Waterford has a lot to shout about

Conor Rush's ceramic sculpture in the window of the new gallery space Studio 20ten

Conor Rush’s ceramic sculpture in the window of the new gallery space Studio 20ten

Waterford sure has a lot to shout about. We decided to go on one last road trip to the sunny south east, before the kids went back to school. We headed down late on Friday night with a slight de-tour in Carlow because of road works, but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits. We were going to make the most of Saturday, as unfortunately we had to leave very early Sunday morning for work commitments.

Our kids outside Reginald towers playing with a model of Waterford city

Our kids outside Reginald tower playing with a model of Waterford city

I had read about Waterford walls last year and really wanted to make it down with our children to see it this year. On Saturday morning we woke up to blue skies, so we headed to the local park to have breakfast and a strong coffee. Coffee has become like a loyal strong friend in our lives since having twins :)…

The danger zone, where there are giant size rice crispie buns and lots of paw prints from children.

The danger zone in the Park lodge Cafe, where there are giant size rice crispie buns and lots of paw prints on the glass from children ;)).

The Peoples Park in Waterford has a great little pitstop for parents, joggers alike called Park Lodge Cafe. Now be forewarned: there is way too much temptation in this place at the counter. Lot’s of little paw prints have been left by children looking longingly at the cakes and a few adult prints also. But when on holidays, just do whatever you want to do, and in our case it’s eat lots of nice food…peoplesparkparklogdgecafewm

The park has a brilliant playground. It also has skateboarding, where tweens and teens can hang out and check out each others new moves.

We headed off after refuelling down town towards Lombard Street. We came across an exhibition called Dust breeding by Fiona Kelly in Soma contemporary gallery.

We crossed the road and discovered  a new gallery called Studio 20 ten , which was having its opening night that night. I was speaking with Conor Rush, who is one of the artists involved. He is responsible for the ceramic head which is the featured image of this blog post. They are a collective group of artists using traditional and contemporary mediums.

Ceramic head by Conor Rush

Ceramic head by Conor Rush

Our daughter looking at work by Milia Tsaoussis- Maddock.

Our daughter looking at work by Milia Tsaoussis- Maddock.

Painting by Roisin Kinsella

Painting by Roisin Kinsella on the top left, underneath paintings by Daragh Lyons and to the right Christine O’Brien

We walked on towards the city centre, our kids armed with their map to find out where all the walls were being brought to life with colour around Waterford city for waterford walls.Our daughter watching friends playing a game of chess, before they headed off to the Bluegrass festival in Dunmore. They told us they missed the bus...

Our daughter watching friends playing a game of chess, before they headed off to the Bluegrass festival in Dunmore. They told us they missed the bus…

The first piece we came across was by Joe Caslin, a street artist from Roscommon. His project theme is called ‘our nation’s sons’. He produces large scale portraits of young men.

Waterford walls is only in its second year. It came about through a group of like-minded people wanting to make a difference to their community and bring much-needed colour to their city’s walls.

Forty local and international street artists came together in Waterford for a weekend of shared passion of making walls come to life with beautiful colourful imagination.

Caoilfhionn Hanton

Caoilfhionn Hanton

The first artist our kids spoke to was fresh-faced Caoilfhionn Hanton. She is from Waterford and took part last year. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of her artists hands….

Caoilfhionn Hanton hands

Caoilfhionn Hanton hands

Our son watching Serbian artist Vunik at work

Our son watching Serbian artist Vunik at work

The kids guided us to the next mural by Serbian artist Vunik.

Waterford walls is an annual festival and celebration, which this year included workshops and walking tours. You can find a google map showing where they all are here.

We saw locals and tourists alike engaging in conversations with the street artists, which is so great to see. Along with bringing colour to the walls, it breathes life into cultural conversation between different people, young and old.

Our daughter was puzzled or bamboozled by this painting below. When we came home I showed her some Esher prints. This was painted by Jerry Rugg (Birdo).

Our daughter trying to figure how Jerry Rugg (Birdo) did this mural

Our daughter trying to figure how Jerry Rugg (Birdo) did this Esher inspired mural of a pig like creature.

