Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Wexford travelogue

One of my favourite things to do in my past life was to head down to "the Hook", back in county Wexford and recharge the batteries. It is my favourite place in the world and always will be, I am almost 7 years out and memories fade so I write in a rush and remember the journey!

Out, out , out
We escape the chugging greyness
that is the town
On a sodden spring morning
Clearing the ‘skirts as we head out
Past Ballymorris on the new line
Which hasn’t been new since 1798
& then some…
Down the country we spin
Gaining momentum as we drive
The Hook & all her secrets are beckoning
Past the Mountain bar
Past the redshire road
We’re on the forth mountain’s slope
riding the sill of a stretch
that looks out on the plains of Bargy
Kilmore in the distance
peeping gently into the sea
Like an oul’one dipping her toe
Along the Coast
Looming in the mist
Is The Hook & all her secrets
The long descent down
into the Bridge of Wellington
over that hump
past the ruins of Clonmines
and on we go
on the line, the new line known as
the tramp’s heartbreak
a ramrod straight ribbon
of tarmac, glistening & steaming
in the warming rays of the sun
On & on we go
A happy crowd we are
Heading to the hook & all her secrets
turning off the line eventually
and rolling down the coast
past Dollar bay & Booley bay
through Templetown
& her Templar’s Church
A sharp right
And we hurtle on
Loftus hall grimaces
As we fly past
The Deerpark Pillars
We slow to a stately gait
The Slade junction,
Right again
Past the ancient church
& those asleep in her yard
Blowholes & sea spray
the limestone plateau

On which sits
The lighthouse tower
That knows no age
Announcing our arrival
is the Hook & all her secrets

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Coupe de Monde 2006

The World cup is upon us and I can’t wait for it to start!

Every four years, the Worlds biggest sporting event descends on us all for a month or so and a feast of football is to be had.

Even here in the closeted existence that is modern day America, football is getting huge exposure. Record numbers of children are playing. Youth football or soccer as it is called over here is huge and the major powers of sports are nervously looking over their shoulders. If they aren’t - they should be! Football/Soccer is here to stay!

This year sees the US show total coverage of the finals on mainstream TV, a whole generation is about to be immersed into a terrific tradition just as I was as a kid growing up in the south-east of Ireland.

Memories are flooding back so I’ll begin…

1970, Mexico

The first game I remember was the 1970 final between Brazil & Italy, two superpowers of the game…I remember Carlos Alberto’s goal more than anything. A move of sublime brilliance, the instigator of the piece was a man called Pelé, his rolled pass seemed to freeze – frame as it moved, such was it’s controlled pace as Alberto swooped upon it to blast the ball home and vanquish the Italians 4-1.

1974, Germany

I remember ’74 for the Scottish presence, their exuberant fans, rejoicing that they were there and the English weren’t. Gerd Muller was a phenomenon, one of my favourite players ever, his nickname - “Der Bomber”. The elegance & leadership of “Der Kaiser” – Franz Beckenbauer as Germany shoved the arrogance of Holland back in their faces in the World cup final.

The Dutch played their beautiful “Total” football but their attitude cost them the Championship, pissing about in the first half, trying to humiliate the home nation by showboating. Allowing the Germans to regroup & restock when they should have been killed off. The second half, it was the Germans who showed how to play Total football.

1978, Argentina

Scotland’s arrogant belief of winning the tournament & getting their arses soundly whacked. The emergence of Asian football in ("dinnae worry about them!") Iran’s shock draw with the Scots. Teofilio Cubillas' master class for Peru against them (yes, the bloody scots!). Archie Gemmil’s wonder-goal for Scotland against Holland still couldn't stop Ally Mcleod & his tartan army being sent home with their tail between their legs.

Argentina was depressing for me to be honest. Brazil being cheated out of progress by a terrible refereeing decision. Argentina’s dodgy win over Peru to progress. The gamesmanship by the Argies over a much humbler, wiser & better Dutch team in the final.

1982, Spain.

For me, this was a wonderful tournament. Terrific games, drama, thrills, spills & so much more.

