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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Barry Clifford: Killing For Fun

Once, a long time ago, I bought a shotgun. I had gotten into my head to go hunting and thought this might be fun. As soon as it was in my possession it felt good, powerful, and when I fingered the beautiful French engraving on the steel and oakwood butt right down to the trigger finger, that feeling of power grew. The next day I found myself in Connemara on the hunt for a rabbit or anything else that was legal to shoot. I did not have to wait long.

In fact I hardly had to get out of my car for there he was, my prey, my rabbit, right in front and less than ten metres away. Surely he will at least make a run for it, give himself a sporting chance, though he may not have shared my point of view. As I reached for the gun clumsily and noisily, took precious agonizing seconds to load it, this rabbit did not move; when I slowly took aim at him he did not move even then. I was now looking at him lined up perfectly with the barrel of the shotgun with his heart still beating, his bright eyes and wide, standing on his hind legs, erect and paused, with a living breathing curiosity, when time seemed to stand still as I pressed down on the trigger. The gun kicked back, seeming to recoil at it’s own violence as thunder crashed into my ear. The rabbit was dead.

I walked up to him, or it, for I did not know if it was a male or a female and could not tell, and surely it did not matter now to the rabbit. There was hardly any blood on the fur and that is when it suddenly all mattered to me for what I had thought was fun had died with him. I had taken a life and wondered why. I had never eaten a rabbit before, and was quite sure if one was served up in front of me, I would not eat it then. This hunt cost more in fuel than the cost of any rabbit dish. 

To help assuage my guilt, I tried door to door farmers in the area to see if it was on their menu or possibly could be. They laughed at my puny conscience but then they were used to killing or rearing animals to be killed. Finally, I threw the rabbit into an abandoned quarry where the action only cemented my despondency. The following week I sold the gun at a loss sure in the knowledge that I could never go killing for fun anymore or ever kill again unless I need to.

Now and again I pass the exact spot where I threw the rabbit, who has long since disappeared into the ground becoming again part of the cycle of life, and I always think of these lyrics as I pause at this place: ‘Bright eyes, burning like fire; bright eyes, how can you close and fail; how can the light that burned so brightly suddenly burn so pale.

Barry Clifford       

Photos Of Ireland in the 1960's in Brilliant Colour

Meeting Lane, Athy Co. Kildare

Turlow St  Co.Carlow

Horse and trap crossing Bridge St in Graiguecullen Co Carlow

By William Muldowney

Sullivan Ballou: Letter to his wife 1861 during the American Civil War.

July the 14th, 1861
Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days - perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure - and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing - perfectly willing - to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows - when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children - is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death -- and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me - perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar -- that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night -- amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours - always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.


Sullivan Ballou was killed one week later at the battle of Bull Run. He was 31 years old at the time and his wife was 24.


Video: Frank Sinatra is Surprised by Don Rickles on Johnny Carson's Show.

Video: Drunk Airline Pilot - Dean Martin - Foster Brooks; Very Funny....

From the Dean Martin Show. One of the funniest sketches out there

Friday, January 3, 2014

Article: One Man's Hunt For A Pirate Booty's Treasure ( No Relation)

Undersea explorer Barry Clifford holds the barrel of a partially crushed blunderbuss he salvaged from the wreck of the pirate ship "Whydah" during an interview in Brewstar, Mass in September 2013. He calls it "the yellow brick road" because it's literally sprinkled with gold dust.
This road runs along Cape Cod's shifting seafloor, and undersea explorer Barry Clifford believes it leads to undiscovered treasure from the wreck of the pirate ship Whydah.
About two weeks ago, Clifford and his dive team took a trip back to the wreck site, and Clifford returned more convinced than ever that the road he's exploring is a path to riches.
"We think we're very, very close," he said.
The Whydah sank in a brutal storm in 1717 with plunder from 50 ships on board. Clifford discovered the wreck site in 1984 off Wellfleet and has since pulled up 200,000 artifacts, including gold ornaments, sword handles, even a boy's leg.
But just this year, Clifford learned far more treasure may be resting with the Whydah, the only authenticated pirate shipwreck in U.S. waters.
Colonial-era documents discovered in April indicated the Whydah raided two vessels in the weeks before it sank. Its haul on those raids included 400,000 coins, the records said.

