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How the West wins

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

The Western Development Commission, however, argues further that the region has it all. That was the message that the agency’s Lisa McAllister and Joanne Grehan brought to Philadelphia and New York recently.
The West in this context means the five Connacht counties — Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo — together with Clare and Donegal. “Costs are cheaper, labor is cheaper and it’s a very competitive location for business,” said McAllister, the WDC’s chief executive officer.
If you take into account the general advantages of having a base in Ireland — its membership of the European Union, the fact that English is the main language of commerce and its competitive corporate tax rates — then, the WDC’s officials argued, the West offers the best value for money for companies wishing to expand beyond the United States. Its high-skilled economy is aided, too, by the 14 colleges and universities in the region.
The West has developed certain reputation in the area of the medical device sector. But it is also become a center for information and communication technologies as well as the audio-visual industry.
The region is adaptable with regard to languages, too. “The call center activity is testament to that,” McAllister said.
“One of our objectives is to tell people that the West is a great place to live, work and do business in,” said Grehan, the regional executive director.
The agency, which has a staff of 14 at offices in Ballaghderreen, Co. Roscommon, works from the assumption that moving to its region can be as much a personal decision as a business one.
“We’re very realistic. It’s a big decision to move to a new location,” she added. “We work hard to engage people at their level.”
Lower property prices is one reason why people do go the region that stretches from the Errigal Mountain to the Cliffs of Moher and from the Atlantic Ocean to the River Shannon. The average 3-bedroom semi-detached home in County Roscommon is, at

Telling the story of the New York Irish Community

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

At the moment, I am spending my days reading about the history of the Irish in New York and conducting research. I meet with people on a regular basis who are part of the Irish community in New York. Some are very connected and involved with all aspects of the Irish scene here, while others only drop into the Irish circle at this time of year. I am writing a book (Ph.D) regarding the different ways in which the Irish-born Irish and American-born Irish express their Irishness throughout the five boroughs, from hanging flags and displaying shamrocks outside apartments and houses, giving children Irish names, researching both their family’s history and Ireland’s history, taking annual trips to Ireland, joining Irish clubs and organizations such as county organizations, the GAA, Comhaltas Ceolt

Tough times require tough-minded art

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

Tipperary-born Deirdre Scanlan, Casey’s successor as Solas’s lead vocalist, also sang conscience-pricking songs, such as Antje Duvekot’s “Black Annis” and Tom Waits’s “Georgia Lee,” each about a cruel loss of innocence by a child or adolescent preyed on or neglected by adults. Though these two songs deftly employ metaphor and poetic obliqueness to avoid blunt, balky editorializing, they are nevertheless meant to prod the apathetic, the complacent, and the timorous.
On Solas’s new album “The Turning Tide,” Kilkenny native Mairead Phelan, the band’s current lead vocalist, sings three songs of indignation or outrage partly expressed through biblical imagery and references.
Nowhere is that more powerfully in evidence than in “Sorry,” composed by Scottish singer Karine Polwart. The album’s most assured song interpretation by Phelan, it contains this indicting chorus: “For you may lay down your guilt on the altar / You may nail your remorse to the cross / But it’s not enough these days to say sorry / No, sorry won’t pay for this loss.” Other references to “blood on your hands” and “confess to the crime” suggest a retrial and recrucifixion of Christ by those charged with conveying his precepts but willfully ignoring them themselves. This song takes on greater pertinence and stokes greater anger in light of new revelations about child abuse, negligent oversight, and cover-up in the Catholic Church. Probably prompting the album’s title is this line: “No, sorry won’t turn back the tide.” Solas and, in particular, Phelan invest this song with the unflinching, quietly building fervor it deserves.
In his intriguingly allusive song “A Girl in the War,” Josh Ritter uses two biblical characters, the apostles Peter and Paul, to discuss the suspension of the gospel and its rules in time of war. Clever wordplay surfaces when Paul tells Peter to “rock yourself a little harder” (“Peter” comes from the Latin word “petra,” meaning rock) and “pretend the dove from above is a dragon and your feet are on fire,” a line urging more action and less talk. A menacing dragon and flaming feet may be the only way to get Peter–and us–moving. Folded within that plea to overcome paralytic helplessness is a love story with political implications: “I gotta girl in the war, man, I wonder what it is we done.” This is a call to action song without bullhorn browbeating, and Phelan’s breathy, whispered, low-register singing style suits the temper of the lyrics.
The one song interpretation that does not work on the album is “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Composer Bruce Springsteen took his inspiration from John Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath” and John Ford’s equally classic 1940 film of it, starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad. This song also carries a biblical reference: “Waitin’ for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last.” But the soul-suffocating struggle described in Springsteen’s song, linking Dust Bowl-era hardship with more recent economic distress (“Shelter line stretchin’ round the corner / Welcome to the new world order”), gets glossed in Phelan’s airily delivered vocal and lost in relatively dense instrumentation.
The album’s other songs are Richard Thompson’s “The Ditching Boy” (“The Poor Ditching Boy” was the full title on Thompson’s 1972 album “Henry the Human Fly”), “A Sailor’s Life” (found on “Unhalfbricking,” the 1969 album by Fairport Convention, featuring Richard Thompson), and “Sadhbh Ni Bhruineallaigh,” a humorous song in Irish about a boatman asking a young woman to elope with him that was previously recorded by Galway singers Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola and Joe Heaney. All are ably sung by Phelan with stout support from her bandmates.
Instrumentally, Solas still performs with astonishing skill and imagination. The album-opening “Hugo’s Big Reel,” composed by Seamus Egan, reminds us that the band has preciously few peers in unpacking a melody. Egan on nylon guitar, tenor banjo, flute, whistles, mandolin, and bodhran, Winifred Horan on fiddle, Mick McAuley on button accordion, and Eamon McElholm on guitar and piano constitute a tuneful tour de force. Originality is the common thread in McElhom’s inventive “The Crows of Killimer / Box Reel #2 / Boys of Malin / The Opera House,” Horan’s swinging “A Waltz for Mairead” that features a tight interlacing of fiddle and mandolin, McAuley’s stirring “Trip to Kareol,” and two more Egan tunes, the percussive “Grady Fernando Comes to Town” and the contemplative “A Tune for Roan.”
In many ways, this is a bold, even courageous album for Solas. All nine tunes were composed by band members, and the songs “Sorry,” “A Girl in the War,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (despite the miscalculation in its treatment) confront the troubles of today without tepidity or timidity. After nearly 15 years of recording and touring, the band continues to take creative risks. “The Turning Tide” provides ample proof of that, fortifying Solas’s reputation as an Irish traditional band still making a difference.
The album (cat. no. 7-4530-2) is on Compass Records, 916 19th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212, 615-320-7672, www.compassrecords.com.

