Oppenheimer, the film

What a coincidence that I went to see the Film Oppenheimer today, 6th August, the 78th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

Cillian Murphy as J Robert Oppenheimer. Photograph: Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures

The film tells the story of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, who, during WW2, was appointed to work on the top-secret Manhattan Project. Oppenheimer and a team of scientists spent years developing and designing the atomic bomb. Their work came to fruition on July 16, 1945 with the world’s first nuclear explosion in Hiroshima, an event that forever changed the course of history.

There are two storylines and the film moves back and forth between the two. One is in colour and tells the story of Oppenheilmer’s early life, his work in the Manhattan project and the loss of his security clearance because of early communist connections but probably more so because of his opposition to the development of the H-Bomb. His name was never cleared fully until 2022, around the time the trailer of this film was released

The second story is shown in black and white and follows the confirmation of Lewis Straus to the Senate. It unfolds that Strauss was almost single-handedly responsible for the stripping of Oppenheimer’s security clearance.

I was most impressed with the portrayal of Oppenheimer’s torment in the wake of the bombing in Japan. I read somewhere that after witnessing the destructive power of the bomb he had designed, he quoted Hindu scripture: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”.

I think it’s also worth remembering on this day, Paul Tibbits who captained the aircraft, Enola Gay (named after his mother) that dropped the bomb. He did not share Oppenheimer’s regrets at the events of August 6th, believing instead that it was the only way to win te war. Furthermore, to dissuade anti-nuclear protests when he died,  he asked that there would be no funeral rites and no grave; that his ashes be scattered over the English Channel.



The Boys are Back in Town 2023


“When the Dubs go up to lift the Sam Maguire we’ll be there” – pre match, we sing it with such hope, but doubts always niggling.  And when the final whistle blows and we’re victorious, it’s as if this is how we always pictured it….. . and Sinead O’Connor again, this time with a soulful rendition of Molly Malone.





Cork poet Theo Dorgan captures the excitment  of All-Ireland Sunday – losses as well as victories.


We stand for the anthem, buoyant and tribal, heart beating with heart,
our colours brave, our faces turned towards the uncertain sun.
The man beside me takes my hand: good luck to yours, he says;
I squeeze his calloused palm and then – he’s gone.
A shadow socket where he was, the one beside him vanishes
and another before me; all around Croke Park
one by one we wink out of existence: tens, hundreds, then
thousands, the great arena emptying out, the wind curling in
from the open world to gather us all away. Each single one of us.
I could feel myself fail at the end, but then maybe everyone thought that,
each single one of us the last to go. The whistle blew and we all
came back with a roar, everything brighter and louder, desperate and vivid.
I held his hand a moment longer, I wished his team all the luck in the world.

We had the years of programme selling – early meetings to sell our allocation as quickly as possible and get in to sit on the steps of the Cusack for the game.
We had the years of the Dubls – wins and losses, going back to The Barn Owl in Thomas Street (now part of the Luas line) or the Shakespeare on Parnell Street to disect  what had gone right/ wrong, a congrats to the opposition always ending up on a positive note with “Next year”. We never knew where Jim sourced so many tickets but we all enjoyed the get together and the analysis after.
We still source a lot of tickets. The Annesley house is our new analysis/celebration centre. And  Sinead O’ Connor sings and we all join in “Nothing Compares

St. Brigid 1500 and a new National Holiday

St. Brigid is the female patron saint of Ireland. She was born in the middle of the 5th century during an era of great change in Irish history, the beginning of Christianity. She was actually born into a pagan community and converted to Christianity. So both her life and her legacy spanned periods of religious change.

Many of the stories and legends associated with St Brigid date to the earlier goddess Brigit/Brigantia; St. Brigid’s feast day of the 1st of February falls on the same date as the pagan Imbolc festival that marks the beginning of Spring.

Coming from a family with many Brigids (grandmother, aunt, cousins) and living and teaching in Kildare where she founded her famous monastery, it was difficult not to have an interest in this lady.

Many of the miracles attributed to St. Brigid took place around Kildare town which became an important place of pilgrimage from the Early Medieval Period. There is still a focus on pilgrimage in Kildare today. That legacy is particularly embodied within St. Brigid’s Cathedral in the heart of Kildare town and at the more newly established Brigidine Solas Bhríde Centre, located on the outskirts of the town.

