Friday, January 13, 2023


Bill Clements and Tower No.7 Dublin South

I was sad to learn today of the death of Bill Clements in June of 2022. Bill was a great friend of the Killiney Martello Tower and it was he who encouraged Niall O'Donoghue to enter it for the Europa Nostra heritage competition, where it got a special mention from the Jury.

Bill was a member, and at one time President, of the UK Fortress Study Group and at one stage he organised for the group to inclued the Martello Tower in its visit to southern Ireland, which you can read about here.

Bill was a renowned authority on Martello Towers worldwide, most of which he had actually visited and photographed himself. He has written extensively on them and his most recent (2013) book on the towers is called Billy Pitt had them built: Napoleonic towers in Ireland. Sylvie Kleinman's has reviewed it in History Ireland.

Bill Clements & Niall O'Donoghue at the Dún Laoghaire battery

I recall Bill accompanying myself and Niall and a number of other afficionados on one of the most intensive day tours of my life. Niall had arranged it. It started with Niall's tower. Then on to the Harbourmaster's office in Dún Laoghaire. Followed by a visit to the battery at the end of the West Pier, where the above photo was taken,

Bill Clements on Dún Laoghaire East Pier

also this one of Bill on the pier.

l-r: Bill Clements, myself, Simone Stephenson, ??, Niall O'Donoghue

This was followed by lunch in Simone Stephenson's Bartra Tower (No.10).

Bill Clements emerges onto the crown of the Dalkey Island Martello (No.9)

Then a visit to the tower on Dalkey Island. This is the one where Bill discovered a document which showed a unique outside entrance directly to the crown of the tower itself. Now he could see the real thing at close quarters.

Simone Stephenson & ?? on the crown of the Dalkey Island Tower

The particular day we arrived there had the signs of a campaign to reclaim Dalkey Island from the King of Dalkey and reintegrate it into the Republic.

Bill has sadly left us but his presence remains in so many realms and places.


Thursday, January 05, 2023


Sure enough, Pope Emeritus kicks the bucket, and SVD savant, Vincent Twomey, pops up out of the woodwork.

There was a time when I thought Vincent might have a great future.

In a current piece in The Catholic World Report he describes the teacher Ratzinger when he studied under him at Regensbug university and how he was influenced by him in his own teaching career. The Ratzinger he describes is a million miles away from the Prefect of the CDF that we came to know in latter years. Vincent was subsequently a member of Ratzinger's Schülerkreis and remained so with Pope Emeritus.

He was a mighty editor of The Word and its farewell issue.

And today he appears to be campaigning for the canonisation of the late Pope.

At one time I imagined he might have ascended to the highest office and put an official stamp on his already well honed infallibility.

But, alas, it was not to be.

A consolation prize in the offing?

Vincent is currently in Rome for Pope Emeritus's funeral. When asked about Benedict he said he had seen him in September and given him a copy of his latest book.

Seriously, this man would be a catch for a PR job any day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


Phelim's long time colleague and friend in the Department of Finance, Stephen O'Neill, summed him up in his condolence message on
Phelim was a wonderful friend and colleague. He will be remembered with affection by all who knew him in the Department of Finance.
I didn't know Phelim well, hardly at all in fact, in my own years in the Department of Finance, that is until he was nominated to the Board of Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London.

I had been involved in the negotiations setting up the bank in 1990/91 and then served a year on the Board as Irish Alternate Director.

I was resident in Dublin with the day job and travelled to London for Board meetings. This was a most unsatisfactory situation and my Danish Director was not getting the support he needed or deserved. There was a need to appoint a resident Alternate in London, and Phelim got the job.

So he became my successor, residing in London for the next two years, and I was his desk officer in Dublin.

As a desk officer you learn a lot about the abilities and character of those you are looking after and I've experienced the whole spectrum.

From my point of view, Phelim was ideal. We worked as a team and he well understood both the Department of Finance and the Irish national interest. We never had a bit of trouble this end and Phelim was both trusted and respected by the Board. He worked well with the Director of our constituency, Lars Tybjerg, and between them they built up a lot of political capital on the Board.

