Sunday, July 23, 2017


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Yesterday my son brought me to DUBLIN MAKER in Merrion Square. This event has been going on for a few years but I had never made it until yesterday. It is for young and old alike. The only requirement is that you are curious and have, hopefully, not lost your initial sense of wonder at the magic of every day "science".

You could get lost here for a whole day. The exhibits are fascinating and the exhibitors are not only helpful and good humoured, most of them are young and all of them are nearly as excited by your interest as you are by their exhibits.

I've just picked out a few below to give you a flavour of my own experience.

I well remember making little stick men out of pipe cleaners. My Da smoked a pipe but you wouldn't dare interfere with his cleaners. You actually bought bunches of them for the express purpose. But life has moved on and the pipe cleaners have moved into high art. Simple to do but very effective, even after the Da gives up the pipe.

From the simple to the complex. This little guy is a 3D print. The arms can move. And he has been printed all in one go, ready assembled. Amazing. Until you realise that the printing is done by building up layers and so anything is possible.

You can programme this parrot with your own sound and it's beak moves as it speaks.

My perverse ambition would be to have it annunciate the sermon from Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when the Parish Priest came visiting, in the hope that the same sermon would scare the shit out of him as is did me when I was young and impressionable.

Only one flaw. The PP doesn't come visiting any more and if he did I could probably not resist the temptation of filling the parrot up with the foulest language at my disposal.

To prove that I am not just spectating and that I have never grown up I undertook to join up the dots myself. This is done with a pen and conducting ink, and they go from 1 to 23. The result is a visible circuit board which illustrates the required shape, in my case an airplane.

This is then plugged into the computer and an appropriate "working" image comes up on the screen. My prototype is unlikely to fly in real life, but it did clunk its way across the screen and, anyway, I'm only a novice.

Time for a beer break and the only cúpla focal I came across. It's a bit early in the day and I think the emphasis here is more on manufacture than on consumption.

This unlikely object is a trio harp. It's made out of piping, with builder's twine for the strings. I would consider it more an idea in the making than a final product. There is clearly scope for developing the strings, both in terms of material and variable tension. It might even be turnable into a mini orchestra with the addition of a fret board.

There is also a need for the development of the sound chamber and possible addition of further amplification. I suggested a microphone and speaker but that didn't go down well as it involved electricity and a departure from the homemade/discarded material approach. As an alternative I suggested some further piping/funnel work on the lines of His Master's Voice and I think this is being looked into.

This lady showed me a blindingly simple device. Suppose you are deaf but you have to get up early in the morning and are unlikely to hear your alarm going off.

In days gone by the hard of hearing or deep deep sleepers could always put the wind up alarm clock in a metal basin or bucket and the noise would bring the house down. But they don't make them like that any more and, anyway, if you are completely deaf it would be no use.

In today's world you simply put the red bracelet on your wrist, set your phone alarm, and Bluetooth does the rest. I tried it and the vibration on your wrist is guaranteed to bring the dead back to life.

I have blogged on MAKESHOP before so I didn't stay too long at their stand. They are an outreach of TCD's Science Gallery and are currently located in the old Lennox Chemicals building in Clare St. where I used to buy my bomb-making, stink bomb and amateur detective raw materials.

Not sure what these do. Maybe a fight to the death.

This is FABFOUNDATION IRELAND. They have a network of FabLabs throughout Ireland where people can come to learn and do stuff. They do all conceivable kinds of printing and the green robot above is one of theirs. Check out their video. Having said that they could do with some serious work on their website.

I'm sure most people have at least seen a picture of a spinning wheel. Many may even have seen the real thing in a museum or in one of Synge's plays. But what does this iconic piece of furniture do?

Well you can't knit with all those sheared pieces of wool. They have first to be turned into string (or knitting wool as we know it) and that's where the spinning wheel comes in.

But that's not the end of the story.

