorbusters!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Yesterday morning, I awoke early and really wanted to read something familiar. An old favorite perhaps. For some reason , I had this burning desire to read one of my favorites. Brian Friel. One of the great Irish Playwrights. Brian Friel was born in Northern Ireland in 1929 and co-founded the 'Field Day Theatre' in Derry.

From a very young age I have had a love of Literature,Theatre and Speech & Drama. So much so that I spent 10 yrs studying with the London College of Music. At 17yrs of age, I fell in love with the writings of Brian Friel. I chose 'Lovers' for my exam. Made up of two parts, 'Winners' & 'Losers'

Here I was, this catholic girl performing 'Lovers'........The story of a young teenage couple in Northern Ireland preparing for their final exams, known then as the 'Leaving Certificate' In this scene, I played the part of Mag, a 17year old girl who was pregnant. Pretty controversial at best ! A piece of writng that is bold to say the least.

According to my mother, I have been somewhat of a recalcitrant from an early age ! I learned from the best.....Who? The Irish people of course. Growing up there, you are part of a mind set that is, in my opinion a gift. Always questioning, always creating and always wondering .

Successful businesses are not created. Like energy, passion and innovation can neither be created or destroyed. I give much deserved thanks to the great artists, playwrights and literary greats that I was exposed to at an early age. Through the medium of the arts we learn creativity, encouragement to think both technically and critically and as a result can apply these skills throughout our daily life.

So, just before I sat to write this blog,( already knowing I was going to write about Brian Friel )I opened a few emails and received one from a friend by the name of Dennis Lonergan in Minneapolis. Dennis was telling me that he was attending the Guthrie Theater that night to see Brian Friels, 'Faith Healer'
Coincidence or not............?
Thanks Dennis, now I'm headed North.........