Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Catholic school attacked

I'm sure by now you've heard the news that a Catholic primary school in Ballymena was attacked by loyalists in the north Antrim area.

The school on the Cullybackey Road was set alight by arsonists last night, causing damage to part of the building.

The previous night, five petrol bombs were thrown into another Catholic school in the Harryville area of Ballymena.

The incidents are the latest in a spate of attacks on Catholic homes and property across north Antrim that are apparently being orchestrated by the Ulster Defence Association.

This is disgraceful. What kind of depraved individuals commit an arson attack on a school? My guess is the loyalists are not happy with the recent moves by the IRA to end their armed campaign and that they are looking for Republicans to engage in attacks on Protestants in retaliation.

Hopefully this will not happen. The PSNI need to act though. The British government must also keep an eye on these developments as they are totally unacceptable. Yet again, unionists are nowhere and no condemnation is made.

Deaglan over at Res Publica published some interesting figures detailing sectarian Ballymena attacks from 1 June to 31 August:

Total attacks 45
Attempted murder 1
Petrol bombs 3
Disturbances 2
Intimidation 4
Criminal damage 24
Assault 8
Theft 2
Arson 1
29 victims Catholic
11 victims Protestant
5 victims undetermined

Source: PSNI

Says it all really.


Qualifier Countdown - 7 days away

We are seven days away from one of the most important football matches in recent Irish footballing history.

Ireland against France at Lansdowne Road.

An epic match that will play a huge part in determining the future of Group 4.

Over the next week I will be counting down the days until the Boys in Green clash with Les Bleus. Ireland currently top Group 4 with 13 points from 7 games, whereas France lie in fourth place with 10 points from 6 games. Defeat for the French would almost certainly see them miss out on Germany in 2006 with Switzerland lying in second place in the group with 12 points from 6 games.

The big news from the Irish camp this week was the announcement of the squad on Monday by Ireland manager Brian Kerr. As expected, Manchester United captain Roy Keane returns.

As for the French camp, they have been showing their confidence (arrogance?) with Zinedine Zidane declaring, "we can win - and we will win."

"We have to win in Dublin but I feel we will win," said Zidane who has had the captain's armband returned to him by Thierry Henry.

"We have a big game against the Faroes to take care of first, then we have the game in Ireland. I think we will have to dig deep within ourselves to win in Dublin, but we can do it.

"We showed in our friendly game against the Ivory Coast two weeks ago what we are capable of, we are feeling confident, we are looking forward to playing Ireland and I am feeling good as we had a winning start to the league season in Spain with Real Madrid."

Fighting words from the Frenchman. We shall see what happens.

This is a mouthwatering clash however and both nations will no doubt be gripped by the events.

Come on Ireland!


'What If'? Wednesday - New anthem

Continuing the musical theme of the week, I got to thinking about anthems and thought I would put this hypothetical to you - what if Ireland was reunited and was in need of an anthem? What should that anthem be?

It is my view that if Ireland is one day reunited, Amhran na bhFiann should be scrapped. I haven't got a major problem with the anthem to be honest (though I do think it's overrated) but I'm realistic enough to know that unionists would never accept it as their anthem

Some people may propose a solution similar to what happened with the German anthem with the tune being retained and the words changed, though unionists would probably still find the song uncomfortable. With that being said, we can probably rule that idea out. And we can definitely rule out Phil Coulter's atrocious Ireland's Call. One would be more likely to hear sweeter sounds on the other side of a hollow motel wall as Shirley Temple Bar enthusiastically celebrates his/her honeymoon. So then, having ruled those ideas out, let's come up with some fresh ideas for what the all-Ireland anthem should be.

Personally, two songs spring to mind. Firstly, A Nation Once Again. On the plus side, it's a rousing song with appropriate lyrics in the chorus, "A Nation once again, A Nation once again, And Ireland, long a province be, A Nation once again!" The downside is that it is regarded as an Irish rebel song even though it doesn't glorify Irish freedom fighters by name, nor criticise the English. The second option I feel would be Danny Boy. On the plus side, it would stand a good chance of being accepted by both sides. The downside is that it's not a particularly rousing song and would hardly fire up a team before a match!

Of course another option would be the creation of an entirely new anthem though considering Phil Coulter penned Ireland's Call, who would be asked this time? Daniel O'Donnell or some other eejit? No thanks.

In my view we ought to go with A Nation Once Again or Danny Boy. What are your thoughts? And would you accept an anthem that was not in Irish?


Ripped off and fobbed off!

I came across this nice letter in the Irish Examiner:

"I find it amazing that senior ministers still refuse to accept the reality that is rip-off Ireland — although if I was earning over E100,000 per year, plus expenses, maybe I wouldn’t see a problem either.

"If these ministers tried living on a quarter of their salaries, or less, they might realise how suffocating this price free-for-all really is."

Gordon Kennedy

Dublin 4

Agreed! It seems that the programme on RTE fronted by Eddie Hobbs, Rip off Republic, which details Ireland's obscene rip-off culture, has caused some concern of late. It's a shame that in this country, it takes a TV show to highlight the problems that we face!

Nevertheless hopefully this programme will lead to something being done about the pathetic prices we have to pay for our products.

As I believe I've mentioned before, they should start selling t-shirts which say:

"My friend went to Ireland and all he could afford was this lousy t-shirt!"

Reasonably priced, of course!


Free education?

Have you read the figures by the Hibernian insurance firm regarding the cost of putting a child through primary and secondary school?

According to a survey done by the company, children who go to school for the first time this week will have cost their parents more than €21,000 by the time they complete their exams in 13 years' time.

It said this was an increase of 38% on the figure of €16,300 that emerged from a similar survey two years ago.

Hibernian claimed that, on average, parents would have to pay for 20 school trips, 52 shirts or blouses, 39 pairs of trousers or skirts, 26 jumpers and 26 pairs of shoes.

The company also said that a further four years in college could end up costing parents a further €30,000.

I smell BS on this one. I refuse to believe that putting a child through primary and secondary school, and indeed college, could cost that much.


One flu offers the country test

Apologies for the title! I was interested to read a senior Department of Health official reveal Government plans to deal with a possible outbreak of avian flu in Ireland are well-advanced and "ahead of the posse".

Brian Mullen said there had been significant planning for a "worst-case scenario" involving a mutant virus which could be spread from person to person.

He explained that 200,000 doses of the newest vaccine had been ordered, as well as anti-viral drugs for at least 25% of the population.

Now I'm no maths whiz but in a country with a population of over 4 million people, having 200,000 doses of the newest vaccine doesn't fill me with confidence! And anti-viral drugs for 25% of the population? Getting 25% in an exam is considered a FAIL.

Must do better! We don't want to be left relying on a wing and a prayer! (apologies again)


UI's Celtic Mythology - Guinevere

Guinevere (Gwen-I-veer), whose Welsh name, Gwenhwyfar, probably means "white spirit", was the wife of Arthur and the secret lover of Sir Lancelot. In the stories about the Knights of the Round Table, Guinevere is always compared with Helen of Troy, the famous beauty of Greek mythology. Such a comparison is not unjustified, for both those women brought disaster to those who loved them. In Guinevere's case the love affair with Sir Lancelot weakened the unity of the Round Table. It was her beauty that also attracted Arthur's nephew Sir Modred, who seized Camelot and forced Guinevere to consent to marry him during the king's absence abroad. The confrontation between Arthur and Modred at the battle of Camlan brought to a bloody end the golden age of British chivalry, as hardly a knight was left alive. Arthur, mortally wounded, was taken to Avalon, while Guinevere became a nun at Amesbury, where she later died. It is believed by some that her body was buried at Glastonbury, not far from Arthur's tomb.

