Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tommy Fleming at The National Concert Hall

Last evening, Roma and I went to see a Tommy Fleming concert at the National Concert Hall. Roma is a big fan and I bought her two tickets at Christmas. I have always liked his voice, but had never seen him in concert before. He is currently touring Ireland and is bringing out a "Best of.." CD this Friday called "The Best is Yet to Come" (which I'll be sure to get for Roma).

He had a nine piece band which sounded great, and also used a choir for several songs. He opened with "Carrickfergus" and "Raglan Road" and moved on to many well known songs such as "Isle of Inisfree", "Will ye go Lassie go", and "The Green Fields of France". He is best known for songs such as "Something Inside So Strong",  "The Contender", "You Raise Me Up", and "Hard Times" - which he sang with much gusto. A fantastic performance all around. 

There was a break in the middle before which his band played two intrumental pieces from the movies "Cal" and "Local Hero". The second half wasn't as good as the first for me as Fleming sang some songs I had never heard of before. For an encore he did a new song that was more rock 'n roll - very out of place compared to what had gone before. I don't even remember its name.

Overall, an excellent concert, and I'd certainly go to see Tommy Fleming again. I'll also put some of Roma's albums on my iPhone.

Before the concert we had a bite to eat in the Ely Wine Bar close to the NCH. I hate it when waiters place you beside another occupied table when the restaurant is practically empty, so I asked to move to another table. Our meal was pleasant enough - I have a great burger and fries. We had looked at two other restaurants beforehand which did early evening specials whch may have been better value. Ely is a bit over-priced for what they provide (or maybe in these days of recession I am looking for better value).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Family Get-together - 24th January, 2009

Brian came back to Ireland from England for the weekend and we had a family get-together in Ballingate. Unfortunately Roma could not make it as she was in England for her sister-in-law Fiona Bourke's mother's (Eleanor Lovat) funeral.

I had gone down to Ballingate earlier in the day to get some logs and had a very lucky escape when I was knocked over by a tree trunk being pulled by the tractor. Fortunately it did not break my leg, but I have a very stiff and sore knee as a result. I'll be sure to rest my leg in front of a hard earned log fire.

For the evening, Mum cooked up some delicious pheasant which had been shot by a neighbour (Gerry Myers) on the farm. We had a great chat with plenty of slagging (Brian thinks I'm 50 already and is letting me know about it!). I stayed over night, which meant I could relax a bit more (ie - have a few glasses of wine). A great family evening.

Next day, Dad, Brian, and I went to Carnew for 9 o'clock mass (said by Fr Martin Casey who played for Wexford hurlers in the 1976 All-Ireland final). I'm sure that the last time I was in this church was for Eileen Kelleher's Communion nearly 20 years ago. We were half way up the church and there were only 13 people in the seats in front of us - a far cry from the days when you had to be early for mass to ensure your got a seat.

When I got home to Dublin I had a mouse crisis to deal with - I set a trap and caught one very quickly (got a second on Monday). I think they are getting into the house through a ventilation shaft for the cooker - I'll cover in chicken wire to keep the little f*$&ers out.

Restaurant Review - Seapoint, Monkstown

Using another one of Roma's Christmas vouchers, we went out to dinner in a new restaurant in Monkstown Crescent called "Seapoint" last Saturday evening. We had to wait until 9.15 for a table as the place was packed with a vibrant noisy crowd. No sign of recession yet in Monkstown! The restaurant is a really nice place to eat - friendly staff and lots of nice paintings on the wall. We had a smashing meal - I had (from the menu): pan seared scallops, saffron risotto, pickled vegetables for €22.50. Roma had two starters instead of a main course. Neither of us had separate starter or dessert, we finished with coffee and port. Including a bottle of wine, the whole meal came to €95 - a bit pricy for what we had. A good job we had a voucher!

Overall, a very enjoyable meal out - Seapoint is recommended!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama

I watched with interest with several of my NCI colleagues President Barack Obama's Inauguration and speech yesterday in the staff canteen (on an old TV set with a coat hanger for an aerial - recession!!!). Apart from messing up the oath - it was a perfect event. I think I was as excited as everybody else at the prospect of Obama becoming President and at watching a most historic event.

His speech was a masterpiece - I don't think anyone could have been offended by it. His offer of the hand of friendship to all in the world is not a false promise, nor were any of the other promises he made. I really felt like rolling up my sleeves and gettting to work straight away, being prepared to sacrifice, being prepared to take on the tough times - he was very inspiring. Extraordinary!

Leaderhip can be a tough mantle to carry - he has taken the first steps, and his people will follow. Right now he may be in the shortest honeymoon period of any American President ever, but if he does what he says he will do - he has the potential to be elevated to the select group of great American leaders such as Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt (FDR).

Long live the President!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dreams From My Father (Barack Obama)

I have just finished reading Barack Obama's first book and very much enjoyed it. I wrote a review at Amazon which I have reproduced below:

5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read17 Jan 2009
By EFMOL "eugeneol" (Dublin) - See all my reviews
As I write this review it is three days to the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States - I followed his election with much interest. As Christmas present I got a copy of this book first published in 1995, well before he became better known as a Senator and Presidential candidate. My first reaction on finishing this book is that the USA and the world are in a safe pair of hands for the next four years. 

This is a very refreshing book that tells in his own words about his early days in Hawaii and Indonesia - an ordinary life, though his colour and race were always an issue. His time in Chicago is what really moulds him into the man we now know. This man genuinely gave of himself to try to better the lives of Chicago's poorest people. 

For me the best part of the book is when he describes his first visit to Kenya. The narration is sometimes funny, sometimes moving, but always honest. He describes his struggles to claim his identity - finally realizing who he was after visiting the grave of his father. 

