Archive : Month

Walshe gets share of 10th in Oregon

POSTED ON August 24th  - POSTED IN Sport

Alison Walshe continues to make inroads into the pro ranks. The Galway native birdied 15, 16 and 17 on Sunday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek Course in North Plains, Ore. to secure a share of 10th place in the Safeway Classic. She had bogeyed both 15 and 17 during Saturday’s second round.

Walshe finished the LPGA event at even-par 213 (70-73-70). Five second-round bogeys, as well as a triple-bogey 6 at the par-3 11th hole on Sunday hampered her chances at a title.

Suzann Pettersen won the event in a playoff with Na Yeon Choi. Both shot 207.

EUROPEAN TOUR

A different Big 4 – Peter Lawrie, Shane Lowry, Paul McGinley and Damien McGrane – were poised for an assault on the Czech Open after all finished Thursday’s first round within the top 10. But by the time the books had closed on the event at Prosper Golf Resort in Celadna, Czech Republic, they were mere footnotes.

Lawrie, the first-round leader with a bogey-free 66, crashed and burned thereafter. He followed with rounds of 75, 74 and 73, which left him tied for 37th place at even-par 288.

McGrane fared best, settling into a share of ninth place at 6-under-par 282 (67-71-72-72). That left him seven shots in back of the medalist, Oliver Fisher.

Lowry birdied three of the four finishing holes on Sunday to claw his way back to a share of 16th place at 284 (68-72-75-69). McGinley finished joint-23rd at 286 (69-71-71-75). Simon Thornton also made the cut and tied for 58th place at 291 (72-72-76-71).

PGA TOUR

Three rounds below 70 and Padraig Harrington still had to arrange for an early wakeup call on Sunday. He then went out and shot 68 in the final round of the Wyndham Cup at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., which entitled him to a share of 47th place. He shot 5-under-par 274 (69-68-69-68), while Webb Simpson’s 262 led the pack.
EUROPEAN SENIORS TOUR

Des Smyth earned a share of third place in the Scottish Senior Open at St. Andrews. He fired a bogey-free round of 67 on Sunday, although that still left a 4-stroke gap between him and the victorious Barry Lane. Smyth preceded that effort with rounds of 70 and 69.

Denis O’Sullivan’s 65 was the low round for Sunday. That bogey-free effort came on the heels of Saturday’s 77, which saw seven blemishes on his card. Combined with a first-round 73, he shot 215, which was good for a share of 16th place.

Also competing were Eddie Polland, who finished joint-52nd at 223 (74-75-74), and Jimmy Heggarty (73-78-74) and Eamonn Darcy (75-74-76), who tied for 58th place at 225.

EMERALD COAST TOUR

Chris Devlin got fourth place in the Panama City Beach Classic at Hombre Golf Club in Panama City, Fla. His 214 (70-75-69) left him five shots in back of the victorious Glenn Northcutt. Devlin earned $1,000.

HOOTERS TOUR

Weekend woes caught up with Stephen Grant and Fergal Rafferty in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Golf Classic at The Oaks Golf Club in Pass Christian, Miss. They both plummeted down the leaderboard to finish tied for 57th place (Rafferty) and 59th place (Grant). Rafferty finished even for the tournament at 288 (72-67-71-78), while Grant shot 290 (68-69-78-75). Rafferty earned $1,312, while Grant took home $1,295. Brandon Brown, who carded 263, cruised to a 6-stroke victory.

IRISH REGION PGA

Donal Gleeson’s eagle-3 at the 18th hole of Carton House’s Montgomerie Course in Co. Kildare clinched the Johnston Mooney & O’Brien PGA Challenge. Gleeson shot 9-under-par 135 (70-65) to leave a 3-stroke gap between him and Damian Mooney. Gleeson plays out of Old Conna Golf Club in Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Mooney saw a 5-stroke overnight lead evaporate with bogeys at three of the first four holes. He settled down thereafter and was still in with a chance when he bogeyed 17, His 138 (64-74) held up for second place.

The trio of Jimmy Bolger (71-68), John Dwyer (70-69) and Michael Collins (69-70) shared third place with scores of 139.

Skipper Cooper is hailed as Kerry qualify for Sam final

POSTED ON August 24th  - POSTED IN Sport

MAYO must have felt that they had a real chance of extending Kerry in last Sunday’s opening All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final providing that a number of things went their way.

Pretty close to top of their list was keeping Colm Cooper reasonably quiet. The “Gooch,” after all, had really not been at his beat in the All-Ireland campaign, failing to register a goal.

Unfortunately, from Mayo’s point of view, all of that was to change on Sunday. Cooper gave a sublime performance scoring 1-7 in Kerry’s 1-20 to 1-11 victory.

