alan skeoch

“What will we do on Halloween?”
“Give away as much chocolate as we can.”
“Danger of spreading Covid19!”
“I am now negative but weak…while you Marjorie are thinly positive….perhaps
more dangerous than me.  You take the pictures, I’l do the giveaway.”
“At the front of our city lot….sitting on a chair with half a  bushel of chocolate bars.”
“You also bought a lot of yogurt.”
“Yes….give the kids a voice  bars or yogurt…see what they choose.”

Begin forwarded message:

Sitting on the street was  a good idea.   Got about 60 kids with

their hands dipping into the bowl.  Most picked chocolate bars but

seven picked the tubs of yogurt which was the best choice…cost
us about 50 cents a tub.  We have three left for breakfast .

Sent from my iPhone



alan skeoch
oct. 29,2022

toronto.citynews.ca/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/10/2022/10/26/QEW-closure-Metrolinx-300×180.jpg 300w, toronto.citynews.ca/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/10/2022/10/26/QEW-closure-Metrolinx-1024×614.jpg 1024w, toronto.citynews.ca/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/10/2022/10/26/QEW-closure-Metrolinx-768×461.jpg 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 1023px) 100vw, (max-width: 1599px) 50vw, 66vw” alt=”Road crews will be installing a “push box” on the QEW in Mississauga.” title=”QEW closure-Metrolinx” class=””>

One of our readers sent my note about the Big Push and the possibility of chewed
fingernails to a construction engineer.   The job has been done before successfully
His comments are written below.   

“Well, the engineering at the crossings of the QEW and the GO Lakeshore line is indeed quite complicated, but pushing a box under a road or rail line has been done numerous times before (including in the Toronto area) and the design and construction team was selected in part because of their worldwide experience at doing that sort of thing. It’s often used when there is minimal time available for the job, when the crossing route can’t be disrupted, and/or when it isn’t feasible to construct a good detour. It is a bit more expensive than the normal way of doing a crossing, but the time saved and avoidance of detours can be a huge benefit to the project.

The King Road crossing under the same Lakeshore GO rail tracks in Burlington is pretty analogous; it was done in 72 hours a decade ago – here’s a 72-second time lapse video of that work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTXNhCS4kF4

As for the rationale for the project, there are several.
1) Hurontario is Mississauga’s busiest transit (bus) line and operating an efficient and attractive service is hampered by the congestion and variation in travel times the buses experience. Creating a dedicated right-of-way for buses or LRT would solve that problem
2) The Hurontario corridor is fairly densely populated in both jobs and homes (condos); there are a lot of people who can walk to a transit stop, so that allows them to have a transit-based lifestyle and keeps cars off the road
3) The Hurontario corridor has been slated for a rapid transit line ever since Mississauga was created in 1974. I worked on plans in the 80s and 90s that led up to this project. The GO-ALRT project in 1984 planned an elevated LRT line (like the Scarborough RT) on Hurontario as part of a regional LRT network. It could be argued that rapid transit on Hurontario is about 20 years overdue
4) The line is a key part of an integrated connected rapid transit network. Mississauga and Brampton have numerous east-west major transit / transportation corridors, and Hurontario connects all of them. This allows people to connect between an east-west and north-south line to access everywhere in the area. This is like the subway network in Toronto, where you take one bus or subway line and connect to a perpendicular route to get wherever you want. In Hurontario’s case, it connects with GO Lakeshore rail line, Dundas Street (Bus Rapid Transit line under design now), Milton GO Rail line, Mississauga Transitway / Highway 403 GO bus, Highway 407 Transitway (planned), Steeles Avenue Bus Rapid Transit, and (intended) GO Rail Kitchener line in downtown Brampton. It also connects one of GO’s busiest rail stations (Port Credit) with downtown Mississauga. For example, this will be very attractive for people living in Toronto or Burlington to take the Lakeshore GO to PC then a quick transfer to the LRT and a smooth ride to the Square One area. And obviously it gives people in the Hurontario corridor great access to all the east-west rapid transit lines.
5) for all these reasons, there is a significant amount of high-density growth planned for the Hurontario and Dundas corridors, to accommodate people and jobs wanting to come to Mississauga. As part of the Greater Toronto area, Mississauga is allocated a certain amount of new population and employment, and the City has to decide how best to absorb that. Downtown Mississauga will only attract new employment opportunities if people can get there by transit, because the road system is at capacity and will not be expanded further. The use of dense corridors for travel protects the established residential neighbourhoods. This growth pattern can only be effective with high-capacity rapid transit lines such as the LRT. And transit-oriented development is typically more effective and more likely to be built around a rapid transit station rather than a surface bus route.

By the way, there is a multi-storey parking garage being built at the Port Credit GO station (separate from the LRT) to handle the continued growth in demand there. This is similar to many of the area GO stations.

And yes, it is disruptive to the community through the construction period, but decades from now people will look back and recognize how significant and impactful – and beneficial – the Hurontario LRT line has been.
Hope you get to enjoy a ride on it in a couple of years!”  

   (Note given with permission of the author)



alan skeoch
oct 28, 2022

As winter approached in 2019 our new roofing crew arrived.  Surprised us.   Who would expect 
roofers to work on a slippery metal roof as snow felll.  But they did.  And they did the whole job
including downspouts and eavestroughs in just two days.  Skilled tradesmen…no small talk.



alan skeoch
Oct. 27, 2022

What is happening at the end of Pinetree Way?  A lot of people are chewing their fingernails this week end?  Because this is the week end
of the big push…Big push!  It is happening while the leafy splendour of Mary Fix Park remains unchanged as in the picture.


I am sure that a  lot of top construction engineers will be nervously chewing their fingernails this
week end.  Why?   Because this week end the big box is about  to be pushed under the
railway tracks at Port Credit, Ontario.   Suppose something goes wrong and the push box
fails.   Suppose the railway tracks above are moved even slightly then the whole  the push box is compromised…i.e. bent, broken, collapsing.
Then we have a major disaster on our hands.  East West transportation by rail will be disrupted.
The GO trip will cease to operate.  Freight traffic also.  A disaster.

Tests indicate success.  Cross your fingers.

There are two ‘Big Pushes” planned.  The second one?  Pushing a concrete box under the Queen Elizabeth Way
The box must succeed. .  Failure cannot be considered.  The Queen Elizabeth way is the most travelled
super highway in Canada.   If the big push fails and the QEW is compromised then transportation east west will
be impossible.   

So there will be two big pushes underway shortly both of which will allow the new Light Railway to connect
Brampton to Port Credit.  The cost?  4.6 billion dollars.  The cost of success.   What is the cost of failure?
Inconceivable.  Both big pushes must succeed.

I think it would be a good ides for all of us to the our fingernails this week end.

alan skeoch

Just stones throw from Mary Fix Park is this jumble of construction signs, police cars, Excsvstors, drag lines, detours, and Johny on the Spots.

Something big is about to happen but no one can see behind this jumble of huge concrete slabs … THE BIG PUSH = THE BIG BOXES…one at Port Credit …and the other
at the Queen Elizabeth Highway and Hurontario Street.  The cost so far is 4.6 billion dollars.

$4.6 billion Hurontario LRT uses unique ‘push box’ system to keep trains rolling

COURTESY METROLINX — A large part of the $4.6 billion Hurontario LRT project is the push box, which is a large, hollow concrete box that will be pushed under the rail tracks to create a tunnel underneath without disrupting rail service above. Last year, crews completed a critical part of the process: the launch slab. The next step is to push the system through and lay the tracks. A pre-push successfully took place in February.

The $4.6 billion Hurontario LRT, which will be renamed the Hazel McCallion Line, a critical 18-kilometre north-south connection between Port Credit and Brampton, is on track with plenty of work on tap for 2022.

Crews will be installing a tunnel underneath the GO rail tracks at Port Credit station and building a new underpass under the QEW at Hurontario Street. New flood walls are also being erected to protect Mary Fix Creek.

“The delivery of the Hazel McCallion Line is making great progress,” says Matt Llewellyn, a spokesperson for Metrolinx. “Significant pieces of work were completed in 2021, creating for an exciting start to 2022.”

Last year crews installed about 7.5 kilometres of new watermain, sanitary and stormwater sewers along Hurontario Street.

The 11,000-square-metre Operations Maintenance Storage Facility (OMSF) south of Highway 407 and west of Kennedy Road is nearing completion, with the internal fit-out now underway. It will have an operating centre that will control the LRT system. Tracks will be installed in the yard this year.