We saw African football emerge as Algeria & the Cameroon appear. Roger Milla became the first African superstar. A terrific Algerian team denied progress by the fix of Austria & Germany’s 90 minute love in. Such camaraderie had not been seen by both sides since the 1938 Anschluss.

Who can ever forget the Kuwaiti Sheikh coming onto the pitch and forcing the ref to overturn a French goal causing such a furor that the ref was afterwards banished home by FIFA, losing his credentials forever. The French eventually won 4-1. That group also featured the fastest goal in a finals, Bryan Robson in 27 secs for England in ther 3-1 win over France.

The greatest team never to win a world cup, Brazil in ’82. My God, they were something special…Eder, Junior, Falcao, Zico, Socrates. I still cannot believe they did not win it but they didn’t, being beaten by the catenaccio of Italy in one of the greatest games of all times in the second round. Paolo Rossi being the villain/hero of the piece from whatever perspective you may choose to take. The other team in that group (known as the group of death) - Argentina, introduced a player by the name of Diego Maradonna. He was sent off in their defeat by Brazil. Four years later though, the world would truly know him!

Northern Ireland appeared in these finals, my first glimpse of an Irish team at a final, albeit not my home country of the Republic. Still I was rooting for the northerners as they were sensational. Beating the hosts Spain with ten men and winning their group outright. Heroes all, Managed by Billy Bingham, the team included Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong, Martin O’Neill, Mal Donachy, Sammy McIlroy, Billy Hamilton and a young fellah by the name of Norman Whiteside, who at 17 became the youngest ever player to play in a Finals, taking that record off a certain man’s shoulders called Pelé.

For me the dream final would have been Brazil v France, it never happened as Italy beat the Brazilians and Germany overcame France in an epic game much remembered for the German keepers (Schumacher) near decapitation of Patrick Battiston who was carried off the field unconscious with a broken jaw. Schumacher did not even get a card let alone did France gain a free kick, an incredible decision.. The game though was a classic, France going 3-1 up in injury time only for the dogged Germans to claw it back. The game being decided on penalties. Germany winning 5-4.

Italy won the final 3-1, Altobelli’s after goal celebrations being a terrific moment for any football fan. I remember the Germans looking knackered after such a hard fought semi final. Italy deserved their victory though, a classy side who vanquished an incredible Brazilian side fairly & squarely and ultimately could lay claim to be known as champions of the World.

I’ll write more anon but it’s late and the bed is calling!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The truth shall set you free!

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32 NIV)

What is the fascination with “real tv”?

“Big Brother”: Sitting at home watching other people sitting around at home. What genius came up with that format? He made millions with it as Society really has dumbed down and this is the information age?

“American Idol”, watch a bunch of nobodies wannabee somebodies!

“Survivor”, watch a bunch of wankers you would not share an island with, vote each other off in a show Machiavelli could not have dreamt up.

“The Apprentice”, living proof that there is such a thing as pond scum!

“Cheaters”, living proof there are such organisms beyond pond scum.

Forgive the appelations, the judging, the name-calling but I deplore the depths the media & TV in particular plumbs to in the dog eat dog world that is the "ratings war".

I could go on about these shows but I am losing the will to live as I type…the remote control is a magical box, the thumb a mighty digit, the power to save life as we know it!

What is the fascination with Poker? indeed the online poker phenomenon?…proof again that P.T. Barnum was right, “that there’s a sucker born every minute’ or to paraphrase that in modernese….”every nano second!”.

Obviously if you are reading this, you are looking at a screen which has buttons below it. These buttons when hit correctly, can direct you to any piece of information or misinformation possible on any subject under the heavens.

Yet people swallow claims from the publisher that ‘the De Vinci code’ is based on fact….oops. Really? Have a look-see! Amazing what a bit of research can do for the closed mind. Like all those conspiracy theorists want you to believe, the truth is out there!

All these devices to ease our lives, give us more leisure time….what do we do with that leisure time, keep going, do more mundane crap, like watch boring reality tv or write blogs……oh bugger!

In these troubled times, we would do well to pay heed to the Lord..."Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". (John 8:32 NIV)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ethnocentricities...part 1

Ethnocentricities….part 1.