Wheels-o-the wisp

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

A recent report on the car rental shortages stated that the number of cars on offer has fallen from 30,000 in 2006 to just over 12,000 last year, the Irish Independent reported.
The manager of Dan Dooley Motors, Pat Dooley, said that the shortages will be felt by visitors over the Easter break but that the shortfall would become even more noticeable this summer.
The car rental industry is asking newly appointed tourism minister, Mary Hanafin, to do what she can to tackle the car shortage as a matter of urgency.

Kelly greets AIF pledge

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

The initiative is in support of the envoy’s economic mission in Northern Ireland in which the AIF is an active participant and working group member, stated a release from Kelly’s office.
NISP CONNECT is a non-profit collaboration between the Northern Ireland Science Park, University of Ulster, Queen’s University Belfast and the Agri Food & Biosciences Institute that helps develop new science and technology ventures in the North.
In addition, the AIF and the Northern Ireland and U.S. working groups set up to support Kelly’s mission have agreed to seek support for a new employee exchange program that will provide young professionals affiliated with NISP CONNECT an opportunity to gain valuable experience by spending one year working for a U.S. corporation.
“The endowment will provide additional resources to these companies as they are starting to grow and will help them reach their full potential. The American Ireland Fund is to be congratulated for their leadership in supporting this important initiative,” said Kelly.
“The American Ireland Fund is obligated towards seeking a normalized society in Northern Ireland and helping to give the young people in the region every opportunity to succeed. The launch of an endowment to support NISP CONNECT and the development of corporate mentorship and exchange programs will help build on the recent political achievements and I look forward to working with NISP CONNECT and Envoy Kelly in the weeks and months ahead,” said Kieran McLoughlin, president the Worldwide Ireland Funds.

Church adrift

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

Coupled with this there are the widespread cases of church authorities covering up the activities of pedophile priests, this spurred by the self-imposed priority of avoiding public scandal.
Scandal is scandal, whether it is seen or not and it was, to say the least, na

