Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Regular Hermonites will be aware of my forays into the growing of vegetables and my ensuing ongoing battles with the garden slug. Just for the record my lettuce crop survived to reach the kitchen table and my potatoes have sent up the healthiest green stalks that you could wish for, their harvesting will be at the end of August. My frantic gardening activity at the beginning of Spring has been recently curtailed by a foot injury that has left me slightly hobbling and somewhat incapacitated.
Today while rummaging at the local Oxfam shop I came across a little book that could have saved me a lot of hassle in my garden war against that ravaging menace, the garden slug. The cover of the book alone is a powerful affirmer for any harassed gardener as it shows a broken slug waving the white flag of surrender. The blurb on the back cover poses the question, “ Has your delphinium been devoured ? Has your lettuce lost it’s leaves ? Is your vegetable patch a slimy slug banquet ? And are you losing the battle ? Fear not, help is at hand with 50 ways to stop even the cleverest of gastropods in its tracks ! ”

Inside this little book there are so many gems of information and know-how concerning our slippery foes. For instance the slug is a hermaphrodite having both male and female reproductive systems, so slugs can mate at the drop of a hat and each one can produce up to 36 eggs in a season. An average garden will have over 200 of the little creatures, each one capable of nibbling their way through almost 2 lbs. (0.8 kg.) of plants. These vegan slouches travel at a speed of 0.0113 kph (0.007 mph), live for up to 6 years, love beer and cabbage, hate salt and consume double their own body weight each day. While they prey on most green plants they are not partial to geraniums or foxglove and their natural predators are frogs , birds and badgers. If I had this information earlier in the year I could now be running a mini zoo with frogs hopping , badgers shuffling and birds singing in a garden sentried by foxgloves and geraniums! Perhaps the most horrific act of removal of these persistent pests is tucked away at he back of the book under the heading IF ALL ELSE FAILS… Let me warn you at the outset this is not for the faint of heart and I am not recommending it…but the author advises as a last resort to “ go out into the garden armed with the book. Locate a slug, remove it from among your plants, place the book unopened on top of the slug and squelch down with your foot. Then flick off the dead remains. Finally, wipe down your book ! ” By the way '50 WAYS TO KILL A SLUG’ was written by Sarah Ford so all correspondence can be forwarded to her at Hamylyn books .‘

Gerard O'Shea

Saturday, 25 July 2009


The way they were !
The world remembers July 1969 as the historic date when the first man walked on the moon , Neil Armstrong , uttering these words "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Five days later at Our Lady Queen of Peace church in Limerick my brother, Tony and his Bride Kathleen uttered these equally momentous words “ I do ” as they exchanged their wedding vows on July 26 th. Tomorrow they celebrate 40 years of sharing their lives together in a ‘ruby’ wedding anniversary. Rubies are said to be rarer than diamonds and symbolise health wealth and wisdom and, of course, passion! Tony and Kathleen enjoy a good relationship together and the span of four decades seems to have ,if anything , strengthened the bonds between them. So congratulations to my brother and his wife on this significant day in their life ‘voyage’ together. Below are the lyrics of Limerick man Johnny Duhan’s song ‘The Voyage’, and as Tony has a fine singing voice perhaps over the next 24 hours he might serenade Kathleen with these powerful words “navigating to the shores of the heart
Gerard O'Shea

Lovestruck in 1968

I am a sailor, you're my first mate
We signed on together, we coupled our fate
Hauled up our anchor, determined not to fail
For the hearts treasure, together we set sail

With no maps to guide us we steered our own course
Rode out the storms when the winds were gale force
Sat out the doldrums in patience and hope
Working together we learned how to cope


With daughter Deirdre


Life is an ocean, love is a boat
In troubled waters, it keeps us afloat
When we started the voyage, there was just me and you
Now gathered round us, we have our own crew

Together we're in this relationship
We built it with care to last the whole trip
Our true destination's not marked on any charts
We're navigating to the shores of the heart

Chorus 2x

Friday, 24 July 2009


I stepped on glass
In the domestic setting
Of a familiar boudoir
And felt the grating
Rasp of jagged shard
Against my skin
Until the crimson stream
Oozed from the pin prick wound.

Listen to the primal sound
The drumming of blood flow
Synchronised rhythm of life
Pulsing a rock beat
An anthem to die for

Later to percolating coffee
Twin angels
From Timoleague and Schull
Divine reminders
Of the winding freedom
Of West Cork
And the healing
In the glance
Of radiance.

I bleed no more
Wound tide stemmed
Cleaned and balmed
I take my first step
Towards complete

Gerard O'Shea

Sunday, 19 July 2009


There are nights that are so still
that I can hear the small owl
far off and a fox barking
miles away. It is then that I lie
in the lean hours awake listening
to the swell born somewhere in
the Atlantic
rising and falling, rising and
wave on wave on the long shore
by the village that is without
and companionless. And the
thought comes
of that other being who is
awake, too,
letting our prayers break on him,
not like this for a few hours,
but for days, years, for eternity.

R S Thomas

Saturday, 18 July 2009


For those sceptical of the existence of Toor here is photographic evidence.
A celebration of the music of Bob Dylan is scheduled to take place there
over this weekend and I would be indebted to anyone who attends the
event to let us know how it went.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009



I saw magic on a green country road -

That old woman, a bag of sticks her load,


Blackly down to her thin feet a fringed shawl,

A rosary of bone on her horned hand,

A flight of curlews scribing by her head,

And ashtrees combing with their frills her hair.


Her eyes, wet sunken holes pierced by an awl,

Must have deciphered her adoring land:

And curlews, no longer lean birds, instead

Become ten scarlet comets in the air.