I am accused by some arsigans (over here) of being ethnocentric, if it means being proud of one’s heritage, tradition, homeland, whatever…Yes, I am ethnocentric! - Unrepentant & unbowed. Indeed in the words of Brendan Behan, "F**k the begrudgers! ".

I am proud of where I come from, the people I grew up amongst and the ancestry we all revere. Part of the Celtic psyche is a deep affection for the land we spring from and the families we adhere to.

So without further ado, I’ll tell you of a common link between my home today (Cincinnati) and my home of yesteryear (Wexford), I discovered the other day whilst out with the family “taking the air’ at Sawyer Point in Cincinnati. Some interesting things happened that day, some interesting sights - but that’s for another day’s telling.

Some years ago, I marketed and sold a property called St.John’s Manor, a late Georgian residence situated a couple of miles down the river Slaney from Enniscorthy in County Wexford.

St. John's Manor

Selling the property was a formulative experience in my real estate career but a highly enjoyable one at the same time. The amount of times the property was viewed was in the hundreds incurring thousands of miles in driving and thousands of hours in viewing. The people I encountered were varied to say the least. I owe a huge debt of thanks to Pat & Brenda Murphy for giving me that commission.

As I was/am a local history buff, I researched my new charge and dug up an impressive history on the property. Founded as an Augustinian priory in 1232, the property remained in the hands of the church till the time of Henry the eight, who annexed the lands & property and leased the lands out eventually the lands being granted by Cromwell in 1652 to a minion for services rendered.

The property changed hands a number of times before a man who enjoyed/endured the name “Onesiphorous Gamble” inherited the demesne around 1780. farming was not his "gig" & the Gambles decided to emigrate to the newly founded United States. The family eventually located themselves in Cincinnati whereupon one of it’s members – James, met a fellow by the name of William Procter lately arrived from England and founded a soap making enterprise. Almost two hundred years later and their Company is one of the largest conglomerates in the world.

Regarding St. John’s, the current residence was built in 1810 by Dr. Charles Hill who had purchased the property from the Gamble family. The poet Thomas Kinsella had (if I recall) hadl links with the Manor and one of his most popular poems “Another September” was inspired by his visits there.

Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw

With the touch of dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,

Hears through an open window the garden draw

Long pitch black breaths , lay bear its apple trees,

Ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweethened soil,

Exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.

Nearer the river sleeps St.Johns, all toil

Locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.

Leaving cert poetry remembered !...I loved that phrase, "locked fast inside a dream with iron gates" but enough of the reverie. Back to Cinci & the ethnocentric Irishman...

There is a wealth of stories about the Irish in Cincinnati which I'll research and tell here eventually. We've made our mark in Medicine, Education, the Arts not to mention the Business World and I take great pride in celebrating their achievements - Ethnocentricity my arse!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A squalid little story ......

A squalid little story
I will begin to tell
Of mischief & folly,
& death in a hell

A gnarled old rowan
Twisted & torn
It’s stood here for ages
Before man was born

Spiraling up from the earth
In a climb to the sky
The age of the tree
Keeps her bent and awry

Along comes a farmer
New to the land
Addressing his workers
With his new master plan
Of tillage & rotation
And clearing the field
But the sum of his folly
Will be doom in its’ yield

“Take out that old tree
It’s no longer to stand
It's time it is over
I'm sure it was grand!"

"I’ve heard of that old stuff
Of faerys & forts
And I cannot be bothered
With tales of bad sport
From the “other crowd”
Or what have you
with their revenge & bad luck
To those they encounter
who are not wonder struck”

“Superstitious oul drivel
To keep us in check
So get busy with your cutting
Or the moon will be at your beck”

“All respect to you master
But we’ll have no part
In axing this old rowan
This job we will not start!”

“The good folk, we’ll be leavin’
Well enough alone
And if you have any sense sir
Don’t touch this old rowan”

“For to laugh at them wee folk
Is never a good thing
To show disrespect
Is to give evil a fling
For their ways
Are so wicked
When they are vexed
So be careful
What you say sir
Or your death will be next!”

