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Friday, August 4, 2017

Morning White Dove

                                                    Elvis Presley

A full-blooded Cherokee Indian named Morning White Dove was born in 1800. The white in the name referred to her status as a friendly Indian. Those that were called ‘red’ were classed as warlike or who had sided with the British redcoats during the American revolution. All this was lost, one way or another, on Morning White Dove for she was friendly enough that by the time she turned eighteen years old she married a white southerner named William Mansell. For him it was an easy choice made even easier for there was not too many white women on the America frontier back then to choose from. 

William learned much from the union. He gained old Indian knowledge of the terrain, of forests and prairies, crops and game, medicine lore, healing plants, and the ‘setting of broken bones’. Morning White Dove in return had got a hard working man, a provider with some ambition, and that could sing a song or two when pressed. The world gained from them much more.

The mix of this handsome couple would help define the looks and spirit of one man many years later, for without them he would never have been born at all. Morning White Dove and William Mansell would go on to become proud parents of three children whose eldest was a son called John Mansell. 

In his turn, John would go on to become the great- great grandfather of Elvis Presley.

A very young Elvis Presley

Barry Clifford

The power of the written word

Wuthering Heights by Emile Bronte:
I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett:
Perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest than I go to than I have ever known.

Picture Of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde:
When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage.

The Dead by James Joyce:
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark

The Stranger by Albert Camus:
And I too felt ready to live my life again. As if this great outburst of anger had purged all my ills, killed all my hopes, I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before. 

Trainspotting by Irvine Welch
He had done what he had wanted to do. He could now never go back to Leith, to Edinburgh, even to Scotland, ever again. There, he could not be anything other than he was. Now, free from them all, for good, he could be what he wanted to be. He’d stand or fall alone. This thought both terrified and excited him as he contemplated life in Amsterdam.

Photo Minute: Lessons in pride

"All this blow drying my hair better lead to something."

"Easy easy does it; she fancies me, she fancies me not"

"Its just son, I am a hell of a lot bigger than you."

                                           "God, do we have to go looking for dinner today."

                                                     "Yeah. You and who's army buddy?"

                                                           "Yes, I love you too hon."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Photo Minute: Hanging around

Kevin Myers’s fall is a long time coming

         The writer has been spewing evidence-free bile about women for decades

The most heartsinking suggestion about the Kevin Myers fiasco is that it took a foreigner to finally stand up to him. Myers’s defenders have – rightly – drawn attention to his erudite, ground-breaking military history lessons, the courageous stances on occasion, the sublimely-written eulogies to beloved friends.
Inconveniently, however, his real draw lay elsewhere. It was the much riskier jape of routinely conflating free speech with hate speech. To much of his fan base, the kind who insist on confusing “equal pay for equal work” with communism and/or shrieky feminists, he was the lone, fearless, un-PC voice, always happy to say the unsayable, usually laced with casual offence.
“One of my flaws is to deal with major issues in throwaway lines,” he conceded on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show yesterday. Some of us managed a wry smile at that one.
If some gloated over his comeuppance on Sunday – largely the result of global social media pressure – it was not because he had become a problem for the Brits instead of us, as some suggested. Or because a 70-year-old man had lost his livelihood. It was because this battle goes back a long way and is a dangerous one.

No decent man or woman can afford to shrug off the rank misogyny of last Sunday’s column

If a message, however dodgy, is hammered home relentlessly enough from an authoritative platform, it can change the course of history.
In the early 1990s, as a Brussels-based Daily Telegraph columnist, Boris Johnson, almost single-handedly shaped the toxic British view of the European Union with his myths of straight bananas and standardised condom sizes, and lit the lie-strewn path to Brexit.
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, by the simple repetition of “Lock her up” and “Build the wall”, persuaded voters to take him seriously but not literally. Evidence schmevidence. Johnson, Trump and ilk have prospered mightily on the back of lies, half-lies and dog-whistles.