As a refresher, the push box is a large, hollow concrete box that will be pushed underneath the Lakeshore West rail tracks at the Port Credit GO Station. This will create a tunnel under the rail tracks, allowing the future LRT line to move without disrupting rail service on the tracks above.

i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?resize=1024%2C575&ssl=1 1024w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?resize=768%2C431&ssl=1 768w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?resize=1536%2C863&ssl=1 1536w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?resize=2048%2C1150&ssl=1 2048w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?resize=1200%2C674&ssl=1 1200w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?resize=160%2C90&ssl=1 160w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?w=1440&ssl=1 1440w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Structure-Push-Box-2-edited.jpg?w=2160&ssl=1 2160w” data-lazy-loaded=”1″ sizes=”(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px” loading=”eager”>

Image shows work on Port Credit GO and the push box.i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?resize=300%2C197&ssl=1 300w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?resize=1024%2C673&ssl=1 1024w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?resize=768%2C505&ssl=1 768w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?resize=1536%2C1010&ssl=1 1536w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?resize=2048%2C1347&ssl=1 2048w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?resize=1200%2C789&ssl=1 1200w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?resize=137%2C90&ssl=1 137w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?w=1440&ssl=1 1440w, i0.wp.com/blog.metrolinx.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/LSW-Push-Box-Steps-v3-004.jpg?w=2160&ssl=1 2160w” data-lazy-loaded=”1″ sizes=”(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px” loading=”eager”>



alan skeoch
oct. 25, 2022

In spite of the ugly presence of Covid 19 there is still lots of room for us to marvel at the world
around us.   We have both contracted Covid 18 sadly.  I registered clear and thought my life
could rear not normal so I went to our curling club for my regular fame.  A mistake.  No energy even
though free from Covid.   I really let my team down.   John Morton’ team knew that I was not up
to par when they  did not put the third end score on the board…i.e. i failed to do an obvious take out 
because I had no strength.   We cancelled the game.  I disappointed Tracey and Peter who also
noted I could not throw a takeout rock.   Even though Covid free it will take time to be able to
wing  a rock down the ice.

So here are some pics that show that our trees are holding on to their fall leaves just to 
keep us all happy.  
….except for that derelict farm…


EPISODE 665 : Guess what’s happening next week on Glenburnie

EPISODE 665  : Guess what’s happening next week on Glenburnie

Marjorie skeoch
Ot 22, 2022

Some good news this morning.  I tested negative for Covid 19….at last.  From my birthday last Sunday Oct. 16 to my rescue from

the clutches of  the virus…today, Oct 22, 2022 I have been on a nasty roller coaster ride that I would not like  to visit ever again.

Note that the second red line is gone…which means I am virus negative.

Here is Marjorie’s contribution

Sent from my iPhone



alan skeoch
oct. 19, 2022

Large-eared Horseshoe Bat - The Australian Museum

Cute little fellows?  Not cute at all…the link between Covid 19 and humanity

Untold story: That time when Asian raccoon dogs nearly invaded Minnesota -  Duluth News Tribune | News, weather, and sports from Duluth, Minnesota

One of the rarest animal in the world…a raccoon dog.  No  others in
its family tree save , perhaps distant connection to the fox family. 
I had never heard of raccoon dogs until I got Covid 19  on Oct. 16, 2022.
The was my 84th birthday and I was sick, really sick after a root canal surgery
three days earlier on Thursday Oct. 14, 2022.  On those days I had no reason to link
my illness to this RACCOON DOG, one of the rarest creatures on earth today.

 the Raccoon dog today is on the verge of extinction.

ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/320/cpsprodpb/D6A4/production/_107184945_racdog.jpg 320w, ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/480/cpsprodpb/D6A4/production/_107184945_racdog.jpg 480w, ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/D6A4/production/_107184945_racdog.jpg 624w, ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/800/cpsprodpb/D6A4/production/_107184945_racdog.jpg 800w, ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/D6A4/production/_107184945_racdog.jpg 976w” width=”976″ height=”549″ loading=”lazy” class=”ssrcss-evoj7m-Image ee0ct7c0″>

CUTE, but also very dangerous.  Raccoon dogs are now the chief suspects in the spread of the Coronavirus around the world with
hundreds of thousands of deaths.

How can the scourge be traced to Raccoon dogs?   Indeed, how can Covid 19’s history even be traced back in time?
Many teams of scientists have been doing this and their weapon is the SWAB.   those little sticks with some fluff on the
tip.  Thousands and thousands of these swabs have been used to ‘wipe down’ suspected concentrations of the Covid 19
virus…a virus so small that it can only be seen through electron microscopes.


January 1, 2020, The Wuhan Police shut down the Wuhan Market.  Guards prevent entry. 

There are 11 million people living in Wuhan!  I had never heard of the place until the global pandemic arrived.  And the scourge arrived
with the speed of summer lightning.   On Feb 29, 2020 I was guest speaker at a meeting in Mississauga.   My subject was Invasive 
species and the Great Lakes.   We had an audience of 100 people at the Stonehooker Brewey in the City of Mississauga..
Covic 19 was not on my list of invasive species.  Not that day.  But the next day  March 1, 2020, Covid 19 was on the tip
of everyone’s tongue.  The virus had become a pandemic which spread around the world between December, 2019 and
March 2020.   The Grim Reaper followed.

World Health  scientists,  Chinese national health scientists,  Independent scientists have swabbed the Wuhan market
from floor to table height….from cage to cage searching for concentrations or even evidence of the presence of
the Coronavirus.  

They found one corner of the market…a tiny corner where once stood several live animal cages holding
two racoon dog cages and a fox cage.  the rest of the huge market was blank…no sign of Covid 19 but
this corner was dense with contaminated swabs.

And one table was loaded with evidence….that table may have been the table where one or perhaps
both of the raccoon dogs wee slaughtered and their wild meat carried away to contaminate the whole of
planet earth.

There is now almost total agreement that these two raccoon dogs provided the Intermediate link between
the Horseshoe bats who carried the virus and the transfer of the virus to the first few humans.

(There remains the possibility, remote though it be,  that some human carrier brought the virus
to the market and gave the Covid 19 to the racoon dogs instead of the other way around.
This is a one in a thousand possibility.)


We did the Covid Test twice and each time I got the red line…..positive test for Covid 19

“AT 5 P.M. on Oct. 13, 2020,  I stepped out of my dentists office with a new root canal.
I felt good.  Some pain which I was sure would diminish.  Instead of getting into the car
right away, I turned left nd walked about 100 yards to the Salvation Army Thrift Store 
to look at there book collection and perhaps buy a couple. Passed three very down at the heal
man on the way   Then I got in the car
and drove home.    

Did someone cough passing me in those hundred feet and a droplet got ingested?
Was my mask ineffective?   Had persons with Covid 19 been handling the 
books before me?   

I was contaminated but did not know it.  How?

I have no idea.   I did not know that I Had been contaminated with  Covid 19 until
October 18 when my dentist wondered at  my prolonged sickness after surgeryd, “Is there a chance you have Covid 19?”

“Let’s see … we have the test kit.”
“Cn’t see how I can have picked up Covid 19?”
“That is probably what most infected people say.”

“You know what else people say?”
“They think those Raccoon dogs are really cute”
“Turns out they are not cute at al….they are carriers of disease.”

 The Covid 19 virus seems to have originated as living material in Horseshoe  
bats living in wild properties north and west of Wuhann, China.  No danger unless  
doing scientific work in a bat cave stumbling on the bat excrement, perhaps toaching live bats.  
Rare.  But Chinese scientists were, at the time studying these pats and the diseases they

What was needed was to find an Intermediate carrier of Covid 19, a creature that might have more direct contact
with humans.

1,149 Raccoon Dog Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free ...




THE carriers of the Covid 19 viruses.

“Among all the known creatures, the bats are rich in various viruses inside. You can find most viruses responsible for human diseases like rabies, SARS, and Ebola,” Tian Junhua, a Wuhan CDC (Centre for 

Disease Control) researcher, says in the video. “It is while discovering new viruses that we are most at risk of infection

Bats, with extensive geographical distribution and capability of flight, constitute the second largest group of mammalian species and have been documented as natural hosts of a large number of diverse viruses such as lyssaviruses, paramyxoviruses and filoviruses [12]. In the past decade, numerous novel coronaviruses have been discovered in a wide variety of bat species throughout Asia, Europe, Africa and America [3]. Within the coronavirus genera Alphacoronavirus and Betacoronavirus, which mainly infect mammals, 7 out of the 15 currently assigned viral species have only been found in bats [4]. It is proposed that bats are major hosts for alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses and play an important role as the gene source in the evolution of these two coronavirus genera [5]. Among the coronaviruses harbored by bats, some have drawn particular research interests, as they have been found to be associated with two high profile human disease outbreaks, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

There are way more species of horseshoe bats | EurekAlert!

