Sunday, 15 March 2015

St Patrick's Top o' the Irish benches

Did someone mention St. Patrick's Day?

Yes, of course they did! It's March 17th, the day our hearts rejoice.

On the other hand, I have promised my Irish friends that we won't get bogged down in green kitsch and silly nostalgia. This will be a modern, trendy blog about The Emerald Isle. 

No one will say Top o' the mornin' to you.

No road will rise up to meet you.

No one will wear a tee shirt saying Kiss Me I'm Irish. Or Kiss Me I'm Drunk.

Tamsin, my sweet little neighbour: I love someone to kiss me when I'm drunk!

There will be no cozy cottages with peat burning on the fire.

Stacy Cashman at

Yes, as you'd expect, there will be a certain amount of green.

But green beer is definitely out, even if it's being drunk by a green dude in an ultra-cool pub.

Most importantly, no Irish eyes should be smiling.

Tamsin: Oh, so that's what Irish eyes look like! I grew up in Ireland and I never knew that.

Also, as this is a blog called Benchsite, I must keep Irish benches in the frame.

They don't all have to be green, do they?

A tasteful celtic cross bench will do nicely I think.

My imaginary best friend Miggy says this all sounds a bit boring. She says she has fond memories of St. Patrick's Day.

And I think she's right. 

If you're a regular reader of Benchsite, you'll know what I'm like.

I'm not relying on the luck o' the Irish: I have invited two little people called Sean and Seamus to help me liven things up for St. Patrick's Day.

Tamsin: Sean and Seamus are sooooo cute! They look just like my brothers.

They are your brothers, Tamsin. 

Tamsin and Sean and Seamus come from County Offhand in Ireland, the land where the shamrock grows.

Like many Irish people, Sean and Seamus have the gift of the gab. Some call it Irish Diplomacy.

Some just call it blarney.

Tamsin remembers the time that Seamus gathered the family together and dropped a bombshell.

"We suspected all along," they said.

Now Sean and Seamus have suggested we all go down to the pub for a pint. In Ireland they call it a bar, whether or not it's on the beach.

My two husbands are very happy about this. His Excellency is particularly pleased when Sean says Guinness is good for you.

Photo Olivier Bacquet @

Tamsin: My Mum said Guinness was good for us when we were babies too. 

And Mungo is in a very good mood since he heard that there are more than 500 pubs serving craft beers in Ireland.

Sean warns us that the pub is likely to be rowdy.

You wonder what fun it can be without nuclear weapons though.

Seamus says there'll be a bit of a craic going on down there for St. Patrick's Day.

Golly, a lot of this is stuff I've been told to avoid: pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, for instance. 

Tamsin: We used to chase those all the time. Never found any gold though.

And the wearing o' the green. 

His Excellency: To quote the words of an Irish film critic, 'What in the name of holy bejaysus and all the suffering saints is this cliched paddywackery?' 

Sean and Seamus say it's rich folklore, as old as the trees and long embedded in tradition.

Tamsin: I'd just like to see a green bench though.

Ok. How's this?

His Excellency: Well, it's green. But it has nothing whatever to do with Ireland, or any Irish celebrations.

True. It's from an exhibition at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. 

As it turns out, Miggy began her St. Patrick's Day celebrations hours ago. We see a man on a bench and Miggy says Top o' the mornin' to ye. Then she hitches up her skirts and gets ready to do a jig.

The man looks alarmed.

My two husbands are also well underway on the Guinness. They've been celebrating with Lord and Lady Brassica over at Drizzly Manor, where Lord B has constructed a replica Irish pub just for today. 

It's called O'Brassica's and it's the real deal, though the bouncers are not what you'd expect from Ireland of the Welcomes.

A lot of Paradise Island people are there. Here's Innocent, wearing a crocheted design from Studio Ballyfrumpy, which just happens to be in County Offhand in Ireland. 

Root Brassica is there too, though he and his mates celebrate pretty much every day of the year anyway.

Root actually gave up drinking once. It was the worst fifteen minutes of his life.

Today Root is already in such a state that, one way or another, he's going to have to be carried out of O'Brassica's.