If you want to get inside the mind of the soon to be most powerful man in the world, then this is a must read. You will not be disappointed - even opponents of Obama will find this a fascinating book. 

Do not miss it!

Restaurant Review - Odells, Sandycove

A quick review of a restauant that Roma and I have not been to for several years. Roma got a present of a voucher for Odells in Sandycove.  We felt the temptation to use the voucher before the restaurant goes out of business.

Odells is a small restaurant that should survive any recession. It was nearly full, with only a few tables not used. The tables are close together - a nice atmosphere. I had teh following (taken from the Odells website):


Louisiana fish cakes with fresh salmon, cod & smoked haddock, served with sweet cucumber relish & lemon and chive mayonnaise (€11.50).


Fillet of Irish Beef. Char grilled with a garlic and red onion marmalade. Creamy Sherry and Green peppercorn sauce (€27.95).

Not cheap, but certainly worth the price. A very pleasant evening.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Unpublished Letter to The Irish Times

Many people have commented to me that they have seen very few 09 registration cars on the road. Normally at this time of year you see loads, but the recession is biting hard on the motor industry. I didn't see one until the afternoon of 6th January - I thought this a notable moment and wrote of it to the Editor of The Irish Times. Alas, she did not publish - but blogging of course allows me to publish it anyway! Here it is:

Sign of the times


Today, 6th January, at ten to two in the afternoon I spotted an 09 registered car for the first time this year. Is this a record?

Yours etc.,

Eugene O'Loughlin,
2 Richmond,
Co. Dublin

Friday, January 09, 2009

Day of blood!

Blood was the theme yesterday. In the morning I went to donate blood at the Irish Blood Transfusion Board's D'Olier Street clinic, after receiving a reminder to donate via text message. I only mention this because according to IBTS's records, this is the 25th time I have donated. I feel it should be a bit more than this as I have a Gold Pelican, which marks 20 donations, for many years (I'm guessing 15 years!). The next award, a Gold Drop, is for 50 donations which I should be able to reach if I keep up 2 or 3 donations a year over the next 10 years. 

At lunch time, I went out for a walk and passed by a murder scene on Summerhill Road. The previous evening, one of Dublin's most notorious drug dealers, Michael "Roly" Cronin, was shot dead by someone sitting in the back of his car, an accomplice was also shot and seriously injured - click here for Irish Times story on this. It's a strange feeling walking by the scene. The car was gone, there were several GardaĆ­ about with clipboards stopping passers-by, and the tent that you see in the Irish Times front page photo was still there. Hard to believe that a violent bloody crime had been committed only hours earlier. I didn't actually see any blood. I do remember another murder scene outside the College three years ago when the next day there was still blood on the path and in the gutter. Why do they do it? Life is so cheap these days that drug dealers must know that their lives can be snuffed out for a few hundred euro at the hands of a hired killer. It's hard to feel any sympathy for them

Friday, January 02, 2009

Interview on Newstalk Radio

This morning I was interviewed on Newstalk Radio live in studio by Conor Brophy of The Breakfast Show. I had been asked to make five predictions for 2009 in the Technology area - three of my NCI colleagues had already been interviewed this week making predictions in other fields. Today was my turn.

It's my second time on Newstalk - a few years ago I did a phone interview on jobs in IT, but today's interview was a much more interesting experience in studio. I arrived at the studio at 8.30am and was on air at about 8.50. I had prepared my five predictions as follows:
  1. Easy ones - computers will be cheaper, greener, and more powerful
  2. Increase in the demand for IT courses at third-level
  3. Third World War between Microsoft and Google
  4. Release of Windows 7
  5. New mobile phone features
I was shown to the studio during an ad break and Conor and I had a few seconds to discuss my predictions - he said we had loads of time. In the end, we only got through three (#2 and #5 above skipped). The interview is just under seven minutes long and is available as a podcast in iTunes (or search for the Newstalk). I have also added it here - click on the play button below:

Interestingly, the podcast was aleady available on iTunes when I got home less than two hours later. I very much enjoyed the interview and having listened to the podcast I'm happy with what I said, though disappointed not to have covered all that I had planned.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year - 2009

It's January 1st, 2009 and I'm taking it easy after a few busy days. On December 30th Roma and I went to my good friend Richard Hogan's 50th birthday party at his house in Terenure. Other than Richard and his lovely wife Carol, we did not know anybody, but settled in well for a very pleasant evening. We had a quick pint in the Terenure Inn beforehand as we were early - it was very quiet with just one barman looking after everything in the Lounge.

On New Year's Eve Joe and I played golf in Coolattin where I enjoyed a rare win (by 3 and 1) over Joe. I scored 29 Stableford points with 96 shots - a huge improvement on last week's game in St Annes (13 points). I was hitting the ball very well and even scored a birdie (on the par 4 first hole). Though it was very cold I really enjoyed the game. After a quick pint in the 19th we went over to see Mum and Dad in Ballingate - both are in good form though Mum was a bit tired after her recent trip to Ulverston to see Brian and his son Joe.

For New Year's Eve we were invited over to Roma's brother Peter's place and we marked the last day of 2008 and the first of 2009 with plenty to eat and drink (Peter is very generous with the Port!).

Resolutions for 2009? None really, though the first thing I have to do is lose some of the weight I put on over the Christmas. Some of the things I'm looking forward to this year are:
  • Kate will be 18 (1st May), Claire will be 21 and Mum will be 75 (both on 27th August)
  • Hosting the EdTech 2009 Conference at NCI where I will be the local Chair
  • Getting my first book published
  • Riding to Spain on my Harley for Summer holidays
  • Learning to sail some more (I got a lesson from Roma for Christmas)
  • Seeing Kate going to Trinity to do Science (as I did in 1978!)
  • Finally - I will be 50 this year!