Friday, 15 June 2012

You can never beat the Irish

You can never beat the Irish.

Its a laughable statement, right?
 Ireland was the first team to be kicked out of the Euros 2012 with a 4-0 defeat to Spain.
Our country is a financial mess which requires handouts from everyone else.
There are flood warnings in June.
We are all poor.

But, despite all that. Pushing aside how much this wee country needed just one win at the Euros, just one small triumph. Looking past the fact that we are defeated, in almost ever possible sense. We achieved something magical in Gdansk, Poland.

As the eleven world class Spanish players celebrated the complete annihilation of their weaker opponent, they couldn't help but look confused. They had to stare up at the stadium of fans with some shock.
They deserved the celebration, they are world class. They make the game look beautiful.

And yet, it was to the booming Irish anthem of 'The Fields of Athenry' that they walked off the pitch.
The sound was amazing, it was a lament more than a celebration for Irish fans.
But the Irish went to Poland to support their team to fly their flags for Ireland and nothing, not a 4-0 defeat, not a rumour of another bail out was going to stop them doing that.

Were they angry at the Irish team's performance? Yes. Were they bitterly disappointed? Yes.
But the party must still go on.

For international readers, I wish I could explain, but I can't. Why we celebrated with the Croatian fans after a 3-1 defeat, why we partied with the Spanish or why will sing with the Italians.
We do it because we are Irish and - you can't beat us!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Tas- a Tasmania

Lake St Clair, Tasmania
(c) fifiheavey
For those thinking of visiting Australia (for work or holidays) I would recommend that you do not overlook Tasmania.
Yes the West Coast is a dream of beaches and surf, the East coast is a secluded marvel and the centre is dry, red and astounding, but 

Tasmania is a surprise you don't want to miss out on.

Even the Aussies themselves forget about Tasmania, for decades it was the haunted island of Van Diemens Land – an English Penal Colony, and although I do recall a few haunting moments from my trip that is the appeal, the sort of mystery shrouding the wild mountains and valleys, the winding roads and small villages of the Tasmanian hide away.

We went out of our way to visit the little Natural Island to the south, we spent over a week there and it was certainly well worth it for some history, hill walks and wildlife with some teeth!

Antarctic ship in the dock at Hobart
(c) fifiheavey
Hobart is the main town and has plenty of charm – including Antarctic explorer ships (Tasmania is the last stop and first one on the way back). It has a super hippy Saturday market and plenty of places to eat and drink.

Tahune Forest Airwalk
(c) fifiheavey
But you do need to get out of the city and I would suggest you first head to Tahune Forest Air Walk. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful forest ramble or are up for a more challenging hike, one of Tahune’s trails is sure to fit the bill. Did you know that some of the tallest trees in the world grow in southern Tasmania? Swinging bridges high above the trees – this is the perfect location for dreaming and to get over your silly fear of heights!

Next up get your walking boots on and prepare to be in awe of the scenery around Lake St Clair. Look up and around Cradle mountain surrounds you, it dominates the area and yet Lake St Clair etches out pretty coves and beaches and is home to some of the rarest wildlife. Watch out for Platypus, echidna or wombats!

Horror movie set at Queenstown
(c) fifiheavey
Visit Queenstown if you want to star in your own horror movie set in an abandoned mine town. We stayed the night is the scariest hotel. It was like something out of an old Western movie every floor board creaked and the steep hill out of town meant making a quick escape very difficult!

Climbing The Nut
(c) fifiheavey
Leave the horror behind and take a chair ride up 'The Nut' to the beautiful views of the volcanic plug before having a delightful lunch at Wineglass Bay where a pink granite mountains rises straight from the sea to form a magnificent sheltered waterway or one of the top ten beaches in the world!

Tasmania Devil
(c) fifiheavey
Of course you will need to take in some Tasmania Devils, I recommend Tasmanian Devil conservation Park. These vicious animals are the size of a small dog, and is the largest carnivorous marsupial – nice to look at not to touch!

And end your awesome tour with a scary visit to Port Arthur – this is one place I would advise against visiting alone – it scared the shit out of me! No special effects, no mad design, no characters, just derelict buildings and stories from 1833- 1877.
Port Arthur was known as an inescapable prison, much like Alcatraz – but of course people did.

Port Arthur
(c) fifiheavey

Think of Tasmania as a Thriller – plenty of shocks and surprises but the ending is very satisfactory.