Archive for April 30, 2012

We’re the Gladiators of Poznan

Well readers, Friday night – Lech Poznan Stadium was the place to be… one of the last Clash of the Titans – fighting for 4th place respectively and that all important place in the UEFA Cup – Lech Poznan truly showed what it meant to be a Gladiator (they even had this depiction of Russell Crowe at the far end)

Lech Poznan Gladiators

Lech Poznan - Gladiators

And I must say that this ‘tour de force’ did play dividends, moments after depicting their latest epic diagram to show they meant business… the scoreline read 1-0 in favour of the railwaymean (pl. = Kolejorz).  We were lucky as we had just been invited to come down to the ‘murawa’ (touchline)…  and this is what we managed to sample the atmosphere as Lech Poznan celebrated the goal that may assure them of 4th place…

Lech Poznan v Polonia Warszawa

Lech Poznan score against Polonia Warszawa

I have to add that the supporters were incredible especially in the far end, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were watching Scotland play…

Lech Poznan Scotland

Lech Poznan Scotland

But these apparently are also some of the supporters flags from POZNAN :-) . I have to add that everyone was incredibly helpful, both inside and outside the stadium – the atmosphere was electric. This has only been my third time in this stadium to see a football match (the first two – Lech really were on fire against both Manchester City, with Ireland’s national goalkeeper Shay Given between the sticks and with Juventus). The first two times I was lucky enough to be among the ‘Kolejorz’ who were incredibly friendly and appreciative that I supported Man UUUUUU and not the overpaid overpriced prima donnas from the same city… this time the football game was not as exciting as against the bigger teams but the supporters did put on a spectacle to do themselves justice.

This time though it was a pleasure and a priviledge to see the action from the side of the press and I would like to thank Lech Poznan and especially Damien Zalewski from Poznan City Hall (a true blue as we would say over here) for making this possible.

Press Pass Lech Poznan

Close to the action

Slan,

Paul

Poznan Fan Zone

Poznan Fan Zone

Hi Readers,

Well who would like a sneaky peeky to see what the Poznan fan zone is going to look like?

Here’s a few of the architectural renditions that we’ve managed to get our mitts on to whet your footie appetite

One thing’s for sure it’s going to look sensational…  The Fan Zone will be THE place to be for all of those folk out there who fancy sampling the atmosphere but who haven’t been lucky enough to get their hands on one of the official match tickets. Poznan’s fan zone will accommodate up to 1000 people and will show them the match on huge screens inside a huge dome.

While announcing the role of the fan zone, one lady, tried to sum up the stereotype of the Irish supporter, she said

‘Irish people are very charismatic, they love congregating in the pubs during match time, it’s an occasion that involves the whole family.  We’re a very vocal nation when it comes to supporting our national team and we love a good old sing song if things go our way’

What do you think?  Did she or did she not hit the nail on the head?

As things are hotting up towards the countdown to the Euros (now only 40 odd days to go – getting excited?) things are really picking up speed over here in Poz.

Shortly I’m going to write a piece to you about the accommodation situation and the transport situation for getting over here…

Looking forward to seeing and welcoming you all soon.  So get your skates on.

 

Shoot! Score! Come! Enjoy!

Well folks, this is it – if you haven’t got your tickets already get your smartphones at the ready…

1, 2, 3, GO…

What I want you to do is record for me a short (I’m talking 30 seconds, maximum 1 minute) clip of you showing off your ball skills…

In return I will enter the best entries into a draw.

What’s the prize I hear you ask?

FIVE individual prizes of a prized match ticket (including two night’s hotel accommodation plus a return flight to and from Dublin, plus a tour around the city and a chance to visit Poznan’s FANtastic fan zone) to see one of Ireland’s group matches in Poznan along with various other goodies all laid on by the good folk in Poznan City Hall.

So don’t say you didn’t have a good enough chance…

Hurry hurry though this competition is going to run out quicker than an extra large bottle of hair dye in Sir Bono’s Castle.  (the official end date for those of you who don’t tend to the U2 mane is midnight on the 15th May 2012)

And remember who told you about it first… :-)

This is the link for all you lucky devils who are eligible to enter:

http://www.comeandjoin.poznan.pl/ie/

I’m not allowed to enter as we’re hosting this competition :-( so if you win, mine’s a pint of Black Bush please – you’ll find me propping up the bar in my friend Luke’s Pub (Tanners Irish Pub) on Klastorna Street in the City Centre come win, draw or the unspeakable word beginning with l… in June.

