Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fagan versus Twomey

The Sean Fagan Vincent Twomey controversy/dialogue trundles on. Readers of 'The Irish Times' continue to contribute letters on the topic.

They all come with their own beliefs and opinions. Has anyone been influenced to think again about their views as a result of the letters that have appeared?

What makes us take a stand, what makes us hold certain beliefs? Is it reason? What influences us to think and act as we do?

Are entrenched ideas something 'bad'?

May be it is far more important to see things in terms of people and how we interact with them.

Reading the Fagan Twomey letters one gets an impression that there is great anger about it - on both sides. That may be a good thing. At least it takes the veil off the secrecy of the anger.

Thoughts words and deeds

Miriam Lord is entertaining in today's Irish Times.
A teacher of philsophy in Cork in the 1960s was renowned for telling his students that they could never take back their words. Another saying of his was that one should say their second thoughts first.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

EU is bedrock of peace and stability

Seventy-five years ago today, January 30, 1933, thousands of Germans thronged government quarters in Berlin in celebration of Adolf Hitler becoming Reichskanzler.

Today Mikhail Gorbachev sharply criticises the current Russian presidential election campaign.
"Something is going wrong with our elections, and our electoral system needs a major adjustment," he has complained.

When people criticise the EU they should be clear in their minds of the advantages it has brought Europe.

It is highly unlikely that an 'Adolf Hitler' would get away with it in the EU and modern Russia would not be able to behave as it does were it in the EU.

Lehmann resigns

Sad to see that Cardinal Karl Lehmann is resigning as president of the German bishops' conference. A good man, who has spoken with great sense, clarity and bravery. He will be missed. He is remaining on as bishop of Mainz.

Tucked away in a side bar of The Tablet there is the story of a former Vatican 'official, who is said to have been a close friend of the last pope, who has been sentenced to four years in jail in Canada for abusing 13 boys between 1964 and 1984. He worked as secretary general of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

Is there not something systemically wrong within the hierarchical church? If this man had fallen in love with a woman he would never have got to that job and he certainly would not have been a monsignor - of course that is if it were public knowledge that he loved a woman. Strange.

A Vatican official is quoted as saying one per cent of priests have abused. That figure can easily be dismissed as 'inaccurate spin'

The Tablet names the man who was jailed in Canada last week.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Great Firewall of China

An interesting article in today's Irish Times.


Cracks appear as 'Great Firewall' struggles to control internet

CHINA: Fast rise in Chinese web users makes censorship harder, writes Clifford Coonan in Beijing

China has one of the world's most tightly controlled online environments, surrounded by what has become known as "the Great Firewall of China", but this has not stopped the march of the internet and the country will soon have more "webizens" than the US, new data has shown.

There are 210 million internet users in China, which puts it just five million shy of the US figure and marks a 53 per cent rise over 2006, according to the state-run China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC).

"Rapid economic growth and accompanying family income helped drive internet use . . There's no doubt that China will have the largest web population soon as there's still so much growth potential," it said in a report.

The numbers mask a more complicated picture. The online penetration rate in China is still relatively low, just 16 per cent, lower than the global average of 19 per cent, while three-quarters of US adults are online. At about 300 million, the US population is less than one quarter of China's 1.3 billion. However, the number of web users is rising so fast that it is only a matter of time before the penetration rate reflects the broader figures.

While the government promotes the education and business aspects of cyberspace, it is swift to clamp down on criticism of the Communist Party or anything it considers to be pornographic or offensive.

An anti-smut campaign ahead of the Beijing Olympics has led to the suppression of 44,000 pornographic websites and homepages, with 868 arrests. Authorities also investigated 524 criminal cases involving online pornography and "penalised" another 1,911 people, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The crackdown on pornography and "unhealthy" web content was launched by President Hu Jintao, who said the internet posed a threat to social stability. Last month, the government said it would keep a tight rein on video-sharing websites and allow only state-controlled sites to post video content online.

The offensive is not being taken entirely seriously online. One of the internet sensations of the year so far is the phrase "very yellow, very violent" - yellow is used to describe something erotic.

A primary school student, Zhang Shufan, appeared on CCTV saying she had come across a web page that was "very yellow, very violent". "I hastily closed the page," she said.

