A 2014 New Years Resolution to “Blog Weekly” has been Revived!

Hello again…. and Happy 2016,

It has been almost two years since my last blog.  A blog with a promise to write again in a month.  Well,  24 months later,  I sit before a blank page and wonder what to write.   Although I continued to daily journal I hesitated to blog,  for various reasons and too many to list.  All I can say is “Life,” and all its complexities seemed to get in my way again.  In this blog I hope to catch all of you up on a bit of my life, the “Magnificent SEVEN” Grandsons, and the journey of A Moment in Connemara, An Irish Love Story.   I have every intention to blog more often,  (however I  will not promise a specific time frame).  I welcome each of you to the ‘Bit of Blarney’ blog and I would love to hear from you with thoughts, questions, or ideas.

2014 was another interesting year.   A year full of normal events, birthdays, holidays, weddings, “sleepovers with my Grandsons,” and our Fabulous Fourth of July celebration.  But in the midst of all the ‘normalcy’ my life took another twist on April 30th, 2014.  During my routine mammogram a small lump was found.  Within the next few days and months my life was again thrust into the world of doctors, surgeons, hospitals, lab tests, biopsies, and breast cancer.   I was surprised as anyone to have Breast Cancer again, after all it had been 13 years since I had first entered the world of cancer.   The good news, if you call getting breast cancer again good, was it was a NEW breast cancer and my previous cancer had not reoccurred (which means it was not in other parts of my body) but centralized again in the lump, and possibly a few lymph nodes.   I had surgery in June and began chemotherapy again in July.  I had to have chemotherapy again as this breast cancer was faster growing.  To go back into the world of breast cancer is a difficult journey.  I did write daily to my family and friends on the Caring Bridge site.  I kept everyone up to date on my surgeries, treatments, medicines, and also how I felt during this time.  If any of you are interested in reading my Caring Bridge blog you can go on the Caring Bridge website, type in Annie Quinn, and the site should direct you to my blog.  On later blogs I might quote some of the feelings I had during this time, but I am not sure.  My family rallied round me again and this time I had the added loving support of my Seven Grandsons who had not traveled this road with me before.   My chemotherapy was from July to October with a monthly shot of Faslodex for the next five years.  I am doing well, my hair has regrown, my health continues to return,  and I have survived breast cancer again!

To say the least, my travel plans were put on hold during 2014.  I had to cancel my planned trip to Ireland in August 2014 for the wedding of Mags McGrath.  It was the first year, in 15 years,  I had not returned to Ireland.  I missed seeing all my family and friends in Ireland and my home in Ballycotton.  Luckily I spent three weeks in July of 2015 in Ballycotton.  Mags’ sister, Susan McGrath, was married and I was able to sit in the beautiful Ballycotton Star of the Sea Catholic Church and marvel at my great fortune of being surrounded by my “new Irish family,” friends (Irish and American) and my daughter Heather, her husband Derek, and one of my grandsons, Declan.  As I sat in the church, ready for the wedding to begin, I recalled my first meeting with Noel in 1998 and all the steps it had taken to this moment in Church.  It was a surreal melancholy moment … so happy for Susan and Denis, enjoying all the moments in Ireland, feeling surrounded by Love, and yet missing Noel’s presence.  I am still amazed that I  met Noel in Connemara in 1998 and our Journey has led me on a path that I would never envision.

Over the next few blogs, and hopefully within the next few months, I will discuss various topics.  I will tell you the amazing  journey my book, A Moment in Connemara, is still on,  adventures of a Gramma with Seven Grandsons (now aged 5-13 years),  closing up the family business of over 50 years, and beginning a publishing company.  So many topics, adventures, comic situations, and fun.  I just want to thank each of you for following my blog and reading “A Bit of Blarney from Ballycotton.”  I appreciate each and every one of you and would love to hear your questions, comments, or recommendations.

Enjoy the Moments




The Granda Tree

The Granda Tree

A Little Blarney from Ballycotton Press and Annie

Before I begin my second blog I must say I already broke the promise I made to myself to blog weekly. “Life” got in the way and time got away from me. I am sure you all know that feeling and missed deadlines in your mind, and I did say in my first blog I would try to write weekly, but life is full of good intentions. And so, I begin my second blog with thoughts of Noel and the Granda Tree.


Granda Tree and BoysI have been volunteering 4-5 days a month at the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center at the Upper Newport Bay Nature Center. I sit at the front desk, answer questions, show the film, assist the Park Rangers, and give information on the nature center as well as the estuary. This center is very important to me as Noel and I began bringing the boys to the 2-8 year olds program over eight years ago. Ranger Sue would read a story, while the boys sat on a carpet, let them do a nature craft and then take them on a short hike on the trails. Noel loved to hike with the boys, share his love of flowers, birds, and the Back Bay. All of our Grandsons have spent time at the center and love the classroom. They have enjoyed many hikes and like the freedom the Rangers gave them to explore the trails and the environment.

