Google+ Followers

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Photo: Autumn morning in Galway

Taken at Bushy Park in Galway

By Barry

Barry Clifford: Computer Generated

I became a little miffed today that yet another letter from my bank was telling me that my mortgage was in arrears. Reminding me that they had wrote already, their carefully worded letter carried veiled threats of legal action and loss of protection, privileges and common courtesy. It was in my best interests apparently to do something about it or else.  Alarmed, I called the bank hoping to talk to a real person.

After the usual menu of taped voices, an actual dial tone sounded and I was talking to a real person, well, sort of…….. After asking who was the author of the scribble written on the letter, the ‘real person’ told me that that was just a computer generated letter. He became rather defensive when I asked him surely it took a human to enact or delete this message. Without losing stride in his computer generated personality, he asked me calmly would I be in a position to pay the arrears. I, rather frustrated at this stage, told him that it was his companies mistake or was he just joking all along. The absence of any emotive response told me that he was waiting for further instructions from cyber space.

In order to make amends for this damming mistake on both our parts, though me to a lesser extent, I offered a monthly payment plan that seemed to me to be fair and balanced which was to be paid over 12 months. At that point agreement could not be reached for the ‘ real person’ may have felt I was now having a joke at his expense, which is about the only expense that may be free from a bank. His voice trailed off and the call ended. The total amount that I owned the bank was the grand total of €0.38 cents or thirty eight cents exactly.

Barry Clifford

Irish Examiner: Back to the future as Troika exit Ireland

LADS, for the love of God, is there any chance at all that you might come back to us? We’ve been on our own now for a week, and things have been going steadily downhill.

Minister Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan share a joke at a press conference to mark Ireland's bailout exit this week. Picture: PA

As the initial hours after your departure turned into days, it quickly became obvious that, like irresponsible children, we can’t be let out in the big, bad world without some supervision.

First off, though, on behalf of the Irish people, I’d like to apologise for the manner in which your departure was handled. While Michael Noonan and his officials broke out the champers last weekend, word was transmitted to Brussels and Frankfurt that no invitations to the party would be forthcoming. This was in keeping with the theme that we’re glad to see the back of you, and that you are to blame for the austere budgets of the last three years.

Everybody knows that the austerity would have been imposed anyway, and that your presence just gave the Government good cover to dish out the pain wherever they deemed it necessary.

Anyway, back to the days since your departure. On Sunday evening the great leader addressed the nation. The streets were emptied. A hush fell over all hostelries.

Families put down their iPads and Wiis to gather round the traditional box in the corner.

Mr Kenny was in patronising form in his Nation In A State address. He told us all how great we were to endure the sacrifices — inferring that this was down to you, lads — and assured us that better days were around the corner. As a party political broadcast it had everything, including the fake sincerity, half truths and the fawning.

The speech sent ripples around the world. In China, it made the evening news. That event was recorded on Twitter by Des Bishop, exiled over there now, and how appropriate that a comedian was on hand to do his bit for the historic occasion.

Now, men and women of the troika, it may strike you as strange, but an address to the nation in this country is not complete until all the political parties get their spake in. It’s a variant on the theme that we don’t really have a nation at all, but a network of fiefdoms, where special interest will always trump any notion of the public good.

To be fair to RTÉ, the national broadcaster realised that more than one of these addresses on a single night was likely to prompt a mass exodus of viewers, so, like the best of muck spreaders, they kept some of the foul stuff for the following two evenings.

Monday dawned bright, but then the headlines threw up dark portents. The coalition parties are already bickering over who gets to pick and choose their own pet tax cuts.

Fine Gael was reported to be in favour of cutting the upper income tax rate, while Labour wants a child tax credit. The country’s finances are still perilous, services which, by and large, disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, are still being slashed, yet, one day after the troika’s departure, these people want to get back on the road to nowhere.

Dear troika people, that wasn’t the worst that Monday had to offer. In the evening, Micheál Martin stepped up to the microphone. He kept a straight face as he berated the Government for continuing with the very plan that the previous government initiated. Looking at him it occurred that he bore a striking resemblance to one of the ministers who had sat at the cabinet table through the worst years of the excess, but that must have been a trick of the studio lighting. This guy worrying about a “two-track” recovery came across like a fresh-faced politician intent on breathing new life into a moribund political culture.