Yonkers-based Hardwick lands Gloves win

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

Noticeably absent from the 83rd annual Gloves tournament was another Dublin native, three-time women’s 106-pound champion “Ruthless” Ruth O’Sullivan, who withdrew before the preliminaries because of injury.
Hardwick, who at 25 was seven years older than Newman, went one better than past finalists Alo Kelly, a five-time All-Irish champion from Westmeath, and Limerick transplant Don O’Regan. Both light heavyweights, Kelly and O’Regan finished second in 1998 and 2005, respectively.
A bricklayer representing Yonkers YMCA, Hardwick applied incessant pressure on his lanky southpaw foe to earn the nod after three rounds. Newman had John Duddy trainer Harry Keitt were in his corner.
There were few clean and consistent connects, but Hardwick easily outworked his man. The most competitive round was the last in which the two fighters exchanged shots wildly.
“It was very hard,” the victor said. “He’s fit and he’s got the long reach as well. I was trying to counter his jab.”
On how it felt defeating a man coached by Duddy’s trainer, Harwick, now 5-0, said: “I thought he was well prepared [and] he was definitely here to fight. I take my hat off to him.”
He dedicated the victory to his friend Warren O’Connor, who was murdered in Dublin last January.
“Warren was inspiring me in the first, second and third rounds. He’s inspired me the last eights weeks. I dedicate all this to him,” he said.
Asked if he’ll enter the Gloves again next year, Hardwick, in the United States for the past year, gave an emphatic response: “Definitely! Definitely!”
Trainer Richie Sampogna, one of three coaches that work with Hardwick in Yonkers, spoke glowingly of his charge. “Tom is a workhorse; it’s a pleasure to work with him. He loves to train and a coach can’t ask for anything more. He gives 110 percent everyday and it shows in [fights].”
Arthur Williams and Jim Howard, the latter a former amateur standout who had wins in the unpaid ranks over two of Muhammad Ali’s toughest opponents, Jimmy Young and Ken Norton, are Hardwick’s other trainers.
Touted as the world’s oldest and largest amateur boxing competition, The Daily News Golden Gloves has been the launching pad for many professionals, including world champions Emile Griffith, Jose Torres, Floyd Patterson and Riddick Bowe.

Padraig Harrington has to settle for a share of 8th place.

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

“I felt quite good,” Harrington said after Friday’s round. “When I got [the ball] in position, I hit a lot of really nice iron shots. I got a few breaks as well, during the round, which you generally always do when you shoot 65.
“Yeah, I’m definitely getting more comfortable with the golf course [Innisbrook in Tampa, Fla.]. But I also realize that, you know, obviously there will be two new pin positions Saturday and Sunday. So I will take kind of the attitude I’ve been taking for the first two days, which is fire away at [the pins] and not worry about it until I get up there. It has not cost me too badly so far.”
So far. Ah, if only this had been a 36-hole championship. Harrington had a different perspective the next day.
“It was a tough day,” Harrington said after Saturday’s round. “I wasn’t very coordinated today; struggled a bit. You know what, I fought hard on the back nine, created a lot of chances, didn’t hole the putts and that was a bit disappointing. But I was never a bit too sure of myself today.”
The lead that Harrington had taken onto the course Saturday – albeit only one stroke – was squandered, and he faced a 4-stroke gap between himself and new leader Jim Furyk. Harrington didn’t muster any sort of charge on Sunday and dropped seven strokes behind Furyk, the medalist, at the event’s end.
Harrington opened play on Thursday with 69, featuring an eagle-3 at the 11th hole. Whereas he’d done nothing spectacular on the front nine on Thursday (no birdies, no bogeys), he smoked it on Friday, carding five birdies against one bogey. He added two birdies on the backside for his 65 and sole possession of the lead.
A birdie at the first hole on Saturday bode well, but that would be the last stroke he’d trim off par until 16; in-between, he taken on a pair of bogeys. Furyk, playing one group ahead of Harrington and Carl Pettersson, could likewise only birdie the first hole; but he avoided Harrington’s miscues and played the rest of the frontside evenly, placing him a stroke ahead at the turn. That’s where he took off.
Furyk came up with birdies at 11, 12 and 15, while Harrington was mixing a birdie at 16 with a bogey at 18. Harrington never really got anything going on Sunday, either, combining four bogeys with only three birdies. Furyk, meanwhile, also stumbled his way to four bogeys on Sunday, but he filled in the gaps with six birdies and held on to defeat K.J. Choi by a stroke. Harrington settled for a share of eighth place, seven strokes behind Furyk.
EUROPEAN TOUR
Peter Lawrie and Gareth Maybin shared 10th place honors in the Troph