Close up of a herd of colourful patchwork elephants by Louis Masai a full time artist from london.

Close up of a herd of colourful patchwork elephants by Louis Masai a full time artist from london.

We came across a very colourful herd of elephants by louis Masai, who is a London-based full time artist. His subject matter questions us humans on why we revere the death of a celebrity, yet fail to recognise a disappearing species.

Vunik to the right wall and louis Masai's herd of colourful elephants

Vunik to the right wall and louis Masai’s herd of colourful elephants


Catching a few Irish sunrays Brendan Butler

Catching a few Irish sunrays Brendan Butler


Brendan Butler a graduate of Crawford College was working feverishly on his painting in soaring heat.




English artist Aliss Curtis taking time out from her wall

English artist Aliss Curtis taking time out from her wall


We spoke to Aliss Curtis originally from north Wales, but living in Dublin. She was taking time out from her work. She is a graphic design graduate, which lead her to a special interest in spatial design.




Our children lead us on to the carpark, where we saw JMK (Jonny Mc Kerr)and DMC (Dermot McConaghy), who is a visual artist at work .waterfordwalls

Waterford walls has a sibling this year going under the name of T-walls. The project has expanded to Tramore and this year Five walls were painted. So for next year, we wish you the best of luck and I hope you receive funding from the relevant art organisations.

shadow lands...Jonny Mckerr at work.

shadow lands…Jonny Mckerr at work.

It was a flying visit on a whim, but so worth while and it was very educational for our children and a brilliant last hurrah before school starts again ……. ps thanks to the friendly biker who got talking to and allowed our son onto this bike. Our daughter wasn’t interested…

Our son thanks to the friendly biker, who made his day....

Our son thanks to the friendly biker, who made his day….

Jacinta and Family xxx







The kids were climbing the walls today

The kids were climbing the walls today. Now, this is after a morning spent in the park. When you have two high energy kids, I find myself trying, like most parents, to find activities that will make them (I can live in hope) want to go to sleep early.

I had heard two years ago about this place, but thought they were too young. Then a cousin said it to me recently, giving it great applause. So, I thought we would try it. It’s called Gravity and it’s a climbing centre.

I thought we would just have a look. But, when we got there, the kids wanted to give it a go. So, they got their climbing shoes and I signed the forms.

They had an instructor to bring them around for 15 mins, showing them the kids’ area. They were shown how to use the climbing wall. My daughter took to it like a duck to water. My son was a little on the cautious side, but, as my daughter pointed, out “he is better than me at this” with not too much concern for this fact.gravityclimbingcentre1

We then went onto the blue zone, where adults and kids are. We were told to stay within the middle of the walls either side, as people jumping off really don’t want to land on you, but on the soft spongy surface. So you need to be alert.

You also need to be careful going underneath the archways or tunnels, as people can be climbing on them. You need to be vigilant.

The instructor showed the kids how to climb some of the bigger walls, until he was confident they knew what they were doing. So he left us to hopefully enjoy “a nice cup of tea”, as he put it.

It was busy, but there was a really nice bunch of people there. My daughter at one stage was trying to attempt the overhang , which was out of her colour zone (the orange colour is what beginners should start on) but a person came over and showed her how he would do it. Then he suggested another area where there was on easier one.gravityclimbingcentre

It seems a great way of empowering your child; strength building, co-ordination all coming into play. It’s also a structured and disciplined way of figuring out how to use their body. It also teaches them how to problem solve, as they have to figure out which rock to chose next to get to their desired destination.

It was a really enjoyable afternoon, well worth the money. My son said the next time I have to join in. So we shall see how that works out. :))

In Ireland it never rains….

In Ireland it never rains, but it pours. That is a certainty . When you go on holidays, the sun is splitting the trees the week before you go. It’s the luck of the draw, regarding the ‘odd shower’, when you look up the weather forecast before you set off on your journey. You google again on the way down and it has turned from the odd shower into blustery winds.

Audio books were a saviour on the drive down in the car on our holidays in Kerry this year. Our son picked out the music: Hozier, Pink Floyd and The National and, for good measure, The Beatles. I was impressed when he showed me. There was the odd killing in the back of the car between the two kids on the way, even with forward planning. We were glad that we had sort of built a wall between the two of them with clothes that wouldn’t fit in the boot.

