Sunday, August 20, 2017


I had never heard of this guy until today when the Kennedy Summer School retweeted a thread of his which recounted the story of an Obama speech with which he was involved. I was impressed and retweeted it myself. Then I heard an extensive interview with him by Marian Finucane and was even more impressed.

Incidentally it brought back to mind some of my own contact with speech writing and related matters in the course of my career in the Civil Service.

If a minister was going to make a speech relating to your policy area you did up a draft which would go up the line and hopefully come out at least vaguely recognisable at the other end. Most of my colleagues would have been involved in speech writing at various stages over their careers.

Of course, as far as the public was concerned, the speech was the Minister's, unless it turned out to be interminably boring or unexpectedly controversial, in which case the blame lay with the poor idiot civil servant who drafted it in the first place. Tricky area speeches.

Tom O'Donnell, former Minister for the Gaeltacht

I can't launch into this without paying homage to that master of the delivery, Tom O'Donnell. He was never my minister and I never drafted anything for him.

But, I was at this Irish language function down the country where Tom was to make a speech.

He turned up and took out his piece of paper which contained the carefully drafted speech and started reading.

"A Chairde, is mór an onóir domsa bheith anseo in bhur measc anocht. Ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh do pholasaí na Roinne i leith na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta."

At this point, he folded up his script and put it away, telling his audience that it was a load of rubbish given to him by the crowd up in Dublin (ie his civil servants).

He then continued, in Irish, to give an animated exposition of his own policy for the Irish language and the Gaeltacht.

The fact that this corresponded almost word for word with the piece of paper in his pocket was irrelevant. He got his message across and struck a blow for local freedom all at the same time.

I was lost in admiration and have never forgotten it to this day.

Tom was a Limerick man.

Martin O'Donoghue, former Minister for Economic Planning and Development

Martin made loads of speeches, at least one a day. And he looked for appropriate material from his Department. The Department was very small so we were all involved in a frenzy of speech writing while it lasted.

Martin didn't want text. He wanted bullet points and would do his own embroidery on the spot. This meant that the written material was short but, believe you me, I'd prefer to have been writing text.

It is very difficult to get the nuances over in bullet points and the Minister is not always fully up to speed on the details of what is going on (nor should he necessarily be). And very often you didn't know what he actually said and found it difficult to counter claims from supplicants who thought they had been promised something.

A lot of these speeches were not strictly speaking policy related. He might be opening a factory or inaugurating a shopping centre for the second time, now that a more appropriate anchor tenant had been found. [Note to me: don't mention Dúnlaoghaire.]

Well this one was for the opening of a manufacturing unit, I think in Shannon, and the subject was small is beautiful. I think I thought that up myself because we were very anxious to encourage SMEs and local entrepreneurship.

It was a good thing I did my research. They were manufacturing bras and had just been taken over by some big conglomerate.

You can't be too careful.

Charlie McCreevy, former Minister for Finance

I can't offhand remember the full context for this one. The Minister was to make a speech in Bonn and we were very anxious to make a pitch for FDI. As it turned out the minister got tied up and the ambassador had to deliver the speech. I gather it went down well.

However, there was a background which might not have been obvious to the audience.

I had put in a list of the points which we hoped would attract firms to set up in Ireland - the usual stuff, educated workforce, access to EU market, favourable tax régime. And of course I included English speaking. It is one of our strong points in this particular context and the IDA push it all the time. But it was excised from my draft and despite my quoting IDA etc. did not reappear. Perhaps the ambassador ad-libbed, who knows?

I think I see the phychology here but it is economic lunacy. A bit of a Brexit moment you might think.

You see, it was the English what imposed their foreign tongue on us and in the process brutally suppressed our native language, which language we have unsuccessfully been trying to restore ever since. And it is now the first national language, enshrined in the Constitution.

But really.

Brian Cowen, former Minister for Finance

There are times when the content of a speech becomes more or less unimportant. These are occasion when it is the actual physical presence of the Minister that's the thing.

On such occasions the speech can become difficult and even dangerous. The speech writer's task is to fly below the radar, make sure they're not accidentally making policy on the fly and at the same time not bore the audience to tears.