When Phelim returned to the Department he became my boss, and a better boss you could not ask for. He did not interfere but was always there with good solid advice when you had a problem. And above all, he was very fair.

I was saddened today to hear of his death and will always cherish his memory.

May he rest in peace.

Phelim's death notice on

There was a beautiful funeral mass/ceremony this morning (30/12/22) in Booterstown church. The music was perfectly chosen and performed. Phelim's daughter, Deirdre, gave a wonderful and balanced eulogy.

The recording is likely to be available here for about the next month at least; the eulogy is at 1hour,3minutes,30seconds in.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Click on any image for a larger version

Gorey, Co. Wexford last weekend as the Christmas lights were switched on by Santa.

The relevant section of the main street was packed with people of all ages and particularly the children in a high state of excitement.

While we waited for the bearded one, the Gorey Youth Choir entertained us with enthusiastic renderings of Christmas songs.

The audience was continuously informed of Santa's trajectory and ETA.

Given that he was a little behind time, there was a suggestion that he had nipped into Browne's for a nip.

Reminded me of the time as a small child at Butlin's in Mosney, when a big campfire was prepared for the arrival of Hopalong Cassidy, one of my favourite cowboy figures. He appeared in Croke Park earlier in the day, but we waited and waited. He never did turn up, due we learned later to an excess of hospitality at Croke Park.

But not our loyal Santa. He duly appeared with his sleigh and the missus. Only Rudolph and the gang were missing, esconsed God knows where.

True to his calling, Santa turned on the lights and then engaged in a Q&A with the local children. All in a day's fun.

Down the end of the street the style of the lights changed. Really beautiful and fondly remembered from last year.

Wicklow Christmas Market

Next day we went to Wickla town to check out the Christmas market.

It had just been open a few days and appeared to be booming. There were artisan stalls, vittals including for coffee addicts and conoisseurs, and amusements for the kids.

An Post kept up a long national tradition of collecting letters to Santa, and I hope making sure to get him to reply to them all. Brings back memories of my letter to Santa and his reply. I was then 6 years old and thrilled out of my mind with the reply. Thats why I still have it.

Some very nice wooden toys from Greg Fira at Inspirations4u.

These populated glasses really caught my fancy.

Beautiful quality items from Minizoo Dublin.

Some serious maga barbeque equipment.

Alpacas, originally from South America, but now with farms and studs all over Ireland.

Just remember not to sneak into the backgarden of one of the adjoining houses no matter how urgent your perceived need.

And to fittingly cap the day, the Ballymore Eustace Concert Band. They're really good.

Friday, November 25, 2022



Since Musk's takeover of Twitter I had been looking for somewhere to migrate to on the assumption either that Twitter would implode or that it would become a place I didn't want to be.

I was directed to where buckets of people were heading, including a raft of Irish speakers. It looked like a friendly and laid back place so I signed up and made what I consider a not insignificant donation to the running costs. The influx to this site/instance was massive and risked overwhelming the proprietor and his server, so I sort of came to the rescue, a wee bit.

So there I was, commenting, collecting followers and following others myself. All was going well in the best of possible worlds, to paraphrase Professor Pangloss, when I see a note that two Irish speakers of my acquaintance have been suspended for linking to an article by Cathal Mac Coille, a well known and respected Irish journalist.

What, I wondered, was in this article? Must be bad. So I went and read it. Nothing to see there. Cathal had gone to a meeting of Women's Space and was reporting on it along with some of his own views on how trans people should be respected but that there were still issues to be dealt with in relation to "women's spaces". A perfectly reasonable and civilised article drawing attention for the need to balance different "rights".

I should add that the article was in the Irish language and appeared in the Irish language paper Tuairisc. It was headed by what I assume was a (militant?) feminist symbol, which I suspect was not Cathal's doing.