Also on Monday, the technical group in the Dáil was given airtime. This involved Shane Ross giving a State Of Shane Ross Address. He managed to get a word in about the Central Remedial Clinic story, on which he himself had done some sterling work. That yarn was indeed shocking, but its relevance to the marco-economic outlook going forward was lost on me, and, I’m sure, lads, on you too.

Then we had Gerry Adams, fresh off the plane from Mandela’s funeral. Thankfully, he didn’t stoop to mentioning the recently departed, but he did deliver a prognosis of doom and gloom that should have been enough on its own to merit an instant recall of you troika boys.

By the end of all the addresses, the country was exhausted. This was no way to begin a new dispensation, no way for a nation to gather itself up and begin marching towards its destiny.

Lads, two plans were launched since ye took the high road. The economic plan looked to be a little thin on top, not to mention all round. Big numbers were rolled out to show how Ireland would be the best little country in the world by the time 2016 rolls around.

Much of the analysis was based on growth rates that haven’t been seen this side of the recession, and are unlikely to ever be met. And that, dear troika, is at the heart of this plea to return. When left to our own devices this country has a recurring capacity to sink into a fog of fantasy, where everything will alright on the night, as long as you kick the can down the road into infinity.

By Wednesday, the lawyers knew it was safe to come out. Now that the bailout boys had departed, the lawyers moved to ensure that any proposed reforms to their business would head west. Their champion at the cabinet table this time was Eamon Gilmore, who told Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to back off with his proposals to drag the business into the 21st century.

The Health Service plan came the same day. Lads, the best thing to say about that thing, is: let’s not go there.

There was worse to come. It was bad enough that national bad habits, old failings and naked opportunism all surfaced in the last few days, but then the weather turned.

Under your protection, we had a great summer, which led into a largely benign winter.

But by yesterday, it was like old times, our benighted isle being lashed by high winds and torrential downpours. In keeping with the emerging two-track economic recovery, it was the west that got the worst of it, while the east of the country was relatively sheltered.

What was that about, lads? Have the gods signalled their concern that we’ve now been left to our own devises? Were the elements used to send us a message to get back into a programme, any programme, that doesn’t leave us at the mercy of ourselves? Any chance, good people of the troika? Please come home before things get out of hand. Don’t leave us this way.

In the meantime, Happy Christmas to one and all.

Michael Clifford

Irish Times: In praise of Santa Claus

By Alison Healy

Joyful anticipation on Christmas Eve will gladden even the hardest of hearts. There could only be one contender at this time of year. Who else, but the jolly bearded-man in the red suit? The miracle of Santa Claus is not that he does the equivalent of 250 laps of the globe on one night. Or that he can shimmy down chimneys despite being approximately 1,743 years old. It’s that he still exists in an era when children are getting increasingly cynical and when they have the world at their fingertips in the form of an internet connection.

The recession brought a lot of sadness to people’s doors in recent years but the joyful anticipation shown by children on Christmas Eve will still gladden even the hardest of hearts. Their open-eyed wonder will bring a smile to the faces of the biggest sceptics. And in 100 years, Santa will still be working his magic. Leave out an extra mince pie for him this year. He deserves it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Irish Independent: Blind man saved by ageing guide dog can keep him

Orlando went onto the subway tracks with Cecil Williams, 61, when the man lost consciousness and fell from a station platform.
Mr Williams and Orlando both escaped serious injury when they were bumped by a train passing over them - a miraculous end to a harrowing ordeal that began when he felt faint on his way to the dentist.
Witnesses said Orlando barked frantically and tried to stop Mr Williams from tumbling off the platform. Matthew Martin told the New York Post that Orlando leaped onto the tracks as the train approached and licked Mr Williams to get him to move.
Michelle Brier, a spokeswoman for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, which provides working dogs for free but cannot cover retired dogs' expenses, said today that "as of right now," Mr Williams plans to keep Orlando as a pet after Orlando retires and he gets a new working dog early next year.
"The spirit of giving, Christmas ... exists in New York," a tearful Mr Williams said calling the outpouring of money and good will a "miracle".
Ms Brier said that "it's an emotional time" and the organisation will support whatever path he ultimately takes. The family that raised Orlando has said it would be thrilled to take in Orlando if Mr Williams is unable to care for two dogs.
"I'm not a crybaby or nothing. But my eyes are misty and I'm tearing right now because things like this here don't happen for everybody," Mr Williams said in hospital. "They should happen. We should care about one another. We should do for one another. But it's not always that way."
Mr Williams expressed gratitude to all of the people involved in his rescue and those who donated money to help him keep his "best buddy."
He urged the public to support other disabled people who need guide dogs. Guiding Eyes said any leftover donations would be used for that purpose.
Mr Williams doesn't remember much about the subway incident because he lost consciousness. He recalls that Orlando tried to brace him against the fall and thinks momentum may have propelled the harnessed dog onto the tracks with him.

