Thursday, April 30, 2015

Three events on April 30

On April 30, 1789 George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States.

On April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler died by suicide.

On April 30, 1975 the war in Vietnam ended with the South Vietnamese surrendering to the North.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Faith and fortitude at funeral Mass of Karen Buckley

Miriam Lord in today's Irish Times quotes from the words spoken by Fr Jospeh O'keeffe at the funeral Mass of Karen Buckley in Analeentha, Mourneabbey, Co Cork.

"It was a beautiful homily". She went on to quote his words: "Karen's death seems totally inappropriate. It violates our sense of order....

"Within the scope of human reason, a tragedy such as this simply doesn't make sense. Therefore we either despair or find strength in faith."

Lord goes on to say that "Faith was strong in that church yesterday. Faith and fortitude."

Karen Buckley was murdered in Glasgow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Obviously Father Ted writers had inside information

Michael Commane
The column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

Heading out to work last Tuesday I caught Pauline McLynn AKA Mrs Doyle being interviewed by John Murray. It’s 20 years since ‘Father Ted’ was first aired on Channel 4.

I’m no expert when it comes to comedy and I have no recollection as a child being any sort of a fan of funny people. Of course there have been the occasional programmes that have made me laugh. In recent years two particular shows stand out. I can sit down and watch them over and over and every time I end up roaring laughing. I laugh so much watching ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and ‘Father Ted’ that my ears get sore from laughing.

Comedy pokes fun, exaggerates and says crazy things about people, all the time hinting there is an element of truth in what’s being said. In ‘Only Fools and Horses’ Del Boy is a ridiculous small-time hoodlum. Trigger has many aspects of the street cleaner but both of them are of course over the top. 

And it’s that mix of reality and exaggeration that makes both shows so funny.
From the first time I saw ‘Father Ted’ I decided that whoever wrote it had some sort of inside track into the lives of priests.

Of course it’s over the top, well nearly. It’s brilliant and it has a universal audience. I have often gone into homes and observed 10-year-olds scarper off to watch TV the minute ‘Father Ted’ appears. And it’s translated into multiple languages.

How many priests must dream about kicking their bishop or provincial up the proverbial? Fr Ted’s fixation with wanting to be popular, whatever the cost. And that crazy behaviour mixed with a certain element of pomposity. Fr Ted has to be the boss and his curate Dougal plays along most of the time. 

Though when it comes to trivial issues such as the existence of God he is somewhat flaky. It turns out that his theology leaves much to be desired. But Fr Ted, who comes across as the decent chap, the sound parish priest, behind all his braggadocio, is also skating on extremely thin theological ice.

How often have you sat down in a church and heard hints of Fr Ted or Dougal.

And how could anyone ignore Fr Jack? “Feck, drink, women, ….” He even uses the spare parachute to make sure he can hold on to the trolley-full of drink as the plane heads for a nose dive ever before it arrives at its shrine destination.

And all those filthy clothes and empty bottles that are part of Fr Jack’s daily life.

Bishop Brennan arrives, strutting his stuff, in his purple attire. He does not know what to do with his two priests. He sees them as two right clowns. He expects the two of them to treat him with ‘due dignity’ and is infuriated when Dougal refuses to give him his proper title. The formal mask falls long enough for him to use foul language to Dougal. It’s an interesting insight into the relationship between a bishop and his priests.

All the time Mrs Doyle is on hand to be the subservient housekeeper. And yet she’s a canny old dear who knows her men far better than they know themselves.

It’s a brilliant show. All the time with the slightest traces of reality to it and it’s just that that makes it so funny.

I’ve a sneaky feeling that the writers of Father Ted knew something about the life of the Irish priest.

It’s a great laugh. Wouldn’t it be shocking if we couldn’t laugh at ourselves? “Careful now”.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Shaking hands at Torgau

Russian ambassador to Germany Vladimir Grinin and his US counterpart John Emerson met at Torgau on the River Elbe today to recall the Soviet and US armies meeting there 70 years ago today.

The Russian ambassador spoke in German.