And so we come to this year’s particular celebration of ‘Brigid 1500’ as we look at Brigid, the woman and her the life and legacy in a broad and rich way. The main aim of ‘Brigid 1500’ is to appeal to a diverse contemporary audience and engage them in meaningful way with the ‘Brigid’ story and heritage. It is hoped also to provide a relevant link with the past and with Brigid’s own values of faith and spirituality, biodiversity and sustainability, arts and culture, social justice, peace, hospitality and education. The ‘Brigid 1500’ programme comprises of initiatives including festivals, concerts, talks, art commissions, illuminations, pilgrimages, and craft workshops.

Brigid around the world

It was interesting for me as a child to see that Brigid was recognised around the world. There were many churches dedicated to her across “the British Isles” some of them relating to stories that she travelled there as a holy lady but others relating to the pagan goddess.

However, I only realised this year with a planned visit to New Orleans, that Brigid features in the voodoo culture of New Orleans as Maman Brigitte. Voodoo is a cross cultural religion which supposedly developed in the Caribbean around the 18th Century at the height of the slave trade. Maman Brigitte, sometimes symbolised by a black rooster, is the only goddess whose did not originate in Africa; she is probably a blend of cultures and beliefs of enslaved people from Africa and indentured servants from Ireland. She was associated closely with death and cemeteries. Like our Brigid, she was also known to be a powerful healer and a protector of women.



Malachy Clerkin’s Three unwise men

Come on you reds: Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane and Gary Neville

Great credits for this piece of poetry to Malachy Clerkin, Irish Times Sports writer, Sat Dec 24 2022 – a very humerous synopsis of World Cup punditry over the last few weeks

I’m always on the lookout for a witty piece of poetry. So I could hardly avoid this, a parody of my favourite Christmas Poem, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. Throw into the mix that it’s a play on BBC’s broadcasts of the craic and banter between Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Micah Richardson over the World Cup: you’ll understand how I just had to have it in my blog.

Three unwise men: ‘Twas the night before Christmas…

Come on you reds: Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane and Gary Neville

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
The accents were squabbling – Cork, Manc and Scouse.
There was Carragher and Neville and obviously Roy Keane,
And their dudgeon was high, and their language obscene.

“How the *%^& can you say that? You’re a right *%^&ing fool.”
Roy roared this at Gary, who rocked on his stool.
“Don’t start on me, mate,” was Neville’s retort.
“It’s not life or death here – we’re just talking sport.”

“Calm down the pair of you,” Jamie jumped in.
“Either kiss and make up now or get in the bin.”
“GO *%^& YOURSELF, CARRA,” screamed Gary and Roy,
And Jamie went quiet, a good little boy.

Here was the problem – the lads were wound up.
They’d spent the past month at the Qatar World Cup.
There’d been days in the desert and nights in the bars
And it all took its toll and they came home with scars.

There’d been talk about protests and what it all meant,
Of cash and backhanders and where it all went.
Talk about cultures, talk about gays,
Of yer man Infantino, his tedious ways.

There was also some football, conveniently for Fifa,
England won 6-2 at Stadium Khalifa.
The ITV panel was buzzing and rocking,
Until Roy nailed Iran with a single word: “Shocking.”

There were goals for Ronaldo, some his and some not.
And Messi scored seven, with four from the spot.
Giroud and Mbappé scored bagfuls for France
And Roy got annoyed at Brazilians who dance.

He was generally okay though, amused by it all,
Until England went two up on poor Senegal.
Harry Kane scored and Neville just lost it.
But Keane didn’t flinch, so cool he looked frostbit.

Everyone wondered what he wrote in his notes
While Wrighty and Gary were clearing their throats.
It was all quite straightforward, he simply wrote down:
“How much longer will I have to work with this clown?”

The weeks trundled by and England went out,
And Neymar stopped dancing, no more twist or shout.
Croatia were dogged, Morocco were fun
But when it all ended, there was only one.

It was Messi’s World Cup and he got the glory,
The best final ever, a beautiful story.
And everyone came home, exhausted and wrecked,
Ready to rest and take time to reflect.

Until Jamie popped up in the trio’s WhatsApp,
Refreshed and relaxed and just up from a nap.
He’d had the month off, not giving a fig,
No travel, no Qatar and no TV gig.

“All right lads!” he chirped as he welcomed them back.
Neither replied as they’d both hit the sack.
But Jamie persisted, he was keen as could be
To get back in studio, Sky Sports’ Big Three.

So he took out his phone and he started to type.
The boys needed lifting, they needed some hype.
“No time for lounging or World Cup fatigue,
“It’s back to the grindstone, the Premier League!”

