Why we need to shop local




The demise of the corner shop and the recent news that nearly 600 post offices across Ireland could be closed by 2017 is another bad turn for our social climate. The days of having a friendly chat with the local shopkeeper or postmistress are nearly gone .Most supermarkets now have self service pay desks, often the cashiers at the desks that do have them are indifferent and you may be lucky to get a friendly hello. For many people the daily outing to the shops is a social event as oppose to an errant.
Years ago everyone knew their local butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger and baker by name and probably had a friendly chat with them every time they went in .Handy and convenient as supermarkets and online shopping are they will never replace a friendly chat and a smile and may even leave old people at the risk of loneliness and isolation. It is clear that big supermarkets don’t usually make good neighbours and often have significant social and economic impacts on communities.
Across the country the small retailer is being wiped out. In the whole of Ireland there are fewer than 1,000 specialist fishmongers, 7,000 butchers and 4,000 greengrocers, and barely 3,000 independent bakeries. In all these categories, the number of specialists has fallen by 90% since the 1950s, and at least 40% in the last decade alone. They have been driven out by supermarkets, the only way we stop this decline is to shop locally and support local suppliers.



Edward Snowden Hero or Traitor



                                                            Should Edward Snowden be hailed as a hero

  Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material was a hugely important leak. The leaks confirmed that the U.S. government, without obtaining any legal warrants, routinely collects the phone logs of tens of millions of Americans, who have no links to terrorism whatsoever. A series of exposes beginning June 5, 2013 revealed Internet surveillance programs as well as the bulk collection of US and European telephone metadata. This amounts to breach of online privacy laws. The reports were based on documents Snowden leaked to The Guardian and The Washington Post while employed by NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Dan Carlin refers to Snowden as a hero even though he did break the law and many see him as a traitor and a risk to national security.

  I agree that Snowden is a hero. He was showing that we have right to speak as we choose and express our opinions. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States and it states “Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy are almost always permitted.”    In  Ireland  Freedom of expression is protected under the constitution.

You have a right to freely express your convictions and opinions. However, the Constitution asserts that the State should try to make sure that the radio, the press and the cinema are not used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State. It also states that it is an offense to publish or utter blasphemous, seditious or indecent matter.  http://www.citizensinformation.ie.

Edward Snowden, is a hero. Through standing up to the US gov’t and NSA, he put his job, his freedom and his life in danger just so Americans could have their freedom.

  None the less under American law he did commit treason and it is within America’s legal obligation to prosecute him so to many he will be looked upon as a traitor. Snowden knew that the government was doing things which people would not support and was deliberately not telling them about it. He acted on their consciences, and should not be condemned for doing so. He believes in the common view that the government does not have the right to define its own powers. That is the prerogative of the people, and in order to pass judgement, we need to be informed. We should ask ourselves are unaccountable governments dangerous things and even more dangerous than whistle-blowers.


Coolock Community Garden

  ImageVolunteers Working in the community garden

  Up until October, the CHANGE Community Garden was merely a patch of unused land in the grounds of the Coolock Development Centre in Bunratty Drive. Doras Bui, who are part of a nationwide Community Food Initiative Programme funded by SafeFood and managed by Healthy Food for All, partnered with local organisations Northside Partnership and the Coolock Development Centre  have come together to transform this space into a community garden. Funding alone was not enough to get this garden started though, extra hands were badly needed to begin the heavy work of digging beds, landscaping and planting trees.

After putting out an appeal for help ,over 30 volunteers from theDoubleTree.Hilton.com/Dublin began the backbreaking  work. Volunteers from the Hilton were followed by another 30 volunteers from Mondelez International (Cadbury) who continued on with the excellent work started by the Hilton team.

 Speaking at the volunteer days, Linda Devlin, who is coordinating the project for Doras Buí, explained to volunteers that:  “Your work for us is invaluable. It can be difficult to get people excited about a community garden when all they see is grass. The work that you have begun today is already arousing and interest from the community with several people stopping to ask what is happening.    nmgarden                                              The CHANGE Community Garden is a key part of a wider enterprise ‘CHANGE’ (Creating Health Around Nutrition, Growing and Eating’), which aims to address issues of food poverty in the local community and to enable people to make healthy food choices for themselves and their children.  It is anticipated that the Community Garden will be a great resource for many groups in the Coolock area both as a learning exercise   offering  horticultural training. garden volunteers and the nearby Healthy Food Made Easy courses, and as a relaxing and therapeutic space for locals to come along and relax.


