Sing a new song for Ireland 1916-2016

fr-pj-and-the-flagI can’t believe that the centenary of 1916 is almost finished: I’ve read so many 1916 books (and still have more to read), I was at the reading of an old and new Proclamation, I stood at the raising of the flag by such a proud multinational group of parents and children and yet I’ve blogged nothing about it.

Like an old friend used to do, I cut articles from papers and put them into books and drawers and other ‘safe places’; finding them at later dates – often wondering then what made them important to keep! However this is not such an article. Although it’s dated 28/03/2016 it probable describes the dreams of 1916 and 2016 in a most inspiring yet apolitical way. I think it also puts into words the excitement of being part of a new Ireland- look at the faces of these children:


Certainly worth a read and a bit of a ponder:

The Prayer of Remembrance by Fr Seamus Madigan, Head Chaplain, Defence Forces (From Irish Independent 28/03/2016)

God, most merciful and kind, on this Easter day of new beginnings we remember the men, the women and the children of 1916 whose short lives and big dreams extended the horizons of our hopes. In Your mercy the faithful departed find rest. Look kindly, we pray, on all who lost their lives during 1916 and throughout the troubled journey of our island’s history.

As we reflect on our past we thank You for all the courageous people of Ireland who dared to hope and dream of a brighter tomorrow for our country and all of its citizens. Blessed are all those who sought to build a more inclusive and just society, for they are truly the chosen of God. Look kindly, we pray, on the people of Ireland from all traditions, at home and abroad.
Help us listen and respond to the voices that challenge in 2016 as we re-imagine our future. Conscious of our troubled past, ‘To You O God, we sing a new song’: a song of compassion, inclusion and engagement; a song of listening, social justice and respect for all; a song of unity, diversity, equality and peace; a song of Ceád Mile Fáilte and of care for our environment. With You, O Lord, we long to sing our new song in a spirit of true freedom.

Loving God, You know my frail heart and my frayed history and now another day begins. Give us courage to step onto new ground, eyes young again with energy and dreams. Help us to believe in beginnings, to listen to the voices that challenge and to sing a new song for Ireland.
Together, on this island, we have achieved a new peace. We cherish that peace, as we cherish all of the children of this island equally. We pray for all those who have suffered in the Troubles of the past century, and we hope for peace and reconciliation in the century that stretches before us.

Do gach duine atá bailithe anseo ar an lá speisialta seo agus i ngach áit in Éirinn, go mbeadh sonas, sláinte agus síocháin againn.
Moladh go deo le Dia.

Praise God forever.



Alas, Baltinglas got no further than first round in Leinster… but there are still interests and great hopes. Cuala (hurling) and Vincents (Football) representing Dublin will be well worth following.

Vincents will play Pallatine (Carlow) in Éire Ógs grounds next Sunday – I know a group of people – great Dub and Vincent supporters- who will be down there shouting on the Dubs. I see on the Carlow web page there’ll be sandwiches and tea for all! Sounds good!

Cuala advance to the semi-final of the AIB Leinster Clubs championship after their emphatic win over Borris-Kilcotton (Laois) last weekend at Parnell Park. Not sure who’s next on the list. I think Oulart the Ballagh (Wexford) are on the other side of the draw. They beat St Rynaghs (Offaly) last week and ar up against O’Loughlin Gaels (Kilkenny) in their next match

Trump, the next USA President – I can’t believe it!

Tue, Nov 8, 2016

Fintan O’Toole – not always correct but always interesting. I probably have a soft spot for him as he came to our school many years ago to do an article on why girls were less supported than boys in our educational system. His book “Ship of Fools” (2009) and “Enough is Enough” (2010) were certainly an entertaining view of why the Irish economy had collapsed. “A History of Ireland in 100 Objects” (2013 compilation of articles about artifacts) and “Irish Times Book of 1916” (2006) were also quirky and interesting bits of literature. I’ll have to see what Miriam Lord’s take on the election results is and maybe add them at future date! They’ll probably be mor “Ireland” related!

Fintan’s article following the selection of Trump as the next USA President, while a bit sensational does give voice to the fears of many. Here are parts of the article (the goya picture I googled and included as I knew nothing about it):

Take down the Stars and Stripes. And raise in its stead the new flag of the United States: an all-white banner with, at its centre, a big fist with the middle finger raised.

The US as we have known it, in all its gilt and glory, has become a giant insult: to women and people of colour, to its continental neighbours and its allies, to its traditions of enlightenment and scientific rationality, to a planet threatened by the climate change he denies, above all to its own intelligence.

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The sleep of reason, as Goya put it in the title of a famous etching, brings forth monsters. Who would have thought that the monster would be Donald Trump, such a risible opportunist, a loud-mouthed self-promoter who was as surprised as anyone else to find himself with a serious chance of power and who must this morning be secretly terrified of his own unlikely triumph?