A Sept. 1 dive during what was supposed to be Clifford's last trip of the season uncovered evidence he was near those coins. That convinced Clifford he had to make another trip before summer's end. So Clifford and a seven-man crew went back on a three-day trip that ended Sept. 13.
Clifford headed for the "yellow brick road," which refers to a gold and artifact-strewn path extending between two significant sites at the Whydah wreck that are about 700 feet apart — a cannon pile and a large chunk of wood that Clifford thinks is the Whydah's stern.
The trove of coins and other treasure likely poured from the stern as the ship broke up and the stern drifted to its rest 300 years ago, he said.

Divers searching the path on the recent trip pulled up several concretions, which are rocky masses that form when metals, such as gold and silver, chemically react to seawater. Diver Jon Matel said one discovery was following another, even though divers were working in "black water," or zero-visibility.
Matel says several feet of a fine seaweed called mung settled in the excavated pits and it was like diving in a vat of black gelatin dessert.
"You're going by your feel, your touch, your hands, and the ping of a metal detector," Matel said. "When that thing goes off, it's a great feeling."
X-rays show all the newly retrieved concretions have coins and gold inside. To Clifford it's more proof of high concentrations of metals and coins being dumped en masse on that spot of sea floor.
Clifford believes two examples that were pulled up on the previous trip are particularly compelling evidence: a cannonball piled with 11 coins and a foot-and-a-half long piece of iron stacked with 50 coins.
"Did all of those coins just happen to fall on this one little piece of iron? Or were there thousands of coins there, and this is just an example of what's left?" he said.
Clifford has no doubt it's the latter, but he'll have to wait until next summer to try to find out.
He's taken 21 trips this summer at a cost of more than $200,000. But the worsening weather and lingering boat problems after a recent lightning strike make another visit impossible until June.
Clifford doesn't sell Whydah artifacts, though he knows the treasure, both uncovered and hidden, has monetary and historic value. He anticipates the delay until the next trip will be somewhat maddening.

"I'll wake up in the middle of the night this winter and go, 'Oh my God, I know what that means,' when I'm reviewing something from the Whydah," he said. "And then I can hardly wait to get back there in the spring."

Stephan Savoia AP

Photo: Storm Galway

Storm in Salthill..........

Photo: Bury my Heart At Wounded Knee 1905

The last of the defiant yet proud American chiefs
Circa 1905

Photo: Spring View

Hang in there, spring is around the corner

By Elaine Bowley

Article: Predictions Are For Mugs

1. Austerity will continue until morale improves

Almost everyone has taken a financial beating during the last five years, with notable exceptions among the super-rich. That will continue, as the Government continues to balance the books. The Troika’s power may be reduced, but if the Government is back on the markets it will have to be disciplined in its budgets to borrow at an acceptable rate.

There is also the tricky issue of the commitment made to Europe to reduce our annual deficit to below 3% of GDP. That means further reductions in the still-too-high annual budget deficit (not to mention the overall debt-to-GDP-ratio, which is also considered way too large).

We know that home-owners will pay double the property tax this year that they did last and they will find out what their water bill charge for 2015 will be. That will not improve the national mood, to say the least.

The challenge for the Government, in its end-of-year budget, will be to not add any more taxes on top of that, but, despite all sorts of promises, that’ll be easier said than done.

The alternative will be spending cuts, but those working in the public sector are unlikely to tolerate any more reduction in their incomes.

Social welfare payments may be threatened again and further cuts in education and health spending will also be considered. Just how the economy is expected to grow in such circumstances is moot — and growth is required if the Government is to meet its debt-reduction targets — but, somehow, morale in the country, for some at least, despite the beatings, seems to be improving.

2. Any economic recovery will not be equally shared

A rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats. If there are green shoots, they are evident in urban and not rural areas, and more so in Dublin than in any other city. The jobs are being created largely in the capital and the depopulation of rural areas continues, worryingly. There is also an age divide in the distribution of new jobs. Younger people, sometimes better-educated if not necessarily with the relevant experience, are more likely to get the jobs, because fewer commitments and debts mean they will accept less pay. Any recovery may mean better pay for those employed in the private sector, but not in the public sector.

