A Funeral and a Turf War – Cheri Lucas Rowland


The newspaper clipping is yellowed with age but carefully folded and preserved in a box of papers left by my Irish grandmother. The box was inside a larger one with an assortment of family papers that sat in the back of my closet for more than two decades. I would have opened it far sooner if I had known all the little treasures and poignant stories held within: my father’s British Army ID card, congratulations telegrams sent to my parents on their wedding day in 1947, my Flemish grandmother’s passport stamped with all her visits to England when I was small, annual receipts my Irish grandmother kept for the upkeep of the grave of the baby she lost to pneumonia before my father was born. The yellowed newspaper clipping my grandmother kept so carefully all her life was the announcement of her father Hugh Carney’s death in 1913.

It was just last year, preparing for my first visit to Ireland, that I learned the identity of my great-grandparents. My grandmother never spoke about Ireland or her family. All I knew was her maiden name and that she and my grandfather both came from Knock in County Mayo in the west of Ireland. But through the wonders of online genealogical research I was able to discover my entire family tree. By the time I drove into Knock I had a map of the Old Cemetery marked with the locations of my great-grandparents’ graves. But if only I had opened that box first and found the newspaper clipping I would have saved a lot of research time. The announcement lists the names and relationships of all the extended family who attended the funeral service. There is my grandmother’s name, Bridget, daughter.

The language of the announcement is lovely, the cadence magisterial and dignified like the prose of a nineteenth century novel:

“Amid many manifestations of deep and sincere regret the remains of the above named much esteemed deceased were laid to rest in Knock cemetery Monday 20th October…fortified and consoled by the ministrations of God’s Holy Church and perfectly resigned to the will of His Divine Master he breathed his last on the morning of Saturday 18th October, surrounded by all those who were nearest and dearest to him on earth…his death was happy, peaceful, and holy and edifying as his life. An honest, upright, and devout Christian, a model husband and father, and a kindly and charitable neighbour, we pray that his long last sleep be calm and peaceful and that his awakening shall be immortal and glorious…The interment took place immediately after Mass and was attended by an immense concourse of people. The adjoining parishes and towns, as well as his own native parish of Knock were largely represented, and afforded incontestable evidence of the widespread regard and high esteem entertained for deceased and the members of his family.”

My grandmother went on to endure a troubled, unhappy marriage and was eventually left alone to raise her youngest son, my father. So the phrase “model husband and father” jumps out at me. Hugh Carney was evidently that ideal and it is a measure of his youngest daughter’s devotion that she kept this account of his death with her for the rest of her long life.

I was thrilled to find this lost piece of family history, but when I turned the clipping over to see if there was some clue to the name of the newspaper, I found so much more. A court report that reads like a little gem of a short story or one-act play that could have come from the pen of one of Ireland’s classic authors. Headlined A Title Case, it concerns a dispute over the ownership of a piece of bogland, giving us a glimpse into traditional Irish rural life.


The ownership of a piece of bog was no small matter for the peat or turf that Irish farmers dug out was their sole source of fuel for heating and cooking. Formed of dead and decaying vegetation in wet spongey earth unsuitable for agriculture, the peat was cut and piled to dry, the stacks a familiar sight in the Irish countryside. The burning peat slices gave a distinctive sweet smell to the smoke wafting from cottage chimneys.


The ancient rights of turbary, the right to cut turf from a particular area of bog, were jealousy guarded. So John Blowick of Belcarra sued John Carney and his son James of Elmhall (no relations as far as I know) to recover five pounds damages for trespassing on his bog. The report continues:

“Mr. Verdon for the plaintiff.
Mr. H. P. Howdy defended.
Mr. M. Moran, C.E. produced a map of the locus in quo on behalf of the plaintiff.
Mr. Blowick was examined and said the defendants commenced cutting turf on his bog on the 15th July. Witness paid rent for this bog and always used it.”

There follows some confusing and contradictory testimony. Two witnesses stated they had never seen the Carneys cutting turf on that piece of bog, Mr. Blowick was the only one who ever used it. But when it came time for the defendant to testify:

“John Carney said he had two holdings at Belcarra and he had a right to turbary attached to them. The landlord’s agent pointed him out the place to cut his turf, and he had been using the bog in dispute for the past 45 years.”