In the old days, when Clery's was Clery's, you used to buy wool in folded form which had then to be rolled into balls for knitting. I well remember holding my arms extended with the wool, until they ached, while the Mammy or the Granny rolled it into a ball.

This is paper folding with a vengeance. Just look at those pets, duly shot and mounted. Only joking. No pets have been hurt in the making. Check out Laura's blog post on DUBLIN MAKER.

Instead of hiring a magician for your children's parties why not hire a bus load of lego and let them at it. This just goes to prove there's always a niche in the market.

I could go on but I'm sure your attention is flagging at this stage. Best thing you could do is to go along next year and I'll guarantee you'll stay the day.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


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C'est une poupée qui fait non...non...non...non...
Toute la journée elle fait non...non..non...non...

Elle est tell'ment jolie
Que j'en rêve la nuit.

C'est une poupée qui fait non...non...non...non...
Toute la journée, elle fait non...non...non..non...

Personne ne lui a jamais appris
Qu'on pouvait dire oui.

Sans même écouter, elle fait non...non...non...non...
Sans même regarder, elle fait non...non...non...non...

Pourtant je donnerais ma vie
Pourqu'elle dise oui.

Mais c'est une poupée qui fait non...non...non...non...
Toute la journée elle fait non...non...non...non...

Personne ne lui a jamais appris
Que l'on peut dire oui...


Wednesday, July 05, 2017


St. Doolagh's church, Balgriffin
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Raheny Library's current exhibition for the month of July: the work of the Raheny Active Retirement Art Group.

I've just picked three examples but if you're in the area drop in and see the rest.

Ireland's Eye & Howth Harbour

An Old Woman of the Roads, by Padraic Colum

This is from Michael Gaffney whom people may remember for his work on the traffic light control boxes as part of the Dublin Canvas project.

So, the above is something old, if the participants will parden the phrase. I'm sure I'm older than some of them myself.

Meanwhile in the children's section of the library there's something new. Well, a mixture of the old(er) and the new as you can see.

A great project where the young people meet their seniors and then retell their stories in this exhibition.

I won't spoil it by going in any closer that this general shot, but it is a heart warmer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


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This is the old variable height gasometer viewed from South Lotts Road. Over a period of about twenty years I passed it in the train, going to and from school and then work. Some days it was high with lots of gas. Other days it was low with less.

It was not clear what would happen to it once it became obsolete. Would it vanish like the gasometer on the Gas Company's land on the South Quays?

But then, the most amazing thing happened. It was converted into apartments and those of us who remembered it could still rejoice in its nostalgic outline.

My son told me I could take a short cut around it between South Lotts Road and the Dart station at Barrow Street and when I found myself in the area the other day, that's exactly what I did.

I had never seen it up close before and it turned out to be a very impressive and imposing structure.

Both a new experience and a trip down memory lane all at once.

But then I started to get a little uneasy. Something was amiss. It took me a while to identify the cause of my unease. I had just passed by the gasometer when I noticed a small red spot appearing on the underside of the peak of the baseball cap I was wearing.

I thought at first it might have been something reflecting in my glasses, but no. It was definitely a spot of light and it moved around on the underside of the peak. When I stopped moving it went away and when I started up again it reappeared.

I looked left and then right, but it was still there. I just couldn't figure it out. I hoped it was some sort of motion detector and not a local sniper taking aim. It defied all logic and, for the life of me, I couldn't pin down it's source. All a bit scary.

And then my eye caught another red spot of light - the source. I had a laser pointer in the inside pocket of my jacket and a heavy camera strap over my shoulder. When I moved, the pressure of the strap turned on the pointer.

What a relief. I felt as foolish as someone who thought they were being followed and it turned out to be by their own shadow.

I took a last lingering look back as I headed for Barrow Street station with my adrenaline count slowly returning to normal.


