Italy or Holland

 Many years ago, a parent of a Special Needs child addressed the Parents Association of our school. Her child was transitioning to Secondary school and she wanted to explain why “inclusion” in the local school was so important to the little girl and to her family. It was a very moving address, particularly the poem she quoted by E. P Kingsley about the dramatic life changes a parent of an SEN child needs to make.

In recent days I heard the same poem quoted in a very different but equally relevant context by a person who had a life changing illness. The ultimate message of this poem is that things don’t always go to plan: there are things we can’t change; But we can try to accept, to adapt; the alternative is to be miserable.

 A Trip to Holland
By Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability — to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans… the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, Gondolas. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After several months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.

You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland!” “Holland?” you say. “What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy. I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place.

So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around. You begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. And Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, ” Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that experience will never, ever, ever, go away. The loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.


Copy of article that appeared in The Irish Times: Fri, Jun 29, 2018 written by
Mary Hannigan

From banjoed to wojous: The Brian Kerr World Cup phrase book

RTÉ co-commentator’s unique contribution is so informative – and richly entertaining

The research hasn’t been entirely scientific, a random chat here and there, but it would seem that the country will not rest until Brian Kerr fits all of this in to one sentence:
“The knicky-knacky redser was right to have a ging from there, but it was a wojous effort, hit the ’keeper straight in the mush and now he’s gone down banjoed.”
If you’re a tourist in Ireland at the moment and you’ve been tuning in to RTÉ, this might have left you asking “what?”– so we’re going to try and help you out below.
But be assured, the man in question is the man of the tournament thus far. Never mind your Luka Modrics and Harry Kanes.
Some co-commentators are informative, some are entertaining, you rarely get it all in one package.
Which is why we say: Brian Kerr, we salute you.

The top 20 essential Kerr-isms: A guide for RTÉ-watching tourists

(1) Wojous: “That was a wojous attempt.”
After an effort on goal by Poland’s Kamil Grosicki almost ended up in Lithuania. Rubbish.
(2) Banjoed: “Looks like he’s banjoed now alright.”
After Morocco’s Noureddine Amrabat was floored by an Iranian shoulder. Wrecked.
(3) Helter Skelter: “I’d say we’ll have a bit of helter skelter around the goal now.” The likelihood of a mad scramble taking place in the penalty area as the attacking side desperately try to score.
(4) Dunt: He gave him a right dunt there.”
Bump, shove, thump.
(5) Rattle: “He’s gonna have a right rattle at this.”
In this case, when Ivan Rakitic stepped up to take a free-kick for Croatia. Give it the mother of all whacks.
(6) Knicky-knacky: “Peru have a couple of knicky-knacky players.”
Tricky, skilful, that kind of thing.
(7) Makie-uppie: “It looks like that was a makie-uppie one. They never practised that on the training ground. Just bang it in there and hope for the best.” When a Nigerian corner was so wojous it was highly unlikely it had never been rehearsed.
(8) Linkie-uppie: “Nice linkie-uppie play there.”
When a team puts together a string of very lovely passes.

(9) Ging: “Ah, he had to have a ging from there!”
When Iceland, needing a goal, opted not to attempt to score one. A shot.
(10) Blem: “Ah go on, have a blem!” We were going to say ‘see ging’, but during a heated debate in the office one faction insisted there is a subtle difference between a ‘ging’ and a ‘blem’. We still have no clue what it is, though. So, see ‘ging’.
(11) Rag Order: “Tunisia are in rag order there at the back, they’re all over the place.” Not defending with a tremendous amount of shape or discipline.(12) Mill: “It looked like the goalie was gonna mill yer man out of it.”
To send an opponent in to the middle of next week.
(13) Wingery: “He looks more like a wingery type of bloke, but he’s playing in midfield.” In this case, on an Iranian player with a physique more suited to playing on the wing.
(14) Mush: “It hit the keeper right in the mush.” Face, as in when the ball struck Peru’s Pedro Gallese in the mush.
(15) Banger: “Peru are kind of lucky to be there, in the group they were struggling early on, but then Bolivia played a banger in their match, so the result was overturned.”
RTÉ: ‘Brian Kerr’s Word of the Day – ‘Banger’, noun. An ineligible Dublin soccer player, usually an older player in a younger group age.’

