Introduction:

"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"


- Alan Hogan



Showing posts with label Irish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irish. Show all posts

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Eggs: Irish v Finnish eggs




As it's the Easter this weekend I just wanted to post a quick blog on Easter eggs.









As a kid growing up in Ireland the best thing about Easter was receiving chocolate Easter eggs. It's customary for Irish children to get an egg from their parents and they often get a few more from relatives also. With lots of nice and kind relatives I usually got around five or six eggs in total!









The eggs themselves vary in size from the smallest 12cm to the largest being around 20cm in height. It's possible to buy much larger eggs, but these are usually expensive and popular with husbands buying for their wives. Most eggs are made from either milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate. Inside your average Easter egg you can find a bag of chocolate sweets or candy
depending on which brand. 







Most eggs are packed in boxes and foil, some come in very large boxes! The lower-priced eggs (without a box) are usually made from a chocolate-candy, and not as tasty as the real chocolate eggs. Some popular eggs when I was younger were the 'Buttons', 'Flake' and 'Milk Tray' eggs all produced by Cadburys. The famous Milk Tray box of chocolates has been around for as long as I remember and is an old favourite in Ireland. .... James Bond has nothing on the Milk Tray man!





I may be wrong but the large-sized Easter eggs don't seem so common in European countries outside Ireland and the UK, although a few can be found in shops such as Lidl and Aldi. When some Finnish friends of mine were presented with eggs while visiting me when I lived back in Ireland they were quite surprised at how large the typical Irish Easter egg was.

In Finland the eggs you find in shops are usually small. The most common ones I've noticed are the Kinder Surprise egg with a small toy inside. There are many other egg brands of a similar size such as Minnie Mouse, Transformers and of course Angry Birds. I consider the Kinder egg to be like the Cadbury's Creme Egg, and not quite an Easter egg due to the fact that they're both available all year round, at least I think they are. 
For me the best Easter eggs in Finland are the Mignon eggs. These are something special, and nothing like anything you will ever find in Ireland.



The Mignon Egg
   




The Mignon Egg is produced by the Finnish food company Fazer, one of the largest companies in Finland. This egg is the second oldest Fazer product, dating back to 1896 and is considered to be the quintessential Finnish Easter egg. The most notable feature about the Mignon egg is it's resemblence to a normal everyday hen's egg. This is because it is indeed a perfectly natural egg which has be drained of it's contents, cleaned and then filled with a blend of delicious nougat and chocolate. The natural egg look is then enhanced by it's real egg-box packaging. The result is a piece of chocolate art and what I would call an adult's easter egg!!! In other words, it's sitting in my fridge now waiting to be devoured! 

Of course, for those who don't like chocolate here in Finland there is also another customary dish which can be found well-stocked on supermarket shelves this Easter. This is called Mämmi (pronounced Memmy in english). 




Mämmi is an acquired taste and will only appeal to some. For me it was a big NO!! NO!! the first time I tasted it. But as I am a fan of Guinness (a sort of liquified version of Mämmi) I may try tasting it again someday. The Finns consider Mämmi a dessert, but I would rather compare it to a potent energy power-breakfast. Here's a video of what sounds like a Scottish guy describing this Finnish Easter dish in detail !!!
 ... Warning! Viewers discretion advised!!!





Thank you for visiting my blog and Happy Easter from Finland!!!


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- Alan
 



               
                                                             








Thursday, July 3, 2014

From Clare to here




I just found this impressive video online today which I have to share. It shows the western part of County Clare off Ireland's west coast, featuring the village of Kilrush, Loop Head, the Bridges of Ross and the amazing Cliffs of Moher.