“Away with you amadans!”
Said the fool of a man
“You’ll work for me never
With such a nonsensical plan
To use this oul yoke
As a scheme not to work
Sure I wasn’t born yesterday
So be off, let me look
At how I can tear her
Off this fine land
And plough this field over
And make it a stand
Against silly old stories
Of magical folk
Who exist in the minds
Of a simple poor folk”

“Who’ll never raise a finger
to ease their poor living
Only to cock a sly sneer
At those who are giving
Some work for the day
At a decent day’s rate
So be off on your way
And heed my advice
That this tree will be gone
In a matter of hours
So pay your respects now
Sure say it with flowers”

We left him there laughing
An axe in his hand
We hastened our departure
And got off their land

And when the first blow fell
It would ring down below
And the shrieks of their outrage
Would be bitter & low

The revenge would be horror
For the wielder above
For every blow falling
No death was enough

He hauled and he panted
This tree was no joke
Two blades had he blunted
A saw he had broke

“I’ll get you tomorrow”
He snarled at the bark
“Your hours are now numbered
I’ll be up with the lark!”

He wandered off cursing
His mood, it was night!
for he had a foreboding
that all was not right.

“That hacking makes one thirsty!
I’ll stop for some drink”
but his mood was no lighter
his spirit soon would sink

“A black moon is rising!”
said the old man by the fire
“You’ll do well to stay the night,
don’t go traveling that dark old byre”

“Away with ye now!
Don’t give me that guff
That fairy talk is nonsense !”
as he left in a huff

but he soon regretted his bravery
and his scorn at the old man
as he felt a dreadful presence
all around him so he ran

“So we don’t exist ye Gombeen?”
Said this wicked little voice
As several hand then grabbed him
Their touch cold as ice

He saw that he was hurtling
Towards a black abyss
As a cavern opened up in the fast approaching hillside
With a terrible, dreadful hiss

Suddenly he was airborne
Flung by hands unknown
Down a dark long cavern
Where life was never sown

It’s said that he is in there
By the folk that live around
Inside the fairy mountain
No more he’ll see the ground

So my listeners hear this story
And listen to my song
Never cut a rowan
Never do such wrong

Be careful where you throw your water
Give warning first
or the curse of the other crowd
will be an everlasting thirst

watch what you say in private
or in public jest
as you’ll never know who’ll be listening
you may have an unseen guest

so hark at what I tell you
don’t make me sad
never ever cut a rowan
or you’ll end up like that lad!

He’s below still in the bowels
Of what we call the earth
Howling like a banshee
Fueling the wee folks mirth

For they love getting
Their own back at those who disrespect
So make sure you tip your hat
When you hear a hidden step!

I told you I was ill!

Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite (I told you I was ill).

The words on Spike Milligan’s gravestone, as gaeilge (in Gaelic) as the Church would not allow the English translation in its graveyard. Even in death, there was controversy & triumph.

Spike’s foolishness was my staple reading in the years 10 to 14 (and in the years beyond to the present day). I devoured anything I could find by him, his poetry, his wartime memoirs, the irrepressible puckoon... His TV show “Q” was incredible. To others it was self indulgent dross but I loved the anarchic silliness of it all. I remember the start of one episode as Spike turns up at Broadcasting House (the Beeb’s home) and takes out a giant wind up key, inserts it into the building and winds it up, starting the building…..simply brilliant, winding the BBC up which he enjoyed doing…years later I understood why.

The man is known as the father of British comedy but to be honest that is too shallow a title as British comedy is a huge force worldwide, I believe he should be known as a father of Global humour, many comedians today owe their living to this man smashing down the walls of comedy and opening up new vistas for them to perform

The “Beeb” could not understand the man or so they let on. Spike was convinced it was his “humble” beginnings which hamstrung him. He was reportedly very insecure over his lack of third level education which the college idiots at Broadcasting house turned up their noses at.

The fact was though, Spike was a manic depressive. An episode where he was bombarded in WW2 (he was an artllery signalman) had an apparent cataclysmic effect on his psyche. Reading his memoirs, it is apparent that this was the case. It is said that the line between genius & insanity is a thread. This statement unfortunately proved to be true as later on when Spike discovered fame in the Goons, the constant pressure of turning out weekly scripts threw him over the edge. In the rest of his career, Spike suffered a constant stream of mental/nervous breakdowns – Bi-polar disorder was eventually diagnosed. Milligan's own black comedy helping him to deal with this blight.