"He stayed with me. He was licking my face," Mr Williams said. "He's a very gentle gentleman."

Irish Examiner: €97k TD claims that he would earn more as a plumber

A senior Labour TD has claimed he would earn more as a plumber than the €97,000 he receives for sitting in the Dáil.
By Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent
Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg spoke as he defended Fine Gael colleague Brian Hayes who insisted junior ministers with salaries of €121,000 a year are not on “super, super pay”.

Mr Stagg, who receives a TD’s salary of €87,258 plus an allowance of €10,000 for his role as chief whip, said his pay had reduced by 60% due to cutbacks since 2009.

The comments came after Mr Hayes said ministerial pay was not out of line with the austerity agenda being imposed by the Coalition on the rest of society.

Mr Hayes, who as a minister of state at the finance department earns €121,639, said people in his ministerial position only receive €250 a week more in take-home salary than other TDs.

Despite cutbacks in wages since the financial crisis engulfed the country, politicians are still well paid compared with their British counterparts. On a salary of €185,300, Taoiseach Enda Kenny earns much more than British prime minister David Cameron, who gets the equivalent of €168,908.

At €157,540 a year, Irish ministers are on a par with British counterparts on €159,481, while junior ministers earn more than €4,000 more a year here than their equivalents in London.

TDs with a basic wage of €87,258 earn more than 10% more than Westminster MPs (about €78,690).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Barry Clifford: Much Ado About Everything

On a report recently in the Irish Independent regarding the abortion debate titled: ‘Masked abortion protesters picket Taoiseach’s ( Irelands Prime Minister) house,' it seems pointless if you are going to protest about anything that you do it anonymously. Archbishop Diarmuid martin should speak to his flock in more stern language rather than rebuking them to refrain from just using “intemperate gestures and language.” 

Plenty of vigour but no clarity or indeed caring when you start to send plastic foetuses and letters written in blood through anyones letter box, let alone the Prime Minister’s one. He gets it and got it before these sheep did their action. I feel inclined to be pro-life one way or the other.  

It is fuelled by a wider more global view on the matter, not least by the dawning  that in 2050 there will be 11 plus billion people on this planet facing ever diminishing resources and rising poverty; it is also strongly tempered by this cunundrum wrapped around a question: There was a girl named Ann Marie. She was a poverty stricken and  sick bed ridden woman. The first 3 children that she bore from her equally ill and impoverished husband died in infancy. Her fourth child lived after which the cycle of death began again when another two children died. Then she became pregnant with her 7th child and it was all trouble again. This time she nearly died after yet another infection and the choice to abort seemed an obvious one or was it? She decided not to abort but had she done so then the world would have lost Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Barry Clifford    

Irish Times: Peter O Toole

The preferred epitaph of Peter O’Toole, the playboy of the western world
Among the stories emerging about O’Toole in Galway is the one of how a soiled jacket made for the perfect epitaph
                John J Browne        
                Several decades ago, a man walked into Foyle’s Bar in
                Clifden, Co Galway. Few heads turned. After an interval,
                the man declared in apparent frustration: “I’m Lawrence
                of Arabia.”
“I don’t care who you are, sit down and I’ll get you a drink,”came the barman’s response.
It’s one of many tales that have been told of Peter O’Toole this week, as President Michael D Higgins led tributes to his passing.

