All Things Irish – Part Three: Beara, Iveragh, and Dingle Peninsulas

In July, following a week in Dublin, my partner Mick and I rented a silver five-speed Skoda and drove to three peninsulas on the southwest coast of Ireland: Beara Peninsula (Béarra)Iveragh Peninsula (Uíbh Ráthach), and Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhne) This is a portion of the Wild Atlantic Way (Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin). There are mountains, cliffs, sheep, surfers, narrow roads, heather and foxglove, and wind. Lots of wind.

windy irish coast

Yes, lots and lots of wind.

There are hiking trails for all abilities, sweet little towns with the local version of seafood chowder and a nice pint of Irish beer for lunch. There is also the nearby Killarney National Park (Páirc Náisiúnta Chill Airne), the first national park in Ireland established in 1932.

By the time we arrived at these three peninsulas, we just wanted to be outside to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Ireland in July is a busy place with tourists from all over the world as well as Irish people themselves on holiday. Tour buses make their way along parts of the peninsulas, except for the rugged Beara, which provided us with some nerve-wracking passages on the narrow, winding roads. Those moments were when we were the most grateful we’d rented a very small vehicle.

Mick with the Skoda

A small vehicle makes navigating narrow Irish roads much easier.

Narrow road example - on the way to Clonakilty

Leaving Clonakilty, our last stop before the three peninsulas.

Leaving Clonakilty

Heading to Beara Peninsula.

We could have spent several days on each peninsula to immerse ourselves in their different characters, but didn’t have that kind of time. We were lucky enough to drive a loop on each one, get out of the car at a few beautiful spots, and take in as much as we could.

Here are some of the results.


The Beara Peninsula, the most rugged of the three, where the roads are too rugged for the tour buses:


The Iveragh Peninsula, the largest of the three, where you can find the Ring of Kerry, Derrynane National Park, and the Skellig Ring:


Dingle Peninsula, where the surfers go:


Killarney National Park:


Ireland is a beautiful, wild place. I’m already thinking about my next visit.



On a Rainy September Monday

Most of the time, I write my posts ahead of the date they appear. Not today. Today, I’m writing directly from my brain to One Minnesota Writer, no time for percolating.

September is always a busy month around here. There is loads of work to do outside given that we are pretty big gardeners, stuff to do on the house before winter hits, prep work for my partner who teaches during fall semester, and production work for the fall issue of Gyroscope Review for me. Toss in some unexpected odds and ends – a lost computer file full of my own poetry to recreate, discovery of opportunistic mice in the basement ceiling – and free time becomes scarce.

But that is life. This morning, I hit the ground running – right out the door with the dog for a quick 1-mile walk, a yoga session (essential to to counteract my time sitting in front of a computer), then a check on all the contracts for Gyroscope Review‘s fall issue. (Wondering just how much time is spent on that fall issue? Have a look at the article we published at the Gyroscope Review website that talks about just that. You’ll find it HERE.)

What strikes me today is just how happy and grateful I am that there is work to fill these days, that there are goals and purposes followed by accomplishments. An awful lot of people do work they don’t love, have obligations they’d rather not have, and things they wish for are just out of reach.

On these very busy days, I have nothing to complain about. Not even a lost file. Or mice hoping to rent a room here.

How about you?


Garden Update – The Wildflower Experiment

Earlier this year, I wrote about my partner Mick’s big wildflower experiment. Thought some of you might like to see how it all turned out.

And, bonus, we had hordes of butterflies on our sedum, a plant we acquired from one of our neighbors who happens to be an extraordinary gardener:

Sedum and butterflies

See you next week.



All Things Irish – Part 2: Not Your Usual Tourist Photos

In July, my partner Mick and I spent a week in Dublin so he could attend a genetics conference at the University of Dublin. We stayed in the Ballsbridge Hotel, just down the street from the American Embassy in Dublin. The first time I walked by our embassy, I stopped and stared at the building, thinking about mutant beehives.

US embassy in Dublin

The American Embassy in Dublin is one of the ugliest buildings I’ve ever seen. It is also well-protected with fences, cameras, and a guard at the gate. I would have hated to have had a reason to go there.

Fortunately, there are a lot of other things to look at in Dublin. There are beautiful buildings and parks and the River Liffey runs right through the middle of the city.

