‘The’ way to emphasise a word

June 14, 2016

Quotation marks for ‘emphasis’ are common in unedited writing but rare in formal prose, where italics are the usual approach. Bold and underlines are occasionally used; ditto *asterisks* and _underscores_. ALL CAPS and Initial Caps are sometimes favoured but can suggest shouting, humour, or a headline effect, so they’re more suited to informal contexts: both are popular on social media, for example.

There’s an anomalous example in a book I just read, Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist, an engrossing memoir/exposé by Paul Kimmage (Yellow Jersey Press, revised edition, 2007). It occurs about halfway in; Kimmage is describing the effect of Stephen Roche winning the Tour de France:

Read the rest of this entry »


Climbing Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain of Mayo

July 19, 2013

Photos, for a change. Last weekend three old friends and I climbed Croagh Patrick, a mountain in County Mayo in the mid-west of Ireland. (Croagh is an anglicisation of cruach, Irish for stack.)

The Reek, as it’s also known, has a cone-shaped peak that dominates the surrounding skyline. You can see it in the distance here on the road to Westport town, our home base for the day.

stan carey - croagh patrick mountain climb - road to westport, county mayo

Read the rest of this entry »

Jumbling, tumbling

December 23, 2011

Between this blog and other active online haunts, I’ve been spreading my internet self a bit thin. But I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’ve started a Tumblr blog, provisionally titled Books & bits asthore.* So far it’s an erratic series of book excerpts, poems, and images from films.

Sentence first has been nominated in Macmillan Dictionary’s inaugural Love English Awards. You can vote for it, or for another language blog, on this page until 31 January. My expectations are non-existent, but I’m honoured to be in such great company, and I found a few new websites to explore. (Disclosure: I write for Macmillan Dictionary Blog.)

It’s a mild and sunny December day in the west of Ireland — Pseudocember, I’ve been calling it — and this is likely to be my last post before 2012. Thank you for your visits, comments, and innumerable kindnesses all year, and have a happy and peaceful Christmas.

moss on a wall in county Galway this morning

* I wrote about the Irish English word asthore here.

Walked and kept walking

April 15, 2011



Walked and kept walking
till I saw turnstones
feeding in soft
sunlight falling
on an empty shore.
So I waited there.


[This was originally a tweet in the heel of winter; it wasn’t meant to become a lazy poem. To make it up to you, there are more birds here.]

Winter colours

December 11, 2010

Ireland has had record low temperatures this winter. My corner, the mid-west, has been spared the worst, but we got our share of snow, ice, freezing fog, and biting Arctic winds. All the more reason for long rambling walks…


White snow-creature


Blue snow with tractor tracks


Green field disappearing


Robin redbreast



Orange sky over Galway Bay, with Brent Geese


If you’re in the mood for more, here are some from last winter, and here’s the photo archive.

Autumn haiku

October 5, 2010


Wind whisks the sea white
Whipping sand at face and hands,
Turnstones circle low.



The haiku is yesterday’s; the photo is from February 2009. I’ve shown gulls circling low because I don’t seem to have any photos of airborne turnstones.

[Edit: After reading the haiku on Twitter, Tom Guadagno sent me a link to this lovely video of turnstones and other birds on the Welsh coast.]

Feel free to add an autumn haiku in the comments section.

Amidst muck and mystery

August 18, 2010

On Twitter a few days ago, I posted a photo accompanied by a rhyming couplet. Michele of Divinipotent Daily guessed that there was more to the story, so I’ve added more couplets to make a simple poem – but without giving too much away. Because where would the mystery be then?



Wanderers we numbered four,
Left the woods to roam the shore;
Splashy suds bespoke the tide –
A soundtrack for the countryside.

Grass and wildflowers led to stone,
Pointing to a place long known;
Nettles leant towards our knees,
Ivy crept from rocks to trees.

In we went, a-hunting mystery;
Muck we found, amidst the history.
Crumbling walls held musty air,
Held us rapt while we were there.


[All comments are very welcome, as always; comments in poetic form are especially welcome.]