I remember one such occasion when Brian Cowen was going along and I got the speech to write. I decided to simply do a recap of current policy in a few areas. With this in mind I consulted colleagues and got a stock of material which I worked into a speech which I hoped was unmemorable.

Imagine my shock the next morning when I found it headlined in the paper as the Minister striking out in all sorts of new areas. Fortunately it was a one day wonder and all returned to normal fairly quickly.

I never really found out what had happened. Perhaps it was the silly season, I don't remember. Perhaps I had set out current policy with such clarity that the journalists were only then waking up to what was actually going on.

Whatever it was, I learned nothing from it. I had been ultra careful to avoid any hint of creativity or innovation. I could not have been more careful. So I just had to put it down to one of those things, and move on

Jacques Attali, former President EBRD

I was present at the inauguration of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London in 1991. I had written the Minister's (Albert Reynolds) speech which was forward looking and a lot more polite about Jacques Attali than if I had been giving it myself in a closed session.

The Minister really had no time for all this ceremonial and after the first day he got fed up with the whole thing. I got a call in the middle of the night to say he wanted to go straight back to Dublin. This was arranged for first thing the following morning.

His speech was scheduled for that morning and as I was now Head of Delegation I was faced with either cancelling it or making it myself. As I had written the speech I was loath to see it vanish so I opted to give it myself.

The Norwegian Minister, whose speech was scheduled for the afternoon, was also anxious to be gone. He was looking for a morning speaker to swap with and, as I was going to be around anyway, I swapped slots with the Norwegians.

That gave me plenty of time to make a some amendments to the speech and insert a few, not too obvious, digs at Attali who had been getting on my wick from a good while back.

I did inform the secretariat of both the swap and change of personnel but the latter never got as far as the captioners in the video room. So the video of me went out captioned as Albert Reynolds, Governor for Ireland.

It is now presumably reposing in some archive and may well confuse historians in times to come.

The message here is that, given the right circumstances, speech writing can be very fulfilling and real fun.

Ruairí Quinn, former Minister for Finance

This one is not about writing a speech but something analogous - preparing for delivering a speech which was sure to be met with pent up frustration and hostility, and surviving the Q&A that followed it.

This happened at the EBRD's Annual Meeting in London in 1997. The Irish Finance Minister, Ruairí Quinn, was Chairman of the Board of Governors for that meeting and in this capacity he would hold a press conference at the end of the meeting.

Now the 1997 meeting involved a number of serious cock-ups. The two major ones I remember were that the location chosen for the press room turned out to be a dead area for most if not all mobile phones and the arrangements for registration were such that CEOs of multinationals were left queueing for long periods.

There was anger in the air in the press room and Ruairí looked like facing a hostile press mob.

The Bank took a ruthlessly professional approach to this. They organised a rehearsal press conference for the Minister and literally tore him to bits. Chairman or no Chairman, they had a job to do for the Bank and they did it. I cringed. Ruairí did well, but was a bit shaken, particularly as he personally shared the criticism of the secretariat and along with the Bank's president had privately bawled out the secretary general at a very tough session the previous day.

And so to the press conference. The Chairman took it on the chin. He did apologise for the mistakes that were made but, having survived the earlier ruthless grilling by the Bank's own press people, the actual press conference, tough as it might have seemed to an outsider, proved to be a doddle.

This whole incident increased my respect for both Ruairí, who took his grilling by the Bank staff in the spirit in which it was intended, and for the Bank staff who must have been feeling very uncomfortable but showed no quarter in the wider interest of the Bank.

So, bring it on at the Kennedy Summer School and let's hear Cody do his bit.

Cody's interview with Marian Finucane

Sunday, August 13, 2017


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The National Library of Ireland is one hundred and forty years old just about now. And they're having a party. And they're inviting everybody.

So I went along, thinking I'd meet some of my old fellow fogies that I run into from time to time at things. Nary a one of them there. I knew nobody bar the staff of the Library, though Esme did turn up at fifteen minutes to closing time. I think she must have been at another party.

