Friday, June 30, 2017

Corbyn at the Miners' Gala

Great piece in The Tablet this week on 'The Corbyn effect' by Jonathan Tulloch.

He descibes how he attended last summer's Durham Miners' Gala and experienced first hand Jeremy Corbyn.

"As the crowds were too large for us to get anywhere near him, we went behind the speakers' podium. Others had the same idea. When a woman started scaling the scaffolding, others copied. Soon we were climbing our way through hoarding to find ourselves yards from the Labour leader. I remember thinking: What other leading politician would let the unauthorised get so close? Who else would take such a ristk."

Corbyn is due to speak next Saturday, July 8 again at the Durham Miners' Gala. It is expected to be the largest crowd seen there since the heyday of the pits.

Will he be back in 2018 as Prime Minister Corbyn?

Yes, pray God.

George Pell

The link below is to an article on Carindal George Pell, which appeared in yesterday's Guardian.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Young Tory supporter makes snide comment to Snow

PC Wayne Marques of the London Transport police was interviewed on a number of UK television stations yesterday about the London Bridge attack.

He had just gone on duty when the attackers drew their knives. He explained his immediate reaction and how he responded.

It was stunning television and PC Marques came across as a brave and humble man.

Among those who interviewed him was Jon Snow on the Channel 4 7pm news. 

Earlier on the news programme Matt Kilcoyne from the Adam Smith Institute was discussing the gap in British society between rich and poor, indeed, the ever-growing divide. He was in favour of the Conservative austerity policy. He was talking about social inequality with two other people.

At one stage  Mr Kilcoyne made a snide and nasty comment to Jon Snow remarking:"Not everyone hates the Tories as much as you do".

It was such a cheap shot and the behaviour of Mr Kilcoyne compared to that of PC Marques in the later interview in many ways was an allegory of our time.

Later in the evening the topic trended on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

US Treasury Secretary

The US Secretary of The Treasury Steven Mnuchin married at the weekend.

Mr Mnuchin has an estimated net wealth of $300 million.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Shakespeare's eye on life

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
While stopped at traffic lights on my bicycle I spotted out of the corner of my eye on the other side of the road an elderly man cycling a fold-up bicycle.

My attention was caught for two reasons: one he was an elderly man and secondly he was cycling the Rolls Royce of fold-up bicycles, a Brompton. It folds-up really small and also, it is designed with little wheels, which allows you to wheel it about in its folded-up state.

For a few seconds I was marvelling at the man. He had cycled up a steep hill and it seemed no bother to him. At a glance I decided he must have been in his mid to late 70s.

Suddenly it dawned on me he may be a mere 10 years older than I.

I was home within two minutes and immediately googled Shakespeare's soliloquy in 'As You Like It'.

It was the play I did for what was then called the Intermediate Cert. And the famous soliloquy deals with the different stages in one's life.

I’m not at all sure what it could mean to a 15 or 16-year-old youth but reading it now 52 years later I can so easily identify with it.

“All the world’s a stage/And all the men and women merely players;/They have their exits and their entrances,/And one man in his time/plays many parts,/His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,/Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;/And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel/And shining morning face, creeping like snail/Unwillingly to school.”

What fascinated me looking at that man on the bicycle was how we all manage to live in our own skins no matter what age we are or no matter what the situation or condition in which we happen to find ourselves.

In the sun of last week young people were frolicking about on beaches and in parks enjoying every moment of what they were doing. In so many ways there were no tomorrows for them. It’s exactly what they should be doing – enjoying life and making the best of it.

They were simply getting on with it. And even at that age there will be those who are visited with serious illness, appalling tragedies, and yet someway or somehow or other they too get on with their lives.

And that seems to be one of the extraordinary traits or characteristics of being human – we manage to survive and we get on with our lives.

The survivors of Grenfell Tower have found themselves with nothing. Many of them having fled from war and mayhem and are now again in such pain and agony. But they too will survive and get on with their lives.

I have a terrible habit of asking what is it all about but since getting the Travel Pass I seem to have become obsessed with wondering and questioning what this life of ours is all about.

Shakespeare finishes his soliloquy with the seventh and last stage: “Last scene of all,/That ends this strange eventful history,/Is second childishness and mere oblivion,/Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

I’m wondering where am I on the Shakespeare counter?

In the sun-drenched days of last week it makes great sense to ‘make the best of it’. Enjoy life to the full. Sometimes that's easier said than done.