I found the article perfectly reasonable and failed to see why linking to it should cause offence, but if this was the way this site/instance was going to be moderated, better find out sooner rather than later. So I posted, linking to the article (second post cited below first).

Click on any image for a larger version

And this was the immediate, and I mean immediate, response.

I was disappointed, but have no intention of appealing. Better to know earlier rather than later that the site/instance is run by a trigger-happy or anti-free-speech moderator, who may, or may not, understand the Irish language. I don't want to go to the trouble of establishing a presence their only to find myself thrown off on a whim by this idiot.

Fancy, the irony of deciding to transition from Twitter to to escape from the abritrariness of Twitter under Musk only to find intolerant moderation on Mastodon.

It is not clear to me if the moderator either read the article or understood it, or if there is a ban on any discussion of matters trans because of the inability of stupid moderators to distinguish between discussion and opposition, a point made in the article itself.

I thought I was coming into a welcoming and rational circle. I sympathised with owner's/moderator's difficulty in dealing with the massive influx of new members, so much so, as I said above, that I made a financial donation virtually immediately on joining. Now, at this remove, that only adds to the hurt of finding that what I joined was not what I thought it was.

I have had little or no significant response to my tweets/action bar one idiot accusing me of being in some way responsible for the recent mass shooting in Colorado, and another bemoaning the fact that I had let the side down.

So much for my first personal contact with "cancel culture".

Link to the article
Google Translation here.


This one might be a little more understandable, but only just.

Click on any image for a larger version

And then, precisely six minutes after I deleted the offending post:

So Twitter gave me a twelve hour suspension for harassment and advocating violence.

The offending tweet concerned Vladimir Putin and I penned it in a fit of suppressed rage after reading of yet more of this war criminal directly targetting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

The tweet went something like:
And I suppose he'll have died before they get a chance to hang him by his toenails.
I wonder if I'd have suffered the same fate if I'd commented on Hitler in the same terms during the Holocaust?

Anyway, I suffered in silence and after twelve hours on the dot I was fully back online.

And all of this is how I became an accidental cyber warrior.

Friday, November 11, 2022


Abuser Alo Flood

I thought I'd had my fill with Morgan Costello. But just this week I find there was a serious clerical abuser in Ballybrack parish in my time, Fr. Patrick Hughes. I had little or no contact with the parish at the time.

Now I find in all the ghastly revelations about the Holy Ghost fathers in Blackrock that a cousin of mine, my aunt's husband's nephew, Fr. Alo Flood, was a serious serial abuser in Blackrock College / Willow Park, and likely in St. Michaels.
There was “Brian” who still cannot bring himself to discuss what was done to him by Fr Aloysius Flood and Fr Senan Corry at Willow Park School in the 1970s. “My life changed when I was woken up one night and seriously sexually assaulted by Flood. I was a pious, innocent 11 year old asleep in my bed, boarding at Willow Park. I had no idea what was going on.” Fr Flood and Fr Corry “were rapacious”, said Brian. “They roamed freely at night. I was abused by both, as so many others were too.”
Fr Patrick Aloysius Flood: From Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, Fr Patrick Aloysius Flood was a former student of Blackrock College. He was appointed as a teacher at Willow Park in the primary section of the school in 1960 and worked in various roles until 1977. One past pupil recalls being woken up one night and seriously sexually assaulted by Flood. “I was a pious, innocent 11-year-old asleep in my bed, boarding at Willow Park. I had no idea what was going on.” Fr Flood was later appointed principal of St Michael’s in 1977 before returning to Blackrock College in 1983 as dean of the boarding school. He spent a number of years as a curate in Dalkey parish in the 1990s. He died in 2013.
And he also abused his niece in the West of Ireland.

Like most of these abusers his funeral in 2013 was private or whatever and, like Costello, there is no reference to him in RIP.IE.

I only met him once briefly, and my wife, who had an uncanny knack of summing up people in an instant, didn't like him. He appeared arrogant and full of himself and on that occasion downright rude.

To cap it all, his poor niece is apologising to people he abused having herself been abused by him.