Maeve Times



               Maeve’s Times: Irish Times Selected Writings by Maeve Binchy

 Maeve’s Times is both witty and intelligent and entertaining, which are excellent qualities in books. She began writing for The Irish Times when she was still working as a teacher, and became the paper’s women’s editor in 1968. In 1973 she moved to London, where she continued to write features and columns. Maeve Binchy’s much-loved Irish Times writings spanned five decades. An accidental journalist whose work first appeared after her father sent in colourful accounts he had received from her travels, from the beginning her writings reflected the warmth, wit and keen human interest that readers would come to love in her fiction.

 The book celebrates the work of the world’s best-loved writer, revealing her characteristic directness, laugh-out-loud humour and unswerving gaze into the true heart of a matter. Once I read one of the letters in the book I knew I had to read the next on and it became a cannot put down book. From ‘Life as a Waitress’ to ‘Encounters at the Airport’, ‘Staving Off the Senior Moments’ and the hilarious ‘My Theodora Story’, Maeve as  always put her own, unique take on life.

Maeve Binchy was a born ‘people watcher’ and wrote with the sharp eye and keen human interest that readers would come to love in her  fiction.

‘As someone who once  fell off a chair while trying to hear they what they were saying at the next table in a restaurant, I suppose I am obsessively interested in what some might consider the trivia of other people’s lives,’ she once confess ed.

Unsurprisingly, this is a very funny book; Binchy could make pretty much anything hilarious, from having one’s photograph taken to going to hospital. It was a great read and I would recommend it to be read wrapped up in a blanket on a cold winters night with a mug of drinking chocolate  or even a good bottle of wine in hand.



it was easier when apples and blackberries were fruit



                                                     Such is life     

   We all know someone who answers their emails as soon as they hear them pinging, update their facebook and twitter accounts every few minutes and insist on letting us see what they had for dinner. The newest ailment is Repetitive Stress Injury Known as Texting Thumb. Ask any teenager and they will tell you they could not survive without their phone.

  There is no doubt that their great advantages to all the new technology such as been able to see our family abroad on Skype as oppose to just hearing their voices and been able to contact family at a touch of a button. It is the effect it has on our social skills that worries me.

   Messaging is probably the one that can affect people’s social skills the most. When online you are protected by the screen in front of you and could behalf way across the world to whoever you’re communicating with. People can say whatever they want something they probably wouldn’t say in person. Our world has become so polluted with the Internet; we fail to even notice it anymore. We have instead grown accustomed to seeing less of each other, and instead commenting on posts and blogs.

  Some disadvantages that can also be found from using online means of messaging is cyber bullying .Lack of face to face communication  makes it easier to misunderstand  or misinterpret  what is been said. Once something is out there you can’t take it back. Unfortunately, this feature of online socialisation cheats people of the opportunity to learn how to resolve conflicts in the world outside the Internet and it could retard or cripple ones social skills developments. There is nothing worse than sitting down to a meal with people and someone constantly texting at the table; it is time restaurants ban the use of phones on their premises. Life was a lot easier when apples and blackberries were fruit.




Stardust Fire -33 years on and still no answers

00043b76-642 stardust 
Stardust Night Club ,owned by Butterly  where the tragic fire took place

A major fire took place at the Stardust nightclub in Artane, Dublin, Ireland in the early hours of 14 February 1981. Some 841 people had attended a disco there, of whom 48 died and 214 were injured as a result of the fire. The club was located where Butterly Business Park and Lidls store now lies, opposite Artane Castle Shopping Centre .It was said the fire started on a balcony inside the building, although it was suggested that the fire derived from an electrical fault in the roof space. The fire was first spotted in a seating area in the west section of the building, although the fire was only very small when first seen, a torrent of heat and lots of thick black smoke quickly started coming from the ceiling, causing the material in the ceiling to melt and drip on top of patrons and other highly flammable materials including the seats and carpet tiles on the walls. The fire quickly spread into the main area of the club causing the lights to fail. No alarm sounded and no emergency lights came on. This caused mass panic as patrons began desperately looking for an escape.