To ask whether this can be real is not a mere expression of immediate shock. For there is a serious sense in which Trump is genuinely unreal. His signature policies – the ones that have swept him to the world’s most powerful office – are pure fantasy or, if they are to be made actual, will require a tearing up of the US constitution.

Extreme vetting

Mexico will not pay for his impossible wall. His threat of bans or “extreme vetting” for Muslims targets people on religious grounds and undermines one of the founding principles of the US, the separation of church and state. His promise to begin rounding up and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants immediately on taking office will require the creation of a police state and the suspension of normal democratic protections.

The point about all of these policies is that, if Trump is not to become a joke even to his own followers, he has to push these crazy impossibilities over the line from reality TV entertainment to documentary actuality.

This is a New Frontier indeed. Americans used to glory in the thought that there were no limits to their possibilities. Now, that is a very dark thought. Donald Trump inherits a country in which the bounds of possibility have been expanded to include a takeover by a clumsy demagogue, spouting hatred and vulgarity, promising to overturn some of the most basic elements of its constitution and threatening to jail his opponent.

Trump will double down on the hatred

What makes it more thinkable is that Trump will be forced, not to attempt sweet reconciliation, but to double down on the hatred. Why? Because his actual policies, the ones that will be driven by the professional Republican pols in the Congress they will continue to control, and the lobbyists who fund them, will be the policies of the very oligarchy Trump’s supporters have revolted against: tax cuts for the super-wealthy, with attacks on welfare and a further marginalisation of the lost communities who adopted Trump as their saviour.

The core of Trump’s appeal is the belief that he is going to magically bring back the heavy industries and the good union jobs that went with them. To which we can only say: good luck with that. Even if Trump tears up the trade deals he and his followers blame for their plight, how long will it take to recreate the industrial base of the Rust Belt? And given that the biggest cause of the loss of industrial jobs is automation, is Trump going to stop computerised machinery replacing muscle?

But we know what happens when authoritarians are failing, when the waves do not obey the commands of King Donald to retreat. They turn up the hatred and double down on the nationalist rhetoric. They need someone else to blame, some conspiracy that is preventing the great leader from producing the milk and honey.

And Trump has his hate figures all lined up: the mainstream media, the Muslims, the Mexicans. If he runs out, he can and will invent more: educated people (who failed to understand his appeal), scientists (who do not realise that climate change is a fiction invented by the Chinese), feminists (who made such a ridiculous fuss about his misogynistic boasting).

He will fail spectacularly

The more Trump fails – and he will fail spectacularly – the more he will turn up the dial on the blame game.

Will he get away with it? It has to be borne in mind that the Trump movement is already a triumph of perception over reality. It is important, even while we are still in shock, that we get a fix on the Trump phenomenon. It has too often been characterized as a backlash by people who are impoverished, who are competing with immigrants and minorities and who have lost their jobs because of globalisation.

Virtual phenomenon

In fact Trumpism is a virtual phenomenon – it is not about actual immigrants or minorities and not really even about an actual experience of trade competition. It’s about these things as tokens of something else – the fear of losing status. And history shows us that this fear is both toxic and potent. President Trump is the creation of the same demographic that gave Europe its far-right authoritarian movements with such disastrous consequences for the world. This does not mean that we are facing an American fascism. (MY COMMENT -TODAY IS THE ANNIVERSARY OF KRISTALLNACHT) But it does mean that Trump will not be able to rule without stoking and manipulating fear. And fear is a highly combustible fuel. It burns up reason, tolerance and sanity.

Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate. … an era of massive anti-Establishment feeling on both right and left, Clinton, the ultimate Establishment figure who used her public profile to enrich herself, was disastrously out of kilter with the public mood. Even her good qualities could be made to look bad – “experienced” translating as “insider”, resilience looking like the dogged pursuit of power, a command of policy detail feeding the image of a robotic politician, dignity in the face of provocation caricatured as coldness.

Learning the lessons

“America is already great” was not a good reply to Trump’s promise to “make America great again”. America is not all that great right now and Americans know it.

There was always going to be a revolt. America’s tragedy is that it is not a revolt of the poor demanding justice. It is a revolt of a white, male middle America terrified (with good reason) of losing the privileges that once came with being white, male and middle class.

And there will have to be a counter-revolution. There is still another America, an America that will wake up today feeling that it has lost its country. Amid the ruins of the American dream, they will have to wake up to another reality: that the republic they thought they inhabited is not theirs and that, if they want to live in it, they will have to rediscover its most basic value of equality.