The Rope of Life - South Docks Dublin
Photo by Larry O'Toole
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There's no end to what goes on in the Donaghmede Shopping Centre. Regular readers will know that I follow Michael Edwards's annual photo competition, and it is while I was up there yesterday checking that out that I noticed another exhibition.

This is an art exhibition staged by the Coolock Library Art Group. The Group normally meets in the Coolock library and they were offered this exhibition space by Donaghmede Shopping Centre. This was initially for the month of June but Peter Coyne, in the picture above, tells me that the offer has now been extended till the end of July. So you've plenty of time to go and have a look.

I'm told all of the paintings are for sale. There must be close on a hundred paintings on display at present and I've just included a few below that took my fancy.

Ballet Dancer by Margaret Hollywood €75 ono

This is not just any old ballet dancer. It is Monica Loughman who trained in Russia, formed her own Irish ballet company and is now teaching in Dublin. She is doing fabulous work - check out Big Ballet.

Ballet Dancer by Margaret Hollywood €120

Genoese Tower Corsica by Gwen O'Byrne €60

Dún Laoghaire by Peter Coyne

Bather by Peter Coyne

Monday, June 26, 2017


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Time flies and it's that time of year again. In fact I nearly missed the first act but just caught it in time.

Michael Edwards's Photo Competition is off again and the first club has already been exhibiting during the month of June. Full marks to Michael and Dermot for taking on the burden of another year's competition and to Donaghmede Shopping Centre for donating the exhibition space.

The theme this year is OUR TOWN and the idea is to illustrate what makes where we are from special. I think expectations are for the positive rather than the negative


As usual, I intend dropping in each month and, without prejudice to what the judge may eventually decide, bring you a few photos from the current club which appealed to me for one reason or another.

The shot above is of the remains of the old Roman Catholic church and graveyard in the centre of Raheny village. It is taken from an unusual angle and the mixture of flash and natural lighting gives it an eerie air. I even thought for a moment that I could see gravestones.

You might think the choice of subject here a bit pedestrian but just try and imagine Raheny without Macari's chipper.

The clouds and the cyclists give context and interest to a piece of street sculpture that often looks bereft just sitting there in an open space.

The iconic Dublin chimneys set the context and the Bull Wall, now more frequently referred to as the wooden bridge, reassures us that we are on the Northside. The reflection of the golden clouds in the foreground warms it up nicely.

Again the chimneys with some very nice light and shade.

Finally, the end of the line as old meets new in Howth.

The timetable for the competition is shown below. As I understand it entries for the public, as distinct from the club, section need to be in by early October.

Club Date
Raheny 3rd June
St. Benedict’s 1st July
Howth 29th July
Sutton 26th August
Swords Viewfinders 23rd Sept
Club Finalists on Display
& Public Entrants
21st October
Winners' Presentation
and Reception
9th November


Again this month the chimneys are prominent. It just goes to show that, however unaesthetic they may be in real life, Dublin has taken them to its bosom and they are now part of us.

Photos from the general Clontarf area should not be surprising but there are also some from town. The Ha'penny Bridge is always a magnet for photographers and when you get the right lighting it can be a bit surreal.

This offers an alternative to the 200 year old bridge - a modern perspective of an area where the old is giving way to the new, with the view itself taken from what I assume is the top of Dublin's first skyscraper.

I don't want to overdo the black and white but there is a fair amount of it in this month's exhibition and that it always welcome.

An unusual and slightly ominous perspective on Ireland's Eye with just two hints of warmth in the lighthouse and the sunset.

Finishing up in Howth in the boatyard on the West Pier. Almost like a graveyard but probably just intensive care or even an annual makeover.

As usual, Benedict's have lots more stunning work on show and it is well worth a visit.


I would just add a general qualification/apology to any of the photographers who may be looking at their own photos on this post. There may be slight variations in lighting and perspective from the originals as I photographed the exhibits on the wall under the prevailing lighting and in some cases had to do a little post-processing to get back as near to the original as possible.