Stories from Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

I’m loving this series of video blogs (vblogs I believe they’re called) from two lads who are travelling the length of the Wild Atlantic Way in an electric car, videoing people and places they find interesting. So far they haven’t gotten out of Donegal after starting at Malin Head, the most northerly point in Ireland. But they’ve found some really interesting people and are certainly selling the Donegal section of the route. My next holiday perhaps! Here’s a list of videos they’ve done so far, they’re all available on their youtube channel: Stories from Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

  • Going Green on Achill Island – interview with Alan Gielty, proprietor of Achill Island Heritage Tours, talking about his new coach tour venture and the installation of the first EV charging point on the Island.
  • Star Wars at Malin Head – featuring Hugh Farren of Farren’s Bar, Inishowen, talking about the effect that filming locally for Star Wars ‘The Last Jedi’ has had on local tourism.


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Events on Achill Island 2014

A few really interesting and worthwhile events coming up on Achill Island in 2014:

The Heinrich Böll Memorial Weekend is an arts weekend that consistently offers stimulating and informative events in the sort of homely and relaxed atmosphere that the west of Ireland tends to create. Created in memory of the Nobel prize winning German writer Heinrich Böll, a regular visitor to Achill in the 1960s and 70s, the event tends to focus on literature, Europe and Achill Island. The 2014 event takes place on the weekend of 2nd to 4th May and will be opened by Derek Scally, an Irish journalist working in Europe. Writer and journalist Dea Birkett will present an intriguing talk on ‘Women Travellers Through The Ages – Difficult Journeys by Extraordinary Women’. The weekend includes two guided walks with archaeologist Eoin Halpin, a writing seminar, and readings from authors Hugo Hamilton, Mary Russell and Birgit Vanderbeke. Rene Böll, son of Heinrich, will present a talk titled “Heinrich Böll and his family’s fight for humanity”. Dr Gisele Holfter of the University of Limerick will present a talk entitled: “Not only Böll – 20th century travel literature on Ireland from a German perspective”. The Rev. Patrick Comerford, an author and lecturer, will present a talk on “The Achill missionary buildings at Mweelin – history, origins and people”. The event also includes two exhibitions at the Western Light Art Gallery in Keel – one showing archival photograph material Heinrich Böll and Family during their early years on Achill (from the Böll family collection) and also an exhibition of landscape painting by Alex McKenna, ‘Paintings of Achill Island’. For further information and/or booking, please see:

The Achill Archaeological Field School was established in Dooagh in 1991 and had conducted extensive surveys and excavations at the Deserted Village in Slievemore. The Field School offers residential courses for archaeology and anthropology students from the UK, USA, Canada and worldwide. The longer and more detailed ‘modular’ courses qualify for academic credit with NUI Galway and these high-quality Irish archaeology summer camp courses are suitable for college students at both undergraduate and post-graduate level. The Field School also offers a series of Introduction to Archaeology Courses for anyone with an interest in the subject who wants hands-on experience with expert tuition. These residential or non-residential courses are ideal both for archaeology enthusiasts and anyone with a real interest in Achill Island history. For 2014, the Field School dig at Slievemore plans to excavate an unclassified megalithic tomb. For full details and booking, please see Achill Archaeological Field School 2014.

Other significant events on Achill this year include:

Féile Siúlóidí Acla / Achill Walks Festival – Two days of guided walks, to Craughan and Curraun Hill.

Achill Half-Marathon and 10K – taking place on Saturday 5th July, starting in Keel.

Scoil Acla – Ireland’s oldest traditional culture summer schools, offering courses and workshops in traditional Irish music, Sean Nós Singing, writing, dance and basket weaving. Scoil Acla 2014 runs from 26th July to 2nd August.

Achill ROAR Adventure Race – Another event for the sports people, the Achill ROAR involves three disciplines (swimming or kayaking; running; cycling) and offers three levels of difficulty, culminating in the Expert level (1000m swim or 2500m kayak; 15km run; 45km cycle). All done on Achill’s stunning, but challenging, landscape. See ya at the after race party!