I myself was a big fan of the Arthurian myths as a child. Regarding Guinevere, I'm surprised she was allowed to become a nun after her earlier exploits!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Come on Norway!

I see the wives of the Rossport Five have written to the Norwegian Government appealing for the country's Prime Minister to intervene in the Corrib gas dispute.

The Norwegian state is the majority shareholder of Statoil, which has a 36.5 per cent stake in the gas field.

About 20 supporters of the jailed men have staged a protest outside Norway's embassy in Dublin.

This is obviously a very unpleasant situation and hopefully the Norwegian government will do something to help the Rossport Five. It's clear that with this issue, our government has been most unhelpful.


Top Ten Tuesday - Irish pub songs

This might be a bit too 'Oirish' for some tastes but there's a fine line between Irish and Oirish and I think as long as you are aware of that, you avoid going into the Oirish territory! So with that being said, I thought I'd name my top ten Irish pub songs. Songs which are ideal to sing after you've downed a few pints, especially if you're in the country somewhere! So without further ado:

1. Danny Boy - The classic Irish song. Some people love this song, some people hate it. Personally I love it and I think Ronan Tynan does a great version of it.
2. Fields of Athenry - Another great song which has become synonymous with sporting occasions like football and rugby matches.
3 Molly Malone - Being a Dub, I was taught this in school as a kid and I think it's a great little tune.
4. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling - I like this tune but only if it's done by someone with a voice for the job.
5. God Save Ireland - You have to love the Wolfe Tones!
6. It's a long way to Tipperary - A classic tune. As far as I know, there are two versions. One describes places in Britain like Piccadilly with the other about New York. I think the former is the real version, though I may be mistaken. Great song though.
7. Irish Rover - You have to love The Pogues and The Dubliners too! Great rousing Irish song.
8. A nation once again - Another great song by the Wolfe Tones. I think it came top in a recent poll in Britain for best song though I believe this was largely due to some dubious voting.
9. Whiskey in the Jar - Has to be included. Classic tune by Thin Lizzy.
10. Dirty Old Town - Another classic tune from The Pogues.

So there you have it. My top ten favourite Irish pub songs. Feel free to comment on my choices or to offer some of your own.


Loyalist love...

Here's a question for you - Loyalists have been engaged in a bloody feud for weeks and months which has claimed several lives. Nationalists have found themselves being intimidated by them. Unionists have been criticised by nationalists for not speaking out against the culprits enough. So, if you're from the unionist community, what do you do?

Denounce the loyalists publicly? Request that unionist politicians show more criticism of loyalists? Perhaps arrange a campaign with your nationalist brothers and sisters and join in solidarity to condemn the loyalist violence? Nope. All wrong. Give up?

Why you organise a campaign urging resistance against a slide towards a united Ireland, of course!

About 200 people, including loyalists, have
gathered in Larne for the launch of a newspaper to "promote unionist and loyalist views".

The campaign has the backing of victims' groups and loyalists and Orange Order grand master Robert Saulters said he hoped members would support the campaign.

I think this is scandalous. At a time when nationalists are being bullied and harassed by these low lifes, unionists are stirring things up with this campaign as well as cooperating with the loyalists! The fact that the Orange Order has given its support to this campaign has only strengthened my view of the organisation as a breeding ground for bigots.

I think the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell summed things up pretty well:

"It is utterly disgraceful at a time when loyalist paramilitaries are killing each other and terrorising the nationalist community that the Orange Order should have come together with them on a campaign against a united Ireland.

"The Orange Order claims again and again to be against terrorism yet they don't hesitate to associate with murderous paramilitaries when and where it suits them. This is rank hypocrisy and thoroughly shameful.

"It is also deeply irresponsible at a time when extremists are trying to ratchet up tension in the community that leaflets are being delivered claiming that Ulster is at crisis point.

"This type of inflammatory and alarmist action plays right into the hands of extremists and adds fuel to the sectarian fire."

Well said Mr McDonnell. It's a disgrace.


What the f*ck?

Have you heard of this story yet? Pupils are being allowed to swear at one Northamptonshire secondary school - as long as they limit their use of bad language to five times a lesson.

A tally of how many times the f-word is used will be kept on the board.

Parents of children at the Weavers School in Wellingborough were told of the new policy in a letter, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

The policy, which comes into effect when term starts next week, has been condemned by parents' groups and MPs.

However headmaster Alan Large said he had received no complaints about the policy.

"The reality is that the f-word is part of these young adults' everyday language," he told the Daily Mail.

"Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score," explained assistant headmaster Richard White .

"Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson."

The school, which has 1,130 pupils, also plans to send "praise postcards" to the parents of children who do not swear in class.

I'm sorry, but this is total madness! Is this the world we will live in if liberals get their way? I don't think I've ever heard anything so ridiculous in all my life.

The f-word may be a part of their 'everyday language' as the headmaster points out, but that doesn't make it right. Drinking is a part of everyday life for some students. Does that mean schools should organise a happy hour during lunch?

As for "praise postcards", that's another joke. Gee, the kids will love getting that in the mail won't they? Not.

The kids who will get the 'praise cards' will be slagged and it doesn't take a genius to work out what this will mean - students will resort to using the f-word all the time thinking it's cool. Its popularity will be increased!

Weavers School, you have messed up.


Hurricane havoc

It seems Chicago is no longer the 'windy city' as Hurricane Katrina has been battering several cities in the southern coastal areas of the United States.

The storm has wrought extensive damage in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, where it swept ashore after moving across the Gulf of Mexico.

Katrina submerged neighbourhoods in New Orleans and tore part of the roof of a stadium where many had sought refuge.

US President George W Bush has called on people who had fled their homes not to return until the authorities told them to. He has also issued a state of emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi, freeing the path for federal aid.

Three nursing home residents died after being taken by bus to a Baton Rouge church during the Louisiana evacuation.

The storm, which formed in the Bahamas, lashed South Florida on Thursday, killing nine people, uprooting trees, downing power lines and causing extensive flooding.

First of all I would like to express my sympathy with our American friends across the pond. I sincerely hope that there are no more casualties.

On another note, is anyone else as bemused as I am as to why they send news reporters out in these winds risking their lives just to make their reports? I saw some American reporters on the news tonight trying to give their report whilst they were being hit by these ferocious winds. Is this really necessary?

Can't news stations just announce that hurricanes are hitting particular places and leave it at that? Do they think the general public will not believe them until they put some poor oul' sod at the mercy of a hurricane? It's ridiculous.

Anyway, please God it will finish soon.


UI's Celtic Mythology - Grainne

Grainne (Gron-ya), in Irish mythology, was the daughter of Cormac Mac Art, the High King of Ireland. She was promised to Finn MacCool, leader of the Fianna, the body guard of the High King. Although still powerful, Finn MacCool was quite old and Grainne preferred Diarmuid (Deer-mwid) Ua Duibhne, who was the foster-son of the love god Aonghus. By using magic, Grainne managed to escape from Tara, the Irish capital, with a rather reluctant Diarmuid. Gradually, however, he came to love Grainne, although for sixteen years they had to keep moving in order to avoid capture by the Fenians. But Diarmuid was killed by a magic boar in a hunting accident after Cormac Mac Art and Finn MacCool had finally accepted his marriage to Grainne. Although Grainne blamed Finn MacCool for Diarmuid's death and swore to obtain vengeance through her four sons, the wily Finn wooed her until she agreed to marry him.

