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June 2019
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2008-07-29 a message from James

Well I have just been in to the hospital to visit Baby Gilsenan #3... Rosie Mae Gilsenan...and she is adorable.

It seems it really was third time lucky for the birth, and everything went incredibly smoothly (Yes, I realise thats easy for a man to proclaim, but you know what I mean I hope). Rosie Mae arrived a few hours after Celestine arrived at the hospital. Mum and baby are in great form! Dad looked pretty proud too, and Sean and Grace have turned into great wee kids too. A very happy family I think!

Rianne, thanks for a great review, detailed as always, and I think it was a pretty good concert, though the online "Nessun Dorma" doesn't sound great at times...
Gillian thank you also...glad we decided to include "Ten Thousand Tears" for you. Sorry to have missed you after the show. It was GREAT to see so many old faces in John Harding! (Sorry, couldn't resist it..."old face"...get it?). But really, Ines, Irmgard, Marlis, Cassie, Karlheinz, Gertraut and so many others!! And then of course Petra and her Mum,. Nina, Felix, Lucas, Heike, Bettina, Oliver, Lord H, Rianne, and SO many others too! Amazing turnout!

Rianne, I think you may have some mis-information regarding Donna? I believe she returns to college to continue her degree at the end of September after her Ballina concert? So I don't think she is with us next year. In fact...breaking news...because of the nature of the album, we will probably not have a guest for most of the next year, most of it anyway. We have no guests on the album, and hence none in the show, though of course Deirdre will sing in Tullamore, and perhaps we will have someone for the Christmas tours etc... Watch this Space!

My little city-break was kinda perfect. I sent a postcard, but not sure if its there yet? Krakow is a quaint city, a little like Prague, but on a smaller scale. The main square and Old Town is wonderful just to wander around, the Marian Church was my favourite Church (inside was spectacular), and Wawel Castle and Cathedral also... I visited the Salt Mines too which were rather unique and spectacular at times... a Cathedral carved out of salt 400 ft below the ground level. We walked about 8 km below the ground around the Salt Mine tunnels and down about 400 steps. Of course, part of my reason for going to Krakow was to visit Auschwitz/Birkenau also. I felt I had to see it. Not sure why...maybe everyone should. It was even tougher than expected. I had been warned about many things there - Birkenau is horrific on many levels - in Auschwitz, I held it together for the piles of shoes, hair, even artifical limbs... but the babies clothes finished me completely. Glad I have been, but the images will remain with me forever I think.
I had a very emotional moment at the Holocaust Memorial in the Old Jewish Quarter of Krakow also. I was looking at this monument, when a lady asked me what this was. "A Memorial to the Holocaust", I replied. She hung her head and cried, and said "Sorry". I asked her where she was from. "Germany, and I am SO sorry!", she replied. (I knew she was German but was only asking which city...). I gave her a big hug and said I knew she was German, that I was just interested in which city. I sadi she must never take any of the blame in any way. We talked for a little while and she was fine. I explained that I lived in London at the height of "The Troubles" and every time the IRA did something in London, I anglicised my accent, as I was ashamed. But like this, the IRA didn't speak for me. Poor Lady, I could have stayed for a long time chatting to her... Anyway, Krakow was wonderful! Bring on my 2009 city break!

On a sad note, Basil and I just got news today that St Pauls, one of the orphanages we worked on, and one which Basil almost built from scratch, had a bad fire which destroyed the kitchens and large common room/dining room yesterday. It is very badly damaged. Nobody was hurt luckily enough, and I know Basil is already on to getting it rebuilt as a priority. Not fair though, is it...Keep the staff and children at St Pauls (and of course at Cheryls) in your prayers.

Love to each and every one of you!