The expression has become a popular catchphrase, with people compiling lists of their top 10 "very yellow, very violent" movies and using the phrase as a term of endearment, the Hong Kong site EastSouthWestNorth reported.

The huge rise in the number of people using the internet in China is making it very difficult for the "Great Firewall" to block the freeflow of information, even though China has a large contingent of internet police to ensure that issues such as land rights and agitation for democracy are blocked.

Footage of a recent demonstration by thousands of people against a chemical plant in the southern city of Xiamen found its way on to the internet, and rights activists have posted footage online of the police keeping them under house arrest.

While Microsoft, Google and Yahoo are all operating under restricted conditions in China, even their tacit assistance will not keep the "Great Firewall" shut against differing voices forever, rights defenders say.

Despite the government's best efforts to block controversial content, most web users say they do not feel constrained when using the internet and happily discuss whatever topic they want to. It has to be said, democracy and human rights are not common subjects of discussion in China.

Nevertheless, the police say they will use whatever resources are required to "cleanse" the internet of vile content.

"We will put whatever police forces are needed into this," said Gao Feng, deputy head of the Public Security Bureau's economic crimes unit.

The issue of internet privacy is not high on the agenda in China, but it is becoming a topic for discussion. A couple who were filmed kissing in the Shanghai subway are planning to sue the railway after the footage appeared on the internet.

The three-minute video was uploaded to YouTube and other websites last week and drew more than 15,000 hits in two days, English language newspaper China Daily said.

The footage appears to have been shot on security cameras, and Shanghai Metro said that it would punish staff found to have uploaded the film.

The case has led to renewed calls in the legal community for better privacy legislation to regulate the use of video footage and for penalties for those who abuse privacy.

Then there is the question of reliability. People were touched by the story of Yin, a young teacher in Gansu province who taught at a local elementary school for free, even though she had no formal education. When the schoolroom, which was made of grass, was blown over in the wind, she became a prostitute to pay for a new school.

Then she passed away and the flag at the school was lowered to half-mast. It was a story that touched the hearts of thousands on the web - until a blogger admitted he had made it up as an exercise in internet marketing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rosary beads and contraception

It's interesting to see how much religious material appears in our newspapers.

This week we have the discussion over the Rosary beads in an Anglican church and there is the ongoing debate between Frs Vincent Twomey and Seán Fagan.
Rev. Marie Rowley-Brookes's letter in today's Irish Times re the Rosary beads episode and Fr Sean Fagan's answer to Fr Vincent Twomey offer one a glimmer of light. There has also been an article on ecumenism. There has been an informative piece on the Anglican Church. And John Cooney had a piece on whether or not Pope Benedict will visit Ireland in 2009.

The world is lucky to have people such as Sean Fagan and Marie Rowley-Brooke speaking their minds.

But it is interesting to see that no one church has exclusive rights on people with 'narrow' and 'closed' minds.

There is always the temptation to think that the 'bigots' are always on the 'other side'. A terrible fallacy.

Is it possible to say that the parties in power in Northern Ireland are realising that bigotry finds a home everywhere, in all political parties, everywhere there are people?

But do church organisations have a greater number of fanatics and bigots than the general population? Experience and evidence can supply depressing results!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Lives of Others

This blog has on a previous occasion mentioned the German film 'The Lives of Others'. It is an excellent film. It comes highly recommended.
Should you buy the DVD or rent it make sure to listen to the account given on the film by the director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
The director goes through the film from start to finish explaining every detail and profiling the main actors.
Make sure to see it and then listen to the commentary.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Duirt bean liom go nduirt bean lei.....

Duirt bean liom go nduirt bean lei.....

NewsTalk interviewed me on the topic of priestly celibacy last week. As novices and students we were told that celibacy gives the priest more time for work. My late father, with no vow of celibacy worked far harder than I ever have.

I pointed out on the programme that I believe that it is easy for priests to be tempted to take it 'easy'. 35 years experience has shown me that. I also said that I have come across priests who work extremely hard.

Some days later I was quoted as having said that 'All Dominicans are lazy'.

Amazing how we give images to people!

Of course I never made such a remark but obviously we give images to people and have to support those images.