That got a reaction – Roy said: “You what?!”
Jamie said: “You’re back on.” And Roy said: “I’m not!”
And Gary chimed in, crying: “Give us a break!
“Don’t put us together, at least for my sake.”

This could get nasty so Jamie thought quick.
“I know what I’ll do now, I’ll channel Saint Nick.”
He went back to them both with a trick up his sleeve,
And sent them an invite: his house, Christmas Eve.

They both turned up grumbling – “Why the *%^& are we here?”
“Belt up, lads,” said Carra, “Have Christmas good cheer!”
And though they were grouchy and grumpy and gruff,
They heard Jamie out, as they liked him enough.

“I know it’s been tense and I know it’s been hard.
“The World Cup was long and you went every yard.
“But life’s getting better, it’s all looking up,
“At least you weren’t stuck with the Carabao Cup.”

He fed them and schmoozed them and got them together,
But both were still close to the end of their tether.
They couldn’t believe there wasn’t a pause,
No time for festivities, no Santa Claus.

“This is bullshit,” said Roy. “It’s absolute nonsense.
“Whoever has done this has no *%^&ing conscience.
“Tell you this much for nothing – whatever occurs,
“There’s no way I’m working at Brentford v Spurs.”

That was all Jamie needed, his opening was clear
He said, “Don’t worry Roy, they’re not that severe.
“You can both have the week off, take your sweet time.
“The Boxing Day games are on Amazon Prime.”

“Stephen’s Day,” muttered Roy before letting it slide.
“No game till next Friday is doable,” he sighed.
And Gary perked up: “Let’s not let it fester.
“We’ll probably feel better come Liverpool v Leicester.”

Suddenly the trio were sitting straight up,
To hell with exhaustion, forget the World Cup.
They talked about Pep and they talked about Klopp,
They’d fully forgotten that Arsenal are top.

Now Haaland, now Salah, now Foden and Saka!
On Almiron, Mitrovic, Rashford and Xhaka!
Now financial doping and reffing mistakes,
On Glazers and oligarchs, Saudis and sheikhs.

By the time they were finished, the lads had come round.
And Gary and Roy had found common ground.
They got in a circle and made sure to hug tight.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!



King Charles selected this poem to be red at the Royal Christmas Concert on Christmas Eve. It is the story of the Flight into Egypt by Malcolm Guite and its resonance in today’s world.

The Flight into Egypt. Giotto di Bondone
The Flight into Egypt Giotto di Bondone

REFUGEE by Malcolm Guite

We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,

Or cosy in a crib beside the font,

But he is with a million displaced people

On the long road of weariness and want.

For even as we sing our final carol

His family is up and on that road,

Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,

Glancing behind and shouldering their load.

Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower

Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,

The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,

And death squads spread their curse across the world.

But every Herod dies, and comes alone

To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.

Fairytale for Messi

“I had the feeling that this was the one.” — Lionel Messi after winning the World Cup for the first time.

Having watched every one of the 63 matches of the 2022 World Cup tournament, I spent the evening of the final with the Naas Active Retirement Group in the 3 Arena. I did sneak a peek of the match progress during the interval and was delighted to see Argentina 2-0 up. At next check-in, 45 minutes later the score showed as 2-all – what had happened?

Extra time had just finished as we left our seats at the end of the show. Both teams had scored. We joined some other football fans to listen to the penalty shoot-out. Relief – Argentina, the obvious favourites in the 3 Arena, had won.

I read all the post-match reports today, but decided to trawl the replay channels and at least experience the excitement of the highlights. Even though I knew the result, it was till an amazing match of ups and downs where the winning team had to win three times. That’s sport. According to the media today it was one of the best finals in history.

SOME QUOTES from a TOURNAMENT of contradictions:


“After the World Cup road works and construction begins again and labour is so poorly valued that the workers have no water, and maybe no pay for months at a time. This is the real Doha”.

“Death is a natural part of life, whether it is at work, whether it is in your sleep,” said Qatar’s chief executive Nasser Al-Khater, when asked about ‘Alex,’ a Filipino national who died while working at the Sealine resort, Saudi Arabia’s training base in Mesaieed.

Everyone is welcome in Qatar,” insists the World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, “but we are a conservative country and any public display of affection, regardless of orientation, is frowned upon. We simply ask for people to respect our culture.”

Gianni Infantino’s tribute to a tournament that has netted millions for Soccer: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker.”

On opening night Morgan Freeman asks: “Am I welcome?”

