Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy. ~Ernest Benn

Recent Articles

Gerry Adams and A View from Ballymurphy

Gerry Adams and A View from Ballymurphy   Appears in Chicago’s Irish American News, March, 2018     Heaven knows that I’m not exactly the greatest Sinn Fein supporter in the world.  Or supporter of any of the other power-based political systems, dress them up how you will.  In fact I’d trust that lot about as far as I could throw any political party.  With my weaker arm. And a broken arm at that. But much to my disgust I’ve found myself…oh, kind of warming to them in recent years. And a lot of that is down to Mary Lou McDonald.  She is certainly one of the more astute and constructively combative politicians this island has produced. I’ve been watching with something less than amazement the attacks on her this week by the mainstream media as she replaces Gerry Adams as leader of SF.  She hasn’t even been in the job for more than a couple of days and you would think that she was the Devil Incarnate.  Well, taking over from the previous Devil Incarnate, maybe! I could go on at length as to why I like her, but in fact I now need look no farther than this comment: “Leo is kind of smarmy.”  What? Leo Varadkar is kind of smarmy? The only disagreement I’d have with Mary Lou there is the use of ‘kind of’. Meanwhile, back at the ranch… I was knocked out last week by an article from my neighbour Paddy McMenamin, who has a regular column in the Donegal weekly paper, the Tirconaill Tribune.  Paddy is a Belfast man, although before settling in County Galway he had spent thirty years in Donegal.  He’s one of those guys who is always upbeat when you meet him; a great conversationalist (unlike my more morose self); and... Full Article →

Roaring Backslappers & Raging Bull Talkers

Roaring Backslappers & Raging Bull Talkers                                              Chicago’s ‘Irish American News’, February 2018   “I’m not on speaking terms with half of the people here because I tell them what they don’t want to hear while they stand around like a bunch of glad-handing, back-slapping jackasses, congratulating each other on what they didn’t understand to begin with”.  – the late, great Jerry Fielding, who wrote the soundtracks for director Sam Peckinpah, amongst others. No wonder he and Sam got on.   The New Year and Christmas season was over and I was coming back to Galway after a two-week break in Scotland.  I had been in the small town of Ayr on the west coast where I was incredibly lucky with the weather.  In fact, there were days when I felt like that guy in Lost Horizon:  wandering through the ice and snow of the Himalayas only to come across this inexplicably warm valley. Now I was at the airport and hearing of delay after delay as the snow really began to come down.  That was OK, though; I’d rather spend all night in an airport than not arrive at all. Finally, aboard the flight, I had my usual feelings of excitement as I awaited takeoff and for the ground to fall away from under us as we get one of those reminders of just how tiny we really are.  I’ve been incredibly lucky to have travelled or worked in well over thirty countries through the years and I love flying; but that feeling of awe that anything as big as a plane can actually stay up there has never left me.  I hope it never does. Yet as we took off I looked over the aisle at the kid across from me.  He was maybe ten years of age... Full Article →

On Death and Grief – Anthony King 1986 – 2017

“The Ones We Dream On…” “The hardest to think on are the ones who let it go, from sadness or worry or just not wanting to carry the weight of this life no more.   They are the ones I dream on.”                                                                                            Justin Cronin, The Passage.     Between one thing and another, it’s just been one hell of a year; the kind of year I hope I never go through again. For one, it was coloured in every shade of black by the suicide of a man who was the son of and brother of two women that I care deeply about. They didn’t deserve what happened to them, the mother and the sister.   And nothing can change that.  They simply didn’t deserve it: didn’t deserve the grief that this 30-year old man has left behind him; didn’t deserve the agony of loss they have endured; didn’t deserve the pain that must be suffered when you’ve loved someone only to see them take their own life. For they are a loving mother and sister; but neither of them will ever truly understand what drove their son and brother to this final, desperate act. For me, Anthony King saw no other way out of the mess he was in. I can see that; his mother, I think, can see that. His sister, a young woman who loved her brother so much, I’m not sure of.  Nor of his father, who has been left quietly devastated.  But I pray that some day they will understand, no matter how dimly. They loved and love him, you see; but I don’t think – and how could they? – that they will ever get what was going on in that tormented head at the end. It’s not as if he was doing anything illegal;... Full Article →