Tag Archives: Ireland

An Island of Infinite Quiddity

It’s crazy o’clock in the morning and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet that’s filling the house right now. I should be tired but I’m not. I’ll surely regret being up so late when it’s time to rise and shine in a few wee hours from now.

As much pleasure as my holiday to America brought me, many days I caught my mind wafting away to my life here in Ireland. I couldn’t help but to be tugged back to all that fills me up here. This is where the most vital parts of my life experience are and that’s why I haven’t gone back for seven years; it’s not that I didn’t want to go, I simply haven’t wanted to leave. Johnny would probably find this funny, in the interesting, not ha-ha, sort of way, as I went many days without contacting home at all. But, though high priority, it wasn’t him or the children or the animals or the gardens that I was longing for. It was the island, or rather the island’s infinite quiddity– that which fills me up, tempts my curiosities and allows freedom to indulge in my wildest hairs like I haven’t experienced since childhood. All this while at the same time feeling completely grounded and centred. Often times I tell folks that the island reminds me of my own childhood, back a generation, exploring nature, knowing most everyone most everywhere I go. I doubt that’s my perception exclusively. Many, many people speak of this seemingly magical allure that the island has. It’s not the life for everyone but, thankfully, it’s the life for me.

Other than unpacking and settling in, I’ve been working zealously in the craft room and the kitchen, but that’s all for another day’s writing. Apologies for not answering mail and messages…there’s only so much time that I can sit in front of the computer without getting fidgety and abandoning it.

I hope all have been well and, please God, you’re all in your happy place too!

With love, Melissa Xx


Our Children’s Chores

Several years back I read a couple great books by Robert Kiyosaki.   In one there was a quote about not giving children an allowance because it teaches them to work for money rather than learning to create money.  It made a bit of immediate sense and was worthy of more deliberate consideration.  In the end, Johnny and I decided to do both, give allowance earning opportunities as well as instruct in ways to create money for themselves.

We have five children aged six to twelve years, two girls and three boys.  Most of their chore doing is for no other reason than because we’re a family.  There’s no list of what they earn for which job so the lines are blurred between doing for the family and doing for allowance. They know we give them money in order to teach them how to manage and understand it.  It’s nominal, between 1€ and 2€ each per week.  We also give them €5 per week for depositing into their savings accounts and the majority of gifted money goes in there also.

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The Elusive Summer


Cornelius on lookout for summer.


notions of summer

hang on a kernel of truth

and hopes are raised up


sounds corny, I know

but, aw shucks, the jig is up-

summer hopes are popped


Another non-summer here in Ireland.  Autumn is at the door…  And at the window, and in the garden.


I do love this time of year though and am enjoying harvesting, fermenting, freezing, and already planning for the next growing season.

The summer has flown by…it’s taken me until past midway through the season to cut my work hours at the hotel by half although I felt it was necessary since the end of last year.  It’s been lovely to get back to work outside the home after a decade of not, but it’s only now that I realize how far off track we’ve gone from our plans of self-sufficiency.  Well, more like spinning our wheels than off the track.  No regrets, for myself and family have benefited from my working away from the home.  And what would be the sense of regrets anyway?  No doubt about it, all is as it’s meant to be.

Johnny and I both want to make a living from and raise our family off our land.  We were both so busy working away from the home this summer that we had to say no too many times to requests for lettuce and veg from local restaurants.  That and other happenings made us realize it’s counterproductive to spend time working away from the homefarm and away from our family.  I feel a burst of energy when I think about how we’ll prepare over the winter to meet next year’s demands but also know that I must plow through the rest of this work season.

On a positive note, sewing summer camp was a great success.  It was loads of hard work, but left all in the family feeling greatly rewarded for it (I’ll share more about it soon). That’s what got Johnny and I sitting down and discussing all that holds promise to support us and all we had lost sight of while being caught up travailing regardless of our plans.  Again, no regrets.

I’m thinking I ought to review my 16 for 2016 list I made at the beginning of this year.  How much of it I’ve actually done will be quite unimpressive.  But, haha, maybe it will be motivating too?!

The haiku and photo are part of a weekly challenge (of which I participate in only sporadically these days).  Ron at Ronovan Writes’ two words for this week’s haiku are ‘up & hope’ and the Four Fab Photo Friends photo word of the week is ‘summer’.

Thanks for taking time from you own busyness to visit me today!  Cheers, Melissa Xx


Time has been tight for me lately.  I know, what’s new right?  Well I’m not just complaining this time.  I’ve made some changes that are going to allow me to do the work and fun which I most desire.  I’ve really missed many of my greatest pleasures.

Next week I’m going away for the week to visit a dear friend and get a bit of r+r.  When I return, so too will balance in my life.  Feeling a bit desperate really.

There are two kinds of tired, the one where you are savouring life and the other where you’re on the verge of burnout.  So I guess it’s obvious which one I’m at.  Other than that, life is pretty wonderful…family, friends, health, and work are all well.  But no one is going to take care of me for me.  Seems a perfect time to stop, rest, and start anew.

The pictures above are from earlier in the week, taken from the cockpit of the plane when returning home from a day in town.  I posted them on my Facebook page with the following message:

‘While flying home today I looked out the window of the cockpit and all I could think was ‘heaven’. It was so beautiful to observe the low lying clouds sandwiched between the magnificent blue sky above and dull grayness beneath. Bright sunbeams were streaming through as though angels were sending a message to not worry, for during the flight the winds were so strong that the plane jerked about. The eight minute flight seemed much longer and I felt a bit nervous.’