Baltinglass are back where they belong

I sat beside a Baltinglass lady in Croke Park for the replay of the All Ireland – she was as stressed and as excited as any Dub. She has followed the Dubs for a number of years. we had a great chat, me doing a lot of boasting about my Wicklow relatives (both Lamberts and O’Loughlins) who had featured in Wicklow football over the years, one of them, Niamh Kelly, with a Wicklow All Ireland medal! Bumped into Liam from Aughrim as the Sam was being presented and had a great chat about all the family stalwarts who played in the blue and gold!

Back to Baltinglass! Baltinglass featured in our lives as a stop-off point on the journey to Wexford. I loved the view of the ruins across the Slaney as you entered the town.

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Germaine’s was a particular favourite for lunch for Mam and Dad when in later years they journeyed without the clan. (The Wicklow Heather was the pit-stop if they went over the mountains.) Germaine’s is also where I met up with Jim  on the run up to Christmas to collect my turkey (his welcome donation to the Paddocks Dinner).

So when I sat up in bed on Monday morning to read the epaper, as usual turning to the sports pages, I was delighted to read the following article about the Baltinglass win in Wicklow  Club Competition. I’ll certainly keep an eye on their progress through Leinster. They will have Home (Aughrim) advantage for all matches through to the Final and as Dad used to say Aughrim is a pitch for the bold and brave. My neighbour at the All Ireland had much the same comment to make to supporters around us who were baying for “soft” penalties and cards. a Laois friend often talks about “the battle of Aughrim”.

Dad was an ardent follower of Wicklow football. He had great stories about the hurling and football days of Ballymanus and Annacurra. So the Baltinglass club victory in 1990, one of the last matches he was able to watch, was a great thrill for him.

Baltinglass are back where they belong

Thursday, October 27, 2016 By John Harrington

The Leinster Senior Football Club Championship will welcome back a long-lost prodigal son on Sunday when Wicklow champions Baltinglass make their first appearance in the competition for 22 years.

The Wicklow side were once one of the most familiar faces of the provincial club campaign in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, a period that saw them win 15 county titles in 24 years.

That glorious era for Baltinglass GAA club was gilded with gold when they won the ’89 Leinster title and went on to win the All-Ireland too, the only Wicklow club ever to do so.

They’re back now though thanks to a County Final win over St. Patrick’s, and team-captain Jason Kennedy admits it’s hugely satisfying that the current generation have added their own chapter to the club’s illustrious history. Winning a first county title in nine years meant a lot to everyone in a town now festooned with green and white banners, but their tradition demands that they now have a good cut off the Leinster Championship which starts with a clash against Louth Champions, Sean O’Mahony’s, on Sunday.

We’ll be going into the game on Sunday looking to do ourselves justice. If that’s enough to get us into the quarter-final, then well and good. We’ll be taking this game very seriously. It’s not like we have the championship in the bag and we’re just going into this to see how we go. We’ll be hoping to definitely be competitive. “It is a bit of a journey into the unknown, but it’s one that we’re very excited about.”

The death of Anthony Foley

I was from the Dublin of GAA (Caisleán) and Soccer (St Pat’s Athletics). My first ever date was to Richmond Park! Rugby never featured except when the Cork relatives (in-law) visited and to them rugby was Munster.
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Then I met Shay and himself, Gerry, Terry and Peter joined Railway Union. This was not blood and guts rugby I see on TV today; I think they may have been on the 20th team (maybe a bit of an exaggeration but definitely one of the lower teams). They NEVER won! But the APRES MATCH was brilliant.

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I also stood shivering on the terraces of old Lansdowne Road on more than one occasion – I remember buying a second hand fur coat in the Georges St Arcade for the freezing experiences. Even then the standard of dress at a rugby match was very different to what one wore to Croker! I went into labour with David at a party in Railway Union, dashing straight from there to Holles Street!

I remember knitting David an outfit in Red White and blue, the colours of Railway Union.

Brian played for a while; it was said he was quite talented; he has a Leinster medal somewhere. As a mum I only saw the cuts and bruises.

Even though I lived next door to a rugby family (Irish player), Rugby was still Munster and social but not something I’d turn on the telly to watch!!!!

Not until a copy of the Wexford Journal arrived in May 2006 from Robert did the memories of what Rugby meant to Munster men come back to me. I remember being fascinated by the supporters’ efforts to get to Wales. (Kept 2 articles from the time – see below)

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So why do I think of all that now? Well the wonderful tributes that not only the celebrities but the ordinary people of Munster are paying to Anthony Foley clearly indicate the importance of this Munster man in a Munster sport. One could not be but touched as the hearse drove by Thomond Park and Munster fans lining the Limerick streets sang the rousing “There is an Isle” – absolutely beautiful, and so sad.

