Sunday, January 30, 2011


Once Upon a time there was a girl who lived in Boston...............Before I proceed, let me explain. In this day and age of negative press, recession and reality shows that tend to thrive on humiliating people there are so many people out there working extremely hard , being kind and simply sharing with others. This is one of those stories.
This time last year I met Ann Marie Maxwell from Enterprise Ireland. A government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish Enterprises in world markets. I had begun my business in 2001 here in the U.S with the plan to build a brand. 'Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland' has now become the Irish Lifestyle Company I had envisioned back then, well it's on the right path anyway !
Ann Marie listened over time and managed to connect the dots by introducing me to the people I was looking for.
I know that you all know what I am talking about when you meet people who do their job because it's 'their job' and then people who 'take pride in their work'. Huge difference. Puala Chase and Ann Marie Maxwell are two such people. They worked around the clock, enthusiasm never waning. I loved watching how excited and happy they were for everyone.Their enthusiasm was contagious. Every day I needed to check in to the Media Lounge just to see Paula smile. These two ladies represent Enterprise Ireland well but even more so...they are the ambassadors that Ireland needs today. It was my honor and pleasure to get to know them.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


The last two weeks have been somewhat of a whirlwind. I spent the first week in New York attending the Martha Stewart 'Dreamers Into Doers' Entrepreneurial event which was held at The Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Offices. The next few days were spent visiting the 'Enterprise Ireland Offices' and learning all about 'Education Ireland' which I will share later. The following week was spent in Dublin at Ireland's Premier Tradeshow where I launched my line of Irish Textiles, proud to say,'Made In Ireland'. The name of the event was 'Showcase Ireland'. This was a veritable treasure trove where Irelands premier artists,fashion designers and crafts people exhibited. I discovered some wonderful people and products and learned their stories, which I plan on sharing with you.
I need to recover from a little jet lag, compile my thoughts and upload photos & videos ! So bear with me......!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Friday, December 3rd, I arrived in Austin, Texas as I was teaching an Irish cooking class at Central Market. I was early. The Capitol Building was calling me. I had visited once before, ever so briefly but had this urge to go back. Upon entering the building I noticed quite a few tour guides eagerly waiting to share their knowledge. One guide in particular caught my attention. He was talking to two boy scouts with such animation that I knew immediately he was the one ! The child in me needed someone 'who loved' what they do to share this afternoon with. I was not disappointed.

Upon walking into the Senate Chamber, I was struck by the magnificence of two paintings hanging on the walls. As my tour guide continued to talk and ask questions,I participated eagerly. His comment was quite funny ,as he said 'young lady, you must have been a good 5th grade student in Texas History'. Obviously he had not noticed my Irish accent as it was not quite what I was studying at the Ursuline Convent Cork ! However, having two boys being educated here in Dallas helps somewhat when you are helping with study ! I continued to ask more questions as I noticed in the painting ' Dawn at the Alamo'that James Bowie was very much alive and I had thought he was dead or injured by the time battle occured. That was when I learnt about H.A McCardle.

I was right, James Bowie was indeed dead or at least dying at that time but the painter had made changes. This famous battle, (although 'The Battle Of San Jacinto' is more significant) depicted the Fall Of The Alamo in March 6th 1836. There is a somewhat humorous depiction of Santa Anna himself on a donkey as little more than a caricature ! The painter had a sense of humor.

H.A McArdle was born in Belfast in 1836. His parents died when he was a teenager and he immigrated to America. He was a draftsman during the Civil War for the Confederate Navy and later he made maps for Robert E Lee. After marrying he settled in Texas and taught art at Baylor Female College. Later the President of Baylor, William Carey Crane recommended McArdle to the Governor of Texas. He was commissioned to paint a portrait of Jefferson Davis for the Capitol. McArdle moved to San Antonio and painted numerous portraits of Sam Houston. One of his portraits are on display in DeGolyer Library at SMU (Southern Methodist University)

The House of Representatives in the Texas Capitol houses 'The Settlement of Austin's Colony'. More of his work can be found across the street in the 'Texas State Library'and in Baylor University in Waco, Texas. I was so incredibly proud of this Irishman and wanted to see more. It was time to leave for Central Market but you can be sure that I was eager to share this information with all the students in the cooking school. Amazing what you learn when you look around you.