I think this story teaches us a valuable lesson. Love conquers all...unless you encounter a magic boar.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Monday Madness - Playing the gender card

Peter: Listen Lois, I know you're a feminist and I think that's adorable, but this is grown-up time and I'm the man. - Family Guy

Hey guess what? I'm a chauvinist! (and not in the patriotic sense) That's the
insinuation made against me by Sinead from Sigla Magazine. Why you ask? Good question. Remember that post I made a while back about blogger factions and how a person's blogroll can tell alot about the blogger? You can find it here. Well, apparently it contained chauvinism!

Sinead has taken offence to these comments I made about her blog in that post:

"Now let's look at some blogs which I myself do not link to and which likewise do not link to me - Sigla, wysiwyg, Thinking Out Loud. These types of blogs would be more 'glitzy/pop culture' blogs. They would not focus on political matters but rather on flashy, entertainment-type issues. They appear to encompass the pop culture faction. We 'political' bloggers don't enter their world, and they don't enter our world. We have our own circles, our own groups, our own factions."

I know what you're thinking - where's the chauvinism? Well, I'll let Sinead explain in her own words:

"it's interesting that the three blogs mentioned are all helmed by women"

D'oh! That dreaded gender card rears its head! She continued:

"I can't help but think that the ugly gender 'us blokes blog about politics, you birds blog about Heat magazine' issue again, which is a bit sad."

Funny cos I find the gender card 'a bit sad'. I responded:

"I'm surprised at how you have taken offence to my remarks. As for blokes blogging about politics, I would like to see more women blog about politics so don't make me out as some sort of chauvinist. In fact, here's a comment from me on a Monday post I made when I updated my blogroll adding 'JoBlog': "I'm not aware of too many female bloggers who take an interest in politics so I think her blog will be worth keeping an eye on in future. I wish her well."
Kinda destroys your 'ugly gender' theory."

But no! The gender card once used is near impossible to escape from as Sinead pressed on:

"But let me just point out that I didn't call you a chauvinist, I merely asked why the three blogs mentioned were blogs by female bloggers. A valid question, I'd have thought."

Uh, how is that valid? And no you never labelled me a chauvinist but the insinuation was there.

"I don't have a gender theory, to be honest I wish it wasn't even an issue but referencing one other female blogger hardly constitutes answering the gender question."

She wishes it wasn't even an issue yet she was the one who brought it up! It isn't an issue. And if referencing Jo's blog doesn't suffice, how about I reference Emma from Canada, Caoimhe from The Blog and I and Fi's blog, Trixibell. There's also the broom of anger blog which has been down for some time. Hopefully that 'constitutes answering the gender question'.

Let me say this, playing the gender card is complete bullshit. It's like me playing the 'Irish' card in a debate with foreigners . It's a pathetic red herring-type tactic which, to me, says more about the person who uses it than anything else. "You have offended me. Is it because I'm a woman?" What a joke.

I feel better now after clearing that up. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and see if I can have a cup of tea made for me. Being at that strip club earlier has left me thirsty. I must also try and get some sleep as I'm to watch a mud-wrestling match tomorrow. My money's on the red-head. I can't think of her name. Then again, it's not like it matters...


Are you in favour of the EU Constitution?

I have added a new poll to United Irelander which asks the question:

Are you in favour of the EU Constitution?

On Friday, European Affairs Minister Noel Treacy brought the issue back into the Irish equation saying that the Government remained "committed to the Constitution and to using this year to engage the public of Ireland on the issue of Europe".

But where do you stand on the issue? Are you for it or against it?

Please take the time to vote in the poll along my sidebar and again I would appreciate it if you would use the comments box of this post to explain your reasons for why you voted the way you did.

Personally, I vehemently oppose this constitution which I regard as a serious threat to Irish sovereignty. You can read why I oppose the constitution here.

I feel that if it is ever put to us in a referendum we must give Brussels a big, fat Irish-style 'No'!


IRA will remain illegal - McDowell

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, has said the IRA will continue to be viewed as an illegal organisation, even if it decommissions its arms and ends criminality.

Speaking on RTÉ News, Mr McDowell said the constitution of the IRA was treasonable to the Irish state and it would continue to prosecute people for membership of the organisation.

Mr McDowell said he believed General John de Chastelain would supervise a process where IRA arms were decommissioned in the near future.

McDowell doesn't always get it right but in this instance, he has. The IRA, by their very existence, are a threat and a challenge to the Irish state. We cannot turn a blind eye to an organisation which is an affront to the democratic institutions of the Irish Republic.


Attacks despicable - Durkan

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has condemned a petrol and paint bomb attack on a loyalist estate by nationalists. The attack occurred at the Fountain Estate.

The attacks came as a town in County Tyrone recovered from sectarian clashes yesterday that left seven police officers injured and resulted in the rest of four people.

A riot broke out in Castlederg as members of the Protestant Black Preceptory passed through the nationalist Ferguson Crescent area of the town while Tyrone GAA supporters celebrated their county's All-Ireland Gaelic Football Championship quarter final victory over Dublin.

The PSNI said one of their officers suffered a broken cheekbone as they tried to break up the disturbances.

"They are not just attacks on the people of the Fountain, but an affront to their neighbours whose peace and quiet is affected," said Durkan.

"It is not enough just to register our disgust and condemnation. We want to see these people apprehended and brought to justice, so anyone with any information on their activities should go to the police."

How nice to see a nationalist politician condemning attacks by nationalists! I share Mr Durkan's view of the attacks. The nationalists in question who carried out this act should be ashamed of themselves.

Violence is not a solution. The people involved deserve to be locked up.


UI's Celtic Mythology - Goibhniu

Goibhniu (Gweev-New) was the Irish smith god and one of the Tuatha De Danann. He could make a perfect sword or spear with three blows of his magic hammer. Just before the second battle of Magh Tuireadh, a Fomorii spy came to see how Goibhniu made such impressive weapons, and even wounded the god. Goibhniu was said to preside over an otherworld feast called Fled Goibnenn (Gwib-nen), for which he brewed the ale. His Welsh counterpart was named Govannon.

Those who have read these stories on Celtic mythology will be aware that sometimes after I write these pieces, I offer a humorous or satirical take on them. But seeing as I can't see any potential for humour in a story about a magic hammer, I won't do so this time...

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Poll Results - We're better off out

After a week of being up, I've closed the poll which asked:

"Should Ireland rejoin the Commonwealth"?

The final results were as follows:

Yes, it's time to rejoin - 32% (13 votes)

No, we're better off staying out - 68% (28 votes)

It would appear that Irish opinion, for the moment at least, is firmly against Ireland rejoining. Personally I see that as disappointing but democracy has spoken!

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Saturday Survey

Heroes of the Week: Gardai: Great to see that a boy with leukaemia had his wish come true thanks to the gardai. Fair play to them.