Everything he did, off left foot or right, was sheer class. Like all great footballers he had time, or at least appeared to have time, to pick off some great scores.

There simply was no other contender for the man of the match award in front of the 50,643 attendance. Unbelievably, prior to the semi-final, there were some who were beginning to doubt Cooper, particularly now that he had the weight of the captaincy on his shoulders.

Not Kerry. “No. We were never worried about Gooch, because we know what he can do,” answered manager Jack O’Connor. “We felt that this game was in him.

“He’s looked very sharp in training over the past fortnight. Anyway, this is his theatre, his happy hunting ground. He’s a genius on the ball”

Absolutely right. Cooper rarely fails to deliver at Croke Park and, to be fair, neither do Kerry. Okay, there was that shock loss to Down last year but the defeat only seems to have made them more determined to regain the trophy.

Mayo, to give them their due, competed well for a long period. They were in front of much of the first half and only two points behind (0-10 to 0-8) early in the second period but, once Kerry moved up a gear, there was only one team in it.

The Connacht champions did exactly what they had to do by combining a tremendous workrate with a physical approach.  For a long time in the first half, that had Kerry worried.

The pity was that that Mayo could not have managed more scores instead of trailing by 0-8 to 0-6 at the interval. Ger McCafferkey was coping well with the long balls into Kieran Donaghy while the impressive Andy Moran was providing the Kerry defence with problems.

It required a fine save from Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy to stop Moran from scoring a goal. Somehow though you sensed that Kerry were beginning to find their rhythm.

They showed signs of it before half time, and then exploded into action in the second half.  Mayo couldn’t cope with their slick passing game as Kerry scored six points without reply.

Cooper was at the heart of matters, his efforts helping to leave Kerry 0-16 to 0-8 clear. Mayo, desperate for a goal, got one when Cillian O’Connor shot home after Kealy had initially made a fine save from Moran.

But, no sooner had the cheering died down, than Kerry replied with a goal. It didn’t help Mayo’s cause that the Mayo defence got in a hopeless mess under a dropping ball.

Not the sort of thing to be doing with the ever alert Cooper around.  He took possession and then turned his man inside out before calmly planting a shot into the net.

Game over.  Significantly, Paul Galvin came off the substitutes bench to put in a worthwhile stint, landing two well taken points.

The only real worrying aspect from Kerry’s point of view before facing either Dublin or Donegal in the final is that they conceded far too many goalscoring chances to Mayo. They had up to five and, on another day, would have had a better return.

As it was, you would have to have had some sympathy for Moran who found Kealy impossible to beat and also saw a shot hit an upright. Moran finished with 0-2 but free-taker and goalscorer O’Connor was Mayo’s main contributer with 1-3.

But that hardly compared to the efforts of Cooper. He  hardly seemed to miss his intended target all day, scoring 1-3 from play and the remainder from frees.

Quite an effort when you consider that he wasn’t really that involved when Kerry were hitting high balls into Donaghy for much of the first half. But once the Munster champions resorted to their more normal passing game, Cooper came into his own.

Mayo manager James Horan put his hands up and admitted that the defeat simply demonstrated that his side has to work harder if they are to match up to a team of Kerry’s quality. The big disappointment for him was that his team gave away possession far too often.

“You can’t do that with a player like Cooper around,” stressed Horan. “We had a few guys on him at various stages of the game, but if Gooch gets good quality ball there’s going to be a problem.

“We were getting beat in the middle of the field and Kerry were getting a lot of breaking ball. We can have no complaints, we were beaten by a better team who are going to take a lot of stopping in the final.”

Astonishingly, Kerry will now be competing in their seventh All-Ireland final in eight years with potentially a fifth title in that period. Needless to say, Jack O’Connor is not getting ahead of himself.

He said: “We needed a good physical match like that but the final will be a different challenge.  Mayo tackled ferociously and that should stand us in good stead for the final, as Donegal and Dublin aren’t exactly shrinking violets.”

Tipp through to football final

TIPPERARY are still in with a chance of an unusual double following their hard-earned 1-11 to 0-12 victory over Roscommon in the All-Ireland Minor Football semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday.

No doubt inspired by their senior hurlers, they overcame the difficulty of playing the last 10 minutes with 14 men following the sending off of their influential midfielder Ian Fahey for a second bookable offence. It all adds up to their first All-Ireland final since 1984.

After leading by 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval, Michael Quinlivan scored the all-important goal for Tipperary. Roscommon responded with a tremendous rally, Donie Smith finishing with 0-4, but they simply ran out of time.

Dubs to face U-21 Tribesmen

GALWAY and Dublin will contest the All-Ireland Hurling Under 21 final after contrasting semi-final victories on the weekend.

Whereas Dublin overran Antrim by 3-23 to 0-6 in Newry, Galway had to battle all the way to see off the challenge of Limerick by 0-22 to 2-14 at Semple Stadium. Niall Burke was very much the hero of the day, scoring seven points from play.