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New Battle in ecommerce v High Street Stores

Strange times indeed. A few weeks ago USA Today reported on a store in Washington DC where customers can’t buy anything. That’s right! In Bonobos Guideshop the men’s clothing products are there for people to try on for size, to pick up and handle, and to generally view in real life. But if they want to buy, they need to logon to the Bonobos website to place an order for delivery to their homes (or workplace, or whatever delivery address they specify). And Bonobos are not the only ones. The USA Today piece reports that online eyewear dealer Warby Parker and Gap’s Piperlime Internet label have similarly opened ‘real world’ showroom stores for customers to try on products before ordering online. Well, just as I’m getting my head around the concept of the shop where you can’t buy anything, comes a story from the other side of the battlelines. A real-world store in Australia is charging people a ‘looking fee’ to enter their premises, with the AU$5 fee returned if the person makes a purchase. Its an attempt to stop ‘showrooming’, the practice where potential shoppers go to a real-world store to view a product (and maybe try for size), then leave and go to the Internet to search for the best price. According to a recent survey from IBM almost half of online shoppers use showrooming before making a purchase, with about a third of them going on to purchase from a Web-only retailer. Its a new twist in the ongoing battle between ecommerce and high street (or ‘bricks and mortar’) stores, and I must say I’m surprised to see that the thrill of seeking out the best price online apparently trumps the instant gratification of seeing – and touching – something you want and buying it there and then. Its like a reverse of the UK store Argos, where shoppers can’t see or touch the products but they can buy and walk out of the shop with their purchase there and then. In the Argos model (and many other real world B&M shops) there’s also an option to reserve online and collect in-store. But the Bonobos model is the opposite – view in-store, buy order and collect at home. There’s a whole lot of lessons to be learned from this one, on both sides, and it will be very interesting to see how it pans out.

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You’ll Never Win I-Spy Against a 4 Year Old

Fresh from his victory in the snackaroonie debacle, my now 4 year old son challenged me to a game of I-Spy. After a few easy ones to warm up, evenly matched so far, he spies an ‘S’. I exhaust every ‘S’ in the room, twice declining his offer for me to give up. Eventually I do. He grins widely, raises his hand and wiggles his finger: “snake”. Doh! When will I learn?!

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Daddy 0 – 3yo 1 (snackaroonie)

So our 3 year old can’t sleep and comes down for a late night snack of cereal (Weetabix). The conversation goes like this:

Daddy: (trying to be encouraging) You eating your snackaroonie?
3yo: (defiantly) Its not a snackaroonie.
Daddy: Yes it is, its a little snackaroonie
3yo: (won’t be beaten) Its not a snackaroonie, its just a snack.
Daddy: But a snackaroonie is a snack.
Daddy: (trying to assert victory) So, what are you eating then?
3yo: Weetabix

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Ah! Scammed by

I suppose it had to happen. 15 years (or more!) of buying online and finally I’ve been scammed. I wouldn’t mind, but I thought I had researched the field before buying and this company had been recommended online. Can’t find those recommendations now, but I can find plenty of warnings that I didn’t see before. Wish I’d found them earlier. So, the website is I’ve bought enough .ie domains in my time to know that they are not easy to come by. Easier now than a few years ago, but applicants still have to jump through a couple of hoops to prove they deserve the domain. So generally I regard a .ie domain as having been verified to some degree, and I also regard it as being for Irish websites. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that. When I ordered some contact lenses from this .ie website I was expecting a quick delivery and also that the price I paid at checkout would be the final price. Wrong! Despite the .ie domain, this company is based in Louisiana USA and that is where they ship from … when they get around to it. Delivery can take 7 weeks. But the real kicker is that because they ship from the US, you are liable for Customs duty on delivery. So an order that cost about Eur100 actually cost me an additional and completely unexpected Eur28. Thing is, having now seen all the online complaints about, advice not to use and warnings not to buy from eurolens, it is inconceivable that the company is not aware of these issues. And yet they continue not to mention anything of this to people buying from their Irish .ie website. This omission is, in my opinion, tantamount to deception. What’s most disappointing in all this, though, is the attitude of the Irish domain registry IEDR which appears to defend its issuance of a .ie domain to this USA-based company on the basis that it sells into Ireland. Actually it doesn’t really sell into Ireland, if it did it would be upfront about the customs charges or would account for these within its pricing structure and delivery service. Poor show from, but an equally poor show from IEDR. Grrr.

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Awake Women of the West! New Business Starts in Mayo.