Spike was proud of his Irish roots, indeed he was proud of his Irish Citizenship and I daresay extremely proud his epitaph perplexed the powers that be! His character was incredibly complex, capable of a thousand moods. I care to remember him as a worthwhile human being who brought laughter to me on many a dark day!

If you want to read some of his stuff, start with "Puckoon", you'll never regret it!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

memory scene

There is a field in my memory that looks down on a view so beautiful, it makes one weep to think of it. I am there now, gazing upon this vista, drinking it in.

The land below sweeps down to the sea in a rush of colour that only a summer in Ireland can create. Hues of green, of gold, crimsons, magentas, sapphire speckle before me. Waving barley fields bounded by blackberry laden bushes stretch beyond to the azure strip that is the Celtic sea. Fluffy white clouds drift lazily past on a kiss of breeze that ripples the water like a caress and flows through the barley like a mother gently smoothing her child’s hair.

The tang of the salt in this breeze tickles the senses and awakens me from my reverie. Curracloe falls before me, the pointing finger of forest & dunes that is Culleton’s gap stretches afar, into the distance. The north Slob on one side, the wide yellow strand on the other, lapped by the brine of the ancient water. Many childhood & adulthood days I have spent here, framed by laughter and lightness.

That is all I have now, memories of another land. A memory, my memories, fading as each day marches on into the future and then recedes into the shadows…much like the sun on it’s daily journey, a birth, a life, a death – the cycle turns & turns again.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

"Chess"- the review

Have you ever sat through a performance where you cringe for the performers? Well I did tonight!

“’Her indoors” & I went to Chess and yes, it was the crap Broadway version as I feared. Performed by Cincinnati Music Theatre, who did a wonderful job with a flawed gem. The Broadway version is a convoluted if not conceited version of the original concept version of Bjorn Ullvaeus, Benny Anderson & Tim Rice.

Y’see, I was ruined years ago in relation to this show! I had seen the original version when it went on tour with Elaine Paige as Florence & Barbara Dickson as Svetlana. Then, a few years later, our own Wexford Light Opera Society did a superb and may I say World Class production, comparable to the West End production! It (the Wexford version) was theatrically stunning and the set design of the Redmond Brothers was simply incredible, let alone the musical direction & the choreography.

Back to CMT, they resurrected a show albeit the “arrrgh!” version and did a grand job of staging it. Bob Weidle, a former colleague of ours, playing the part of "Molokov" was wonderful. The part of Florence played by a lass rejoicing in the name of Alison Collins Elfline was a sterling performance whilst the part of Svetlana played by Kelsey McKelfresh (what a name, eh?) was a show-stopper, a wonderful singer! The principal male characters being outperformed by their female counterparts

All the cast were enthusiastic & capable. In fairness they did a great job with a book that was allegedly butchered by Richard Nelson at the behest of Trevor Nunn. (My opinion and I am entitled to it!). I just wish The American people could see Chess as it was intended.

I understand though that a contractual stipulation ensures that the London version, which to many fans was the source of the show's popularity and appeal, will (at this moment in time) never be seen in the United States.

It is a real pity as in this Broadway version;

  • The whole plot is totally goofed up, arse over tit in favour of a more sugary taste to its American audience – When will this patronization of the paying public end on either side of the Atlantic pond and let them see a show the way it was originally written! As a result,

  • The wonderful “Merano” is axed as the setting is now set between Thailand & Hungary (???) as opposed to Italy & Iceland (neutral venues).

  • The Arbiter’s role now stripped back to essentially a walk-on with some “dialogue”. In the concept/original version, his opening number opens essentially Act 1 and is a great piece of theatre. The essential premise of the show musically, two acts, book-ended by 4 terrific musical pieces is thrown to the dogs in return for a cop out vis a vis the plot.

  • Again the whole show is unbalanced as the prologue instead of being a choral piece is now an insipid lecture by Flo’s daddy as the Russians are invading Budapest…

  • The wonderful defection scene in the British consulate (Embassy laments) chopped off as The Russian now defects tadaaa! to the states. Therefore the plot just falls flat on its big fat arse!