Villains of the Week: Colombian government: They are determined to have the Colombia Three extradited and have said they will pursue the extradition "to the last day of the last possible appeal". Appeal all you want! The three men are going nowhere!

Funniest Moment of the Week: Fat fury: Read this story. Hilarious stuff!

Dunces of the Week: Loyalist 'footsoldiers': They attacked a rival businessman and told him to get off their turf. The trouble is, the man they attacked was an undercover policeman. Ah well, it's all part and parcel of the ice-cream business apparently...

Luckiest person (s) of the Week: Tyrone football team: They're lucky that the current Dublin team is muck.

My favourite moment of the week: Aoibhinn's win: Seeing Mayo Rose Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin win the Rose of Tralee was great, especially since she was my tip to win! Good job Aoibhinn!

Quote of the Week: "Loyalist paramilitaries claim to exist because of the republican threat against their community but the reality is that people in the loyalist community are living in fear not from their traditional enemy but from people within their own community" - The DUP's Edwin Poots

How refreshing to hear a unionist politician condemning the Loyalist violence!

United Irelander's Busiest Day of the Week: Wednesday - 221 visits (+8)


What a joke!

So Tyrone destroyed Dublin today at Croker. Final score was:

Dublin 1-14 (17) Tyrone 2-18 (24)

Sack the manager! Get new players in! And so forth...

What a joke this team is. We have the largest pool of players to pick from and we look hopeless every year. I've seen more passion in a Paris Hilton acting performance than I saw from Dublin today.

This was supposed to be destiny!

Friday, August 26, 2005


Some things to ponder over...

Some things to ponder over...

Do siamese twins pay for one ticket or two tickets when they go to movies and concerts?

Why in baseball is it called the World Series if it is only played in the U.S.A & Canada?

What does OK actually mean?

Why do we say "bye bye" but not "hi hi"?

How do they get those boats in those glass bottles?

If you decide that you're indecisive, which one are you?

Have you ever thought what life would be like if your name was Anonymous? You'd get credit for everything nobody wanted credit for?

Makes you think...


Fun Irelander Feature-Destiny

I love Dublin. There are many things I love about being a Dubliner. The culture of the city, the hustle and bustle, the ways and mannerisms of the people, that feeling of superiority we have over other Irish people (yes, it exists), but with all that being said I feel there's one thing the people of Dublin lack - unity.

On the day of big GAA matches in Croker, after I finish bemoaning the extra presence in my local of the GAA fans from other counties, I often say to my friends, "You rarely see any county unity from Dubliners". And I think it's certainly an aspect that's lacking from us Dubliners. But it wasn't always like that. I can remember one year in particular when there was alot of Dublin unity, brotherhood and pride - 1995. The year we took Sam Maguire home.

People who are not Irish may wonder what the fascination is with the All-Ireland. Well, to be blunt, the greatest thing about winning the All-Ireland is knowing that you've mopped the floor with every other county in the island and that you've confirmed your superiority. That is why it has been terribly frustrating for us Dubs to watch the other pretenders be so successful. They're not really the greatest Irish county we all know that, but they can claim to be.

I am not a major GAA fan. In fact I can probably count on my hand the number of GAA footballers who play for Dublin. Jason Sherlock, Dessie Farrell (he must be what, fifty now?) that's about it. With that being said, I think it's of great importance that tomorrow, Dublin take out Tyrone. It's ten years since our last win which means that we're surely destined to take Sam Maguire home like we did a decade ago. We earned ourselves a replay for tomorrow so surely Lady Luck is with us this year.

Tomorrow we must bring back the unity, brotherhood and pride to this county which is truly the greatest on the island. It's time for the Dubs to give Tyrone a kick up the backside so they leave Croke Park not only with red hands, but with red arses!

Come on you boys in blue! It's destiny!


Boy, 7, becomes a garda for a week

I was very pleased to read the story about a seven year-old boy, who suffers from leukaemia, who has become a garda for a week.

David Moran from County Mayo got the opportunity after he told the "Make a Wish Foundation" it was his dream to join the force.

He has been kitted out in a full uniform and has been spending time with the traffic corps, the Garda dog and air support unit.

He met with the Taoiseach outside his constituency office in Dublin, before setting up a roadblock to watch for dangerous drivers.

What a great gesture for the young lad. Those ignorant people who have badmouthed Ireland's handling of the Colombia Three, and laughably declared this country a supporter of terrorism, should take a look at this move from the Gardai and realise that this country of ours isn't as bad as you would like to believe it is.

Fair play to the Gardai.


Not this again...

The Govt must work harder to "sell" the troubled EU Constitution to the Irish people during the next year, a minister said today.

European Affairs Minister Noel Treacy said member states would revisit the historic document during the Austrian EU presidency in the first half of 2006.

Let's look at some of his comments:

"Our Government remains committed to the Constitution and to using this year to engage the public of Ireland on the issue of Europe."

Yes, to 'engage' them by scaring them into supporting the EU.

"The rejection of the Treaty by France and Holland resulted in soul-searching and uncertainty about the role of Europe."

Wasn't that the reason people voted no? How about you actually look at reforming the EU then instead of trying to get your way?

"We need to better explain how Europe works today – what it does and doesn’t do – and how it can best serve its citizens in the future."

In other words, the Government is going to pump millions of the taxpayers money into funding a campaign designed to brainwash Irish people into the EU's way of thinking.

Just kill that damned constitution and be done with this farce, will you?


Medical malpractice? Fat chance!

Here's a question for you - If you're at the doctor's and he tells you you're obese, what do you do?

Well, if you're American, you file a complaint with the State and tell them your doctor was hurtful!

See here. Ridiculous stuff.


Friday Fun-News in Brief

It was revealed this week that many last minute package holidays advertised in the shop windows of travel agents in the North either don’t exist or cost more than they say.

"People booking last minute holidays are particularly vulnerable to misleading holiday prices and could be very disappointed when they find out all the facts," said Raymond Dolan of the Trading Standards Service.

Tut-tut. That's awful. I'll give you an honest (cough) list of reasons as to why you should visit the North and I won't misrepresent anything. (just don't click on the links)

- The community spirit
- Enjoy a stroll in the countryside
- Take in the artistry
- Parades for all the family
- Meet the friendly old folks

Experiences you'll never forget!

Also this week, Fine Gael has criticised the Government's alleged lack of preparedness for a potential outbreak of bird flu. Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten has called on the Irish Government to ensure that it has a plan in place to prevent the disease from infecting poultry in Ireland.

I don't think Fine Gael need to worry. Fianna Fail will sort that bird flu out. Sure won't they have to? The party is full of turkeys...

And finally, despite students from the North stretching their lead over the rest of the UK with record GCSE results, the Ulster Unionists have expressed concern that many school-leavers lack basic skills.

"What, however, remains very much a matter for concern is the clear evidence from industry and other recruiters that our school-leavers, like those elsewhere in the UK, frequently cannot read or count," said South Belfast MLA Esmond Birnie, the party's spokesman for employment and learning.

"Basic illiteracy or innumeracy is not only an economic cost but a human tragedy and even more needs to be done to rid our society of this social evil."

Responding to the claims, a school-leaver from the North had this to say: "Birnie make me mad and sad. His comments - badness." The school-leaver then rushed off having been distracted by something shiny.*

*may not be true


Want some ice-cream?

Hey get this - UTV reports that four men who were working for loyalists were freed today after being caught on camera attacking a rival business man who was really an undercover cop. What was the business? Ice-cream!