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Munster fans set sail from Kilmore Quay

PUBLISHED 25/05/2006 Wexford people

Six fanatical Munster rugby supporters travelled to the Heineken Cup Final in Cardiff in style last weekend on board a yacht from Kilmore Quay.

Dermot Greer who runs Sailing Ireland in Kilmore was contacted by the eager Limerick men asking him to bring them to the game on his 37ft yacht, ‘Yola’.

When they told Dermot, a life-long rugby player, that they would give him a ticket to the Munster versus Biarritz match if he agreed, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

In the lead-up to the final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, tickets were changing hands for up to €500 and all flights and ferry sailings were booked up.

Dermot’s passengers arrived on Thursday evening last and spent the night on the boat in Kilmore Quay, setting off on Friday morning. Before leaving port, they bedecked the vessel in the Munster colours with a few Wexford and Limerick flags thrown in for good measure.

It was originally planned to leave on Thursday in a flotilla with five other boats from Cork but the trip was postponed until Friday due to strong winds.

They sailed all day Friday and right through the night, arriving at Penarth Marina in Cardiff early on Saturday morning, catching sight of the Millennium Stadium from the bay.

‘The stadium is only ten minutes’ walk from the marina so it was very convenient’, said Dermot, a highly experienced yachtsman and an Irish Sailing Association and Royal Yacht Association instructor.


Some of his passengers also have sailing experience and for them, the adventure was an opportunity to indulge two passions – rugby and the sea. The skipper himself played rugby for many years.

The extended sea trip didn’t faze Dermot who set up his Sailing Ireland sailing school and yacht charter company in Kilmore Quay three years ago.

‘Yola’ is a passenger boat registered with the Department of the Marine and is usually hired for shorter trips around the Saltee Islands, Dunmore East and Waterford City although Dermot tries to take one or two longer journeys every year to places like the Isles of Scilly.

The rugby fans were due to set sail from Penarth on Sunday but sheltered in Milford Haven on Monday following forecasts of gale force winds.

‘We didn’t want to chance crossing the Irish Sea. The weather was looking a bit iffy so we decided to stay until Tuesday morning’, said Dermot. The ‘Yola’ was expected back in Kilmore Quay on Tuesday evening.

He and his passengers thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Wales. ‘The journey over was super. The wind was behind us all the way’, he said.

‘We had success on the pitch which was great and there was a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium’.


The day Munster rugby grasped the Holy Grail

Barry Duggan

Sixty minutes had gone in the 2006 Heineken Cup final in Cardiff.

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Anthony Foley celebrates winning the Heineken Cup in 2006 when Munster beat Biarritz by 23 points to 19

Munster led French opponents Biarritz by four points, but hadn’t scored in 18 minutes and had just turned over the ball, leading to a break in play.

The men from the southern province had been here twice before, in 2000 and 2002, with heartbreaking losses on both occasions. Gasping for air in the white-hot inferno of the Millennium Stadium, the Irish province were out on their feet as 74,000 – with easily the vast majority supporting Munster – anxiously looked on.

Out-half Ronan O’Gara glanced up at the big screen – and then one of the most remarkable scenes in modern sport took place. The stadium screen relayed live images from a heaving O’Connell Street in Limerick, where a crowd was watching the game. A roar went up in Cardiff. Suddenly realising their team, relations and friends in Cardiff could see and hear them, all of Shannonside roared back. The guttural Munster crescendo descended from the stands, rolling out onto the pitch. The stadium shook.

There was only going to be one winner. We knew then that it was going to be an unforgettable day, and 10 years have failed to diminish those memories.

Getting to Cardiff was an achievement in itself. The stories of fans travelling from around the world rivalled the adventures of Phileas Fogg. Tara Robinson from Limerick made a 32-hour bus journey through Brazil and Argentina before flying to Madrid, on to London – and made it to Cardiff 20 minutes before the game began. Another couple travelled from New Zealand.

Fr Liam Ryan ensured the Augustinian church in Limerick was packed the week before with a prayer of desperation offered to St Jude: “Help me to find a flight, a ferry, a paddle boat, a ticket for the stadium in Cardiff . . . Bless Paul, ROG and all the lads so that they may bring home the Heineken Cup, the Holy Grail . . . If you answer my prayer, I promise to limit myself to one drink if they win. Thank you for the gifts I am about to receive.”

Battle-hardened supporters who’d ventured to many a foreign field still recall that weekend as one of the best. Think of the Munster hurling final in Thurles and double it. It wasn’t confined to the rugby fraternity either.

Munster rugby unified all – as GAA and soccer diehards rowed in. Big burly men, who barely acknowledged each other at home, drank, hugged and sung with all their might. Families separated across the globe reunited that weekend. ‘De Banks’, ‘Slievenamon’, ‘Limerick, You’re A Lady’, ‘Spancil Hill’ and ‘The Rose of Tralee’. Even ‘Molly Malone’. It never ceased. Line-outs, rucks and mauls – and that was just the pubs in Cardiff the night before.