The damage that words can do. And strangely enough the motto of the Dominican Order is 'veritas'

My comments on NewsTalk were also said to be 'disloyal'. 'Disloyal' is a dangerous word to use and is so often used to protect an image. I'd be proud to be 'disloyal' to 'clericalism'. Organisations can easily scapegoat the 'disloyal' to protect their own patch or image.

Totalitarianism can never allow any forms of 'disloyalty'. And if that totalitarianism has a direct line to God, then God help us all.

Theological personal knowledge

Excellent article in this month's The Furrow by Michael G Olden, who is priest of the diocese of Waterford and living in Tramore.
He writes, "We have to develop proper and professional techniques of composition. We have to avoid maudlin and irrelevant autobiography and tangential meanderings which can sometimes take possession of us all. For such disciplined professionalism I do not think we were well prepared."

Elsewhere he writes, "As we emerged from our seminaries we did not know what we were theologically".

Has anything changed?

Michael G Olden was ordained a priest in June 1960.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Week of prayer for Christian unity

Two interesting articles in today's Irish Times.

Fintan O'Toole argues that excessive wealth at the top carries a heavy price tag for the rest of us.
He writes, 'The sense of being out of the loop leads to political disengagement by those at the bottom.' A sentiment that could be so well applied within the church!

Bishop Richard Clarke writes an article on ecumenism.

The annual week of prayer for Christian unity begins on Friday. Hopefully the week will be an occasion for all of us to focus our minds on the topic.

European Union

The article below appeared in The Irish Times on Saturday, January 12.
It is inevitable that when we read something we agree with we are immediately prepared to say that it is 'a good article'. So be it.

But I am very concerned about 'elements' within the church, which are strongly opposed to so many aspects of the EU. Maybe someone can explain why there is such an opposition. For instance the monthly free sheet Alive seems to be a strong opponent of the upcoming Lisbon Treaty. Why?

Congrats and well done to Tony Kinsella. But why can't Ireland be a signatory to Schengen?

EU offers a benign environment to obtain peace and prosperity
Tony Kinsella

WorldView: Seeing is (only part of) believing. Our eyes see coastlines and the right side of our brain labels them as "permanent".

Our brain's left side informs us that they are subject to change, that the coast we look at today is not the same as it was last year, and that it will be different again next year.

This ability to blend sources of information and knowledge to compose an informed picture is one of the distinguishing features of our species. It is something we do several times each day.

Voting on the Treaty of Lisbon will be one such moment. Irish voters will have to express themselves on the complex package of largely technocratic measures 27 democratic national governments have managed to agree upon.

As Paddy Smyth pointed out in this column last Saturday, we, the sovereign people, will be asked if we will vest some of our sovereignty in the European Union as well as in our own republic.

The 27 nation states which currently form the EU are more transient than their rivers, mountains and coasts. Two centuries ago 19 of them - including Germany and Italy - did not exist. A mere 100 years ago, 13 states, including our own, had yet to be born.

It would take an uncommonly talented psychic to hazard a guess at what the political contours of our continent might resemble in 2108, much less 2208, but it is fairly reasonable to make two assumptions. One is that some form of European polity, a descendant of today's EU, will continue to wrestle with many of the vital, if mundane, questions of everyday life. Secondly, the number and form of today's nation states will be different.

Nationalism, as we understand it, is a largely 19th-century phenomenon. Frequently stimulated through imperial indifference or injustice, it was greatly facilitated by the industrial revolution, and the arrival of universal primary education and newspapers.

Belgium was always an engaging country defined by internal and external negatives. Its peoples were not Dutch, German or French and so to find their expression were obliged to become Belgian. After centuries of imperial musical chairs, the post-Napoleonic European powers could not agree on Dutch, French, British or Prussian hegemony. In their disagreement, the creation of Belgium in 1831 became an acceptable compromise.

Today those negative consensuses are being called into question, but Belgium's demise - the casus belli of at least one world war - poses no threat because of the existence of the body we have all painstakingly built, the EU.

