Wednesday, June 21, 2006


A few days ago, someone at work sniped “what have you achieved in your life?” or words to that effect.

It rolled me back on my ankles, I must admit and I replied, “A two and a half year old child”. Looking back on that statement, it was from the heart and if ever there was truth in something, it was that.

We are living history, our children are our footprints in time, without them – we cease to exist.

Nothing I have done to this point can compare to the birth of my son. I am so thankful to have him & my family in my life.

It is 8.10am on Midsummer’s day and It is as black as night. Overhead, a storm rages. Sheet lightning, hail, driving rain, the works. My grandmother often said, it was “God moving the furniture” when I asked as a frightened child what thunder was? It appears that God is rolling a Grand Piano across the Living room as I type.

The thunder explodes around our little home, shaking it like a toy, time to disappear, but not yet!

8.43 am, the storm is passing…..morning is peeking out. The birds outside are joining in a chorus of morningsong. God has a way of showing us how to carry on in the midst of a storm. Hold firm, endure, keep the faith – all storms are but a moment & pass on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Charlie Haughey died yesterday.

For those that did not know him or indeed of his reputation, I am sure it is of no consequence but to a “paddy’ like me raised in a Fíanna Fáil household, this is a sad moment.

Forget the (recent) Charlie of ill repute, the scandals, the jobbery, the backhanders….all alleged but as yet largely unproven. Whether the man did have a knack for graft, I do not know but what I do know is this….take a drive through modern day Ireland and you’ll see his legacy all round. The Ireland that exists today is largely directly thanks to his initiatives whether his detractors like it or not but as he was wont to quote the eternal ephitet from Brendan Behan, “F*ck the Begrudgers!”.

He dragged us kicking & screaming from an economic backwater on the fringes socially, politically & economically of Europe into the economic powerhouse that Ireland is today. Boasting reportedly, the highest standard of living in the Western World. Fair play to him, if he liked the finer things in life – CEO’s of small companies earn more!

As I type this, I am listening to Dermot Morgan’s (rip) impersonation of Charlie as he recounts his “pedigree” to “Mara” his hapless aide (P.J. Mara), brilliant stuff!

I don’t live there now but whether that is a good thing or not, I do not know….as my friends who reside therein advise that a lot of values disappeared accordingly despite the economic perks….but then again they are a bunch of whinging bastards! - I am sure they would want to go back to the days of “Section 31”, mass emigration, crap TV, crap schools, crap everything while the mullahs of the Catholic Church were hitting anything decent, ideas, people, movements - with a crozier!

There is a lot of anecdotes in my family about C.J., all good as indeed we were “Haugheyites”. Charlie had a way of cutting through the crap, of getting to the point, of getting business done – he was a master of “realpolitik”. Charlie was one of us, a lad from humble beginnings who rose through the ranks, married the boss’ daughter – the boss being the prime Minister, Sean Lemass.

A personal anecdote is this;
I always remember my father pointing out when on our way to Dublin (I must have been five or so), "there's the bridge where Charlie nearly died". Charlie was involved in a bad auto accident, a few miles north of the North Wexford town of Gorey in 1969. It was a stone wall where the old Dublin Road took a left turn over a railway bridge, Charlie's mercedes slamming right through it and leaving him in a coma for a couple of weeks. For years after until the N-25 made that left hand turn redundant, I had a dread approaching that bridge and always said a quiet prayer that we'd pass safely - amazing the stuff one remembers as one writes!

Another family anecdote concerns my mother’s bridesmaid, Rose.
If I recall correctly, Charlie was the Health Minister at the time – Rose’s mother was sadly, dying of cancer in a venerable Dublin Hospital. The Chief Surgeon decided that her case was hopeless and sent her home to die, no hospice care, no medication, nothing. For people of moderate means this was not unknown at the time in Ireland.