The place was rocking. Even before it filled up, it was rocking to the buzz of the Halleluia Gospel Choir. Small choir, big sound.

And they rocked us through the first half of the party.

Sandra Collins, Director NLI, and PJ Lynch, Laureate na n-Óg

Now you can't have a birthday party without a cake, and this was some cake. A stack of books, including Ulysses and topped by a volume that must have already been ancient by 1877.

A mortal sin to deface such a work of art but you have to cut the cake.

The Cake, from Manning's Bakery, Thomas Street.

Just look at that. If you defaced a real book like that you'd be thrown out of the library.

And the kids. Did I mention the kids? The place was full of them. Little ones, and not so little ones, all having an absolute ball.

Library staff all rose to the occasion without exception.

See, I told you, Ulysses.

PJ gave a speech which I didn't really hear as I was too busy taking his photo, complete with the balloons. You can check out the background to Laureate na n-Óg here.

However, he was no sooner finished that, and the co-cutting of the cake, than he sat down at one of the children's tables and started doing portraits with the children's markers.

Demand was brisk and many youngsters will have enduring souvenirs of the day.

Just putting the finishing touches and hey presto.

One very satisfied young lady who won't forget this day in a hurry.

Meanwhile, a thousand schools of thought contended as the youngsters produced a raft of birthday cards from materials distributed by the library. There was a profusion of coloured markers and transfers and stick-on 3D bits. The place was a hive of activity. You can see some samples above.

And then the Maynooth Gospel Choir started up. And they brought their own conductor. I was wondering what they needed a conductor for until I heard them sing. A nicely blended sound and with loads of gusto.

Lots of passion and some very nice arrangements. The congregation was, unfortunately, thinning out a bit by the time they came on, but anyone who had gone missed a real treat.

The Episcopal Purple is a nice touch and adds to the class of the music.

This lady runs a tight ship, something the choir agreed with when I mentioned it. You might feel it a bit tight for this sort of singing but the great advantage is that when you've mastered the stuff and are in full control, you can let go at the edges without losing the quality.

And the conductor herself is no mean singer as became obvious when she stopped conducting and joined the singers. Special treat - one number only.

Katherine McSharry & Orla Sweeney

We mustn't forget that this is a library and not a bookshop and the primary function of a library is to lend you books. At the end of the day they all have to be returned to take their rightful place on the shelf. And that's precisely where the cake-books are going, unless, of course, they are further desecrated by the staff and gobbled up.

Mark Stedman, Photographer

I'm looking forward to seeing Mark Stedman's photos of the party. He had the children eating out of his hand. If he ever gives up the photography he'll have a job waiting as a stage director.

Louise Archbold, from DHR Communications

The day would not be complete without a word of thanks to the lady who organised the whole thing.

Monday, August 07, 2017


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The Oldham Report has now been published for just a month and there has been time for initial reactions from players and commentators. So I thought I should add some reactions of my own given that I have followed certain aspects of the Inquiry in some detail.

The Inquiry's final report can be accessed here.

The Inquiry's home page also gives two links to Frances Oldham's summary statement on the publication of the report. The first of these (to Part 1) does not work and this is the second (to part 2). The page also gives links to the vast trove of documentation which covers both the appearance of witnesses and the documentation supplied by them.

Be aware that the Inquiry's website is a bit of a mess and has been very unsatisfactory throughout. So much so that many people have taken to downloading aspects which are of interest to them for fear they would vanish (as some have) or be further edited (which some were) or become otherwise unavailable, particularly now that the site has been abandoned by the Inquiry team and handed over to the States of Jersey.

How the States intend dealing with it and whether there are any plans to clean up the site and make the material more accessible is unknown at this stage.

What was expected from this report?

Different people had very different views of the nature of the Inquiry and what it might have been expected to produce.

At one extreme, some saw it as a court which would deliver a verdict on the behaviour of individuals, hold them to account and even throw them in jail.

At the other extreme the Inquiry was seen as a PR exercise, or whitewash, by the establishment which would lead to an admission of past failures, limit the apportioning of blame to institutions rather than individuals, and make some recommendations for future improvements.