(16) Stick That In Your Pipe And Smoke It: “He stood on his mate’s toe a minute ago, so he stands on his and says ‘there’s a hard tackle back for you, stick that in your pipe and smoke it.” Used to indicate that the person addressed will have to accept a particular situation, even if it is unwelcome. In this case, Mario Mandzukic being flattened by Nicolas Tagliafico in revenge for his challenge on Nicolas Otamendi.


Every four years soccer hits the world stage and memories of Ireland’s halcyon days of the 90’s flood back – the swell of pride at hearing Amhráin na bhFiann on a world stage, the flying of tricolours throughout the country is remembered as I sit down to a feast of football.

 Jim told stories of the pre 90’s Irish teams and the crowds that followed them; we watched Ray Houghton put the ball in the English net in Stuttgart in the 1988 Euros and felt (and still feel) the swell of national pride and the craic that years later would make no sense to Roy Keane; Christie Moore’s Inchicore Joxer became a party celebrity and then we qualified for Italia ’90 and we became a nation of soccer enthusiasts. David filled books with stickers of footballers and we entered match scores on grids.


We didn’t win the World Cup but we went wild, flew flags, hung out bunting, sang Italian songs (Volare, Amore ) with Dean Martin and songs about Paul McGrath (ooh aah), Jackie’s Army (that we were all part of!),

Thousands of supporters, friends and family, travelled to Italy for the matches, but those of us who stayed at home, shared their adventure with equal fervour and grew more hysterical by the day.

We survived the group stage and reached the second round. OMG! Travel plans were changed and tickets were sourced and the boys hit for Genoa.

Dublin was as hot as Genoa on that Monday in June for the late afternoon kick-off against Romania. After ending in a draw we needed Packie to save and O’Leary to score and the crowds took to the streets as the travellers scrapped their flight tickets for Dublin and headed for Rome and a place in the World Cup Quarter finals – penalty shoot-outs will always bring me back to the excitement of Genoa.

The Pope wanted to meet us!!!! And although Toto Schillaci ended our dream in Rome’s Stade Olympico, the entire country celebrated the journey and we channelled the ecstasy into the homecoming.
And for ever after we thought Pavarotti sang Nessun Dorma for us!!!!

USA ‘94

The Giant Stadium, NY, was the site of victory for the Green Army in World Cup 1994. Drawn against the Italian giants in the Giant’s Stadium we had hope more than expectation until 5 minutes into the game Ray Houghton lopped the goalie. With baited breath for the rest of the match we cheered as Paul McGrath outwitted the famous Roberto Baggio.

The fans travelled onto Orlando, a city decked out in Green and Orange…. World media found some of our travellers and we rang round family here at home so that recorders could be set and a snatch of the revellers would become part of our World Cup memorabilia. We were lauded as the “greatest fans in USA” before the heat of the Citrus Bowl combined with the talents of the Dutch on the football field.

Undaunted, the Irish team and fans hit back to NY, but unfortunately succumbed there to the force of the Mexicans. But while it lasted, the stories were great and the songs and the posters and the comraderie and the tales of the Three Amigos!


Our soccer star didn’t rise again till 2002 when once again our team qualified for the World Cup and plans were made to go EAST to Japan and Korea. This time a new generation of family travelled as my newly graduated and recently employed son, David, took off as a member of the Green Army.

It was still a relatively pre mobile phone era and so we only knew the media presentation which was weighed heavily about the Saipan debacle. We watched BBC and RTE anxiously for any news but often had to be happy with views of the returned Keane walking his dog Trigs. Keane was our lynchpin – what would happen without him!!!

But Matt Holland did us proud against the Cameroons. Another 1:1 draw against the Germans and the other Keane’s (Robbie) somersaulting victory display! We dismantled Saudi and found ourselves runners-up in the group against Spain! Less than 10 minutes into game we were 1:0 down and only equalised in last few minutes – after extra time we were still undivided so Penalties again! No joy this time as Ireland were sent home! And months of recrimination against Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy followed.

AND SINCE THEN: 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018

Brian Kerr unsuccessfully led us through the 2006 qualifiers to be played in Germany but the country fell in love with Kerr’s commentaries and Roy Keane returned to the fold – older and less able!






We got out of our group stages for 2010 World Cup but Thierry Henry’s hand halted our progress to South Africa.




Trapatonni managed us in 2014 and although Ireland weren’t contesting Ray represented the O’Loughlin branch of the Green Army in Brazil.



And now as we near quarter final 2018 in Russia without Ireland we listen to the expertise of pundits – Brian Kerr has to be a favourite with what have become known as “Kerrisms”.

MAYBE 2022 in Qatar???