Thursday, March 31, 2016
Since its introduction, the railway has posts every quarter mile. They are known as mileposts. Although Ireland has changed from imperial to metric measure, the railway continues to use the imperial system.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
|Lally with her son Tom and daughter-in-law, Marianne, who is John's wife.|
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Last Tuesday I spotted a reference to a speech that US Republican front-runner presidential candidate Donald Trump gave to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
What I have seen and heard of Trump up to now has been scary. The world and its mother is talking about the man and how preposterous it would be to elect this man president of the most powerful country in the world. It appears that his chances of ending up in the White House have been ratcheted up.
His speech to AIPAC was a moment in time. He read it from a teleprompter, so it was not a matter of he talking off the top of his head. It was a well-planned speech.
He spoke for 23 minutes, pandering to the crowd, who were roaring and screaming in praise of what he was saying.
Every word of his speech was hate-filled. Trump was looking for the Jewish vote and in doing so, was spitting out words of hate for everyone whom he sees as opposed to Israel. He also spoke most disparagingly about President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Listening to the speech I felt my bias towards the man was influencing how I was reacting. I could not believe my ears to what I was hearing. I strongly recommend you listen to it and watch the man.
He reminded me of another man. The 'other man' expressed great hatred for the Jewish community.
We are living in scary times. Last week we had Brussels. Every day misery and suffering is being inflicted on Syrians. Trouble in Ukraine continues to simmer.
And all the perpetrators of hatred and violence, all those who scream from the rooftops are certain in their views and opinions. The last thing any of these people is is a 'wishy-washy' liberal.When did a 'wishy-washy' liberal cause mayhem and savagery?
All sorts of doctrinaire thinking is dangerous. And the same applies within religions. Once people stand up on their high horses, claiming they are going to save the world and correct all the wrong that has been allowed to creep in, then it's time to batten down the hatches.
It's easy to think that 'fundamentalism' is some sort of disease that afflicts other peoples and religions.
It would seem that there is some sort of 'thing' imprinted deep down in our DNA that can be triggered into action when we find ourselves in particular situations.
And it occurs right across the spectrum of all reality. No religion, no race, no culture, no people, no time in history is exempt.
We have been silly enough to look back at Nazi Germany and that 'other man' and wonder how such a thing could happen. Or we look at the evil of the Inquisition and wonder why.
What are we doing to stop it happening right now?I for one, would much prefer to be a 'wish-washy' liberal than some sort of principled fanatic, who is willing to go to any lengths to reach the 'promised land'.
Unfortunately a 'wishy-washy' liberal is no match for a Bible-thumping fundamentalist.
I've seen too much hurt and savagery.
AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus has apologised for Trump's speech. Chemi Shalev, correspondent for Israel's Haaretz, left the Trump speech in shock and asked how fellow Jews could have applauded his speech.
Monday, March 28, 2016
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Saturday, March 26, 2016
While in China 20 people have been detained for calling for the resignation of President Xi Jinping as general secretary of the Communist Party and head of state.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Yet another example of the behaviour of the management class. An examle too of lazy journalism from media outlets.
North Korea showcased its biggest ever military parade some months ago.
According to Central Statistics Office figures 35,300 Irish people emigrated in the 12 months prior to April 2015. And that was a decrease from the previous year.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Monday, March 21, 2016
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Saturday, March 19, 2016
The play 'Madame de Markievicz On Trial’, written by Ann Matthews and directed by Anthony Fox, is touring the country at present. Next week it is being staged in Newbridge, Kilkenny and Galway.
When it comes to the women, who took part in the Rebellion, Madame de Markievicz is the most well-known.
A play never claims to be an accurate account of an historical event. A play, like a good teacher, makes one think about people, things and events. And certainly 'Madame de Markievicz On Trial' directed by Anthony Fox gives the audience an opportunity simply to ask themselves, who exactly is this Countess de Markievicz.
The Countess was tried by court martial in the aftermath of the Rebellion but this drama is set in a criminal court and is a fictional calling to account of the Countess for the death of police constable Michael Lahiff on Easter Monday 1916.
There are seven characters in the drama, two men, and five women. The prosecutor William May is fictional and the other six, including the Countess, are based on real characters.
The writer Ann Matthews and the The New Theatre with a superb cast has brought them to life on the stage,
The witnesses are based on a mix of acquaintances and friends of Madame, such as Dr Kathleen Lynn, Helena Molony, Margaret Skinnider, and William O’Brien of the ITGWU, while two of the women are witnesses for the prosecution, one of whom is the aunt of Constable Lahiff.
Was de Markievicz a fantasist, did she like dressing up in military fatigues for the fun of it, or had she thought all this through? Indeed, the prosecution does try to paint a picture of a silly woman, who is close to penury and is really something of a loose cannon.
The audience will be the jury as they will decide the verdict, innocent or guilty.
There are also interesting comments about class. Were people in awe of de Markievicz because of her background and do we still tug the forelock when her name is mentioned almost 90 years after her death?
For more information log on to www.thenewtheatre.com.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Monday, March 14, 2016
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Friday, March 11, 2016
Tune in to any US radio station and quickly one will be flabbergasted by the political discord, even anger that is prevalent in the United States.
And a lot of it is out in the public square.
Have the churches been ahead of the posse? There has been a similar, even stronger discord within the churches for many years.
The difference might be that the story of the churches has stayed under the radar, never made it to the public place?
