Archive for the ‘community’ Category

Nearly there

And the move goes on.

In the last stages of the move to the new home.

I made a decision last week that I chose to stay calm and unstressed through the whole process … and I have!

I think Maggie is wondering what wonder drugs I’m using [none Dad!] and Brendan was saying how stressful it usually is to move house.

Well folks … I decided to buck the trend.

And my calmness has been greatly helped by William and Brendan helping me move things over different nights … and Brendan having me over for meals most nights … and Mags driving me to Enniskillen last night to buy new bedding.

Friends … I do love them.

I have no internet access or phone so am using my friend Brendans when I get the chance.
Phone will be the same and new address is 20 Pairc Fea. Ballinamore. Co Leitrim.
I have been sorting, throwing, packing and moving things every day since the weekend. 

I see all the throwing and sorting in the cottage as a great exercise in decluttering [I can hear the amused guffaws from my friends … I’m untidy]. As I take time to tidy I have also enjoyed remembering the great 3 years I have spent in the cottage.
It’s been 3 years since I moved to Ballinamore and renting the cottage was the best thing I did. It put me smack in the  centre of town and I got to know my neighbours and all the people that run the shops in the street.
I got to know the Hamills and their children and we had great fun with the Sunny Funny Garden … and I am enjoying watching Maeve, James and Eoin grow into really delightful people.
And I got to know Maggie … a treat for anyone lucky enough to meet her. Many good times [and more to come]. Mags thinks I’m either pretending or really am having a stress free move … either way … she’s probably sure I’m missing a cog!
And yesterday I rewarded my efforts by spending 3 hours in the new house unpacking and rearranging things. Took Coco to see her new home and she loves it! She ran around sniffing everything then pretty much either looked out the kitchen or my bedroom window at the fields outside.
The lounge now looks amazing and I decorated the mantle piece … photos will be posted when I get broadband in a week or so. The kitchen/dining area is big enough for a couch and it already looks very homey.
My paintings and sculptures are happily spread through the house.
Today will hopefully be the last load of things to move … fridge, couch, table, cabinet and LOTS of books and files.
I thank Mags, Brendan and William in advance for their help this evening … there will be bubbles at the end.
And tomorrow my good friend Linda comes over the help me clean the cottage from top to bottom. Thank all the deities for Linda … she actually likes cleaning. So, in a way I am providing her with a great experience. I live to serve!
My access to broadband and a phone are very intermittent and full service should resume by the end of next week. My Skype is banjaxed as I think Diva has a microphone problem. Will sort soon.
And tomorrow evening Linda and I will be sitting by the fire sipping bubbles and eating whatever she has brought over from her home.
I know I say it a lot … but friends really are your wealth … and I’m a billionaire.
Must go now and work my way through the list of things still to do … it’s long but I know it will get done … with the help of my friends.

p.s Pa, if you have been trying to ring me … the phone in the cottage is disconnected and the new one won’t be connected until tomorrowish. Give me a ring on Sunday if you are free as I’d love to have a chat … same phone number. xxxxxx

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Anyone that has read this blog over the last few years will know that I’m basically a very optimistic person.

I believe that feeling hopeful is why I get out of bed in the morning.

And the last year and a half have provided a lot of interesting challenges and opportunities … most of which I have met with a measure of good cheer and creative thinking.

Yup – there have been duvet days and I love them.

And I’ve had fantastic support from family and friends … my love and thanks to you all.

I believe that nothing stays the same – good or bad – and part of thriving in this crazy chaos is to build your capacity for resilience and humour and patience and persistence.

Even in the worst moments I knew that it wouldn’t last.

Not being clairvoyent is a gift … I really, really, really … really … don’t want to know the future.

And many of my friends and family have faced their own big challenges this year – ill health, death of loved ones, financial woes … loss of some kind.

People’s capacity for courage and just damn good humour in the shittiest situation never ceases to encourage and amaze me.

Many of you have been my inspiration this year … thank you so much.

And now for the good news.

I heard a week ago that myself and a Dublin consultancy had won a nice contract.

It means that I will have more money guaranteed for the next 6 months.

The relief is wonderful … and the genteel poverty of the last 18 months wasn’t all bad either. It’ll just be nice to be able to pay bills and rent on time …and then buy some winter clothes.

I’ve also applied for an Entrepreneurial Internship grant with the National Digital Research Centre in Dublin. If I win one then I have to move to Dublin for 3 months and build a SKIL2 prototype.

Special thanks to my brother Marc for doing all the visual branding for SKIL2 and for agreeing to be my Brand Director.