3. Rising house prices are not necessarily reflective of the health of the economy

Falling house prices tend to tell a more accurate story than rising ones. It seems bizarre to have rising prices when the Government is demolishing so-called ghost estates and so many other houses remain unfinished or vacant.

But the old adage of ‘location’ being the most important determinant of property value seems apt. A 13% increase in Dublin house prices in the 12 months to the end of November is seemingly caused by lack of supply in more prosperous areas of the city, something that will not abate.

The 5.6% nationwide increase is less easily explained. It’s said that ‘cash buyers’ are driving the market, but who has such money left after the bust of recent years?

4. The banks are not fixed and will continue to act as a drag on the economy

The banks are the elephant in the room of the Irish economy. The transfer of developer property loans to NAMA did not leave them in a healthy state, as intended. They still continue to make losses on remaining loans, particularly to individuals who took out mortgages during the boom. They now have a shortage of money to lend, no matter what they say, and are transfixed by fear over making more mistakes in their lending, despite denials of excessive caution. There is a real fear that they will need even more capital in the future, creating another crisis as to who will provide the billions required.

5. The Germans are not necessarily our friends

What would help, or even transform, this economy is a refund of some of the money our government spent in rescuing AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB — more than €30bn. The ethical and moral arguments — that by rescuing these banks and paying the bondholders at the failed Irish Nationwide and Anglo Irish Bank, we saved the euro from the meltdown that would have flowed from a collapse of our banks — are in danger of being ignored. That is the fault of the Germans. They are the biggest block to an EU deal to give us some refund.

They have been arrogant in their dismissal of the idea, despite concessions and commitments by other nations at an EU summit in June 2012, adopting an attitude that we brought things upon ourselves and can pay for it. They might do well to realise that their own economic power is the result of generosity by others during the 20th century, even as recently as the 1990 reunification of their country, which was supported by the rest of the EU, including Ireland.

6. The British are our best friends in the EU

President Michael D Higgins will make a State visit to the United Kingdom this year, celebrating the friendship between our two nations. Some Irish people define themselves by their anti-Britishness. Others, who think of themselves as too sophisticated to express that, prefer to emphasise our relationship with the EU. It’s handy for selling things, but, other than that, where has it got us?

The British stepped in with loans when we went bust in 2010 — admittedly out of self-interest, given the level of investment in this country — but there is far more that unites us than divides us, especially our common language. Europe thinks it helped us — and its big-wigs apparently think that we’re ungrateful — but do the sums and that help came at an extortionate price.

7. The European Parliament elections of 2014 are pretty close to irrelevant, relative to the amount of attention they’ll get

Hours of broadcast time and acres of newsprint will be devoted to a campaign that is little more than an X-factor competition for second-tier politicians. The election is to provide 11 members to a parliament that has power over our lives, but is still remote and of little interest to most. Do we care? Should we?

And, at the risk of going all Russell Brand on it, how much attention should be paid to the local government elections, the equivalent of bald men fighting over combs?

Matt Cooper

Barry Clifford: Be Careful Out There

Don't forget your umbrella......

 .....or  better yet stay at home

....or watch a movie

......or tell a story

Getty Images, Matthew Horwood, cater news agency

Barry Clifford

Barry Clifford: Gorilla For Sale

Yes it was time. Socrates, was brought back to his ancestors in Ireland from Africa, but now one of us has to go because of our many differences in opinion so it might as well be him; not to mention he has an eye for a local girl which is anywhere in Connemara.

Socrates and I had set up together what at least promised to be a good partnership, but like many a similar loose arrangement this ship was never meant to sail. Our blog was there and still is to promote positive life actions through positive means, but alas this Silverback also believed that he is the only Gorilla in the world that knows nothing and wants to know what you don't, and he makes me sick with his favourite saying "Every cloud has a silver backed lining." Too much going in his head I'd say and too damn opinionated and so he has to go.

On the plus side: He has a good pedigree, 98.6 % human, and is all testosterone, blood, and muscle but includes that rather narcissistic opinion. Standing at six feet tall and weighing an impressive 350 pounds or 25 stone, he can drive a nail through wood with his fist and can lay blocks all day long. He can also be belligerent if he thinks you do not afford him the respect he thinks he deserves. In a case like that, it is wise to make your exit from his presence as quiet and as smoothly as possible.