My attention was consistently drawn to the many pieces of street art and other public art that we encountered all over the city, in official places, tourist places, and little alleys we ran down on our way to catch a bus. From the pieces in the National Gallery to the stuff I saw painted on the bricks of old buildings, I admired images that weren’t in a standard advertisement for traveling to Dublin. And I took photos everywhere we went.

The photos I’m sharing here today give just a hint of a city that we enjoyed for its people, whiskey, music, ease of getting around, and overall exuberance. We did learn that one does not go to Dublin for the weather. Rain gear required.


Street art that I stumbled on everywhere:



A face in the wall outside Bull & Castle and the bar inside it:


Mural-covered buildings:


A mosaic in a parking lot:

Dublin mosaic in a parking lot


My friend Oonah mirroring a piece in the National Gallery:

Oonah at the National Gallery - Dublin


Sculpture outside of Christ Church Cathedral and a piece on Irish women writers in an alley in Templebar:


And one of the best sights of all? My friends and fellow poets, Oonah Joslin and Marie Fitzpatrick, who traveled to Dublin so we could all meet up. I love having friends on the other side of the world. These beautiful women kicked off our time in Dublin with style.

Three Poets in Temple Bar Dublin





Honoring the End of Summer

What a summer it has been.

My partner Mick and I had friends and family visit, traveled to Ireland, built a new deck, and welcomed our daughter back home. We experimented with a wild flower garden, continued yoga classes, felt lucky every time we bought fresh food at the local farmers market. We’ve increased our exercise, practiced generosity.

And we’ve tried to find as many ways as possible to do good things in spite of the current political climate here in the US. That means becoming more conscientious in our responses to hate, violence, intolerance. Traveling outside the US expanded our awareness of how much better society is when people in it operate from a base of common compassion and love. How? When anyone travels to a place where they know few or none others, where everything is unfamiliar, small acts of kindness take on a larger presence, make the difference between happy travels and terrible travels. Everywhere we went while traveling in Ireland, we ran into people who spoke with us from their hearts, who offered directions, suggestions, food, and conversation.

There is no excuse for making the world an unkind place.

Once back home in Minnesota, we tried to bring that sensibility along with us. How many around us can benefit from extending a spirit of generosity and niceness more often? Minnesota has had some rough going of late, especially around police behavior that has shaken our ideas of what it means to serve and protect. I can’t begin to tell you how sad I was to see coverage of the police shooting of Justine Damond splattered all over Irish television news programs while I was there. And the Irish coverage of Donald Trump’s rude and erratic behavior embarrassed me on a daily basis.

It wasn’t my intent when I sat down to write this post to veer off into politics. It never is, but somehow they come up everywhere. Divisiveness comes up everywhere. And it’s exhausting.

But I’ll tell you what: Mick and I both felt renewed after two weeks out of the US in which we often ignored the news in favor of hiking, sightseeing, or just sitting somewhere with a good Irish beer. And taking a few weeks away from One Minnesota Writer was a good thing, too. Everyone benefits from an occasional chance to renew themselves no matter what kind of work they do or life they lead. Writers and artists, doctors and nurses, first responders, teachers, mechanics, cashiers, mail carriers, dog walkers – all of us need time to shut off our minds and let ourselves be. Then, it’s even more important to return to whatever it is we do with our renewed selves.

We are on this planet not just for our selves, but for each other.

Let’s do some good work together this fall.



The Linnet's Wings: The Song of the FlowerI have a new poem, After Baptism, in the late summer issue of The Linnet’s Wings, which is available here:

Gyroscope Review has kicked off a weekly series of writing prompts. Cultivate: Writing Prompts for Poets will tweet a new prompt every Sunday. Look for the hashtag #GRcultivatepoetry to find the ongoing series of prompts. The prompts will also appear on Gyroscope Review‘s Facebook page and Instagram feed. Have fun, do some brainstorming, and, after your resulting poems have had time to sit and be revised, submit them either at Gyroscope Review or one of the many lit mags out there that are doing good work.



The end of summer has not been great for the people in Texas battling the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The Red Cross has always been there for people in these kinds of situations and they are there now. Want to help? Here you go: Red Cross – Hurricane Harvey donations