Keeping people in the dark

The late Dominican Paul Hynes once commented that the banks were all-powerful not becasue they had people's money but rather becasue they knew how much people had and what they did with their money. He went on to say that power was always linked with knowledge. It was a remark he made in the 1970s.

It's an analysis that makes sense.

These days one of the buzz words is 'transparency'. Citizens seem to clamour for transparency, especially from their politicians. Does it happen?

What about the church, dioceses, religious congregations?

If transparency doesn't happen is it due to crass inefficiency or is it part of a plan to keep people in the dark?

Whatever the reasons, it becomes terribly tedious and annoying.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The good shepherd

The Gospel reading read at Mass today from St John's Gospel is a reminder to all of us of how important it is for us to look out for one another and to care for each other.

It's unfortunate that so often it is 'hijacked' to promote 'vocations' to priesthood and religious life.

As Christians we believe we have been all called to follow in the steps of Jesus. For any one group to try to make themselves 'special' is annoying, to say the least.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A tragic week at sea and not a good shepherd in sight

The piece below is the 'Thinking Anew' column in today's Irish Times.

Michael Commane
Anyone who is keeping abreast of the election campaign in the UK will have been struck by the number of times politicians are seen sitting down with the weakest and most fragile in the community. They are all promising that they are going to fight their corner when elected. In the same vein, it seems as if billions are going to be thrown at the National Health Service. Not one campaigning politician would dare to suggest that she or he was willing to make drastic cutbacks to the state health system.
But none of that is unique to the UK. Politicians worldwide will always tug at our heartstrings and assure us that they will take care of those in greatest need.
The recent industrial dispute about minimum working hours in this country echoes another hot topic in the UK election. When the public hear of injustice and unfairness, there is always going to be an outcry in favour of those who are weakest and most vulnerable.
When a homeless man died close to Dáil Éireann last Christmas, there was uproar across the State, and politicians and civic leaders were forced into action.


Probably the moral of the story is that it is incumbent on all of us to keep the pressure up, so that the plight of the poorest and weakest in society is always highlighted. 
In tomorrow’s gospel, Jesus compares himself to the good shepherd. And what makes a good shepherd so special is that he or she knows how to care for all the sheep. No exceptions are made. Indeed, if exceptions are to be made, they must always favour those most in need. And not just when the stories make the news. The good shepherd is always on hand, irrespective of newspaper headlines.
“I am the good shepherd; / I know my own / and my own know me.” (John 10: 14)
Jesus clearly tells us that he, the good shepherd, will lay down his life for his sheep.
It’s interesting that this gospel is read during the Easter season when we are still celebrating the great Christian feast of resurrection. The Jesus who compares himself to the good shepherd is now the risen Lord.
In Cologne Cathedral, on Friday, April 17th, more than 1,400 people gathered to pray for the 150 people who lost their lives in the Germanwings aircraft that crashed in the Alps on March 24th. Many of the people who spoke at the service stressed how important it was for us to look out for one another, to show care and solidarity.
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the Archbishop of Cologne, reminded those present that on Good Friday Christians recalled the words of Christ: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The cardinal spoke of God’s love for us and said that it is our faith that God’s love wins out, God’s love is everlasting.

Appalling conditions

In times of suffering and pain, watching the appalling conditions that so many experience, it’s not easy to talk about God’s love. In order to talk about God’s love, we have the responsibility to play our part in righting the wrongs of the world.
Watching the people come ashore at Lampedusa and thinkng of their plight, surely one is forced to question a global system that allows people to experience such suffering. And Lampedusa is not an isolated example of human suffering. Who has been there to protect those who have drowned, those who have been thrown overboard? Not a good shepherd within shouting distance. It’s the survival of the fittest, where economics has the trump card.
The good shepherd sets a good example for all of us. Staying silent is simply not good enough. We all need people to care for us, to keep an eye out for us. And we, in turn, are challenged to keep an eye out for those in need.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A funny incident

At the junction of Dame Street and George's Street a horse drawn tourist carriage went thourgh a red light. I was on my motor bike and had the green light in my favour on Geroge's Street. We both came close to each other and  I beeped the horn at the horse drawn cab.