He likes a pint and can sing a song or two, albeit a little off key, when pressed. His favourite song to sing is 'Always look on the bright side of life.' There is also a couple of acres of land coming to him by a long lost uncle in Kerry.

I will miss him of course; well........sort of, and you can check out his more of his profile here. If I can't sell him then I will have to carry on and find something around here for him to do, like write a blog or two himself. It just might be interesting.

It was attempted to sell him on DoneDeal but after 2500 views in just over a day, Socrates was thrown off the site and not even one offer. The Buy and sell website went the same way but not as far. Yet, no reasonable offer will be refused above €100, and if no offer is forthcoming, he will be free to a good home or one that needs to be. 

PN: He was unfortunately born illegitimate and has the low morals of an alley cat, but means what he says and says what he means. He doesn't like to wear a Sunday suit and for the rest of the week he likes to go around completely butt naked. 


By Barry Clifford

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Video: Boxing-Arturo Gatti vs Micky Ward 1 Awesome Round 9

There are fights and there are displays of courage that are beyond fighting,  and even words to describe what is happening. This was such a fight to inspire when all seems lost; not to give in until you know there is absolutely nothing left to give, and even then you go forward.


Video: The Bull McCabe - The Law of the Land - The Field

Still one of the finest moments in film history, full of the fire and emotion of Richard Harris

Barry Clifford: Meet Socrates

Well, Happy New Year to you too. In case you haven't heard, my name is Socrates. I shall be helping Barry now and again with his 'blog' nonsense, because, as you may have figured it out already, he is a bit thick. Lack of imagination I would say and a lot more, and I did not get my name for nothing; I bloody well earned it.  Yes, I know he was trying to sell me on DoneDeal but I am not that easy to get rid of. I also know a few things about him that no one else does; so he had better watch his step and his mouth.

It's a long story as to how we met. You could say we met in my captivity and became bonded by a shared past. I was born into that captivity in a Florida Zoo. It has it’s advantages because I am lazy by nature and I have my own harem here, and I bet that’s a lot more than you got. They say what you never had you will not miss. I suppose that makes sense to somebody but I am not sure does it make sense to me. No mortgage to pay either here and the food is free. Mind you, a few monkeys in suits throw me extra bananas now and then and even pay to see me. Me! I can’t even sing or dance or tell a good joke but I can look mean. Well, at least I am good at something. 

I can't say it was love at first sight when I met Barry, because we are both heterosexuals, but we get along in a close platonic sense you understand. You do understand? From here on in you will be hearing a lot more from me and I hope to hear from you too. I also know that I am the only Gorilla that knows that I know nothing. It's an open secret, so what do you know that I don't?

Socrates (every cloud has a silver backed lining)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Photo: Oughterard Galway 1895

Oughterard Galway around 1895

Photo: It's Cold Outside

A squirrel did not like the latest snowfall in Baltimore Maryland USA and started to shiver while crossing his paws. I just hope we don't get to feel like him this winter.

Snapped by David La Mason

Barry Clifford: Oh God And A Happy New Year Everyone

Recently, David Quinn posed a question in his titled article submitted to the Irish Independent of  “If there is no God, no law giver, then why should we be equal?” I shall try to answer. With or without a God we as a society or just to function as one needs to have equality. The closest we can come to that is being born equal which we are not. Some people are born with disabilities, other into crushing poverty or extreme wealth, and that is only the start of our un-equality.
God, depending on whose version we adopt Christian or otherwise, is not into equality either. The historical version of the Catholic Church in Ireland proved that beyond any reasonable doubt, and in Spain the story of the inquisition, one drawn in nothing but blood, removed any doubt that was still left. God’s laws are, if you were to believe them without cheery picking the interpretations, are steeped in cruelty, and three of them are primarily based on a rather narcissistic view of himself: Remember to keep his holy day; leave out the competition; don’t mess around with his name.
The rest are entirely suspect too: Though shall not kill. Tell that to a Jewish man that had seen all of his family die in a gas chamber or a Catholic whose daughter had been raped; or tell a Protestant man on the battlefield to turn the other cheek as an enemy bears down on him with sword. 