Tamsin: Ohhhhh, a wake would be such fun!

Here in Ireland, Sean and Seamus and the rest of us walk on to the pub. Bear in mind that it can be hard to find your way round in Ireland. 

The signs aren't much help.

Stacy Cashman at

On Suffolk Street in Dublin we pass The Tart with the Cart.

His Excellency calls out Top o' the mornin' to ye, Molly Malone!

Sean and Seamus know her by different names: The Dolly with the Trolley; The Dish with the Fish; The Trollop with the Scallops; The Flirt in the Skirt.

To be sure, the Irish have a way with words. 

We pass a very nice book bench, which reminds us of Ireland's great literary tradition.  

His Excellency says he enjoyed A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when he was a young man. 

Here is his portrait when he was a young man.

James Joyce looks on with some degree of bewilderment.

Tamsin: Who is James Joyce?

How can you be Irish and not know who James Joyce is?

Tamsin: I don't know everything about Ireland. I'm a Dubliner.

Don't you ever read books, Tamsin?

Tamsin: No, I'm down on this sort of thing.

In Sligo Street we see someone kneeling before a sheet of cloth.

Just to show my literary credentials, I tell him to tread softly, because he treads on my dreams. I can't repeat what he replied but I don't think it was Gaelic.

Miggy remembers an Irish hitchhiking trip we took many years ago when I tried to memorise The Collected Works of WB Yeats. 

Vague memories, nothing but memories.

Yes, says His Excellency. Now there is grey in your hair and young men no longer suddenly catch their breath when you are passing

No old gaffer even mutters a blessing, says Mungo.

And speaking of old gaffers, down on the edge of the canal, The Crank on the Bank looks like he disapproves but perhaps he's just leafy-with-love and the green waters of the canal. 

Banal on the Canal, says Seamus.

There is nothing banal about Patrick Kavanagh, says Miggy. And malice is only another name for mediocrity

There is nothing mediocre about Irish poets, says His Excellency.

I didn't say there was! shouts everyone at the same time.

In an Irishly diplomatic way, Sean suggests we stop for a Choc Ice.

Miggy pours a bottle of Irish Cream over hers.

On St. Stephens Green she hands round a box of splendid green cupcakes, which we eat on the bench.

Sean and Seamus see a couple of women they know who've been shopping in Grafton Street. The Hags with the Bags.

Top o' the mornin' to ye! we cry. 

Tamsin sees a dog bench and there is a long discussion as to whether it's an Irish Setter bench or an Irish Wolfhound bench.

Speaking of dogs, Sean and Seamus suggest a trip to the dog track. The Irish are very keen on a flutter. 

Then Mungo spots Father Ted's bench.

What are the odds of that happening?

Finally we reach the pub and everyone is there. Our friend Troy has come all the way from Dry Heaves, Minnesota for the celebrations. He's wearing an outfit hand-crocheted for him by the good ladies of Ballyfrumpy. 

Lady Brassica has flown in on Aer Lingus, stylishly dressed in green.

On the flight she met Oscar Wilde who, at Customs, had nothing to declare but his genius.

Outside a pub in O'Connell Street we see Lady B's son Root.

He seems to be in the gutter, says Miggy.

And he isn't looking at the stars.

Once we get to the pub the landlord welcomes us in.

We find that lots of dancing is going on. 

The good are always merry, says the landlord. And the merry love to dance.

Innocent sticks to a sedate Riverdance.  

But Troy goes all out for a raucous jig.

Dance there upon the shore, Troy! What need have you to care for wind or water's roar?

Tamsin and friends sing Whiskey in the Jar but then there is a row about what kind of whiskey and what kind of jar.

Minnaloushe the cat lifted his delicate feet.

Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance? 

Sure and begorrah, 'tis a grand day to be alive! 

Accompanied by Innocent, Sean and Seamus sing Danny Boy.

Next thing you know, everyone is in tears. It's just one of those nostalgia things.

Later, Miggy goes missing and we all go out to look for her in Croppies Park, where there is a famous fountain, better known as Viagra Falls. 

Miggy is in it; The Floozie in the Jacuzzi.  

What a brilliant day we've had with the Wee Folk Seamus and Sean! 