As you can imagine, this was a horrible situation for her and her family. Rose in her desperation contacted Charlie and explained the situation. He drove over with his police driver to her mother’s house, took charge of the situation and brought the poor woman back to the Hospital. When confronted by the surgeon, Charlie “advised” him that there better be a bed for this person or the surgeon would be typing up his resume “toute suite!”. Needless to say, the hospital had plenty of space for Rose’s mother and was treated afterwards with dignity till she passed away. Stories like this are legion from people all over the country.

Reading the BBC’s page on comments about him, to get the DUP, the OUP & Sinn Féin to agree on something (him) must be a first.!

Charlie, thanks for the memories – God bless!

World Cup so far!

Well the World cup has started and it is living up to expectations.
Some canny games but overall great technique to be seen and incredible goals.

After one game, the English media are rounding on their boys, so I guess, some things never change but if you play like sh*te and still win, I believe, that is a good omen for “Engerland”. I cannot believe though that Jermaine Defoe & Darren Bent are back home watching the tournament on the telly! – Mindboggling! It appears that the Swede may yet be a turnip!

Pluckiest team so far are the boys of Trinidad & Tobago who played with 10 men and held the fancied Swedes to a 0-0 draw. England had a great day with that result!

Meanwhile the Italians are off to a flyer as are the Dutch, the Argentineans, the Krauts & good ole “Aussie” who plundered three goals in the last 10 minutes to deservedly beat the Japs and pay them back for WW2 and buying up their country!

France & Switzerland played a boring 0-0 draw carrying on their tradition of boring group games. .There is a huge irony in this game being that it was played in the Neckarstadion in Stuttgart, scene of Ireland’s greatest victory ( )The Irony is compounded when one realizes that these two teams topped Ireland’s group which Ireland could & should have run off with only for a cretinous management to implode and play tactically ‘defensively” when in the lead thereby surrendering the advantage & initiative to the Israelis, Swiss & allowing the French in particular off the hook spectacularly in Paris. Oh well, the world is full of “ifs & onlys”….if me uncle had tits, he’d be my auntie!

Brazil beat Croatia 1-0, Ronaldo did an imitation of Maradona that is - Maradona of 2006! Again Brazil did an “England”, they played poorly yet won against a solid Croatian outfit!

More to come!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Coupe de Monde 2006, pt 2

1986, Mexico

Maradona! Simply sensational, proving that he could play Gaelic football with his first goal v England in the quarter final, his second goal is forever enshrined as probably the greatest goal ever scored in a major finals. If you have never seen this goal, do a search and watch it…incredible stuff.

I remember 1986 for some terrific games & some terrific players. The USSR team was a superb unit that promised much but was outplayed by a resilient Belgian team in the second round 4-3. Belanov’s goal in that game was a stunner.

1986 introduced Danish football to a global audience. The Danes were sensational in the ‘84 Euro Championship and the Laudrup brothers were immediate superstars. However in the second round, after leading 1-0 with 2 mins to go till half time - they sensationally collapsed to the fancied Spaniards. “The Vulture”, Emilio Butragueno scoring 4 times in their 5-1 win.

The European Champions, France played some scintillating football to get to the semi final, defeating Brazil in a memorable quarter final (on penalties). Germany, typically doggedly, grinding out results to get to that sem-final. Germany won 2-0 & French élan had to wait yet another while for the elusive trophy.

England steadily worked their passage till they met the indomitable force that was Diego Maradona at 25. Argentina deserved their win & they met the conquerors of Belgium – Spain in the semi-final, Maradona again was the triggerman with 2 brilliant goals, the second almost a carbon copy of the sensational goal v England.

The final has a memorable footnote for me. Argentina winning 3-2 in an entertaining game. Maradona pulling the strings and sending his country into ecstasy. If ever someone single-handedly (no pun intended0 won a world cup, it was this man!

The footnote is this, the Irish Counties of Westmeath & Wexford have a strong presence in Argentina (some 350,000 or so) - the first Argentinean scorer in the final was a fourth generation descendant of a Wexford family – Jorge Brown was his name!