C’MON YE BOYS IN GREEN!

Slan,
Paul

Ireland finish 2nd in Group C…

How many of you would dream of seeing this headline on the front pages of the Irish newspapers on June 19th?

Marcin Daniec

Daniec z Gwiazdami

 

Well we achieved it (in a gameshow) and I’m just back from watching myself, Mark, Peter, Sam, Luke and Agatha make eejits of ourselves on Polish national TV.

One memory I will take back with me was a joke shared with us by host, Marcin Daniec

 

‘Polska ma grupa marzeń – Wszyscy marzyń żeby z nami grać’

which translates something like…

‘Poland’s group, is the dream group of this tournament [pause] because all the other teams dream of qualification by playing against us’ :-)

I had great fun teaching Marcin a few simple Irish phrases throughout the day’s filming such as

Dia duit – Dzień dobry,

Conas atá tú? – jak się masz? (made famous by Borat)

agus

Cad atá d’ainm? – jak masz na imię?

All of which he pronounced admirably well –

a dhéanamh go maith Marcin (dobra robota Marcin!)

If you would like to see a video of our epic encounter with the Spanish, Italians and Croatians on Poland’s flagship channel, take a peek at the link below

http://www.tvp.pl/rozrywka/programy-rozrywkowe/daniec-z-gwiazdami/wideo/odcinek-pierwszy/7053989

Anyway onto a more serious topic, I’m sure it needs no introduction but on this day, 15th April 1912, one hundred years ago today – the largest ship ever built in Ireland, the ship they nicknamed unsinkable – The RMS Titanic sank en route to New York, USA.

Titanic

Titanic built in Ireland 1912 - 2012

It’s an event that is remembered the world over yet I’m wondering if some of you know this fact:

did you knowWhen the ship left the port (Belfast) where it was built (Harland & Wolff shipyard Belfast) it had not yet been christened, a lot of people said this was unlucky. The principal architect was not worried in the slightest by these superstitions as he declared the ship ‘unsinkable’.

Titanic Memorial Cobh Ireland

Titanic Memorial Cobh Ireland

It later returned to Ireland on it’s maiden voyage stopping off at the port of Cobh, in County Cork (in those days named Queenstown, after Queen Victoria, as it was at that time still under British occupation) to pick up almost 1,000 third class passengers (none of whom survived including the hero portrayed by Leonardo Di Caprio in the movie of the same name). Anyway the rest of the history I’m sure you know but one thing that really impressed me recently on Polish TV was the very famous (in this neck of the woods anyway) Robert Makłowicz (the Polish culinary equivalent of Darina Allen) who went over to Belfast and recreated the first class menu at the recently opened Titanic Memorial Centre.

A video of Makłowicz’s cooking experience in Belfast (including his discovery of our famous Irish cider – a drink which still really has to catch on in Poland) and our famous ‘black’ back bacon (back bacon is something else that is difficult to find in Poland and what a pity as it’s absolutely delicious) can be seen by clicking on the link below.

http://www.tvp.pl/styl-zycia/kuchnia/maklowicz-w-podrozy/wideo?id=&sort_by=POSITION&sort_desc=false&start_rec=16&listing_mod=&with_video=

A bad memorial weekend for Ireland. I suppose on a lighter note made worse by the fact that Ireland’s now most capped player, our goalkeeper, Shay Given – let in a total of 4 goals against Man Utd (a tearing of emotions as they’re my favourite team in the English Premier League) in Old Trafford this afternoon – that’s one goal more he conceded today than when he last play in Poznan’s municipal stadium against Lech Poznań as the then goalkeeper for the much over rated Manchester City.  Today was another bad day ‘between the sticks’ for Shay but a better day for Lech Poznań as they beat Lechia Gdańsk to continue their quest to stay in fourth position in the Polish league.

OK that’s all folks for today, I’m off to enjoy a very nice Polish sitcom ‘Piąty stadion’ with Piotr Adamczyk (he’s sort of like Ireland’s Ronan Keating as he appears in almost absolutely everything, he most famously played the Pope in the movie of the same name – he claims his acting fee has increased since Pope John Paul II was beatified). It’s about a mad idea by a group of guys in a bar to build a fifth stadium in Poland to cope with the demand for Euro 2012 tickets.

Slan agus beannacht ádh mór,

Paul

C’mon ye boys in green!