I did a post in the run up to the publication of the report setting out what I expected to see in it. In that post I referred to a number of negative aspects of the Inquiry's behaviour to date and to my expectation of a very limited outcome.

What was in it?

The outcome is broadly as I expected but with some differences.

The report did criticise people, principally these five: Andrew Lewis, Philip Bailhache, Bill Ogley, Tom McKeon and Mario Lundy.

The criticism of Lewis looks like being the only one which will have any consequences for the individual concerned.

Lewis - Minister

To put Lewis in context, he is a weak man who was catapulted into a ministerial position to do the bidding of the establishment and then hung out to dry when he started digging himself (and others) into a hole and wouldn't stop.

His major gaffe was to have allowed himself to be the fall guy in the suspension (effective sacking) of the Police Chief in a process that broke every rule in the book.

He subsequently repeatedly lied in an effort to redeem himself and scared the pants off the establishment who feared that he might thereby put their corrupt and clandestine hold over the polity of Jersey in jeopardy.

The point at issue was the legality, fairness and reason for the suspension of the Police Chief. The case against Lewis, and his puppet masters, was that (i) they had planned the disposal of the Police Chief from way back but falsely presented it as a spontaneous reaction to a negative report from the Deputy Chief, (ii) they did not observe due process in the suspension, in fact they acted against legal advice, and (iii) the reasons for the hasty and botched suspension didn't hold water.

The Inquiry found that the had lied all over the place.

Philip Bailhache - Bailiff

Philip denied putting the welfare of the financial sector before the safety of children but accepted that his Liberation day speech, which may have given that impression, was unfortunately worded.

The Inquiry judged his words a serious political error but, it should be noted, did not absolve him of the attitude implied in his wording.

Bill Ogley - CEO

Bill was at the heart of carrying out much of the conspiracy. The Inquiry did not accept his version of events, particularly regarding the purported spontaniety of the suspension of the Police Chief.

The Inquiry also alluded to his form in these matters when he had earlier unsuccessfully attempted to involve the Police Chief and another officer in the sacking of the whistleblowing Minister Stuart Syvret.

Tom McKeon & Mario Lundy - Managers

The Inquiry censured these two managers for lying about the frequency of use of secure accommodation and their failure of management which led to inconsistent and at times excessive use of force by adults towards children.

Stuart Syvret

The Inquiry did also criticise Stuart Syvret on two grounds, namely that (i) his public attacks on civil servants were inappropriate and did not assist his cause, and (ii) his refusal to participate in the Inquiry.

The Inquiry (generously!) found that Syvret's actions did not amount to political interference in Operation Rectangle but that the manner of his dismissal was outside their terms of reference.

And in a paragraph that will surely go down in history for sheer brazen neck, it held:
Stuart Syvret has not given evidence to this Public Inquiry. Requests to him were made on a number of occasions seeking his assistance and any relevant evidence he might have. As a States member for many years, latterly as the Minister for HSSD, his contribution to the work of this Inquiry may have assisted. His refusal to assist is to be regretted.
My view is that Stuart Syvret was constructively excluded from the Inquiry and it doesn't take a genius to work that out.

He had been oppressed by the establishment, including through imprisonment. He had been subject to a supergag order (as far as we know) and he requested legal protection before he would bear witness to the Inquiry. In spite of the massive legal bills incurred in other aspects of the Inquiry his request was refused and the refusal was then hidden, unlike all the other Inquiry decisions, in an obscure corner of the Inquiry's website.

It is also significant that the Inquiry, while admitting his relevance, refused to subpoena him, an action which might effectively have led to him getting some degree of legal protection. In fact, he was not the only relevant witness who was not subpoened and this lack of action does not reflect well on the bona fides of the Inquiry itself.

It should be pointed out that Syvret has cast doubt on the vires/legality of the whole Jersey administration and also on that of the Inquiry itself. Nevertheless, it is quite possible that he would have chosen to participate given appropriate legal protection.

Suspension of Graham Power

I have already done a fairly long post on Graham Power's evidence to the Inquiry and don't intend repeating myself here.