St. Patrick's Day is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Miggy says.

And to those who think St. Patrick's Day is just silly, I can only refer them to a bit of Irish diplomacy.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 


I have (mostly) resisted the temptation to use green print, however I am showing off some of my splendid Irish souvenirs. The first photo is a touristy Royal Tara jug and dish, plus an eggcup. My very delicate Belleek china dish is at the end of the story; Sean and Seamus are sitting in it. 

Ever meet a pint of Guinness on legs? No? Now you have. Jason comes from London and he's a Lewisham dreamer. His first attempt at selective coloursation was back in 2006. And did anyone mention St Patrick's Day? Well, they should

March 17th is the day our hearts rejoice, according to the pretty St. Patrick's Day souvenir postcard. It's in the photostream of Bluebells2008, posted for St. Patrick's Day in 2012. Bluebell lives in the UK and her photostream has all kinds of Little People, among other things

It turns out that Tamsin isn't from Ireland after all. She's from one of the 13 places called Dublin in the USA; she can't remember which one. Tamsin is a sweet local girl who works here in Fribble-under-Par in the Not Quite Good Enough pharmacy. Ever a follower of fashion, Tamsin likes to try anything new. She has a French fiance, Garcon Orange, and a baby named Isambard Kevin, whose paternal origins are unknown. And she has a rather odd perspective on life, as shown in the post she helped me with about big and small benches. If you think size doesn't matter, you ought to see it. 

Don Harrison is Up North in Michigan and he's The UpNorth Memories Guy. He's a wannabe philanthropist and collector of delightful Irish American postcards and other great stuff. Some of the photos here are from his UpNorth Memories eBay Postcard Store at  I found them all on Flickr. For example, the Top of the Mornin' To Ye  men and the lucky horseshoe shamrock guy, who is really cheerful and nothing at all like my husbands  Then there's the pipe and hat picture with the poem about coming from the land of shamrocks. Finally another dear Irish memory from the Upnorth guy with and the girl with her petticoat showing  No, it's not Miggy, but you already knew that.

Stacy Cashman is The Rambling Traveler and in her photostream she has two albums of photographs from Ireland. She photographed the pretty stone cottage with the red door and the blue bench in Mulraney in 2008 and also the multitude of signs on the R477 in County Clare  and   Her website is at

The Happy St. Patrick's Day bench is by Cindy Oppel in Orem, Utah. Her Etsy shop is Out Back in the Barn, where she makes benches with interchangable messages for holidays. Using Velcro on the back of the sign makes changing them easy, so you can buy as many different messages as you like. She also does hand-painted woodcrafts and homemade jam.

Daniel Voyager from the UK has a very active Second Life. I'm not sure what his First Life is like but he hangs out in some strange pubs. One of them is all green and apparently serves mugs of green beer for St. Patrick's Day. At least they did back in 2010

When Irish eyes are smiling sure 'tis like a morn in spring. Spring in Birmingham, anyway. The girl with the big green paper eyes was photographed by Ross Hawkes on St. Patrick's Day in 2010.  Ross is a university lecturer and journalist from Lichfield in the UK  

The picture-framed picnic table was photographed way back in 2001 when the Dynamic Duo went to Ireland. Who are the Dynamic Duo? One of them is Babak Fakamzedah, aka Mastababa; the other is Joost.

The red bench sitting out in a green field in Donegal was photographed in 2012 by Eoin O'Mahony. Now there's an Irish name for you.  Eoin is a researcher from Dublin.

Dissonancefalling is of the spray and pray school of photography. The celtic cross bench was photographed in Tintagel in Cornwall in 2012. That's not Ireland, of course. There are other celtic places around, notably in Scotland.  

In days past, The Mercantile was the place to find anything. If you didn't see it, you just had to ask. Steve Tucker from Harrisburg, Oregon has created Tuckers Mercantile, where he makes one of a kind handmade gift items. When making signs and woodcrafts, he often uses re-purposed materials to add character and rustic appeal. The sign I love is the one about malarkey and shenanigans but he has many other Irish signs as well.