Belfast Crown Court heard that moments earlier the under-cover policeman named 'John' was ordered from the loyalist Castlemara estate in Carrickfergus by two UDA men who claimed to control ice cream sale in the area.

They all pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm to the under-cover policeman and causing criminal damage to his ice-cream van.

Prosecuting lawyer Charles McKay told the court that on May 20 2003 police began an under-cover investigation into a UDA extortion racket in the loyalist Carrickfergus estate.

Posing as an ice-cream man for "Rainbow Ices", 'John' was approached by two UDA men who told him they controlled ice cream sales in the area, and one even boasted that he also "run Larne and all, too".

Unaware they were being taped, added Mr McKay, the men told him he could not sell ice-cream without first registering with the local UDA and ordered him out of the Castlemara estate.

What the hell? Loyalists have moved into the ice-cream business? How does that work...?

Kid: Can I have an ice-cream?

Ice-cream man: Sure. Now you can have the '99' which includes a flake, or the 'AK-47' where you get a free union jack!

Kid: I'm not hungry any more.

I wonder what the next enterprise is for the Loyalists? This, perhaps?


Separated at Birth?

On the left is Irish-American actor Terry O'Quinn, star of TV show Lost. On the right is Jacques Chirac, the French President whose popularity is most certainly lost.

Separated at birth?

You decide.


Friday Fun's Fascinating Fact

On average a human spends...

- 24.5 years sleeping
- 13.5 years at school and work
- 12 years watching TV
- 4.5 years socialising
- 3 years reading
- 3 years eating
- 9.5 months on the toilet
- 5 months having sex

I'm guessing if you were to just focus on Irish people, the time spent socialising and having sex would be reduced, and the time spent watching TV and being on the toilet would be increased.

God bless Ireland.


UI's Celtic Mythology - Fraoch

Fraoch ("wrath" or "fury"), in Irish mythology, was a warrior who defeated a fearsome water monster in order to marry Findbhair, who was the daughter of Queen Medb of Connacht. The terrible struggle with the monster left Fraoch very badly wounded and he recovered only after a timely visit to the otherworld. His mother Be Find (who was a goddess) and sister of the river goddess Boann) nursed him back to health so that he could claim the hand of Findbhair. The account of Fraoch and the water monster is thought to have had some influence on the Danish legend of Beowulf's battle with Grendel, a monster invulnerable to weapons who lived in an underwater tavern.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


The unknown continent?

I've spotted a nifty feature on Sitemeter - a location tracker for continents. But my 'Continent share' is quite puzzling:

Europe - 78%
North America - 16%
Unknown continent - 5%
Asia - 1%

The unknown continent? What the hell does that mean? Do I have visitors popping in from Atlantis?


Thursday Thoughts:Seven things

I'll take up Emma's offer of this blogger quiz which is apparently going around the place. So without further ado:

Seven things I plan to do before I die.

1) See the world.
2) Watch Ireland live in a World Cup. (Hopefully Ireland beat France and I can start dreaming of Germany next year!).
3) Write a book.
4) Raise a glass to the new United Ireland.
5) Learn a language - preferably my native tongue.
6) Learn to play an instrument. I don't think the triangle counts.
7) Make my peace with the world.

Seven things I can do.

1) Sit for long periods of time.
2) Argue. Alot.
3) Analyse every single situation - even when I probably shouldn't.
4) Write alot. I love to write.
5) Say my national anthem. Hey, alot of Irish people can't!
6) Eat alot of junk food.
7) Get very nostalgic about things.

Seven things I can not do.

1) Play an instrument.
2) Speak Irish well. Nor can I write it.
3) Enjoy Will and Grace. I don't care if the people are gay or not - they're just not funny.
4) Dance well.
5) Dazzle women with my charm.
6) Cook well. I can't cook many things.
7) Dress well. My dress sense leaves alot to be desired.

Seven things that I find really attractive about the opposite sex.

1) Face. Obviously.
2) Ass (The American spelling feels more apt here)
3) Breasts
4) Legs
5) Nice Smile
6) Good personality.
7) Intelligence.

Seven things I say the most.

1) How's it going?
2) What?
3) Bollocks. (actually insert any swear word here)
4) Alright?
5) See ya.
6) Are ya serious?
7) I'll tell you when I've had enough! (Only joking! - This phrase instead would be something I say alot)

Seven books I love.

1) Homer's Odyssey

2) Around the World in 80 Days
3) The Remains of the Day
4) Celtic Mythology by Arthur Cotteril
5) To Kill a Mockingbird
6) A Secret History of the IRA by Ed Moloney (eye-opening)
7) Keane - The autobiography (Roy the legend)

Seven people I would like to see take this quiz.

Off the top of my head...

1. Gerry O'Sullivan
2. Paul from N.Irish Magyar
3. Ciarán from Neither Indifferent Nor Sceptical
4. Chris Gaskin from Balrog
5. maca from Raiméis
7. Big Ulsterman


Milestone reached - 1,000th post

Blogger tells me that this is officially my 1,000th post. I can't believe I've made this many. I've really devoted alot of time and energy to this place. I hope that you found some of my 1,000 posts interesting! I'm sure I wrote a few good ones. Maybe 4 or so. Anyway, rather than simply detail this information, I thought I would take the time to write about some things that I have learned. I think writing 1,000 posts gives me license to discuss blogging in a bit of detail so with that being said, allow me to impart some blogging wisdom! So without further ado:

1) Blog for you. Blog for enjoyment. Sometimes I see bloggers worrying whether or not their visitors like their output or not. Don't worry about that. If you blog about what you enjoy, the chances are your posts will be enjoyable to read too.

2) What is it you're trying to say through your blog? It's probably a good idea to figure that out as it can help prevent those days when you can't think of anything good to write.

3) Encourage debate. This is one of the great things about blogging. Don't be afraid to argue either. Arguing can be great as long as it's done in a respectful fashion.

4) Don't take any BS. Unfortunately, like in real life, you will come across people who can be downright nasty. Don't be afraid to ban people. If you have Haloscan installed, you can do this. I believe I have banned three people since I started the blog. One person who repeatedly called me a 'twat' when I asked him not to, another for extremely vulgar language, and another who was, well, just a total troll basically. Don't put up with trolls!

5) I've heard that you shouldn't blog angry. Nonsense! Blog angry. People like it when you show a range of emotions, especially anger. Just keep your anger to your posts though!

6) Get Sitemeter. It's great and it's free. You can find out how many visitors you have and where they are coming from. I've had people visit from all over the world and it's my favourite part about blogging.

7) Link to other sites. It will get you noticed. You don't have to link to everyone though.

8) Comment on your blog. I don't know if there are bloggers who simply post and never answer comments. I try to reply to people though. My philosophy has been that if people have taken the time to comment, you should give them a response. You don't always have to do this of course but you should respond some of the time.

9) Comment on other blogs. Bloggers appreciate it when people leave comments so be nice and leave a comment on other sites, especially the newer ones who sometimes need encouragement.

10) Don't become obsessed with getting hits. In my first few months I ended up trying really hard to get as many hits as I could and ended up getting fed up with blogging and taking a break from it. I came back and just blogged for enjoyment purposes again. Don't fixate on hits.

11) Don't get cocky. If things are going well don't get a big head. You could be getting hundreds of hits one minute and the next minute they'll all disappear! You're only as good as your last post.