Seven European captains abandoning the One Love armband, designed to support LGBTQ+ rights, for fear of receiving a yellow card, prompted Roy Keane to comment: “The players could have done it for the first game. I think it was a big mistake by both players, they should have stuck to their guns, if that’s what you believe then go with it.”

Roy Keane’s comment about Brazilian celebrations of goals “I don’t mind the first kind of little jig – whatever they’re doing – but they’re still doing it after that, and then the manager getting involved with it.

Hassan Al Thawadi’s, Secretary General at Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy comments on human rights: “We are a relatively conservative culture. In the West the individual’s personal rights always trump, let’s say, the community rights. That’s what is most sacred. But there are other societies, the Arab world being one of them, in the Middle East, it is the communal values, which is fundamentally related to religion, that is of a higher value, of higher importance.”



FI had a very interesting October Sunday Session in Killester yesterday. Fiona Leech talked us through her journey into felt. Probably known to many of you social media users, Fiona is the face of FeltAtHomeDesigns and also Membership Secretary and Workshop Organiser for Feltmakers.


Fiona gave us an inspiring insight into her early career with lots of samples for us to touch and feel as well as notebooks where she developed ideas.
We viewed an early hand-knitted wall panel of a Henri Matisse lady – all done with scraps of wool and NO PATTERN.
Everyone fell in love with her Aardvark crochet family and will be searching for Toft amigurumi crochet patterns of the ‘many animal in the world’.
Her 100 Days project was picked up by an Australian Magazine, Artwear Publications that extolled her talents as a textile artist.
We were all very appreciative of Fiona’s generosity in her willingness to share how she achieved the clean cut circles that identify much of  her current art.
Thanks to Fiona and Dee who managed to have coffee and cake for our break although the Coffee Dock was closed.



For many years, Oberammergau has been on my bucket list. I was fascinated by the many facts that I’d heard about the Passion Play held there every 10 years. Luckily the 2020 event was postponed because of Covid and I realised that for this once in a decade occasion, I could not procrastinate for too much longer.

Oberammergau is a small village located in Bavaria in Germany among the stunning Ammergau Alps. Nearly 400 years ago the history of the Passion Play began. The plague raged in many parts of Europe during 1633 and it did not spare the village of Oberammergau either. The villagers soughtvrefuge in prayernand vowed to perform the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ every tenth year. The first play took place in 1634, in the cemetery next to the parish church, supposedly on the graves of the plague victims. Seemingly there were no further deaths from the plague.

Later, in 1830, the performance space relocated to the northern edge of the village, where it still remains today but in a modern open-air theatre with amazing acoustics The villagers’ promise was kept until 2020, when the play had to be postponed for two years, this time due to another plague, the corona-pandemic.

To be considered as a performer in the Passion Play, you have to be born in the village, be married to a local for 10 or more years, or live there personally for 20 years. No exceptions to these rules are made.

Costumes are made by villagers and for accuracy and authenticity on stage, no wigs are allowed. A “Hair and Beard Decree” comes into play in March of the year of the performance so there are no trips to the barbers.

Over 2,000 locals take part every 10 years, but there are only around 124 speaking roles up for grabs. Some of the scenes include 64 vocalists and 55 instrumentalists sitting in the orchestra pit.



After landing in Frankfurt, we travelled to Wurzburg. According to tradition, the first Bishop of Wurzburg found the remains of the Irish saint, Killian and built two churches on the spot c. 1060. These churches underwent renovation and changes over the years until the entire city of Wurzburg was destroyed on 16th March 1945. However in the years since the chey have both been restored.St Killian is held in very high esteem in this town with many of the eldest boys in a family being named after him. Wurzburg is a lovely town, particularly the Saints Bridge across the river Maine. With a small deposit on a glass, I had a ‘take away’ local wine sitting on the wall of the bridge.

We then continued to Nuremburg to stay in the lovely Novina Hotel. After a super dinner – what a selection of foods – and few scoops, I was more than ready for the bed.


After breakfast, we went on a tour of the city of Nuremburg with Andreas, a German guide. The weather was dreadful making the cobbled streets very precarious. But we climbed to the top of the Imperial Castle and looked across the beautiful city which for centuries was regarded as the cradle of European culture, with grand residences, ancient walls and an old castle. Nuremburg was the city of Nazi rallies and the Nuremburg racial laws.

Andreas explained that the new Germany acknowledged Nuremburg’s part in the National Socialist barbarity and accepted the destruction of the city in 53 minutes on the 2nd January 1945, the death of 1800 people and the loss of 6 centuries of history as part of the consequences. Siting the Nuremburg trials in its Palace of Justice was just as much symbolic as practical: it was one of the few towns with a prison alongside a court.