On one of those sunny days last week I spent some time talking to a 95-year-old woman. She is in hospital sick but the smile on her face honestly invigorated me. I came away from our chat full of the joys of life.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The dead of Grenfell Tower

Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy told Emily Maitlis on BBC's Newsnight this evening that he believes there is a coverup concerning the number of people who have lost their lives at the Grenfell Tower fire.

On the ground he is hearing stories of far greater loss of life.

He told Maitlis that it is generally believed that there are far more than 79 dead. He said that authorities could check phone usage, school lists, benefit recipients. But he believes that authorities are reticent to release the real numbers for fear of civil unrest.

It was sensational television and Emily Maitlis looked stunned in a way she never shows.

But isn't that what so many authorities do? And especailly incompetent authorities, they will always try to hide and obfuscate. They keep quiet, pretending to be wise.

Kennedy at the Berlin Wall

On this day, June 26, 1963 President JF Kennedy made his famous speech at the Berlin Wall, where he said: ich bin ein Berliner.

But his speech writers got it wrong. What he meant to say was: ich bin Berliner.

Corbyn at Glastonbury

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was greeted with rapturous applause when he addressed festival goers at Glastonbury on Saturday.

“Is it right so many people are frightened of where they live at the moment having seen the horrors of Grenfell Tower? Is it right that so many people live in such poverty in a society which has such riches?" The Labour leader asked.

Suddenly there is a new enthusiasm in British politics. The Michael Goves, the Boris Johnsons and David Davises look yesterday's men.

They seem to have lost their voice.

But on Friday evening on BBC Two's Newsnight  Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, called on broadcasters to be “a bit patriotic” in their Brexit coverage.

Emily Maitlis asked Leadsom if she was accusing her of being unpatriotic.

She sounded and looked pathetic and clearly a woman on the run.

Could a similar enthusiasm happen in the churches, in the Catholic Church in the Irish Catholic Church? In religious orders and congregations?

Doubtful. Have we a Corbyn figure? Even more doubtful.

Imagine if the Irish Dominicans threw up a Corbyn-like person? Alas, that is now impossible.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing

Aircraft of German airline Lufthansa are seldom if ever seen at Schönefeld, which is 20 kilometres south east of Berlin and in the state of Brandenburg. It's the 'poor man's' airport and will remain so until the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport is commissioned.

But yesterday the Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller and China's ambassador to Germany Shi Mingde were on hand to welcome two important arrivals on the Lufthansa flight from Chendu via Novosibirsk.

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, two young pandas arrived in the German capital, taking up residence at Berlin Zoo.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Germany. The pandas were sent as envoys of China-Germany friendship. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

"Where is the knowledge we have lost in information"

The 'Thinking Anew' column that appears in The Irish Times today.

 Michael Commane
Last Saturday was one of those special Irish summer days. Ireland was looking and smelling its best. And I know because I was out walking with a friend at the foothills of Maulin mountain which is in north Wicklow close to the border with Dublin.

At one stage on our walk we had a fabulous view out to sea. Boats exiting and entering Dublin port. All over the water were dots of white. 

The white dots were sailing boats. Maybe it was the altered perspective of looking down on those white dots out at sea that set me thinking about how fascinating knowledge is.

What is knowledge? Is it different from wisdom? The dictionary describes wisdom as the possession of experience and knowledge. I think it's fair to say that the wise person is often a knowledgeable person. Knowledge is a familiarity, an awareness or an understanding of someone or something.

In this newspaper last week in an obituary of Fr Jack Finucane, long associated with the international aid agency Concern Worldwide, the author wrote: “Among the metaphorical badges of honour pinned to Jack Finucane's breast by those who knew him and served with him, was the virtue of wisdom, said to be placed by King Solomon above wealth, health and all other things”.

Wisdom and knowledge are intrinsically linked. Jack Finucane was a wise man who was also a knowledgeable man in his sphere of action, helping the poorest of the poor.

Something I overheard almost 40 years ago has stayed with me. It surfaces when I hear the word knowledge. A Dominican was talking about finance and the banks and he casually said that the banks were all-powerful not because they had vast sums of money, rather they were powerful because they knew what people did with their money. 

There are many pithy sayings about knowledge, Shakespeare tells us there is no darkness but ignorance.

When we encounter genius, we are in awe. People who are brilliant and knowledgeable in their field of competency have an aura about them. The brilliant mathematician, the accomplished musician, the distinguished painter, the expert mechanic, the inspiring speaker, anyone who is exceptionally good at her or his work make us stand back and simply admire what they do.

