Tuesday, July 03, 2018

DOLORES - ART


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Dolores left us on 7 May 2016, and though I had known her only a bare two years I miss her. She was a lovely lady, the most serene and open I have met. Though it's now a little past her second anniversary, it seems appropriate to celebrate an aspect of her life - her art.

If I'm to be brutally honest, I must admit that this was drafted for the anniversary but got lost in my drafts. As you'll see below, it's not the first time that family's art "went astray".



Dolores's interest in painting did not surprise me, though I only found out about it after she had gone.

She would have done art at school, Santa Sabina in Sutton, and her father would have encouraged her interest at home.

Were it not for the hand of fate, she would have attended the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (now NCAD) like her father and aunt before her.



Her father was Gordon Brewster, an RHA exhibited artist and the chief cartoonist with Independent Newspapers. Outside of his official duties he would draw copiously for his children.

Sadly he died suddenly in 1946, when Dolores was only 17, and his estranged wife came back over from England to sort out his affairs and "to claim the children".



That was the end of Dolores's art for for the moment.

In fact it was also the end of Gordon's fine art, most if not all of which went up in smoke in the back garden.









Although she helped her own children with their colouring when they were young, Dolores didn't turn to the painting until later in life when she had more leisure and joined an art group, with which she stayed until the end.

What you see above are just a tiny few examples of her paintings.

I love the colours, but, of course, there are those around me who secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, seem to think I'm sort of colour blind. But no matter.



Sadly, around the turn of the millennium, Dolores's sight began to fail and she retreated to the black and white pencil drawing which she could only do with great difficulty.



I don't know what inspired the man with the creel of turf. Perhaps it was from Wicklow or the West of Ireland. It's unlikely to have been from Howth or Sutton, which is where Dolores lived up to the time she went to England. It may have just been from her imagination.



I was very taken with this one, not for its artistic merits but for what it evokes. I was never at the Raheny trotting but was always conscious of passing the grounds on the train to and from Howth which is where I spent the first four years of my life.



Dolores Brewster-Scott
1929 - 2016

Friday, June 29, 2018

COMING HOME?


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It was almost like I'd never been away. Arriving in Brugge/Bruges at the end of May for a 50th anniversary reunion with my fellow classmates from the Comenius Promotion in the College of Europe, it was like I'd never been away and the last 50 years had disappeared into the mists of time.

The familiar places, and familiar faces - usually recogised after a moment's hesitation, and then the easy slipping into conversations so rudely interrupted by end-of-term in the summer of 1968.

Not all of us made it back. Some had gone to their eternal reward. Others were too ill to travel. But it's fair to say that they were with us in spirit and we were conscious of their missing presence all the while we were there. In ways they had the advantage on us. Here we were in our anecdotage and physical decrepitude while youthful memories of them tripped on ahead of us as we trod the old paths.

Well, I exaggerate, a little. The young ladies from our Promotion who did make it back all looked resplendent with none of their youthful exuberance diminished by a single whit.


And so down to business.



This is all of us. The official family photo as they say at European Summits. And including Iordan (inset) who had gone missing at the vital moment.

I spent the best part of 5 days in Brugge, talked and walked the feet off myself, and came home with around 500 photos. Clearly I'm not going to tell you everything or show you all of them, and there's too much there for a single blog post. So I have opened a new blog for the occasion and done a series of separate posts on different aspects of my visit and I'm setting out links below, grouped thematically.

Clicking on the link should open the post in a new tab, so when you're finished with it just close the tab and you should come back here. Or just click on this tab and new links will simply replace the old.


First the CHURCHES.

I visited four of these, each of which is magnificent in its own way.

St. James's

St. Salvator's

Our Lady's

Jerusalem Chapel


EXHIBITIONS

Apocalypse Now

Haute Lecture - Printing

The Chip Museum


BUILDINGS/SITES

Old Recorder's House

The Gruuthuse

Plague House

St. John's Hospital

Casselbergh Hotel

Unfortunate Eating


MISCELLANEOUS

Confessionals

Hendrik Brugmans

Flags

Bits & Bobbins

End of Term



You can see material from my 2008 visit here.

And some reflections from my arrival in the College in 1967, and more, here.

And my chasing up Comenius online here.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

BLOOMSDAY 2018


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Doesn't time fly.