Granda Tree signUpon Noel’s death our family decided to donate, in Noel’s honor, something to the center. The Rangers requested a large artificial tree be placed in the classroom. The ‘Granda Tree’ was dedicated in 2011 with all seven Grandsons in attendance.

The tree is a large Sycamore tree. The wide trunk has an opening for beanbag chairs and pillows for children to sit on and read. There is also a place for a curtain and holes for puppets, so children can put on a proper puppet show. I often go into the classroom and see children happily playing in and around the tree. The Rangers have decorated the tree with lights among its leaves as well as a wise old owl sitting in the branches. A rustic wooden sign, GRANDA TREE, is attached to the tree, a tribute to a wonderful Granda who taught the boys a love of nature and their environment. The tree stands proudly in the classroom that is filled with puppets, puzzles, coloring books, snakes, fish, frogs, a bearded dragon, tarantulas, turtles, and curious children with their parents and caregivers.

I have recently been reminded, by each of my grandsons, the importance of the time we spent at the Back Bay. I would like to share the following with all of you.

RangerSueScott, age 11, was on a field trip last week in Florida and sent me pictures of two interesting birds and a beautiful shell that he thought I would like to see. Declan, age 6, was asked to write about his hero. He wrote, “Ranger Sue is my hero as she teaches me about bugs, plants and animals.” Johnathan, age 9, wanted a bearded dragon, like in the center’s classroom, and took his new pet, Spike, to visit Ranger Sue to find out how to care for him. Austin, age 6, also spoke to Ranger Sue about his new hamster, Whiskers, and learned about how to keep him in his cage, as well as he likes to feed and watch the birds. Brady, age 3, likes to visit the classroom and sit in the tree, play with the puzzles and puppets, and wander the back offices of the Rangers. He also likes to smell flowers and show Gramma the birds flying overhead. On my visit to Florida, last September, Grant, age 9, and Zach, age 6, wanted to show me what they had discovered in their new neighborhood, from birds to frogs. Each of the boys has a keen awareness of nature and his environment. I would love to think that the experience that Noel and I gave the boys at the Muth Center gave each of them a foundation and curiosity to explore and protect nature for their lifetime.

“For the child, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused—a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love—then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response… It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts that he is not ready to assimilate.” –Rachel Carson

Enjoy the Moments!


A Bit of Blarney from Ballycotton Press and Annie Quinn

A Bit of Blarney from Ballycotton Press and Annie Quinn

Ballycotton Harbor

Dawn breaking over Ballycotton Harbor and lighthouse.

Happy 2014 and Welcome to the Ballycotton BLOG!

As many of you know I have journaled since I was in Jr. High School. I write down my thoughts, dreams, activities, emotions, and day-to-day living. Notebooks of my life fill waterproof storage containers in my shed. These journals were written to not just document my life, but to sort out any problems, ideas, hopes, and dreams that I may have. Journaling, for me, has been documenting my private life with no intent of having others read it. During the process of writing A Moment in Connemara: An Irish Love Story, I often referred back to the notes in my journals to give accurate information and description of events that happened. I don’t re-write, edit, nor plan what I write, in fact, I just let my thoughts flow in a stream of consciousness and capture the moments of my life.

So, to say the least, beginning a BLOG is somewhat daunting. My mind first tried to figure out what the word “blog” meant. So, if any of you don’t know as I didn’t, I Googled the word. Surprisingly, it is a word shortened from weblog. A weblog is another form of journaling, with the main exception and profound difference being the weblog is for anyone and everyone to read as it is posted in public view on a website. So my blog will be written on Ballycottonpress.com’s website for all to see, but with a twist—mine will be written from my heart.

Many of you, who read my book, have asked when I am writing another book or sharing more details about Noel and my “Magical Fairy Tale.” So in my blog I plan to share my thoughts, funny incidents not written in my book, my day-to-day life’s experiences, travel ideas and destinations, tell the story of how my book was published and how it is on its own journey, talk of my magnificent seven grandsons and the joys of being a Gramma, mom, and mother-in-law, and anything else that might pop up along the way.

Hopefully, I will write once a week, give or take a bit, as you know in your own lives, just living life to the fullest might get too busy one week to sit down and blog. I would love to hear from each and every one of you, your cares, concerns, questions, experiences about my book, Ireland, being a Gramma, seashells, or finding love after 50.

Blogging is new to me and I am sure I will make mistakes along the way but I invite you to join me on this new journey as I share by life with you.

Enjoy the Moments!