Hmm. He claimed he had been cutting turf there for 45 years but two witnesses had never seen him there in all that time. Then another character is introduced, one Edward Loftus.

“Loftus said he had a portion of this bog and gave up his portion to Mr. Blowick. Carney had another portion of this particular bog and always used it and Blowick had never any rights on it.”

Things are becoming tangled indeed. Another witness, James Heneghan, said he saw the Carneys cutting turf on this bog for the past 35 years. Then we hear from Mr. George H. Garvey, Assistant County Surveyor, who could perhaps be considered an expert witness. But instead of relating his testimony, the report states cryptically “he proved a man of the place for the defence.”

More contradictions follow:

“ Mr. Blowick was recalled and in reply to his Honor denied that Loftus ever gave him up a strip of bog.”

If the reader is confused, then so too was the judge. In fact he just threw up his hands. The report concludes:

“His Honor said he could not make up his mind that Blowick had established his claim to the place, and he would dismiss the case without prejudice  He allowed 30s expenses.”

It’s like a Waiting for Godot set in a bog in which Vladimir and Estragon are replaced by Irish tenant famers all talking at cross purposes, truth as slippery as the peaty mud at their feet. And the English authorities unable to make any sense of it all. A fine metaphor for what would happen in Ireland in the decade following 1913.


I never spoke to my Irish grandmother about anything important when I was growing up. She was a quiet, sad old lady who spent a lot of time praying the rosary. Now I wish I could thank her for leaving this flimsy little slip of newspaper that carried tales of death and life into the future for me to find.



How To Deal With A Difficult Parent – Terry Heick


You’d heard about this parent from other teachers.

That this parent was a handful. Rude. Combative. Aggressive. Even litigious. In response, you worry, if just a little. You have enough to deal with, and butting heads with an angry parent–especially one angry just because–doesn’t sound like fun. You don’t get paid enough for that hot mess.

So you keep calm and hope to ride the year out. Maybe they won’t call. Maybe they’ll skip parent-teacher conferences. You’ve even considered grading their child a little easier just to avoid the hassle of it all.

We’ve all been there. Nothing can solve this problem, but there are ways to take the edge off so that you can open up the lines of communication and deal with the parent on equal terms so that they’re child has the best chance for success.

12 Ways To Deal With A Difficult Parents

1. Reach out first

Be pre-emptive. Reach out with a positive message to start off on the right foot.

2. Don’t patronize

And when you reach out, be authentic. Don’t pretend to be their best friend, nor should have that “nipping problems in the bud” tone. Don’t worry about “holding your ground” either. Just reach out as an educator to a member of your own community. You’re not selling them anything, and they’re not selling you anything. You’re both dutifully and beautifully involved on either side of a child.

3. See yourself

No matter how important the education of a child is, realize you’re simply a single cog in the life of that family, no more or less important than keeping the lights on, their job security, food and shelter, or any other reality of daily life.

4. Give them something

Not an object–a “handle” of some kind to make sense of the learning process. Something they can make sense of and understand and use when they speak to their child about education. Something less about the game of school and more about learning, curiosity, and personalization.

5. Involve them

Keep your friends close and your…difficult parents…closer. Ask them to take on an authentic role in the classroom. Ask their opinion. Allow them to have a voice or show leadership. Give them a role in what their child learns. The fact that a parent has approaching zero authentic role in the learning process of their children is part of our challenge as educators. Help them find one.

6. Put them in a position to succeed

Just like a student, put the parent in a position to succeed. They may not have had a good experience in school, either as students, with siblings of your student, etc. Give them a reason to believe that you have the best interest of the family at heart–and that includes them.


7. Don’t judge them, or “handle them.”

Meet them on equal terms. For all of our overly-glorified differences, most people are fundamentally the same. We respond to pain and threats differently, and have unique ethical systems, but it’s easy to place yourself above someone even if you think you’re not doing exactly that.

8 Establish a common ground

An old sales technique. A favorite athletic team–or dislike for a rival team. A personal philosophy. Your own struggle as a person. Something to humanize yourself, and establish the overlap between yourself and the parent.

9. Focus on the work

This is the opposite of teaching and learning, where you focus on the human being (the student). In conferences and communication with parents, you can both see the child and what’s “best for them” very differently, but academic work has a chance to be more objective. Focus on the work and academic performance, and what you and the parent and siblings and other teachers, etc., can do to support the student in their growth.