Another Bloomsday is with us and Ulysses is taken down from the shelf for another airing.

This is not Joyce's Martello Tower though I've embedded him on the Battery Plain. This is the commanding tower above Killiney Bay, No.7 Dublin South, with a view of all nine emplacements in the Bay, sort of. This Tower is unique in being a bit inshore and on an elevation. It's in a position identified just before the 1798 Rising by ex-pat French Royalist Nobleman, Major Charles le Comte de La Chausssée.

So there Leo, Buck and Stephen, eat your hearts out.



Photo: Felix Larkin

This year I have had to come out from behind the camera into the limelight and do my hastily assembled thing.

I was supposed to have passed on a request for a star performer from Niall O'Donoghue, the Tower's proprietor and Maître d'.

I forgot, and time was then running out so I volunteered myself with only a vague idea of what I was going to do. With touching faith, Niall accepted and the rest is history.



Photo: Sovay Murray

I got an introduction from Felix Larkin which made me wonder why, if what he said was true, I hadn't been avidly pursued by all manner of impressarios throughout my life.

But, of course, a little poetic licence is permitted on occasions such as these and I should have been very relieved that he had not just stuck to the bare truth. He created a wonderful feeling of anticipation for what was to come. So Felix, you are forgiven and thanks for the compliments. I have to admire your faith.

And if you want to check out Felix's contribution to this event last Bloomsday, its on his website.



Photo: Sovay Murray

Anyway, I kicked off my contribution with the most explicitly sexual passages I could find in Ulysses in the time available, me never having read the book.

I suspect some members of the audience were getting a little uneasy at this point, but they needn't have worried. I knew Niall had omitted to put the bromide in the coffee so I toned it down for the rest of my contribution.

I think, from a purely Joycean point of view, I cheated. I shamelessly used Ulysses to impart some of the less well known gems of the history of Killiney Bay to my audience, many of whom were locals.

Well, they laughed in all the right places and a hush descended when I tiptoed around the subject of child abuse. They even made fun of poor Edward Ball's predicament as he waited patiently in the middle of the night to dump his murdered mother's remains into the Bay.

Perhaps they were just too polite, but nobody gave out about the meagre content from Ulysses itself in the whole affair, or about how outrageously I stretched the connections to give me the opportunity to parade my knowledge of some of the more obscure aspects of the Bay.



With me done, we moved on to a little music. Neil gave us some Joyce related songs accompanied by a keyboard that was the nearest to a grand piano I'd ever heard from one of those things.

It was a very pleasant and totally appropriate interlude.



I'd like especially to mention Susan Hedigan. It was her husband David who, along with Niall, started Bloomsday at the Tower. So this was a sad day for her, remembering David who died in March 2015. However the day was Susan's birthday, born on Bloomsday and living in Bloom Cottage in Sadycove, and I had the honour of presenting her with a bouquet on behalf of Niall and those present. Neil the musicman immediately struck up Happy Birthday and everyone enthusiastically joined in.

Niall has recorded a tribute to David which consists mainly of David's presentation on Bloomsday 2014 at the Tower.



A short interlude in the open air, where it all would have happened but for the variability of the weather. Felix, still on duty after a fashion, was quietly recording it all for posterity.



Then back inside for the musical peroration with Truly Divine. I had spotted this amazing lady at another Bloomsday, in the Leeson Inn, in 2016, and she is a wow.

With her accomplished accompanist on acoustic guitar, Eamonn Moran, she entertained us royally with Joyce-related songs, including one, which Joyce himself had put to music, from his collection of love poems, entitled Chamber Music.

So another Bloomsday gone. Let's hope the next one comes round just as quick.

By the way, if you want to tackle my paper you can find it here.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

JON COMMENTS


As I have explained elsewhere, I will not tolerate comments on individual blog posts where the nature of those comments, usually crass and insulting, would undermine my ability to refer bona fide readers to my posts.

I am in favour of free speech in society at large and do not fear criticism even when it is such as would strike terror into the heart of a grown men.

I have been subjected to crude and irrelevant comments from Jon Howarth over the years and have been quite happy to ignore them. They have turned up under all sorts of totally unrelated posts and as a result on occasions I have had some difficulty knowing what he is going on about.

However, we are here in different territory. I have actually done a post on Jon, sparked by the Commissioner for Standards finding that Jersey parliamentarian, Sam Mézec's, forthright and perhaps slightly over the top, description of Jon is not out of place coming from an elected representative because it is in fact true.