A state of chassis?
Then again, that's what Sean O'Casey thought many years ago.
Surely Ireland is a better place to live in today than it was when people crowded into tenement buildings, had no toilet facilities and there was loads of talk about the 'transcendent'.
And better too than an Ireland before the mid-1960s when post primary education was for the rich?
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Does it ever cross your mind the number of buildings that you pass by on a daily basis and happen to know so little about them or their history?
Last Wednesday I was at a book launch in the Royal Irish Academy. It's Number 19, Dawson Street, close to Dublin's Mansion House.
I regularly walk or cycle by the building, knowing nothing about it. The RIA, which was established in 1785, is an all-Ireland academic body that promotes study and excellence in the humanities and sciences.
Among its past members are Éamon de Valera, Sean Lemass, Garret the FitzGerald, James Gandon and Oscar Wilde's father, William Wilde, who was a polymath.
David Begg, whom I have known since the early 1990s invited me to the launch of his book, which took place in the Royal Irish Academy.
I don't know David that well. When I was doing my post grad in journalism he kindly allowed me interview him for a paper that I was writing. At the time he was the head of the Communications Workers' Union and one of his advisers was in school with me. And then later I worked with his daughter-in-law.
It's never a wise idea to go to a book launch on your own. You need someone with whom you can tag along. At such events it's easy to feel out of the loop, embarrassing too. At least, that's how I feel when I am in a gathering where I am not on first name terms with people in the room.
At such an event I certainly would not have the brass neck to introduce myself to public figures. But on the night I was lucky as there was someone present whom I know.
Former MEP Pronsias de Rossa and Siptu president Jack O'Connor were among the recognisable faces. There were a few faces I recognised but was unable to put names on them.
The book, 'Ireland, Small Open Economies and European Integration - Lost in Transition', published by Palgrave Macmillan was launched by Fergus Finlay.
Of course Fergus Finlay would only say nice things about David on the night. Fergus, who is CEO of Bernardos, spoke in glowing terms of the role David has played since becoming chairman of the children's organisaiton. But what did strike me listening to him and then later to David is how as a nation we have paid lip service to the idea of creating a just society, free of inequality.
Both David and Fergus stressed the growing gap there is between rich and poor. In the book David calls for a return of social partnership, and that inequality should be put at the top of the agenda.
David in turn spoke of the work that Bernardos does and how it reaches out to people who would have no other lifeline.
Surely there is something about the message of the Gospel that should inspire us to battle on for equality and justice for all peoples.
Have we been doing that as well as we could? Doubt it.
Do the churches say enough about social justice? Their supporters will say they do but the media is not too interested in what they say on the topic.
I'm not sure the churches are as strident on social issues as they could be. They seem to show a hesitancy on such matters when compared to their forceful views on some other issues.
Monday, March 7, 2016
Sunday, March 6, 2016
When CIE was commissioning the bust of John Heuston for Kingsbridge Station, now Hesuton Station, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rising, they consulted Fr J M Heuston.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
It's been a topic for painters and writers: Rembrandt and Dürer, Rilke, Kipling and Shakespeare, are inspired to paint and write about it. It's been a topic for painters and writers: Rembrandt and Dürer, Rilke, Kipling and Shakespeare, are inspired to paint and write about it.
In 'The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming', Henri Nouwen interprets Rembrandt's painting. He shows how in the hands of the father mercy becomes flesh.
It's a tale for every person. The reckless son who has had enough of life at home, probably bored and wants to see what the great world outside looks like. He wants to get some of the fun.
It's not long before he realises that it has gone pear-shaped and decides to eat humble pie and return home. His father never gives up on him and receives him back with open arms. All the time in the shadows is the 'faithful' son, who stays at home, works hard and then feels hard done when he sees how his father reacts to the return of his profligate brother.
It's easy to admire the magnanimous love of the father for his son. It's what good fathers do. And it's understandable that the son, who has stayed at home, is greatly peeved with the reaction of his father.
It's easy to romanticise and see the good aspects of stories far away in time and place. But when it comes to our own backyard it's different. And not to forget, it's easy to write and talk about things but living them out in our own lives is a different story.
How many of us bear grudges, how many of us are slow to forget hurts that have been done to us. We can list off litanies why we should never extend the hand of friendship.
"Why should I be the first to make a move? They were in the wrong and I'm tired of making a fool of myself. It's about time I looked after myself. No, let them make the first move and then I'll reconsider. Anyway, they have done terrible wrong to me."
The story of the Prodigal Son turns that sort of thinking on its head. It also turns so much of our accepted norms and standards upside down.
The world would tell us that the Prodigal Son does not deserve to be 'rewarded', that the father is being unwise to give him a second chance and that the 'sulky' brother has every reason to be annoyed with the 'nonsense' and 'tomfoolery' that is associated with his brother's return home. And anyway, he is only coming home because he has nowhere else to go.
As Christians we believe that our destiny, our goal is to be in friendship with God. And we believe that this God is all-merciful. There are no limits to that mercy and kindness. There is no limit to the distance God will go to embrace us with that all-consuming love.
If I really believe that, how can I not extend the hand of friendship to my enemy.
And just look at our world. In Europe we are busy building barbed wire fences. The talk in the US hovers around erecting walls. And all the time guns are blazing somewhere or other in the world.Imagine, if we all took the story of the Prodigal Son to our hearts.
Nelson Mandela said, "forgiveness liberates the soul.