Rank misogyny
This is why no decent man or woman can afford to shrug off the rank misogyny of last Sunday’s column, or those proudly un-PC voices that denigrate women as dull, mediocre, workshy wailers and shriekers, and men as the pitiful victims of feminazi justice.
All of 20 years ago, I challenged Kevin Myers in print, when he argued that the only reason a decent man was in jail was because of spiteful, whiny females.
In his view, three young American women had totally over-reacted when their guest, a powerful, 6ft 5in, 20-stone, insanely-intoxicated garda, rampaged through their house, gin bottle in one hand, glass water heater (eventually smashed against a wall) in the other, threatening to kill one woman, purposefully smearing his blood on another, tearing off their night clothes and forcing them to barricade themselves in a room.
It was doubly silly of them to bring charges, considering it took only a dozen gardaí to restrain him – after which he escaped overseas, before finally appearing in court, where his defence was based on his being abused as a child.
A tragic situation for sure, but who would you take to be the baddies in all this? The drunken, violent assailant – a male? His drunken companion who slept through it all – a male? The cousin – a male – who allegedly raped the defendant every day when the latter was only nine-years-old? The judge – a male – who sent the “time bomb” of a defendant to jail?

‘Vindictive feminism’

Nope. It was the wimmin. The only reason that garda ended up in jail, Myers argued furiously over two columns, was because of  “a vindictive and politically correct feminism which reduces the world into stereotypes of male aggression and female victims. [It is] a frivolous and wholly unnecessary proof that our courts care about women, especially American women”.

No charges would have been brought, he asserted, “had the victims of [the garda’s] madness been Irish and male” (remember, the other male in the house at the time had been allowed to sleep on, unassaulted).

It’s doubtful if a female columnist would have got away with such targeted, evidence-free vitriol

Even though the garda had disclosed his childhood abuse to his family 10 years earlier and had spurned all offers of treatment, the women should not have reported him. What were they to do?
This, remember, was 20 years ago. The clear intention was to shoehorn women – any women – into a particular narrative of victimy, spiteful bitches. It was the kind of hateful, utterly unsubstantiated assertion that regularly reduced colleagues to howls of rage.
As an aside, it’s doubtful if a female columnist would have got away with such targeted, evidence-free vitriol.
There have been a lot of “throwaway lines” over the years, such as that old chestnut of his, repeated on Sunday, alleging the non-existence of brilliant female mathematicians. Try that one on Nasa or Bletchley Park historians.

As for “that greyback, testosterone-powered, hierarchy-climbing id” which apparently entitles the ambitious male to all the pie, and which “feminised and egalitarian-obsessed legislatures are increasingly trying to legislate against”, I give you the inevitable outcome: the mighty testosterone-powered greybacks of North Korea, the Philippines,  Turkey, Russia Poland, Egypt,Venezuela, the US . . . Can we have our money back when the first nuclear missile hits the US?

By Kathy Sheridan

The pogroms against Sinn Féin will continue

On the dawn of the new millennium the Anglo Irish agreement was agreed among the people of both sides of this Island. In essence it sought to put aside its past and sorrowful history. Forgiveness would be a more personal matter that could not be written in the big or small print. For the most part the agreement has held together and grown naturally with the new generation that did not have to read the murderous headlines or have some of them written about their loved ones in the obituary columns on either side of the divide. Sinn Féin is today part of that new generation that is also not going to go away, as all of the mainstream political parties would otherwise wish along with more than a few independents.

But their biggest enemy is a prejudiced media long aligned traditionally with any political party that delivers what it seeks to gain for their paymasters higher up the food chain. If proof was needed the Celtic Tiger proved it by exposing them as nothing more than Hyenas running a pyramid scheme that left the bottom feeders choking on its hot air. The rancid smell still hangs heavy in the nostrils from the corruption. The only freshness from it all, for me at least, is Sinn Féin, and more importantly the party that evolved from the ashes of a bitter sectarian war that brought the elders of that battle together with this new generation that have known nothing, for the most part, but a tempestuous truce but one wrapped in peace nevertheless. For many that will be as good as it gets but is a beginning many thought would never happen in their lifetime. If, and as I believe it will, it can only get better. 

Sinn Féin’s enemy today is not north of the border but south and is the enemy within. But they have long known that, it was just the problem of getting everyone else to know it too. This changed in no uncertain terms in huge gains in the local and European elections of recent past and that foothold keeps increasing as well north and south of the border and there is no going back 

What Happened? The media and its paid scribes started the long march of miss-steps, walking backwards on gained ground they had long believed was sure footed. They had believed in their own hype and lies and indeed success for far too long, and had allied themselves traditionally with the forces of law and disorder that masqueraded as a Police force. If doubt still remained, Alan Shatter removed it, regulated finally to the backbenches as the latest former Minister Of Justice who supported that disorder while Maurice Mc Cabe, the courageous whistleblower, held his nerves of steel behind a kindly and benign face. 