Dublin simply outclassed Antrim, picking off scores at will. While the opposition was very poor, Dublin again looked the part and had many impressive performances, notably from Mark Schutte who netted a superb individual goal.

World Cup squad named

TOMAS O’LEARY and Luke Fitzgerald were the main casualities when the 30-strong Irish squad for the Rugby World Cup was named.

Both, it seems, lost out because of a dip in their form, although wing Fitzgerald can feel unfortunate on that count. His appearance as a substitute was one of the few highlights of Ireland’s latest warm-up defeat to France by 26-22 at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday.

O’Leary, by contrast, had something of a nightmare at scrum-half before being withdrawn 13 minutes into the second half. His place in the squad, that of the third scrum-half along with Diarmuid Reddan and Isaac Boss, goes to the promising young Garryowen player Conor Murray.

Murray has had a rapid rise, making his first appearance for Ireland in Ireland’s defeat by France in Bordeaux on Saturday week last. He is tall and strong but does lack experience at this level.

Veteran prop John Hayes is another notable absentee but at 37 is is undeniably past his best. Instead, Tony Buckey gets the nod ahead of his former Munster colleagues Hayes and Marcus Horan.

Ireland World Cup squad: Forwards – R Best (Ulster), T Buckley (Sale), T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), L Cullen (Leinster), S Ferris (Ulster), J Flannery (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), s O’Brien (Leinster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster), M Ross (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), D Wallace (Munster).

Backs – I Boss (Leinster), T Bowe (Ospreys), G D’Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), R Kearney (Leinster), F McFadden (Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester Tigers), C Murray (Munster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster) (Capt), R O’Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster), P Wallace (Ulster).

 

Making book on Joe Burke and Mairtin O’Connor

POSTED ON August 24th  - POSTED IN Arts

The most hallowed and dog-eared collections of Irish traditional tunes are those compiled by Bantry-born, longtime Chicago resident Francis O’Neill (1848-1936) and published between 1903 and 1924. They are referred to, specifically or collectively, as “the book” or “the bible.”

Estimable collections amassed by Breandan Breathnach, Frank Roche, George Petrie, William Ryan, Aloys Fleischmann, and others added to the ever-growing canon.

Books of tunes wholly or largely written by individual musicians, such as Cavan’s Ed Reavy and Tipperary’s Sean Ryan, brought a sui generis slant to the expansion of the repertoire.

Published respectively in 2009 and 2010, “The Definitive Collection of the Music of Paddy O’Brien 1922-1991″ and Liz Carroll’s “Collected” are recent, bright reminders of the exquisite music composed by each and further, vital augmentations of the global tunebook shared in sessions. (Note of disclosure: I wrote a short essay, “Paddy O’Brien and Posterity,” for the former collection.)

In 2001, Boston College Sullivan Artist-in-Residence Seamus Connolly, one of the finest Irish fiddlers in history, published “Forget Me Not: A Collection of 50 Memorable Traditional Irish Tunes” with his former, talented apprentice, Laurel Martin. The book’s enclosed pair of CD’s featured such guest musicians as button accordionist Joe Derrane, flutist Jimmy Noonan, and guitarist and mandolinist John McGann, who did the musical transcriptions. Currently Seamus Connolly is working on a monumental new publishing project that involves hundreds of tunes and dozens of musicians playing them for eventual CD’s.

Over the years I have received many more tunebooks as well as tutors. They include those carefully put together by flutist June McCormack, harper Michael Rooney, pianist and fiddler Charlie Lennon, flutist Cyril Maguire, pianist Geraldine Cotter, button accordionist Brendan Begley with Niamh Ni Bhaoill, pianist and fiddler Josephine Keegan, harper Kathleen Loughnane, button accordionist Damien Connolly, banjoist Enda Scahill, uilleann piper Cillian Vallely of Lunasa, and flutist Marcus Hernon. (“The Grouse in the Heather” by Hernon features 25 of his own compositions, all named for various birds photographed or sketched inside.)

Joe Burke and Mairtin O’Connor, both Galway natives, are among Ireland’s greatest button accordionists, and each has recently published a tunebook, “Joe Burke Traditional Irish Music Collection” and “Inside the Box / Outside the Box.” They belong in the home library of every musician, especially box players.

From Kilnadeema, Loughrea, East Galway, where he still resides, Joe Burke is a living legend with several outstanding albums and partnerships to his credit. Two of his most famous musical alliances each featured a supreme fiddler: Belfast-born Sean McGuire and New York-born Andy McGann. Originally released on Burke’s own Shaskeen label, “Joe Burke, Andy McGann, and Felix Dolan Play a Tribute to Michael Coleman” (1966) and “Traditional Music of Ireland” (1973), a solo recording Burke made with Charlie Lennon on piano, are indisputable classics. (Note of disclosure: I wrote four lengthy essays for the 1994 CD reissue of the 1966 Burke, McGann, and Dolan LP.)