More thanks to my good friend Margaret Lonergan who has agreed to be my Visual Interface Design Director [a bit of a coup as Margaret was Head of Visual Communications in the National College of Art and Design until feb this year when she went back to her visual communications consultancy] as we design the most beautiful + practical + affordable online learning space.

And even more thanks to Amy [one of my international SKIL2 Mentors] who read through the application form and gave me detailed and brilliant feedback that made it even better.

I gave everyone fab titles because currently they have been giving me their time and talents for free. When SKIL2 makes money they are sooooo getting a bonus.

Exciting and scary … as all adventures should be.

I’ll hear whether I am invited to pitch the idea to a panel by tomorrow.

Writing the grant application was really useful as I had to further refine and clarify what SKIL2 was all about.

And I got to do it twice!!! Lucky me.

I had to work online within their site …and when I went to save a pile of work I’d typed … it disappeared …never to be found again by the NDRC techies.

That was fun …rewriting everything. On the sunny side …I further refined my ideas.

When shit happens I tend to give myself a moment or two [or 20 … depending on the crisis] to feel angry, sad & scared.

Then I get on with it and find a solution and ask for help.

My fundamental power is to choose my attitude in any given situation.

Smiles in the sunshine are easy … smiles when crap hits the fan … well … that’s a tad more challenging.

To be honest, I really don’t like what happens when I get angry. Lots of chemicals flow thru my system and make my body hurt and I feel sick.

Calm tends to be my default state.

And things are happening in Ballinamore.

This Friday Mary from Cara Pharmacy is having a fundraiser for the Northwest Hospice at the Commercial Hotel.

It’s free entry and there will be:

  • a make up demonstration
  • Fashion parade
  • wine tasting
  • Flower arranging demonstration with Gail
  • Goodie Bags
  • Cannaboe Cake decorating demonstration from Sharon
  • Finger Food
  • Raffles

A great night out.

I’ll miss it as I’m starting work in Dublin on the new contract on Thursday and Friday and then I have 2 fully booked Blogsite Design workshops for Artists + Creative Entrepreneurs on Saturday and Sunday.

They are in Koh Restaurant and the owners have given me a private wified dining area for free – many thanks to them for sponsoring the workshops.


I  love finding beautiful places to create learning events. All the participants will be able to order food and refreshments as they learn.

koh seminar room

I hope there are fab things happening for you.



p.s Coco dog is fab as usual. We’ve been getting straight up and out walking at 7.45am every morning. Coco loves it … and I yawn my way down the street.

I let her loose at the canal at the bottom of the street and she just runs and runs and runs. I stroll and enjoy the morning quiet.


For the last 3 days we’ve seen the rare and shy kingfisher bird … tiny and a dazzling blue. It skims along the canal and yesterday it stopped and sang. This morning it skimmed twice and then we saw 5 swans fly across the sky and a rainbow.


p.s.s I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been a time billionaire while I’ve been experiencing genteel poverty.

It’s given me space to develop SKIL2 and Life Dreaming as well as do a pile of probono work and fundraising.

Well, I’m at it again.

Aine Martin and I are running the Big Clothes Swap Party in Ballinamore on November 27th. As far as we know, it’s the first one in the Northwest of Ireland.

Marc has done his usual design genius job of creating a poster.

I’ve attached it here just in case you want to print it and share it around.




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I love writing.

This blog started as a place for me to write whatever came into my head … and that hasn’t stopped.

In the first year or so I had about 250 to 300 hits a month … now that’s what I can get in a day sometimes.

It’s not the end of August yet and I just checked the stats for the month … the highest ever in the history of Liz Biz … 4,007 … and rising.

Thanks folks … for visiting … for reading … for commenting.


A number of my international readers have become friends … and that delights me.

I know some of my family read the blog regularly … hi Dad … hi Siobhain … hi Marc.

And the people of Ballinamore … and their relatives and friends everywhere … read this old thing … thanks so much.

I still love writing this blog … and will stop when it feels like a chore.

In some ways it’s become a kind of journal for me to look back on in my older age … which I think is lurking around next week!

I love documenting events and seasons in Ballinamore … a small town that seems to always have something going on.

my cottage

And in a few hours my dear friend Mary will be visiting from Oz (we are sooo not in Kansas anymore Dorothy) … and I think I’ll have to light a fire.

And it’s still summer … sob.

In anticipation of Mary’s visit I have been cleaning and tidying the cottage all week … a few hours here and there … really don’t love doing it.