  • The opener of Act 2, the brilliant “One night in Bangkok” is demoted to Act 1, diluting Act 2 and unbalancing the show dreadfully. “ONIB” is a high energy, pacy number, clearly an act opener not a filler scene.

  • And of course the Yank wins when he is a total & utter jerk with no redeeming qualities when the whole point of the original book is that The American loses and redeems himself somewhat by coming to the aid of the (now British Citizen Russian, follow me, you’ll get there!) when he is confronted by the Molokov protégé automaton ….Think of Drago v Rocky in Rocky 4!

I could go on but I’ll stop here. I enjoyed the Cast and the production. They are clearly a committed bunch of people who clearly love their art and are to be congratulated for producing the show. They are a treasure in the community, bringing great talent to the public at an affordable price.

The main thing is that the missus enjoyed the evening and was pleased to see her old pal Bob do so well in the show.

If you want to find out more about Cincinnati Music Theatre,
Go here: http://www.cincinnatimusictheatre.org/

Wexford Light Opera Society, go here: http://www.wlos.org/

P.S. The new Indian restaurant in Eastgate , "Apna India" is the Dog's Bolli*...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


"DEV" - the long fellow casts a long shadow!

Eamonn De Valera is a big name in my house. I grew up in a Fianna Fail Household, the party founded by “Dev” and to say it was a partisan upbringing would be not a million miles from the truth.

Fianna Fail is Gaelic for “Soldiers of Destiny”. Pronounced Feena fall, its longtime adversary was and indeed is Fine Gael (family of the Irish).

Fianna Fail has many faces, I suppose, to many people. To some they were ultra conservative, to others..ultra radical. Myself, I felt that the party was a populist party which until recently had not forgotten its roots basically the common people of Ireland. A center party with strong republican ideals.

Back in the seventies, my father became more involved in politics and I grew aware even more so of Dev & his legacy through my Grandfather Mick and from ‘my mother’s knee’ as the saying goes.

It was Fianna Fail Governments which instituted the great Drives in National Housing, Social security, Health, Education, Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Electrification, National infrastructures. Huge bounds in eradicating TB were established by the Government and an Armagh man called Dr. James Deeny well before Noel Browne took credit for it in the first Inter-party Government.

My young mind then had not heard of “the cult of personality” but it was something very much a part of “the party”. The leaders were venerated. The links to 1916 always extolled.

As I sat in dusty party rooms during elections, I listened to the old party faithful describe the opposition (primarily “Fine Gael”) as blueshirts, west brits, and traitors (these were the nice names!) whilst the Labour party were treated with indifference mostly if nothing else. When I encountered the opposition’s old party faithful, they were equally as hostile, epithets like “Spanish Bastards” & “long fools” being thrown owing to the question of Dev’s parentage, name & height.

The legacy of the Civil war was still alive in those days, (the early 70’s) especially as the trauma of Northern Ireland unfolded. Dev was President at this stage. Alone in his house “in the park”. His party about to go into a 4 year hiatus as opposition before returning under Jack lynch to a huge majority. The previous “Fine Gael” led Government being associated with incredible hardship.

Anyway, I digress; the purpose of this commentary is to applaud “Dev” for a speech he made on the 16th of May, 1945. It is a wonderful retort to the Winston Churchill’s victory speech of three days earlier. Churchill simply has to be Statesman of the 20th century (in my book at least). When one considers titans like FDR, De Gaulle, JFK, Adenauer, Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Gorbachev, it is not a lightly given accolade but one has to admire the stance that He and Britain took against Hitler & his fascist hordes in the spring of 1940…In this cynical age, it is good to stop and think about the terrible sacrifice that the young men & women of the allies made in the defeat of a terrible evil.

On 13 May 1945, towards the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill in his Victory in Europe speech, broadcast to the world, was critical of Taoiseach Eamonn de Valera and Ireland's policy of neutrality throughout the war.