Ya, nervous like thoughts of crashing crossed my mind.  I quickly dismissed them and relaxed, though it was hard to avoid them completely sitting beside the pilot up front and all.  I could nearly feel the wind in my face.  Seriously.  Anyway, I lived to tell the tale and to give myself a good slap to stop whinging about my schedule and all and just figure it out already.  Facebook is not the place to open up so much, oddly enough because most people there I know to see, where as here I don’t but here it is safer, more caring and personal.  So please understand my recent absence and know I miss you all very much.  I will post my haiku and photo for this week before I head off on my mini vacation and then I’ll be off the grid until next weekend.  Woo hoo!  Looking forward to my return to me, refreshed and ready to create once again.

Melissa Xx

January’s Garden


Last week, in the bright sunshine, I did a walk through the garden and took a few pictures.  It was the first time all winter I’d gone in with the intention of really looking and not just grabbing veg and hurrying back in the house to escape the wet cold.  I never got around to posting those pics so out I went today…it’s helpful to document these things before the growing season begins.

Everything is looking quite bare, especially with the tunnel plastic off for the entire winter, but the earth previously contained for years by the polythene cover is now enjoying breathing the fresh air and drinking rainwater.  Next month the new plastic goes back on just in time to start seedlings.  We lengthened the tunnel by adding two extra hoops which adds about sixty square feet of additional growing space.  There’s plenty of work ahead of us this spring, which in Ireland begins in just a short week and a half from now. Continue reading

Guest #Book #Review by @TheAranArtisan of Dancing to an Irish Reel by @CFullerton3


I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share my book review on Lit World Interviews.”

Lit World Interviews

Melissa Gillan Review of Dancing to an Irish Reel

Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton – A book review

Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire FullertonOh to be twenty-something again, but this time with the same intuitive sensibility as Hailey Crossan, the heroine of this fictional story.

That thought crossed my mind many times while reading Claire Fullerton’s novel, Dancing to an Irish Reel. I had the pre-decided notion that I would relate personally to Hailey’s experience being that, like her, I’m an American woman involved with an Irish gentleman. Relate I did, but not where I expected to. Our relationships are as different as our personalities and the same goes for the men in our lives. So I reread the book with no expectation or comparison and it won my heart over.

What I most connected with were the references to western Ireland geography, weather, language, and societal mores — they are impeccable. I could nearly hear the distinct Connemara blas…

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Everyone is good natured until a cow goes into their garden.

I like having painted fingernails but rarely take the time to do so until it becomes necessary.  How, you may be wondering, could painted nails ever be necessary, ever be more than just an indulgence?
It’s not something I do so much to show off as to cover up, for hiding beneath their glossy shine is dirt that refuses to be scrubbed away.  My polished nails are the tell-tale sign that I’ve been out working hard in the garden.

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Early June In The Garden



The pumpkins sown on the school tour back in April are well ready for planting out.

This week summer arrived on the Aran Islands. Throughout the garden, Johnny and I placed pots of veg in the spots they will be planted in the earth.  Tonight as I left for work, Johnny and Margaret Maeve were planting out courgettes and pumpkins.   Peas and beans will climb wire attached to the high stone wall to the right, and corn will go in the opposite end of the field.  A pot of fresh compost fills each hole just before planting.  Having started this task late in the day, the courgettes are the only ones spreading their roots in the soil tonight. Everything else will be planted tomorrow, except some pumpkins which will be done next Monday by the students who sowed the seeds.

It’s doubtful we will get a ‘Pumpkin Patch’ sign made this year, but a scarecrow is definitely going to make an appearance sooner than later.

20150605_170802Potatoes are growing very nicely with the first five ridges having been hilled up already.  The last two ridges on the right are turned for brassicas, one filled with broccoli and turnip yesterday.  Still to go into the next ridge, and a few more yet to be made, are cauliflower, green kale, and cabbages. The shorter center bit that’s prepared will be a lean-to for climbing yard long beans.  The willow against the back wall, hardly noticeable anymore, is growing slow and steady.

Last Wednesday it was a most beautiful day.  We planted out bush bean, celery, Swiss chard, and spinach in the L, O, and V beds, E already occupied by lettuce and carrots.  It’s nice not to be staring at empty beds anymore.  DSCF3688The next day the winds picked up again and were predicted to last two days so we scrambled and made mini tunnels to protect the beans.

The wind has come and gone and amazing weather has at last arrived.  The tunnels saved the beans and they seem very happy in their tropical micro-tunnels so we are leaving them on for now.  No, they’re not very attractive, but just for a wee while longer to give them a boost.

A couple other wonderful things happened this week outside of the homefarm of which I’ll write about another day.  For now, I shall get some rest in hopes of rising with the sun.

Slán agus oiche mhaith, goodbye and good night. Melissa Xx

Rainy Day Ramblings

The wind and rain doesn’t seem to stop the many visitors who gear up and brace themselves for the 4+ mile journey from Kilronan to the islands main attraction, Dun Aenghus Fort.  However, I did wonder this day how many of them would’ve boarded the ferry in Galway had it already been lashing.  But the rain started late morning and they had already arrived.  So while cyclists buzzed by our garden during yesterday’s wonderfully wicked weather, I was welcoming a day off from the hotel and garden to stay inside the house.

i live here in aran blue star

Blue star is where we live.  Map source.

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