P.J. Francis's Blog (28)

A Peak at the Disappearing Supermac

I did not eat out very much on my 2015 visit to Ireland. For most of the time I had cooking facilities available for my exclusive use. It was practical as I was being fiscally prudent. I spent some time at the home of my sister, Bernie, and her husband,…


Added by P.J. Francis on February 10, 2016 at 4:30pm — 4 Comments

Not-So-Welcome Change Comes to Irish Postal Delivery


“But I don’t live in Galway,” a County Clare man said to me regarding his new postal address.

His mail is sorted in Galway City.

Ireland has introduced postal codes for the first time to increase the efficiency of the letter / parcel delivery system. As with other countries, the post office is suffering…


Added by P.J. Francis on February 10, 2016 at 2:30pm — 1 Comment

The Memoirs of Thomas Francis

My father, Thomas Francis, was born in 1901. He lived his entire life on a farm situated in the townland of Muckinish West between Ballyvaughan and Bell Harbour in the Burren region of County Clare. He died in 1991. He left a copybook containing his memoirs. The following extract was written July, 1989. P.J.…


Added by P.J. Francis on December 19, 2015 at 3:00pm — 5 Comments

Irish Dance Halls Gone, But the Marriages and Music Live On

The number if married couples in Ireland who met in dance halls is considerable. That is particularly true of people who were married in the '60s and '70s. At that time, dancing was Ireland’s most popular pastime among young people. It was not confined to youth, as many people, including married couples, enjoyed the music,…


Added by P.J. Francis on December 13, 2015 at 4:00pm — 3 Comments

Irish Rubbish Gets Royal Treatment These Days

We are always looking for a fight.

When the Irish county councils introduced the concept of the wheelie bin we opposed them tooth and nail.

How would people manage them?  Weren’t we grand with the regular bins? Why did we need to change? How would people living in flats (apartments) manage? What about…


Added by P.J. Francis on November 2, 2015 at 1:30pm — 1 Comment

Dodging Traffic on the Wild Atlantic Way

I broke my own rule. I never go on vacation or take a trip (yes, they are different) during holiday season. I would rather stay at home and catch up on repairs and maintenance. Circumstances dictated I visit Ireland in August in 2015. It seemed the entire population of the world had the same idea.

The Wild Atlantic Way has been receiving a great deal of media attention. It is the world's longest defined…


Added by P.J. Francis on October 28, 2015 at 1:30pm — 5 Comments

Helping Ballyvaughan's Permanent Residents Rest Easier

While in Ireland during what laughingly passed as a summer in 2015 I spent time doing maintenance at a graveyard. Three of us spent a few hours mowing and strimming Rath Graveyard near Ballyvaughan in County Clare. Well, I did the mowing and my companions hogged the strimmers. There was only a limited area where mowing…


Added by P.J. Francis on October 28, 2015 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Book Review: 'In the Tracks of the West Clare Railway'

I purchased a copy of “In the Tracks of the West Clare Railway” by Eddie Lenihan on a visit to my native County Clare. If there was ever a book that needed writing this is it. No better man than Eddie to do the job. This is not a short list of boring facts and figures such as we were accustomed in history books going to school. No, this is a 319-page account of…


Added by P.J. Francis on November 16, 2014 at 11:00pm — 1 Comment

Croick Church

    Croick Church is not everyone’s list of places to visit on a trip to Scotland. Edinburgh and Sterling Castles, yes. Loch Ness, definitely. The Isle of Skye if we have time. John O’Groats? Perhaps next time. What church?      

  Croick Church was built in 1827 at a cost of 1,426 pounds sterling. Robert Williamson was the first minister and he performed his duties…


Added by P.J. Francis on November 16, 2014 at 9:30pm — No Comments

O'Neill, Nebraska

My first address after my arrival in the United States in 1994 was on Twentieth Street in Rockford, Illinois.

“Twenty goes all the way to the Pacific,” stated the late Roy Talkington who was good enough to provide my family with accommodation.

Twentieth Street was…


Added by P.J. Francis on November 16, 2014 at 9:00pm — 8 Comments

The Chieftains at the Coronado

Tempus fugit. Time definitely does fly. It is hard to believe the Chieftains have been around for half a century. Since their formation they have brought Irish music to audiences all over the world. As well as playing the usual major venues they have played at the Great Wall of China, played for Pope John Paul and were the first group to give a concert in the Capital Building in Washington, DC.

  Despite their longevity and my enthusiasm for Irish music I never saw them live…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 28, 2014 at 1:34am — No Comments

Whiskey for Breakfast

I gave a tour to a group of people at Midway Village Museum in Rockford, Illinois. Of course, when they heard my accent they told me about their trip to Ireland. They had gone on a hill-walking vacation. That is an extremely popular activity with locals and tourists alike. There…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 21, 2014 at 12:30pm — 3 Comments

Ford Anglia

Most of us older readers remember the ubiquitous Ford Anglia. It was produced in four versions from 1939 until 1967. About 1.5 million of them were made. The 100E model lasted from 1953 to 1959. The engine was a 1,172 cc 4 cylinder unit mated to a three-speed gearbox. While there were some variations on the type of body most people bought the basic two-door, box-shaped model which had a top speed of approximately 70 miles per hour and returned about 30 miles to a gallon of petrol. A heater…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 21, 2014 at 12:07pm — No Comments

Off To See The Dubliners

It was one of those beautifully mild summer evenings in Ireland. The Dubliners were playing at the Merriman Tavern in Scariff and I was not working until the following evening. Perhaps my brother, Tony, would like to join me so I headed the 50 or so miles for North Clare from my…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 19, 2014 at 1:00am — No Comments

This Stonefield Is Not In Ireland

One could be forgiven for assuming a place named Stonefield would be located in Ireland. There are many stony fields particularly in the Burren region of County Clare where I grew up.

The Stonefield of this article is located at 12195 County Hwy VV, Cassville, Wisconsin, USA close to the Mighty…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 18, 2014 at 11:30pm — No Comments

'Water Is For Bathing

I made an early start from my home in County Clare to catch the ferry boat at Larne which would take me to Scotland. The most direct distance was about 400 km (250 miles) but I took a somewhat longer route to avoid large towns. Better to deal with the rural mileage than the urban traffic congestion. It was before motorways linked main towns. The year was 1993 and…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 18, 2014 at 11:00pm — 3 Comments

A Visit to the University of Limerick

A lot of changes can occur in a place in 20 years. That is how long since I last visited the University of Limerick. At that time it was relatively easy to find ones way around the campus. Parking was plentiful.…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 18, 2014 at 9:30pm — 1 Comment

To Drive or Not to Drive

My apologies to William Shakespeare who never had to make that decision.

When vacationing in Ireland is it best to hire a car, utilize public transportation or join an organized tour? The ability to come…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 12, 2014 at 4:30pm — 7 Comments

Farewell to The Celtic Tiger

Ireland has recently received criticism for offering favorable tax rates to American companies who relocate there. The governor of California was particularly scathing. Other EEC countries see it as being unfair to them. Everyone concerned has a valid point but it is difficult right now for the Irish government to change its policy. The fake economic boom known as the Celtic…


Added by P.J. Francis on June 10, 2014 at 8:30pm — 5 Comments

Bert Hassell and Parker Cranmer



            In March of 2014 I traveled from Illinois to Ireland courtesy of Aer Lingus. As I followed our progress across the…


Added by P.J. Francis on April 20, 2014 at 12:30am — 2 Comments

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