Churchill’s problem was with the Irish Government, not the people on this issue. The “master tactician” did not figure that Ireland joining the Allies would probably have prompted a German invasion, an invasion the British let alone the Irish could not have stopped. The German invasion of Greece and their airborne invasion of Crete showed they easily could have accomplished this fact. Churchill declared,

"Owing to the action of Mr. de Valera, so much at variance with the temper and instinct of thousands of Southern Irishmen who hastened to the battle-front to prove their ancient valour, the approaches and the Southern Irish ports and airfields could so easily have guarded were closed by the hostile aircraft and U-boats. This was indeed a deadly moment in our life, and if it had not been for the loyalty and friendship of Northern Ireland we would have been forced to come to close quarters with Mr. de Valera or perish forever from the earth."

Three days later, de Valera, in a much anticipated reply, outlined Ireland's right as an independent state to remain neutral. His response was praised widely in Ireland for its strength, dignity and restraint.

It is indeed fortunate that Britain's necessity did not reach the point when Mr. Churchill would have [invaded Ireland]. All credit to him that he successfully resisted the temptation which, I have not doubt, many times assailed him in his difficulties and to which I freely admit many leaders might have easily succumbed. It is indeed hard for the strong to be just to the weak, but acting justly always has its rewards.

By resisting his temptation in this instance, Mr. Churchill, instead of adding another horrid chapter to the already bloodstained record of the relations between England and this country, has advanced the cause of international morality an important step-one of the most important, indeed, that can be taken on the road to the establishment of any sure basis for peace. . .

Mr. Churchill is proud of Britain's stand alone, after France had fallen and before America entered the War.

Could he not find in his heart the generosity to acknowledge that there is a small nation that stood alone not for one year or two, but for several hundred years against aggression; that endured spoliations, famines, massacres in endless succession; that was clubbed many times into insensibility, but that each time on returning consciousness took up the fight anew; a small nation that could never be got to accept defeat and has never surrendered her soul?

Mr. Churchill is justly proud of his nation's perseverance against heavy odds. But we in this island are still prouder of our people's perseverance for freedom through all the centuries. We, of our time, have played our part in the perseverance, and we have pledged ourselves to the dead generations who have preserved intact for us this glorious heritage, that we, too, will strive to be faithful to the end, and pass on this tradition unblemished.

Stirring stuff, eh?

I remember an old cartoon in “Dublin Opinion”, featuring the “Bould”, Winston sitting by the wireless which is emitting the words “that was An Taoiseach, Eamonn De Valera”. Winston, cigar in hand..(with the caption bubble from his mouth) saying “listen & learn”.

The fact remains that Ireland’s neutrality was a positive neutrality in favour of the allies, such as allowing downed allied airmen return to the UK whilst imprisoning German officers for the term of the war. Not to mention allowing Irishmen to join the allies. (De Valera had imposed a prohibition on Irish Nationals joining Franco’s forces in 1936 in the Spanish civil war).

Still, it is a wonderful response from “Dev” to a Statesman that the world truly owes a debt to. Churchill’s marshalling of his Country’s reserves in her darkest days is indeed a stirring epic which will be recounted in the centuries to come. The horrors of Nazi Germany were yet to be unveiled at the time of these statements.

The above is also a testimony to the schizophrenic relationship that Ireland has with England. The shared ties are paradoxically the ties that bind. The language, religion, heritages that are inextricably bound together like twisted vines around an old oak tree. These ties are fast disappearing as both nations take their place in the new Europe which ironically, actually seems to be bringing the nations closer together than ever before.

History is a poisoned chalice, we would do well to remember to never sip from that cup again.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Two in a row, We're having a laugh!

Two in a row, We’re having a laugh!

Chelsea kicked the seven colours of sh*te out of Manchester United last Saturday to clinch the Premiership for the third time in our history and second year in a row. To win in front of a home crowd - the season’s Gong but against Manure and to outclass them for 90 minutes in a 3-0 romp was “dreamtime” as the aborigines would say down under.

Chant of the day was Man United fans were singing “You’re not Chelsea anymore “as Stamford Bridge sang back “You’re not Champions anymore”.

We still have a way to go but the Champion’s league is not that far off, the other incidentals like FA Cups, league Cups will follow. Two in a row gives Chelsea that title we always lacked – consistency!

Many thanks, Mr. Mourinho!


Well Les Miserables came & went, the wife loved it and that is all that matters in the end, I guess. 2700 souls filled the P&G hall and enjoyed the show too.