They slept on couches and floors. “If your mother asks, we had a fine B&B,” one dad warned his 12-year-old son.

Johnny Looby, then president of Kilfeacle Rugby Club, recalled the madness.

“After a rocky night over on the boat, 23 of us stayed in a house about two miles outside Cardiff. There was only meant to be seven in it.

“Pebbles Ryan from [Tipperary] town was laid out on a couch with a towel over him – the same as being laid out in Tom Fogarty’s funeral home in Tipp town. We didn’t see a dinner from Thursday night until Sunday. I went hoarse. It was the greatest weekend of my life.”

On Saturday, apprehension, anxiety and angst. Two men bedecked head-to-toe in Leinster blue got a roaring ovation and 1,000 foam rugby balls hurled at them when they walked into the Prince of Wales pub. They never paid for a drink the rest of the day. Actor Peter O’Toole spoke of his late friend and Munster supporter Richard Harris.

Nerves were unbearable. How could we take 80 minutes?

The game was a rollercoaster. Nip and tuck. Stringer’s try. You little beaut. Munster by seven at the break. More penalties and drama. O’Gara stretched the lead to four with six minutes to go. Touching distance.

All stood, as Biarritz laid siege. But then, just before 5pm on May 20, 2006, referee Chris White blew the sweetest sound ever – the final whistle. Munster were champions of Europe.

That night is hard to describe. Happy, laughing faces everywhere. The best rolling maul ever witnessed happened on St Mary Street around midnight. Twenty police officers wrestled with 40 fans for possession of a giant rugby ball, with thousands cheering.

The night never ended. It just gave way to morning and dashes to ferries and airports. It rained in Limerick at the homecoming but we didn’t feel a drop. Licensing laws were ignored and work was forgotten.

It’s hard to believe that, a decade later, the final of the European competition has just been played, but without Irish involvement. Nobody seemed to notice or care.

Maybe the heady days of the Champions Cup have peaked and the parties we held in Clermont, Leicester, Toulouse, San Sebastian and Cardiff will never be repeated. One can only hope more rich days lay ahead with even more memories to be made.

The final word to the late great Peter O’Toole speaking to this reporter, then with the ‘Limerick Leader’, barely an hour after the final.

“Dickie [Richard Harris] is dancing in the heavens with this result. They have done it all now, they have beaten the All-Blacks, the Aussies, and are now the champions of Europe. Remember this is only a club and yet there was over 70,000 supporters here in the stands and they came across a sea for this. Who else would do it?” asked O’Toole.

Before waiting for an answer, he spoke for all of us: “I have never seen anything like it.”



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To Cumann na mBunscol Chill Dara – Thank you for the ticket!

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There are many jobs that we do for which no payment is required – your colleagues are as committed as you and the satisfaction of a job well done is sufficient reward. On the eve of the All Ireland replay, I look back and pay tribute to all the teachers in all the counties who encouraged boys and girls onto the playing field. As politicians bemoan the unavailability of tickets, many of these committed teachers will also watch the gamevon the telly tomorrow despite the fact that there would be no game at all with their input.  And while I said that no payment is necessary, words of appreciation mean a lot. I will always fondly remember the tribute of President Mary McAleese acknowledging the efforts of the primary school teachers.please


Former president and theologian Mary McAleese.ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT McALEESE



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A dhaoine uaisle, is mór an chúis athais dom teach i bhur láthair anseo anocht don ocáid iontach seo. Cuirim fiorchaoin fáilte romhaibh go léir agus táim cinnte go mbainfimis go léir sult agus taitneamh as a bheith anseo.

It is a pleasure to join you for the Roadstone/ Cumann na mBunscoil National Awards. I would like to thank Margaret Cunningham for the invitation and the opportunity to join this celebration of our national games and the central role of our primary schools teachers in fostering them.

There is a proverb which says ‘those who drink the water should remember with gratitude those who dug the well’. Year after year we gather in Croke Park, those of us who can get tickets, for the great All-Ireland Finals and there we relish that great showcase of our native games. But tonight we gather to remind ourselves of where it begins. We go back to the well-diggers, to Cumann na mBunscoil and its seven thousand teachers who from sheer love of our culture and passion for our sporting heritage, volunteer their time, skill and enthusiasm to introduce over 100,000 pupils, not just to football, camogie, hurling, handball and rounders but to who they are and who they might become.