This is quite a departure for Jon who has been "getting away with murder" for years. Yes he did get bound over in 2011 for making threats but, as Stuart Syvret has pointed out, this case only got followed up by the police because Stuart had raised the matter in a courtroom. Par for the course would have been for the authorities to ignore it as was their wont. After all did Jon not do them a big favour by letting himself be used in the disgraceful official campaign to have Stuart's blog taken down.



Islanders got a shock many moons ago when ex-RUC man Lenny Harper, coming from off-island, confiscated their bazookas. Now we have another ex-RUC man making it quite clear that he is not going to lend himself to endorsing frivolous and unjustified complaints. Hopefully we will see him upholding those which have substance and lighting a few fireworks under deserving elected backsides.

Lest, as a southerner, I am taken here as unjustifiably smearing/complimenting former members of the RUC, I have to declare an interest. A friendly RUC man, who I had just met, once offered to mind my southern registered car parked outside the Guildhall in Derry at the height of the troubles. No one touched it.

Anyway my Jon post is clearly a special event. I have had 468 pageviews, some 40 printable comments and a further 30 which I have not passed.

So in a spirit of fair play and free speech I intend relaying some of the points (below in bold type) made in comments that I have held back.

So here we go; hold on to your hats till the storm abates.




Póló is an off-Island coward


Ever wondered why so many comments on the serious blogs are made anonymously. Normally I would expect anonymous commments to be stupid or insulting and not pay much attention to them. However, Jersey is a different kettle of fish. Serious commenters will feel obliged to comment anonymously for fear of retribution. So it is not only acceptable, it is wise in many cases.

As they say down my way "the proof is in the pudding", and a raft of people have suffered severe retribution at the hands of the authorities, including Stuart Syvret, Trevor Pitman, Lenny Harper, Graham Power & God knows how many others known only to family & friends. Mike Higgins is still battling away from inside the States despite their having tried to bankrupt him at least once.

Now I'm off-island and a little more beyond their reach and I am grateful to Jersey for the wonderful times I spent on the island, so I feel I owe them something in return.



Leah McGrath Goodman

And while I'm on the topic of off-island I'd like to pay tribute to Leah, an internationally renowned financial journalist, who has put herself out to report abuse on the island. She then ran into trouble with UK border control on a return visit and her situation was only "regularised" after intervention by a number of highly placed individuals who supported what she was doing. Hopefully she'll soon be landing an unwelcome book on the desks of a few island worthies.

I would also like to pay tribute to Leigh Lafon (Denver Elle) who for a number of years supported the cause from the US with comments that were always perceptive and to the point. Thanks Leigh for all your encouragement and we hope to see you back sometime.


Your Blog has been reported to the Police for harassment because that's all you are doing. McMurray has also been reported for promoting it. One way or another I will win, because I always win and if all you have is old news to hit people with then you are a fool.




Ian Le Marquand, former Justice Minister
& creature of the City of London

Why does Jon get away with his damaging behaviour while others have been harassed by the authorities for doing their job and attempting to clean up the island.



Former Police Chief Bowron

And at the same time others who have complained about Jon at the highest level of the police are just ignored. Check out Rico's story. There is enough evidence around to give rise to the suspicion that Jon is being protected.


The owner of this Blog must be seriously thick.
This is a member of the Jsy public who you are trying to vilify and re-try over a spent court case I am told is almost 8 years old so is meaningless under the rehab Law.
Any Copper or Court reading this hate campaign would this person is being harassed.



Regarding the court case in 2011 where Jon was bound over for making phone threats, he claims that the lightness of the sentence proves that he never threatened to murder anyone. However, that claim could be stood on its head, and we could wonder, particularly as there is phone evidence of a murder threat, why the sentence was so light. Now there's some food for thought.


I will set the law on you for harassing an innocent and insignificant member of the public.

Jon can only claim to be an insignificant & ordinary member of the public because he gets away with what he does. In any functioning society he would be behind bars or in treatment.

He complains that I am abusing my off-island position, presumably on the basis that I am acting irresponsibly while I am unaccountable for what I do. In the same breath he is telling me he has reported me to the Police and that they are coming for me as there is no hiding place. Well Jon which is it?


