Location: Dublin

I am very, very, VERY late with this – in August 2016, I moved to Dublin to pursue a year-long Masters degree in Irish Writing at Trinity College, Dublin. I’ve had a small, intermittent trickle of requests for lessons throughout the past months and remembered that I have this site, and should probably use it for good.

So, there it is: I’m not available to give lessons in the Boston area. For flute and whistle lessons direct yourself to Shannon Heaton, Jimmy Noonan, and/or Boston Comhaltas located in Brighton (www.bostonirishmusic.com).

Currently warm and shockingly sunny here in Dublin. Enjoy the East Coast blizzards ūüôā

Online Show via Concert Window!

Tomorrow night at 8pm East-Coast time, I’ll be playing tunes and singing songs with partner-in-crime Lindsay Straw! Concert Window is an incredible online platform where you can watch performances from the comfort of your living room. And sometimes, the performers play from the comfort of their own living rooms, too! It’s a $2 minimum donation, and you have the option of tipping more (hint, hint). You can also write comments in a little dialogue box on the screen to interact with the musicians.

Here’s the link:




Travels with Migraine

(Not to be confused with one of my all-time favorite books, Steinbeck’s¬†Travels with Charley)

I got my first migraine headache when I was ten years old. In the middle of a fifth-grade math exam, I became aware of a hot, stabbing pain behind my eye. Squiggles swan across my vision; nausea swept through me; I struggled to grip my pencil to solve life-or-death (so it seemed to me) fractions equations . Dutiful student that I was, I finished my exam and asked permission to see the nurse. My teacher took one look at my pale, shaky little fifth-grade body and immediately got another student to escort me down. The next seven hours were a blur of intense pain, intermittent bouts of vomiting, trying and failing to watch cartoons, and noise sensitivity before I finally slipped, exhausted, into post-migraine sleep.

Thus began my lifelong journey with migraines. Hooray!

If you think migraines are just like any other headache, please think again. They are neurological, and usually cannot be tamed with your regular ol’ Advil or Aspirin. They are the type of pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Ever had a¬†hot poker pressed into your eye socket for 6+ hours? Experienced an aura (like the patterns you see when you look at a light, then away) in one eye and been unable to form coherent sentences, akin to the onset of a stroke?¬†Know the best containers to throw up in because you’ve had to do so in everything from plastic bags to coffee cups? Congratulations: you experience migraines.

I’ve learned to adapt to traveling and socializing with migraines as I’ve gotten older. Luckily, my worst migraine years seem to have been during high school, with an average of at least one full-blown migraine a week causing me to miss school, sports, clubs, etc. Darn those pesky female hormones. My biggest triggers these days are lack of sleep, lack of food, stress, and the occasional weather pattern (changing swiftly from high to low pressure areas or the reverse). Stress, no sleep, eating at weird times? Helloooooo, international travel (and college)! In the past two years, I’ve started getting a new type¬†of migraine–yes, there are different types, just to spread the love, ya know. I’ve experienced one nine-day migraine last year, and another ten-day one this past year. These migraines don’t come with an aura, and I can usually carry on most daily activities with them until several days in, when bouts of nausea start to pop up. They consist of a constant, dull pain behind the left eye, that gradually becomes heavier and hurts more as the days pass.

I manage these triggers by really tuning into my body. For example, I know that if I’m to stay out late, I NEED to sleep in the next day. If I know I won’t be able to do so, I’ll tear myself away from whatever’s going on and head to bed. There are rare occasions where late-night activities are so good, it’d be criminal to miss them–like at a session or festival particularly in Ireland, when you’re not sure you’ll get to experience it again. When that happens, I try to drink as much water as possible, grab a snack, and plan a breakfast for the next morning/afternoon. I can survive the lack of sleep if I’m properly fed and watered, but no sleep + no food = stressed Caroline, which creates my migraine¬†Bermuda Triangle, where good times go to die.¬†While my multi-day migraines are awful, they serve¬†as a barometer for how my body’s doing. I will get a “prickle” behind my left eye if I’m too tired, hungry, or¬†stressed, and usually, if I treat the situation right away, the prickle goes away.

I wish I was one of those people who could¬†stay up all night, have a cup of coffee the next morning, and be ready to go again in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I don’t like coffee, and my body constitution is not designed for such feats of strength. I’ve missed too many social outings due to being laid up with a migraine; learning to take a step back and recharge my batteries was one of the hardest yet most rewarding life lessons I’ve learned. And hey, let’s face it: as a musician, it can be really hard to go to bed at, say, 1am, when everyone else stays up playing until 6. I, and others who have health conditions, have to remind myself that¬†missing out on those five hours of pre-dawn fun is¬†totally worth it in the long run.

See Your City in a New Light: Boston

Whenever I visit a new city, I take it upon myself to learn what makes it tick. Long, meandering walking tours punctuated by bouts of photo-taking and people-watching; finding that corner cafe tucked on a city side street; sitting on a park bench with a good book (weather permitting!) and listening to the chatter of native city-goers. New destinations are an escape from the monotony of your day-to-day activities, and as we all know, variety is the spice of life. However, what happens when we escape into other destinations so much, we forget to appreciate where we’re currently living?

I live in the city of Boston, right along the final miles of the Boston Marathon route. I’m from a small suburb of the city originally, and apart from some short stints abroad and some college years in the neighboring state of Rhode Island (affectionately thought of as Massachusett’s little brother), this area has always been my home base. It’s easy to forget how incredible one’s surroundings are when they aren’t new. Boston has so much to offer–nearby beaches, accessible museums, walkable, and that lovely Masshole charm–but because I’m not a Boston newbie, I’ve been walking around with my head in the proverbial sand. My recent trip to Dublin, a city I’ve visited on many occasions through the good times and bad, reignited my curiosity for my native city. In Dublin, I saw every street and every shop in a new light. I visited the Natural Museum of Ireland¬†– Archaeology,¬†went to my favorite coffee place at the George’s Street Arcade, and people-watched like mad. I’ve resolved to look at Boston in the same light: with appreciation and curiosity.


My favorite statue in the Boston Public Gardens.

Here are a few activities in Boston I’m hoping to do over the spring and summer. What new things will you try in your native city?

These are just a handful of cool, relatively cheap adventures you can have in the city of Boston. From experience, I also endorse¬†finding cheap, spontaneous Boston sports¬†tickets on StubHub.com, walking the Freedom Trail¬†(you don’t need to book a tour–just grab a map!), visiting the Museum of Science, checking out Club Passim in Cambridge for good food and good folk music, and much more.

I’ll be doing a post on activities on the South Shore (from Quincy down to the Cape) and North Shore (Beverly, Gloucester, Ipswich, etc.!) of Massachusetts soon. I’ll try to do Western Massachusetts as well, but I’m less familiar with that area. Any suggestions, let me know!


The main thing …

The main thing is to write
for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust
that imagines its haven like your hands at night

dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast.
You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous.
Take off from here. And don’t be so earnest,

so ready for the sackcloth and the ashes.
Let go, let fly, forget.
You’ve listened long enough. Now strike your note.

From Seamus Heaney’s Station Island XII.

Seamus Heaney, the great Irish poet, has created some of my favorite poetic images. I studied¬†Station Island in college, and always return to it as a source of writing inspiration. Station Island is also the name of an island off the coast of Donegal, Ireland’s northernmost county.¬†Heaney is in the middle of writer’s block, until James Joyce leaps from the shadows to slap some sense into him. “Don’t be so earnest!”

Would that we all were lucky enough to have our own island of solitude.