Saturday, 28 June 2014

Today is the one hundred year anniversary of the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. I learned the following verses from my father - who was born in 1900 - and who believed they appeared in the West Cork newspaper The Southern Star sometime after the outbreak of World War 1.

The Great War 1914 – 1918

A crazy conspirator down in Belgrade
Imagined that Kings were injurious to trade
He blamed Ferdinand for his failure in life
And in consequence blew up the Archduke and his wife.

When William the Kaiser received the sad news
He said, “Cousin Francis, we have an excuse,
This act to the Slav population we’ll charge
And make war on the Serbian nation at large.

Now, the Serbians Ma was akin to the Czar
Who remarked as his cousin he joined in the war,
“The Kaiser may wear his big helmet so thick,
But I know where to land him a well deserved kick.

“Par Bleu” said the Frenchman, “I don’t see my way
To leave my friend Nicholas alone in the fray.
I have an old score that I want to wipe out
So I’m glad of a chance to give William a clout.”

Then up spoke John Bull with a serious frown
“The small Belgian nation must not be stepped on.
I’ll help my brave allies with bayonet and gun
To teach you some manners, you son of a Hun.

Now six Christian Nations with culture replete
Are tearing each other like dogs in the street
And while mangled corpses litter the sod
They all pray for aid to a merciful God.

Monday, 30 September 2013


There is a bumper crop of rowenberries in my area of South Dublin this year. I was puzzled why birds don't eat them so did a bit of poking around.
It appears the uncooked berries are slightly poisonous and a small nibble proves they taste awful (perhaps the reason the birds avoid them). The sharpness is not too bad, but it is the bitter aftertaste and high pip density that spoils this tempting looking fruit. Certainly rowan berries have found little use in the kitchen, rowan jelly being its main defence against foraging oblivion.

more here

Monday, 23 September 2013

Dark ages ?

Those who take pride in Western civilisation, or even those like myself who don't necessarily, but who simply acknowledge its various achievements alongside its various shortcomings, recognize a series of factors that led to those achievements. Some of those factors, such as colonialism, are horrific. Some, like the growth of secular thought, are more admirable. 

Read more here
civilization, or even those like myself who don't necessarily, but who simply acknowledge its various achievements alongside its various shortcomings, recognize a series of factors that led to those achievements.  Some of those factors, such as colonialism, are horrific.  Some, like the growth of secular thought, are more admirable.   - See more at:

Monday, 2 September 2013

Was Jesus God?

One of the more remarkable discussions on religion I have seen in recent times was broadcast on TV 3 on Sunday night last - September 1st. See it here
In this, one of the better of a disappointing series of programmes presented as a discussion in studio between Vincent Browne and a panel and dealing with a number of religious topics the question of whether Jesus was God was asked. On the panel were Fr. Peter McVerry, a jesuit well known for his work with disadvantaged youth in Dublin, Seán Freyne, retired Trinity Professor of Theology - now deceased and Michael Nugent, Atheist Ireland.. Vincent opened the discussion by posing the question that if Jesus was God and thus all knowing why did he never claim to be God. A trite answer delivered by Freyne was that Jesus was a jew which is a monotheistic religion and thus could not declare himself to be God without incurring the wrath of the Temple authorities. As the discussion progressed it emerged as desribed by both McVerry and Freyne that the idea that Jesus was (is?) God developed over time within the Christian community. Thus it seems that the divinity of Jesus is no more than a human construct and has no basis in scripture or anything that Jesus himself said.
This is certainly a million miles from the religious instruction I and my contemporaries had in our youth. Judge for yourself if the arguments are convincing

Monday, 19 August 2013

Same sex "marriage"

In today's there is a report of the the partner of the Guardian journalist who worked with Edward Snowden to expose US surveillance tactics being detained for almost nine hours under British anti-terror legislation. The report is headed "Husband of journalist who broke NSA leaks story held for nine hours in London". I did not know that these people were in a same sex marriage and had to read down a bit until I realised this. Is the term "husband" the correct one to use in this case? The husband referred to is David Miranda. Is his partner Glenn Greenwald, his wife?
I support equal rights for same sex "unions" but we have to get our terminology right when referring to the participants therein. I have doubts about even calling the the relationship marriage. I am open to persuasion in this matter.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

State of the nation

Stephen Collins had an excellent article on Saturday's (10th Aug) Irish Times. It was excellent from the point of view of being measured and balanced. Too often what we get about the state of the nation are various rants from perhaps well intentioned but nevertheless probably very angry people. Such a frame of mind is not conducive to rationally thought out solutions. We need a revolution but not of an explosive kind - rather in the nature of a controlled explosion.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The day started well, but...

Another fine day. Seems the sun is reluctant to leave us. I cannot remember a summer like this since my childhood when they all seemed fine. Thankfully all our politicians are on holiday so we don't have to listen to them prattling on about something or other. I wonder if the Nurble Co-efficient of Irish politicians is greater than those of other countries. The tragedy of the death of two children is all over the newspapers. Is this a consequence of the effects of austerity? It remains to be seen. And just now I read of the death of Colm Murray. The day gets gloomier.