The attendees at both the disco and a trade union function taking place in the same building tried to make their escape but were hampered by a number of obstructions. Some of the main fire exits turned out to be locked with padlocks and chains. Other fire exits simply had chains draped about the push bars.

The failure of the lighting in the club led to widespread panic causing mass trampling as many of the patrons instinctively ran for the main entrance. Many people mistook the entrance to the men’s toilets for the main entrance doors but the windows there had metal plates fixed on the inside and iron bars on the outside.

Ambulances from Dublin fire brigade Eastern Health Board, Dublin Civil Defence, the Red Cross and other organizations were dispatched to the scene. CIE also sent buses to transport the injured and local radio stations asked people in the vicinity with cars to come to the club.

The investigation at the time reported that the fire was arson. The finding of arson has recently been ruled out by investigators, as there was never any evidence to support the “arson” finding, even at the time of the tragedy.

While the owners, the Butterly family, were compensated (€761,000) no such compensation was offered to the victims or their families. Their response was to set up the Stardust Victims Committee and campaign for justice and proper compensation. It took five years of campaigning by this group to force the government to set up a compensation scheme and victims got “compensated” on the condition that all further claims against defendants (including the Butterlys) would be waived.Today the families are still fighting for justice for their loved oneNo one has been charged in relation to the Stardust disaster. No cause of the fire has been established. No one has apologised to the families. It continues to cast a long shadow over the working-class communities of Artane, Coolock, Donnycarney and Kilmore in north Dublin from where the young people who lost their lives came from.
Looking at the reports of injuries during a crush in Copper Jacks night club last week I cannot help but wonder how easy it is for a tragedy to happen again and would our overstretched fire service be able to cope with such a catastrophe.

Luke Kelly,The Legend


                                                                                      On raglan road

Luke Kelly ,the legend

This week is the 30th  anniversary  of the death of Luke Kelly. Luke Kelly was born into in Lattimore Cottages, 1 Sheriff Street, a quarter of a mile from Dublin’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street. His father worked his entire life in Jacob’s biscuit factory and enjoyed playing football. Both Luke and his brother Paddy played club Gaelic football and Association football as children.Luke left school at thirteen and after four years of odd-jobbing, he went to England in 1958. Working at steel fixing with his brother Paddy on a building site in Wolverhampton, he was sacked after asking for more money. He worked odd jobs from oil barrel cleaning to vacuum salesman.

In London, he met Domnic Behan who introduced Luke to the folk music of Northern England and Scotland. Soon, he became a name around the ballad clubs, singing and strumming a banjo. After two-and-a-half years he shouldered his banjo and went to Paris where he busked on the streets.

Arriving back in Dublin in 1962, he frequented O’Donoghue’s pub on Merrion Row, which was known as a good outlet for a folk singer. There he met Barney McKenna and other musicians, who shared in the growing interest in folk music.After he had appeared on a show with other individual members of the Dubliners, the suggestion was made by Ronnie Drew, who was already well-known at the time, that they should form a group. After they established a secure base in Dublin in places like the Abbey Tavern in Howth, Luke and the Dubliners made a record called seven drunken nights, which was released in England, boosting their popularity and creating a demand for them elsewhere in the world.

In the early so a craze for ballad sessions was arising in Dublin. The Abbey Tavern sessions in Howth were the forerunner to sessions in the Hollybrook, Clontarf, the International Bar and the Grafton cinema. Other early people playing at O’Donoghues included the Fureys, father and sons, John Keenan and Sean Og McKenna, Johnny Moynihan and Mairtin Byrnes.

Luke Kelly is regarded by most Irish people as the most popular Irish folk singer of all time. Judging by the amount of musicians who want to learn Luke’s songs there’s nobody that comes close to The Red Haired Minstrel Boy. There’s even a campaign going on over at Facebook to have a statue of Luke Kelly erected in Dublin to honour Ireland’s favourite folkie.

Today an appreciation for traditional music is once again stirring among a new generation of music fans – many of whom weren’t even born when Kelly died in 1984. This is thanks, in part, thanks to Kelly’s emotional interpretations of songs that too many people were historical artefacts, rather than living pieces of musical art. In the process, he inspired and invigorated countless ballad singers.

                                                                    The Dublin Minstrel, A tribute to Luke Kelly