But no matter how knowledgeable a person is, or no matter how much we know about anything, we are all limited in our knowledge. No one has all knowledge.

We are continuously making new discoveries. Indeed, right now in so many different areas, especially in science and technology, development is taking place at breath-taking speed. 

At the press of a button we have instant information. It may not always be accurate, nevertheless we now have tools of communication at our disposal that were unknown of 20 years ago. Information is coming at us at great speed from every possible angle. It is close to impossible to filter and process it all.

Is there a right type of knowledge? Certainly, we hear and learn bad and nasty news daily. That too, alas, is knowledge. The poet TS Eliot asks us to reflect: “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge. Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

In tomorrow’s Gospel (Matthew 10: 26 -33) Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid. “For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.” He tells his disciples what they hear in whispers they should proclaim from the housetops.

With all our knowledge, we are simply muddling about. 

As Christians, as believers in God, we say that all knowledge, all goodness is to be found in God. Our knowledge, our goodness surely are just glimpses of the knowledge and goodness of God. 

And maybe our floundering about with ideas and concepts, challenging what we once thought unchallengeable, will lead us to realise that all our understanding and knowledge points us towards God, in whom all knowledge is to be found.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Katie Hopkins might brush up on her English

Below a paragraph from Katie Hopkins' piece in "The Daily Mail'.

Whatever about her political knowledge, someone might think of giving her a quick course in English. 

Maybe a German or French student of English, indeed anyone from across the EU could giver her a helping hand.

Theresa May - a tepid Remainer - dragged about the place to say we would be better of in the European Union - convincing no one. And Corbyn - too busy fighting off leadership challenges from within his own party, a walking irrelevance, loved by people but laughed off his platform by his own team.

Jeremy and Theresa

Jeremy Corbyn gave a stellar performance in parliament yesterday as he did the day before as he does on the  streets and foothpaths wherever the cameras catch him.

Since the election people are listening to him.

Is it that his performance has improved or is it that because of what happened at the polls he is now being taken seriously?

And it's most unlikely that even 'The Sun' newspaper will dismiss him as they did before the election.

Might it be that Corbyn has been injected with a new vigour because of his success? The old cliche, success breeds success.

"The Sun" wanted to throw Corbyn in the bin, they had him thrown in the bin.

The number of people we throw in bins and then leave them rot there.

One of the greatest and worst of sins and seldom if ever a word about it.

And probably the complement to the Corbyn story is how a woman who was some short time ago walking on water is now fumbling and stumbling,

The nonsensical power we give to the management class and how we dismiss so many. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Beyond abortion wars

An interesting article in The Tablet of June 17 titled "Beyond the abortion wars" by Charles Camosy, who is associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University.

An excerpt from the piece:

"Catholics and members of other religious groups have abortions at similar rates to the rest of the population.

"Abortion, and especially public policy on abortion, is one of the most complex issues our cuture has to face.

"To do justice to the complexity of the issue we must find a way to talk about abortion that ditches the life/choice binary."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pope Paul Vl

On this day, June 21, 1963 Cardinal Montini was elected pope. He took the name Paul Vl. 

He died in 1978 and was succeeded by John Paul l.

Since his papacy there has only been one Italian pope, John Paul l, whose time in the Vatican was 33 days. He was 66 when elected pope.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn and hope

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of this blog.

Michael Commane.
In the run up to the general election in the UK the majority of newspapers were downright nasty to Jeremy Corbyn. 'The Sun' ran a front page story with the headline "Don't chuck Britain in the Cor bin".  

Before the election Corbyn did say that if elected, the Labour Party would put higher taxes on extremely wealthy people and corporations. The Labour Party's slogan was "For the many not the few". That was bound to make newspaper proprietors nervous.

It's striking how Irish people follow British politics and it would seem that Irish people living in the UK are more inclined to vote Labour than Conservative.

It is probably accurate to say that a large number of Irish people were pleased to see the Tories get a bloody nose.

And I have to be honest and come out with my hands up and admit that I was both flabbergasted and delighted when I saw the early exit polls announcing that the Conservatives were not going to get an overall majority. 

Suddenly it was appearing that Jeremy was not going to end up in the bin.

The election result and its aftermath has reminded me of the election Harold Wilson won as Labour leader back in 1964. He won by a small majority and then went on to win with a comfortable majority in 1966. Eight years later in 1974 Wilson was returned to power again but this time as leader of a minority government.

In 1964 I was 15 but I can still remember my enthusiasm for Wilson and his team. Ten years later in 1974 and living in Rome I was still a Wilson fan.