Scientists have released three studies that reveal intriguing new clues about how the COVID-19 pandemic started. Two of the reports trace the outbreak back to a massive market that sold live animals, among other goods, in Wuhan, China1,2, and a third suggests that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spilled over from animals — possibly those sold at the market — to humans at least twice in November or December 20193. Posted on 25 and 26 February, all three are preprints, and so have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

These analyses add weight to original suspicions that the pandemic began at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which many of the people who were infected earliest with SARS-CoV-2 had visited. The preprints contain genetic analyses of coronavirus samples collected from the market and from people infected in December 2019 and January 2020, as well as geolocation analyses connecting many of the samples to a section of the market where live animals were sold. Taken together, these lines of evidence point towards the market as the source of the outbreak — a situation akin to that seen in the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002–04, for which animal markets were found to be ground zero — says Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and an author on two of the reports. “This is extremely strong evidence,” he says.

However, none of the studies contains definitive evidence about what type of animal might have harboured the virus before it spread to humans. Andersen speculates that the culprits could be raccoon dogs, squat dog-like mammals used for food and their fur in China. One of the studies he co-authored2 suggests that raccoon dogs were sold in a section of the market where several positive samples were collected. And reports4 show that the animals can harbour other types of coronavirus.

Nevertheless, some virologists say that the new evidence pointing to the Huanan market doesn’t rule out an alternative hypothesis. They say that the market could just have been the location of a massive amplifying event, in which an infected person spread the virus to many other people, rather than the site of the original spillover.

“Analysis-wise, this is excellent work, but it remains open to interpretation,” says Vincent Munster, a virologist at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, a division of the National Institutes of Health in Hamilton, Montana. He says that searching for SARS-CoV-2 and antibodies against it in blood samples collected from animals sold at the market, and from people who sold animals at the market, could provide more-definitive evidence of COVID-19’s origins. The number of positive samples from the market does suggest an animal source, Munster says. But he is frustrated that more-thorough investigations haven’t already been conducted: “We are talking about a pandemic that has upended the lives of so many people.”

Ground zero?

In early January 2020, Chinese authorities identified the Huanan market as a potential source of a viral outbreak because most people infected with COVID-19 at that time had been there in the days before they began to show symptoms, or were in contact with people who had been. Hoping to stem the outbreak, the authorities closed the market. Researchers then collected samples from poultry, snakes, badgers, giant salamanders, Siamese crocodiles and other animals sold there. They also swabbed drains, cages, toilets and vendors’ stalls in search of the pathogen. Following an investigation led by the World Health Organization (WHO), researchers released a report in March 2021 showing that all of the nearly 200 samples collected directly from animals were negative, but that around 1,000 environmental samples from the stalls and other areas of the market were positive.

A team in China including researchers at China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now sequenced genetic material recovered from those positive samples, and released the results in a preprint posted on 25 February1. The scientists confirm that the samples contain SARS-CoV-2 sequences almost identical to those that have been circulating in humans. Furthermore, they show that the two original virus lineages circulating at the start of the pandemic, called A and B, were both present at the market.

“It’s a nice piece of work,” says Ray Yip, an epidemiologist and a former director of the China branch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They’ve confirmed that the Huanan market was indeed a very important spreading location.”

As soon as the report from China had been posted online, Andersen and his colleagues rushed to post manuscripts they had been working on for weeks.







alan skeoch
May 2019

Flying in to Ireland in 1960 was like flying back into time.  Wonderful…spellbinding.
This  piece  of the story covers  my first month on the job in the tiny village
of Bunmahon.   it was not always a village. At one point in the 19th cetury the 
population exceeded 2,000.  In 1960, when we arrived the population was 200 at 
best and  likely less than that,  Many were unemployed  and glad to see us.
There was high hope that the ancient copper mine could  be reopened.  Our
survey would help make that decision.

Tuesday June 14, 1960

At last our crates  of equipment have arrived in Bunmahon.  Long trip by rail then ship  to Liverpool, then trans shipped
to Dublin and finally put on train to Waterford  then by truck to Bunmahon.  That trip took nearly a  month, two weeks
of which I spent in Dublin trying to expedite things.  No matter. No surprise really.  The good thing is that  we are now ready
to get the survey underway which means the pressure on me will increase exponentially.   I think I am ready.


Once upon a time there were two big mines here.
The Knockmahon abandoned mine site does not look as dramatic as  Tankardstown with its stone ruins stand high above the cliffs that far the Atlantic Ocean in
County Waterford, Ireland.   Copper stained these cliffs for centuries so even the  most ancient Irish  people  were aware that there was
something different about the place.  Mining began  in  earnest at the Knockmahon site in the1820’s reaching peak production in 1840 
 the copper seams were exhausted unless the miners decided  to tunnel under the sea.  A new mine was  found nearby at Tankardstown
which thrived through the 1850;s when copper prices were initially high and then began to fall.  In 1879 the Tankardstown mine was 
abandoned.   In the glory days there were more than 2000 men using picks and  shovels and blasting powder to make a near starvation
living wresting copper from the depths.  Some of their passageways  and  stopes extended far out beneath the sea.  (*Later I would get
a chance to crawl on my stomach through these old mine adits and  shafts.  Stupid and dangerous but I was young and foolish.)

The rise and fall of the two mines occurred at the same time as the Great Potato Famine of the mid to late 1840’s.  Where  did all these
miners go?  Most were  present among the starving Irish families  who risked  their lives  on the immigrant ships  crossing the Atlantic  to 
Canada and the United States.

Today, in 2019, the whole 25 kilometres coast from Tramore to Bunmahon is a  walking trail and road  designed to attract tourists
Called the COPPER  COAST.


Copper prices  jumped in 1960 largely due to a crisis in Africa where political instability threaened
the world  supply of copper.   Big mining companies began to look elsewhere.   Denison Mines  decided 
to give another look at these two old  Irish  copper mines.  Had the mother load been missed?
Were there still rich copper seams to be exploited?



I guess I am nervous because I spent a terrible night in my new bed,  Body began twitching.  Nervousness
I imagine.  Much is  expected of me.  Hope I can  deliver. Got up and wrote letter to Marjorie. I should be fine
since I am now surrounded and I assume protected by quite  a  collection Roman Catholic icons. 
 My room is large but damn cold.  Meals
cooked by  Mrs. Kenneday are good.  Before we started  laying out our base line and getting things underway
we had to get our bearings so we went down to the sea, below the cliffs and then on top of the cliffs.  Then 
the three of us took a close look at the ruins of the old Tankardstown mine.  Several shafts. Dangerous.  One
shaft has been used as  a garbage site by local people.  Noticed a great pile of old glass milk bottles…antiques
but worth your life to retrieve them as they are on the edge of a great black hole.  The mine operated here
in the early to late 19th century…1870’s it seems to have been abandoned.  Must have been a big community
here at one time for locals say there were once 21 pubs and now there are only two.  Kerwin’s is the Catholic 
pub and therefore the most active…hub of the community it seems.  The other pub across the road is
Anglican in clientele.  Few people.  John Hogan very wisely spent several hours in Kerwin’s pub playing darts.
The place is dark and rather decrepit.  But the bar is fascinating.   Good to show the flag here as it were.
We  had a tremendous evening meal in our private dining room at Mrs. Kennedy’s.  That was followed  by
a religious discussion where I was odd man out.  Kept my mouth shut.  John Stam and John Hogan then
set up a game of pinochle.  Never played the game before but won all the same.  I no longer need  worry
about expense money as John Stam brought lots.  Wrote another letter to Marjorie.  I need some rough
clothes.  Lucky that Mrs. Kennedy also operate the only store in the village or in the region.  She sells
everything from clothes to cigarettes to hard goods and even food.  Her main floor store is big but very 
dark.   Business does not seem to be good.  Village empty most of the time.  Very little traffic on the
main road.  One man approached us  about a job.  He would  be the first of many.  Seems the villafge
is placing great hope in our work.