The same taste brought by Burke to his playing is evident in his tunebook. It contains 104 transcribed tunes, three CD’s, and a host of priceless photos reproduced from his own collection. Most of the tunes are traditional and unattributed, such as “Bonnie Kate,” “The Geese in the Bog,” “The Cuckoo,” and the reel most closely identified with Burke, “The Bucks of Oranmore.” Supplementing them are tunes written by Paddy O’Brien, Ed Reavy, Finbar Dwyer, Martin Mulhaire, Martin Wynne, Paddy Fahy, Paddy Kelly, and Sean Ryan, plus a reel composed by Burke himself (“The Morning Mist”) and a double jig composed by his wife, Anne Conroy-Burke (“Currants for Cakes and Raisins for Everything”).

Though Joe Burke provides no explanatory or descriptive anecdote for each tune he chose, his photographic selection offers a powerful visual narrative of his life and music. Especially notable are shots of the New York Ceili Band (Paddy Reynolds, Andy McGann, and Larry Redican on fiddles, Jack Coen on flute, and Billy Greenall on piano, with Burke on box) at the Waldorf Astoria in 1965 and a group of five players also in New York that same year: Charlie Mulvihill on button accordion,Katherine Brennan and Andy McGann on fiddles, and Charlie Mulvihill, Dave Collins, and Burke on button accordions.

In his short introduction, Joe Burke writes: “Old tunes are great, but it’s hard to get parts for them” and “Don’t play too fast.” How can you not like a tunebook with lines like that?

Raised in Barna and now living in Annaghdown, Galway, Mairtin O’Connor was the original button accordionist in “Riverdance” but first gained notice with the folk-rock band Midnight Well in the mid-1970s. The album that put him on the world map of Irish accordionists, however, was his 1979 solo debut, “The Connachtman’s Rambles.” Since then he has made four other solo albums, “Perpetual Motion” (1990), “Chatterbox” (1993), “The Road West” (2001), and “Rain of Light” (2003), and he has recorded or toured with De Dannan, Dolores Keane’s Reel Union, the Boys of the Lough, and Skylark. O’Connor has also formed trios with Desi Wilkinson and Brendan O’Regan, and with Cathal Hayden and Seamie O’Dowd, as well as a quartet with Desi Wilkinson, Frank Hall, and Lena Ullman.

But often overlooked are O’Connor’s compositions, invariably well structured and melodically appealing. “Inside the Box / Outside the Box” should help to rectify the oversight. The book comprises 60 of his tunes, along with photos, sketches, stories, and anecdotes frequently etched in humor.

In the note for his three slip jigs collectively called “Out to Sea,” O’Connor described a Canadian hall where he performed with Reel Union in 1981 as “so crammed with people that you had no room even to turn a sweet in your mouth.” In an anecdote untied to a tune, he recalled De Dannan’s collaboration with klezmer musician Andy Statman in the U.S. and the late publicist Charlie Comer’s suggestion that “the project be billed as the Leprecohens.”

Another, more serious anecdote explains the inspiration for the strange title of Skylark’s 1996 album, “Raining Bicycles.” After Skylark performed at a subterranean venue in Leipzig, Germany, they were warned not to travel through a courtyard where some neo-Nazi skinheads were hurling down bicycles from above.

In his note for “Shop Street,” a hornpipe dedicated to Joe Derrane, O’Connor acknowledges the “great excitement” generated by the Boston button accordionist’s visit to the Galway Arts Festival in July 1995, and describes his playing as “impeccable” and Derrane himself as “such a gentleman of music.” This graciousness from one esteemed box player to another provides a clear glimpse into the character of O’Connor, perhaps the closest in musical temperament and adventurousness to Derrane.

“Inside the Box / Outside the Box” by Mairtin O’Connor and “Joe Burke Traditional Irish Music Collection” are superb tunebooks that seem destined for heavy dog-earing by Irish traditional musicians everywhere. O’Connor’s book is available in the U.S. at www.elderly.com, and Burke’s book is available stateside from Ossian USA, 603-783-4383, www.ossianusa.com, info@ossianusa.com.

 

The big dig

POSTED ON August 24th  - POSTED IN News & Views

Federal authorities have broadened their demands for the contents of oral history testimonies dealing with the Troubles in Northern Ireland and given to Boston College on the basis of confidentiality.

Boston College has thus far resisted attempts by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston, acting on behalf of the PSNI, to gain access to the archive, dubbed the “Belfast Project,” which was compiled on its behalf by journalists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre.