The damage these bastards do is incalculable.

Here's hoping St. Peter saw through him at the Pearly Gates.

Monday, October 24, 2022


Click on any image for a larger version.

Having been the first Irish student sponsored by the Irish government at the College of Europe in 1967/8 (Comenius) I am proud to call the College my alma mater. That was also my first extended period abroad and living among fellow students from a wide range of countries.

Initially, it was a terrifying experience, landing in a prestigious European postgraduate institution and coming from an Ireland that in those days suffered from a serious inferiority complex.

But the experience proved a formative one and in a positive sense, and that is why I tune in to the openings and closings of the academic year in the College since these went online some years ago.

I usually just tweet a few pictures (screen grabs) after the event, but today's opening was different. It was a very intense and emotional experience for all involved, including me, and I will go on to explain this below.

As has now become the custom, the event opened with a musical interlude. Well that is a tame description of the powerful recital from these two students. The College now has a large student body which is bound to contain at least a few first class musicians. And I hear them every year. It's amazing. There was, I think, one pianist of concert standard in my year but I never heard him play.

Rector of the College, Federica Mogherini introduced the event and the speakers. She herself brings a wealth of experience to the College, having been a Minister in an Italian government and EU High Representative in previous careers. She is clearly committed to the European project and as far as I can see very open in her dealings with the students and to new ideas.

This is a particularly intense event for her. She has, at the behest of many as she told us, dedicated the current Promotion (academic year) to the memory of David Sassoli, a former colleague and friend. He was hugely committed to the European project, and was President of the European Parliament up to his death in January 2022.

She introduced Dirk de Fauw, Mayor of Bruges. The mayor is a regular speaker at these events and was now meeting this year's students for the second time in a matter of weeks, having already welcomed them to Bruges at a reception in the town hall.

He stressed that Bruges considered it an honour to have the College located there, now with the addition of the Diplomatic Academy, an instution fought for by some of the major cities of Europe. He also stressed that it was an honour for the College to locate in such a beautiful and vibrant city. "A world city pocket size" as he put it

He reminded the students that "at the end of the year you will become citizens of Bruges, Honoris Causa" - his exact words in English. I first heard this some years ago and went on to make a fool of myself seeking retrospection. You can follow up the sad and embarrassing saga here.

The Governor of West Flanders, of which Bruges is the capital city, Mr Carl DECALUWE, went on to draw attention to the sucess of his region in modern times. He saw it as a hub in Europe with borders with France and Netherlands and the sea, recalling its position as a great trading region in the past. I was particularly glad to hear this recital as, when I was there in 1967/8, the region was only getting to its feet after years of subsidiarity to Wallonia. In fact I was there during the "language wars" and for all I know I may be breaking the law referring to them as that, now that the region is firm in its own identity and living, I hope, peacefully with its neighbours.

We also heard words of encouragement to the students from the Rector of the Natolin campus of the College in Poland, Ms Ewa OSNIECKA-TAMECKA. She advised the students to make the most of what would become a very special year in their lives, bringing with it maturity, responsibility, and comradeship.

Rector Mogherini then spoke about David Sassoli, patron of this year's class. He seems to have been an admirable character both in his politics and at a personal level. Mogherini's voice had both affection and sadness and at one stage for a brief moment she lost it. When she recovered she said "I knew this would happen".

Well, some audiences would react with an embarassed silence, but today's student audience reacted with a standing ovation. Quite unexpected, but totally in keeping with the mood of the day. Here today sincerity and empathy dominated the occasion. The kind of raw emotion and honesty you'd encounter in rehab.

It is a tradition at these events that student representatives, a male and a female, say a few words. These can be bland. But not today. The male was a Ukranian national, Dmytro Kazakov, and he took the audience with him. A strong speech, a moral stand, and giving no quarter.

The female student representative, Emilie Meyer, took a different tack. She concentrated on a warm up for the keynote speaker who was to follow. That speaker was the current President of the European Parliament, immediate successor to David Sassoli and an alumna of the College, Roberta Metsola.