Wilson gave people a sense of hope. Labour gave the impression they were hell bent on improving the lot of poorer people. 

Last week a BBC programme did an analysis of the June 8 election campaign. They interviewed a number of people, who supported the different parties. One aspect came across loud and clear and that was that young Labour supporters believed that Jeremy Corbyn offered hope. Every young Labour supporter who came to camera said that word 'hope'.

You know what, Corbyn did precisely that. He kept talking about change and hope and making things better. And something else: observing him on television he came across as a person who was not talking down to people. Compare his television persona to that of Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Fallon, and of course the person in charge, Theresa May.

At least to my eyes and ears, they all sounded and looked opinionated, upper class public school educated toffs, who are constantly speaking down to the hoi polloi and telling them how to behave. They give the impression that they have a natural birthright to 'lead their people'.

Along comes Jeremy Corbyn, who sounds and acts like a man of the people and offers hope. All those television shots of him leaving his modest London home, drinking his coffee in the local restaurant. But above all the language he uses and the ideas he is expressing impress and inspire people. He offers hope. And God knows we all need to hope.

It set me thinking about the Irish Catholic Church. Why is it that the church always seems to lean towards the right? Are there any Irish bishops today who have a Corbynista touch to them? How many of them offer a tangible or exciting hope?

Is it a daft thing to say or ask? Not sure about that. After all didn't Jesus spend his life railing against the establishment and offering hope?

Monday, June 19, 2017

The haves and have-nots

According to a Gates Foundation study 10 per cent of the world's population is obese.

And at the same time, one billion people on the planet have not enough food to eat.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Blue skies all the way

Yesterday was of course the warmest day of the year.

And in such weather is there anywhere more fabulous than Ireland?

The walk from Crone Wood heading south towards Maulin with a view right out to sea was simply mesmeric.

We could see the retired power station stacks at Ringsend, boats going in and out of Dublin Port and then all those tiny white sails. At least they looked tiny from the side of Maulin.

Doubtful if it would be possible for it ever to be any clearer than it was yesterday.

Away from the cover of the forest it was warm and so it felt wearing boots and walking for three hours, covering close to 10 kilometres. Walking in undergrowth is never easy but in the heat of yesterday it was tough going.

The picture shows Shadow beside his master taking on water supplies before heading for the climb.
Alas, days in the hills are no longer an option for Tess. So says the vet and that's how it is.


Corpus Christi

The Irish Catholic Church celebrates today the feast of Corpus Christi.

The current issue of Spirituality carries an article by Michael Marchal. The title of the piece is The Discolosure of Jesus's Presence in the Eucharist.

He concludes:  And if the Bread were a loaf of real bread broken for all and the Cup really poured our for all, then the Sacrifice really would be revealed through the Meal. For 'when we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.'

And only then will the fourth of Christ's real presences in the Cup and Bread 'mystically symbolise' and thereby make real the unity and peace of the church.

And then they might also lead us to his fifth real presence in the poor and needy of the world where we are called to meet him already face-to-face.

Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard has an interesting piece in the current issue of The Tablet.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Helmut Kohl dies

The Frankfurter Rundschau refers to him as The master of political power'.

Heulmut Kohl, known as the 'Chancellor of German unity' died in his beloved Ludwigshafen yesterday. He was 87.

Addressing the Israeli Knesset in 1984 he explained he had the "mercy of a late birth".

Kohl, who was the longest serving German leader since Bismarck, was born in 1930 into a Catholic anti-Nazi family. His brother Walter fell in Noramandy.

He was first elected Chancellor in 1982 when SPD Chancellor Helmut Schmidt lost a vote of confidence in the Bundestag.

Kohl's CDU formed a coalition with the FDP.

The night the Wall came down Kohl was in Warsaw but on October 3, 1990, Kohl was in Berlin to experienece German unification.

It was Kohl who recognised the Oder-Neisse border and so pleased the Poles.

He introduced a young inexperienced woman to his cabinet in 1991whom he called his Mädchen. Angela Merkel grabbed power from him in 1998 and has been German Chancellor since 2005.

Dr Kohl's wife Hannelore died by suicide. She suffered a rare allergy to sunlight.

Former Soviet leader and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev spoke of Kohl as a leader who has left a positive stamp on Europe.

Kohl's last years saw sadness and tragedy. As a result of a fall he was left partially paralysed. He married a former aid, 34 years his junior. There were issues with his two sons and a court case over his memoirs.