Initial efforts by the DA’s office were aimed at securing the testimonies of former IRA volunteers Brendan Hughes (now deceased) and Dolours Price.

However, Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen – one of the most experienced among U.S. journalists who has reported on Northern Ireland over the years – reported Tuesday that new court filings show that federal authorities now want “anything and everything” in the BC secret archive related to the 1972 disappearance and murder of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville, who was abducted and executed by the IRA as a suspected informer.

Wrote Cullen: “At least we now know what this fishing expedition is all about. It’s about using the U.S. government as a pawn in a blatantly political act, an attempt by police in Northern Ireland to certainly embarrass and possibly prosecute the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams over McConville’s disappearance and murder.

Cullen added that in the nearly 40 years since McConville was disappeared by the IRA, (her remains were found in 2003) police in Northern Ireland had showed little interest in her murder.

Both Hughes and Price adopted positions over the years that were increasingly critical of Adams and in a newspaper interview last year, Price directly linked Adams to the disappearance and death of McConville.

Meanwhile, though the BC archive is wide ranging and includes interviews with loyalist paramilitaries, the federal subpoenas focus solely on the McConville case.

“Not only does this show a selective, politically motivated prosecution taking place, it underscores the seriousness of the threat to the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, which is the cornerstone of the peace process,” wrote Cullen, whose paper recently carried an editorial supporting the DA’s probe.

That editorial prompted an op-ed response from Ed Moloney, director of the Belfast Project at Boston College, and Anthony McIntyre, the project’s lead researcher on the IRA, which was carried by the Globe Tuesday in the same issue as Cullen’s column.

‘Nailer’ casts cold eye on abuse scandal

POSTED ON August 18th  - POSTED IN IE

By Peter McDermott

On a bleak weekday morning a few months ago, novelist Tom Phelan painted an almost idyllic picture of his childhood growing up in County Laois in the 1940s and 1950s.

He told the meeting organized by the Shelter Rock Public Library on Long Island that he viewed his parents and the community’s adults as “giants” – as much for the wisdom they possessed as for their superior size.

This was still the era in rural Ireland before the widespread use of motorcars and electricity. Little, he said, had changed since Peter Bruegel’s “The Harvesters,” the 1565 field scene on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In any case, Phelan argued, agriculture has always mechanized at a much slower pace than industry.

Threshing Day, though, did involve a borrowed machine, and that was one reason why it was as important as Christmas in the child’s calendar.

Phelan entertained the audience with extracts from “Derrycloney,” his “fanfare for the common man and woman” of his childhood. There was a certain emphasis on the comedy and warmth of rural life that morning, but his novels, which are set and in most cases published first in Ireland, forcefully suggest that that wasn’t the whole story; his latest, “Nailer,” for example, has the clerical abuse scandals as a central theme.

There was a dark side, and that was made possible by the fact that the bright side was far from ideal. “We were happy and content in our ignorance,” Phelan said in an interview with the Echo last week. “It was certainly very secure. I’m not sure if that was good or bad. We knew how to behave and we expected behavior from our parents in return.  We knew our place. Everybody knew their place.

“Everybody looked out for us as children,” he recalled. “Nobody was looking to give you a swift kick for no reason.”

Nonetheless, every child was also fully aware of the fearsome reputation of St Conleth’s, the industrial school in neighboring County Offaly run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

In “Nailer,” a whodunit set in Laois and Offaly in 2007, the former industrial school is known as Dachadoo, run by the Order of Saint Kieran, two of whose members are found murdered within a couple of weeks of each other. Their bodies are nailed to the floor. Two Garda detectives, Tom Breen and Jimmy Gorman, are assigned to track down the serial killer the tabloid press has nicknamed Nailer.

It’s not all unrelieved gloom: the cops are conduits for some humor and another character is a sympathetic brother of the Order of St. Kieran. Yet, even if he’d stayed on the dark side throughout, Phelan could hardly have been accused of exaggeration. The real-life St. Conleth’s was closed down in 1970 after the publication of a damning government report.

That same year the future novelist, then a disillusioned 30-year-old priest who’d been working in England, came to this country. He was assigned to successive parishes on Long Island, the second of them in Freeport, where he still lives. He left the priesthood in 1975. He later married, became a father to two sons, divorced and remarried.

The influences that pushed him in the direction of a religious life were many, but the contrast between the church and the world of hard labor, big animals and dampness was certainly one. Stepping into it was like attending a “glittering ball,” he remembered.

“Everything about the building was seductive, as it was supposed to be; it was clean, bright, warm, the pews were smooth and polished, the floor was terrazzo, the windows were bright with stained glass,” he said, “the sanctuary lamp glittered, the vestments were full of color, the priest was self-assured and clean-shaven, the altar boys were the privileged ones. The seduction was powerful.”