The way we used to use past exam papers, Emilie had sought out the yearbook of Roberta's year, and based her welcoming remarks on Roberta's entry. Well done.

For Roberta, as for Federica, this was clearly an emotional occasion. As Sassoli's successor and friend, and an alumna of the College, she was totally engaged. Like any good parliamentarian she was also well able to take the ball on the hop and, reacting to the aforementioned yearbook, broke away from her script to tell some stories about her own stay in Bruges. The Rector later recommended that students not follow these examples in their entirety.

Roberta's script was a serious one. She stressed the importance of the smaller member states in the European project, she's from Malta. She recalled two unsuccesful attempts to get elected to the European Parliament and stressed the positive role of politics when at its best. I was reminded of the words of Samuel Beckett and G K Chesterton on the importance of failure and how to react to it.

My take away from her speech was don't be afraid to go into politics if you have something you want to achieve and, as a citizen, vote, vote, vote. If you want your politicians to succeed they have to have a credibly wide mandate.

Incidentally, I was intrigued to learn of the yearbook. We didn't have a formal one in my day and I was given the task of compiling a sort of a one when I got home to Dublin. Which I did and sent it to the College. At which point it disappeared from view never to be found. I don't know if it ever reached the College or got lost on the way. I made two attempts to find it on visits to the College but to no avail. That's what provoked me, more recently, to do a blog on my year in Bruges. You can check that out here`.

Finally, some really beautiful piano playing by a student. I have included two pictures above. It was really stunning.

And finally, finally, The College choir and Ode to Joy.

You can watch the opening here.
Starts at 33 minutes in.

Monday, October 10, 2022


Tommy's funeral mass on 21 April 2022

Tommy was a bit older than me and I didn't get to know him very well when we were young. I do remember, though, staying in my granny's house in Ballyhaunis for a short period when Tommy was there. I remember playing trains out in the back field.

I would also have met him in his parents' house in Clontarf where I used to go after school in Belgrove to await picking up by my father on his way home from work.

Tommy and Gretta on their wedding day 18 June 1963

Not long after they were married Tommy and Gretta moved to Trim, where Tommy became the County Court Clerk.

There was subsequently a story that cousin Colette was caught speeding in Tommy's bailiwick and was glad that Trim was a fair distance from Castlebar so there would be no need for family or neighbours to know the story. She had clearly forgotten Tommy, so even I got to know about that.

I visited the family a few times in Trim. To my recollection the only children in the family at that time were Brendan and Susan - "the sheriff" and a very determined young lady.

I remember being introduced to the echo. No, not a local newspaper but a real echo, one with a significant delay, so you really thought it was someone calling you back.

Tommy's son Brendan's eulogy at the funeral mass was a revelation. It included a huge part of Tommy's life that I didn't know at all.

Brendan commented that for a True Blue Dub, Tommy oddly was a huge fan of Mayo GAA. Though he concedes that may not be all that odd given Tommy's Mayo connections, on which, incidentally he beats me.

And he’s one of the few people alive to have seen Mayo win an All – Ireland. Imagine that. The Year of the Curse. Mayo has won three All-Ireland Senior Football Championships; 1936, 1950, 1951. Our uncle Jimmy was on the 1932 team which went to America but sadly missed winning an All Ireland medal. Even sadder, the team has acquired a long-term record for reaching eleven All-Ireland Senior finals only to fall at the ultimate hurdle in 1989, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2021. Nearly broke my heart in recent years. Of course many believers put this down to The Curse reportedly put on the team by the local PP as they returned through Foxford on their way back from their 1951 win and disrespected a funeral going through the town at the time. The Curse was supposed to last until the last member of that team died. The fact that there was no funeral in Foxford that day is ignored.

Now Brendan, at the time, was advising Tommy's funeral attendees to place bets on, as Mayo were nailed on certainties for Sam this year.

Happily that did not come to pass, as this was the first year to see the team play after the death of the last member of the 1951 team and a win would have given substance to The Curse. Next year, Brendan.