Another good tip is no hard objects, which could be grabbed and used as missiles…..


Kingdom waves surfing school, Inch Beach


My kids after their surfing, Inch Beach, Dingle

A week in Ireland, regardless of the rain, is worthwhile. I was never a sun worshipper. I just frizzle, freckle and burn. Thankfully my kids don’t have my skin. Our kids went surfing for the first time on Inch Beach with Kingdom waves surf school. The smiles on their faces told the tale of pure enjoyment.


Our son ….

My son, one of the days, said ” Mum can we climb the mountain and touch the clouds”, whilst driving over the Caherconree Pass.   What did happen was we had a stand off with a lorry, as you do, while the clouds looked like they were gripping hold of the mountain and about to crawl down towards us.

Highlights for us this year was Castlegregory Beach and The Maharees, and having a game of hurling on one of the strands. We ate dinner in Sheehy’s Anchor Down, Dingle which is very reasonably priced for families. It only opened its doors in July. When we stepped out the door after dinner, we heard Irish music being played with gusto next door in Siopa Ceoil.


The local cat is working in the box office outside Siopa Ceoil

We even got to pay a visit to Lisbeth Mulcahy in Dingle to see Lula, Flowery and The Sock Detective.

In Ireland it rains,  but it rains candyfloss. This is what my daughter called this latest embroidered artwork ” Look it’s raining candyfloss, mum”. It is based on an original drawing by her. Children don’t see the rain, they see lots of opportunities for fun…….


“Look it’s raining candyfloss Mum”








Butterfly kisses



There were butterfly kisses from our children last week. We decided as a family to pay a visit to The Straffan Butterfly Farm. It was a very special day, as it was our son and their big brothers birthday.  Nine years ago, we said hello and goodbye all in a space of a couple of days. It is something no parent should have to do, each year brings a flood of memories.

We are so glad we chose the butterfly farm, as it really felt special and the children loved looking at all the different butterflies. It is run by Des and Iris Fox. We met and spoke to Iris on our visit. She said for the past 31 years they have open the doors to part of their home and a big part of their lives.

There is an educational area where we got to look at lots of different types of butterflies and also some live creatures.


Leopard Geeko

straffanbutterflyfarmstickinsect15Like the Leopard Geeko, some strange looking stick insects or a rather friendly snake trying to find a way out of his glass home.


Smiles all round…

Our children were very attentive for the video, which gives the life cycle of the Butterfly. I think they got top marks from us, for sticking with it. At the end , we agreed that it was very interesting.


Showing the eggs under the leaf.

Then it was time to go into the tropical house to meet (not touch) some of the butterflies, we had learn’t about. Beautiful, so fragile and we were in awe of the different colours. We got to see the eggs,


Meeting the Scatterpillars?


An army of Pupae….

the caterpillars eating, the pupae and the butterflies.


I just like seeing the world upside down….It makes it all the more interesting..

The children really enjoyed the whole experience and it really is worth a visit. Sadly this is the final year, so put it on your to do list for the summer holidays. You won’t be dissappointed, we promise.


The Softies are on an adventure down in Dingle..


Siopa na bhFíodóirí

Flowery, Lula and The Sock Detective have gone on an adventureWhat better place to stay than with Lisbeth Mulcahy in her Siopa na bhFíodóirí (The Weavers’ Shop), Green Street, Dingle, Co.Kerry. Lisbeth is originally from Denmark and moved over here in the 70s. She is well known for her abstract tapestries and is influenced by her surroundings. She really has no end to inspiration for her work in this beautiful county. Lisbeth’s husband Louis Mulcahy, is a well known potter. You will find Louis Mulachy’s showrooms down the road towards Slea head in Ballyferriter.

Original characters. Inspired by my children's drawings

Original characters. Inspired by my children’s drawings

Our children enjoying Murphys Icecream on a got summers day

Our children enjoying Murphys Icecream on a got summers day

The past two years we have holidayed in Co.Kerry. Last year, we spent a week in Camp, halfway between Tralee and Dingle. The sky decided to throw a wet, grey blanket over itself for the week we were there. But we got up every morning, determined to chase the blue sky, wherever it was and we did manage to find it most days. One day we ventured into Dingle. The children sampled Murphy’s Icecream which gave them a spring in their step.