I know I run the risk of being accused of being obsessed with this aspect of the case rather than the core matter of the abuse of children. However, one of the Inquiry's terms of reference involves its looking into whether there was any political interference in the earlier police inquiry into abuse of children.

As far as I am concerned, Graham Power's suspension is a text book case of such interference. It is also a litmus test for such interference. That's why I make no apology for stressing it.

The Inquiry itself went on to
... record our disquiet at the manner in which the suspension was handled and in respect of some of the evidence given to us about it. We refer, in particular, to the following issues:
  • Graham Power was suspended with no notice in respect of alleged past failings, when there was no suggestion that those past failings could have an effect on his ability in future to carry out his duties;
  • Those responsible for his suspension did not heed the advice of the Solicitor General or Attorney General about the risks of reliance on the Metropolitan Police interim report, the need to show any report to Graham Power and permit him to comment on it, or the wisdom of awaiting the full Metropolitan Police report before taking action;
  • David Warcup exaggerated to Bill Ogley the extent to which his own concerns were supported by the Metropolitan Police interim report;
  • Andrew Lewis used the interim report for disciplinary purposes, knowing that this was an impermissible use;
  • William Bailhache QC, as Attorney General, understood that the decision had already been made by the evening of 11 November 2008 that Graham Power was to be suspended. His evidence to us on this point was at odds with the evidence of Bill Ogley. We prefer the evidence of William Bailhache QC;
  • It is clear to us that, when Graham Power attended the meeting on 12 November 2008, his suspension was inevitable. We accept Graham Power’s evidence that he was given time “to consider his position” – in other words, to resign as an alternative to suspension;
  • Andrew Lewis lied to the States Assembly about the Metropolitan Police report, pretending that he had had sight of it when he had not;
  • Andrew Lewis told Dr Brian Napier QC that he had discussed the suspension of Graham Power in October 2008, while telling us that he knew nothing about it until 11 November 2008;
  • Andrew Lewis denied that he had discussed with Wendy Kinnard and Christopher Harris the possibility that Graham Power would be suspended. We do not accept his evidence in this respect
Nevertheless, the Inquiry came to a very firm consclusion that the suspension was in no way intended to derail Rectangle, that it did not affect it, and that the Inquiry's own terms of reference did not therefore permit it to consider the matter further.

This is a significant funk on the part of the Inquiry and they have no way of knowing to what extent Power's suspension may have affected matters out of the public gaze.

For instance, Rectangle Senior Investigating Officer, Mick Gradwell, had already scheduled, for the week following Power's suspension, an interview with John Averty, as a suspect and under caution. Now John Averty was being investigated in relation to alleged serial rapes of an adult female or females. And John Averty was one of those people who Graham Power identified as possibly being behind his suspension. John Averty is a very influential member of the Jesey establishment.

So, did the Inquiry check whether this interview took place or not? If the interview did take place, what was the result? If it did not, should this not be taken as prima facie evidence of outside influence on the conduct of the Inquiry?

All this was known to the Inquiry as it is contained in the evidence submitted to them by Graham Power and (however incidentally) by Mick Gradwell.

The Inquiry would not have been justified in ignoring this on the basis that the allegations did not refer to children. Interference is interference and would be indicative of a prevailing culture. Over the years many victims/survivors have complained that their complaints were not taken seriously or that they had been intimidated into withdrawing them.

Strangely, the Inquiry took a completely opposite approach when it came to the older Victoria College scandal:
The SOJP investigations into Victoria College, Paul Every and the Sea Cadets are not within the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. We considered evidence about these investigations on the basis that the conduct and attitude of Police officers and others to those investigations might be relevant to the Police response to allegations of abuse of children in care.
This raises the question of whether the Inquiry itself has, despite all its protestations, been subject to interference.

The Legacy

So was there any point to this Inquiry? Were there any positives? What will happen next?

As far as I can see the the main achievement of this Inquiry has been to assemble and record evidence of the widespread abuse which permeated the Island for years. This may have brought some consolation or closure to victims/survivors whose complaints had not been heeded over the years. It may have given others the courage to come forward and bear witness and this may have helped them come to terms with their predicament.