Helmut Kohl was the architect of a united Germany and a warrior for Europe.

Yesterday a commentator on RTE said he was the greatest chancellor of Germany in the 20th century. Greater than Adenauer or indeed Brandt or Schmidt? Come to think of it, Germany has been fortunate to have had so many outstanding post war leaders.

And it so happens today in Berlin  Germans remembered the rising that took place on this day, June 17, 1953 in the former GDR. Workers demonstrated in Berlin on June 16 protesting against low wages. The following day the demonstrations spread throughout the GDR and became a protest against the State. The rising was suppressed by troops of the Soviet Army assisted by the Volkspolizei.

As a result of the rising there is a main street in Berlin called 17 Juni Straße.

A tiny point: Helmut Kohl died on the day of the German Junior and Leaving Cert exams in Ireland.


National bicycle week

National Bicycle Week Ireland runs from June 10 to June 18.

It so happens that the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Rainier Maria Woelki spoke about bicycles in a sermon in Cologne Cathedral on Sunday, June 11.

It was to mark the invention of the bicycle by German Baron Karl von Drais 200 years ago in 1817.

"Every time we get on a bicycle, we protect the environment. I wonder if Donald Trump uses one?" Woelki asked.

The cardinal deplored Donald Trump's decision to drop out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The writer of this blog is cycling 63 years with the exception of an interval of two years while living in Rome, when the mode of transport was scooter, shanks mare, bus and tram.

Friday, June 16, 2017

German Leaving Cert 2017

Below is the link to today's Leaving Certificate German Higher Level German Paper.

https://www.examinations.ie/tmp/1497643002_9816367.pdf

Grenfell Tower

Judith Blakeman a Labour councillor on the Kensington and Chelsea Borough described on Channel 4 News last evening how people in authority had attempted over a long period of time to silence her on account of her objecting to poor standards at Grenfell Tower.

She said she was considered a trouble-maker because she has been for years complaining and objecting to bad practice. As a result there were those who did not take her seriously and simply dismissed her and her views.

In the same news programme singer Lilly Allen gave a damning account of how the Conservatives are doing everything possible to divide the rich from the poor in the borough. She cited how the Tories are dertermined to close down the Notting Hill summer festival.

Allen went on to say that the media are intentionally minimising the casualties and said that the numbers dead are well over 100, including many babies and children.

Watching Judith Blakeman and LIlly Allen condemn the Tories it was impossible not to think of the soundbites and slick words of the likes of David Davis, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson et al in the days before the general election.

Director and cinematographer Ishmahil Blagrove explained to Jon Snow how the word 'regeneration' is used as a codeword for ethnic cleansing.

"People have put profit over people. A culture of greed has to change," he said.

To quote Jon Snow: "The anger is palpable." That's always what happens when authority does not listen to people, even the 'trouble-makers'.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Limerick and Ballybeg

According to the last census Limerick and Ballybeg in Waterford are two of the unemployment blacspots in the country.

What do the Irish Dominicans do? They close their houses in Limerick and Ballybeg.

Vincent Kennedy OP RIP

Fr Vincent Kennedy died on June 7 at the Dominican community in Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

On the closing of the Dominican priory in Limerick, Vincent moved to Newbridge approximately 12 months ago, back to the priory where he had spent a pastoral year after his priestly ordination.

Vincent was born in Cork in May 1930, joined the Dominicans in 1950 and was ordained a priest in 1956.

Fr Kennedy spent many years in Trinidad. He also worked in Waterford, San Clemente in Rome, Lisbon and at the Dominican priory in Limerick where he was well-known for his almsgiving.

He was a gentle and kind man, gracious too.

At his funeral Mass in Newbridge Fr Jordan O'Brien made reference to a comment made in the chronicle of the Limerick community which was written by Fr Kennedy.

It was dated March 3, 2013: "No prior, no bishop, no pope."

Jordan in his sermon pointed out that at the time the said prior was out of office the previous day.

Jordan lived and worked with Vincent in Trinidad and Limerick. He also cared for Vincent in his old age when he was infirm.

It has been remiss of this blog not to have mentioned Fr Kennedy's death earlier. Apologies.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A letter in 'The Irish Times'

Below is a link to a letter, written by David McConnell, which appears in The Irish Times today.

If you cannot open this link, then check letter on The Irish Times website.


The Prague Spring

On this day, June 14, 1968 the Czech government announced liberalising reforms under Alexander Dubček.

