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Foreword

Along with millions of others my life has changed dramatically since the start of the Pandemic. I have lost a partner, a nephew, a brother in law and more than one close friend, none of whom died from Covid-19. I would say that indirectly the Pandemic contributed to their untimely deaths through sheer neglect by an overburdened NHS Service. I have questions, many questions, specifically regarding Covid-19 vaccinations.

Basically this blog is about music, family, Irishness, mental health issues and of course coping with the effects of the dreaded pandemic on mental health wellbeing.

If you choose to read and follow my blog then please be patient, I’m new to this blogging malarkey.

Ireland ‘can’t get enough’ as Farage conned into using Republican slogan (video)

Former UKIP leader’s ‘Up the Ra’ for money causes hilarity Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has become the talk of Ireland after being tricked into saying ‘Up the Ra’ to camera – a well-known Irish Republican slogan – for money. Aidan Hart paid Farage for a ‘cameo’ birthday greeting to his friend Brian – and […]

Ireland ‘can’t get enough’ as Farage conned into using Republican slogan (video)

‘Belfast’ Stars on Personal Connections to The Troubles and Who Introduced Jude Hill to Tom Holland

In “Belfast,” writer-director Kenneth Branagh looks back on his childhood, when The Troubles erupted in 1969 Ireland and shook his world. The film presents his family’s experience through the eyes of 9-year-old Buddy (newcomer Jude Hill), who portrays a young Branagh during this tumultuous time. “Compassion was the point of view that we wanted to apply to this very complicated situation,” Branagh told senior entertainment writer Angelique Jackson in Variety’s streaming room, presented by Focus Features. “It’s a very human and humane position from which to watch a family, which hopefully many people can recognize, deal with events that really we’re not trained to deal with… Everybody has their relationship to it.” Members of “Belfast’s” cast, many of whom are from Ireland, expressed that the stories woven into the film felt deeply personal. “We slipped very gently into another world, into another time,” said Ciarán Hinds (Pop), who, like Branagh, is originally from Belfast. “Perhaps [with] the ghosts of our forefathers or the spirits of where we came from.” In portraying Ma, Caitríona Balfe added that she thought about her mother — who faced different circumstances than her character in the film, but also “had to leave her family, and her safety net, and go towards the border when I was a child [during The Troubles]… It just spoke to me in such a personal way.” The same way the cast found parallels between their own experiences and Branagh’s script, the filmmaker needed to find himself in Hill — who bested 300 young boys in auditions to earn the role of Buddy. “Me and Buddy can relate a lot,” noted Hill. “I saw myself in those pages of that first draft of the script, and… I immediately fell in love with it.” “Belfast” also pays homage to the art of cinema. One place Branagh and his family found solace during The Troubles was the movie theater — and throughout this film, the writer-director sends his characters to the cinema so that they can experience the wonder of movies, watching films starring Raquel Welch, and, in a particularly memorable sequence, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” During this scene, the family is captivated by the experience of the movie, leaning so far forward in their seats that they begin to feel as if they’re flying alongside the characters onscreen. “It was about celebrating the fact that, even if only in the imagination, going to the cinema was a way of escaping… [In this case], it’s a flying car, it literally takes you away, over the clouds,” said Branagh. The cinema scenes mirrored Jamie Dornan’s (Pa) childhood, whose family was particularly fond of one comedic superstar. “The only time we ever went to the pictures, all of us, was a Steve Martin film,” he recalled. “I loved him. And in that sort of late ’80s to mid-90s period, when he was like white hot, was a good time to be going to see movies of his.” Dornan recently found himself carrying on the family tradition, showing his 8-year-old daughter Martin’s 1979 comedy “The Jerk” on YouTube. “I showed our [her]the scene where he’s leaving the house and he’s grabbing all the stuff,” he shared. “For me, that’s some of the best physical comedy in the world, what he does in that scene.” Hill has found similar joys at the movies — both through the young actor’s work on the screen and in admiring his favorite films of today, which recently includes “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” When the cast was on the road a few weeks ago in Paris, Hill’s co-star Jamie Dornan (Pa) introduced him to Tom Holland. “‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ was the first film that made me tear a bit… It’s a work of art,” said Hill. “As soon as [Holland] walked past us, I realized who he was.” Hear more from Branagh and the cast (Hill, Dornan, Balfe and Hinds) on their favorite memories creating “Belfast” — including some behind the scenes details about the “Everlasting Love” song and dance number — in the conversation above.