One of the days we went to Dingle and decided we would travel on to Slea head. Driving around those narrow turns with sheer drops isn’t my idea of fun! It really is a white knuckle ride.But there were squeaks of joy from the kids. We arrived near the Blasket Islands, which are really breathtaking. The name means Brasker, meaning ‘a dangerous place’. As I said earlier the name is fitting….


The beautiful views in Co. Kerry. Remember to have the camera on stand by…

You will find houses along the way with signs outside for tea and cake. If you stop you will wind up in someone’s kitchen, a great way of experiencing the cupán tea and a slice of apple tart, with a version of Mrs. Doyle or the Irish mammy going “you will, you will”…..

We were in Kerry the week before The rose of Tralee festival, so there were lots of preparations going on in the town. We had a lovely lunch in Mary Annes Tearooms. The children loved the waitress who served us and the soup and sandwiches were really tasty.


Inch Beach, relaxing lazy days at the beach…..

Some highlights for us was Inch beach, it really is one of the most beautiful strands. On the very last day the sun came out to play and our children took full advantage of this, leaving the car door open, sandals got thrown in the air and they ran at full speed down to the beach. We arrived at around 10 and we stayed until after 6. They built their own little paddling pool and they were seen trying to save their pool from the incoming tide. We ended the day by treating ourselves to dinner in Sammy’s cafe. But all good things come to an end and memories have been made, until our next holiday….which I hope will come soon….






As a family we are “Going with the flow”



I have to say as  brilliant experiences go, canoeing is up there. ‘Go with the flow river adventures’ owner Charlie Horan met us in Borris. We drove down to Clashganny and quickly change into the wetsuits. Our children listened intently, just at times mind you, to all the instructions and history Charlie told us, before we set out on our adventure down the River Barrow.

2015-03-10 21.50.44

Our children were singing this very apt song, it went something like this: “Row, row row your boat gently down the stream, if you see a waterfall don’t forgot to scream”. This is exactly what happened going over every weir and white water experience. Shrill screams of delight erupted. They were also willing their poor parents to fall into the river. Kids these days…..

 Getting into the canoe is a challenge, and you do rock the boat as you manoeuvre yourself to a kneeling position to set off. It’s a great way to look at the countryside from a different perspective. I also feel it’s great for team building which is important for a family and for your children to learn at an early age. Even though at times I found myself saying to my husband “your going the wrong direction, you’re not steering properly”. Later on those words would be eaten…

Charlie guided us over the weir and white water, filling us in with the history of the area along the way. He has over 20 years in the business and we all felt very safe under his gentle guidance.

The locks are amazing to actually be in. We have been by-standers watching the lock keepers open up the gates for barges, but to be in it, in a canoe is an experience. As parents, we were well impressed at how the children helped each other in the canoe, to steer themselves in on their own to the Lock. Charlie spoke to them from up over and of course there was a little bit of squabbling, but they got the hang of it.

Now you read earlier about me having concerns about my husband’s steering, well I got my turn. We swapped and I was at the back steering, lets say “it’s not easy”. I was made eat my words. Charlie let us get a head start, we thought we were doing really well. It started to go pear-shaped within 5 mins. I couldn’t figure out my left from right. Charlie glided past us at leisure with the two kids. Whilst we were left, in fits of laughter, tears rolled down my face trying to figure out how to turn this contraption around. But you really do have to literally “Go with the flow”

We eventually got our bearings and got going again. Not before a few words from each of us going “what are you doing?” We caught up with Charlie and the kids to be informed by Charlie that the canoes in the States are called “divorce boats” mm. We could both see why!!.

As a family we would recommend this adventure and if you are wondering what to do over the summer, this is one thing you could tick off your list. Expect a few sore arms and legs if your like me. As my son said last week “Dad you were around with the dinosaurs and mum came a year later”. We both feel this sometimes , don’t you?….