Is it possible to say that what happened in Czechoslovakia in June 1968 was the precursor to the collapse of Soviet rule in eastern Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall?

Although the People's Army of the German Democratic Republic  were prepared to participate in the invasion of Czechoslovakia, they were ordered by Moscow not to cross the border just hours before the invasion.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dublin's "Gentile area"

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column

Michael Commane
How important are words? Does it matter if we misspell or misuse them? No doubt change is one of the characteristics of a living language - it develops over time. People in different regions spell words differently. Indeed, sometimes it can be fun observing the changes and differences.

Or is it just the mind of a pedant who has nothing better to do than spot mistakes? Then again, are they mistakes?

I was reminded of words, their misspelling and misuse last week when someone pointed out that they had seen flashed across a television screen the night of the slaughter on London Bridge "... van plowed into crowd". She was confused by the word "plowed" and thought it should have been "ploughed", as I did too. But I have since discovered that's how they spell it in the United States.

Just a few days after that there was a piece in a national newspaper in the property section about apartments for sale in a "gentile area" in plush Dublin 4. 

Have you ever spotted how people write  "expatriot" when in fact they mean "expatriate"?
These are some common classic errors.

The redundant or misplaced apostrophe can be great fun. Is it "it's" or is it "its"? Not too long ago I saw a posh property for sale. The advertisement selling it explained about its "Sales Fee's". A fancy restaurant in Ballsbridge advertises "Gourmet Pasta's and Soups". And that's particularly baffling. Why does one deserve an apostrophe while the other doesn't? A real mystery.

Why oh why do people write "1970's" when in fact if should simply be "1970s"? The same goes for "photos": one often sees "photo's". And how often does one see "FAQ's"? It is so annoying. 

There is a gent in the UK who travels by night, operating anonymously, correcting grammar errors and he has a particular penchant for ridding the world of the redundant apostrophe and inserting it when it should be in place. He carries with him a ladder and a specially built "apostrophiser" tool.

We all know the plural of "sheep" is "sheep", without the  "s". Some months back, there was a headline in the business section of an Irish daily newspaper which ran: "New aircrafts to boost Aer Lingus transatlantic flights". Surely the plural of "aircraft" is "aircraft"?

After the last general election a commentator writing on the Healy-Rae phenomenon wrote: "Sneered by the rest of the country for their brand of parish-pump politics they're perceived to "pedal", the Healy-Raes have built up a well-oiled political machine......"  I presume neither Michael nor Danny cycle anywhere. They might well have opponents who believe they "peddle" a brand of parish-pump politics.

Do you know whether it should be "less" or "few". I was reminded of that conundrum when I saw this headline on a newspaper: "KCC says less Kerry Businesses are failing". Surely it should be "fewer".

There's no end to the errors that jump up in front of our eyes everyday.
Does it matter? And yet when someone says: "I done that", many of the movers and shakers are disgusted. Although I did hear Ray D'Arcy say on his radio show : "... would have went to him". Ouch.

A question, do you spell "organise" with an "s" or an "z"? 

Has it all to do with American influence? Maybe it is that the Americans can't spell.

On the other hand maybe all the misspellings and misuses are signs that the language we use is alive and always developing/changing.

Guess what, maybe everything about living is always in process. Does that mean everything is relative?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ups and downs of politics

Isn't politics a funny game?

In The Irish Times of Saturday, June 3, Denis Staunton wrote that "In some places the party leader [Jeremy Corbyn] remains its biggest election drawback".

In that same article a Labour campaign operative tells Staunton: "All I hear on the doorsteps is 'Jeremy Corbyn's a f***ing arsehole' ".

Late on election night on BBC Radio 4 a political commentator said that he never thought he would say the three words 'Prime Minister Corbyn'.

What will they be saying in six months time, in a year?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Djouce on a summer's day

Although weather forecast for the region was for heavy consistent rain for yesterday afternoon along the east coast, not a drop of rain.

The rain had come and gone before our ascent to Djouce (725 metres) in north east Wicklow.

Cloud and wind but those conditions changed and the sun appeared.

Away in the distance a herd of deer. They either saw or heard us because they took off at great speed.

Pictures show Lough Tay from the JB Malone marker and views from near the top of Djouce.









Saturday, June 10, 2017

Probably useless information

Fifty years ago today, June 10, 1967, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt ended the 'Six-Day War' with the help of the United Nations.

In China Mao Zedong was chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, a job he held from 1945 until 1976.

Mao had four wives and 10 children. Jeremy Corbyn has been married three times and has three children.