12) Celebrate your accomplishments. Don't be cocky but feel free to give yourself a pat on the back if you do well. Highlights for me have included my two mentions in the Sunday Tribune and getting mentioned on BBC's magazine with some other Irish bloggers. Appreciate when you have been acknowledged.

13) Fiddle with the template. I hated the template at first and didn't go near it. I feared I'd do something wrong and destroy my blog. Did you know this blog was the standard orange for months? It's true. Ask the ones who have been here since the start. I learned though I could fiddle as much as I wanted and as long as I didn't press 'Save changes' on Blogger, that I could get away with anything and not have to worry.

14) Upload images. Blogger introduced this a short time ago. I think it's great as it livens up the place. I don't place images on all my posts but it's good to add images for one or two at least.

15) Don't get disheartened if you spend alot of time on a post and find that no one has left a comment. That doesn't make your post bad. People more than likely read it even though they didn't comment. I don't always comment on other blogs but I do try to read what's being said.

16) Be original. Try and set yourself apart from other blogs. Going back to the template, you can arrange a colour scheme that sets you apart from other blogs. Look at mine. It's greener than the inside of a Leprechaun's house. At least it sets me apart from the majority of other blogs though.

17) Ignore your detractors. As Oscar Wilde once said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about". Look on the bright side. You've been noticed!

18) Try and be humorous. Posts that contain a bit of humour are often the ones people remember the most. It was the humour in my posts that caught the eye of the Sunday Tribune and the BBC. Hmm. Maybe I should give up writing on politics and go into stand-up comedy...

19) Don't blog about your job. It will more than likely get you into trouble.

20) Get a partner if you can. Solo blogging is tough. Believe me. A partner lightens the load and gives the blog an extra flavour. Also, if you need to take some time off, your associate can cover for you. I think it's too late to get a partner for me as this blog is too synonymous with my own political beliefs.

21) Don't worry about the weekends. You'll lose most of your visitors. People have better things to do on weekends than sit at a computer screen. You probably do too. I don't spend that much time blogging at the weekend usually.

22) Don't cry if you lose a post you've been working on. I know it's tempting to and I've come close myself. Just be thankful that the 'Recover post' function is there and hope that it does the trick if you lose a post. That feature wasn't always there you know. I can still recall the anger and hurt as my post vanished off into cyberspace...

23) Try and write effectively but don't stress too much on grammar. I often worry if I'm using commas in the right place. Most of your visitors are unlikely to be English teachers and probably don't notice your grammar. I don't focus on the grammar of other bloggers, only my own. In short, it's not worth fretting about.

24) Understand what blogging is about. Blogging is many things to many people. To me, the greatest thing about blogging is the communication aspect. Talking to people across oceans and continents. Having hits from far off places like Australia, Chile, Kazakhstan, Japan etc. Also the ability to communicate with people from all walks of life. Unionists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives and so on.

25) Finally, and most importantly, stand up for what you believe in and never sell out. Accept help, acknowledge when you have been at fault, but always stand by your principles and your convictions. That way even if you're not liked, you'll still be respected.

So there you have it. I hope somebody out there has been helped by this advice.


Rangers bigots sunk by Stena

It was announced on Wednesday that ferry company Stena have banned Rangers supporters from Ireland's north from travelling on its vessels as foot passengers.

The move came after complaints from passengers about the behaviour of Rangers fans returning to Belfast on Saturday evening from the Old Firm game in Glasgow.

Specific complaints had been made about the singing of sectarian songs by the football fans.

One passenger commented: "They were not singing football songs, they were singing sectarian songs about killing Catholics, named Catholics that have been shot dead.

"One of the Stena line staff came down and this seemed to up the ante and they got out of control."

A spokesman for the ferry company said: "As a result, Stena won't be carrying any more groups of Rangers fans as foot passengers with immediate effect."

Stena added: "We are taking this action for the well-being of all our passengers, many of whom are families with children, and none of whom should be subjected to sectarian or offensive behaviour."

Well done Stena! I congratulate them on a very intelligent decision. It's a real shame that Rangers fans cannot act like respectable citizens for even a short period of time.

Why is it Celtic fans are praised for their attitude when they go abroad and have even received awards for their behaviour - yet Rangers fans act like hooligans?

Rangers fans could learn a thing or two from their green and white rivals.


UI's Celtic Mythology - Forbai

Forbai was the son of the Ulster king Conchobar Mac Nessa. According to one myth, Queen Medb of Connacht fell back before the fury of the Ulster warriors after her invasion of the kingdom. In Galway, however, Forbai caught up with her as she was bathing in the lake. A shot from his sling fatally strick the old warrior-queen in the centre of her forehead.

Hmm. Not bad for a guy who shares his name with one of these!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Back off Colombia!

I see the Colombian government has said it is determined to secure the extradition of the Colombia Three.

Colombian Vice-President Franciso Santos said yesterday that his government would pursue the extradition "to the last day of the last possible appeal".

Legal experts have already predicted that Niall Connolly, Martin McAuley and Jim Monaghan will never be extradited to Colombia because of the lack of an extradition treaty and the country's poor human rights record.

They shouldn't be extradited! Isn't there something really disturbing about how hard the Colombians are pushing for these three men to be extradited? It only goes to show that for the Colombians, this is a political exercise.

These three men are seen by the Colombian government as scapegoats for Colombia's sorry State. Also, I think the Colombians have made this personal and want to get one over on Ireland. Too bad!

Colombia, your Human Rights record is a joke as is your legal system. I suggest you work on that first and leave these three IRISHMEN alone so they can get on with their lives in a REAL country.

Sorry Colombia. You lose.


Cringe thinking

I sat down on Tuesday night to watch the Rose of Tralee. Was it any good? Not really. Was I capitivated by the contest? I can't say I was. Is Ray Darcy an annoying host? Yes he is. So with all that being said you may be wondering why I watched it. And my answer to you is simple - the show made me cringe. And that's a fundamental part of being Irish.

For those of you who missed the show, let me detail one moment in particular. When Mayo Rose Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin (my own tip and the Rose who won incidentally) was being interviewed it was revealed that it was her escort's birthday. What followed you ask? They went and brought out a birthday cake for the unsuspecting poor chap and Aoibhinn proceeded to sing him Happy Birthday in the style of Marilyn Monroe. It was truly cringeworthy and I'm sure the majority of people around the country who were watching had their hands covering their face at that moment. Pure Irishness!

You see, that is what makes our country what it is. This is what separates Ireland from places like Britain, America and the rest of Europe - the way we delight in our own ways which we know are embarrassing and humiliating yet which we love all the same!

It's not just the Rose of Tralee that has this effect. How about the Eurovision? Yes it is a contest that most of Europe participates in but no country in Europe has taken this contest to its heart in the way we have. The cringeworthy moments of Johnny Logan bellowing out a tune, Dana singing away on her stool, or Michael Flatley and that red-haired one dancing their hearts out in Riverdance. Pure Irishness.

How about the good old Late Late when Gaybo would pit his questions to famous faces? Remember the Toy Show when Gaybo would try and figure out the latest toys? Remember his "one for everybody in the audience" line? Remember when those Boyzone muppets made their debut? Remember the way the show would get terrible comedians on, some who were dressed in drag, who proceeded to mock and stereotype certain Irish people? They weren't funny of course and it was embarassing to watch, but damn it they were Irish!