How about honour your father and mother? No go here either if, as my parents had done, had abandoned you since you were 5 years old. Life is not straight forward in black or white only grey, and no law can fit all especially religious ones, and do not allow either for the rest of the complexities regarding the human condition. Civil law enshrined in democracy at least attempts to solve these conundrums even if not successful with its permanent imperfections.
Recently I came accross a few books on Martin Luther King and his speeches. He is one of those people that I still admire. It was not his Christian view though that dominated his thoughts or his willingness to engage the enemy in open view, it was his world- view that all men should be created equal rather than the fact that they are not. His idealism is rooted in making things better rather than Darwin’s scientific view of just reporting the facts that most religions still struggle with today. The content of one’s character rather than what hat or robe that they are wearing is all of the human condition anyone needs to know, as Martin said before you can make any informed choices. Other than that it will always be the survival of the fittest as it is in all species, and always has been and will be.

God or no God needs us to strive towards equality, to make more just laws rooted in humanitarianism along the way of life, and not a Catholic version of law or indeed a Muslim one, or the Hindu commandments along with all the other alphabet soup of religions and their dictates out there. It is equality and its cousins of fairness with tolerance and justice that will ensure all our survival whatever religions we choose to follow or not, and must never allow any threat to that social democracy that is sometimes called freedom or otherwise it may be our epitaph.
It is that, with God or not, is my hope for 2014. Happy new year everyone and thank you for your support.   
Barry Clifford 

Article: How We Feel

If you’ve ever felt a warm glow inside when in love or hot headed with anger, there may have been more to it than you thought.
Scientists have suspected for a long time that emotions are connected to a range of physiological change and now a study has shown that emotional states are associated with specific sensations regardless of a person’s culture.
The research visually shows that heartbroken people really do feel an ache in their chest, weak with sadness or feel happiness spreading over their entire body.

Yellow shows the regions of increased sensation while blue areas represent decreased feelings. People feel happy from head to toe, anger can literally make someone feel hot-headed and depression leaves people feeling numb

Happiness is the only emotion where a person feels an increase in sensation all over, while sadness, including heartache draws their attention to their heart and head. People feel an increase of sensation in their chest when they are proud, while shame and disgust draw attention to a person's digestive system and their head

The findings come from Finnish researchers who showed 700 volunteers films and read them stories designed to evoke particular emotions.
The men and women were then given outlines of bodies and asked to colour in the parts they felt became more active or less active.
The results were the same across cultures, with love ‘felt’ right down to people’s toes and happiness suffusing the whole body with feeling.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said that such physical feelings may underpin the way we experience emotions.
The University of Turku researchers said: ‘Unravelling the subjective bodily sensations associated with human emotions may help us better understand mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.’

However, Paul Zak, Chairman of the Centre for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, said that the study does not shed extra light on how emotions work and does not show that people often feel a mixture of emotions and thinks activity in the body such as sweating and temperature would give a better indication between emotions and physiological changes.

Researchers have found we can take pleasure in the pain of others – particularly those we envy.
According to a study published in October, tests showed the feeling of joy at seeing someone else fail or suffer –  known as schadenfreude in German – to be so commonplace that scientists believe it must be a basic biological response in humans.
Professor Susan Fiske, of Princeton University and her former PhD student Mina Cikara, now of Carnegie Mellon University, measured the electrical activity of cheek muscles with an electromyogram.
This captures the electrical activity when an individual smiles and thus experiences pleasure.
Participants were shown photographs of individuals associated with different stereotypes: the elderly (pity); students (pride); drug addicts (disgust); and rich professionals (envy).
These images were then paired with everyday events such as: ‘Won five dollars’ (positive); ‘Got soaked by a taxi’ (negative); or ‘Went to the bathroom’ (neutral). Participants were asked how this would make them feel, and their facial movements were recorded.
The results showed people took genuine delight in the misfortune of those they envied – the rich professionals.
‘Because people don’t like to report envy or schadenfreude, this was the best method for gathering such responses,’ said Professor Fiske.
‘And in this experiment we were able to viscerally capture malicious glee.
‘We found that people did smile more in response to negative than positive events, but only for groups they envied.