We were together at the next set of lights. The the cab driver commented: "Do you not know that it is an offence to blow your horn at a horse.

No reply to that. We smiled and each drove off.

Recalling the madness of war in the midst of arming

These days we are being bombarded with news and stories about the First World War. Tomorrow it is Gallipoli. Over 131,000 people lost their lives at Gallipoli.

In early May it will be the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Millions were slaughtered in that war.

On May 9 the Russians will celebrate and on May 8 the Western allies will recall the end of WW ll. Documents of surreneder were signed in Riems on May 8 and in Karlshorst on May 9, Russian time.

There is an irony that right around the world at present daggers are drawn and yet we can recall the maddness of wars that killed millions of people.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fastest train on earth

A Japanese maglev tain travelled at 603 km/h on an experimental track on Tuesday. It covered 1.8 kilometres in 10.8 seconds.

A world record.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Strike at German Rail

German locomotive drivers are on strike today and tomorrow in solidarity with German Rail's shunters.

The strike began today at 02.00.

Jesuit scholarship

Came across a young man in recent weeks who is now in his late 20s.

He availed of the scholarship that the Jesuits offer at their school in Belvedere. He had nothing but praise for the initiative. Each year the school accepts 10 first-years on the programme.

Impressive. Do other religious congregations who run schools offer similar style schemes?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kansas bishop resigns

Kansas bishop 'resigns'.

The NCR writes an extensive piece on Bishop Robert Finn. Below is an extract.

Finn came to the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese as a co-adjutor bishop in March 2004.

He was then a 53-year-old St. Louis priest and member of the conservative Opus Dei movement. He had served as a high school principal and oversaw the St. Louis archdiocesan newspaper.

Finn succeeded Bishop Raymond Boland as the diocese's leader on May 24, 2005. Within a week of his appointment he:

  • Dismissed the chancellor, a layman with 21 years of experience in the diocese; the vice chancellor, a religious woman stationed in the diocese for nearly 40 years; and the chief of pastoral planning for the diocese since 1990. He replaced them with a priest chancellor.
  • Cancelled the diocese’s nationally renowned lay formation programs and a master’s degree program in pastoral ministry.
  • Halved the budget of the Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry, effectively forcing the almost immediate resignation of half the seven-member team. Within 10 months, all seven would be gone and the center shuttered.
  • Ordered a “zero-based study” of adult catechesis in the diocese and appointed as vice chancellor to oversee adult catechesis, lay formation and the catechesis study a layman with no formal training in theology or religious studies.
  • Ordered the editor of the diocesan newspaper to immediately cease publishing columns by Notre Dame theologian Fr. Richard McBrien, and announced he would review all front-page stories, opinion pieces, columns and editorials before publication.

By most accounts, Finn reached these decisions without consulting any of the senior leadership of the diocese or the people in the programs affected. Virtually no staff at the diocesan headquarters knew of the changes until they were announced at a news conference two days after his appointment.

Many parish staff members and priests would first learn of the changes when they read about them in the local or diocesan newspaper.

As his first year in office unfolded and as budgets were prepared for a new fiscal year, the new bishop’s priorities emerged.

Budgets for the peace and justice office and Bolivian missions were cut in half and more. A diocesan sponsored master’s program was transferred from the Aquinas Institute of Theology, a Dominican school affiliated with Jesuit-run St. Louis University, to the Institute for Pastoral Theology at Florida-based Ave Maria University.

A Latin Mass community, which had been using a city parish for liturgies, was given a parish in its own right and Finn appointed himself pastor. Later, he asked the parish that the Latin Mass community would be leaving to donate $250,000 of the estimated $1.5 million the Latin group needed to renovate the old church Finn gave them.

TV presenter Anna Nolan replies to Breda O'Brien

Anna Nolan writing in today's 'Herald' replies to Breda O'Brien's article in 'The Sunday Independent'.