You should be ashamed of yourself putting Rico Sorda's private life up online.


I have simply alluded to matters that Rico himself has put in the public domain. These are matters which, were it not for Jon's evil behaviour, Rico would not have needed to allude to at all in public.

It was in fact Jon himself who, in the course of his nasty gloating comments, attempted to put further aspects of Rico's private life in the headlights.


You know stalking is a criminal offence.


This was posted as a comment under a post of mine that was totally unrelated to Jersey. There have been many of these, while I have only very occasionally referred to Jon and in relevant contexts. So it's really a question of who's stalking whom here.


Stuart is under a court order to leave Nurse M alone. He has broken this and will go to prison, the stupid cunt.



Stuart Syvret

Nobody is sure at this stage precisely what legal constraints apply to Stuart Syvret. It was thought that he was subject to a super gagging order and his behaviour would lead you to believe that this was in fact the case.

His efforts to stop Nurse M in his tracks were a dismal failure, no small thanks to Jon, and they resulted in his blog being taken down. There is unfinished business here but the authorities are running a mile in the opposite direction.


You are a thick Irish dickhead ... so go fuck yourself.



Jon is deluded into thinking he is part of Jersey Royalty.

In with the in-crowd.

But Jon, you will be dispensable when the heat comes on.

So gather ye rosebuds.


The COS [Commissioner for Standards] will be removed for the way he has dealt with this.




I have made my views on this clear above.


Pain in the ass because the Police have read your post and now I have to go and make a statement.

I surely hope they have and might do something about you as a result.


You are also being reported to the police for online harassment and abuse.

Jon, go look in the mirror.





Some other comments have been passed on to me from the Voice for Children blog where Jon has left them. I'm just including two below but others have been along the lines of those above.


Ian Gorst, the AG and the SG were apprised about it today. Hope you know what you are doing.


Lets hope Chief Minister Ian, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General are already reading my blog. They are welcome to come on and comment here any time. And that also goes for the next Chief Minister and the Chief of Police.


If he has nothing to do with historic abuse like he says then you are targeting him for the sake of it aren't you?


I don't think anyone has linked Jon directly with historic abuse, assuming he means child sex abuse. His behaviour and the official non-treatment of it does serve as an indicator of a totally corrupt system which we know to have been involved in child abuse and in its cover-up.

Jon cannot distance himself from his, well rewarded, co-operation with this system, for example, in getting Stuart Syvret's whistle-blowing blog shut down.

Equally, Jon's claim to have had sight of Rico Sorda's tax return would, if true, put him in a very privileged and intimate relationship with this corrupt administration.

So, Jon, an ordinary member of the public? My arse.



My aim in putting Jon's comments in a separate post is that those who wish to can "enjoy" them and those who don't can avoid them entirely.

I could go on here all night but I'll just finish with this comment from a perceptive observer of the Jersey scene.
What makes me so irate is that he is trying to portray himself as the victim. He has terrorised people online for years, not least Rico's ex-wife who has virtually no online presence herself. He is a nasty vindictive individual and if I, or any progressive Blogger, had acted the way he has (and does) we would be doing a ten year stretch by now.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

JON


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Jon Haworth lives in Jersey (CI).

He has threatened to kill a politician's landlord. He harasses victims of child abuse. He is a sick and twisted maniac.



Sam Mézec, States (Jersey Parliament) Member

This description of Jon issues from Jersey parliamentarian Sam Mézec.

Now you might think it a bit extreme. Jon certainly did and he made a formal complaint about Sam to to the Commissioner for Standards claiming that Sam had breached the Code of Conduct for Elected Members.



Paul Kernaghan CBE QPM
Commissioner for Standards

The position of Commissioner for Standards was established in Jersey in 2016. Previous to that the politicians investigated themselves.

The Commissioner appointed was Paul Kernaghan CBE QPM. Originally from Northern Ireland, he served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary before becoming Chief Constable of Hampshire. This was followed by a spell as Head of Mission for the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories and then as Commissioner for Standards for the UK House of Lords after which he ended up in Jersey.

Parliament already knew Jon's form and I take it that he thought he'd have a go with the new man on the block.

Now, that was Jon's big mistake, because Sam's description is true. The Commissioner effectively acknowledged that and so reported to the Jersey parliament which found that no further action was called for.

