Category Archives: Ireland

More Religion in Schools Now!

I believe there is not enough religion in National Schools.

In fact isn’t it ridiculous that primary schools in Ireland are for the most part limited to just one? Rather than abolishing all religions wouldn’t it be great if kids were taught about all religions -or at least the bigger ones: Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Buddism -I’m sure there are other biggies slipping my mind at the moment.

Also included should be Atheism for an all-round healthy debate on which one (or none) a child might prefer. I would strongly argue also for the inclusion of ancient beliefs such as Greek, Norse, Egyptian deities.

There are many fine stories if nothing else in all of these religions and there is certainly something to be learnt by everyone from each.

Nobody could have a cause for complaint on this surely, since of course (given a choice) all kids would obviously gravitate towards “The One True Religion”.

So, whichever one that is for you, you can be happy you have nothing to fear by allowing your child learn what those false/ less-true ones are all about.

Kicking religion out of schools entirely only encourages sectarianism and fanatacism as various groups huddle together in each corner shouting for their voice to be heard.

By all means feel free to have Sunday schools, temple meet-ups, whatever-you’re-having-yourself too, but why should national schools exclude so many other belief systems?

Contact your local and national representatives TODAY and let them know you no longer wish your child to grow up ignorant of the world’s belief systems.

If nothing else it would give kids an insight into what the big boys and girls are fighting about all the time.

 

 

 

Barry Lyndon Duel Scene Found

 

I spoke a little while back about what makes Barry Lyndon such a great film and about the (first) duel scene in particular.

Well at long last I have visited this very location in Templemichael Co. Waterford (well actually just outside Youghal Co. Cork) and returned with some interesting photographs of this still-tranquil location.

Of course without a wide angle lens it was never going to be possible to ‘recreate the scene’. And some inevitable changes have taken place/ additions made/ removals/ overgrowths, etc. in the past 25 or so years, but overall it’s still recognisably the same place.

 

Take a look.

 

Continue reading Barry Lyndon Duel Scene Found

Simple Solution #8: Irish Dáil Reform

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THE PROBLEM: The Irish house of Parliament (the Dáil) is in a mess. There’s a massive job ahead to be done, but time and again politicians are voted into power based on their ability to bring investment or at least a little positive attention to their local area, rather than having an ability to face or tackle the national problems of the country.

“He may not be able to renegotiate a deal with Brussels, but he’ll make sure the road outside my house looks alright.”

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THE SOLUTION: Nobody should be allowed vote for their own ministers.

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ie. ..People in Cork should be given a choice of Carlow candidates, people in Donegal should vote to put in Waterford ministers, Galway people should be given a choice of Louth political wannabes, etc..

Existing political approaches and constructs such as “clinics” should be allowed continue as before, but not in the voting areas -rather in the area in which the politician has been elected to represent. (eg. a Louth TD should live in Louth and not be allowed have a clinic in Galway.)

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This ensures that

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a) Nobody can think only of himself/herself when voting for a candidate since the person who gets in will not be responsible for “the road outside my house”.

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b) Everyone will consider the national interest when voting.

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c) Candidates will run with a national-interest mindset and agenda.

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What’s good for the country will ultimately trickle down to local rights, rules and regulations.

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OF COURSE THIS WON’T BE ADOPTED BECAUSE: Irish people have voted for the same political party since ever. Even now they are set to vote back in their local Fianna Fáil (or any other “established” party candidate) because “he’s not one of them fellas who made the mess -an’ didn’t he turn up to Johnny’s funeral last November on a rainy day!”

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“Political Reform” to any of these people means a token reduction in expenses and perhaps removing automatic rights for some TDs to a state car & driver.

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Same ole wankers will get back in, even if some of them have different faces. Same ole crap will be the result. Nothing will change except the people of Ireland slouch their shoulders and prepare for a hundred years of hardship.

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This Little Piggy Went to the Market

Paul Krugman at the New York Times reflects on a comment by “ObsessiveMathsFreak” on irisheconomy.ie. Finally I can see sense in the markets. Thanks ObsessiveMathsFreak!

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The markets want money for cocaine and prostitutes. I am deadly serious.

Most people don’t realize that “the markets” are in reality 22-27 year old business school graduates, furiously concocting chaotic trading strategies on excel sheets and reporting to bosses perhaps 5 years senior to them. In addition, they generally possess the mentality and probably intelligence of junior cycle secondary school students. Without knowladge of these basic facts, nothing about the markets makes any sense—and with knowladge, everything does.