Sean and Seamus really are Irish. They are visiting me from their home with my friend Kate, who comes from County Antrim. Kate likes a good celebration and, fortunately for me, keeps a little stash of stuff for St. Patrick's Day.

Dorinda from London has an Etsy shop which sells a variety of printable art to decorate your home or to use as a gift for someone special. One of them is the terrific Irish Diplomacy. All of the prints can be used to print as a canvas wall art or simply frame as a quick and very cost effective way to make wall art.

The Blarney Castle bench is outside Blarney Castle near Cork in Ireland. You're meant to kiss the blarney stone, which apparently gives you the gift of the gab. I kissed it back in 1977 and I'm still waiting. The photograph is by Matt Brown, editor of and an all-round Londonophile.

Amy Karoly runs her Etsy shop The Freckled Stitch from Lancaster, Ohio. She offers professionally designed humourous t-shirts such as Mom, Dad, I'm Gaelic. She also does funny hoodies, inspirational sweatshirts and accessories such as scarves, bags and totes. I'm curious about the Uplifting Tshirts; exactly how far do they lift I wonder?

Billy Stewart is a senior sales consultant with over seven years experience. He's a passionate advocate and practitioner of social media and also a sociable person. He photographed the Beach Bar bench in Easkey, Ireland in 2011.

His Excellency is one of my two husbands. He is a philosopher and a man who takes an interest in many subjects, though he's extremely camera shy, which is why his portrait photograph is rather uninteresting. Mungo, my imaginary husband, is my travelling companion and soulmate but he is not a great lover of poetry. He blames this on his schooling, which focused mostly on woodwork. For more about my two husbands and their education see   Their workbenches are quite interesting too

The No Drugs or Nuclear Weapons sign was seen by jojo7D at the entrance to the Star Rock Café in Dublin in 2011. From Atlanta to London to Bangkok there are a lot of these signs in Hard Rock cafes around the world.  jojo7D lives in Lille in France.

Carrie Stephens from Windsor, Ontario deals in fish scraps, by which she means instantly downloadable images of all kinds of brilliant things. FishScraps offers digital clipart, digital papers, clipart images, printable art and photoshop brushes. Original digital graphics, such as the St. Patrick's Day Irish collage in the story, are designed and hand-drawn by Carrie. Other products are available royalty free for commercial use.  

The leprechaun doll with his pot of gold is from Debbie Ritter at Uneek Doll Designs.   Debbie makes dolls of all sorts of fictional and real people. She has hundreds of celebrity dolls and figures from throughout history. Debbie's blog about her work as an artist is at

When William Murphy from Dublin started his Streets Of Ireland project back in 2005 his aim was to publish 100,000 photographs by the end of 2015 but with no real expectation that he would ever achieve such a target. As it happens, he published photograph number 100,000 on November 22, 2014 and was more than a little bit pleased. I'm pleased too, because photo number 100,000 is the brilliant Hungry Tree, the bench embedded in a tree, which is in Dublin

William Murphy also photographed the Brendan Behan bench statue in 2012. It's at the second Lock on the Royal Canal (Dorset Street bridge). Behan (1923-1964) described himself as a drinker with writing problems. For him, one drink is too many and a thousand is not enough. 

Around 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed around the world on St Patrick's Day. Guinness is good for you is an old advertising slogan and many people still believe it. This sign was photographed by Olivier Bacquet in Bunratty in 2014. Olivier lives near Arras, in Pas-de-Calais, in northern France.

There are over seven thousand Irish themed pubs around the world where you can get an Irish breakfast, a pint of Guinness, and an uncomfortable bar stool. O'Brassica's pub is not the one shown in the photograph though. The photograph is Fagan's Bar, which is a real bar in Drumcondra in Dublin. It was photographed by Jay White in 2013. Jay currently lives in Portland, Oregon and enjoys sharing photographs on Flickr. 