Mao is still revered in China. A Chinese woman living in Ireland has no problem saying that Mao was a great man and did wonders for China. Smiling, she says: "My mother so admires Mao Zedong that she uses his digits in his date of birth for her ATM password."


The death of Mao Zedong was announced on RTE's lunchtime news. I was sitting in the kitchen having my lunch with my mother.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Dominican offers advice to Irish Sisters of Charity

The current issue of The Irish Catholic carries an article titled "Nuns should stand up for life and pull out of deal" written by Fr Kevin O'Reilly OP.

It certainly doesn't read as if the author is trying to win friends. 

For Kevin to say that there are few people "able" to speak up in defence of the Religious Sisters of Charity sounds a tad arrogant and most likely inaccurate.

Kevin refers to "natural reason" without explaining what it is. Nor does he tell the reader what "supernatural faith" is.

He writes: "The Catholic Church is to my knowledge the only major institution that defends the inviolability of all human life". Is that not far too general a statement, misleading too? 

There are many people and groups of people who defend the "Inviolability of human life".

There is not one reference in the piece to capital punishment, not a reference to the number of executions performed by states around the world.

Not a word about the billion people who have not enough to eat, the homeless, the marginallised. Nor a word on the €1.75 trillion spent on weaponry in 2016. And guns, tanks, rockets kill people. It is a 'culture of death'.

Kevin states: "In a period of history that has come to recognise itself as post-truth, the Catholic Church is also the only institution to espouse truth."

Clearly that is not accurate nor is it factual. Who is doing the "recognising"? To say that the Catholic Church is the only institution to espouse truth is palpably folly and arrogant.

Can you mention that the church espouses truth without acknowledging that the church is also a church of sinners?

Kevin points out how Pope Benedict's plea to put us in touch with truth "has largely been ignored". Ignored by whom?

Is it appropriate or wise for Kevin to offer advice to the Irish Sisters of Charity?

It can be grating on one's ear to listen to priests tell people that "commitment to the truth will of course bring suffering in its wake".

I have been a Dominican priest for over 40 years and I have seldom been made aware of priests suffering as a result of their commitment to the truth.

The author writes: "In an increasingly secular society that is hostile to Catholicism above all other religions on account of its esteem for reason and its love of human life it has become more and more difficult for Catholics to escape the pervasive influence of the culture of death."

Surely that is not true. Is Kevin suggesting that it's because of the church's "esteem for reason" that society is hostile towards it?

Does the institutional church not live off the back of "secular society"?

And who are the Catholics who find it more difficult "to escape the pervasive influence of the culture of death"?

I work in a hospital where I see day-in-day-day out staff work tirelessly to save life and improve the quality of life for all its patients.

This is an article that will probably help no one and most likely alienate many.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Revealing words on an artist who was also a Dominican

The May/June issue of 'Spirituality' carries an article on sculptor Henry Patrick Flanagan.

Fr Flanagan taught art, music and English at Newbridge College, where he spent all his priestly life.

Jordan O'Brien, who lived with fellow Dominican Henry Flanagan at Newbridge College, brings the works of Henry to life and tells an interesting story of an energetic sculptor, who was influenced by Fra Angelico, Rubens, Moore and others. His Christian faith was also a source of inspiration for him as was the Dominican tradition.

Fr Henry created over 400 works of art and craft, which included the headstone on my parents' grave.

In the same issue of 'Spirituality' there is a most interesting article, titled, 'The DIsclosure of Jesus's Presence in the Eucharist'.

Michael Marchal, a retired literature teacher, writes that the liturgical conflicts of the last three decades have not been just about how to arrange the furniture. He argues that they are at base a disagreement about how Jesus is really present to his people.

Two pieces that make for great reading.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

HSE five-week campaign to get its staff on shank's mare

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Three weeks ago a physiotherapist called me aside at work and asked would I be interested in taking part in the HSE Steps to Health Challenge. She explained that the HSE was running, excuse the pun, a fitness challenge.

It's now in its third week and from what I understand HSE staff countrywide have been invited to take part.

The challenge involves counting the number of steps we take over the five-week period. It began on Monday May 15.

With today's technology there are all sorts of gizmos to measure the number of steps one takes. 

You can download an app on to your smart phone or you can measure your steps with a watch-like device that is called a Fitbit. There are more sophisticated gadgets that, along with measuring the number of steps you take, also measure your activity on a bicycle plus the number of strokes you take while swimming. And these gadgets also give you heart beat readings plus all sorts of other data on how your body is functioning. Guess what, they also tell the time.