It may just have awakened people in Jersey to what had been done to their children for decades and might, hopefully, lead to them reclaiming Jersey politics for the people - though this bit of wishful thinking might be stretching it.

The Inquiry has been quite hard hitting in those matters it chose to follow through on. But the big omission is in the raft of people it has not held to account. you can see a sample of questions not asked by the Inquiry or in some mainstream media reports here.

It has also ducked some of the deeper questions by just mentioning them in passing. The Bailiff's control of the legislature is one, and perhaps something will be done about that. But the vital missing element is the lack of a firm finding that the UK, or some Higher Power, needs to intervene to ensure that the Island has a properly independent prosecution system and that there are adequate channels of appeal when justice is miscarried on the Island.

As things stand there is effectively no appealing the decisions of the Jersey courts or the actions of its Crown Officers. The Lieutenant Governor is a joke. And the Queen's Privy Council refers all complaints back to the Jersey courts.

The Inquiry has recommended the establishment of a Children's Commissioner and work is in hand to appoint one. There seems to be some confusion in Government as to the degree of independence of such a Commissioner and to whom or to what body the Commissioner would report. Hopefully this will be sorted and the Commissioner will not end up simply reporting to the Chief Minister as was suggested in a recent Government news release.

The Website etc.

The Inquiry's website has been a disgrace from day one. It is not user friendly, particularly when it comes to finding material. It was not used to communicate with the public except in the most cursory way. In fact virtually all of the Inquiry's communication with the public has been one way. Material has come and gone and been redacted and re-redacted without any commentary or explanation from the Inquiry.

Bloggers were denied full press facilities when they constituted the only independent media on the island. Written queries to the Inquiry were either not answered or were acknowledged in a dismissive way. And to cap it all the "press conference" introducing the report to the public resembled a bootcamp Tannoy, with its quasi-stripsearches and no Q&A.

Person 737

To those who may wonder at my cheek in naming John Averty as Person 737, I would simply point out that it is not me what dunnit Gov. It was the Inquiry itself which failed miserably to protect the anonymity it originally conferred on him, as I have pointed out here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


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Yesterday my son brought me to DUBLIN MAKER in Merrion Square. This event has been going on for a few years but I had never made it until yesterday. It is for young and old alike. The only requirement is that you are curious and have, hopefully, not lost your initial sense of wonder at the magic of every day "science".

You could get lost here for a whole day. The exhibits are fascinating and the exhibitors are not only helpful and good humoured, most of them are young and all of them are nearly as excited by your interest as you are by their exhibits.

I've just picked out a few below to give you a flavour of my own experience.

I well remember making little stick men out of pipe cleaners. My Da smoked a pipe but you wouldn't dare interfere with his cleaners. You actually bought bunches of them for the express purpose. But life has moved on and the pipe cleaners have moved into high art. Simple to do but very effective, even after the Da gives up the pipe.

From the simple to the complex. This little guy is a 3D print. The arms can move. And he has been printed all in one go, ready assembled. Amazing. Until you realise that the printing is done by building up layers and so anything is possible.

You can programme this parrot with your own sound and it's beak moves as it speaks.

My perverse ambition would be to have it annunciate the sermon from Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when the Parish Priest came visiting, in the hope that the same sermon would scare the shit out of him as is did me when I was young and impressionable.

Only one flaw. The PP doesn't come visiting any more and if he did I could probably not resist the temptation of filling the parrot up with the foulest language at my disposal.

To prove that I am not just spectating and that I have never grown up I undertook to join up the dots myself. This is done with a pen and conducting ink, and they go from 1 to 23. The result is a visible circuit board which illustrates the required shape, in my case an airplane.

This is then plugged into the computer and an appropriate "working" image comes up on the screen. My prototype is unlikely to fly in real life, but it did clunk its way across the screen and, anyway, I'm only a novice.

Time for a beer break and the only cúpla focal I came across. It's a bit early in the day and I think the emphasis here is more on manufacture than on consumption.