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer here on Paradise Island. He loves his horse Tonks, his dog Pru,and his 1947 Landrover, in that order. He indulges his wife, Lady Jessica Brassica with a replica mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor, a beach hut on the Esplanade, and unlimited amounts of cash for shopping. However, it has emerged that he doesn't know as much as you'd think about farm animal benches, especially cow benches or sheep benches. He knows a bit more about horse benches, learned from his horse Tonks, and possibly something about dog benches from his dog Pru. What he really knows though, is picnic benches

Leprechauns are big business in Ireland and there's a National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin. The Killer Leprechaun sign was photographed at the Killeen House, Aghadoe, County Kerry by Joel Sowers in 2010. Joel has a lot of travel albums from the United States and also one from Ireland, including the obligatory one for all travellers to Ireland - someone kissing the blarney stone  

Innocent wears a crocheted wool dress created by Lady Jessica Brassica at her studio in Ballyfrumpy, which is in County Offhand in Ireland. If you're a fan of frocks, see what happened at new year by reading all about it in the Paradise Island fashion forums

Root is the son of Lord and Lady Brassica of Drizzly.Whilst Lady B is gorgeous and Lord B is wealthy and personable, Root has none of these qualities. In fact, he has no qualities whatsoever, as became apparent in my Bus Stop benches blog last year. 

Kristina Hoeppner is a prolific traveller and photographer whose photographs have been on Benchsite many times. She captured the coffin-like bench at the Dunquin Blasket Islands centre. She asks whether there is something inside. Well, you know how the Irish love a wake . . . 

In Dublin's fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I once laid eyes on sweet Molly Malone at the bottom of Grafton Street. She pushed her wheelbarrow through streets long and narrow, crying Cockles and Muscles Alive, Alive-o! Sculpted by James Yorkston, she has done this since 1880. Molly Malone, a ficticious fishmonger, was photographed in 2014 by Anselm Pallas. Anselm is a Spanish speaker and interestingly, presents the song in Spanish, where Cockles and Mussels are known as Berberechos y mejillones and Dublin's Fair City is En la Noble Ciudad de Dublín. And yes, she has several nicknames, though not all of them are rude.

Bernie Goldbach, aka Irish Typepad, comes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania but currently teaches college courses in media writing, media studies, public relations and multimedia programming in Cashel, Ireland. He photographed the red and green book bench, which was made by members of a Clonmel Youth Group for the Clonmel Junction Festival.   Irish Typepad by Bernie Goldbach. 

James Joyce (1881-1941) is sitting with a book in Zurich, Switzerland, where he died in 1941. He is buried in this spot by Zurich Zoo. Joyce's best-known works include The Dubliners, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The statue was photographed in 2006 by afritzse

Cian Ginty is a student journalist who is originally from Ballina in County Mayo, though he now lives in Dublin. In October 2008 there was a student protest against higher fees, in which many students came out to show they were Down With This Sort of Thing. Father Ted fans will recognise this point of view.

Under bare Ben Bulben's head/In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid. William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) is one of Ireland's most famous poets, which is saying a lot in a place with such a rich literary heritage. The crouching man is a statue at the poet's grave in Drumcliff in County Sligo. It was photographed by theq47, who lives in Ballymote in County Sligo.  The man crouching before a cloth on the ground refers to one of Yeats's most loved poems, He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

I would spread my cloths under your feet
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

There are many references to the work of Yeats throughout this story. I'll leave you to find them.

Poetry please! If you're a fan of poetry there are plenty of great poetry benches at  Though be warned; you will have to put up with a certain amount of nonsense from a couple of annoying non poets. If you like books but poetry's not your thing, there's a great stack of book benches at  And should you like a newer book list of library books and militant librarians, there's a whole Dewey System of them at

Patrick Kavanagh (1904 – 1967) was an Irish poet and novelist who is not at all Banal on the Canal. He is regarded as one of the foremost poets of the 20th century and known for his depictions of everyday Irish life. His works include the semi-autobiographical novel Tarry Flynn and the poems On Raglan Road and The Great Hunger. His statue sits on a bench along Dublin's Grand Canal and was photographed by William Murphy in 2014. Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal is a line from one of his poems.

Desmond Kavanagh is an Irish designer working in Germany. He's interested in documentary and travel photos, including the bright yellow Choc Ice house (or shop?) in Sneem, County Kerry in 2009.   This is the kind of site which makes visitors love Ireland. The cat is a nice touch too, though Desmond describes it as a flea-ridden feline. Oh dear, Meredith my feline editor would not like this.