Wednesday June 15, 1960

The Kennedy family of Bunmahon made room for us in their sprawling house above. 
Mrs. Kennedy ran the only surviving store in Bunmahon which  was a combined dry goods,
hardware and limited  grocery store.  It was very dark inside indicating sales  were anything but brisk.

The Kenneday family made us  feel very welcome.  Their handicapped son Gerald was especially enthused  about
our arrival and he would have willingly followed me into the hills and galleys had not Mrs. Kennedy interfered.  She
was the boss…not only of the  family but also the leading matriarch of the whole community.   Mr. Kennedy was
a genial man who loved his large farming operation.  Their daughter was shy but very happy to have us as tenants
in rooms  that were abandoned most of the time.

Woke up and got dressed early.  Everyone else asleep.  Nice Irish Breakfast with all the trimmings
including fried  tomatoes and Irish back bacon (like a steak).  The house is really a row of houses
all  linked together and  lived in by the Kennedy family.  Sort of reminded me of Charles Dickens
house where Miss Havisham lived her solitary magic life…A house that Time forgot filled with spider webs and very musty and sad…
 but that is an unfair comparison for the Kennedy house is very
much alive.  Damp and dark though.  

Now facing the big test.  I am supposed to be a veteran instrument man who has worked for HUNTEC
for some time.  In other words  I bloody well seem to know what I am doing.  Got the Ronka E.M. unit
and took it to the old stage road for a test.  I remembered much about it but took time to read and re-read
the manual just in case I made a mistake.   When all seemed  correct I switched  it on and the  damn ‘in phase’
did not register nor did  the ‘out phase’.  Tested again and  again on 60 odd stations at 50’ separation.
Gave up finally. Then visited the little lumber mill and bought 1,000 stskrd got 5 pound.  Needed to mark
stations when things get working.  Then I spent the afternoon playing around with the Ronka.  Worried.
Finally…miracle of miracles…I got the thing working.  Amazed at myself.  We are trying to keep John
Hogan unaware of my ignorance.  Must Speak a kind  of pseudo professional mumbo jumbo.  

I expect to be here well into the month of August.  Played  pinochle all evening.  Great meals.
We drew up a grid for our test survey using the Turam as opposed to the Ronka.  But the Turam has
not arrived.  It is the backbone of the job.   Bill Morrison taught me how to set it up and operate it
on the Alaska job last summer.  My memory is pretty good…not perfect…but good.

Went down the sea for a few minutes.  Weather is changing and some huge waves are
crashing into the stony beach.  There is  a huge iron ball on the beach.  A reminder of World War II
…a decommissioned floating mine about the size of a small car.  Holes now evident where once
the detonators were.

Thursday, June 16, 1960

Heavy fog this morning.  John and John planned  to attend a special mass being held  for them but
heavy fog was a problem. The Fiat car would not start anyway.  I cannot understand why a special
mass was being done for John and John.   Obviously they know I am a Protestant and are therefore left
out which is fine by me.  Seems to make me the only Protestant in the village…but that does not seem
to be a problem so far.  Took the Ronka out for the whole day…62 stations, 3 lines, dual  frequency. We
came across a  number of old mine shafts…perhaps  air adits…will have to be careful as little warning, false
step and down we go…lucky there is a cable joining the Ronka hoops at 50 or 100 foot separation.  Fall in
a shaft and hang there until partner pulls me out.  Bad joke.  Now that
is more of a joke than anything else but the open shafts  do  exist.  

Hard to believe how cold Ireland is in June.  Should have packed heavy clothes.  Shivering. But the land
is beautiful with wild poppies blooming in the lush green fields and stone fencerows.  Donkeys, horses, pigs 
and  cattle. Really old Ireland, some of the buildings even have thatch grooves while others have no rooves
at all…derelict cottages testify that the population is shrinking.   Hundreds of miners, many of them from
The copper mines in Cornwall, left Ireland  when the rich copper seams could no longer be found.  Became
miners  in Montana and Canada.  

This is the Mahon River that flowed from the hills deep in the interior.   

Bunmanhon has two churches…Catholic and Anglican…but only one is ;used…i.e. the Catholic Church
 The Anglican church  was abandoned and is  now cemented at the doors and windows. Mrs. Kennedy
regaled  us with stories of a  local authoress who wrote ‘dirty’ stories about Ireland. The books  are now banned
here in  Bunmahon.  The priest has burned  any he finds.  Our ears perked up at this story so we will
keep our eyes  open for dirty books as we assume they concern sex.  Then again the books could be about
politics  which is  less interesting.  

Now  that we have settled into the village the local men are approaching us for jobs.  We will do some hiring
of course.  I will need someone to help me get through the brier fences…thousands  of sharp needles have
already ripped my shirt and punctured my skin.   I saw a badger today…seems  bunch of them have burrow
in a  brier patch.  After we plotted the results John and john got the pinochle  game ready. Hogan told the
funny biblical story about Jacob tying his ass to a tree then walking three miles into Jerusalem…:That’s
stretching it,” he concluded.  We get silly at times which is a very good sign.  Maybe I will  not need
to keep up the bluff that I am a very experienced field man and let John Hogan know i learned how to
run the Turam last summer on the barren lands  of Western Alaska.  That would make it easier on me.

Friday, June 17, 1960

Got up with the sun and  wrote letters then heard Mrs. Kennedy getting breakfast ready downstairs.  Beautiful
day today…warm, sunshine.  Today was spent setting up stakes on our new  survey lines.  Pickets every
hundred feet on the lines running at right angles from our base line which is one long line of  shielded  copper
wire grunded at both ends with iron rods and hooked to our motor generator.  We pump electricity into the
ground in search of possible mineral conductors.  Seems weird but it works.

Sounds like an  easy job putting in pickets every hundred  feet on our survey lines.  I thought it would ve a
piece of cake compared with doing so in the Canadian boreal forest with its thick btush and  millions  of biting
insects of varying sizes but all on a blood diet.  Not so fast, Alan.  Problems  here as well.  I fell headlong
into a six foot wide gulley of brier.  Did not see the dip and  in a  microsecond  I ripped  pants and skin and
lay there with the brier needles  all  around.  Dared  not move for a few minutes  so spent the time swearing
using fine sentences taught to us by our dad…”Goddamn son of a bitching bastardly brier,” etc. etc.  Not sure
if  Irish swear like that.  Slowly and carefully I moved backwards  and snaked  my way out of the needle trap.

“These  gorse bushes are trouble…big time trouble, John.”
“The are impenetrable.”
“No worse than a cedar and tag alder swamp in Canada.”
“Far far worse…each branch  of gorse is covered with needles…rip my clothes and puncture my skin.”
and to make matters worse the damn gorse lines these tiny Irish farm fields. Today I could not get
through from one field to the other without shedding blood.”
“Surely we can cut holes with axes or machetes.”
“Can be done but it will be difficult and slow. And then there is going to be another problem…the stone
fences under the gorse.    How will I be able to climb these fences when strapped to the Turam console,
receiving coil and battery pack…ear phones  and field notebook as well.”
“What do  you suggest?”
“I suggest we hire a man to help me get over the fences.”
“There going to laugh at you back in Canada.”
“More worried that Norm would see me as a bit of a baby.”

“Nothing worse than gorse in your pants  and shirts…needles  that could reach through almost
any material to make a person bleed.  Hence gorse made excellent fences.  In May and June
the gorse is deceptively beautiful.”

WHEREVER we experienced beautiful yellow flowers in June we also found thousands a stiff sharp needles  capable of
penetrating clothes, boots and flesh.  Good and evil on the same branch.

Saturday June 18  1960

Both E.M. units, the Ronka and the Turam, are designed to pick up signals from  an artificial electrical impulse forced into the ground
by s motor generator attached to a base line of yellow shielded copper wire.   Barney Dwan (above) is setting down this three mile long
strand of  wire across an open field section.   Our ‘lines’ were set out at right angles on both sides of  this base line.   NOTE: We 
had big problems with this yellow wire base line…BIG PROBLEMS. In Alaska I had a roll like this strapped to my back once when jumping
from the helicopter pontoon to the cabin as we took off.  I did not make it but fell between pontoon and cabin as we lifted.  Unhurt because
of the melted  bed of sloppy summer muskeg above the permafrost.  Our problem with the wire in Ireland was much different.  WHAT PROBLEM?
You will see.

