September 27, 2007

What's In A Name?

On my recent travels, I was surprised at how many questions I was asked about my name in almost every country I visited. It wasn't something I was prepared for really, not expecting to find people interested in it. Many of the South Americans seem to put a lot of emphasis on names and what they mean, so I duly went about researching the origins of my own name. Here's what I found out:
A google search of my surname "Moriarty" brought up quite a few pages. In Gaelic, it is O'Mhuircheartaigh - this much I knew - what I didn't know was that the Gaelic derivation of it means "The Navigator". This information appealed to me a lot, for obvious reasons. Other meanings of the name taken down from Gaelic are "noble", "illustrious", "great", "exalted".
Nothing bad so far!

So, what about the Moriartys? Well, going way back they come from County Kerry in the South-West of Ireland, the neighbouring county to where I now live. Here's some of what I found out about them.

The great Gaelic family Moriarty emerged in later years in county Kerry. This distinguished Irish Clann were descended from O'Muirtheataith, who was descended from Domhnall, King of Munster, and possessed the "Flock abounding Plain" of Aisde on the river Mang in that county. They also held Castlemaine Harbour. They lost much of their territories in the Anglo/Norman invasion of Strongbow in the year 1172 and they were ousted by the Fitzgeralds. They also branched to Kells in county Meath but this was also confiscated. The Moriartys were a strong ecclesiastical family and the Rev. David Moriarty was Bishop of Kerry, but many of them lost their right to preach under the Penal code of 1714. Notable amongst the family at this time was Father Thady McMoriarty

What really jumped out at me from the particular piece was the fact that the Moriartys were ousted by the Fitzgeralds. Interestingly, my mother is descended from the Fitzgerald clan, her own mother being a Fitzgerald! Anyway, I'm digressing there.

Our own Moriarty clan come from Sneem which is deep in the heart of Kerry - quite a remote and mountainous region. It's strange but both my brother and I are always drawn back to Kerry and its mercurial mountains, and he especially walks and knows these ranges very well. Genes are funny things. How do we know what traits and characteristics we carry down through the generations. Are there qualities that are inherent in any of our lineages? It's certainly thought provoking, and it's really got my interested in tracing my family tree sometime. I never cared about this stuff much in the past, but I'm start to really wonder about who I am, why I like certain things - is it simply because I'm a unique individual or am I "made up" a particular way?

Anyway, moving on to my first name....

I was born in 1979 and my parents decided to name me Evelyn Marie. I always liked my name, but was slightly disturbed when I found out that their inspiration had been the name of a boat that sank off the coast of DOnegal three years earlier, The Evelyn Marie.

A search on the name Evelyn brings up a few things. Wiki will tell you that it is in fact a French name, Aveline, meaning "little bird". Its Germanic origins lie in the name Ava meaning "desired". Other possibilities are from Hebrew meaning "light" and from Celtic meaning "life" or "life-giving". Being a Celt, I suppose the later applies to me.

So, Life-Giving Navigator - could be worse I suppose!

Apparently, there aren't many of us knocking around. The only one I could find was Marilyn Monroe's on-screen double. There's not much info out there on her though.

Anyway, if you've got the time to spare, it's pretty interesting just to do an internet search on your name and what it means. At least next time I'm in a foreign country and someone asks me about it, I can bore the pants off them! :-D

September 24, 2007

Leaving It To The Imagination

I'm reading a book at the moment called "Dark Star Safari" by my favourite travel writer, Paul Theroux. There are a million quotes one could pull from the book to get you thinking about various aspects of life, but this one really caught my attention. In Khartoum, he takes note of a man and wife walking to church, but the woman really captures his imagination. I just thought I'd share it.

"The woman was very attractive...., tall and black and slender in a gold-coloured gossamer veil whcih she parted with a toss of her head, giving me a glimpse of her face. Her figure was apparent in the sinuous movement of her gown, and she wore black high-heeled shoes. Part of her gown became entangled in one stiletto heel and as she stooped to disengage the wisp of silken cloth from the heel point with a gloved hand, lifting her gown a bit higher, I saw the filigree of dark henna all over her foot and her ankle and reaching up her leg, delicately painted, as though she were wearing the sexiest French tights. In addition to the pretty shoe and the naked foot, the principal fascination of this lovely painted leg was that it belonged to a woman who was veiled. The explicit fethishism of her feet, her only exposed flesh, left her hidden charms to the imagination. Nothing to me was more erotic."

September 13, 2007

Sun, Sea and Sessions

Well, it's Thursday, which of course means that tomorrow is Friday.
God, it's happening again - I'm morphing back into one of those people who counts down to every weekend. This is not how I want to live my life, wishing it away. Not good. One of the absolute best things about travelling around South America was not really ever paying attention to what day of the week it was - there was no need. One day just slipped easily into the next. When you're back in the 9-5 saddle though, the weekends become the focal point of every week, that time when you can actually live.

Last weekend was by far the best one since I got back. It wasn't so much a weekend really, as I managed to wangle Friday and the following Monday off work. Myself, my brother and two friends had organised a weekend in Donegal to attend a bodhran workshop and we were all looking forward to it immensely.

On Thursday evening I was in fantastic spirits leaving work - blue skies and glorious sunshine were heralding a great weekend! We left Limerick early on Friday morning with a quick stop in Galway to pick up Cian who had just flown in from Beijing the night before! The day was beautifully warm, and the further north we drove the more spectacular the scenery became. How had I forgotten how beautiful this part of the country is?!