Remember the wooden stars? Bosco? Zig and Zag? Dustin? Pat Kenny? Cringeworthy...but Irish all the same.

You see this is what makes our country. These traditions may be cringeworthy, but they're ours! And we must cherish them. I'd rather listen to Bill O'Herlihy, Johnny Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady tear into Irish players and teams with their blunt remarks than some fancy-arsed twat in a suit that you get with Sky TV.

God bless cringeworthy Ireland.


Points required for medicine - Part 2

Alot of people rubbished the claims I made in my post yesterday that the astronomical points requirement for medicine would lead to a shortage of doctors. Kevin from Disillusioned Lefty said:

"If there weren't enough people for the course with that many points, the points would drop. So to say we won't have enough doctors is rubbish. If we made room for more doctors, there would inevitably be a lack of jobs for the said doctors."

The Irish Examiner however seems to be on my side of the argument judging by this article. They write:

"Arguably, the emphasis being placed on securing the brainiest candidates, the front runners in a narrow academic sense, will result in turning away potentially talented doctors and nurses because they fall short of the points needed for medicine"

What I argued!

"The ultimate irony of the scenario unfolding at the gateway to Ireland’s beleaguered health system is more foreign than homegrown students are studying here to be doctors. This, despite a chronic dearth of GPs in areas of the country, as well as in inner city areas."

An important point.

"To focus on the striking imbalance between foreign and Irish medical students is not to be racist. Rather, it is to draw attention to an anomaly rooted in Government policy for the past decade. Regrettably, it militates directly against young Irish people because they cannot afford to pay the high fee levels which their foreign counterparts are able to meet."

Another excellent point, one which I overlooked.

"As a result, more than 500 of the 800-plus places available in medical faculties will this year be taken up by non-EU candidates. In contrast with their Irish counterparts, for whom the State pays a college subsidy of €8,000, candidates from countries outside the EU will each pay more than €20,000.

"While this imbalance may be attributed to supply and demand, in most disciplines apart from medicine, colleges are not restricted by Government policy in the number of places they can offer.

"In medicine, however, they are limited to 305 places for Irish medical candidates."

Shocking stuff.

"The much-leaked Fottrell report commissioned by the Government will recommend doubling the number of Irish doctors and call for greater resources to be devoted to this vital area in the future."

Seems like this contradicts Kevin's argument that "to say we won't have enough doctors is rubbish. If we made room for more doctors, there would inevitably be a lack of jobs for the said doctors".

"Ironically, while the majority of overseas students return to practise in their own countries, Ireland could yet become inordinately dependent on doctors from other countries who did not study here"

What a disgrace that would be!

"If you ask any patient languishing on a trolley in one of our many overcrowded hospitals, they will tell you a good doctor does not need six A1s in the Leaving Cert."

Hear, hear!

Like I argued yesterday, the points requirement for medicine is absolutely ridiculous. Something needs to be done about it.


Caption Time

I can't remember ever using Paisley in one of these.

So with that being said, can you come up with a caption for this picture to your left?


Worth a listen

In case you haven't heard, Ciarán over at Neither Indifferent Nor Sceptical spotted that RTE have archived their Reputations series over on their website meaning you can listen to shows you may have missed about figures like Padraig Pearse, Wolfe Tone, Daniel O'Connell and more.

The premise of the show involves two historians discussing these controversial figures in Irish history with one historian essentially defending the individual while the other is critical.

I listened to the first episode where Martin Mansergh and Ruth Dudley Edwards were arguing both for and against Padraig Pearse respectively.

It's very interesting and educational and well worth a listen.


UI's Celtic Mythology - The Fomorii

The Fomorii were sea gods in Irish mythology. Violent and mishapen, the Fomorii emerged from the waves to challenge two rulers of Ireland: the Firbolg and the Tuatha De Danann. The Tuatha De Danann were younger gods, and they seized control of Ireland from the Firbolgs at the first battle of Magh Tuireadh, only to have to defeat the Fomorii at a second battle there in order to secure their conquest. Often the Fomorii were described as having only a single hand, foot or eye.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


UI backs a winner!

Yes! The judges had good taste! My number 1 Rose, Mayo Rose Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, has become the 2005 Rose of Tralee!


I like to think that my support helped contribute to her victory (don't laugh).

Good for you Aoibhinn. You did me proud!


Sticking the Poot-s in

How refreshing it is to hear a unionist politician take the Loyalist paramilitaries to task over their violence. And a DUP member to boot!

Here is what the Lagan Valley MLA Edwin Poots had to say on the Loyalist violence:

"Loyalist paramilitaries claim to exist because of the republican threat against their community but the reality is that people in the loyalist community are living in fear not from their traditional enemy but from people within their own community.

"The ongoing feud within elements of loyalism is causing huge damage and demoralising the unionist community."

Well said Mr Poots. Hopefully we'll hear more unionist politicians coming out to denounce the disgraceful activities of loyalists and hopefully the British government will also finally declare the UVF's ceasefire obsolete.


Top Ten Tuesday - Roses of Tralee

Don't you just love the Rose of Tralee? A classic bit of oul' Irishness. So bad it's good. As far as I'm concerned there's nothing wrong with objectifying women now and again as long as it's in good taste. I better be careful here or I'll be hunted down like poor old Michael Buerk was after his recent comments! But in all seriousness it's a great traditional show and, if nothing else, it gives all those lovely girls a break from making the tea. I haven't watched the show yet on RTE but I found pictures of the Roses on RTE's website and I thought I'd do some objectifying myself by naming my top ten Roses! So without further ado:

Mayo Rose - Ah, isn't she lovely? Not only that but she plays concertina and I'm not totally sure what that is.
Belfast Rose - What a lovely smile. Not only that but "she has taken part in the musical Grease and is known in her local area for singing at weddings". I'm assuming she has been asked to sing at these weddings...
Kildare Rose - Beautiful and smart! Some of her career ambitions are to "develop laser technology and operate her own Irish dancing school". Imagine it! Irish dancing with lasers. Outstanding.
Cork Rose - Isn't she gorgeous altogether? She also has "fourteen years of unbroken school attendance at Scoil an Athar Maitiu and Mount Mercy College". Nerds are so sexy.
New Orleans Rose - Another lovely girl - or should I say gal? Apparently "Her Irish roots are in Galway". Hey, nobody's perfect.
Toronto Rose - Very pretty and also a winner - She captained the Canadian ice skating team that won the Gold Cup in Croatia. Now she's hunting for the ultimate accolade - to be Rose of Tralee!
Sydney Rose - Did you know that her "interest in the Rose of Tralee reflects a career goal to write and produce a documentary on ethnic and cultural groups who are first generation living in Australia". I'm not sure what all that means but I'm impressed!
San Francisco Rose - Very nice and apparently she likes "community service". She'd fit right at home over here without a doubt.
Limerick Rose - She's cute. Where does she see herself in five year's time? 'In love, happy in my job and residing in Limerick'. Not happy in your area though? I kid! I kid!
Dublin Rose - She's lovely and she's from Dublin! Granted she would "like to meet George Clooney whom she thinks is a great actor" but we can forgive her for that.

So there you have it. My top ten Irish Roses. Feel free to comment on my choices or to offer some of your own.


Let's rejoin. Here's why...