"I'd like to tell Breda something from my own experience.
"I abstained from sex for three years when I was training to be a nun. Well, two and a half years really.
"No kissing, no tickling, no groping - nothing.
"Here's a big secret I am going to let out: I wasn't a better person.
"I wasn't a better Christian. I was exactly the same person, who reacted to dilemmas and situations in the same way as I would today.
"Breda wouldn't want a life without sex, so why should she suggest it to the gay and lesbian community?"

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Heuston collection

Below is a comment sent to this blog.

As it is posted to a comment in the archives it might well not be seen by readers. For that reason it is placed here as a post. Indeed, most interesting and thank you Fergal.

Fergal Jennings has left a new comment on your post "John O'Gorman OP": 

Hi Michael,

I found his glass negatives in the Claddagh and there are a group of historians in Newbridge scanning them at the moment.

We have set up a Facebook page to try and get help with identifying the images; they are from all over the country. The Facebook Page is at



Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea and the three-card trickster

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea in his Sunday Independent column this week, when talking about current government spin says: "It's a three-card trick with blank cards."

Brillaint comment. Does that mean that Willie can beat the three-card trickster when the game is 'fair'?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sachsenhausen architecture's best for barbaric goals

These days sees special commemorations taking place at the former Nazi death camps. Seventy years ago this month the allied armies arrived at the gates of most of the camps.

It was the turn of Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück today.

German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke at  Sachsenhausen. He said remembrance has no expiry date.

"The crimes of the National Socialist regime are incomparable to any others," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the Sachsenhausen memorial on Sunday, "they make us shiver."
At the camp north of Berlin, liberated on April 22 and 23 of 1945, Steinmeier alluded to the site itself standing "for the monstrosity of a regime which institutionalised horror." The Social Democrat foreign minister pointed out how the camp - the first to be designed by the Nazis for purpose - was planned "with the best architecture for the completion of barbaric goals."

Inspiring leadership words

Below is a quote from Lieut Col Mark Prendergast commanding officer of the 48th Infantry Group of the Irish Defence Forces. The group took up duty on the Golan Heights on April 7, providing military support for UN observers in a zone between Israeli-occupied Syria and Syria proper.

The group consists of 130 men and women, 14 officers, 115 other ranks and a chaplain.

Fine words of leadership.

"I will display my competence to you in my decisions and how we interact, but I will challenge you to show me yours, to show me what you are capable of doing. If you believe I can do my job and I believe you can do your job, we will work very well together.

"There will be no favouritism. There will be no rules for one group and not for another. It will be fair, and if you perceive it not to be fair, I tell you now: challenge it. Say, 'Hold on a minute: how come?' Ask those questions, becasue it is my intention that this has to be fair."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Germanwings crash victims remembered in Cologne

A service of remembrance was held in Cologne Cathedral this morning to honour the dead of the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps in March.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne presided over the service.

Premier of North Rhine Westfalia, Hannelore Kraft spoke moving words about the tragedy. German President Johannes Gauck, a member of the Spanish Cabinet and a representantve of the French Government also spoke.

Among the 1,400 people present in Cologne cathedral for the serivce, were many members of the German cabinet, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and Economics Minister and Deputy Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel.

The rescue services offered prayers of the faithful along with a sisted of one of the victims.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Oops poor Nigel Farage

On the BBC leaders' debate this evening UKIP's Nigel Farage spoke about 'prostrate cancer'. He really did.

Russian bikers plan 'victory drive' back to Berlin

Today is the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the final stage of the battle of Berlin.

Allied armies stayed 100 kilometres west of the city to allow the Soviet Army attack. Twenty armies, 2,500,000 soldiers, 6,300 tanks and 8,500 aircraft were used in the attack.

A Russian rock band are planning to drive motorbikes from Moscow to Berlin, arriving in the German capital on May 9. The event is to recall the Soviet victory in Berlin on May 9, 1945.

The Polish authorities see the motorbike drive as a provocation and it is being rumoured that the Germans will not grant the band visas to enter Germany.

David Cameron seems to put it all down to 'tone'

Apologies for no-show for two days. This has been due to illness.