Tommy (1937 - 2022)

Tommy didn't stay for the rest of his life as Court Clerk in Trim. He went on to become Chief Clerk of the Circuit court in the Four Courts in Dublin.

And when he retired from that, remarkably at the age of 63, he qualified as a solicitor and he continued to dabble in the Legal world right up to the time of his death.

Tommy, apparently, was a great traveller and visited far away places including: Moscow, Kiev, Zambia, Florida, London and Birmingham. Nearer home he loved Kerry and also in particular Louisburg in Co. Mayo, the music in Mossie’s and especially the days on Silver Strand & Carrowniskey beach watching his grandchildren surfing.

He was a keen golfer and bridge player and a lover of the Beautiful Game. He had seen Stanley Matthews play and many other heroes. Even I remember the iconic Stanley Matthews and I have little interest in the game. I do remember, though, taking down the pools results from BBC radio for my Da on Saturday afternoons while he was in the plot or in the pub.

At a more personal level, Brendan advises Tommy's ten grand-children when they think of Tommy to think of words like : integrity, humility, authenticity, decency, generosity, and kindness. Amen to that.

Brendan referred to one of the condolences the family received on , which he said summed up his dad completely with the simple phrase … “He was a gentleman, and a gentle man

This reminded me of Maureen Grant's description of Tommy's father as a gentleman when I spoke with her a good while back in the bar of the Olympia theatre where Tom Kelly had been a barman for many years.

"Tommy took is final breath on Easter Sunday, 17 April 2022, at 6pm surrounded by his 4 children and an incredible amount of love."

May he rest in peace.

Brendan's Eulogy

Saturday, October 08, 2022


Colette and Frank on their wedding day in 1959

Colette Fahey was 16 when I was born and she would have been into her twenties by the time I became conscious of my Ballyhaunis heritage. So I never knew her as a young girl, only as an accomplished woman.

My main, sometimes vague, memories are of a self-possessed and stylish lady who played the cello and was a comptometer instructor. The comptometer was the cutting edge mechanical calculator in the business world of its day. It later emerged that she was involved in interior design, including of a well known Ballyhaunis pub, but most impressively, of Canon Horan's Knock Basilica interior, as mentioned by the priest at her funeral mass this morning.

Colett and Frank on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2009

Fr. Stephen, PP Ballyhaunis, encapsulated much of my memory of Colette when he mentioned her elegance, creativity, strong personality and quoted what I think was a Castlebar author describing her as "a class act".

I am personally grateful to Colette for her contributions to my own efforts at family history research. I knew I had an uncle who died on the Somme but Colette, through I think Frank's connections with the Military History Society, introduced me to the background to Uncle John's death.

On another occasion she recounted how Uncle Paddy had died because of his impulsive skinny dipping on a lake, from a boat with mixed company where the boatman wouldn't let him back on board for his want of clothing and in deference to the modesty of the young ladies present.

It wasn't exactly like that, but that did turn out to be the guts of it, sort of, and had I not heard her version of the event I wouldn't have had anything to pursue.

At my present age, my contemporaries, those who have survived this far, are dying all around me. So the experience of other people's deaths and funerals becomes a more emotional experience as time goes on. I have even got to the stage that, when I'm taking leave of a living contemporary at a funeral, I suggest that we might meet at the next funeral providing it is not mine or theirs.

Colette's farewell mass in St. Patrick's Ballyhaunis

Fr. Stephen made it a very dignified and impressive ceremony. Though he hadn't known Colette hardly at all, he had done his homework, and in the absence of family eulogies did her proud.

He concelebrated the mass with Colette's cousin, Fr. Frank Fahey, who had once been a curate in Knock, then in charge of Ballintubber Abbey and is currently retired.

The Irish language also had an innings in the form of the Lord's prayer and the music was tasteful and appropriate.

I'll finish with an image of Fr. Stephen's: "Death is not the end, it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has begun.".

May she rest in peace.