Clever Cupcakes in Montreal make THE most beautiful cupcakes - trays and trays of 'em. The shamrock cupcakes were made for St. Patrick's Day in 2008. They are green velvet cupcakes, made with vanilla buttercream and shamrock sprinkles - pretty enough to make most Irish eyes smile.

'What in the name of holy bejaysus and all the suffering saints is this cliched paddywackery?' is a quote from Irish Times film critic Donald Clarke. He has a way with words. And you want to know the film, don't you? It's Wild Mountain Thyme (2020). Maybe go see it and make up your own mind. 

William Murphy photographed Two Women, also known as The Hags with the Bags in 2012. The statue is at the Ha'Penny Bridge in Dublin.

The large bone bench in the garden with a small doghouse were at the Dublin Bloom Festival in 2010. They were photographed by Grevillea, who is from Western Australia but currently lives in the Netherlands. Of course Grevillea is not just sitting there in The Hague doing nothing: she's out all over Europe taking photographs, including benches

Actor Dermot Morgan (1952-1998) is well known in Britain and Ireland as the feckless priest Father Ted Crilly, star of the comedy sitcom Father TedThe Joker's Chair in Merrion Square, Dublin, is a memorial to Dermot Morgan, photographed by William Murphy.

Troy breezed into our town this summer. He's normcore and his occupation is Pilgrim. Apart from that, all we know about him is this: 1) he comes from Dry Heaves, Minnesota, where he learned to read poetry in a particularly alluring voice  2) he never wears shoes  3) he is extremely polite and calls ladies Ma'm  4) he speaks a lot of languages fluently 5) he carries a manbag filled with books, a violin and a ladder in case anyone needs to be rescued. And last summer Troy spent rather a lot of time at Lady Jess's beach hut

Lady Jessica Brassica is married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly. For many years Lady B modelled for Studio Joop from Overbearing in Holland but now has her own fashion house in County Offhand in Ireland. Just how will the world take to the designs from Studio Ballyfrumpy? If Troy's green crocheted trousers are anything to go by, I don't think Stella McCartney has anything to worry about.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish writer and poet who became one of London's most popular playwrights of the 1900s. His quotes are famous and he really did declare his genius. The other quote referred to is this: We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. The Oscar Wilde bench statue is in Galway, where Oscar Wilde is seated with the lesser-known Eduard Wilde, a writer from Estonia. The photograph is by Rowan, who has an album with nearly a thousand photographs of Ireland, plus lots of Celtic music festivals.

Beverly takes a lot of interesting pictures. Her albums include things like politics, rainbows of colour, crafts, and dog rescue. A very striking photograph is Lily of the Valley, a vintage green girl made up of a composite of other photographs in 2009. I know it's not exactly Irish, nor even Irish connected but it's green, it's beautiful, and it needs to be here. 

The Floozie in the Jacuzzi is one of several irreverent Irish nicknames for the monument properly entitled Anna Livia Plurabelle, a personification of the River Liffey, which runs through the city of Dublin. Once located in O'Connell Street beside the Liffey, the statue is now in Croppies Memorial Park. Anna Livia Plurabelle is the name of a character in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, who also embodies the river. Viagra Falls is another of the names for the monument and it gets worse from there. The sculpture was designed by Eamonn O'Doherty for the Dublin Millennium Celebrations in 1988, and photographed by William Murphy in 2012.

If Ireland doesn't warm the cockles of your heart there are plenty of benches from other countries here on Benchsite. Japan, for example, and Turkey. And a whole fiesta of benches from Mexico. There's a whole alphabet of Dutch benches and a bench from each of the countries of Europe. Every summer Miggy and Mungo and I go on a mission to find benches so see how we ate our way through found the tasty benches of Italy. We got high on benches in the Alps but Greece was a mission impossible. And then there are the benches of St. Helier, and the benches of Las Vegas, where Mungo and I gambled on love. 


  1. o begorrah, bejezus, a grand blog to be sure
    kathleen mavoureen xx

  2. Many thanks, Kathleen. Glad you like it. Ye've warmed the cockles of my heart!