What the markets, bond and speculators, etc, want right now is for Ireland to give them a feel good feeling, nothing more. A single sharp, sweeping budget would do that; a four year budget plan will not. Remember that most of these guys won’t actually still be trading in four years. They’ll either have retired or will have been promoted to a position where they don’t care about Ireland anymore. Anyone that does will be a major speculator looking to short the country for massive profit.

In lieu of a proper budget, what the country can do—and what will work—is bribe senior ratings agencies owners and officials to give the country a better rating. Even a few millions spent on bumping up Ireland’s rating would save millions and possibly save the country.

Bread and circuses for the masses; cocaine and prostitutes for the markets. This can be looked on as unethical obviously, but since the entire system is unethical, unprincipled and chaotic anyway, why not just exploit that fact to do some good for the nation instead of bankrupting it in an effort to buy new BMWs for unmarried 25 year olds.

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You go ObsessiveMathsFreak!

Ivory Tower Restaurant

Y’know when you are walking down the street and pass an old one-armed one-eyed chinaman in traditional garb, smoking from a long pipe who nods his head and walks away down a dodgy-looking backalley and you wonder if you should follow him for some big secret revelation beyond your imagination or turn and run in the opposite direction asap?

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Well discovering Ivory Tower Restaurant, in Cork, Ireland, for the first time is a little like that.

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The outside is somewhat… unassuming, to put it mildly, downright frightening to more accurately describe it.

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This is as good as it gets outside. See that golden angel thingy overhead? It looks dangerously perched over the doorway. It feels like walking under a (spiky) ladder passing through the doorway and the bad-luck feeling stays with you as you proceed.

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Truth be told, I love the ramshackle style. It’s like old New Orleans or a mishmash of clutter that Major Johnny Brit might have brought back from his trip round the world “to see the Empire an’ all that”.

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Up the stairs and through the door on the right and you’re into the main room (no further photos I’m sorry to say -the rest you’ll have to see for yourself!)

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If you had doubts up to now, they may be brushed aside when you catch a glimpse of the menu (sample here), but all misgivings are definitely tossed out the [large] window [overlooking the street below] once the food arrives.

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Three of us called there last night. As a ‘surprise taster’, we each got the same small, meaty Octopus salad.

Two of us lashed it down.I can only remember tasting octopus once before, and I didn’t like it -it was rubbery and it had tentacle suckers. The cuts in this salad though were soft and meaty and very tasty. Mrs. Rumm couldn’t eat hers (don’t worry -everything else was self-selectable), but I dare say if the owner, Seamus, had called it ‘chicken surprise’ instead she’d have loved it. 🙂

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I had a ‘wood-pigeon with beetroot’ starter. I’ve never been a big fan of beetroot, but again, here the beetroot tasted like meat -it was thickly cut and melted in the mouth like a moist tender slice of beef. In fact at times it was difficult to determine which was the beetroot and which the poor, dear, dead and tasty wood-pigeon. Dear dear wood-pigeon. I loved your meat, though we never met.

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My brother had a sushi starter, consisting of crab wraps, sea bass and one or two other bits. My wife had the duck (could well have been the main course in another establishment, if served with a few dollops of potato). It had a lovely-looking crispy skin that I was tempted to grab from her plate when I saw her slice it away to reveal the tender meat within, but by then I was lost in the delights of my own dish.

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Next, for the “between courses” course, we had a choice of three dishes. The two males chose the lobster bisque, Mrs. Rumm again took the non-marine route and went with the sorbet.

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I had expected a little shot-glass fishy aperitif. Instead I was presented with a bowl of soup (with newly-replenished bowl of delicious bread). I have no doubt the lobster was running around that morning because the bisque had quite the kick. In truth, this was the closest I came to disliking anything: The dish was peppery and tangy and ‘alien’ tasting. Somehow, after dipping a slice of (raspberry) bread into it however, it began to transform: The bread I could understand, and now the alien taste blended well with this understandable taste and so I found my taste buds accepting it. By the end, do I need to make clear? -each of our ‘late course starter’ dishes was completely demolished.

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Onward and ever-upward to the main course!

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I had the Sea Bass. Nothing amazing in the description, but the taste was delicious I’m sure I don’t need to say. It was served in a sauce similar to the lobster bisque I had just eaten, but without the extra kick that would’ve knocked the bass out of the plate. Instead, this sauce had an ‘added lightness’ feel to it, much the same way lemongrass does for asian cooking (if that makes sense?)

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My brother had the duck (very tasty looking too) and Mrs. Rumm had the undeniable steak.

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For dessert, two of us had the Selection of Irish Cheeses (“Served in a right state”) and the other had the berry tart with olive oil ice cream.