But let not Sinn Féin fall into the same sleep their tormentors did for that would be a big mistake. The Pogroms will continue, the usual suspects rounded up at every media opportunity and just before an election, and the smear of accusation rather than the burden of proof will still be the weapons of choice. 

What brought it all together in the end was and is the new generation electorate. One familiar with the Internet and digital media that has long sailed past the barriers of the Irish sea; and know what is said between the lie and the truth, and what is written as a fact rather than lies by omission of that truth. It is also symptomatic of healthy outrage seeded in political awareness that has sadly been lacking since the acceptance of corruption and accountability as a social and un-punishable crime. Interesting times ahead indeed and may they be better ones too.
Barry Clifford  

To understand life is to grow with it

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Herman J M Nouwen

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” 
James Baldwin

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
E K Ross

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” 
Ernest Hemingway

“I learn from my own daughter that you don’t have to be awake to cry.”
Jodi Picoult

“When we fully understand the brevity of life, its fleeting joys and unavoidable pains; when we accept the facts that all men and women are approaching an inevitable doom: the consciousness of it should make us more kindly and considerate of each other. This feeling should make men and women use their best efforts to help their fellow travelers on the road, to make the path brighter and easier as we journey on. It should bring a closer kinship, a better understanding, and a deeper sympathy for the wayfarers who must live a common life and die a common death.”
Clarence Darrow

Monday, July 31, 2017

Right Against Might: The Finnish and Russian war 1939

On November 1939 Russia attacked Finland on one of the coldest winters on record: some 50 degrees below zero.

Four soviet  armies, 21 divisions, thousands of tanks and planes, and half a million soldiers attacked Finland on the first day alone. It was three times larger than the combined allied forces that landed in Normady on DDAY. They then threw yet another million soldiers against Finland along with thousands of more aircraft and hundreds more of tanks shortly afterwards.

The Finns on the other hand had over two hundred thousand men, with just a few rifles in their hands, and a few Molotov cocktails in their arsenal between them. 

The Finns fought with incredible bravery, skill, and with respect for the living and the dead, including that of the enemy. After all, it was the only the Finns that buried the Russians. The battle lasted 105 days.

At its end, a million Russian soldiers lay dead from bullets, bombs, frostbite, starvation, brainwashing and stupidity. The still living ones had abandoned the others still trying to cling onto life, and had resorted to cannibalism of the ones that were dead and the meat of horses on their way out the exit door. The finnish however were still standing.

They would have fought longer and harder still except for the fact that their closest geographical neighbours, along with other promised allies, had abandoned them in order to save their own skins.Their skins, because of that action were not saved.

In the final peace treaty Finland did concede some territory in order for Russia to protect its borders from their admitted fear of the Germans, at least this is what the Russians claimed. The Finnish people though kept their country and independence to this very day.

The reality of this war is one where David did slay Goliath but has deeper meanings. The finns respect for life, liberty, sacrifice, and love of freedom helped win that battle. They had come together not only as a nation but as a large close-knit family in great peril, and lived not only to fight another day but also to tell their story. 

For me herein lies a lesson and an inspiration: There is always a way within the unity of sharing and that can make a singular part, that when it is moulded, becomes the driving engine of a much larger force. It also helps to have right on your side against might that makes the cause easier to fight or even die for.

Barry Clifford   

The five best things about living back in Ireland

What I once took for granted, I now see with new eyes since moving home from Sydney

Elaine Doyle in Co Cork: ‘Living away from Ireland has given me a new appreciation for my country.’

Leaving Australia for good has been like a relationship breakup that hasn’t ended on bad terms. There is a sense of loss that’s hard to explain.

The decision to leave amazing job opportunities, a decent salary, good friends and endless sunshine in Sydney behind after five years was difficult. But something was missing for the last year. Perhaps it's my age, but the longing for family and friends started to mean more to me than anything else. I wanted to be around people who have known me for a long time. As many of my friends have moved home already, the constantly changing social network was getting tiring. Missing family weddings and funerals was becoming too much.

As a counsellor, I always ask clients what support networks they have in their life. I began to ask myself that question, and realised my network wasn’t where I needed it to be. Or, more to the point, I wasn’t where it was.
When I finally made the decision to move home a few months ago, I did it because I knew I had to listen to my gut instinct. I was homesick, and no number of sunset walks could ever fix that.