Religious leaders, however, weren’t always stellar role models. He recalled the local stories of a fistfight between two priests and, earlier during the Emergency, the parish priest who every Sunday “gave the Hitler side of the war” from the pulpit.

“It’s only looking back that I realize how oppressed we were,” Phelan said.

Yet his devout father, despite having two sons and a daughter in religious life, possessed a strong anti-clerical streak.  The novelist remembered his rage at a priest who turned up at a funeral with his golf clubs clearly visible in the back of the car.

“A lot of priests were not as educated or as intelligent as we allowed them to be in our minds,” Phelan said, adding that that was something he learned later on from direct experience. At least of his own classmates from the seminary, he’s been told, never read a book after ordination.

The decline in the church’s authority hasn’t surprised him much. He has been shocked, though, by the Vatican’s incompetence.

“They’ve been shown to be completely out of touch with reality — with their offices and lawyers and commission to take care of this and the commission to take care of that,” he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny might agree. He said in his Dáil speech on July 20 that the Cloyne report “excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”

Phelan uses a simpler word when discussing Rome’s officials: “Dumb.”

“Nailer” is published by Glanvil Enterprises. For more information go to www.tomphelan.net.

 

 

 

Impress Your Friends With Your New Found Verbosity

POSTED ON August 18th  - POSTED IN Advertorials

The richness, diversity and undeniable eloquence of the English language is something that many people take somewhat for granted. In everyday situations, we often revert to a more simplistic or even colloquial form of language to get our point across to friends and work colleagues.

Although this is not a problem in social situations with those you love and know well, it can be an issue if you are seeking to progress in your career, impress new clients, or perhaps speak publicly.

It is at times like these that many people feel the inadequacies of their language skills. Whether it is in the written or spoken word, individuals often feel that there are times when they have expressed themselves publicly in a manner that they feel reflects poorly on them.

Of course, not everyone can possess the linguistic skills and general breadth of vocabulary of a well-known English doyen, such as Stephen Fry, but it is entirely possible to make significant and measurable improvements in both written and spoken forms of the language, regardless of your situation and current level of ability. This improvement of your language skills is readily achievable by attending one of the many high quality English language courses run across the UK.

The courses are run by qualified professionals and cater for a wide variety of skill sets, from learning the basics of language (in the form of a refresher course), to learning a little more about the occasionally strange and buzzword-laden language of the boardroom (via the courses available for executives and those in business).

Furthermore, it is possible to take general English lessons. These focus on how to improve communication skills and, via the use of authentic materials, accurately recreate situations from real life. This is particularly important for those students who may perhaps have floundered for words in certain situations in the past. These students will find that the course equips them with the necessary linguistic skills to express their point of view confidently and fluently.

In addition, there are specific courses run for the over 50 age range, which focus on improving the general level of English within the group, to practise and develop key language skills, as well as build upon existing vocabulary. As the teaching is centred on the individual needs of the pupils, issues such as demystifying some more modern phrases and terms, are proving to be popular for those learned citizens attending these courses.

Regardless of your age or situation, or whether you want to improve your linguistic skills for personal or professional reasons, the quality of the teaching in English courses in UK classrooms ensures that the students not only improve their skills in writing and speaking, but also improve their vocabulary as a direct result.

It is one of the most beautiful, yet occasionally confusing, aspects of the English language that the broad scope of words available to us means that we can communicate a particular idea, feeling or snippet of information in a variety of ways. While we tend to stick to the words we know, there are times when there is a real need to improve your vocabulary to avoid your communication seeming simplistic or repetitive.

Crucially, the skills taught on these courses not only empower you with a greater lexicon of words, but also teach you the (equally crucial) skills of not using redundant or repetitive words. This allows the individual to maintain the impact of your communication and does not obscure the underlying meaning of your words beneath flowery verbiage or unnecessarily complex semantics.

In short, you learn to say what you mean in a variety of clear, erudite and confident ways. These skills can be taught and learned quickly and before you know it, your friends and workmates will be amazed at the transformation, not only in your words, but also the confidence and variety of ways in which you deliver them.

Galaxy’s new star

POSTED ON August 17th  - POSTED IN News & Views

Ireland’s captain and all-time top goal-scorer Robbie Keane is headed for California after signing a two-year contract Monday for Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy.

It will be the ninth club he’s played for since breaking into the Wolverhamton Wanderers first team at age 17 in 1997. The Dubliner’s most successful time as a pro was between 2002 and 2008 with Tottenham Hotspur, for whom he made 197 appearances and scored 80 goals. He is the tenth top scorer in the English Premiership’s 19-year history, though he also had spells with Internazionale in Milan and Celtic in Glasgow.