Even in the midst of difficult conversations, always do your best to steer the focus back on the work, and the child themselves. The former is data/evidence, the latter the reason for the data/evidence.

10. Give them reason to see beyond the grade book

This is partly the problem with letter grades. So reductionist.

It’s easy to look at a grade book and both start and finish the conversation there. If that’s all they see, have a look at your curriculum and instruction, and see if you’ve given them ample opportunity to do otherwise. Talk less about missing work, and more about the promise and possibility of their child. Help them see that the school year is a marathon, not a series of sprints.

11. If all else fails…

If you have to, call for reinforcements, and document everything. Never feel bad about having another teacher in the room with you if you feel like a parent will be aggressive and you’re simply not comfortable with it. Better to depend on solidarity and hope than your own personal strength.

And document everything. Stay on top of grading, feedback, behavior management, missing assignments, your tone, sarcasm, etc. Document every call and email. Save exemplar work. Document differentiation, personalization, and other individual efforts in pursuit of the best interest of the student.

Whatever you do, no matter your analysis of the proximity between apples and trees, don’t hold the difficult parent “against” the child, even subconsciously.

12. Take it personally, then don’t

If you have a “difficult parent,” and in spite of your best efforts it all falls apart, I’d say don’t take it personally but it’s hard not to. So fine–internalize it. Own it. Talk to colleagues (better than a spouse, whose emoptional reserves you may want to save for more pressing issues in education). Cry if you need to. And then let it go.

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Couples Time – Instagram post by Armin Hamidian • Jan 25, 2018 at 12:39pm UTC | Online Marketing Tools

6 Likes, 1 Comments – Armin Hamidian (@onlinemarketingscoops) on Instagram: “@americanstyle …Couples Time…#couplegoals #coupleshot #coupleshirts #couplestuff…”

Source: Instagram post by Armin Hamidian • Jan 25, 2018 at 12:39pm UTC | Online Marketing Tools

‘Stupid Things Couples Fight About’ Hashtag Keeps on Giving — The Sydney News

Stupid things couples fight about: the list is endless. And accordingly, this week’s hashtag #stupidthingscouplesfightabout is taking the internet accordingly by storm as every person on Twitter (well, almost), single or partnered up, weighs in. Is it a stupid fight, or is it the end of the road? Listen to this episode of 9Honey’s hit…

via ‘Stupid Things Couples Fight About’ Hashtag Keeps on Giving — The Sydney News

Relationship Matters – Love Is More Than Luck

Learn how to identify your wants and needs, get clarity, and get focused in the Right Direction, so you can move forward positively. This teaches you how to edit your life script and relationship script, and rewrite one that is fun, rewarding, and filled with love, joy, and passion. This is fun, because you and your partner can do this together.

Here’s What You’re Getting:

  • You’ll learn how to Stop your partner from Cheating, how to avoid an affair, and why people have affairs, so you can put the Love and Passion back into your relationship.
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  • You’ll get a look at the Ten Types of players who cheat and play and play the Married Dating Game.  These same players will cheat at home, work, or with friends. Learning to recognize them, will keep you or your partner from ending up with a broken heart, bank account, or marriage
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  • Learn the importance of protecting the assets you love (person assets, your heart, self-confidence, children, and more) and how
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This teaches you how to edit your life script and relationship script, and rewrite one that is fun, rewarding, and filled with love, joy, and passion. This is fun, because you and your partner can do this together!

It is important to take the initiative to protect the assets you love! This means protecting your financial assets and property, as well as your children, pets, self-esteem. talents, and your heart!

We also provide corporate solutions to employee disputes through corporate mediation, staff counselling and Emergenetics workshops and team building programmes.

However difficult it may seem now, at Relationship Matters we believe that it is possible to find a way to talk and be heard, to discover and rediscover connections, build and rebuild stronger relationships and learn to communicate in ways that enhance our sense of ourselves and our relationships with the people around us.

We understand that anger, hurt and emotional distance can make talking feel impossible. We are skilled in bringing people together. Choose our guide if you are a couple who are suffering from a breakdown in communication, drifting apart or devastated by a betrayal and would benefit from couples counselling, a neutral third party to offer mediation or a couples workshop.