We are off to see Chess next in the smaller Jarson – Kaplan theatre which reminds me of my former stomping grounds in the Theatre Royal back home in Wexford. Indeed It is being produced by Cincinnati Music theatre which is akin I imagine to an old friend of mine, Wexford Light Opera Society.

Working backstage there was great fun and “Chess” was one of the shows, the W.L.O.S. produced some years ago (I think 1996). I saw the original show about 1990 in the Point Depot in Dublin and it was a wonderful production, great score & story by Bjorn Ullvaeus & Benny Andersen, brilliant lyrics by Tim Rice.

I just hope the version in Cincinnati is the concept version that I write of above and not the terrible crap that was rewritten for Broadway.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A bloody good laugh!

I’ve noticed I’ve been getting a little heavy on here lately, not just the sugary tea & the waist line either!

One of my favourite websites when I need a good laugh is Joel Veitchs’ rathergood.com, His singing kittens are the biz! Simply brilliantly silly!
I particularly like this clip,
Anyway more mayhem can be found at http://www.rathergood.com/, Bookmark this site!

"Danzan solas" (They dance alone)"

I was about 18 when I saw “Missing”. A movie starring Jack Lemmon as an American looking for his son who had gone missing in the Chilean coup in 1973. I remember being struck by the powerful message of the film, the crawling desperation of the father as the sheer hopelessness/helplessness of the situation develops. All that he found certainty in, being stripped away before his eyes. A tragic yet brilliant movie….

When Pinochet & his junta grabbed power on September 11, they wasted little time in silencing effective opposition to their power-grab using the main soccer stadium in Santiago as a Concentration camp for one.

Pinochet lost power in 1988, the matter of his indictment in the torture & murder of his citizens has not been effected..yet!

Ten years later as I watched the Chilean national team sing their anthem at the World Cup in France, I will never forget the passion those lads poured into the lyrics, pride in their country and the long journey out of a dark & brutal night.

I’m a fan of Sting, who wrote this beautiful ballad (below) in honour of the women of the missing of Chile. The mothers, wives, sisters who danced alone in a park in Santiago..a silent protest, a protest of immense dignity….Dancing a Chilean dance, “La Cueca”. Their dance was a symbol of the silent courage of the oppressed masses, a testament to the will of the common people will overcome tyranny in the end.

"They Dance Alone"
Why are there women here dancing on their own?
Why is there this sadness in their eyes?
Why are the soldiers here
Their faces fixed like stone?I
can't see what it is that they despise
They're dancing with the missing
They're dancing with the dead
They dance with the invisible ones
Their anguish is unsaid
They're dancing with their fathers
They're dancing with their sons
They're dancing with their husbands
They dance alone
They dance alone

It's the only form of protest they're allowed
I've seen their silent faces scream so loud
If they were to speak these words
they'd go missing too
Another woman on a torture table
what else can they do

They're dancing with the missing
They're dancing with the dead
They dance with the invisible ones
Their anguish is unsaid
They're dancing with their fathers
They're dancing with their sons
They're dancing with their husbands
They dance alone
They dance alone

One day we'll dance on their graves
One day we'll sing our freedom
One day we'll laugh in our joy
And we'll dance
One day we'll dance on their graves
One day we'll sing our freedom
One day we'll laugh in our joy
And we'll dance

Ellas danzan con los desaparecidos
Ellas danzan con los muertos
Ellas danzan con amores invisibles
Ellas danzan con silenciosa angustia
Danzan con sus padres
Danzan con sus hijos
Danzan con sus esposos
Ellas danzan solas
Danzan solas

Hey Mr. Pinochet
You've sown a bitter crop
It's foreign money that supports you
One day the money's going to stop
No wages for your torturers
No budget for your guns
Can you think of your own mother
Dancing with her invisible son
They're dancing with the missing
They're dancing with the dead
They dance with the invisible ones
They're anguish is unsaid
They're dancing with their fathers
They're dancing with their sons
They're dancing with their husbands
They dance alone
They dance alone

More on Chile and her recent travails found here http://www.chipsites.com/derechos/dictadura_victimas_eng.html