This video is made by Alan Magner Photography and should be watched in HD quality. It's a fine example of good photography and a nice slice of Ireland's natural beauty. This is one big thing I really miss about not living in Ireland anymore. While Finland has it's own unique natural beauty, it does not have the same geographical aspects that Ireland has to offer. Living within the landscape of another country can often remind a person of the beauty of another land which they once took for granted for so long. It's great to get back to Ireland whenever possible, and even greater if one is lucky enough to visit places such as those in this video. Being a Dubliner this isn't always possible as family visits always come first and holidays can often be too short. So it's always great to find such wonderful videos on the internet to remind us of Ireland's magnificent landscape, especially when living so far away.


Last summer I had a fantastic holiday in Ireland including the west coast. The weather was amazing and I got some great photo shots of my own. You can check out my photos by clicking on any of the links below.




























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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Love/Hate List No.1 - No strings attached please!




Love/Hate No.1

HATE - Tea-bags with strings!


People often ask me what I like or dislike in Finland. And some also ask me the same about Ireland. For example food, customs, travel, weather, pubs and so on. So a while back I decided to start a list of a few things I like and dislike. Just little things, nothing too serious.  I made a new photo album on my facebook page called my Love/Hate album. I also threw in a few items or oddities from elsewhere along the way. This blog is simply an extension of the list with more explanations and the odd dose of jibber jabber. 

So I'll begin with 
Love/Hate No.1 
- HATE - Tea-bags with strings!



Tea has been a major import commodity in Britain ever since the seventeenth century and changed drinking habits of the nation forever. It was not until 1908 however that the tea-bag was invented. And it was only by accident that it was invented in America by New York tea merchant Thomas Sullivan, when he start sending out tea samples packed in small silken packages to his customers. The customers unaware that they were supposed to remove the tea leaves from the small silken-packs, simply threw the whole lot into their teapots rather than use the more common metal diffuser or tea-strainer. And thus the tea-bag was born!!! 


'Tea-time reflections' 
pencil on paper, 1988 - Alan Hogan





The humble teabag was then commercially produced with a lighter material and a string attached.
Thomas Lipton incorporated the Lipton Tea Company in 1915. Lipton Tea patented a novel four-sided tea bag in 1952 called the flo-thru tea bag. The Lipton brand is very well-known and can be easily found in most places including Finland. 






The teabag string was added primarily as an aid to draw out the flavour of the tea leaves by way of squeezing the tea-bag. A printed label with the tea brand was also attached to the other end of the string. I can't help but wonder if they ever had teaspoons back then! Nowadays the string is simply used for dipping the tea-bag into the cup as shown in the photo above. This may be suitable for those who like a light cup of tea.


It is still common to find tea-bags on sale with strings attached, especially on continental Europe. They come in an assortment of flavours also, which I personally hate. But that's just me and my loyalty to the plain cup of tea.

Teabags with no strings attached!





The plain cup of tea is a part of what Irish people are. There's always time for a cup of tea. You could say we're tea-mad! 





Indeed, it's a rare occurrence to step into a house in Ireland and not be offered a cup of tea. Unless you are from the electricity supply board or a politician you will most certainly experience this custom when visiting the country, (actually a politician would never ever get past anyone's front door in Ireland these days!)





It's a certainty that a packet of biscuits will also appear like magic out of nowhere after your first sip of tea. Just remember, the nicer you are to your host the better the biscuit!
And if you're ever offered Chocolate Kimberley biscuits in Ireland then you must be very special indeed!!!





In Ireland it is more common to see tea-bags with no strings as they only get tangled up with the spoon! And who needs a string when a spoon does the job perfect anyway! A waste of good string in my opinion.
The same stringless-type tea-bags are also sold in the UK, but they have their own brands such as Tetley, PG Tips and Typhoo. These brands are sold in Ireland, in fact my grandmother used to buy PG Tips when I was a kid. This was probably because I made her, they had some good gifts to be had if you collected enough tokens from their boxes. The guys at Lyons tea soon took up their own promotions. 
More often Irish people prefer to buy Irish brands if possible such as Bewleys, Lyons or Barrys Tea. There is without doubt a better taste and quality in these brands. And when the Irish public drink more tea per capita than the British public something must be right.