“He can be an excellent addition to our club,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.  “We’re not as clean as we want to be in the last part of the field, not as dangerous, not as multidimensional as we need to be. We’d been looking to see if we could find another player we could add to the roster that has those qualities.

“He’s an experienced player, a proven player at the club and international level and is at an age where he can still have many productive years ahead of him,” said Arena, a former U.S. team coach.

Said Keane, who has scored 51 times in 109 games for the Republic: “I am delighted, honored and very excited to be joining the LA Galaxy.

“I have already discussed football with Bruce Arena and I know exactly what he wants from me,” he added.

“My family and I have already been made to feel very welcome in telephone calls from [CEO] Tim Leiweke and Bruce Arena.

“Also [when] David Beckham came and trained at Spurs recently, he couldn’t speak highly enough about the Galaxy, their fans and the league in general, so I can’t wait to get over and get started,” the Dublin man said.

Keane left Spurs for Liverpool in July 2008 for a transfer fee of £19 million, but returned the following February. He was loaned subsequently to Celtic in 2010 and to West Ham this year. Earlier in his career he also had a successful stint with Coventry City and a not so happy time at Leeds United.

His best remembered goals for Ireland are his last-ditch equalizer against Germany in the 2002 World Cup tournament held in Korea and Japan. It came against the backdrop of Irish soccer’s biggest controversy to that point: his namesake Roy Keane’s abandoning the squad, and his subsequent return and expulsion. It was the only goal scored against the European powerhouse in the tournament before Ronaldo’s brace won the cup for Brazil in the final.

The second was the opening goal against France in Paris in the 2nd leg of the World Cup qualifying playoff in the fall of 2009. Thierry Henry made world headlines by scoring with the aid of his hand in the dying moments, ending Ireland’s dreams of going to South Africa the following summer.

In coming weeks, Keane faces a long journey from the West Coast for two crucial European Championship qualifiers: the home game against Slovakia, on Friday, Sept. 2, and the game against Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow the following Tuesday, Sept. 6.

21 plucked from sea off Fastnet

POSTED ON August 17th  - POSTED IN News & Views

Special to the Irish Echo

Baltimore, West Cork — Amid scenes of relief and jubilation, the crew of a 100-foot American registered sailboat, “Rambler 100,” stepped ashore in this picturesque West Cork town late Monday after their yacht capsized five miles southwest of the Fastnet lighthouse.

After a dramatic rescue operation involving the Baltimore Lifeboat, Irish coastguard helicopters from Shannon and Waterford, and the Irish navy ship LE Ciara, early fears that a repeat of the 1979 Fastnet Race disaster might be a reality were stowed as residents and holidaymakers clapped ashore the captain and crew of the Rambler, which was taking part in this year’s Rolex-sponsored Fastnet contest.

The Rambler capsized in strong but not especially stormy seas about 16 miles from Baltimore and shortly after rounding Fastnet Rock just before 6 p.m.

As luck would have it, the Baltimore lifeboat, with its all-volunteer crew, was conducting sea exercises at the time the alarm was sounded.

The capsize triggered the Rambler’s emergency locator beacon.

Speaking to the Irish Echo in Baltimore Sailing Club – where the crew was given food, drink and dry clothing after coming ashore – captain and owner George David, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, said that the Rambler’s 18-ton keel had been sheared off and the 33-ton boat had flipped over without any warning.

The crew had been given only a few seconds warning before the boat capsized and ended hull-up in the water.

While most crew members managed to stay on the hull, five ended up in the water. One of them, a woman member of the crew, was later airlifted to Tralee hospital suffering from hypothermia. Early news reports listed the five as “missing” and it was this that sparked fears of a repeat of the 1979 tragedy.

The lifeboat reached the Rambler at about 8 p.m. and took on board the crew members on the hull. The five in the water were rescued by a local diving boat, though by then in poor visibility.

Foggy conditions were likely to blame for the fact that five other yachts in the race passed about a mile from the upturned Rambler without seeing it.

A member of the Rambler crew, Kyle Lynam, said that all on board had been very calm and professional when disaster had struck.

But he said he and his fellow crew members felt overwhelmed by the welcome in Baltimore, itself a popular destination for sailboats and their crews.

The Baltimore lifeboat was called into action in 1979 and some crew members from that year are still serving on board. Fifteen sailors lost their lives in that year’s Fastnet race when a huge storm, which weather forecasts did not fully predict, roared in from the Atlantic.

In this year’s race, which is a biennial competition, over 300 yachts are taking part. Competitors had set sail from Cowes on the Isle of Wight off England’s south coast on Sunday.

In the event, racers in various boat categories sail to the Fastnet, round the rock and its lighthouse, round the Scilly Isles and finish up in Plymouth.

The race, which first took place in 1925, is 608 miles long by its present day route, although this is based on ideal sailing conditions.