O’Toole cited Connemara and Leeds as his birthplace, and had two birth certificates to prove it. Connemara was to become his second home. He also had relatives in Galway city. Local architect Leo Mansfield designed the house he had built at Eyrephort, at the foot of Sky Road, and his son, also Leo, remembers how O’Toole wanted the building on top of a hill to make the most of the Atlantic aspect. When the planners directed that the house be built behind the hill, O’Toole “had the hill blasted away”, recalls Mansfield.
O’Toole frequented local hostelries such as EJ King’s (now owned by Terry Sweeney), where he made close friends, but he was also an active member of the community. He supported the Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society, and his horses were regular competitors at the Connemara Pony Show.

Writing in The Irish Times in August 1983, the then western correspondent Michael Finlan noted that it was “a bit unfair” that nobody gave the actor an award for his appearance at the show that particular summer. “John J Browne got the top award for the best five onions, Mary Geoghegan for the best three heads of cabbage and Anne Conneely for the best six new-laid hen eggs (brown),” Finlan wrote. “But there was nothing at all for the three psychedelic flowers sprouting from the tweed hat band of Mr O’Toole.
“The Botanic Trillium blazing from his head turned all other heads in his direction and set off a cacophony of clicking camera shutters. All that was missing was a standing ovation, as in the last act of Macbeth.”

Public relations
Back in the mid 1970s, a young public relations professional, James Morrissey, who was then a 24-year-old press officer for Dublin Theatre Festival, was dispatched by director Brendan Smith to collect O’Toole from the airport as he was performing in the festival. O’Toole handed him his suitcase, and looked “rather disparagingly” at Morrissey’s “beat-up car”.
Morrissey drove him to the Shelbourne Hotel, and the actor seemed “irascible”. When Morrissey broached the subject of interviews with several journalists, including the late Dr David Nowlan, theatre critic of The Irish Times, O’Toole growled and “made it quite clear that there would be no effing interviews”.
“I told him this was my first job and asked him would he reconsider, but he shut the door of his room in my face,” Morrissey says. “I walked as far as Quinnsworth on Baggot Street, and decided to go in and buy him a bottle of whiskey.
Eventually O’Toole invited Morrissey in, and “spoke very emotionally about Connemara”. He also “obliged with various interviews”, to Morrissey’s relief.
In 2008, the actor gave one of his last public interviews at the Galway Film Fleadh, where his daughter Kate is the chairwoman. “He was 76 years old, very funny, still had the glad eye about him, and I remember he made straight for Jessica Lange at the Irish Film Board’s dinner at the fleadh,”director Miriam Allen recalls.

“An absolute original” who was “full of life and verve” is how film-maker Lelia Doolan remembers him, and she notes that he donated a silk Hermès neckerchief in July this year to raise funds for the Picture Palace arthouse cinema, currently under construction in Galway city. It was bought at auction by musician and performer Aindrias de Staic, who would, Doolan says, be cut from the same cloth as the original owner.
Irish Times photographer Brenda Fitzsimons recalls how she bumped into O’Toole in Clifden many years ago, and how the talk turned, after an hour or so, to what he would like carved on his tombstone. He launched into a lengthy explanation involving his favourite jacket, a buckskin suede number that had marked on it every drop of tear, blood, sweat and whatever else from his long career. He made the mistake of sending it to the local dry cleaners, where it promptly disappeared, and he assumed with some regret that he would never see it again.
Years later, a package arrived at his house, and when he unsheathed it from its cellophane, there was his laundered jacket, with a label attached by the cleaner saying, “Distresses me to return soiled”.
O’Toole looked at the label and thought, as an epitaph, that will do nicely.

The Galway Film Fleadh public interview with Peter O’Toole is on

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Barry Clifford: The Stigma Of Passive Prejudice

• "Intelligent for a black man." This heading was part of an anti-racism poster I saw on a billboard in Florida, aimed at the subtleties of prejudice in its many forms. These forms are also directed at atheists or Christians and Muslims, and most anything in between by using people's culture, colour or background against them, and especially so if they are accused of child abuse. If you accuse a person of child abuse, the weight of that charge is so great that being found not guilty is almost a technical point. When those accusations are supported by the 'there-is-no-smoke-without-fire' brigade, it fuels an inferno of prejudice so monumental that the person accused carries a life sentence whether they are black, white, or any shade in between. Headlines that say: "A child was abducted by a black man" or "Pakistani man runs a child prostitution ring" promotes a prejudice that is plain wrong.