The original blend Lyons teabags now available online,
just click on the photo above!






It's a well-known fact that before going on holidays abroad most Irish people will take one of these brands with them in their suitcase. I have noticed a similar custom amongst Finnish people going on holidays with other products. In fact nowadays I always bring a tube of Finnish mustard back to Ireland with me whenever I visit, it's the best and I've already converted one or two Irish people!

Check out this video from the master brewer at Barry's Tea. These guys know their stuff!!!







Of course I don't travel back to Ireland as much as I used to due to the lack of airlines travelling direct. So I always pack a few Irish products into my suitcase before I head back to Finland. Once I get back they don't last long and I'm wanting more. There are a few shops were I can buy English foods here in Finland but they can be very expensive. And anyway I prefer to have some of the food I grew up with, partly because they taste better and partly out of nostalgia.
I have replaced some of my Irish diet with Finnish foods which has been a success. There are places online where thankfully some Irish products and other items can be bought for less than what I would pay in specialised shops in Finland or other countries. So now I can sometimes enjoy a decent cup of tea with no strings attached!

  



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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 

                     


#mrsdoyle #rareauldtimes #anicecupoftea #U2 #barrystea #lyonstea #dublin #thegreatestbandever #hotpressmagazine #teaology #tea #ireland #haveacup #cork #irishabroad #irishdownunder #irishamericans #irishbiscuits #jacobsbiscuits #kimberley #irishproducts #ireland #lovehate


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Abbey Theatre revisited

'Old Abbey Theatre' 
- illustration Alan Hogan, 1998.


I recently received a request from Freya Smitha MPhil student at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. It concerned my illustration of a famous old building called the Abbey Theatre. The student has been constructing a visualisation of this theatre as a module for one of her college assessments, and chose to use my image as a small backdrop on her presentation blogsite. I gladly agreed for my illustration (above) to be used.

"The Abbey first opened its doors to the public on 27 December 1904 in the former Mechanics’ Hall, also known as the Hibernian Theatre of Varieties. Prior to opening as the Abbey, the interior was remodeled by architect Joseph Holloway. He reused the existing structure of the auditorium and balcony, but he completely remoulded the proscenium arch, created a new entrance on Marlborough Street, introduced a substantially different seating arrangement, and changed every aspect of the décor, fixtures and fittings.




Despite losing its original building to a fire in 1951, the theatre was rebuilt to a design by Michael Scott and reopened in 1966. After the demolition of the Mechanics’ Hall facades, the stonework was rescued by Dublin architect, Daithi Hanley, who intended to preserve it." 


- above text by Archiseek, Computer reconstruction imagery of the interior as it was in 1904, courtesy of Hugh Denard and Noho.



As a Dubliner born and bred, I am very familiar with the location of the Abbey Theatre. My grandfather worked for the Irish Press and my father for the Irish Independent, two newspaper companies situated only a short walk from the Abbey theatre. I myself used to meet friends quite often after work in The Flowing Tide pub which sits facing the Abbey Theatre. At the time it was no surprise to see familiar faces from the theatre occasionally dropping in for a drink. Another pub situated nearby was Sean O'Casey's Bar which was named after the famous Dublin playwright who's name and plays are synonymous with the Abbey Theatre. I used to drop in to this pub occasionally for a chat after college. An annex of the D.I.T. College of Marketing and Design which I attended is conveniently located next door. This small area of Dublin city is full of history and stories that still live on through the people, the shops and the pubs. And when you least expect, some of the best and most theatrical performances can be found right under your nose!




Above is a video by British Pathe featuring Irish President Eamonn de Valera arriving at the site where the new Abbey theatre was built - historic Abbey theatre was destroyed by the fire in 1951.
From an architectural point of view I have never been a fan of what was constructed in place of the old Abbey Theatre. While it was unfortunate that the old building was destroyed by fire, for me it was equally unfortunate to see such an ugly replacement. On the bright side however, there have been welcomed modifications in more recent years making the new building more aesthetically pleasing.