Being in love makes a person feel a warm glow everywhere apart from their knees, perhaps hinting that there may be something in the popular saying that the object of a person’s affection makes them ‘weak at the knees’.
Sadness leaves our limbs feeling weak and we are extra-aware of activity in our chest – and heart.
Depression also leaves us feeling weak, while disgust is felt in the throat and digestive system. 
Basic emotions including anger and fear cause an increase in sensation in the upper chest area, which could be because we are subconsciously preparing for a fight.

The findings come from Finnish researchers who showed 700 volunteers films and read them stories designed to evoke particular emotions.
The men and women were then given outlines of bodies and asked to colour
in the parts they felt became more active or less active.
The results were the same across cultures, with love ‘felt’ right down to people’s toes and happiness suffusing the whole body with feeling.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said that such physical feelings may underpin the way we experience emotions.

The University of Turku researchers said: ‘Unravelling the subjective bodily sensations associated with human emotions may help us better understand mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

By Fiona Macrae

Monday, December 30, 2013

Image: In Trouble, Get Creative

Created by Koen Demuynck

Article: Just Do It; The Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying

Few people want to dwell on their own death and even fewer want to imagine what they might come to regret when it is too late. Now a former nurse has shared her experiences of what terminally ill people tend to regret the most. Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse who looked after people in the last few weeks of their lives, says it is surprising how many dying people have the same regrets.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is the simple things in life, like staying in touch with friends and being true to yourself, that most people wished they had been able to achieve.  Bronnie also found men regretted working too hard, while many others wish they had had the courage to more frequently express their feelings. Inspired by what she discovered, Bronnie wrote a book - The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying: A Life Transformed By The Dearly Departing - about her experiences. She said: 'My patients were those who had gone home to die and some incredibly special times were shared. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality and some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected - denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.'
The five most common regrets were:
'I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me'
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.'
I wish I hadn't worked so hard
'This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.'
I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings
'Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.'
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
'Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. 
'Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. 'There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.'
I wish that I had let myself be happier
'This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called "comfort" of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. 
'Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.' 

By Emma Innes

Article: Rescue In The Dead Night

In 1943, the MV Kerlogue, carrying a cargo of oranges, defied the barbarity of war and risked being attacked to rescue 168 German survivors of a naval battle in Bay of Biscay, says Richard Fitzpatrick.
SUNDAY is the 70th anniversary of a remarkable episode in Irish maritime history. On the morning of Dec 29, 1943, a small, 142-foot-long Irish coaster, the MV Kerlogue, which was carrying a cargo of oranges from Lisbon to Dublin on behalf of the Wexford Steamship Company, steered towards the aftermath of a naval battle in the Bay of Biscay.

The battle had been over in minutes. Two Royal Navy cruisers had shelled a flotilla of German ships from distance, sinking a Narvik-class German destroyer and two torpedo boats. More than 700 Germans — some dead, others burnt and injured — were floundering in the ocean. The survivors clung to debris and upturned lifeboats in choppy, wintry seas.

A German warplane flew over the MV Kerlogue, dropping flares on its starboard side to alert it to the carnage nearby. The MV Kerlogue had reasons to disregard the plea. The Battle of the Atlantic was raging. People on land could see naval battles off the coasts of Cork, Kerry and Donegal. Dead bodies often washed up on Irish shores.

Ireland, or Éire, was neutral during the Second World War, but Irish merchant seamen were at peril: 149 men, of 800 on Irish ships, died, a higher fatality rate than in many combat units.

“Irish ships sometimes operated in convoy; sometimes they didn’t,” says Michael Kennedy, author of Guarding Neutral Ireland. “They were old ships, under a neutral state. Nobody really respects a neutral. The Allies didn’t want us in their convoys, although we straggled along with them; to the Germans, we were just another target to torpedo.

“Many of the Irish ships that went down were caught by torpedoes, because the Germans either went, ‘what the hell, sink them.’ Or they didn’t recognise what ‘EIRE’ written on the side of the ship meant.”

Months earlier, in October 1943, two unidentified planes had attacked the MV Kerlogue, 130 miles south of Ireland, even though it had sailed under lights, with an Irish flag, and had ‘EIRE’ painted in white letters on its deck and sides. For 25 minutes, cannon shells rained down on it. Several crew members were injured, including its captain, who fractured both his legs. The boat’s superstructure was destroyed, its lifeboats mangled. Water flowed into the engine room, but the pumps kept enough water at bay until the ship hobbled into Cork harbour.