So the result of Jon's complaint is that both the Commissioner for Standards and the Jersey parliament have effectively endorsed Sam's description.

The Commissioner found as follows in relation to each element of the complaint:
‘I threatened to kill a Politician’s Landlord’

I am satisfied based on the newspaper coverage of a court case involving Mr. Haworth that he had been bound over to keep the peace in connection with a telephone call he made which involved a threat to the landlords of a Jersey politician. I find it significant that Mr. Haworth sought to explain his actions on that occasion, by stating that they were prompted by a social media exchange to which he objected.

‘That I harass Victims of Child Abuse’
I am satisfied that the JCLA letter dated 25 November 2015 provides justification for Deputy Mézec’s comment. I note that Deputy Mézec referred to other relevant evidence to justify his comment, but I felt it unnecessary to pursue these additional references.

‘That I am a sick and twisted Maniac’
Whilst one could deprecate Deputy Mézec’s choice of language in the light of the requirements of Article 5 of the Code of Conduct, I recognise that social media is a more informal media and that Mr. Haworth’s history, as evidenced in the report of the court case in 2011, may have led Deputy Mézec to feel his comment was justified. I do not believe it was malicious in intent.

There are two references in the above which need further elucidation, the 2011 court case and the JCLA.



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I couldn't find the official report of the court case. I have been told that the Jersey Evening Post have taken their original piece on the case offline. I am indebted to Ian Evans for the above copy of the JEP piece.

If you're interested you can hear what I take to be the phonecall cited in the courtcase here. Jon is threatening Stuart Syvret's landlord with death at the hands of Nurse M, a (so far, alleged) serial killer.

The JCLA is the Jersey Care Leavers Association which supports those adults who, as children, suffered abuse while in care. Their letter, referred to above, states that Mr. Haworth had made vitriolic attacks on the JCLA and claimed that he had said that victims of child abuse only wanted compensation.



Jon has since made a phonecall similar to the one above to a disabled Blogger who campaigns for Victims/Survivors of Child Abuse.

I must say, were I Jon I'd be very careful in attempting to pressgang a man as dangerous as Nurse M into service to do my dirty work for me. As we say in Irish Filleann an feall ar an feallaire. However, Jon seems to have survived this unscathed so far, apart from the court case.



Jon, in further phonecalls, has relayed threats against the wife of investigative journalist/blogger Rico Sorda. You can follow this up on Rico's blog.

In addition to all the above, the Jersey establishment is not above using disreputables for its own ends when it suits them. For example, Jon was used by former Jersey Data Commissioner (daughter of Bergerac) to bring, what I consider a spurious, case against Stuart Syvret which resulted in Stuart's blog being taken down.

I have to say that it gives me great pleasure to see Jon hoisted on his own pétard. He has threatened more than the one person cited in the report and he has harassed and trolled a number of people online, including myself. He is the sole reason I had to start moderating comments on my blog. You can get a flavour of Jon's comments in a separate post.

So I'll finish with the immortal words of Jon Haworth
addressed to myself at 9.39pm on 18 January 2017:
Yup, you're just one big thick Irish dickhead.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

BEST NIGHT EVER


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There I was, returning to the car park in the Botanical Gardens when something caught my eye beneath a distant tree. On a closer look it was a sculpture of two people linking arms. But it was something more. There was a flow to it and a sense of the ethereal.



Who were these very contented people? Two women clearly completely at ease in each other's company.



There was no indication of who they were, or what they might represent, or who the sculptor was. I googled around and found that while they had clearly appealed to more than myself and there were many photos on the internet, nobody knew anything about them.



Then, lo and behold, I came across my old online friend, Grannymar. She had sleuthed and come up not only with the title of the piece, Best Night Ever, but she identified the sculptor as Bob Quinn.



As she put it herself:
This wonderful piece has rather haunted me for quite a long time. At home in the Irish National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, it has no indication as to the artist. Eventually after months of searching and many visits through differing seasons I have finally discovered the secret.



It is indeed a haunting piece, full of movement and mystery.



I must ask the two contented ladies for their backstory next time I visit the Botanical Gardens.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

PARLEZ VOUS EU ENGLISH



There has been a lot of talk about the likely affects of Brexit on the status and use of the English language in the EU.

Ireland and Malta, have come under particular scrutiny as the two other Member States with English as an official national language, but who have opted to install other languages as official EU languages, viz Irish and Maltese respectively. The speculation has been that either of us will have to change our choice to English if that language is to remain an official EU language after Brexit.