Some frenzied grocery shopping was accomplished in Killybegs - supplies to tide us over for the few days. Where we were headed was out in the middle of nowhere so we thought we better stock up! We arrived in Glencolumcille at around 8:30 and raced to the Oideas Gael Centre to register. There we were met by a docile individual called Liam, who seemed slightly bemused by us all. I realised later that he just looks that way all the time. He told us to be in Biddy's Bar at 10pm to meet the rest of the group for a few drinks.

So off we went to find our hostel, Dooey Hostel, preceded by its reputation. My brother, Brian, had stayed here before and had warned us of what was in store, but NOTHING could have prepared you for what lay in wait at Dooey. This place is without a doubt THE most unique hostel I have stayed in to date, and that's saying something when you consider some of the places I found in South America! There is a sort of devil-may-care attitude to everything at Dooey, due in no small part to the indomitable Mary (70 yrs old) who glides around the place like some sort of spectre with fag-ash dropping as she goes, and her rogue of a son Leo. It can only be described as like staying at your granny's house but you're granny is a bit mad and smokes hash! They are an entirely lovable pair and totally laid back. Rules and regulations do not apply in this place!

After getting over the inital mind-warping experience of meeting Mary, we were shown to our rooms and told that a welcome cuppa was on the way. While we were sitting outside sipping our tea and taking in the truly awesome scenery all around us, various people from the hostel wandered over to talk to us. That evening we went down to Biddy's as planned in the hope of gettnig some live trad. As it turned out, it wasn't really that kind of place, but when we wandered in with our bodhrans and whistles a couple of local lads decided to treat us to a bit of a music. Myself and Shane picked up where they left off, more to practise for the following day than anything. Next we moved on to Roarty's pub where we ran into half the hostel along with..wait for it...The Columbia Three, who we found out later were apparently in town for some Cuban fundraiser evening. I remember saying to Mum back when all that stuff happened about great it would be to get their story, and here they were standing right by me in a tiny little pub in the back of beyonds in the north opf the country!!Anyway, it was a good evening, but it must have been the sea air or something, we all fell into bed and slept our brains out.

Slight panic ensued the next morning as we woke up to find that we were late for our first day of the workshop! With muggy heads, we rushed to get dressed and put a quick call in to say we'd be late. Not off to a great start really!When we arrived at the centre it wasn't hard to find where we were supposed to be - you just had to follow the sound of a bunch of people all lethering away on bodhrans. Holding court at the head of teh group was the closest thing to Santa I've ever seen. This was Paddy, who was to be our mentor for the next couple of days. We made our apologies for our tardiness and of course a bit of banter ensued about the pub the night before - this kind of broke the ice all around which was good :)

The first day was great. Paddy gave us lots of good tips for proper bodhran playing and it didnt matter that we were all crap really - it was just good fun. We were treated to tea and chocolate biscuits at 11 and this was a good way to get to know the rest of the group. There was about 15 of us in total - all sorts of people from all walks of life. It struck me a few times over the course of the weekend what good people you meet at these sort of things - genuine people just looking to broaden their horizons, learn something new. We met some nice folks and even swapped a fwe emails here and there. It was quite a long day but we all left that evening full of zeal for the bodhran. Back to the hostel for a couple of hours chill-out and some food. Myself and Shane got busy in the kitchen, cracked open a bottle of vino and whipped up a spag bol. Less than an hour later however Cian was in the bathroom throwing up. We figured it must have been the meal we'd just eaten. He stayed in the hostel while the rest of us went to the pub. In the space of another hour, my body was violently rejecting whatever I'd eaten. Ugh.I blame Shane :-D
Anyway, we were fine the next day and Brian and Shane remained unaffected...
Next morning, we were up again for another day of bodhran beating. This day was a lot of fun because Paddy just stuck on tunes and let us all play away to our heart's content with a few solos thrown in here and there. It was on this day that the group really started to loosen up a bit and it was pity that the course was so short because we were really only all getting to know each other. It was a short session, finishing at 2, but it left us the rest of the day to do a bit of exploring, so we piled ito the car and headed off to the little town of Ardara, a few kms over the mountains. We spent the late afternoon sitting on a deserted beach in Maghera playing our instruments and listening to the waves. As ever, it felt fantastic to be breathing in sea air and feeling the sand between my toes.

That night, a group from Dooey set off into the middle of nowhere to a little pub called The Rusty for a session proper given by Paddy and his friends. It was a great pub with a friendly atmosphere and we were all in the mood to make a bit of noise. Paddy had promised us the session to end all sessions. But things didn't go quite as he planned!! lol. When we arrived both the banjo player and the guitar player Sean were half-cut. As the night wore on, the guitar player Sean got worse and worse until he ended up slumped over his guitar with everyone shouting at him to play Lisdoonvarna. It was hilarious! There were one of two English tourists in the pub who just looked on in total incredulity!That was a pretty good evening. Had a great chat with Leo who plied us with alcohol and regaled us with his adventures from around the globe. We were doubled over in knots laughing at him most of the time. A total character!

It was with pangs of regret that we packed our bags the next morning, said goodbye to our new friends, Angela, Mary, Leo, Peter and set off home again, but not without some photographs to remember them all by. One thing is for sure, I will be paying Dooey Hostel a visit again and the next time I will stay for a longer time, do a bit of walking and really relax in this absolute gem of a village hidden away in the mountains of Donegal.