Lasy night BBC's Evan Davis interviewed the Prime Minister David Cameron. In the course of the interview Davis played a clip of a speech by a former Conservative minister, Peter Lilley. It was clear that Lilley was laughing at the poor. Davis asked Cameron could such an interview happen today. While not directly answering the question, he did incline to say that Lilley's 'tone' was wrong. Watching the Lilley clip it was as clear as day that if such words were issued today the election would be lost for the Conservatives.

Away from work and sick in bed leaves the soul a restless place. There's only so much you can read or listen to on radio. Turn to YouTube. I did just that and listened to two talks. One was given by an English Dominican Aidan Nichols on the future of the Catholic Church in England and the other was a talk given by another English Dominican, Timothy Radcliffe. His talk was in St Paul's and he spoke on what is the point in being a Christian.

Has everything to do with Cameron's understanding of 'tone'? Listening to Nichols and Radcliffe the difference between the two men is breathtakingly stark.

Has everything just to do with style and 'tone'?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Günter Grass dies in Lübeck

Nobel laureate Günter Grass died this morning in a Lübeck clinic.

The publication of  The Tin Drum in 1959 placed him on the world stage. The book sold three milion copies and has been translated into 24 languages.

Grass won the Nobel prize for literature in 1999.

He ran into some controversy over his war record.

The Danzig born writer was a life-long supporter of the SPD.  He was a speech writer for Willy Brandt. He once said that he could never belong to a party or organisation in which he could always agree.

His father was a Protestant and a member of the Nazi party. His mother was a Caholic and Grass was baptised in the Catholic Church.

So far and it is now 18.00, not a word on RTE Radio about the death of Grass.

This evening Germany's ARD tv station screened The Tin Drum.

Politicians of all parties have spoken today of the greatness of Grass. And it's generally accepted that he was always belligerent, right to his death.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sixty five-year-old Berlin teacher expecting quads

A 65-year-old German is expecting quads.

The primary school teacher from Berlin is mother of 13 children and is in the 21st week of her pregnancy.

Travel pass on the bikes?

The Dublin Bikes has proved one of the great success stories in the city. And now the scheme is in operation in Cork, Limerick and Galway.

Why not extend the over-66 travel pass scheme to the public two-wheelers?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Police presence outside Terenure synagogue

This morning, as is now the case every Saturday morning, there is a Garda presence outside the synagogue in Terenure.

French diplomat Laurent Stefanini and the Holy See

A former rail driver, who is now dead, was overheard saying that "everything comes down to two things, money and sex".

True or false? Whichever, there is always a ring of reality to the comment.

In the last days, the media has been carrying a story about the Holy See's delay in accpeting the nomination of the new French ambassador, Laurent Stefanini.

There has been no comment from the Holy See, so what the papers are saying is speculation. But Laurent Stefanini is gay and in the past he has publicly supported same-sex marriage.

If François Hollande's appointee to the Holy See was 'quiet' about his orientation would there have been a delay in his taking up the post? Would it have been a news story?

He has already worked as a diplomat for his country at the Holy See. That was before France introduced same-sex marriage in 2013.

In the eyes of the Catholic Church is it okay to be gay once the person remains 'closet' about their orientation?

And that inevitably leads one on to ask about priesthood and what's happening in that institution?

Maybe the issue has nothing at all to do with sexuality but rather everything to do with honesty and oppeness?

Whatever it is, it is complex. Expecting it to 'go away' isn't working and can't work.

Friday, April 10, 2015

"God always speaks in the language of the time"

The piece below is an extract from a report in the NCR.
Interesting to say the least.
Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, speaking to a first-of-its-kind congress of many of the world's religious formation directors, also warned the religious against trying to abandon the changes in the church brought about by the Second Vatican Council.
"We feel today new geographical and cultural contexts that manifest in intense ways," Braz de Aviz said on Wednesday to some 1,200 formation directors at the Rome conference.
"The contexts have changed," he said. "We are disoriented. In our identity, we are a bit insecure. We need a new deepening, a new pausing, a new listening."
Continuing, the cardinal told the formation directors: "Do not distance yourself from the great lines of the Second Vatican Council."
"God is not static," the cardinal said. "God is always new movement -- of light, of heat, of demonstration. He speaks in every time to men and women with the true language of that time."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Remembering Bonhoeffer

Today is the 70th anniversary of the death of German theologian and Hitler opponent Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

He was hanged on a meat hook in Flossenbürg concentation camp just two weeks before the arrival of the US Army.