For many young boys and girls that introduction changes their lives. It tells them that our heritage is an unselfish one founded on generosity of spirit, of giving without counting the cost. It tells them that our sporting heritage values the talent of each human being and thinks them so special that busy teachers with a million things to be busy with make it their business to develop that talent and help it to shine. It shows our young people how to take pride in their skill and to celebrate, without envy, the skills of others, knowing that teams are a mosaic of different talents, each unique, each necessary if the team is to be effective. It allows them to feel the joy of winning, the heartache of losing, to come to understand that participation is itself a great gift. It teaches them that these games are for everyone, no matter what their ability or disability. It introduces them to these eccentric people called referees whose judgment must be respected and these even more eccentric people called spectators who sometimes have difficulty understanding referees. It teaches our young people that their schools and parishes are part of a huge network of schools and parishes that make up our country and re-freshen our culture from generation to generation. It links them to the generations who have gone through their schools before them, each making its own mark, each wanting to be the best it can be. We want our young people to grow up with friendships that last a lifetime, to grow up healthy and strong, to be self-confident, to have happy memories, to have ambition for themselves and their country, to be considerate and generous, to understand the sacred stewardship we each have of our culture and our Gaelic games. All these things Cumann na mBunscoil seed-beds from our children’s earliest years.Image result for cumann na mbunscol

If one generation should drop the baton through disinterest or neglect, the loss to all of us would be immense. Thankfully we have never had to face that possibility for each has relished its responsibility and each has added its own imaginative genius as you have done especially with the advent of wheelchair hurling. Not every child ends up in Croke Park as a player but each has his or her store of sporting days and each carries into adulthood, the strength this organisation helps to develop. It is carried into homes where they become good parents, into workplaces where they become good colleagues, into communities where they are intuitive leaders, into our civic society where their strength and love of our culture makes us all strong.

Yes, you dig the well and we drink the water and tonight though you do none of it for thanks, I am delighted to be able to say thank you to each of you and to the organisation for the unquantifiable debt we surely owe you.

No such Cumann ever clattered together by coincidence. Someone had to have the idea. Someone had to make the idea work. ‘Tús Maith is leath na hoibre’ says the seanfhocal and that ‘tús maith’ was the work of Tom Garry, Peadar Mac Craith, Martin Kitterick and Pat Guthrie who first decided, years ago to explore the possibility of setting up a national body to promote Gaelic games in Primary schools. A true measure of the extent of the contribution of primary teachers in the GAA is borne out by the fact that the Ard Stiurthóir, Liam Mulvihill and the President, Sean McCague are from that noble profession.

In sponsoring these awards Roadstone gives public expression to the appreciation and widespread goodwill that exists towards Cumann na mBunscoil. I thank Mr. Michael Grogan, Managing Director and Mr. Ronnie Delaney, Public Relations Officer for providing this crucial sponsorship and a thank you too to the adjudication panel under the chairmanship of Mr. Marty Morrissey. To those who came close but did not make it I hope your day will come soon, for you would not be here but for huge commitment and self-sacrifice but also the fulfillment you get from being involved in our national sports. May you long continue to be inspired by the vision that drives your involvement. To those who are winners, I offer warm congratulations – well done, enjoy the recognition and the respect these awards signify and may you also long continue to be rewarded by the delight sport brings to young lives and the opportunities it creates for them to be drawn deep into their national heritage while crafting their own futures.

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We are lucky that so many of our young people respond to the investment that Cumann na mBunscoil makes in their lives. They take the opportunities and they make the most of them. We celebrate their enthusiasm and courage tonight for they are the next to take that baton and thanks to you they are ready and more than willing and able.

I would like to thank the organisers of tonight’s event, in particular, Mr. Jerry Grogan and Mr. Eamonn Mullan along with Cumann na mBunscoil Chairperson,

Mr. Jim O’ Reilly and Ms. Margaret Cunningham, Secretary. Your hard work has paid off for tonight is in every way a great success and it is time now to find out who will carry home the laurels in this year’s Roadstone/Cumann na mBunscoil National Awards.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.


September 2nd: Back to School!

I did some really exciting sightseeing yesterday along the Causeway Coast including

Image result for dunluce castle Dunluce Castle,

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Binevenagh (where I almost got lost!!!!)

Image result for magilligan point Magilligan Point,

Image result for Walls of Derry Derry Walls + some retail therapy

Today I am in Letterkenny at the Global Solidarity Summer School: I JUST COULDN’T STAY AWAY FROM SCHOOL!!!

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Responding to Climate Change , the global Refugee Crisis and eyewitness accounts from Palestine were among the key issues featured and debated by the delegates gathered for the 8th annual Global Solidarity Summer School, organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The overarching theme for the 2016 Global Solidarity Summer School was Global Challenges & Opportunities – Local & Global Responses.

Among the other key speakers and themes featured were Irish Congress of Trade Unions President, Brian Campfield, Anna Biondi of ACTRAV – the workers bureau of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) along with speakers from a wide range of activist and civil society bodies.