I don't think that this is correct. The relevant Treaty article says:
The rules governing the languages of the institutions of the Union shall, without prejudice to the provisions contained in the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union, be determined by the Council, acting unanimously by means of regulations.
and the relevant Regulation says (Art.1):
The official languages and the working languages of the institutions of
the Union shall be Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian,
Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian,
Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian,
Spanish and Swedish.
and this can only be changed by unanimous vote of the Member States.

So unless a specific proposal to dump English as an official and working language is passed unanimously by the Member States English will remain an official and working language.

This means, at a minimum, that the Official Journal, Regulations and other documents of general application will be drafted in English (Arts.4&5), and that correspondence and documents originating in the UK may be in English as must the replies from the institutions (Art.2).

There is some wriggle room for the institutions, however, as the Regulation does not specify a language for correspondence originating with the institutions addressed to a non-Member State and Art.6 allows that
The institutions of the Community may stipulate in their rules of procedure which of the languages are to be used in specific cases.

No doubt there will be some diminution of the use of English over time as the French strive to recapture the status quo ante UK entry and the Germans take up the cudgel to increase the de facto status of German.

However, English has become the lingua franca over the years and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. President Juncker has stated that UK nationals currently employed by the Commission in the translation service will be kept on, though numbers are likely to diminish over time if there is not further recruitment of UK nationals.

In this event, whatever about its use, the standard of English is also likely to fall over time as it becomes largely the preserve of non-native speakers within the Union. Many of us are already familiar with the differences between American and the Queen's English. I wonder will we now have to add a category of Eurospek to our already rich vocabulary.



Thursday, May 03, 2018

WATERFORD'S REDMOND DYNASTY


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I could have titled this post "From Fenian to Blueshirt" but then I hadn't read the introduction to Pat McCarthy's book when I booked this spot for the post. To be fair to Pat he did spell this out very clearly at the launch where he introduced me to the term "Blueblouses".

And what's all this Waterford thing. I have been to Wexford and seen both the impressive Redmond Square with its memorial and the graveyard where stands Redmond's vault, then in fairly delapidated condition but now happily tarted up following the visit of Michael D. Remind you a bit of whole towns being tarted up in Britain for the visit of the Queen, or even dare I say it, Moneygall. And didn't John Redmond live in Wicklow.

Anyway, let's not trivialise this magnificent work which traces the Redmond dynasty, John, William and Bridget and its amazing symbiosis with Waterford. This was Redmond's political base and one which remained loyal to the family through thick and thin for over half a century.



The Three Musketeers

Standing ready to launch the book in the hallowed surroundings of the Members' Room in the Royal Irish Academy are the three actors in tonight's performance: Harman Murtagh, President of the Military History Society of Ireland, Michael Laffan, the foremost historian of the period in question, and Pat McCarthy, author of this fine and challenging volume.



Harman Murtagh

My connection with Harman Murtagh goes back to 1974 when he was editor of The Irish Sword and I had submitted a piece on a military survey of Killiney Bay in 1797 by a French major, Charles le Comte de Lachaussée. I had peppered it with derogatory references to the British authorities and Harman passed the text for review to GA Hayes McCoy, who, though he passed my text, took out all the derogatory references. I must say that, from my now more mature perspective, this did improve the text enormously and enhanced its academic respectability.

Harman was here on the evening to introduce the speakers and add some wisdom of his own to the proceedings.



Michael Laffan

Michael praised Pat's book both for its scholarship and its storytelling. While there have been various biographies of Redmond this book both treats the full political dynasty and minutely examines Redmond's dependence on, and interaction with, his political base.

Michael recounted a story from his own past when, in 1966, briefly and for the only time he was a member of a political party, he hitched down to Waterford to help with the canvas. One generous motorist who picked him up was Michael Hilliard, then Minister for Defence. As Hilliard was from the other crowd, Michael's mission promptly went undercover for that portion of the journey.



Pat McCarthy

Pat gave a vigorous and indeed humorous presentation of the Redmond dynasty.

He introduced us to the Ballybricken Pig Buyers Association. The what?, I hear you ask. Well, despite their anomalous sounding name this is serious stuff. This crowd were the backbone of Redmond's support in the area. You crossed them at your peril.