He was an influential opponent to the Nazis. His best known book is The Cost of Discipleship.

Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau, then in Silesia, today in Poland, in 1906.

A stamp for a French letter

Yesterday in the post office in Dublin's Montague Street a woman was overheard asking: "Can I have a stamp for a French letter?"

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Some of the weapons of those in power and control

A white US policeman shot dead a black man in the back in North Charleston, South Carolina. An amateur video of the shooting shows how the killing was perpetrated.

On Good Friday Anthony Ray Hinton was released from death row having spent 30 years in jail for a murder he did not commit.

The famed US lawyer Bryan Stevenson fought his case.

The blessings of modern technology. Putting trust in the agencies of power and authority?

The right-wing  US radio station  Patriot Radio  has made no reference either to the alleged police murder or the freeing of the innocent man.

Another reminder to cherish an independent and free press.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Irish Dominican presence in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

Michael Commane
Tralee man Paul Lawlor joined the Dominican Order in 1968, the year after I did, so we have been in touch with one another over the years, even if our paths have gone in different directions.

When I went to work in The Kerryman in the 1990s I got to know Paul's mother, and since then we have become great friends. Mrs Lawlor celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday, March 28. There was a party for the centenarian. I was there as was Paul, who travelled from Tehran for the special day.

The Irish Dominicans went to Iran in 1962. And since then we have had a presence in Tehran, where we have a priory right in the heart of the capital city.  In the 1970s an Irish Dominican and past pupil of CBS Synge Street, Fr William Barden was archbishop in Isfahan.

Twelve years ago I visited Paul in Iran. I was bowled over by the beauty of the place and its people. They could not have been kinder to me. On one occasion I lost my way in the middle of Tehran and a policeman came to my aid. He ended up stopping a car and asking the driver to bring me to my destination. I speak no Farsi, he no English and still it worked.

Last week I sat down with Paul and we chatted about what it's like for an Irish Dominican priest living in the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Paul is the only Irish Dominican in Iran. Before we began our chat I pointed out that I had recently been in Synge Street Primary School in Dublin and the first book I saw when I passed the hall door was a copy of the Koran.

The Irish Dominicans since going to Iran have been working with the small Christian community in the capital but they have also been involved in building relations with Islamic leaders. Paul, who speaks Farsi and with his experience of living among his Muslim neighbours for many years, has a practical knowledge of Islam.

Iranians are mostly Shia Muslims, which is the second largest denomination of Islam. They believe that Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammad and his descendants were the rightful successors of the Prophet as leaders of the Muslim community. Ali and his successors are called Imams and there have been 12 of them. The last Imam went into hiding and they are awaiting his return. In the meantime Islamic leaders are the deputies of the 12th Imam who, though hidden, is the leader of Shia Muslims.

Ali is the great hero, the perfect man, who lived the Koran. He is a manifestation of God's self-revelation, who was created before the world. The word Ayatollah means "sign of God." Many Shia Muslims believe that the hidden meaning of the Koran is revealed through the Imams.

Talking to Paul it was clear that he believes in the importance of the work of understanding and relating to this religion, which has such a large following. In his own scholarly and methodical way he is constantly learning more about their world. He has been living in Iran some 18 years. In that time he has made many Muslim friends. 

There’s the old adage that if you want to know me then come to live with me. That's exactly what Paul is doing. And chatting with him I learned so much about the world of Islam. We all need to spend more time talking and listening to one another. It makes far more sense than making war.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A single swan on the Dodder

For close to two years there has been just one swan on the stretch of the Dodder from Rathfarnham Bridge to Orwell Bridge. Before that there were always two swans to be seen.