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We watched part of Avi Lewis’ film “This Changes Everything”based on Naomi Klein’s work on reducing greenhouse emissions as the way to re-creating a fairer world. We also watched Caoimhe Butterly’s award winning documentary “The Border” – well worth a look but very very moving regardless of your politics:

On a lighter side – lovely dinner with delegates tonight followed by sing-song.


September 1st 2016

Image result for first day back at schoolI got a lovely email telling me that I was missed in the playground this morning.

WOW – Just imagine: This is the First “September 1st” that I have not been in a school playground since I started in Junior Infants, Warrenmount at 4 years of age.  I’ve stood in “líne”s as a primary and secondary student, as a teacher, as a mum.

So where was I this year? Thanks to the generosity of Scoil Choca’s Parents Association I awoke in the Blue Book Hotel in Bushmills.

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Originally a 17th century lodge, it is now a luxury hotel only a stone’s throw from the Giant’s Causeway. So where better after a scrumptious breakie to celebrate my first “out of school” September than at the UNESCO site carved by Fionn Mac Cumhal(????) – sitting on the hexagons carved out over 60 million years by the cooling and shrinking of lava flows.

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Growing old disgracefully

When I Am Old.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings,
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old
and start to wear purple!

Jenny Joseph


The Dublin Taxi Driver: Plagerised from Times

Kerry gave all they could but it wasn’t enough as Jim Gavin’s men rose to the challenge

Cian O’Sullivan challenges Kerry’s Paul Geaney. The message was clear – score your point but expect to eat a bit of dirt as well. I love to see that in a player. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

I got into a taxi in Dublin on Sunday morning feeling like I had left too much money in the city on Saturday night. The driver was a real old-fashioned Dub. Delighted with himself. Full of chat.

“I know you,” he says. “You’re Tomás Ó Sé.”

So maybe my day was cursed from the start.

My man was looking forward to his day. He was doing a few hours in the morning to pay for a few pints in the local watching the game. He must have wanted a few bags of crisps to go along with the pints because he was definitely going the long way round. I said this to him and he explained that he was avoiding roadworks. Good one, I thought.

He was a sound fella, real soft-spoken. But he had plenty of Dublin arrogance to go along with it.

“You know,” he says, “youse are very good to come up. It’s a long way to come to get a hiding.”

So I’m not ashamed to say that my first thought as the teams went in at half-time with Kerry five ahead was for my taxi-driver. I imagined him sitting on a barstool somewhere on the northside, his face gone white from the shock of it all. Where’s your hiding now?

As Popeye says, I am what I am. I wouldn’t be human if I was able to watch that last 10 minutes of the first half with a cool head. I had a brother down there, I had some of my best friends on the sideline and on the pitch. For them to come up to Croke Park and do what we all hoped and prayed they could do, that was blood-pumping stuff.

But in the end, Dublin are a team for the ages. There’s no doubting them. I have an issue with people who try to knock them or try to find excuses why everyone else doesn’t measure up. They have had every question asked of them and they’ve always found an answer. We’ve seen them many times now fall behind and refuse to accept defeat.

I don’t care what anybody says about money or population size or any of that – when you’re staring down the barrel, it comes down to each individual and whether they have it in them to turn things around. These are serious players and they clearly have a serious manager who wants them to win playing good football. The only problem I can find in them is the colour of their jersey.

Survive anything

Kerry gave all they could and it wasn’t enough. Dublin can near enough survive anything at this stage. They don’t care if you score a couple of goals. They don’t panic, they don’t look around wondering where all the leaders are. They take it on themselves.

They don’t care if you want to mix it physically. They want to mix it themselves. I really like that about them. They want the game to be manly, they want you to know that this is a contact sport.

For Paul Geaney’s first point on Sunday, Cian O’Sullivan threw himself in Geaney’s direction for an attempt at a block. I was sitting up in the stand and I had as much chance of getting a block on it as O’Sullivan but his follow through carried him into Geaney and knocked him on his ass. The message was clear – score your point but expect to eat a bit of dirt as well. I love to see that in a player.

O’Sullivan was exceptional on Sunday. You can tell just by watching him that he’s an intelligent guy. I heard he works in one of the big accounting firms in the city and I wasn’t a bit surprised.

It’s the way he carries himself around the pitch – you can see him thinking ahead, organising the players around him, radiating calm. He’s never cribbing to the referee or lambasting his team-mates. He’s just staying cool, working over and back, over and back to cut off the space down the middle. He’s like a line-dancer, just without his hands on his hips.

He’s a dream for Jim Gavin to have in his team. You know the fella you play poker with who hasn’t won a hand all night and starts complaining that he isn’t getting good hands? Gavin would have no time for that. He has good hands most of the time but he can play poker too.