A cleric too who is accused of child abuse should not be in the media on the accusation alone, nor anyone else for that matter. Only when found guilty should they be there at all. When this happens, then only the victim should remain unnamed, should they wish to do so.
About five years ago in Galway there was a high expectation that the murder and rape of Manuela Riedo, A beautiful Swedish teenage girl, was committed by a foreign national. The man who did this heinous crime was not and had a long history of violence.
In some states in the US, they release photographs of people to the media who have been accused of all kinds of crimes while being, photographed in the most unflattering of poses before any trial; so much for fairness and balance. One media outlet boldly headlined: "Man accused of murdering a priest." Later, they sheepishly headlined: "Murder accused said priest had made unwanted advances." Only when found guilty of his murder did this man at last admit he made up those accusations. Which headline was bigger, the former or the latter? Had this admission not happened, then the priest's legacy and all the good that he had done in his lifetime would have been consigned to the dustbin of infamy and interred with his bones.

It is not that we have to be more cautious in what we do, what we write or say to "appear" more balanced and fair in our daily lives and the media along with the definitive truth, but we do need to ask ourselves why we or they are not so in the first place.

Barry Clifford

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Photo: Stillness

Derryclare, between Oughterard and Clifden (Dec 2010)

By Barry

Barry Clifford: Simple Reasoning

A friend told me this joke, and I hope you like it as much as I did:

A mechanic was removing a cylinder-head from the motor of a Harley motorcycle when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop. The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his bike when the mechanic shouted across the garage, 'Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?'

The cardiologist, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the motorcycle. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked: “So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then I put all the internal plumbing back in, and when I finish, it works just like new.
So, how come I make $39,675 a year and you get the really big bucks ($1,695,759) when you and I are doing basically the same work?”

The cardiologist paused, smiled and leaned over, then whispered to the mechanic...

“Try doing all that work with the engine still running.”

Barry Clifford

Barry Clifford: We Are Not All In This Together

The word criminals conjure all sorts of stereotypes of what that means. Closer to reality is that many people in jail should not be there, and many more outside should. It is a strange island where if you do not pay your television license, you can and do go to jail, and those who are moneyed, privileged, and yet inherently corrupt rarely do for real criminality. It matters not what justice is morally and much less legally here. I suspect we are not all in this together or ever were.

It is a strange island too that you can go to jail for stealing food just to stay alive. There were 430,000 people in ‘food poverty’ in 2012 according to the Department Of Social Protection facing those risks. One unlucky man who did, a 57 year old out of work actor, was caught stealing food for his children. He was convicted, branded with a criminal record that classes him a thief, that in the long-term may preclude him from finding work because of that conviction. The vicious cycle goes on.

Yet, if you were a former prime minister of this country who ‘under-declared’ his taxes by over €2,000,000 after a tax assessment by the Revenue Commissioners for the cash gifts he received from former supermarket magnate Ben Dunne, and then have it reduced to zero by an independent appeals commissioner, who is a brother-in-law of another just slightly less than honest former prime minister Bertie Ahern, then you will know we are not all in this together.

Barry Clifford

Oughterard 1842

'A more beautiful village can scarcely be seen than this. It stands upon Lough Corrib, the banks of which are here, for once-at least, picturesque and romantic and a pretty river, the Feogh, comes rushing over rocks and by woods until it passes the town and meets the lake.

Some pretty buildings in the village stand on each bank of this stream: a Roman Catholic chapel with a curate's neat lodge; a little church on one side of it, a fine court-house of gray stone on the other. And here it is that we get into the famous district of Connemara so celebrated in Irish stories, so mysterious to the London tourist "It presents itself, under every possible combination of heathy moor, bog, lake, and mountain, extensive mossy plains and wild pastoral valleys lie embosomed among the mountains, and support numerous herds of cattle and horses, for which the district has been long celebrated.

Those wild solitudes, which occupy by far the greater part of the centre of the country, are held by a hardy and ancient race of grazing farmers, who live in a very primitive state, and, generally speaking, till little beyond what supplies their immediate wants. For the first ten miles the country is comparatively open, and the mountains on the left, which are not of great elevation, can be distinctly traced as they rise along the edge of the heathy plain.