An independent Flanders and an independent Wallonia would pose no difficulties under the revised ¨commission structure of the Lisbon Treaty. Both new states would have open frontiers under the Schengen agreements and a common currency in the euro. The thorny and all but insoluble question of Brussels, a polyglot and largely Francophone island in a Flemish sea, could be resolved by the establishment of a multi-lingual European Capital Territory. Catalonia has quietly established a status for which we lack terminology. Its seven million inhabitants enjoy such a degree of autonomy as a nation within Spain that a formally independent Catalonia would be much the same. Schengen frontiers and the euro would remain. Barcelona would have to face creating a Catalan diplomatic service and army but little else would change.

The administrations in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh all pose major constitutional challenges to a United Kingdom that lacks both a constitution, and a definition of its English core. The EU adds to the irresistible pressure on London to define the levers and frontiers of power within the UK. It is a debate that is long overdue. One ducked by the Conservatives when they refused Irish Home Rule in the 19th century. One they flee today behind a smokescreen of Euroscepticism. The EU framework offers a benign environment for the realisation of national identities.

If Belgium, Catalonia and the UK offer us quiet examples of the positive effects of such a continental political framework, the smouldering embers of the 1990s Balkan wars proclaim the horrors of the traditional alternative.

The kingdom of the southern Slavs, or Yugoslavia, was a creation of the 1919 Congress of Versailles. Peoples with significant linguistic and ethnic similarities (Serbo-Croat) but different imperial (Austrian/Ottoman/Russian) and religious (Catholic/Muslim/Orthodox) traditions, physically separated by the mountainous topography of their peninsula, were shoe-horned into a single nation state.

Slobodan Milosevic's dreams of Serbian hegemony and personal enrichment plunged the crumbling Yugoslavia into a series of local conflicts which in their ethnic and religious overtones and their sheer barbarity reminded us more of the Middle Ages than the end of the 20th century. The ancient slash-and-burn approach to conflict resolution played out in full colour in our living rooms.

Six new nation states emerged from the killing fields of the disintegrating Yugoslavia. The thorny Kosovo question will probably create a seventh. These seven states, plus Albania, remain a tinderbox.

The only long-term guarantee of peace and prosperity and the sole method of transforming ethnic hostilities into cultural pageants lie in the extension of Europe's benign environment for national identities to the Balkans. EU membership is the political and physical carrot, EU investment the primary tool in transforming some of the most impoverished, if beautiful, of our continent's landscapes.

EU policies, from non-discrimination against minorities to open frontiers, offer effective and humane economic and

social transformational tools - something our island's experience bears witness to.

Introducing the euro poses little challenge, it is already the effective currency of the Balkans. An EU of 34 or more sovereign member states requires different procedures and structures, and must address more tasks than the original community designed for six.

The Lisbon Treaty referendum essentially asks if we endorse such changes, ones 27 democratic governments have agreed upon.

We owe it to ourselves and to more than 500 million other Europeans to, at the very least, use both sides of our brains when we answer the vital question.

Which would we prefer for all our futures, Srebrenica or Schengen?

© 2008 The Irish Times

Monday, January 14, 2008

Baptism of the Lord

Yesterday's feast of the baptism of the Lord again focuses our attention on the idea of the presence of God in our lives. The Sacrament of Baptism makes us full members of the community. And in that sense we can see God as being present in the community. Yesterday's reading from the Prophet Isaiah throws light on how God's presence manifests itself in our world.
Interesting how in the past we placed so much emphasis on Baptism as being the vehicle of 'washing away sin' and placed so little attention on how the sacrament introduces us into the community.
Surely it is in that context that Jesus's baptism can be understood.
The words incarnation and presence are important words in Christian theology.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A dark past

Just for train aficionados. ICE stands for Inter City Express. But when DB (then called Deutsche Bundesbahn, now known as Deutsche Bahn) were at the initial stages of testing the trains, ICE stood for Inter City Experimental.
And something else; the one and only electric locos built by the GDR are now doing commuter service in and around German cities - west and east. The GDR held on to the old name of German Railways - DR - Deutsche Reichsbahn.

An article in yesterday's Irish Times explains how the Nazi government paid DR for the transportation of their victims to the concentration camps.

I have always been aware how Mercedes supplied cars to the regime and how IG Farben was the parent company of the modern German pharmaceutical industry, but it never dawned on me before how the railway helped in the evil deeds. It did and in a big way.

Nature and grace

Do people change? Occasionally we see how alcoholics have been transformed as a result of taking action and attending AA. But that sort of dramatic change is not too frequent.