Mount Leinster, Co Carlow at sunset.
Many of the Irish friends I had over there had already moved home and had very positive experiences, which has helped pave the way back for me too. I have tried to surround myself with these people, and avoid listening to the negative experiences, especially online. It’s important to be aware of the difficulties you could potentially face, but obsessing about these issues is not helpful for me.
From talking to these friends, and based on my own experiences since I’ve moved home, here are my top five most positive things about being back in Ireland:

1. When the sun is shining there is no place I would rather be. I recently spent a few days down in Kerry and Cork when the weather was good. I’ve travelled a lot, but Kerry is still one of my favourite places in the world, because of its food, the music, the mountains and some of the best beaches I’ve ever seen.

Coomenoole Beach in Dingle, Co Kerry.
Living away from Ireland has given me a new appreciation for my country. What I once took for granted, I now see with new eyes. While driving around Slea Head Drive in Dingle and the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the longest coastal drives in the world, I realised I’ve travelled to the other side of the world to see sights like this, and here they are right here in my home country. Even when the sun wasn’t out, I found the landscape breathtaking.

Sunset at Dungarvan Harbour.
Other road trips I’ve done since moving home include cycling the Greenway in Waterford with my mother, a scenic cycle route along an old railway line with gorgeous coastal, river and forrest views. That night we watched one of the nicest sunsets I’ve ever seen at Dungarvan harbour. I am so excited to keep discovering this wonderful country. There is an endless amount of adventures and experiences to be had, and I cant wait to see more; rain, hail or sunshine.

The Greenway, Co Waterford.
2. Being able to escape to a sunny destination in Europe when the rain becomes too much. After living in Australia, it’s a real novelty to be able to hop on a cheap flight to anywhere in Europe and be immersed in a different culture, new foods and sunny weather. Last month I was in Monaco in France and a small mountain village called Eze, and a few hours later I was back home in my bed in Ireland. I plan to do weekend vacations in Europe as often as I can.

Eze village near Nice, France.
3. Being surrounded by family. My family are right beside me when I’ve difficult decisions to make, and the happiness I can see in them since I moved home is priceless. Last month I got to spend my birthday with my family for the first time in four years. This month I threw a party for my fathers 60th birthday. I am so lucky and happy that I get to do these things now instead of missing out. For me, life is too short to spend it away from the people you love the most. Yesterday I spent a rainy day with my grandmother baking Irish soda bread and listening to her talk about how glad she is that I’ve moved home. Bliss.

Inch Beach, Co Kerry.
4. Being around old friends. Luckily, most of my friends are now back in Ireland, or never left at all. I love being back around friends I’ve known for years, who know me really well. As much as I enjoy meeting new people, the warm fuzzy feeling I get around old friends is hard to beat. Last week I got a wedding invitation from a friend and it feels great to know I can accept the invite without having to fly half way across the world.

5. Irish people, ‘the craic’, the Irish sense of humour. I have travelled to more than 30 countries and have friends from many different cultures, but for me, nothing beats the Irish. Perhaps I had to travel the world to realise this. One of the most important things in life I’ve realised is to be able to laugh and have fun, and who better at that than the Irish. A friend who I lived with in Perth now living in Clare expressed her appreciation for the sense of caring from Irish people, their easy going nature, and the sense of community.

Slea Head Drive, Dingle, Co Kerry.
I also have a new profound love for Irish culture. The food, the music, the history, and - being from Kilkenny - GAA. Last month I went to the semi-final of the Leinster senior championship with my Dad and brother, and was so excited to be supporting Kilkenny. The electric atmosphere at a hurling match is something I have missed.
While down in Kerry recently we went to O’ Conners Pub in Killarney where six musicians were playing some of the best traditional Irish music I have ever heard. Any time I listened to Irish music in Australia I felt sick to my stomach with homesicknesses, and on this night I just felt pure happiness.

Sunset at Killarney National Park, Co Kerry.
Some of my happiest experiences in the last few weeks have revolved around food. Eating seafood chowder overlooking the ocean in Ardmore in Waterford, fish and chips at the pier in Dingle, or pub grub at Mary Barry’s Bar in Kilmore in Wexford, which was voted the best Gastro Pub Food in Leinster this year, are among the highlights.
I understand that moving back can be very daunting. The decision to leave your life and career, and having to start all over again can be too much for some. But for me, my priority is to be closer to my family, and with that comes different challenges, but once I keep reminding myself why I’m doing it, these fade away.

As I have said to others, you have to do what’s right for you. For me, the right thing was moving home.
By Elaine Doyle