Big guns will come knocking for lone frontman Doyle: boss

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

The statistics show that Doyle managed six goals in his first 25 Premier League starts since moving to Moulineux. Ordinarily, these would be pretty mundane numbers for an experienced forward. If you watch how often Wolves play with him as the lone gunman however, that he has managed half a dozen strikes is nothing short of miraculous. Until Chris Iwelumo was introduced as a second striker in the 89th minute last Saturday, Doyle was bouncing off Richard Dunne and James Collins all afternoon long. He spent most of his time running into the right and left channels winning the ball and then holding it until his midfielders could push forward in support.
How is anybody expected to score regularly when their primary role involves winning free-kicks and competing for 50-50 balls with twin center-halves? It is a measure of Doyle’s development as a player that he has made such a good fist of this forlorn task that already the speculation has begun about which Premier League team will try to prise him away from Wolves this summer if his current employers are relegated. Even McCarthy can’t ignore the rumors and whispers about a possible move.
“If we go down, we have no chance of holding on to him,” said McCarthy the other week. “If we stay up, we might still have a problem because there will be a few interested. We have seen all the teams now and I’ve not noticed many better players than him. I’m not doing a selling job saying that because I’m not telling other managers anything they don’t know. He would not be out of place in the company of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.”
To this point, Doyle has certainly proved he was worth every penny that Wolves paid for him. It says much for the club’s fans that they know enough about the game to realize that, beyond a paltry goals tally, he has often been the team’s best performer in this campaign. Many of the message boards contain encomiums explaining just why he should be voted Wolves’ player of the year at season’s end. In an age when so many supporters are sunny-day types who glean their knowledge from highlight reels, the Wolves’ faithful are obviously a smart lot to acknowledge the difficulty of the job Doyle faces.
None of this is McCarthy’s fault either. In bringing Wolves into the top flight on the same shoe-string budget he used to promote Sunderland a few years back, he proved he has developed into a seriously impressive manager. Whether the club’s refusal to spend big to stay there was his decision or the owner’s is a moot point too. What matters is that he’s set out his stall tactically to try to avoid defeats and to, however possible, cling to their Premier League status without risking bankrupting the club. This makes them easy for the neutral to root for even if their quality suggests more a top-level championship team than anything else.
The lack-luster quality of the squad may also be a reason why Doyle leaves even if Wolves survive. Last summer when he was unveiled to the press, he told reporters he expected to be merely the first instance of big spending by the club. That’s not quite how things panned out. Since then, McCarthy has signed Andrew Surman, Ronald Zubar, Stefan Maierhofer. Greg Halford, Geoffrey Mujangi Bia and Adiene Guedioura. Not only are they not names to conjure with or to excite fans, that sextet collectively cost less than the

Crown hopes dashed as Ireland disappoint in last Croker game

POSTED ON February 17th  - POSTED IN Archive

But there should be no complaints. This was a poor performance with the added worry of Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy picking up injuries which Leinster must now hope do not threaten their participation in the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Clermont Auvergne on April 9.
The question is whether D’Arcy should have started Saturday’s Triple Crown clash with the Scots. The centre, who has been struggling since the Welsh game with a dead leg, never looked right.
Worryingly, there is a feeling that Ireland got ahead of themselves. While Declan Kidney’s team deserve huge credit for their past achievements, nothing should ever be taken for granted. The Scots represented a real threat.
Most importantly, they had a good scrum, an area Ireland had struggled in all season, and an outstanding line-out. They also had a top class goalkicker in their out-half Dan Parks. Nothing had gone right for them in their previous Six Nations games, and they were due a change of luck.
Paul O’Connell hit the nail of the head when stating: “We needed to play to the best of our ability. We didn’t, they did. It was a poor performance, we didn’t wish to finish on a note like that.”
But even O’Connell could not explain the game’s biggest disappointment, the Irish line-out. What had been a strength in previous matches became a huge weakness. Hooker Rory Best had a bad day with his throwing while there also seemed to be a lack of communication.
Yet, substitute hooker Sean Cronin of Connacht was never brought on. Maybe the Irish coaching team believes he lacks the experience, but surely if he is good enough to be on the bench, he is good enough to play.
Thankfully, the line-out is an area Ireland should be able to solve before the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the scrum. Leinster’s Cian Healy is still learning his trade at loose-head, while John Hayes is understandably feeling his 36 years at tight-head.
Their difficulties were all too apparent from the early stages. Although O’Driscoll scored an early try after a quality break from Jonathan Sexton to lead 7-3, Ireland never really looked comfortable. Sexton was having a poor day with his goalkicking, and there were simply too many unforced errors.
One of them was duly punished when number eight John Beattie availed of some some poor Irish tackling to crash over for a Scottish try. With Parkes landing the conversion and adding a drop goal just before half time, Scotland went in 14-7 ahead.
Eventually, Ireland did get level at 20-20 in the second half through Tommy Bowe’s try and a conversion from the touchline from substitute Ronan O’Gara. But you always had the feeling that there was the potential for further disaster, and a minute from time, Parks duly kicked the winning penalty from the touchline.
Not really the way the Irish team had wanted to finish their stay at Croke Park but, rightly, there was an acceptance that the Scots deserved their victory. “We’re here to get results and we didn’t get one.” said Kidney. “We got it wrong.”
To his credit, hooker Best also put his hand up, stressing. ” I didn’t throw particularly well, it’s just one of those things.When things are going grand, you take all the plaudits, now you have to take all the criticism too.”

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