Reacting to the dramatic rescue, the Irish government’s marine minister Simon Coveney, a Cork TD and himself a keen sailor, said the rescue was a reminder of how important it was for Ireland to have well-resourced sea rescue teams.

“This was a dramatic sea rescue that was coordinated with speed and professionalism and everybody involved should be commended for their efforts,” Coveney said.

“The Fastnet race is one of the most high-profile offshore yacht races in the world and Rambler 100 is one of the best-known racing yachts on the planet. This incident will be reported in the international press and we can be proud of the way in which Irish emergency services contributed to preventing any loss of life.

“Most importantly, my response is one of relief that there was no loss of life, which considering the size and speed of the yacht and the conditions at the time, is a minor miracle. I hope everyone involved will make a full recovery,” he told reporters.

The Fastnet is three miles off Cape Clear island. A memorial stone listing the 15 names of the 1979 victims was erected on Cape Clear in 2004, the 25th anniversary of the disaster.

Meanwhile, efforts were underway Tuesday to salvage Rambler by towing it to Bantry Bay.

 

Leitrim teen still awaits transplant

POSTED ON August 17th  - POSTED IN News & Views

A family whose teenage daughter was unable to travel to London for a liver transplant last month, this due to an apparent breakdown in communication among health chiefs, remains unconvinced that there will not be a repeat of failures which forced the missing of the surgery.

Meadhbh McGivern, 14, was offered the operation in King’s College, London on July 2, but four hours later, plans for the life-changing surgery had to be called off due to delays in securing a flight.

The watchdog group, the Health Information and Quality Authority, this week found that the County Leitrim teenager missed the journey because of a “lack of leadership and an unreliable system for arranging rapid air ambulance transport.”

A private air ambulance company is on standby to take Meadhbh to London in the event a second donor is found and should state agencies not come through with a second attempt to secure a flight.

Meadhbh’s father, Joe McGivern, said he is in shock at the breakdown in communications despite 76 phone calls between relevant agencies on the night of July 2.

“We did not think that what happened on the night could have got any more shocking but this puts the tin hat on it,” he said. Everybody knew what to do, but they just ran around in circles. It’s very easy to point the finger of blame, but they did their best and we will have to accept that. The bottom line is that Meadhbh is still waiting. There’s no point in getting angry, it will only eat us up.”

 

Uncertainty still hangs over U.S. IFI funding

POSTED ON August 17th  - POSTED IN News & Views

President Barack Obama and Congress are relieved to be done with the recent debt ceiling increase crisis, but the next battle over spending is just five weeks away and the International Fund for Ireland will be a part, albeit a fiscally small one, in what is certain to be another rancorous debate.

House Republicans are calling for a budget with 425 billion dollars less than what many agreed to in the debt ceiling compromise. When the president returns to the White House in September, and the House and Senate resume their duties in the Capitol, it will be time to take up the budget line by line.

The current GOP-sponsored House Appropriations bill contains plenty of special interest foreign designations, but none for Ireland. The House Appropriations Committee is currently chaired by GOP congressman Hal Rogers from Kentucky.

Cyprus is slated to receive over $3 million for a program that sounds like it could apply to Ireland, that being “bi-communal projects and measures aimed at reunification of the island designed to reduce tensions and promote peace.”

The kingdom of Jordan gets over $365 million, just as long as none of it goes to Hezbollah or “any other foreign terrorist group.” In the midst of the global downturn, Israel’s economy has been so strong that the country’s greatest concern has been inflation, yet Israel is due to receive $20 million to settle refugees there.

Since the last continuing resolution earlier this year specifically targeted and eliminated funding for the International Fund for Ireland, there will have to be a concerted effort to reinstate any future U.S. contribution.

The effort by critics of the IFI to vilify the average annual  $15 million contribution as an example of misguided spending still resonates for some.

Conservatives and Tea Party activists in particular, continue to cite the IFI derisively in literature distributed, and in letters to editors – as if the 2011 funding had not already been cut-off.

A letter to the editor this week in a Yuma, Arizona newspaper penned by a Russell “Rusty” Washum stated: “First, Congress should eliminate funding for the International Fund for Ireland. Charity begins at home. Mohair subsidies and the “death gratuity” for members of Congress are far more worthy recipients of our hard-earned tax dollars. Let the European Union pony up the bill to help Ireland. That’s what neighbors are for.”

Mr. Washum did not return calls by the Echo requesting to interview him further over his concerns about the IFI.

Normally, by August, some of the congressional appropriation bills would have already been voted on and sent to the White House. This year, only one has made it to a conference committee, a fact that signals a looming battle that could again see threats of a government shut down.

At this time, those threats should not include invoking Ireland or Irish issues, as there does not appear to be money, IFI or otherwise, pointed in Dublin or Belfast’s direction in the U.S. budget.

 

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