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Let me say, for the record, I haven’t tasted every Irish cheese by a long-shot, but I can admit that I’d never had a ‘delicious’ Irish cheese before. In Ivory Towers, however, I loved all of the 5 or 6 cheeses on my plate. Maybe it was the mix, maybe it was the salty crackers or the rich Rioja red wine, but I particularly liked the blue (Bellingham) cheese and the nutty/seedy one -‘Killeens’ I think Seamus told me it was. Each available from On The Pigs Back in the nearby English Market.

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Overall, the evening was an adventure as much as a meal. I had been there a number of years ago and can vouch for the consistency and quality of the food.

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The total cost wasn’t cheap, but well worth it.

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One bonus was when we discovered that the set-price menu had been reduced from 60euros to just 50, which is a steal for food of this quality. To celebrate we had a little more wine than we may have had, which went down very well, but did cause costs to leap of course.

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Simple Solutions #7: 12th of July Parades

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Peace and Brotherly Love are the by-words that certain correspondents would have us believe most effectively sum up relations and mood between the peoples of Northern Ireland.

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But under the surface (and even clearly on the surface at times) old hatreds and prejudices boil and bubble, resulting in an annual eruption of violence you could set your watch by. Old Faithful is alive and well and gushing through the streets of Northern Ireland every 12th of July.

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THE PROBLEM: ‘Orangemen’ see it as their right to hold parades along routes they have always marched each 12th of July. Unfortunately, certain areas on certain routes do not want these marches. People in these areas see them as an imperialist and triumphalist finger to the wishes of the majority (in those areas).

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Every year this results in a stand-off between both peoples, usually with the police in the middle (literally) keeping them apart.

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THE SOLUTION: Allow the orangemen down the road (each contentious road I mean), one person at a time.

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These roads are lined with police and army vehicles that keep the ‘locals’ from attacking marchers as the almost-inevitable parade progresses. Orangemen are usually told not to play their instruments during these times.

These men wish to “walk down the queen’s highway” as they put it and frankly they have a point.

Catholics/locals in these certain areas do not wish a horde of “ignorant loyalists” to trample through their patch, and frankly they have a point too (even though the idea of catholic and protestant ‘patches’ itself is ridiculous, however that’s how it is).

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So anyway, after a flurry of protest & violence, usually the orangemen eventually march, amid a flurry of protest & violence on the other side of the barricade.

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Imagine now the scene if orangemen were allowed march one-at-a-time. Such a ‘march’ could no longer be interpreted as a triumphalist cock-a-snoot to the locals, but instead would be laughed-off (loudly) from behind the barriers. The glass bottles and angry threats would be replaced by jeers and mocking laughter. (OK, ideally this should not occur either of course, but I’m trying to be real here).

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The result is the orangemen have their march, but it could not be interpreted by ‘locals’ as an annual triumphalist invasion of the area.

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Of course this won’t be adopted because: The underlying problem is the traditional communities themselves, divided along sectarian lines. It’s understandable why people huddled together in these ways during the troubles, forced to rely on each other in times of need. Now these huddles (in certain areas) are themselves as problematic as a mass of marchers. They will likely take a couple of generations to disperse naturally, as people find they no longer need to live and define themselves along strictly religious lines.

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Your Country My Call

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I read and re-read the email sent to me by the organisers of the Your Country Your Call competition, trying to figure out what it was saying. Maybe I was too excited to concentrate on the multiple paragraphs.

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It read like a kiss-off/ thanks-and-tough-luck email, but I couldn’t find where it was actually stating that.

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…Then I spotted it on my third-time round. Why these people don’t put “Dear Sir/Madam, You didn’t make it” as their first line instead of burying it in side-mouthed form-letter compliments I’ll never ever know. 🙁

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(It reminds me of people in a cinema opening a packet of popcorn slowly instead of quickly out of misplaced, pathetic sympathy.)

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The list of semi-finalists is posted here and mine isnt’ on there. Aww. 🙁

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Best of luck to the winner I say, but at a glance at least, it looks to me like the same old “corporate vested interest” notions that crop up time and again rather than a proper decent, simple, original thought.
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“Ireland should be a hub for online gaming” …Now why didn’t I think of that??
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“Green Ireland – a new brand for developing Irish Food and Tourism” …wow this is cutting-edge this is!

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“YEATS INSTITUTE OF LANGUAGE AND CULTURE” -well we must make it look like we at least give a damn about these things I suppose.
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Shoulda known. 🙁

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Now, I realise good ideas can sometimes come across as ridiculous or ill-considered when given a quick description, so there’s a possibility some or all of the above aren’t as stoopid and uninventive as they look.

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With that in mind, I’m not going to divulge my grand idea in a 1-line descriptor, but if anyone is interested you can read my proposal in full here.

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