This is Our Jam

The holidays mean we hit the road looking for cultural adventures farther afield. We have loads of trips planned in the Greater Dublin area, and a few Cork, Kilkenny and Galway journeys ahead. Here is the current hit-list in our car, to make the journeys bearable for mum and the boys. Would love to hear what gets your kids going in the car.
– The Speks: Singalong Songs From Glasses Island
A brilliant Irish compilation of nursery rhymes played trad style. The instrumental interludes are as big a hit as the familiar songs. I have gifted this CD dozens of times since I came across it earlier this year. The Speks have a live show which will be hitting the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire in September and we are very excited.

Out The Door of the Ark

I picked up this CD by Nico Brown and Martin Brunsden randomly in the shop of The Ark. The songs are almost all animal-themed, but our favourite is Aye Aye Captain. The CD originated in a stage show, which we didn’t see,


but it remains hugely theatrical, and has my  boys joining in (unusual) in perfect time (a miracle).
The Barefoot Book of Giants, Ghosts and Goblins:


We picked this one up at the library and have had it on repeat-loan for a few months. The stories are drawn from the pantheon of world myth, and apart from the legendary conflict between Finn MacChumhail and Cu Chullain we hadn’t come across a single one of the tales before. The narration is by Jerry Nelson, a former member of Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock Team and it is brilliant. We will be seeking out more from this series. Now if only they would do a compilation of their terrific toddler songs, which are available on Youtube.

David Bowie: Space Oddity


Okay this one is my choice, but they happily go along with it. The music appeals to them, but it is the narrative thread of Major Tom that has the older boy in particular hooked. Major Tom itself is the anthem that finishes off many of our space games if Darth Vader hasn’t taken over.




Bloomsday and the Boys

We celebrate Bloomsday every year by climbing the Martello Tower in Sandycove, the starting point for Leopold Bloom’s journey in Ulysses, and where Joyce once lived with his mad friend Buck Mulligan aka Oliver St John Gogarty. The tower now houses the James Joyce Museum, and our Bloomsday adventures are always peppered with impromptu performances from some of Joyce’s texts, which probably make more sense to the kids than they do to me. This morning, under a leaden sky, we were treated to part of an opera based on Ulysses, and the sight of locals variously attired in Edwardian gear.


I am a veritable expert on Joyce’s life, if not his literature, so, in true juvenile style, I use the weirdest anecdotes to regale the children with as they rush past the glass exhibition cases and up the, extremely narrow, extremely steep steps, which my two hardy knights are adept at climbing. (Incidentally the first time we climbed them, my 4 year old was 2 and my 2 year old was a baby in a sling). The tower-top is very secure, though, and there is a cannon and a brilliant view of ‘ghost ships’ on the foggy horizon.

Now, I know what you are thinking, what could a 2 and a 4 year old possibly care about Joyce or his books? Well, here are my Top Toddler Facts about Bloomsday:

  • James Joyce was shot at by his friend one night when he was mistaken for a black panther.
  • The sculpture of his head in the museum is actually a copy of his death mask.
  • Leopold Bloom eats a gross-out breakfast of “giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencod’s roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.”
  • Oh, and he wrote two children’s books, The Cat and the Devil, and The Cats of Copenhagen, pictured below, so I suppose you could also say he had a thing about cats.
  • joycecatdevilrose3catsofcopenhagen2