That role he has O’Sullivan playing is a step above what most managers would risk. Gavin is putting a huge amount on his plate there – he’s basically saying that the most important area on the pitch from a defensive point of view is O’Sullivan’s responsibility. Most teams wouldn’t come up with that job in the first place but Gavin obviously knows what type of fella he has in O’Sullivan.

Some of the things Diarmuid Connolly did in the game, only two or three players in the country are capable of. For his first point, he wriggled out of a couple of tackles, burned them off with a sprint to give himself room and popped it over from 40 yards off his right foot. His point to win the game was from nearly the same position at the opposite end of the pitch but this time he curled it in with his left.

Those players don’t come along every year. Not just players of that ability but players who are able to have that crucial impact on a game when it matters most.

Connolly had the first two shots at the posts – one went over, one went wide. In the quarter-final against Donegal, he had the first shot as well but the Donegal goalie saved it. He wants to get into it, get the show on the road, get the business done early. And he wants to be the one taking the shot at the end. You can’t buy that attitude.

An Apparition

On the Kerry side, I thoughtDonnchadh Walsh was outstanding. I’m always amazed at his ability to pop up out of nowhere. He’s just always running, running, running. He’s like an apparition. You’d be driving along a country road late at night and you’d half-expect to see the Kerry number 12 shirt pop out of the bushes and make a burst across the road. How does he turn up out of nowhere so often?

That touch for Darran O’Sullivan’s goal was perfect and it nearly summed up his whole Kerry career. Kerry broke down Stephen Cluxton’s kick-out and once Geaney got onto it, you would have expected maybe the Gooch to be the one running in on goal to get the pass. But Donnchadh just materialised.

When the ball came to him, he knew the right move to make – one touch and Darran only had to walk the ball in. And then he was away off, running the roads again. Where he’s going, nobody knows.

I’ve heard people say that half-time came too quick for Kerry. But it’s nonsense really. As far as I’ve seen, half-time comes at the same time every Sunday above in Croke Park. There’s very few certainties in life but I’d say we can add half-time to death and taxes. You know when it’s coming, you know what you have to do after it. If you don’t do it, that’s your own look-out.

The difference ultimately was that some of the Kerry decision-making just wasn’t smart enough when it had to be. In a game like that, the margins get so tight that doing the right thing becomes non-negotiable.

At one stage in the second half, James O’Donoghue and Colm Cooperburst themselves to work Tadhg Morley into a shooting position out on the 20-metre line below the Cusack Stand.

It was hard-won space – O’Donoghue got savaged by Michael DarraghMacauley and James McCarthy on his way to feeding Gooch. Gooch could have had a go himself but Morley was closer to goal and in plenty of room because O’Sullivan had pulled his defence in to protect the goal. So it wasn’t a difficult chance.

Morley is new to the team and this was his first game in Croke Park. I’m not picking him out to pick on him, just to make the point about experience and decision-making. He snatched at his shot and pulled it wide at the near post. You can’t do that. Not in this sort of game. Put it this way – I played long enough with the Gooch to know that Morley’s ear would have been red raw going back to his position.

New ball

You need to be smart. You need to turn all the little battles your way. Above all, you need to be tuned in. Stephen O’Brien got through for a great point in injury-time to level the game. He ran in along the endline and fisted it over the bar and his momentum carried him nearly into the net behind the Canal End goals.

Before he was able to turn around, the game was back on. If you watch it again, O’Brien is still running across the line, the ball is still in the air going over the bar and Cluxton is already bending over to pick up a new ball at the foot of his right-hand post for the quick kick-out. In Cluxton’s mind, a Kerry player is out of the game so let’s go. Let’s get on with it.

To me, O’Brien had to cut across there and disrupt the kick-out. Get in Cluxton’s way, cause a row maybe, do something to slow the whole thing down. Even just run across his line so he has to change the direction he wants to go. Stop the quick kick-out so that everyone can get back in position and everyone can get their heads clear.

But he did what 99 per cent of players would do – he got back out to his position and Dublin started building again. It’s very hard to fault him for that because he did so well to get the point in the first place but these are just the tiny things that you need to turn in your favour. Kerry still have that bit of naivety whereas Dublin are just so well tuned-in.

Right zone

Kerry have run into Dublin at a time when Dublin are in the exact right zone in terms of their age profile.

They have the perfect spread of ages in terms of knowing what to do when the game is close. They’ve been in that situation so many times, they take the right option more or less every time.

There’s no disgrace in Kerry losing to them. There’s no disgrace in anybody losing to them. When it isn’t Kerry on the receiving end, they’re a pleasure to watch.

I hope the taxi driver enjoyed his pints on Sunday night. My only consolation is the porter’s a lot dearer where he was drinking than it was where I am.