Well folks, prime time Polish TV is now where we’re at… check out myself and the antics of TEAM IRELAND on TVP 1 – Saturday 14th April at 1825

Daniec z Gwiazdami

Recording Put 'em Under Pressure - Euro 2012 Song

The event hosted by Marcin Daniec (hence the name ‘Daniec z gwiazdami’ literally ‘Daniec with the stars’ it’s a Polish play on words as their equivalent of ‘Dancing with the stars’ is called ‘Taniec z Gwiazdami’) who introduced ‘Team Ireland’ in Irish language (and spoke a few sentences of Irish throughout the show) and the jury – Robert Janowski (Poland’s equivalent to Tom O’Connor who presents the Polish ‘Name that tune’), Klaudia Carlos (a Spanish/Polish TV presenter) and Radosław Majdan (a famous goalkeeper)

Daniec z gwiazdami

Daniec z Gwiazdami - Odcinek 1

I think first and foremost I should begin by thanking all of my fellow team members in Team Ireland, in particular our team captain, Mark Howley, for orchestrating the whole event and whose animated antics brought whoops of delight from even the opposing fans. To Peter for organising the team ‘tactics’, to Agatha for stepping forward as the lady to be quizzed about her football knowledge and for my designer, Sam, for almost getting himself killed at the bottom of a pileup when the jury announced the results all in the name of Ireland…

Daniec z Gwiazdami - Team Ireland Ladies

Our Captain, Mark Howley, pictured with TI Girls (from l. to r.) Alexandra, Margaret, Agatha, Caroline and Catherine

Most importantly, we had a last minute substitution and introduced a new star to the big screen – Anthony, aged 2.5, from Dublin (seen below sitting on my lap) who replaced my son, Patrick Anthony at the last minute as our lucky Irish mascot… he did really really well and even participated in the song. So a big ‘go raibh maith agat’ to Anthony’s parents, who were part of our support team. Host Daniec was so thrilled with his participation that a special presentation was made at the end to both the press and TV cameras and young Anthony was presented with a special medal by Marcin Daniec at the end of the show.

Euro 2012 - The Fan in Poznan

Daniec z Gwiazdami - Odc. 1 - Team Ireland's Youngest Star

I would like to thank all of the producers, Leszek Kumanski and his production team especially to the two guys Joseph and Marek pictured below with Mark and myself for helping me out in the recording studio (it took record amounts of patience from their side, believe me – it was like the scene from Father Ted with ‘Paul sing this %^&&* note, no not that fecking note, THIS NOTE!’) so that together with Mark and Peter we could actually get the Irish Euro 2012 version of ‘Put em under pressure’ out the door in time for the recording…  the results of our singing abilities will be there for all to hear on Poland’s flagship channel on prime time TV on Saturday evening.

I’m not going to give the game away by telling you the final result – you’ll all have to watch it for yourselves.  Suffice it to say Team Ireland did themselves proud and a heartfelt thanks to each and everyone of you for participating in this event with myself.

Daniec z Gwiazdami - Team Ireland

Team Ireland preparing for 'Daniec z Gwiazdami'

Team Ireland pictured above – Lukasz, Mark, Johnny, Paul, Agatha, David, ‘The Fan in Poznan’, Alexandra, Karen, Will, Sylwia, Julian, Caroline, Kate, Phil, Sam, Peter and Wojtek

C’MON YE BOYS IN GREEN.

Slan,

Paul McKeown

PS A lot of you have been asking for me to post the link to the song, and a photo of the Irish football dish that we prepared – well that will have to wait until after the show is aired, so check back again in a few days for an update…

 

Beannachtaí na Cásca (Happy Easter)

Hi Readers,

Well hope you all had a pleasant and relaxing Easter, just to show you how much the City of Poznań is getting into the spirit of things, they even had Easter Eggs in the shape of the ‘ballon d’or’ something I renamed the ‘ballon de chocolat’ and the Euro football itself designed by Poznanian chocolate manufacturers.

Easter Balls

Easter Balls and Cups

What was the result of the chocolate match?  Poznań won of course, delicious chocolate all round… my son had the greatest pleasure opening it up (with a mallet just to emphasize how thick it was).

We also went to an Easter blessing ceremony, this is something we don’t have in Ireland but it’s a really nice tradition where you have a Pascal blessing on the Easter meal – everyone brings baskets and the priest blesses them, my son and I attended a blessing ceremony outdoors close to the stadium on Grunwaldzka where Ireland will play two games this June.