Saturday June 18, 1960

Base Line #2 North west 30,
Up a little late….8 a.m….on job at nine, worked until three extending the base line from 2400 to 7600feet over some very rough patches of brier (gorse) and
nettles.  Lots  of cattle in  the small  fields which could be a problem if they get curious about our yellow electric base line cable.  John Hogan joined me in
the field as  he is quite curious about the project naturally.  Had lunch in the pub…2 shilling bottle of corona (apple cider…hard kind) Then back to our rooms
took a bath, washed clothes then we drove to Tramore for a game of miniature golf on the strand after which we found a pub for 3 beers and a five course supper
(12 shilling, 6 pence) then carried  on to Waterford for a glass of creme de menthe and the movie ‘Carry On Nurse’.  Wish there was more to do other than drinking
and pinochle in evenings.  Must keep client happy however and John Hogan does love touring and socializing.  An  easy life except when doing the dirty work
crawling through gorse fences and bleeding.   Saturday is a day of rest in the normal world.  It has never been such doing Geophysical surveying…seven day week.
But 7 day week does not work here in Ireland.

Sunday June 19, 1960

Bridey woke me.  Who is Bridey?  She is our caregiver…gets  us up in mornings, makes our beds, and  supervises our spiritual lives.  Today she entered
my room and hauled off my covers commenting, “Time for Mass, Master Skeoch…out of bed.”  I am not sure if she knew I was Protesant or not.  Did not matter
 to Bridey for she was determined I go to mass, perhaps to make me into a better person.  That posed a dilemma.Should I conform and go to mass or should
I just take the opportunity to sleep in on Sundays?   I chose mass…with Bridey’s encouragement.  Glad I did as our presence at Sunday mass made us part
of the Bunmahon community.  John Stam and John Hogan are both Catholic.  Spent the afternoon writing and playing pinochle then we went down to Kirwinn’s
pub where the village drinkers gather.  Only stayed  briefly as I decided to take a long walk along the cliff footpath above the ocean. Looked  down upon that 
huge cast iron land mine on Bunmahon beech.  Reminder of World War II..  Later in the evening I quizzed Mrs. Kenneday about Dunhill Castle. “Stormed by
Cromwell,” she said.  Then she casually mentioned that a previous Canadian mining crew (McPhare Group) set a bad reputation for Canadians.  The inference
was that they did not go to church and raised  hell in the evenings.

It was only 15 years earlier that floating mines like this were floating submerged along the Irish coast.  

“When Mrs. Kenneday found out I was Presbyterian she commented “the new bridge over the Mahon River was built by a Presbyterian” .  John Hogan respnded
“Christ, that bridge will never last long.”  

Sad to see so many local people spending all their money in the pub.  None of the Kennedy family go to the pub though so there must be others who avoid
drinking.  Perhaps the expression that Guiness is a “meal in a glass” makes  sense.  Someone told 
us a local joke about a visitor to ireland asking: “When do the pubs close?” “September, I think.”

Monday June 20, 1960

Rose early…beautiful sunny day. Did 12,000 feet of line with John Stam and our Irish employees (Bandy, John and Larry).  The going is very slow…obstructions
everywhere, especially those gorse covered stone fences.  Nightmare. Used the Brunton Compass to try and keep lines straight.  Worked steadily with just 20
minutes for a fast lunch.  Returned to Bunmahon at 6 p.m.  Letter from Arbuckle arrived saying the Turam E.M. unit would arrive tomorrow.  About time as the
Turam is our key unit.  The Ronka is our back up. Stopped at Kirwan’s pub for a beer then home to Mrs. Kennedy’s for a grand supper.  Did some writing before
going back to the pub where I was shown a collection of old weapons, some from “the time of the trouble”, an” expression meaning the 1920’s and gaining of
Irish Home Rule.  Just as I was looking at the weapons a gentleman arrived  with a shotgun and his hunting dog.  Dressed like a lord.  The dog befriended me
although the hunter said “that was not his habit.”  Four girls seem to congregate in front of the house each evening.  Seems vain to say but they seem to be
interested in me.  Played another game of pinochle which is becoming very tedious.  I am really getting to enjoy the village life of Bunmahon which has a lot
of similarities  to the John Wayne and Maureen Ohara film ‘The Quiet Man’ even down to the friendly toleration of a Church of Ireland (Anglican) minority who 
visited the pub across the road from Kirwin’s. (seemed empty most of the time though).

Tuesday June 21, 1960

Today we drove to Waterford to get the Turam.  We?  Hired the local owners of Kirwan’s pub (Frank and Kevin) and their aged Ford truck.  All was ready and soon
loaded then we retired to a local pub where I bought the boys a  glass of Guinness and lunch.  Quite a different atmosphere in this pub…very political…had to be very careful
cautioned Kevin and Frank.  Sort of interesting.  No smart remarks.  We drove back to Bunmahon and began unpacking while cleaning up the Kennedy garden shed
which would be our workshop and paymaster shop.  Hired two men…Andy Kirwan who is very shy and will not talk unless forced to do so and Tom Powell who talks a
lot…perhaps too much.  John came back and assisted another man to coil 15,000 feet of shielded  copper wire.  All set for tomorrow with the Turam.  It has been a long wait.
Tried a new drink called a shandy…ale and  lemonade…probably I will stick to Guinness as most do.  Nice to have clean clothes to wear thanks to mrs. Kennedy and Bridey.

Wednesday June 22, 1960

Wrote home then packed cable on the back reel for our first Turam baseline of 14,500 feet…nearly three miles. Very rough going.  We set up our generator base down by the
Atlantic Ocean.  Cranked motor…held my breath.  It would not start.  Gas was  wrong…put in regular gas and the motor purred. I know that sounds simple but it was not so
simple.  I was  supposed to be the expert on the Turam but I had no idea what was  wrong and just changed the gas on impulse.  Floyd told me years ago that all problems are
usually simple to solve.  “Al, do not make things difficult.”   Floyd was my first real wilderness scholar and teacher back in Canada.  He nicknamed me Fucking Al for some 
twisted reason.  It was not used as a hateful term. I think he liked me.  Maybe he spoke in opposites.

We hired two new men, Andy and Tom.  Today I saw my first Irish hare…big speedy creature.  At night John Stsm and John Hogan got into a religious discussion with me.  I am
not really up to speed on religion…never will be…although I stood my ground as a Protestant and they took theirs.  No hostility.  Very Canadian.  I think most Canadians  are
really Humanists.   Then we got down to another serious game of pinochle.  I would rather be out walking the cliff trails at sunset.

Thursday June 23, 196-0

Now our real troubles began.  Started the motor generator but not generating.   Took a long time to figure out why.  Again the problem was simple…the base line
wire was broken in three places along one thousand foot stretch.  Some creatures had nibbled…foxes? rabbits?  Simple to repair.  Looks like we  will spend hours
and hours repairing our base line each day.  Did not know which  creature was doing the damage but as usual it was simple and should have been obvious right from
the start.  The fields had herds of cattle.  Cattle like to munch grass but they also liked to munch yellow copper cables.

Three of our employees are resting after lunch.  Bandy, on the right, became my right hand man.  We were good friends in not time
and he shared some wonderful adventures with me.  More of that later.  Behind the men are the cattle…peacefully chewing up ou
grounded cable.  Then ruminating and vomitting balls of copper wire about the size of baseballs.

 the Turam operated perfectly on 660 cox frequency so the rest of the day was a success. We had data for Dr. Stam at last.  Began training more men as instrument 
helpers.  I was surprised to discover that one our new men, Willy, could not count.  He never said so.  Wish he had as that would have made my job easier.   I would not have asked
him to mark the pickets.  Larry on the other hand cannot hear which makes things difficult.  Not their faults.  All and all things went well today and we found two anomalies which
were plotted on graph paper in the evening.  Surveying in a country as old as Ireland brings lots of discoveries such as the stone bridge we found today covered in ivy but no
sign of ever been connected to a road network.

Got a long letter from Marjorie.  She is a wonderful writer…better than me for sure.  She seems to be enjoying herself back in Canada.

John Hogan and I went down to Kirwan’s for cider and the owner bought us each a pint of Guinness.

There is an old black Labrador dog that belongs to the Kennedy’s and has a special job.  He is trained to keep Gerald from drowning in the sea.   Gerald is Mrs. Kennedy’s disabled son.
Mongoloid little boy who is sure friendly and good natured although severely handicapped.  When he strolls down to the sea the Labrador dog goes  with him.  He is allowed to wade
a bit but never deeper than his ankles before he is pushed back out of the water by the dog.  

