Friday, March 29, 2013

Jampa Ling as Gaeilge

The Tibetan Buddhist Centre where I am working at present - helping to run the place! - has been featured on TG4, the Irish language television station here. The programme is about WWOOFers, which meant "Willing Workers on Organic Farms" in my day (I worked on a goat farm in County Clare, my experience ending up in The Hunter's Moon) and now means "World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms" as the whole set-up has expanded. Here's the link: It's only good for 30 days, I believe. I was away in Canada at the time, so I missed the shooting of it. But the place looks great and you will see the wonderful lama who is our spiritual director: Panchen Otrul Rinpoche.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Parade - Ballinamore

Well, it all started with an invitation to go down to the Cultural Quarters in Ballinamore and put on fancy dress and join the St Patrick's Day Parade. The Cultural Quarters or CQ for short is the old police barracks turned into a nexus of alternative art and culture by an amazing Glaswegian woman, Tracey, who is a tiny bundle of power and energy. There's a vintage clothes and knick knack shop, theatre space upstairs for comedy, concerts and plays, rooms for yoga and tai chi and dance and music lessons and whatever you're having yourself. Tracey also runs the Ballinamore Fringe Festival out of the CQ. So off I went and dressed up as a pirate - HAR - and got in line in the parade. We were behind the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) float which was making a historic first appearance in a provincial town. But our signs were apparently out of date showing the wrong website, so we ended up helping to carry the rainbow flags instead and next minute I'm marching down the main street of Ballinamore in the St Patrick's Day parade with the LGBT group! (I'm having a very interesting 60th year, ending up in the oddest of places.) Generally speaking it was hilarious. We got a lot of cheers and laughs, but there were also some seriously scary looks: I can't really describe them, but they leave you feeling cold and dead inside, like you're not a human being, or your existence is wiped out in that gaze. The great news is that we got a prize - for being the most colourful and humourous group! A benign act of good will, I felt, on the part of the Ballinamore committee. Here's a pic of some of us looking daft as a brush.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beannactaí Lá Phádraig!

Mixing business with pleasure. Here's me displaying wonderful green (leprechaun?) slippers made in Mongolia by amazing women who live in a town at the end of the Gobi Desert. You can order their hand-made felt goods including these slippers online at Their felt factory was set up as a charitable project by the Venerable Panchen Otrul Rinpoche, the high lama who lives in Ireland at my favourite retreat centre Jampa Ling. (See And guess what. I'll be visiting them this summer when I travel with the lama to Outer Mongolia. Yes, indeed, I'll be crossing the Gobi Desert, in the shadow of Genghis Khan. Very exciting. Meanwhile, though, have a great St Patrick's Day wherever you are. I'll be marching, dressed in costume, in the parade in Ballinamore. Hope to have some pics of that to be posted soon.