An impression I made showing how the old Abbey theatre (bottom) would have looked in comparison to it's replacement in the 1960's (top).
Click on image to enlarge.

'Old Abbey Theatre, Dublin' - Alan Hogan, 1998


The illustration above is the second drawing I made of the theatre. I haven't made any ink illustrations such as these for many years now, but I think I may have another attempt having received some positive feedback. Maybe something from Finland where I now live. 
Here's a few more samples of my old ink illustrations. 



A section of the old George's Street Arcade building
owned by The Grafton Hotel.





'The Four Courts', Dublin - 1988





'John Kehoe's Pub'
- South Anne street, Dublin - 1990




My illustration of the Abbey Theatre can be seen as a background image on Freya Smith's Old Abbey Theatre BlogAlso, don't forgot to check out some of her wonderful 3D digital models.




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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     




Friday, November 29, 2013

Pikkujoulu! Party time!




Pikkujoulu begins this weekend here in Finland. This date on the calendar always confuses me. Correctly translated from Finnish to English, Pikku joulu means Little Christmas. For swedish-speaking Finns it translates as Lilla Jul. But when the word Pikkujoulu is mentioned in Finland it usually refers to Christmas Party-time, and more so by Finnish speakers. It's time for groups, companies, friends and colleagues to hold their Christmas parties! 
The reason I get confused is because back in my old country Ireland, we also have Little Christmas or 'Nollaig Bheag' as it's called in Irish. But it is celebrated after Christmas on January 6th. I always remember it occurring just before the end of the Christmas school holidays. My parents used to meet up with friends at the local bar and invite them back to our house afterwards for some food, a few drinks and sometimes a sing-song! 

The fact that there's no term for the Irish equivalent of Pikkujoulu does not mean to say that Irish people don't have their own version of it before Christmas. Indeed, the festivities are very similiar to Finland with non-stop company parties and all other gatherings throughout the whole month of December. Because of their popularity and the difficulty in finding or booking a venue, some Christmas parties can often begin as early as the first week in November!

One of my favourite days while living back in Ireland was the last day of work before breaking up for Christmas holidays. It was a day of very little work and more about drinking coffee and eating as many of the boss' chocolates as possible! And all this while been presented with bottles of whiskey from customer reps and suppliers, and not to mention the Christmas bonus!! 
After all that it was straight to the pub at 12.00 for a free bar and finger-food (I imagine these pleasures have been trimmed back a little since the bank crisis a few years ago)
Having left work-colleagues at the pub in the afternoon during the usual half-drunken rendition of either 'You've lost that lovin' feelin'!' by The Righteous Brothers or 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues, I usually headed into Dublin city centre to meet up with my own friends. This is the best time to be in Dublin or any other city in Ireland, as the atmosphere is really warm and friendly. As an Irish person I would go so far to say it's better than St.Patrick's Day (unless it happens on Christmas Eve Dec 24th when most city pubs close at 9pm! ...that's a bummer!!)


Happy 10th Birthday Fake Argos Christmas Tree!!


Anyway I'm all set for Pikkujoulu here in Finland. I've dragged my old fake Christmas tree out from storage and the lights are up. I can't believe that the same lights which came with this tree are still working! I must admit I hate untangling any sort of Christmas lights. I think I'm gonna add it on to my Love/Hate list on facebook (you can follow it on my Facebook page here)

Christmas Lights!!! :)

It's a momentous year as my tree celebrates it's 10th birthday! I bought my tree from the Argos store in Dublin while living in Ireland and it has served me well every year since. I like to look at it as been ten real trees I have kept alive. Although I confess, I have cut one down for someone else as a favour while in Finland.


Guilty!



"Happy Pikkujoulu!!!"


Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.



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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     
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