Two years ago eggs were laid close to Rathfarnham Bridge but a fox or some other animal took them.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Armenian genocide

Next week Pope Francis is due to celebrate a service in the Armenian Catholic rite to commemorate the 100th anniversary of over one million Armenains being killed by Turks.

In these days Armenian communities around the world recall the atrocitiy.

It was the first genocide of the 20th century.

Below is an extract from an address by Hitler after the invasion of Poland. In it he refers to the genocide of the Armenians.

How mad/bad/crazy the man was.

"My decision to attack Poland was arrived at last spring. Originally, I feared that the political constellation would compel me to strike simultaneously at England, Russia, France, and Poland. Even this risk would have had to be taken.

Ever since the autumn of 1938, and because I realized that Japan would not join us unconditionally and that Mussolini is threatened by that nit-wit of a king and the treasonable scoundrel of a crown prince, I decided to go with Stalin.

In the last analysis, there are only three great statesmen in the world, Stalin, I, and Mussolini. Mussolini is the weakest, for he has been unable to break the power of either the crown or the church. Stalin and I are the only ones who envisage the future and nothing but the future. Accordingly, I shall in a few weeks stretch out my hand to Stalin at the common German-Russian frontier and undertake the redistribution of the world with him.

Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter — with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It's a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me.

I have issued the command — and I'll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Life in the cockpit

Former pilot Stefan Bender has commented in a 'Der Spiegel' article about life in the cockpit.

"The captain is God, the co-pilot holds his coat. An atmosphere exists in the cockpit, which is similar to that in an army barracks, where the co-pilot is humiliated. Such an extreme hierarchical system is completely  contrary to any sort of philosophy which implies a shared responsiblity. The co-pilot has nothing to offer."

Surely a reality not exclusive to cockpits?

Free-sheet 'Alive' again this month tells an untruth

The paragraph below appears in the April issue of the free-sheet Alive.

"When UN agencies, the EU, individual European countries (including Ireland) and the US under Obama attach unreasonable conditions to giving aid they are playing havoc with tens of millions of lives."

The paragraph above is telling an untruth.

In the February issue  of  Aive the following paragraph appeared. This too is an untruth.

“The US, the EU and a host of European countries (including Ireland) link the giving of aid to poor countries with demands that these countries change their laws to uphold various ‘rights’ “.

It's unfortuane that the free-sheet newspaper Alive, which has in its masthead the sentence 'Catholic Montlhy Newspaper' peddles such untruths.

Friday, April 3, 2015

UTV Ireland's poor editing

According to this evening's UTV Ireland news Pope Francis was celebrating Mass this Good Friday in Rome.

Is that a first? Clearly, they have an editing problem.

No dancing in Bavaria today

It's always interesting to listen to Ireland's captains of industry quote how the Germans do things. Today a spokesman for the hospitality sector was arguing in favour of selling alcohol on Good Friday.

Today, Good Friday, Germany is closed for business  from Flensburg to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and from Aachen to Frankfurt-an-der-Oder in the east.

In the State of Bavaria all 'dancing establishments' are closed.

UPC's poor decision

Since the start up of UTV Ireland, television provider UPC has discontinued relaying UTV.

It seems an unusual decision. So far UTV Ireland has simply failed to attract viewers.

It meant that last night UPC customers were unable to view the ITV Leaders' Debate, which was a live debate between seven UK political party leaders.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dublin's way not Berlin's

Why all this talk about privatising a proportion of the services operated by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann?

Who owns and operates the buses, the U-Bahn and the S Bahn in Berlin?  It works well.

Priests' day

Today in the Christian churches might well be considered a special day for priests.

An occasion to pray that priests will be gentle and gracious, kind and understanding, friendly and wise.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

RTE being so silly

RTE's April Fool joke about removing the Spire in O'Connell Street for two weeks during the 1916 centenary celebrations is simply silly.

Can they not do better than that?

This post is being written during the gag.

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No comment from bishop

The editorial in the current issue of Kerry's Eye.