William Makepeace Thackery in his Irish Sketchbook of 1842 about the district of Oughterard.'

Living here, thankfully, it has not changed much since.


Barry: Trouble In The Kingdom

It seems there is something rotten going on in the kingdom of Kerry. A ban on hunting female red deer and curlews has at last been imposed on the former beef and chicken eating people as their addiction to the more exotic venison and wild poultry became rampant. It was also seen by many as sexist to just spare the male deer.

The curlew, I am reliably informed, was not shot to be eaten at all but because it was just singing too much. Of course one could argue it was the recession that started all this beef. The minister for Heritage acted quickly when the red deer were nearly wiped clean from the kingdom completely, and there was only 4% of the curlews left. (The hunting season for the birds was only 4 weeks)

Yet, both species had survived thousands of years on them Killarney hills, and saw the Celts, Vikings, Normans, and the British come and go, and were there before the cry of freedom became a byword to be allowed to shoot anything or anyone that moved at all. Now, all that was left standing in the way from their complete extinction was the freedom loving Kerryman, and the few hunters that came to lend them a hand. Yes, it needed legislation just to make common sense of it all.

All of this reminded me of when I asked a fisherman recently did the seagulls impact much on his catch. He replied with a learned wisdom: ‘Well, they take their share.’


Barry: Corruption Ireland

Murphy report on the rape and abuse of children by clergy stated: Garda and senior members of the force regarded priests as being outside their investigative remit. The relationship between some Garda, and priests and bishops in Dublin was “inappropriate.”

PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association said;
“Garda struggling to repay debts because of public sector cuts could be venerable to corruption

Dennis Foley, a Garda, was convicted of beating a man unconscious that resulted in the victim suffering severe bleeding to the brain, broken teeth, and broken bones on his face, and received an 18 month suspended sentence for the assault.

Ian Mallon, the deputy editor of Dublin’s Evening Herald newspaper, described the Garda’s ongoing pursuit of journalists in Ireland as ”Stasi-like.”

Clare Daly was stopped for taken a wrong turn in an unfamiliar area in Dublin. She was breathalysed on ‘suspicion’ of drink driving but did nor even register a reading. She was then handcuffed on the side of the road even though she did not pose a threat, and told it was procedure. She was then placed in a cell and stated she was told by a female Garda ‘ To come back when you are sober” The final blood test reveled that she was well under the legal limit. This incident was only days after she accused the police of malpractice, otherwise known as corruption.

Prof Walsh, director of University of Limerick’s centre for criminal justice said about the Irish police: “For as long as such basic information is kept secret, transparent governance and accountability will remain elusive and the Garda will continue to be one of the most secretive forces in the western world.”


Barry: Just Doing It

In Coventry in England there is a line of orchard trees that are dedicated to British airmen that died during the battle of Britain. The annual display of pink blossoms make these pilots incredible deeds come to life again in memory and it would move the most hardened person. It is nature reminding us. Looking at the plaques beneath each tree, I noticed the average age was between 19 years old and 35. I thought what these men had done was not for country, religion, or a political ideology, but for something even higher. It simply needed to be done.

Psychiatrists can devalue that sacrifice in abstract terms by claiming that there is always an expected reward for those kinds of actions; like a public memorial or to be written about in the annals of history. Surely 19 year olds are thinking more about living than dying, yet they still went up in the air knowing their life was going to be brief. Psychiatrists do really need help at the best of times.

Their sacrifice was recently brought home to me recently when my faith, not in religion but in humanity was restored yet again. It is the doing of things that needs to be done regardless of any other motive than that. His name is Michael Doyle; the fact that he is a priest is purely incidental.

He overseas a small parish in Camden in New Jersey in the USA that angels still fear to thread except they are getting more used to it now. Michael Doyle has never given up on the people here, and that is a belief that has been tested for decades. He dwells among them and all have to live with violence everyday and to just grow up can be a miracle in itself and to grow old a bigger one. The poor come in all circumstances. This little parish and beacon of hope is more than that. He has sown that hope in rocks and watched more than a few flowers grow from them. He shows that even the most cynical among us may just want to do something too. Michael is 78 years old now and could do with that little bit of help yesterday but tomorrow will be nice.