‘Belfast’ Stars on Personal Connections to The Troubles and Who Introduced Jude Hill to Tom Holland

The Shankill Butchers…

By age ten I’d heard shots ring out and seen the injuries caused by bullets and beatings. But nothing could’ve prepared me for the scene outside Glencairn’s community centre on Forthriver Road on an overcast morning in October 1976. Before heading to school I polished off my cornflakes and, kicking and protesting as ever, had […]

The Shankill Butchers…

Londonderry (Bloody Sunday/Civil Rights)

I learned a lot of history today—of which before visiting I had never even heard. That being said, the stories I read about reflected the struggles of similar situations around the globe. It was an important reminder that there is no competition for levels of injustice. And that police always make things worse. Bloody Sunday. […]

Londonderry (Bloody Sunday/Civil Rights)

Pride and Prejudice

It’s Pride Weekend, when all the happy people come out to party and celebrate their right to be themselves. To be afforded the same privileges and respect that all human beings are entitled to. To be free from ignorance, persecution and prejudice.

Maybe it’s because I have witnessed injustice first hand, being a child of the Belfast Troubles, that I detest ignorance, bigotry and intolerance. Or maybe it’s because I have a gay sister, Lisa, who struggled with her sexuality for years before she bravely ‘came out of the closest.’ Being a Catholic made it so much more difficult for her but she stayed true to herself and she shines like the star that she is. Lisa has been married for over 15 years now and I have to say I am in awe of how strong their love is for each other. Theirs is the happinest marriage I have ever seen and it gets stronger everyday.

So heres to love, tolerance, respect and equality. Long may it reign. I for one think that’s something to celebrate. Have a happy Pride Month 2022 everyone and enjoy your God given right to party.

And remember love is love 💘

Gay Pride Month 🏳️‍🌈

Azzy’s Story

One year ago this month my daughter’s dad, Azzy, died unexpectedly, he was 55 years old. Although him and I were separated, we were both still very much involved in Laura’s life. The circumstances surrounding his sudden death are questionable, to say the least. Our family have requested a coroner’s inquest, specifically regarding his lack of care after having his first and second Covid-19 vaccinations.

A letter from Laura

My Dearest Dad,

I’ve written this so many times and deleted it. Where do I start? 365 days of missing you, 365 days since I truly felt the hole, 365 days of pain and 365 days of mixed emotions.

I’ll be counting down the hours today, this dreaded day. There’s so much I miss but you already know that. I’ve accepted the fact that you will forever live on but it doesn’t make this any easier, There truly are no words for the way you left us 365 days ago. It feels like yesterday, the screaming, the ambulances and the look on your face . I knew you were gone, an image we will never forget. What do I have left? Just memories, your DNA and your heart. I will sit with you all day today and watch the world go by as I know you will be sitting right next to me. I know you will feel the pain of my broken heart, which will never repair. I also know you would do anything to take it away from me. We have a bond like no other and nobody will ever truly understand how hard this is. I haven’t grieved for you. I haven’t accepted the fact that you’re gone, but I will fight to the death for justice. I always get what I want and what’s needed, but that’s a whole other chapter.

I know you’re proud of me and you love me. You told me every day, every single day. When I walked in from work you drove me mad (sometimes I still often think if you weren’t already dead I’d have killed you myself). I would give anything, ANYTHING to speak to you and have a cuddle, a gentle kiss on the head, listen to your voice and your stupid laugh. There’s a whirlwind of emotions right now, but I will continue to walk my path until I meet you again one day. I know I will see you again, but I also know you are and always have been my Guardian Angel, which makes you extra special 🕊 . I’m so proud to call you ‘MY DAD!’ . I’m proud of what you have achieved. I’m proud of the man you were when you left us. You are my everything, the other half of me and for that I’m truly grateful.

Oh Dad, what I would give to turn back the clocks but I can’t. We miss you endlessly.

Forever your princess
Laura ❤️

Azzy and me.
St. Michael’s Church
Laura’s Christening 1994

About me

My name is Irene, although most people call me Reen. I was the second born of seven children. Sadly I was born at a time when the so called Troubles in Belfast were about to ignite into a devastating civil war between Catholics and Protestants in North of Ireland. To make a long story short our parents moved us out of Ireland and we settled in South Wales.

Later in life my three sisters and I formed a singing band calling ourselves Shannon and to our great delight we had an unbelievable 15 year good run in the entertainment world. No doubt I’ll be writing about Shannon frequently. Getting back to myself, I am a single mother to two amazing grown up daughters and grandmother to three little darlings. I’ve had a very colourful and complicated life coupled with being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001, it’s safe to say that I have an abundance of whacky stories and some extraordinary tales to tell.

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