I realise that in my post yesterday, which asked whether or not Ireland should rejoin the Commonwealth, I may not have made my own position clear.

What I mean is, I may not have pointed out beneficial reasons as to why Ireland ought to apply to rejoin the Commonwealth. With that being said, I will now outline why I think Ireland should rejoin the Commonwealth.

I favour Irish reunification. I don't like living in a divided Ireland and I would like to see the border done away with. I don't forsee it happening in a way which belittles either nationalists or unionists. I don't see it as a moment etched in triumphalism for either side. I see it happening almost like as if it were a formality. I believe we must get to a point where unionist and nationalist cooperation is so strong that the border will simply fade away. I have said before on United Irelander that we must have a United Ireland with the border before we can have a United Ireland without the border. That is my view.

I believe rejoining the Commonwealth helps advance that path. It opens up a new avenue for the people of this island to travel down on. An avenue in which we could unite and acknowledge our appreciation for our undeniable links to Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa and other countries involved in the Commonwealth.

It would be membership of a club in which we merit a role. When Ireland was part of the Commonwealth, Irish politicians worked hard at attaining rights for Commonwealth members. It's a club that contains many friends of ours. And sure, this club is run by the British queen, but what does that matter? Through the Good Friday Agreement, Irish people acknowledged British sovereignty over the North until a referendum which indicates this is no longer the will of the people. British sovereignty involves the Queen as the figurehead of the 'United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland'. If nationalsits can accept and acknowledge that, what have they to fear about a club we would be part of through our own volition?

Deaglan made a good point yesterday saying:

"I don't think Ireland had a choice about being lumped in with the "British family" initially."

Quite right. But there is a choice now. And why not use this 'British family' to help strenghten ties within the Irish family?

Ireland walked away from the Commonwealth. It was a baffling move. The country that claimed to want Irish unity went down the classic Irish republican route - choosing republicanism over reunification. The situation has changed though. Irish republicanism will not be harmed by being part of the Commonwealth as Ireland would not be the only republic there.

Those who favour Irish unity have a choice. Stay out of the Commonwealth and cling to the republicanism upheld in the 26 Irish counties, or, reach out the hand of friendship and show the unionist tradition on this island that the 26 counties of the Irish Republic respects Britishness, acknowledges the British imprint on the Irish identity, and would seek to respect that identiy as part of a 32 county Ireland.

There's the benefits. Where's the problem?


Carry on Doctor...if you have the points

I note that students around the country have been finding out whether or not they were successful in receiving their first-choice place on third-level courses.

Reports this morning said points had fallen for most arts, commerce and law courses but had increased yet again for virtually all medical and nursing courses.

The points needed to study medicine have reached 590 at Dublin's Trinity College - almost the equivalent of six A1s in the Leaving Cert.

This is madness! How can the points requirement for studying medicine be 590? We might as well set about building robots to care for us because at the rate we're going, we're not going to have enough doctors!

I generally think the CAO sytem is sound but how can we discriminate against students by saying that in order to study medicine, they must have exceptional grades in subjects like French, Geography, History, Irish etc? It's ridiculous.

No doubt there are some kids around the country who got great grades in science subjects and English but they miss out on the chance to study medicine because they aren't experts at the French language, nor are they up to speed on levees and drumlins in Geography.

What a disgrace.


Time to get our priorities in order

I came across this great letter in the Irish Examiner by John O'Shea from GOAL:

"The excellent article by Caroline O’Doherty headlined ‘Should claiming space cost the earth?’ hits the nail on the head (Irish Examiner, August 11).

Rarely have the skewed priorities of powerful nations come into such stark contrast as in the case of the Discovery space mission and that of the famine in Niger.

Here is a prime example of money - billions - being no obstacle when the will is there.

A fraction of that dedication, determination and funding by governments of the west would have prevented the suffering of the millions in Niger.

It just goes to show, yet again, that the west has no problem at all spending the big bucks when there is a benefit to it.

That we can have astronauts repairing shuttles in space, yet we cannot eradicate famine in Africa is an indictment of mankind."

John O’Shea

I think Mr O'Shea is bang on the money and I agree with him wholeheartedly. It's time to stop spending money on activities out of this world and get our own planet in order first!

I've heard the argument that it's in mankind's nature to reach out and discover. However, as history has shown, it is also in mankind's nature to turn a blind eye to the events that lead to men, women and children dying needlessly.

It's time to sort out mankind. We're not ready for aliens yet.


UI's Celtic Mythology - Finn MacCool

Finn MacCool, sometimes called Finn Mac Cumaill or Fionn MacCumal, was the leader of the Fianna, or Fenians, the select band of warriors which guarded the High King of Ireland. His father, Cumal, a previous leader of the Fenians, was killed by Goll, a Fenian warrior. Cumal had eloped with a girl named Hurna and her father urged Goll to avenge this dishonour. Goll slew Cumal, but later Cumal's son Finn was born and brought up secretly. One of his tutors was the druid Finegas, who lived beside the River Boyne and caught the Salmon of Knowledge. He gave the fish to his pupil to cook, but Finn burnt his thumb on the flesh and in sucking it obtained wisdom.

So great was Finn MacCool's prowess as a warrior that he was soon appointed over the head of Goll to lead the Fenians, as his father had done. Goll accepted this decision with good grace, a gesture that may explain why Finn MacCool did not challenge Goll over his father's death. Indeed, Goll eventually married one of Finn MacCool's daughters, though he also slew his son. This last act of violence was too much and the Fenians pursued him. Trapped, Goll chose to starve to death rather than surrender. Finn MacCool used to quote a saying of Goll: "A man lives after his life but not after his dishonour."

Under Finn MacCool's leadership, the Fenians reached the high point of their fame as a warrior band. The pursuit of Diarmuid Ua Diubhne, the foster-son of the love god Aonghus, alone took sixteen years. He had taken Grainne, the daughter of High King Cormac Mac Art, but she was betrothed to Finn MacCool at the time. The Fenians were relentless in the chase, but a peace of sorts was begrudgingly agreed. However, Finn never forgave Diarmuid for the elopement, and he exulted over his rival's mortal wound, which he had received when hunting.

The account of Finn MacCool's own death is unclear. Some sagas tell how he fell attempting to quell an uprising among the Fenians themselves, while others refer to an Arthur-like undeath in a cave. There he was supposed to remain in a deep sleep until such time as Ireland needed his aid.

Personally, I can remember well the stories of Finn MacCool, particularly the one about the Salmon of Knowledge. Finn would be up there with Cuchulainn as one of my favourite figures in Celtic mythology.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Updating the oul' blogroll...

I figured now would be a good time to add some blogs to the blogroll which I feel are well worth a look.

I'd advise you to check out Little Man in a Toque. Here is a blog which advocates an English parliament for the English people. This is a campaign I respect and support and this is a blog I will be keeping an eye on.

Another blog worth checking out is The Land of Ireland. It hasn't been on the scene for very long but I've been very impressed with the content produced so far. Well worth checking out.

As well as that I've come across Liffeyside. It's nice to come across another Dublin blogger in the blogosphere and it keeps you well informed about events in Dublin and much more.

Finally, I've learned courtesy of A Tangled Web about JoBlog. I'm not aware of too many female bloggers who take an interest in politics so I think her blog will be worth keeping an eye on in future. I wish her well.

So there you have it. Check 'em out.

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