Theology talks about how grace builds on nature. Certainly the practice of good habit leads to a virtuous person. But are we doomed or graced from the moment of our conception?

This week I met an elderly Dominican, he is now in his 80s and still working hard every day, serving people and being kind to them. Still up at 06.00 to pray and work. But that's his nature. He is a good man and always was. God has been good to him. And it has been a privilege to know him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Vatican spin

The Vatican has asked for prayers worldwide for those who have been sexually abused by priests. A laudable idea. Then at the end of the statement the cardinal adds that just one per cent of priests have abused. Is this a scientific fact to which he is privy? It is spinning at its best. From evidence the figure appears to be much higher. Why pick the tiny number 'one'?
The church seems to have learned little or nothing from what has come to public knowledge over the last ten to twenty years.
The culture of silence trundles on, heads in the sand when it suits. Indeed there is a developing tendency which is most worrying.
Maybe Donald Cozzens in his lecture in Killarney this evening will throw some light on the topic. Light is needed.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Irish aid

This year Ireland will give €914 million for official development assistance. It means Ireland is well on course to reach 0.7 per cent of GNP by 2012, three years ahead of our EU partners.
Irish NGOs and missionaries will benefit from the increased resources available.
It is Irish policy that all aid to the developing world is untied.

The teaching service

Reminiscing is the art of the old. It makes sense as people grow older they have more stories to tell. Anyone who has taught knows all about bumping into past pupils and reminiscing about the past.
Rain, snow and wind prevented me from biking back to West Kerry so I took refuge in Newbridge College - I hate that word 'college' being used in the context of a post-primary school.
Out for a walk I called into a shop to get a key made. The man behind the counter gave me a knowing look but within a second or two there was no further recognition. And then I mentioned something, he looked at me and said 'Fr Commane'. I suddenly forgot about the cold and the wet and we were in animated conversation. I taught him English back in the 1980s. I felt proud about it and was chuffed that he remembered me. But also a great sadness came over me and if I were not at present back teaching that sadness would have been all the greater.It would have been a black moment.
Maybe it is that some people are destined to be outsiders, scraping at the window looking in. But I look back on those days and recall so much of the nonsense and craziness that went on in the place. People in authority used phrases such as 'Dominican ethos'. I did not know then what it was and I still don't know what it means.
And to think that there are no Dominicans teaching in the school today really is a tragedy. We reap what we sow. And our sowing was not always good. Of course the people in authority can explain it all away in clever-sounding terms.
Has any organisation the ability of critically examining itself and then acting on its findings. It is never easy to be consequential and maybe especially a church organisation.
Where I am now teaching there is never a mention of an 'ethos' and the word 'college' is not used. Not a trace of pious humbug or pretension. It's a friendly school and thank God I'm happy teaching there.
Maybe 'outsiders' should consider themselves fortunate at times, especially when it makes no sense at all to be 'inside'.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Concern

Concern, Ireland's largest aid agency, has issued a press release today pointing out that its staff is safe in Kenya and stresses how civil society is demanding a peaceful resolution to the current difficulties.
When people think of aid agencies such as Concern, Trocaire and Goal they immediately think of NGOs helping out in times of famine and natural disasters.

Today Concern is mainly involved in developing systems whereby people can speak up for themselves.
Concern works in 29 countries around the world, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

This year the organisation is 40 years in existence and during the year there will be events to mark the achievements of the agency.
It is a non-denominational organisation founded by John and Kay O'Loughlin Kennedy.

Its present CEO is Tom Arnold. More information is available at www.concern.net

Lisbon Treaty

Horns are beginning to lock with respect to the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty or EU Reform Treaty as the Government seems to be calling it.

No definite date has yet been fixed for the referendum. It does appear it could be a most contentious poll.

Some right wing Catholic newspapers are already calling - even shouting - for a 'No' vote. Why? The European Union has brought extraordinary prosperity to Ireland and has created a war-free zone across Europe. People living in Europe who are now in their 50s are the first generation of Europeans in many decades who have not had to go to war. Ireland is far less insular. Students take it for granted that they will be spending a year of their studies in another EU state.