Pascal Blessing in Poznań

Easter Blessing

This is a photo of the basket my son and I made together

Easter Basket

Easter Basket

 

It’s supposed to consist of the breakfast that the family will share for Easter, so we had eggs (painted in traditional colour as you can see), watercress to symbolise the grass, butter in the form of a lamb a traditional symbol of spring and of course chocolate chicks, chocolate lambs and at the bottom some tiny chocolate eggs for my son (his favourite breakfast of the year I hasten to add :-) ) before we have to book our annual trip to the dentist :-)

The priest said during his sermon that 2012 is going to be a symbolic year for Poznań, and you know what I think he was RIGHT :-) I think it will be a symbolic year for Poznań and for Ireland and the question I was thinking was how many Irish people would be standing at a similar blessing to this next year with prospective partners they might meet during their visit here this year.

Anyway hope you enjoyed your Easter folks, now the next big celebration is the Euros! Can’t wait… C’mon Ireland

Slan,

Paul

Wódka, poitin agus uisce beatha

champagne whiskey vodka

French Champagne, Irish Whiskey and wódka

When we see a bottle with the word CHAMPAGNE it’s definitely FRENCH.

When we see a bottle with the word WHISKEY (ending in –key and not –ky like the Scotch variety) we know by it’s spelling it’s definitely Irish.

However, when we see a bottle of vodka it’s not immediately apparent where it comes from.  Now this is one of the things you will notice this summer when you come to Poznań. One of the things Poland is famous for is it’s vodka and it’s more hard to come by big brother called bimber (our equivalent of poitin) which is 90% proof.

Let’s get one thing clear to start off with wódka bottle pictured above is definitely not Polish, and fortunately it’s extremely hard to find in these parts of Europe as in my opinion and that of many of my friends and colleagues in Poland it’s one of the worst varieties on the market, yet thanks to some very clever marketing people they have managed to market it in the countries where vodka is not so popular or well-known, i.e. Ireland and the UK.

We as Irish people have come a long way since the Celtic Tiger and even outside of Dublin’s Temple Bar area we all now know our champagnes from our cavas and proseccos  and our single malts from our JDs and coke, however after attending two weddings in Ireland recently two things became clear to me

(1) Irish people (myself included before I came to Poland) don’t know quality vodka and

(2) Irish people don’t know how to drink vodka properly (much as I myself didn’t before coming here)

Allow me to explain – when I left Ireland 12 years ago to come and live in Poland I found myself confronted with a problem – just as back home it’s expensive to drink vodka, here it’s expensive to drink whiskey, so my Polish friend and vodka connoisseur (and owner of one of Poznań’s two Irish pubs) taught me a thing or two about this drink – I had to admit I never was a big vodka drinker – I didn’t like the smell of it… this perhaps is lesson 1.

Lesson 1 – A good vodka (i.e. one that does not begin with sm…) does NOT have a smell, it should be odourless and colourless

Lesson 2 – the Poles drink vodka NEAT but accompanied by something called a ‘popykta’ this is a NON alcoholic tumbler full of things ranging from freshly squeezed fruit juices to what we call minerals such as cola or lemonade. They drink them separately to avoid the dreaded hangover in the morning. Trust me this does work (as long as you don’t go mixing it with other things) try it for yourself and see (I’m not sure why but apparently it’s something to ask your Chemistry teacher about).

Lesson 3 – They usually drink their vodka ice cold… one of the qualities of a decent pure vodka is that it does not freeze so what they do is they remove the bottle from the freezer – smack the bottom of the bottle really hard while loosening the cap, the result is an ice cold gloopiness which is really pleasant (even when you’ve got a cold as the alcohol contained within will expel most of the bacteria harbouring around the throat area)

Poland has a huge tradition of vodka. My favourites are Belvedere red (really smooth but expensive vodka), Wyborowa (another what the Poles call ‘clean’ vodka) and Żubrówka (this is a coloured vodka usually accompanied by freshly squeezed apple juice) . The prices you will find a world of difference compared to the local ‘offy’ back home… trust me you will be filling your suitcase and wondering how many bottles you can squeeze in before hitting Michael O’Leary’s baggage limitation allowance.

Ireland’s strongest uisce beatha (this is incidentally the word from which the English originally derived the word ‘whiskey’) is called poitin (pronounced pocheen) and Polish eau de vie is called spiritus. Both forms resemble a clear, colourless brandy that have been produced through a process of fermentation and double distillation.

This summer, Poznań is offering many different vodka tasting sessions in several of it’s fantastic bars and nightclubs, be sure to check my reviews regularly – and remember the vodka bottle shown in the picture will definitely not be on the menu…