Year: 2004

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Better late than never: The Blather guide to surviving Christmas.... Most people associate Christmas with the pleasure of gift giving, or the enjoyable tradition of drinking oneself stupid. But this time of celebration is also associated with other far weirder customs. If you wish to avoid luck in the coming year, you would do well to be cautious. For example, ivy and holly, seemingly innocent decorations that we place in our homes, have superstitions surrounding them. Ivy has something of a mixed reputation in both Ireland and England. A plant of ill omen, it should not be used alone or overused when decorating the house for Christmas. Although regarded as bad luck, it was also thought of as a plant of divination. In Cornwall there is a saying;" Anyone who wishes to dream of the devil; should pin four ivy-leaves to the corner of his pillow". As for holly, it...

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Stories from the West: Blather's cub reporter Sue phones in from the edge of Europe... While reading a recent Galway Advertiser, I came across some interesting items. We know tourism is in trouble in the west of Ireland, but it's not 'the Euro' or the high prices charged to visitors for accommodation and meals. It's leprechauns. A visitor to Ireland, writing to the Advertiser, has decided to sort out the problem. She writes: Dear Editor, I post this letter on my departure from Ireland, with a heavy heart. On my recent visit to Ireland I briefly took in the enchanting city of Galway and quite frankly I was a little disturbed by what I saw. I am from New York and as a little girl growing up I have been made aware that these little guys' main purpose is to entertain us tourists, how and ever, as I prepared to...

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It's a frosty Tuesday morning. I'm standing on a hillside in County Meath, staring towards the brightening south east... Around me are school kids and senior citizens, gardai and government officials, families, hippies, antiquarians, and people who are just here for a laugh. Some are sipping hot drinks from flasks, others supping nips from small bottles of whiskey. Many are attempting to stamp some life back into numb toes. There's a big mound of earth behind us - Newgrange. Inside it, there's more cold people, waiting for the winter solstice sunlight to illuminate the deep entrance passage. There's rumours that the Taoiseach, Bertie humourless is in there, but I don't see him come out. There's a group here protesting the planned construction of an incinerator near a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can argue about Newgrange till the cow's come home - about its controversial restoration, it's myriad 'ritual' uses...

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Blather is back. In body, at least... Blather.net has been quiet for a bit. I'm all to blame, I've been off sailing the very high seas, working for Greenpeace - a method ofextreme blogging. Had to rest the journalism muscles for a bit, but over Christmas, will be hoping to kick some life back into the old website. Stay tuned...

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Blather correspondent Lyra updates us on more weird stuff in her house The house has been quiet the last two weeks, so I thought that the ghostly activity was at and end. It seems to stop whenever I write about it. But then it starts again... I was coming home late one night - September 29th. As I reached the door, I was fumbling for my key. There is a window beside the door, through which you can see the hallway. As I peered through it, I could see a figure sitting by the phone. I took to be Sorcha, with my dog standing by her knee. I had already tried the door to see if it was locked and as I knew she would have heard, I was wondering why she didn't open it for me (the weather was a nasty that night). When I finally opened the door,...

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I'm off out to the high seas again, on the Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza. I'll be working as the onboard web editor, running the weblog detailing our adventures in the North Atlantic. Deep Sea Defenders: North Atlantic 2004 » (October - November) Earlier voyage: Mysteries of the Deep: Tasman Sea Expedition 2004 » (May-June)

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The final word from guest writer Ian Nicoll. Now the FCC won't let me be or let me be me, so let me see... Nips of mass destruction? I happened to be out of the country for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl. In Spain the reaction was...hehe sweet, we got to see Janet's boob! From what I could tell in the British papers, their reaction was something a little more reserved, "By George! I do say that appears to be a nipple! harumph!" Unbeknownest to me America was having a conniption fit of puritanical proportions, "NIPPLES!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO, the children might see! They'll forget who God is, become atheists or worse (MUSLIMS), start believing in evolution, stop supporting our President, troops, country, move to Syria, don towels on their heads and carry out a jihad of epic proportions against the Nipple Baring Heathens. To prevent this, the House...

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From our man in the States, Alex DeJong. For me, John Kerry is like a wonderful, shiny can of beans: on the outside it appears appetizing and delicious, on the inside disappointing and vapid. I just spent a half an hour listening to legitimate Republicans and Democrats argue about Kerry’s stance on Iraq. After desperately wishing that I could somehow recoup the past thirty minutes of my precious short life, I came to the conclusion that Kerry is a vessel designed simply to bring about brain farts, nagging self-doubt, and the wholesale destruction of the Democratic party. The conclusion of the discussion was ambiguous at best due to the “I think he’s sayings”, “He would have done’s”, “He might be’s”, and “What he’s trying to say’s”. The Democrats say that Kerry would not have gone to Iraq had he been in possesion of the information he has now (there is...

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Blather correspondent Lyra is living in a haunted house. No, really. Read and post comments... tell us what YOU think! In May of this year I moved house. My new home is an ordinary semi-detached mock Tudor house, around 20 years old, situated in a housing estate here in Galway. The area is quiet and the house looks onto a piece of old woodland, which is quite pleasant. In fact it was the woodland that really decided me on the house. I moved into the house alone on the first of May (which is tempting fate as far as faeries go!). My flatmate Megan was to be joining me in a few days and we had yet to find a third flatmate. So I was alone on my first night there, all except of course my trusty hound Lola, my bull terrier cross. I was not unnerved by this, having...

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The Dublin Forteans follow in the footsteps of the great and powerful Blather on a day trip to Carrowkeel. Original article ‘Is it much further?’ ‘Dunno, I can’t see anything other than sheep and fields.’ ‘Well the mountain is back that way. Who’s got the directions?’ ‘Umm, I do, blather says he turned right up the hill.’ ‘We went left.’ ‘Yeah’ ‘So really, we’re just walking around some farmers field at the moment.’ ‘Yeah.’ We’re lost. Again. It turns out when we got to the third and final parking lot we should have turned right straight up to the top of the mountain, and not gone left down the gently meandering path. Back up the path, we’ve added an extra half hour onto our walk, but it’s all in the name of fun and the pursuit of knowledge so we don’t mind. Much. At the top, the wind is unrelenting....