Its never easy launching a new business but trying to start up in a recession requires a particularly determined entrepreneur. So it is worth highlighting and praising the women of Co. Mayo who have started the following businesses over the last year or so:

Forgotten Frocks
Go on, be honest girls. How many dresses and outfits do you have at the back of the wardrobe, or in the attic, that you’ve worn once or twice and haven’t looked at since? How about making a little bit of money back from your purchases during the ‘party years’? Forgotten Frocks is a new web site offering pre-loved womens clothing at knock-down prices. Sellers can advertise their party dresses, bridal wear, debs dresses, communion wear, handbags, accessories and more. And buyers can pick up a bargain at knockdown prices. A winner all-round for savvy buyers and sellers.

Koochie Koo
With Ireland currently undergoing a baby boom, maybe opening a nursery store and baby boutique during a recession is not such a daft idea. This shop has a fantastic location in the retail park in Westport and stocks quality buggies, travel systems, cots and nursery furniture as well as a choice selection of baby and toddler clothing and accessories.

Nappy Happy Cakes
Still on the baby boom theme, how about these little beauties for your new little beauties? Nappy cakes are a great idea as new baby gifts – they look fantastic but when you get into them (and yes, its a real shame to unpick them) they are choc full of useful stuff that the new parents will really appreciate.

Terisina Fitzpatrick Photography
Wedding photography, corporate photography (events, fashion, products) and portrait photography offered in the Newport and Westport area. Keeping with the baby theme, photographer Terri specialises in photographs of new born babies as well as toddlers and children. Book a studio session in Newport, or book Terri to cover your wedding, corporate or family event.

Sleek Lingerie
Following on from the baby boom theme, the idea for Sleek Lingerie came about after its founder struggled to fit into her pre-baby clothes without a little bit fo help from shapewear. Now the web site offers a select range of shapewear, maternity underwear, and silhouette-enhancing lingerie.

Blackfield Clothing
Not quite a start-up, Blackfield Clothing has been designing, making and selling funky adults and children’s clothing on Achill Island for a few years now. But with a stylish new e-commerce website, and a new range for 2011, they are always worth a mention. The Hot-Totz range of kids clothing is always a great gift idea.

Congratulations to all the women behind these new businesses in Mayo, and best of luck to you all in these challenging times.

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Achill Island hits WordPress home page

A blog post by Lucy, an American student living Galway, about her day trip to Achill Island has been featured on the home page. Filed as the featured item in ‘posts about Travel’, this little promotion brings Lucy’s fabulous photo-essay – and Achill Island itself – to global attention via the great reach of the WordPress site and associated networks. I hope that Lucy’s blog, brilliantly-named ‘You Say Goodbye and I Say Menlo‘ – gets the attention it deserves from this link by WordPress, and of course that Achill might get a bit of a boost too! Following on from Reb Stevenson’s beautiful photo essay of her trip to Achill (Bad Weather + Deserted Village = Happy Me), it seems the American-Canadian visitors are doing a fine job of promoting Achill and the west of Ireland.

For more information on Achill Island and its Deserted Village, see Achill Tourism or Visit Achill.

WordPress home page with Achill feature

WordPress home page with Achill feature

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A Day on Achill Island

Beautifully shot photo-story from Canadian blogger/journalist Reb Stevenson about her day on Achill Island: Bad Weather + Deserted Village = Happy Me.

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McAfee Customer Service Nightmare

Poor customer service, particularly telephone ‘help’ lines and tech support lines, is one of those things we’ re just having to get used to these days. We’ve all been there … frustrating automated telephone responses, being bounced from one person or department to another, issues being ‘closed’ before you get a satisfactory resolution, unhelpful ‘help’ staff, curt and disinterested ‘help’ staff, hidden clauses and conditions, and so on. When I had an issue this morning with some sort of conflict between Thunderbird and McAfee, I searched online to see if anyone else had had the same issue and whether there was a fix available. I came across this post by blogger and photography artist Sally Jane: McAfee’s Anti-Spam failiure with Thunderbird 3. It’s a damning indictment of McAfee’s so-called tech ‘support’, but what I can’t get over is the patience of Sally. A full seven months of to-and-fro with McAfee, constantly being told the same thing (uninstall and reinstall, and it will resolve the issue), and yet she still managed to stay calm and polite with them. That woman deserves a medal!

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