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One of the books I read on holidays was JFK by Fredrick Logevall. Published last year, this was the first of what will be a two-volume biography. This volume covers the period from President Kennedy’s birth in 1917 until 1956 by when he was established in the US Senate and beginning to contemplate a run at the presidency in 1960.

The book left little time for reading anything else, even over three weeks, because it is a door stopper running to 650 pages. It is not coloured by personal recollection. Born in 1963, Logevall’s life overlapped with Kennedy’s for less…


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Which year in the modern post-1945 era has had the greatest influence on subsequent global events is a dinner table topic as pointless as it is diverting. Other years merit careful consideration but 1979 is certainly a front runner.

Pausing briefly in our own parish; in March, aged only 58, a man of whom the description: “greatest of all time” is no cliché, Christy Ring died on the streets of Cork from a heart attack, walking to a routine appointment with his doctor. In December, Jack Lynch, Christy Ring’s Cork teammate was ousted as Taoiseach by Charles Haughey in a…


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The novel that I “studied” for my Leaving Cert in 1975 was Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. I am going to say no more about the plot than that it revolves mainly around the mysterious anonymous endowment of a large sum of money on the central character, an orphan nicknamed and known only as Pip.

I want instead to look at one of the supporting characters.

Wemmick is a senior clerk in the London law firm charged with administering the endowment.

Pip’s first encounter with Wemmick is in the latter’s office:

I found him to be a dry man, rather short…


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The “row” over Katherine Zappone’s appointment as a special envoy to the UN and her “bash” at the Merrion Hotel is testimony to the enduring validity of Sayre’s law that the lower the stakes in any row the more intense that row is likely to be. In this case, Ms. Zappone and the government became the lightning rod for the venting of frustration at 17 months of anxiety, restriction and constraint due to the stubbornly lingering presence of COVID, our reflex to spray righteous offence on a hair trigger.

But though the dust has settled, some aspects of the “row”…


In a column under the heading “Brexit has unleashed something ugly here too” published in The Irish Times of 24 July, Jennifer O’Connell argued that Brexit might be engendering an atavistic anti-English reaction in Ireland.

I am reassembling her “argument” from different parts of her column. Ms. O’Connell describes the phenomenon as “simmering resentment”. She suggests that there has always been an acceptance of the English as “fair game” based on our sense of grievance deriving from the proverbial 800 years of oppression. It had been largely contained since the Belfast Agreement but has blossomed mightily since Brexit and reached…


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It was a series called Serial that introduced me to podcasting in 2014. Serial investigated the conviction of Adnan Syed for the murder of a Baltimore high school senior, Hae Min Lee, in 1999. The series made a huge contribution to making podcasting mainstream — for two reasons.

First, it was riveting listening, raising serious doubts about the validity of Adnan’s conviction. We came to know him as Adnan because that’s what he was called in the series to which he gave his side of the story directly in many animated calls from prison. …


[This blog will be a published to a fortnightly summer schedule for the rest of July and August. Normal weekly service (or lack of it) will resume in September.

At the beginning of this month, Paddy Power was offering odds on, 4/7, that Sinn Féin will win most seats at the next Irish general election. Fine Gael are at 13/8, Fianna Fáil a long way back at 10/1 and the rest nowhere. Back in January, the bookie was offering Evens on Sinn Féin winning most seats with Fine Gael at 6/4 and Fianna Fáil at 4/1.

The expectation of improved…


Sunday, 20 June was World Refugee Day. It was designated as such by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) with the purpose of supporting refugees across the globe to be protected and included in health care, education and sport.

To mark the occasion, The Irish Times edition of 19 June included a column from Sally Hayden who writes for the newspaper mainly from Africa where she covers migration, conflict and humanitarian crises.

The previous week-end, Ms. Hayden had spent time in Gothenburg with a group of Eritrean refugees lucky enough to have been admitted to Sweden under a…


Image by yorkshireman from Pixabay

Sometimes, it pays to go back to basics.

If Brexit ever really meant Brexit, it meant the United Kingdom (UK) transitioning from being a member state of the EU to being a non-member state, otherwise known as a “third country”. The UK had the option of cushioning the effects of resignation from the club by preserving close connections with it, what one might loosely call associate participation, especially by remaining aligned to the rules of the single market and/or customs union. But it chose not to do so.

However, in the context of its withdrawal agreement, the UK agreed that…


On Friday, 4 June, The Irish Times published a report on its website with the following headline:

FF byelection candidate Deirdre Conroy alleges negligence in the wake of ski mishap

Ms. Conroy is the Fianna Fáil candidate in the forthcoming Dublin South by-election. The incident occurred in Andorra in January 2015. According to the newspaper, Ms. Conroy, then a travel writer with The Irish Independent, was one of six journalists on a trip paid for by ski-tour operators Crystal Holidays. Ms. Conroy’s right leg gave way on a run down the slopes causing her to fall and fracture her hip.

Daire O'Criodain

Former diplomat and aviation finance executive, active now mainly in not-for-profit sector. Living in rural Clare. Weekly posts on Wednesdays.

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