The EU has been great for Ireland. Not just in economic terms, also socially and culturally and spiritually too. So why is it that 'right wing' Catholics appear to be so opposed to so much of what the EU is about.

Surely the consensus of a large group of people from various cultures and backgrounds is good for the body politic. Maidens dancing at the cross roads was always pie-in-the-sky. It really was a spoof. The men in mohair suits took advantage of it - what else could they have done with the idea?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

On track in Europe

German Rail(Deutsche Bahn) has upped the ante to 320km/h on its Frankfurt-am-Main Cologne service. German Rail is working in conjunction with SNCF and both railway companies operate through trains between Paris and Frankfurt-am-Main and Paris and Stuttgart. Is it possible that the DB livery will soon be on view at St Pancras?

Sir Norman Foster's Berlin Hauptbahnhof is fast becoming Europe's railway hub.
For the first time in its history Berlin has a central railway station. German rail traffic is returning to its natural geogrpahy, ie east west. Of course all eyes on the new Berlin Moscow development. Mehdorn is pushing the project with great energy.

The Independent (UK) carries a very positive editorial today on the EU and the euro.
Yesterday Slovenia became the first of the former Soviet-dominated member states to take on the rotating presidency of the European Union.

The word

Some statistics that may interest people in the communications business.
Forty-eight regional newspapers in Ireland are owned by four large newspaper groups, Independent News and Media, The Crosbie Group, Johnston Press and Alpha Newspapers.
Forty-one million SMSs were sent in Ireland on New Year's Eve.
The Press Council of Ireland and Office of the Press Ombudsman are now in operation.
Members of the public can complain about a newspaper or periodical article if they believe it breaches the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals and the article is published after January 2, 2008.
Address is, Press Council of Ireland, 1, 2 and 3 Westmoreland Street, Dublin 2. Telephone, 01 - 648 9130. Fax 01 - 674 0046. Email, info@presscouncil.ie. Web, www.presscouncil.ie.

Donald Cozzens in Killarney

Author and well-known US priest, Donald Cozzens, who has written extensively on priestly celibacy and child sexual abuse, is speaking in Killarney next Tuesday evening.
He is now saying that priesthood is becoming a 'gay profession'
The talk is in the Brehon Hotel.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Church unity

The Christmas issue of 'The Tablet' had an interesting article by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The article is on unity and the Eucharist. It is cringe material where we are at present with inter church dialogue. What at all has happened? The arrogance, the psuedo certainty, the clericalism. We seem to be walking up permanent cul-de-sacs, all the time oblivious to the direction the hierarchical church seems to be taking.
Will there be one inspiring thought preached during church octave week? Of course the usual suspects will speak high sounding words but that's it.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all who read this blog. Bit of a cliche really, but it is standard practice and we all do it. I even found myself wishing a man on Slievenamon yesterday a Happy New Year.
No doubt we can all recall our childhood Christmases and remember the 'good old days'.
I tried to work up some sympathy for myself this Christmas. Not being married and having no children I thought I had good reason to feel sorry for myself. But it never happened.
It's back to work tomorrow and many of us will note the numbers '2008' on the pages of tomorrow's newspapers. And that's all that's to the new year.
We move on in our lives and our faith. We have celebrated the feast of the birth of Christ. All we can do is ask ourselves how seriously we take it. The life-long challenge of faith is an amazing phenomenon.
Senator David Norris was on RTE Radio 1 before Christmas and he wisely pointed out how people who think they have the 'inside track' on God are arrogant. He referred to them as blasphemers. His views make much sense.
Just a little indulgence - after Mass on Christmas Day I swam in the Atlantic. On Saturday there was a charity walk for Malawi from Fermoyle to Fahamore, again along the Atlantic. There was a storm up but luckily we had the wind on our backs for the 12 km walk. But it was cool.
On Sunday afternoon I drove my Honda Deauville from West Kerry to Waterford - on reflection I can say it was an act of semi-madness. A novice should never drive in the rain and dark. Best place for a motorbike in an Irish winter is the garage.
It was more rain and overhanging clouds on Slievenamon on the last day of the year. But it was beautiful.
One great thing I thank my novice master for was how he got us out on our bikes and the fresh air; the long cycles, the hikes, the mountain climbing. Thank you for the great introduction.
Happy New Year.