Friday June 24, 1960

New gas for the generator.  Expected a fine day with lots of distance covered.  That did not happen as a serious of small disasters tumbled out.  First, the cable was broken in three
places none of them close…had to cover 8,000 feet to find them.  Second, something wrong with the gas again.  Suspect water got in somehow as rain is regular occurrence.  Third,
there were two broken instrument cables and some kind of short circuit.  Fourth, the motor itself broke down once we got clean gas. Why?  Fifth, another  cable broke just as we
finally got started.  Suspect cattle.  Solution is to hire a man to walk the cable each day and make repairs.  Even with all thsse problems we managed to get 3,000 feet of survey line

Good news when we got back to Bunmahon.  My university results arrived.  I passed.  I would like to have had higher marks but word I was getting that a number of my friends did
not pass.   John Hogan came back after a short visit to Killarney.  I think he rushed back just to play $%^%$ pinochle.

I made up the pay checks for our employees and they lined up outside the garden shed office.  Got cash through Mrs. Kenndy.  I bet the boys back in Canada are wondering why we need
so many men on the payroll.   I have an answer.  “The wages here are 1 pound per day…about $2.50 a day…so we can hire a lot of men for very little money and they need it badly otherwise
Kerwan’s pub will go bankrupt.”

Here is our crew, most of them, lining up on a Friday evening for their weekly pay.  John Hogan
is the man  on the left.  He  represented  our client Denison Mines.   Dr. John Stam is
our company geophysicist (far right).  His job was the most important for he would interpret
my survey results and write a report that would either support the idea of a new mine in 
Bunmahon or state there was nothing worth retrieving.

Payday in the Kennedy Garden Shed.  The wage was one pound per day…about $2.50
Canadian.  Not much really.  Some days the men  worked overtime though for more money.  And as
my job as paymaster proceeded I got a bit carried away and gave each man a
pack of cigarettes then added  a  chocolate bar.  Dr. Norm Paterson would be amused back in Canada
if he saw  this picture..which he will  never see..

“ALan, just who do  you think you are…some kind of philanthropist using other people’s money?”
“Right, I guess I made payday a  little excessive.”
“Where did you get the idea of adding cigarettes  and chocolate bars?”
“John Wayne!”
“Do you mean  you were beginning to think you were The Quiet Man?”
‘Suppose it looks that way.”
“What did they think  back in Toronto?”
“I think Norm Paterson…Dr. Paterson…used the term precocious applied to me.”
“And  Floyd?”
“He continued to call me Fucking Al.”

We became quite the community celebrities as the local police constable kept close eye on us as did
the local priest who was  often seen standing along the road as we crossed nd  criss-crossed.

Saturday June 25, 1960

“Why hire so many local people?”  The answer is not so simple.  I am not trying to run a charity on
Huntec money.  We need people that we never needed in Canada.  We need a  man to check our grounded 
cable and make repairs.  The cattle chew chunks regularly…must taint the milk a bit but they regurgitate
the balls as they ruminate.  A bigger worry is cattle biting into the live cable.  One farmer claimed a cow was
knocked down and out by the electric charge.  That my or may not be true but we want to assure the local farmers that
we are being careful.  The government of Ireland made me paint a danger sign in English and irish and place 
that sign where our generator is located.  We have hired a local handicapped boy to guard the motor generator site.
Then there is the problem of the fences and the gorse.  We need a man to help making a path and lifting me over
these places and there are many of them as the fields  are small.  We also need a linecutting crew of three men
to survey and mark with pickets the 50 and 100 foot spaces for readings to be taken. We are lucky that so many
men are available and willing.

This young handicapped lad just loved his job protecting our base line.  He set up his campsite wherever we moved
the motor generator and took his job very seriously.   The first job he ever had  and perhaps his  only job.  The other 
employees covered for him so that I  would not notice he was mentally handicapped.  I  knew.

Drove to check cable as usual with Bandy as helper.  Today I discovered his real name was  Barney Dwan but
the local  dialect was so hard for me to understand that “Barney” became “Bandy” much to the amusement of
everyone who started calling him Bandy.  I wondered  why the men laughed so much. 

The instrument failed again.  Wasted three hours trying to find the problem. Narrowed  it down to the amplifier which
I could not fix so gave the men half a day holiday while I took he Turam to Waterford for repairs   Very depressing.  Spent
some time in a Waterford  pub waiting then drove back west to Tramore for supper.  Saw  the movie “Sirrocco” after playing
a round of miniature golf with John Hogan who accompanied me on the trip.

We  were all startled at bed time when John Hogan found a tick buried  in his thigh.  Gorged in blood so the damn
thing looked big.  Got it out using a cigarette and careful work with tweezers.  Mickey offered  us his bicycle for our
use if we needed to get a doctor.  We slathered the wound with rubbing alcohol and hoped for the best. From now
on we will examine our bodies  after work as the area is infested  with ticks.  A close look at the cattle herds show that as
most of their noses have ticks hanging there like little sacks.

Ticks Were something new to me.  At first I dismissed them as creatures of no consequence to me personally for they
seemed associated with sheep.   Surely in Canada the hords of black flies, moose flies, deer flies,
mosquitoes and midges were far worse than ticks.   Ticks cannot fly and if  sheep or cattle or horses were carrying ticks I 
was unlikely to pick them up for petting domestic animals was not part of the job.

Ignorance is no excuse.  Irish  ticks may not fly but they do know how to leap from a  waving piece  of long  grass to
a piece of exposed flesh and then begin their burrowing and  do so  painlessly.  Once engorged with blood the female tick
just drops off and continues its’ life cycle.  It is possible to be a tick host and never know it.   Ticks are not themselves dangerous
The serous problems arise from the bacteria the tick transfers to the human or animal host.  Ireland in 1960 had  lots of ticks but
most were not too dangerous.  Hedghog ticks  were the most likely to grab us  as  we climbed over and t through gorse covered fencerows.

NOTE:  TODAY, 2019, Black Legged ticks are spreading through Ontario perhaps  aided by global warming.  These ticks  are
extremely dangerous for they transmit Lyme disease to humans. People die.

Sunday June 26,1960

An uneventful day.  Went to mass at the Ballyaneen RC church.  Then we played  pinochle until noon, had  nice lunch,  read 
part of  Forster’s Passage to India and dosed off until evening,  Repaired  cables and switches and then went to the dog
races where I lost three beers to John and John.

Monday June 27, 1960

Bandy (Barney) had  long ground  cable repaired from cow damage by 8 a.m.  Worried about Turam but took it out on wild
hope it would work but once again it let us down.  John Stam is very depressed and  even considering giviing up the contract.
So I took out the Ronka for the day.  On our first set up disaster happened when a car drove right between us tearing the 
connecting cable apart.  Could have dragged  us along the road if  cable had  not snapped. We made rough repairs  and continued. 
 At four p.m. the Ronka stopped working, likely the rough
connection reoair.  No matter because John Stam  arrived from Waterford with the newly refurbished Turam which  seems 
OK now.  

Andy offered to buy me a beer…very generous as his income is close to poverty level.  I bought a bottle of cider for John and  John
to drink at our pinochle game where, as  usual, we discussed religion.  I  was  surprised  to learn that Catholics actually believe
in Adam and  Eve.  Maybe they were putting me on. 

Got nice letters from Marjorie and Russ Vanstone.  Spent sleepless night worrying about the Turam.

Now here is an interesting  pair of photos.  On the left we are working across an Irish grain field in 1960 while
the right I am doing the same kind  of survey in Alaska in 1959

Tuesday June 28, 1960

Got up early and soldered some cable heads in our little shed.  What a beautiful  day and even the Turam seemed to notice
the sun on the irish greenery.  The Turam worked perfectly until noon when once again our cable was severed by some cow
located somewhere along the three mile base line.  Sure enough.  A cow had bitten the live wire and got knocked out.  “She
fell like a  stone!”  We are lucky that the local farmers have not launched law actions if we have been stunning or knocking out
their cattle.  I wonder if the knock out story is true?  The Irish  are good story tellers after all.  Some farmers are after us according
to my Irish crew who are not too concerned.  There seems to be a cultural division between the largely unemployed cottagers
and the distinctly better healed farmers.  They do not like each other.