Some incantation from her canyoned mouth,

Irish, English, blew frost along the ground,

And even though the wind was from the South

The ashleaves froze without an ashleaf sound.


Michael Hartnett
See also...

Saturday, 11 July 2009


'Come Gather Around People...'

On a wet Saturday morning bumped into local music impresario John O’Reagen while shopping at Tesco. John has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things musical and is a great man for news of the latest gig and this morning he informed me of two events that I think are worth mention here. The first is a benefit gig for the Alzheimer Association of Ireland which takes place next Saturday evening upstairs at Dolans in Limerick city. This musical outing will include several local bands including the incredibly eclectic The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra, not to be missed. (http://www.dolanspub.com/event.php)
The second event is even more extraordinary, a day in the open air celebrating the music of Bob Dylan in the woods in County Tipperary. This is a free gig with a barb-b-q thrown in and a marquee on stand by just in case the weather turns out as nasty as it is today.( http://www.myspace.com/bobfestireland )~GOSh.~

Monday, 6 July 2009


Here's another letter written by a child to God
taken from Carmel Reilly's book 'Dear God'

Dear God,

Couldn’t you make the world so that there weren’t all these big storms and tsunamis and floods. All those people got killed, but it doesn’t seem fair.They didn’t do anything wrong, did they ?

I know about Sodom and Gomorrah and that they were getting punished, but I don’t think that’s always why people die in disasters.

I don’t think everyone’s a sinner who gets killed in an earthquake, it doesn’t make sense.

Maybe next time you make a world you could make it a bit safer.

Yours Sincerely.


Sunday, 5 July 2009


Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer was a liberating influence on me when I was a young believer attempting to take my first faltering steps in Faith in a world that sometimes seemed so hostile to the notion of Christian morality and practise. Schaeffer argued from a philosophical standpoint that because Christianity was intrinsically true it was robust enough to take hard questions about itself as well as asking any question about the world around it. He was also a great proponent of the Arts and an enthusiastic advocate of believers becoming involved in creative processes that reflect the glory and majesty of the created universe. Much of what he had to say went over my head but it was the sense that he was freely discussing what very few other Christian teachers would that was such a powerful influence. For Schaeffer redemption did not just apply to the individuals inner soul but there was the potential in Christ’s redeeming death that everything would ultimately be brought back into a pre-Fall harmony. From L’Abri in Switzerland where he set up a retreat centre to explore these topics Francis Schaeffer influenced a whole generation of believers towards a more holistic expression of their faith in the arts and in public debate. As well as his philosophical and artistic insights he also spoke passionately on the ethical arguments against abortion and euthanasia. He died aged 72 in 1984 ~GOSh.~



Christianity is not just "dogmatically" true or "doctrinally" true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area of the whole man in all of life.
The ancients were afraid that if they went to the end of the earth, they would fall off and be consumed by dragons. But once we understand that Christianity is true to what is there, including true to the ultimate environment -- the infinite, personal God who is really there -- then our minds are freed. We can pursue any question and can be sure that we will not fall off the end of the earth. Such an attitude will give our Christianity a strength that is often does not seem to have at the present time.
But there is another side to the Lordship of Christ, and this involves the total culture -- including the area of creativity. Again, evangelical or biblical Christianity has been weak at this point. About all that we have produced is a very romantic Sunday school art.
We do not seem to understand that the arts too are supposed to be under the Lordship of Christ.
I have frequently quoted a statement from Francis Bacon, who was one of the first of the modern scientists and who believed in the uniformity of natural causes in an open system. He, along with other men like Copernicus and Galileo, believed that because the world had been created by a reasonable God, they could therefore pursue the truth concerning the universe by reason. There is much, of course, in Francis Bacon with which I would disagree, but one of the statements which I love to quote is this: "Man by the Fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over nature. Both of these losses, however, can even in this life be in some part repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and sciences." How I wish that evangelical Christians in the United States and Britain and across the world had had this vision for the last fifty years!
The arts and the sciences do have a place in the Christian life -- they are not peripheral. For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God -- not just as tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. And art work can be a doxology in itself.


Francis Schaeffer

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Guest Poet, Liam Ryan
Recently I attended the Wednesday night Poetry Reading at the White House, only my third time in the six years since human dynamo Barney Sheehan began the event. The format of the evening is simplicity itself, there is an hour of the Open Mic where all comers can take the floor and share their poetic musings followed by a reading from an invited guest poet , usually a published author. Last Wednesday evening the Open Mic drew some marvellous poetry and from some very young writers, each in turn wittily introduced by MC extraordinaire Barney Sheehan. Barneys brief and usually humorous interjections save the whole enterprise from going down the road of ‘pompous arty endeavour’ and enable the event to be accessible to a wide range of poetic and public taste. In fact Barney at a sprightly 75 is the factor X that makes the White House readings work where so many before him have failed. The guest poet on this occasion was Liam Ryan a native of Donohill in Tipperary and now living in Laois.
Liam has been writing quietly for many years but has just recently published his first collection, ‘Touching Stones’. His poems are keenly detailed and nuanced with a deep sens
e of respect for the craft of language and the resultant verse brings the reader right to the heart of the subject matter. This piece perfectly captures his eye for detail and the ability to trap forever in poetic form a moment of time. ~GOSh.~



for Gillian

You found a rock,
only your yellow windbreaker visible,
as you sat hunched, staring out :
Inishbofin lay like a wounded whale
stranded in a sea of flat water ;
behind you heather bristled
with crayons of dying sunlight.

I slouched down
to touch the quiet chuckles ;
a scrap of ice-cream paper scurried
towards the wreck of a dumped car ;
a wind hustled, dusk hovered,
your windbreaker hidden behind rocks,
a fiddle tuning back up the pier.


Liam Ryan