The place is looking much better … although she’ll probably walk in and offer to help me clean it! She’s a tidy tidy tidy person … and I love her.

Still got a few things to do so will pop away.

Just wanted to say thanks for reading.




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Some things really do stay the same … like our wet July and August for the last 3 years … and I bet the sun will shine on the day all the kids go back to school in September.

Humid and wet and grey … yum yum.

Took Coco for a walk and she loves being out  … so that’s always cheering as I watch her run up and down looking like a drunk dog.





Festival is over for another year and well done to all the organisers and volunteers … mighty effort.

I was in Dublin on Sunday for the engagement party of 2 of my best friends … Shani and Mia.


An amazing time at the Odessa Club … caught up with people including Mia’s parents and god parents … and made some new friends.






Jaime … from the band Cuckoo Savantes … entertained us beautifully with some great songs.



I became a fan on their Facebook page as soon as I got home.

I know Jaime won’t mind me putting their profile page photo here.

I had a wonderful time chatting with Jaime and his partner Michael who runs a brilliant non profit for gay young people across Ireland.

And then there were the DJ’s … and all of us dancing like mad maggots … well me anyway.

Nice to be home so I can concentrate on tidying up the cottage as my dear friend Mary will be visiting next week from Oz … and she is uber tidy … and I’m … not.

Our public servants have been getting a bit of a bashing lately.

And you know what folks … it’s not the front line workers who are at fault … it’s all the senior managers and politicians who have huge expense accounts … and what looks like … little accountability.

Todays paper has information on government ministers and public sector CEO’s who ran up bills in the hundreds of thousands … on 1st class travel and hotels and drinks and taxis …

Here’s a little taste to set your heart racing:

  • A former minister had a travel bill of 126,000 euro in 2 years – including 900 euro a night hotels … 7,591 on taxi airport pickups …
  • former FAS director (for international readers … that’s the government department that helps the unemployed get training and jobs) swapped his 1st class air tickets (16 in 3 years) for 2 business class tickets so his wife could come with him
  • ‘friends’ of ministers often get their travel expenses covered
  • Mary Harney (Minister for Health) spent 190,000 euro on a trip to the USA last year … 11,000 euro on hotel bills … 11,000 euro on minibuses to move her 7 people group around … 410 dollars on a wash and blow dry

Seriously folks … no front line worker gets those perks ... it’s the boys (and girls) in suits at the top of the ladder … who abuse the system … and aren’t even particularly productive as a result.

I mention public servants because I’ve been going through the process of getting social welfare benefits as there is no work in my sector at the moment.

Here in Ballinamore we are very lucky to have good public servants who treat their public with respect … thanks to the Social Welfare inspector and the local Community Welfare Officer for all your assistance.

Thanks to the Revenue Commission staff who are sending me admin stuff so I can get the benefits.

I have had chats with the staff there over the years in Limerick and Sligo … and every single one has been helpful and thoughtful.

And … I hope the FAS office in Carrick is as helpful when I go in there to ask about some online training I’ve seen … may as well use the time to build my web design and computer skills.

I’ll also be checking out the customer service skills of the housing service in Leitrim County Council when I apply for rent allowance.

I’ll let you know how I go.

Hope your week is going well.

Here’s a photo of me at my 50th birthday dinner in Eden restaurant Dublin … with Billy, Mary, Shani and Mia. Best people … best restaurant.




p.s Oh yeh … one of the things I’m thinking of becoming in my 50’s is a civil ceremony celebrant … with a particular focus on providing ceremonies for gay couples.

By the end of the year there will be a civil partnerhsip act/law that will enable gay couples (and straight for that matter) to enter into civil partnerships.

Civil partnership will not provide all the same rights as Marriage … and this is decidely unfair to a whole group of our citizens.


I never wanted to get married or even be in a partnership … but I deeply believe that all citizens should have equal access to all civil liberties … including marriage … if they choose.

I started to do some research on what I needed to do to become a legal celebrant … and as usual … bless Ireland … it’s run by the beaurocrats … the HSE to be exact.

Currently if you are straight and want to have a civil partnership you go to a registrar in your County and go thru the paper trail and then a ceremony done by the Registrar.

You can’t have a ceremony in a field, park, lake, beach  … I think all my siblings have had their wedding ceremonies in parks or on beaches in Australia.

You can have a ceremony in an enclosed public space such as a Hotel or Castle … but it has to be approved by the HSE.

And here’s the kicker … because it’s run by the Public Service (a wee oxymoron) … you can only have your ceremony from 9am to 5pm and not on a Saturday … not sure about Sunday.

