It is so balmy and soothing in Clare today that I am not going to allow even a single negative thought or word into this ramble around the events the last 10 days.

The facts are that the gentlest winter season of my entire life is now mingling and melding into a spring of compelling beauty and hope.  Even the barometer that is represented by the hourly news bulletins is rising.

For the past month, as the sun shines away in the mornings and the daffodils dance, there have been far more announcements of incoming jobs and positive developments than job losses or other indices of economic gloom.

I dropped over to musical Miltownmalbay last night because my lovely zany brother Cathal and his colleague Gerry "Fiddle" O'Connor were playing there in Tom Malone's pub in Main Street.  They were in great form and it was a mighty session of music and song.

Who was not there in the middle of it but the great Kerry balladeer Tim Dennehy who lives locally.  I had not seen Tim for several years, but we have been good friends since both of us were presenter colleagues in Clare FM.

He has a heart of gold and the throat of a thrush. Towards the end of the evening the two of us held hands in the ritual old balladeer fashion and sang "Here's To You and Our Time Together" along with Cathal and Gerry and indeed the whole house.

Cathal told me to tell Paul Keating here at the Irish Voice that he is definitely going to come to the Catskills for the festival there in the summer.  Don't miss him if you are anywhere nearby. 

He's my brother, but he is something else in action and Tim was singing the praises of the Catskill event in between his ballads.  I came home happy under a Clare moon.

The previous weekend Annet's farmer brother Harry and his wife Diny came to Maisie's Cottage for a long weekend. We visited the folk park in Bunratty down the road.

It was surprisingly busy and bustling, and the day was illuminated totally by the amiable and informed presence of a locally-based Englishman attached to big lolloping Irish wolfhounds called Fionn and Grainne. They looked into your very soul with big pools of eyes and licked every tourist hand in sight.
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Later, for the first time ever, I climbed to the very top of Bunratty Castle and looked out across the county through the stone battlements.  That makes you feel like a lord surveying his realm which is a good place to be.

The food in Durty Nellie's famous pub below was excellent too and fairly priced. I believe recent times have created a situation where there are genuine good deals available everywhere for our visitors.

Harry wanted to set foot in Tipperary the next day because he had heard the old song in Holland. He drifted down through the golden afternoon to bonny Killaloe on the Shannon.

We parked the car there and walked across the short bridge into the sister town of Ballina in Tipperary. The Dutchman was happy as Larry. 

In Ballina I met two young lads who said they had secured construction jobs at a job fair in Dublin the previous week and were for the road shortly.

One of them intrigued me by stating that he would be going abroad even if there were 10 Celtic Tigers still rambling through Ireland.  “I'm a young man and I want to see more of the world,” he said.

“We are islanders and we need to get off the island for a while, all of us. And it is easy to get back home from anywhere nowadays when the time is right."

It's one way of looking at a new reality. I thought of the old saying, "Two men looked out through prison bars/ One saw mud/ One saw stars."

Today's youth seem to be always traveling abroad. Harry and Diny were only out the door before my beloved only daughter Ciara dropped off her car before flying out to Malaysia for a fortnight with her boyfriend. And son Scobie is just back from Spain.

I had a drink last night in the Honk with a young man on his way out to Russia for some IT work there.

This world may be a complex and sometimes challenging place, but for sure it is getting smaller.

The big golden retriever Anika is biting gently at my left shoe under the desk as I write. That means she wants to go for a walk.

Can I finish up now please and go with her?  Any morning now will bring the flitting swallows back to us. It might be this very morning.