The pig factories, which were the predominant industrial activity in Waterford at the time, were not able to buy direct from the local farmers. The Association asserted its position as middleman and that with whatever it took.

Pat recounted the time, illustrated in his book, when the factories tried to import pigs from outside the area. The pigs had to be escorted by Peelers but the Association was ready for them, attacking from the side streets and driving both pigs and Peelers into the river. Pat reports the comment of one old lady: "the poor pigs, sure they could have drowned".

Pat told us that a suggestion had been made that the minutes of the Association must be a great historical resource. Pat had no problem dealing with this, reminding us that cartels do not, as a rule, keep minutes of meetings. Though I have to say that, in today's technological age, some of them have proved to have been very negligent, as shown by the results of various EU Commission dawn raids across the EU.



Pat recalled one of his memories from the the 1966 election in Waterford, already mentioned, where he observed the unique canvassing style of one, Vincent Browne. I'm afraid I'm sworn to silence on this one.

Another memory was from Garret FitzGerald relating to that same year and his introduction to Waterford city politics. Garret, wearing a big Fine Gael rosette, knocked on his first door. The lady answered, took one look at his rosette and said: "you needn't worry sir, we always vote Redmond in this house".



Anthony Tierney, Four Courts Press

Once Pat had finished there was a mad rush to buy copies of the book at the one-night-only knockdown price of €20.



Fortunately Anthony had come prepared and I just managed to snap this neatly wrapped reserve bundle before frontline copies ran out.



Then there was the second queue to get Pat to sign copies of the book.



Meanwhile, the other two Musketeers were mixing with the fans. Harman was clearly in laid back conversation.



While Michael was clearly seized of some important point which he was strenuously trying to get across.



Finola Kennedy

I spotted Finola in the crowd. The last I had heard of her was her advocacy of Frank Duff's name for the Liffey bridge which has now been named after Rosie Hackett.

Finola has written the definitive biography of Frank Duff, known popularly as the founder of the Legion of Mary, but a very rounded man with ecumenical views and independence of spirit.

She has also published a book on the Irish family which was reviewed in the following terms by Diarmaid Ferriter:
Not only historians, but economists, sociologists, lawyers, legislators and general readers owe a huge debt to Finola Kennedy who has researched and explored so many avenues and opened many new doors in this timely, fascinating, and brilliant book.

I have not met Finola but knew of her through her late husband Kieran who had started his career in the Department of Finance and was subsequently Director of the ESRI.


Martin O'Donoghue, Mel Farrell, Niamh Puirséil

Elsewhere the conversation was briefly interrupted to pose for the camera.

Martin is the Director of the Parnell Summer School, which at this stage has widened beyond Parnell himself and is responsible for some first class papers/presentations on a variety of themes often only gently linked to the person of Parnell. It is held mainly in Parnell's old house, Avondale, where I did once myself spend a French (wink, wink) weekend though I have regrettably never attended the School.

Mel has just published a path-breaking book on political parties in the Irish Free State which has just today got a "rave" review on the highly respected website The Irish Story. I attended Mel's launch in this very room and have blogged that launch. An element of Mel's book, not mentioned in the review, is his perceptive use of three of the cartoons of Gordon Brewster in whom I have an interest. I should say that he was pipped at the post here by Michael Laffan who used five in his Judging WT. This public recognition of Brewster, and his relevance to his time, after more than half a century of obscurity, has brought great joy to his family. You can see some of my blogging involving Brewster here.

Niamh is a historian and critic and I would have been familiar with her name. She was author of The Irish Labour Party 1922-1973 and she has an active presence on Twitter. Niamh told me that her latest book, Kindling the Flame. 150 Years of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, features a Brewster cartoon, though I don't yet know which one.



Mel Farrell, Felix Larkin

Where there is Parnell there is Felix Larkin. Felix was the Director of the Parnell Summer School for a number of years and was much lauded for is stewardship of that venerable institution. Felix is a friend and mentor and I have referenced him on my blog many times. We share an interest in cartoonists, particularly of the political kind. Felix is the author of Terror and Discord: the Shemus cartoons in the Freeman’s Journal, 1920-1924 and it was he who introduced me to the Brewster cartoons in the National Library.



Click on image for a larger readable version.

I leave Felix with this gravestone inscription which I'm sure he'll appreciate.