This unlikely object is a trio harp. It's made out of piping, with builder's twine for the strings. I would consider it more an idea in the making than a final product. There is clearly scope for developing the strings, both in terms of material and variable tension. It might even be turnable into a mini orchestra with the addition of a fret board.

There is also a need for the development of the sound chamber and possible addition of further amplification. I suggested a microphone and speaker but that didn't go down well as it involved electricity and a departure from the homemade/discarded material approach. As an alternative I suggested some further piping/funnel work on the lines of His Master's Voice and I think this is being looked into.

This lady showed me a blindingly simple device. Suppose you are deaf but you have to get up early in the morning and are unlikely to hear your alarm going off.

In days gone by the hard of hearing or deep deep sleepers could always put the wind up alarm clock in a metal basin or bucket and the noise would bring the house down. But they don't make them like that any more and, anyway, if you are completely deaf it would be no use.

In today's world you simply put the red bracelet on your wrist, set your phone alarm, and Bluetooth does the rest. I tried it and the vibration on your wrist is guaranteed to bring the dead back to life.

I have blogged on MAKESHOP before so I didn't stay too long at their stand. They are an outreach of TCD's Science Gallery and are currently located in the old Lennox Chemicals building in Clare St. where I used to buy my bomb-making, stink bomb and amateur detective raw materials.

Not sure what these do. Maybe a fight to the death.

This is FABFOUNDATION IRELAND. They have a network of FabLabs throughout Ireland where people can come to learn and do stuff. They do all conceivable kinds of printing and the green robot above is one of theirs. Check out their video. Having said that they could do with some serious work on their website.

I'm sure most people have at least seen a picture of a spinning wheel. Many may even have seen the real thing in a museum or in one of Synge's plays. But what does this iconic piece of furniture do?

Well you can't knit with all those sheared pieces of wool. They have first to be turned into string (or knitting wool as we know it) and that's where the spinning wheel comes in.

But that's not the end of the story.

In the old days, when Clery's was Clery's, you used to buy wool in folded form which had then to be rolled into balls for knitting. I well remember holding my arms extended with the wool, until they ached, while the Mammy or the Granny rolled it into a ball.

This is paper folding with a vengeance. Just look at those pets, duly shot and mounted. Only joking. No pets have been hurt in the making. Check out Laura's blog post on DUBLIN MAKER.

Instead of hiring a magician for your children's parties why not hire a bus load of lego and let them at it. This just goes to prove there's always a niche in the market.

I could go on but I'm sure your attention is flagging at this stage. Best thing you could do is to go along next year and I'll guarantee you'll stay the day.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


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C'est une poupée qui fait non...non...non...non...
Toute la journée elle fait non...non..non...non...

Elle est tell'ment jolie
Que j'en rêve la nuit.

C'est une poupée qui fait non...non...non...non...
Toute la journée, elle fait non...non...non..non...

Personne ne lui a jamais appris
Qu'on pouvait dire oui.

Sans même écouter, elle fait non...non...non...non...
Sans même regarder, elle fait non...non...non...non...

Pourtant je donnerais ma vie
Pourqu'elle dise oui.

Mais c'est une poupée qui fait non...non...non...non...
Toute la journée elle fait non...non...non...non...

Personne ne lui a jamais appris
Que l'on peut dire oui...


Wednesday, July 05, 2017


St. Doolagh's church, Balgriffin
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Raheny Library's current exhibition for the month of July: the work of the Raheny Active Retirement Art Group.

I've just picked three examples but if you're in the area drop in and see the rest.

Ireland's Eye & Howth Harbour

An Old Woman of the Roads, by Padraic Colum

This is from Michael Gaffney whom people may remember for his work on the traffic light control boxes as part of the Dublin Canvas project.

So, the above is something old, if the participants will parden the phrase. I'm sure I'm older than some of them myself.

Meanwhile in the children's section of the library there's something new. Well, a mixture of the old(er) and the new as you can see.

A great project where the young people meet their seniors and then retell their stories in this exhibition.

I won't spoil it by going in any closer that this general shot, but it is a heart warmer.