Ironically, it was the boat’s cargo of British coal that saved it. The coal absorbed the cannon fire, and protected the hull. The flight logs of the planes, which were later identified as RAF Mosquitoes, are an example of the disorientation of a war: “Sighted and attacked, with cannon, 1,500-ton merchant vessel flying French flag and word ‘EMPO’ clearly discerned on starboard side — the word ‘France’ also on her bows. The vessel, which returned fire with cannon without effect, was left circling with smoke issuing from it.”

News of the botched attack reached the British war cabinet. It refused to accept responsibility, claiming the MV Kerlogue was off course. It did, however, sanction ex-gratia payments to the injured men.

When, two months after this attack, a patched-up MV Kerlogue responded to the Germans’ distress signal in the Bay of Biscay, its crew of 11 arrived at a horrific scene. It was 11am. For 10 hours, they hauled German bodies from the sea.

The Kerlogue bobbled in the heavy seas. Waves were as high as its masthead, which gave its crew a natural dropping mechanism for scooping men onto the boat with their bare hands and with grappling hooks. It was a harrowing chore. Dead men had to be thrown back overboard to make room.

Gary Roche, the father of Dick Roche, the former government minister and Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow, was one of the Kerlogue’s crew members. He was blighted by nightmares from the episode.

“My father didn’t speak about it an awful lot,” says Dick. “It was a very painful memory for him. The thing that haunted him, he told me, was the men they had to leave in the water when Captain Tom Donoghue told them they had to head back. He very graphically described all the men, who were barely hanging onto life at that stage, and calling ‘comrade, comrade.’ I know that image stayed with him through his life.”

They had 168 Germans on the Kerlogue — in stores, along the alleyways, on the bridge, in the wheelhouse. There were 57 in the engine room, packed so tightly that the chief engineer was unable to move around to work the engines; he had to send signals across the engine room to the bedraggled Germans to carry out procedures.

Given the huge swells, the stability of the boat, which was low-lying, was challenged. “I remember, when I was a kid,” says Dick, “looking at photographs of the Kerlogue and asking, ‘Is that boat sinking?’ She was so deep in the water. It takes a lot of courage to cross the Bay of Biscay in winter in a tiny coaster.”

Spare clothes were given to the Germans. There was no doctor on board. Gary Roche administered first aid. “They ran out of gauze, so they had to use the gauze they used for greasing the engines,” says Dick. “They took it off the rolls and dipped it into seawater, which had salt in it that helped to ease the pain of the wounds.” The oranges were plundered to make hot drinks, to succour the wounded.

To avoid detection by Allied planes, the Germans had to be kept below deck during daylight.

There was a rumour, denied by Captain Donoghue, that the Germans tried to overpower the crew, and redirect the boat towards Brest or La Rochelle. “I’m just guessing here,” says Kennedy, “but it was a chance to get out of the war as well for the Germans. A U-boat later in the war — in 1945, the U-260 — was sunk off the coastline, near Courtmacsherry, and the men were told, ‘Sorry, lads, we hit a mine.’ But the officers said: ‘We hit something. The ship’s not badly damaged, but sink her, because if we go home the chances are we’ll be out on another patrol and we’ll be dead. The war’s nearly over. We’ll spend the rest of it in Ireland.’ Also, you have to take into account how exhausted the survivors were.”

The Kerlogue resisted radio calls from the British to land at Fishguard. By the time it reached Cork, four of the Germans had died.

Emergency services treated the survivors in Cobh, before moving them onto hospital, and to internment at the Curragh, Co Kildare.

Two of the Germans died while interned, and are buried at the German war cemetery in Glencree, Co Wicklow.

The Nazi German minister in Dublin, Dr Eduard Hempel, wrote a letter to Captain Donoghue, applauding him and his crew for their “exemplary deed, worthy of the great tradition of Irish gallantry and humanity,” and he sent a letter of thanks to the hospital matron at the Military Hospital, Cork Barracks.

A silver cup was also presented to Captain Donoghue, with the inscription ‘Bay of Biscay’.

Written By Richard Fitzpatrick