If you don't have such a sophisticated device a simple pedometer clipped on to your belt will do the job. Okay, it will not do any of the fancy footwork but it will tell you the number of steps you take in the day.

Have you any idea how far you walk on any given day, any notion of the average walking distance you do in a week?

The Steps to Health Challenge aims to get people walking and the overall plan is to entice people to walk 10,000 steps a day, which is the equivalent of eight kilometres or five miles a day.

According to the experts who know about these things most people walk between 3,000 and 5,000 steps every day.

The idea is of course to get people doing more walking. Instead of using the lift, walk up the stairs. If you have a spare 15 minutes at lunchtime, rather than sitting down, go out for a quick walk. Is there really need for you to drive to work?  Every step counts.

According to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who is said to have been a contemporary of Confucius, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".

And that's certainly a good one-liner to set you on your way.

The purpose of the challenge is to make people more conscious of the benefits of taking exercise.

We are now just at the half-way point and I have to admit it is great fun. I have a pedometer clipped to my belt and must say that it is almost addictive. 

For the purposes of the challenge, staff have been divided into teams of three and each team has to come up with its own name. There are prizes for clever names and fun walking ideas, novel video clips, indeed, for all sorts of imaginative ideas.

It's an ideal time to run the challenge as this surely is the best time of the year to take to Shank's Mare.
Walking is a fabulous way to become aware of our surroundings, hearing the sounds of birds, the chatter of people. It's also of course a great way to relax, whether on urban streets, along towpaths or walking in the hills. Only last week I discovered a lovely walk along the Royal Canal and saw for the first time a statue of Brendan Behan near Binn's Bridge.

It was Hippocrates who said: "Walking is a man's best friend".

Congrats to the HSE for coming up with the idea.




Monday, June 5, 2017

Old fogy on the line

This locomotive was at Limerick Junction yesterday.

CIE bought the GM-built 071 class locos in the 1970s.

075 locomotive was involved in the Buttevant crash in 1980. And another 071 class locomotive  pulled the ill-fated Galway Dublin Heuston train that crashed into the failed Tralee Dublin train at Cherryville Junction in 1983.

Locomotive 075 is still in service with Irish Rail, working as a maintenance train.

Lives were lost in both crashes.

Today the 17.05 service from Tralee to Dublin Heuston completed the journey in three hours 22 minutes. That must be close to a record time?


Andrew O'Hagan's new book on identity and secrecy

Scottish author of Irish descent Andrew O'Hagan was interviewed by Andrew Marr on BBC 4's 'Start the Week' this morning.

He spoke about his new book 'The Secret Life'.

The book features three people: Julian Assange of WikiLeaks' fame, Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin, and Ronald Pinn, a man who does not exist at all, except in the online world.

In the interview O'Hagan tells Andrew Marr that it was never easier to be someone else.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The peace of Pentecost

Today is the great feast of Pentecost.

The word 'peace' is prominent in today's Gospel reading.

Peace is a great quality.

The Christian community is forever talking about how God loves us.

If people actually feel loved surely they have a far better chance of experiencing peace in their own lives and then acting in a peaceful manner.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

US canon lawyer has 'proof' that Trump is religious

US canon lawyer and editor of 'The Catholic Thing' Fr Gerald Murray said on EWTN's Raymond Arroyo show last evening that President Donald Trump is "a religious man'" and that was proved by his visit with Pope Francis.

It seems EWTN is the Catholic equivalent of Fox News, maybe even more extreme.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pope Francis on priests

Pope Francis on a visit to Genoa said:

"There is a danger, and it is of creating the image of a priest who knows everything, and does not need any advice."

He also spoke of the priest who "has everything sorted out, everything in order, well structured and in its place.

"Maybe that priest is a good businessman, but is he a Christian? Or does he live as a Christian?"

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Anniversary of the death of Dominican Paul Hynes

Today is the anniversary of the death of Dominican priest Paul Hynes.

Paul died in Dublin on June 1, 1985. He was 51.

He was one of the finest Dominicans of his generation. Paul was a noble son of St Dominic, who wanted to live and preach the Gospel in a way that made sense to the people among whom he lived.

He was certainly a no-nonsense man, an intelligent man and an extremely hard worker.

It really never makes sense to ask hypothetical questions but what at all would Paul have to say about today's Irish church, the state of the Irish Dominican province, the state of the management of the Irish Dominican province today?

Those who remember him might well hazard a guess.