John Stam is more cheerful today since our expense money arrived in Dungarven. My day was terrific because the Turam  worked
perfectly.  We crossed over some old mine shafts which  are hardly guarded or protected,  Some seem to be used as garbage pits.
“Some animals fall down them but not many…no worries.” Some comfort!  I did my washing in the evening, wrote home and 
as usual did some light repairs this time to the voltmeter connection.  Mrs Kennedy served us tea while we played yet another
game of pinochle.  Outside the night was stunning with Golden clouds and a crescent moon.  

How can  I say to John and  John that i am getting to hate pinochle.  Bunmahon is so interesting.  I would rather walk the cliffs 
and have a pint of Guinness  at Kerwan’s.  I would  like to have a pint at the Anglican pub but fear that would cause trouble.
It would be interesting to hear what the Anglo Irish minority have to say.  Perhaps they would say nothing.  Amazing how close
to the stereotypes created in the Quiet Man fit the local social dynamics of Bunmahon.  I am sure, however, that such a comment’
by a newcomer like me would be resented so I try to take everything in but keep my mouth shut.   The men seem to like me.

This is  Kirwan’s pub on every Friday evening when a percentage of income was  spent
on a few pints of Guinness.   We joined as often as we could.  Sometimes the fellows
wanted to treat us to pints of Guinness.  Without insulting we thanked them but
avoided these ‘free’ pints.    John Hogan is lighting up a Wild Woodbine cigarette on
the far left.  Mrs. Kerwan is presiding over the bar on the far right.

Kerwan’s pub has a  dark sitting room featuring slabs of pine nailed to the walls  and stumps tables.
In this case John Hogan and  I are relaxing.

Wednesday June  29, 1960

John Hogan took off early to drive to Dublin for some reason.  I had a successful day with the Turam finishing 2.5 lines in the morning
then Andy brought me a quart of Cidonia (hard cider) for lunch in an Irish field before finishing line 4400 and  finding a very large
anomaly.   Then the motor stopped and we had another two hour delay.

In the evening Willy and Bandy took me to a hurling match in Dunhill.  The game can be rough if they hit each other
with the curling sticks that look like shortened  hockey sticks.  Clubs if you will.  The outdoor washroom was  interesting.
A few sheets of corrugated iron were anchored  in place by steel posts and that was  a washroom.  I do not know what
women used.

Hurling is an Irish brute force kind of game.  

Thursday June 30, 1960

Got an early start today which was spoiled as usual by a broken base line cable.  We are now getting used to finding baseball
sized rolls of  our base line wire here and there in farmers fields.  Farmers are getting more and  more concerned that our wire is
endangering their dairy herds.We did 4 lines today working from 8.30 to 6.30.  A long day here in Ireland.  In Canada I would cover
much  more territory doing Turam work pushed on by the millions of flies f

Willy had to be sent home when his lumbago began acting up.  Then the console connection broke and had to be soldered.

Today we saw an old fort…2,000 years old according to Bandy.  “Supposed to be filled with fairies, you know.” “There are ghosts
in this valley.” “Then there is the mystery of the postman that just disappeared one day.”

Bandy alerted me to another danger today when we crossed a field dominated by two huge boars.  Big tusks and angry 
demeanour.  “Be careful with the herds  of pigs, Maser Skeoch, a nun disappeared around here once when she crossed
a field with pigs.  All that was found was her boots with her feet inside.”  The men love telling me stories.  Maybe some of the
stories are true or have a kernel of truth.   Enjoy them immensely.  Today we worked  until 7 p.m. and then I spent the evening
trying to fix the Ronka with no luck.   The men are all good workers and I hate pushing them but we are expecting Holmes to
arrive any day from India.  He is a top man with the company.  Needs to be impressed.   Tired tonight…”Too tired to 
climb the stairs,” as my grandmother used to sing to us on winer evenings at the farm.

Small thatched  roof cottages  were located here and  there on the outskirts of Bunmahon.  Small  holdings
of an acre or less.  Some of these cottages turned most of their land over to potatoes.  Others  managed
to keep a few animals, even a  horse or two.

Friday July 1, 1960

“Mass! Master Skeoch get out of bed…time for mass.”  Bridey hammers on my door then enters the room
and rips of my covers  reminding me all the time that  I must not miss mass.  She even carries a BELL that 
she rings with gusto.if I am not out of bed fast.   Lucky I wear in a bIg night shirt because Bridey  
rips off the blankets to speed me up.  Mass is very important to Bridey and she  has made mass feel
important to me…a Protestant…a  Humanist.

Quite amusing…nice really.




alan  skeoch
May 2019


On Oct 17, 2022, at 10:58 AM, ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com> wrote:


alan skeoch
Oct. 16,2022


“Marjorie!   need help!  Slipped and fell on bathroom floor.  My good leg is under the bathtub.”
“Use your arms”
“Too weak..useless”
“What happened?”
“Just about got out of the bathtub.  Floor mat must have slipped and I tumbled.”
“No but trapped.  Arms and legs useless.  My good right leg under the tub.”
“Must be the antibiotic.”


Started with a chipped tooth. Seemed minor problem just needed a filling,  Then my 
dentist said he should take an Xray to check for infection.

“Infection under the tooth’
“Extraction will affect your appearance.”
“Other option?”
“Root Canal”
“Can you do the root canal now”

Seemed a good idea.  Vanity trumped extraction.  Two hours later it was done and seemed OK.
Some pain and sponginess but that would pass for sure.  Surely.  Well, it did not work and the  pain
increased.  Bearable but present.   

What followed were two nights watching the clock move slowly, minute by minute, hour by hour….
until daybreak.’

My dentist phoned to see how I was even on his day off.  

“Not good…tooth seems wobbly….cannot eat….cannot sleep…pull the bastard.
“Let me get you an antibiotic to kill the infection.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“Common.  Amoxicillin’

GOD that stuff is strong.  Three pills with food, three time a day. Pretty well knocked me
out.  So I spent the next two days in bed.  Scrambling occasionally to the washroom.
I did not realize how weak I was getting until I fell to the floor on one trip to the washroom.
Hard to get up which was strange.  

“what you need is a good hot bath.”
“Pain in my mouth has diminished.  Can eat soft food… like soup.”
“Fine.  You have a shower and I’ll get some easy food.  Want Jello?”
“Better to take a shower other than a bath.”
“Love my bathtub…to hell with the shower.”

So I crawled carefully from bed to bathroom.  Stripped and gingerly slid into our cast iron
bathtub. Felt good.   But I was really weak.  And now a bad head cold began.  Damn
head cold!  Just waiting to get me when i could not fight back.  

“Don’t get out of the tub until I am there.”
“I’ll be fine.”  What did Marjorie think I was..some kind of pansy?
Placed both hands on the bathtub rim and lifted.  Got up a little but arms failed me 
and I fell back.  Tried again and again until I was up.  Both arms and legs were 
failing me when I needed them most.  Bastards!

Got one leg out of the tub.  Then moved the other.  Not sure what happened next.
Did the bathmat slip ?  Or did my legs and arms refuse to help me?  Perhaps both.
So there i was flat on the bathroom floor with one leg under the tub and calling
for Marjorie.

“Marjorie, I fell.”

Try putting an imaginary body between the tub and the door…one had to be moved
for Marjorie to Wedge her way into the bathroom where she found a stark
nude husband in grave difficulty on the floor. Only the nude was movable. Maybe.

“Can’t get the door open.  You are in the way.”
“Maybe I can slide over a bit.  There.  Can you help me up?”

She tried and tried but no luck. I weigh 215 pounds stark naked.  My arms refused
to let me drag my leg from under the tub.  I really did not care that I was naked. Just
wanted to get back to bed if possible.

“Let me get a chair for you to grip. “
“No good”
“Sit on it…keep it steady.  No strength in my arms.”
Inch by inch I moved but not enough.  Finally  I could get my arms
around the toilet bowl.   It was imovable.  Just what I needed to
help me drag my good leg from beneath the tub.  Hands and knees now
but the sons of bitches would not help me.  Marjorie pushed and pulled.


“Try crawling on hands and knees to the bedroom. “
“Can’t .  No strength.  Let me use the toilet bowl now to lever myself up.
There, standing but wobbly.  Just enough strength to make it to the bed,”

The goddamn head cold was gaining on me.  Fever.  But 
my mouth pain had diminished to almost nothing.  Jello and not much else but
had to eat something according to the label on the antibiotic container.
Soup.  Mary brought over her home made chicken broth.  Her husband was in
bed with the same cold. Molly sent muffins.  