Nuremburg is now restored to its former beauty. There a many tributes to Duhrer to be seen around the city – my favourite was the hare sculpture in the square where Duhrer lived and the Ship of Fools in the market square. The Nuremburg traditional gingerbread was delicious. Nuremburg is a city of fountains – the Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain) which was more a public well for water in the 14th-century was shaped like a Gothic spire in the main market square.







We departed Nuremburg for Altotting stopping off in Augsburg to see the famous painting of Our Lady, Untier of Knots in the church of St Peter. Pope Francis is said to have been particularly inspired by this wonderful painting and frequently prays to Our Lady to undo the knots of life.

The Hotel Plankl in Altotting was our destination. After dinner a few of us explored the town, found a lovely bar and shared (a few) bottles of wine.


We spent the morning exploring Altotting. Since the 9th Century the Black Madonna has been one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations in Central Europe. Pope Benedict who was reared near here often stayed here – also in Hotel Plankl.

In the afternoon, we travelled out to Markt Marktl where Benedict was born. We all remarked at how big his house was, but the guide informed us that the building housed the Police Station (his father was a police officer), a customs post (Austria is only a few miles away) and accommodation for the police and custom officers as well as Benedict’s home.



After an early breakfast, we set off for Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This German ski resort in Bavaria was formed when 2 towns united in 1935 for the Winter Olympics, often called the Nazi Olympics.

Our destination, the Riessersee Hotel was fabulous and being allocated a suite overlooking the lake was the icing on the cake. My balcony afforded a unique view down into the valley although there was little chance to enjoy it before being whisked off to Oberammergau. The shortening days of September moved the performance start time to 1.30.

Oberammergau was stunning. Most of the houses have colourful murals or Luftmalerei, the older ones illustrating martyrs, passion scenes and famous citizens and events. More recent illustrations are of nursery rhyme and fairytale characters. The Hansel and Gretl house is magnificent. The shops along the route to the theatre have wonderful displays of wooden ornaments and Christmas decorations, sometimes the woodworker is actually carving outside the door.

Wood carver

Men and women were separated into different queues, probably because the women generally have handbags and the search might cause delays. The banter between the spectators was lively as we shared stories of our journeys here.


Inside we were directed to really good seats; the view of the mountains behind the stage was awesome. The play revolved around the mystery of the Psssion of Jesus in both a dramatic as well as a meditative way. Between scenes, moments of the Old Testament were depicted as ‘living pictures’. The scale of the production with 2.000 actors and live animals, up to 400 on the stage at one time, was unbelievable. The score was haunting and the acoustics of the theatre allowed it to reverberate right through the audience.

The play was in German, meaning that the dialogue didn’t distract from the action. A copy of the script in English was made available but I decided it would be better read after the play. The play was approximately five and half hours long, performed in two acts with dinner served in the village during the intermission. While not a culinary delight, there was a selection of Bavarian and international food. We had a little time for shopping before returning to the theatre.


A quick trip back to Oberammergau this morning for some shopping and outdoor Mass (in the pelting rain) before onward journey to Munich. The city centre roads were all blocked off in Munch for a music festival. So we got a festival and a quick run around Munich and then off to airport.

The holiday/pilgrimage met all expectations and I certainly wouldn’t rule out a 2030 trip to Oberammergau. It wasn’t oppressively “holy” but it gave opportunity for contemplation and questioning.


Return to the Gaeltacht

D’fhreasatil mé ar Gaeltacht Chorca Dhuibhne i 1972 ón Coláiste Oiliúna. Is múinteoir scartha mé anois agus shochraigh me ar ath-chuairt ar an nGaeltacht an Samhradh seo chun an teanga a chleachtadh. Fuair me lóistín le Gertie and Seamus ina dteach “An Guirín” I mBaile an Lochaigh. Bhi teach álainn acu – an chompórdach le radharcanna áille ó gach fuinneog agus ba bhreá an fháilte a chuir bean an tí romham.  Chuaigh mé ar turas bus timpeall Shlí Cheann Sléibhe.

Chuimhin me ar na heachtraí go léir a bhí agam agus na háiteanna eagsúla ar a thug mé cuairt mar scoláire na blianta ó shin – Coumeenole, Cé Dhún Chaoin, Na Blascaoid, Trá Dhún an Óir, Muiríoch,

Bhain me an-taitneamh as na laethannnta mar scoláire/taistealaí arís.