Now – there are another group of official people called Solemnisers (only in Ireland would they call this kind of celebration – Solemn) that can perform civil ceremonies … and that’s what I hope to become … when I can find out how.

I’ll be calling our local registrar soon.

And to all my friends who are fighting for gay peoples rights to not only enter civil partnerships … but also marriage … keep up the good fight and damn the begrudgers.


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It’s Saturday and I’m just back from the Children’s Fancy Dress that’s part of the Ballinamore Festival.

Apart from a visit to the Agricultural Show day on Tuesday I’ve not been out at all … just having a nice quiet week.

Here are a pile of photos of the children.

Topical costume themes were centred on: – Swine Flu … Recession … An Bord Snip Nua (for my international readers … a major report published in Ireland by a government appointed body led by an Economist (who I think have even less credibility these days than clairvoyents!) that recommends a pile of cuts in public services across the board) … and a few sweet fairies.

Enjoy … and remember … you can click on any photo and it will get bigger … wish that was true of my bank account!




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I know it’s been 2 weeks since I last wrote … just getting used to the 5-0 zone.

Will write about my birthday and year long celebrations next week.

It’s 3am (and moving to 4am as I write and upload the millions of photos) in the morning and I’ve just spent 1 hour uploading and resizing photos from John & Paul D’arcy’s twin 40th birthday.


It was a western theme and the saloon was a beautiful marquee at the back of John and Helena’s new home.


I think the whole town was there at the party … and as John said in his speech … many thanks to Helena for making it all happen.




There was great food and drink and multitudes of people … and a live band that had Mags very excited … Boxty.


They were amazing.

People danced their faces off.














And then there were the groupies …





I turned up early (for Ireland) at 9pm and enjoyed talking to people … but I’m not a big crowd person … funny … because I stayed until 2am!

We all got dancing and chatting and just having a great time.

A lot of people know about this blog so I hope their relatives and children enjoy the photos.

And people kept kindly offering to take photos of me … thinking I was missing out … I was the Sheriff for the evening and funnily enough when I came across any male badges … they were keen to be my deputies … I think my gun was bigger.




I think it’s one of the best parties anyone has ever been to   … and as I left (at 2am) they were just about to bring on the dj!

Ballinamore people know how to party!

I took a HUGE amount of photos … enjoy.

I’ve made a lot at thumbnail size in this post … just click and you’ll see a bigger version.

Sorry I couldn’t make them all big … but some of my lovely readers have slow broadband and I want them to enjoy the photos as well.

Thanks Helena, John & Paul for a brilliant party … what an amazing way to start the Ballinamore Festival … which I will be wandering around and taking photos of during next week.


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congrats Mrs & Mr Murphy … marriage suits you both

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A man and his horse will never be parted

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It’s now just after 5.30am and I’ve uploaded all the photos one by one … 3.5 hours.

Hope you enjoy them … I have a feeling that there’s still a pile of people there right now dancing away.

I’m off to sleep until noon.



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Lots and lots of children (I counted over 50) worked all week with Orla McCaffrey and Lorraine Sweeney learning dance and music and song routines.

I chatted with some of the kids during the week and they were having a great time.

They had a concert today to showcase their talents … and I was amazed.


Firstly … at all the work Orla and Lorraine must have done to prepare the children.

Secondly … all the work the children did to remember so many routines and songs in such a short time.


There was a large and appreciative audience and I had great fun watching and taking photos.






They danced … and sang … and played the spoons and the tinwhistle and many other instruments.


I loved their dancing and the dance to Michael Jacksons Thriller was a highlight for me.

Here are a pile of photos that I hope families and friends … and the children themselves can enjoy.

Congratulation children … you were a talented delight to watch.

Many congrats to Orla and Lorraine … specially as Orla gets married next week … and Lorraine the week after.

Note: Click on the photos and they will usually enlarge.



















i love this photo of the young ones playing the spoons … particularly the wee one at the front bending over and playing with such energy













this would be the line dancing








love the photo below … a little girl from the audience walked on to say hello to the big girls … sweet.







Thriller dance









There you go … a good time had by all.

If I can find some energy I’ll go to the opening of the group artists exhibition at the Solas Gallery down the street tonight and take more photos.

The week has gone well and I out in a tender for a very small piece of work in Galway … had a vid chat with my Dad in Australia … Brent and Mary bought me lunch at the Mountain Tavern … and Mags Dad is in full recovery mode and home tonight … great news all round.

Have a wonderful weekend.



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