How many other enemies will try to get me now?

Just the thought of getting to the bathroom again was a nightmare.  But I did
it.   Drank so much water that my kidneys must have been floating.  Inch by inch
made the way to the toilet bowl which I now considered a saviour .

What would have happened if I was alone.?  NO Marjorie to help me. ‘Alone, alone
all all alone’ on the bathroom floor.  That must happened to lots pf  people,  Hopefully
they had the emergency necklace and can get a burly fireman to lift them
back to bed.  I have Marjorie and the toilet bowl who did the job.

“Alan, Oct, 16, 2022, that is your birthday.”

“And that is how I spent by 84th year on planet Earth.

alan skeoch
Oct. 16, 2022

P.S.   My dentist phoned every day.   He was concerned.  “Can you come in
on Monday .  Just to get some X-rays to see if there is any other infection.”
“No, can’t. Otherwise I will just spread this head cold to everyone.  Others
do not need to share my pain”  

That sounds very noble of me.  But really means nothing because I wrote
this story just to ensure all readers shared my pait.  Hardly a noble act.



alan skeoch
Oct. 13, 2022

We Can't Quit You, Hank Williams | The New Yorker
Your cheatin’ heart will make you weepYou’ll cry and cry and try to sleepBut sleep won’t comeThe whole night throughYour cheatin’ heart will tell on you
When tears come down like fallin’ rainYou’ll toss around and call my nameYou’ll walk the floor the way I doYour cheatin’ heart will tell on you
Your cheatin’ heart will pine somedayAnd crave the love you threw awayThe time will come when you’ll be blueYour cheatin’ heart will tell on you
When tears come down like fallin’ rainYou’ll toss around and call my nameYou’ll walk the floor the way I doYour cheatin’ heart will tell on you


“WBEN radio wants a student disc jockey — doing book and music reviews — if anyone 
is interested come to the main office today.” This appeal was part of the morning 
announcements at Humberside Collegiate Institute one morning in 1955.
“Who would be stupid enough to do that,” was general student reaction except for me.
Along with two nice girls from Bloor Collegiate, I became a disc jockey for a few months.

Once a week we would meet with the real disc jockey at the tiny studio on the second
floor of a nondescript office building.  This was not big time but it was interesting…even fun.
The radio station wanted to attract high school students as listeners and the three of us
were the bait.  Once a week we would do a short on air review of a book or a musician.
Free books and recordings was payment.  Fame Would follow our insight into fine literature 
and great music.

1950's radio station studio | Internet radio station, Radio, Radio station
I was about the age of this disc  jockey. It was possible to run
around the broadest table as my female friends from Bloor
Collegiate discovered.

Well things did not exactly go as planned.  The books were not earth shattering.  And who had
time to read them anyway.  Most of my high school time in the fall of 1955 e playing football in
the mistaken belief that my uniform would attract girls.  I never read the books.  Maybe picked 
a page then made some asinine comment about the author. “Must be smart uses a lot of big words”
 No danger of lawsuits because no one
I knew even listened.

There were two events that made my disc jockey career memorable however.   

The two girls from Bloor Colegiste were gifted.  Really bright.  Cheerful. Good looking.  And they 
actually read the books and played the records.  My comments were generally stupid.  For instance
I had the same comment for every record. 

“And what do you think of that recording, Alan?”
“Well, I like the beat.”

Liking the ‘beat” was my sole claim to fame in 1955.  I don’t remember one girl at Humberside
ever saying a word about my role as a reviewer.  And saying “I like the beat” may have shortened
my radio career.

The experience all boiled down to two memorable events.


1)  Our host was a professional and lonely disc jockey. Place the emphasis on the word lonely.
He  had sexual interests in the girls from Bloor Collegiate. They counted on
me to protect them.  One of our last meetings when I was a little late I entered the broadcast
booth to find our host chasing the girls around the table.  Was he for real?   The girls laughed and
ran but I think they were losing interest in their ‘on air’ experience.  Was he radio host serous?
Was he capable of molesting the girls.  I think not.  Then again maybe he was serious  Ho could
he molest two girls at once?  (Today, in the year 2022, this would be scandalous. In 1955 it
seemed funny to me, perhaps a little sad.  Not sure the girls agreed)

“Alan, try not and be late again.”

2)  The Bloor C. I. girls were very cultured.  Think they read the books  I fondly remember their
taste in music. Classical music.  Think they were real musicians.  But they did not like
Hank Williams who I adored.   Somewhere in our cellar is a 45 rpm collection of Hank’s

“Alan, we do not like country music.  You do the review ,,, and keep the Hank Williams album”

My review was not earth shattering..  Just the usual, “I like the beat” . But I loved the album and
still remember the Hank Williams songs.  I did not know about  his alcoholism and his
early death of  a Heart attack when 29 years old.  Nor did I know he had a powerful influence
of other great pop stars of the 1950’s such as ” Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry,

How could these terrific girls not love Hand Willims?  Maybe they knew about his alcoholism which
I did not.  My musical interests were a notch or two below theirs that’s for sure

(Note: Years later when our oldest son took piano lessons I asked the instructor
who was a classical musician, “Could you teach Kevin to play the piano like
Jerry Lee Lewis?”  “Are you serious?”  “You bet, I like the way he pounds the piano and jumps
around.”  Which was the end of Kevin’s piano lessons.

There you have it.  Two memorable events in my career as a disc jockey.  Our host chasing my female
friends around the studio.  And my acquiring of a HanK Williams Album which included some of these wonderful
country blues  songs:

alan skeoch
Oct. 13,2022


 song lyrics


Hank Williams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Hank Williams
Hank Williams Promotional Photo.jpg

Williams in 1951
Hiram Williams

September 17, 1923

Mount Olive, Butler CountyAlabama, U.S.
Died January 1, 1953 (aged 29)

Resting place Oakwood Annex Cemetery
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/55/WMA_button2b.png/34px-WMA_button2b.png 2x” class=”noprint wmamapbutton” title=”Show location on an interactive map” alt=”” style=”border: 0px; vertical-align: middle; padding: 0px 3px 0px 0px; cursor: pointer;”>32.3847°N 86.2913°W
Other names
  • Luke the Drifter
  • The Hillbilly Shakespeare
  • The Singing Kid
  • Timber Snake
  • Mr. Lovesick Blues
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician

    (m. 1944; div. 1952)

      (m. 1952)

      Musical career
      • Vocals
      • guitar
      • fiddle
      Years active 1937–1952
      Website HankWilliams.com
      Hank Williams signature.png
      Hiram “Hank” Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. Regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century, he recorded 55 singles (five released posthumously) that reached the top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 12 that reached No. 1 (three posthumously).
      Born and raised in Alabama, Williams was given guitar lessons by African-American blues musician Rufus Payne in exchange for meals or money. Payne, along with Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb, had a major influence on Williams’s later musical style. Williams began his music career in Montgomery in 1937, when producers at local radio station WSFA hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed the Drifting Cowboys backup band, which was managed by his mother, and dropped out of school to devote his time to his career. When several of his band members were drafted during World War II, he had trouble with their replacements, and WSFA terminated his contract because of his alcoholism.
      Williams married singer Audrey Sheppard, who was his manager for nearly a decade. After recording “Never Again” and “Honky Tonkin'” with Sterling Records, he signed a contract with MGM Records. In 1947, he released “Move It on Over“, which became a hit, and also joined the Louisiana Hayride radio program. One year later, he released a cover of “Lovesick Blues“, which carried him into the mainstream. After an initial rejection, Williams joined the Grand Ole Opry. He was unable to read or notate music to any significant degree. Among the hits he wrote were “Your Cheatin’ Heart“, “Hey, Good Lookin’“, and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry“.
      Years of back pain, alcoholism, and prescription drug abuse severely compromised Williams’s health. In 1952, he divorced Sheppard and married singer Billie Jean Horton. He was dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry because of his unreliability and alcoholism. On New Year’s Day 1953, he suffered from heart failure and died suddenlyat the age of 29 on the way to Oak Hill, West Virginia. Despite his relatively brief career, he is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century, especially in country music. Many artists have covered his songs and he has influenced Elvis PresleyBob DylanJohnny CashChuck BerryJerry Lee LewisGeorge JonesGeorge StraitCharley PrideThe Beatles and the Rolling Stones, among others. Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The Pulitzer Prize jury awarded him a posthumous special citation in 2010 for his “craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life”.