I’ve started a companion site to this blog called Flaneur Photography. Like my travel blog, the idea is to see the world from a sidewalk perspective. Unlike the photography on this blog, all the photography on Flaneur Photography will be taken with an iPhone. And the photos themselves will tell the story–so no words. It’s a tumblr blog and I’ll be updating it daily. You can check it out by clicking on the link for Flaneur Photography in the header.
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Saturday morning I went in to Midleton with Darina Allen who started the cooking school at Ballymaloe (more on the market and the school later). Traffic was unusually heavy owing to the fact that hundreds of little kids were receiving their First Communion. Up and down the street you saw excited kids pulling their mums and dads towards the Catholic Church of the Most Holy Rosary.
As you might expect, First Communion is a big deal for Irish Catholics, particularly in smaller towns like Midleton. It generally takes place in second grade when the kids are around seven or eight (it used to be that First Communion wasn’t given until youths reached the state of adolescence, usually around 11 or 12, but Pope Pius X lowered it to “the age of reason,” reckoned to be about seven, in 1910).
Now the boys all look sharp enough but it’s the girls who really receive the princess treatment. A story I read in the Irish Times last weekend said the average amount spent dressing a girl for First Communion in Ireland is about 400 euros (or about $520). The story said that these days “the full rig might include white shoes and tights, petticoats, an embroidered dress, cloak, veil, a tiara, handbag and an umbrella.”
I took the photo above of the little girl and her dad outside the church from our car as we slowly drove by. You might not be able to see the details, but if you could blow it up as I have, you’d notice the silk slippers with rhinestone stars, a gorgeous embroidered dress with multiple folds, white silk gloves, pearl bracelet and earrings, white cardigan and a delicate scarf, all topped with a garland of white flowers in her hair. An outfit and a day she’ll never forget (nor, no doubt, will her dad).
A full day of travel yesterday and then I’m in Dublin, a chatty taxi driver explaining to me why he has to take the long way around St. Stephen’s Green to get me to my hotel, The Fitzwilliam.
“They make us go this way,” he says as we pass Trinity College and then the bronze replica of Molly Malone—the tart with the cart, as Dubliners call her.
I hum the song to myself: In Dublin’s Fair City/Where the girls are so pretty/I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone/As she wheel’d her wheel barrow/Through streets broad and narrow/Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive o!
And then we are here, at the Fitzwilliam, a doorman in gray top coat and hat rushing out to open the taxi door. And it hits me with sadness and remembrance, this Dublin smell: wet, dusty, green, with a tinge of smoke painted over everything.
Minutes later I’m in my room, which is too hot and closed up. I push open the window, stick a hand out just as it starts raining, look out over the fullness of Stephen’s Green, the boiling black clouds, Dubliners in the street hustling about, dashing to get out of the late May downpour.
I’m home again in Ireland.
The great thing about being in the United States is that there are so many great places to visit nationwide. The west coast and east coast are standard but have you ever considered the Mississippi Gulf Coast? Recently there has been a lot of tourism in Mississippi due to the growth of the travel industry in that particular region. People from all over the United States and abroad vacation there regularly and can vouch for how great the reconstruction has made it.
The best thing about the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the fact that there is literally something there for everyone. There are 3 main counties that are attached to the coast. Besides the beaches the Gulf Coast offers amazing golf getaways, casino resorts, and fishing charters. The Gulf Coast has 7 championship golf courses that cater to all levels of golfers. There is no greater feeling than heading out to the green on a beautiful sunny day for a few rounds, perfect for anyone who is always on the run. The mild temperate climate makes it easy to golf almost every day. PGA Tour and USGA rated the Gulf Coast as one of the top 10 Golf Destinations in the United States.
There are some great golf packages available to anyone who is looking to make a trip down to the Gulf Coast. There are travel agents who can not only create a great deal for you but also make it easy for you to take advantage of all that the Gulf Coast has to offer including family packages, casino hotel packages, and fishing packages that cater to all vacation enthusiasts. So next time you are looking for a great place to get away and enjoy some time to yourself, look no further than the Mississippi Gulf Coast for your next vacation destination.