'Japa Ireland' and an appalling abuse of trust

“Go to India,” they said, over and over again.

“It will change your life.”

With all we heard about the imprisonment of women in Magdalene Laundries, the appalling treatment of women and children in Mother and Baby homes, and the criminal cover-ups of sex abuse by members of the clergy, it was inevitable many members of my generation would turn our backs on the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.

And yet there is such a huge spiritual side to our ‘Irishness’, so evident in the traditions and rituals which pre-date the arrival of Christianity to our island,  that many of us have set out in search of new outlets far removed from the Catholic traditions we grew up with.

But is it the case that in some cases we have swapped one group of abusers for another?

And that some people have turned a blind eye when alerted to abuse by colleagues or ‘teachers’, just as the Bishops used to move child rapists from one parish to another without any concern for the welfare of future victims?

This week, I…

For Peter and the families, it's personal ...

Imagine you are 70 years old. Throughout your life you have dealt with the stigma of being branded as ‘illegitimate’ and your long quest to find your birth mother had ended in a Magdalene Laundry, where she had lived for over 30 years.You used to visit her every fortnight, after managing to track her down, although the nuns warned you to pretend that she was your aunt. They told you they would prevent you from visiting if you told the other inmates the truth about your relationship with your own mother and it used to pain you to see the defeat, the lack of sparkle, in her eyes.Together with the other inmates, she washed and cleaned the clothes of the great and the good around the city and county. For years, she never ventured outside the laundry walls even though she was just minutes from the heart of the city.But you kept the relationship going, and enthused about how her spirit lifted just a little after you married and she met her first grandchild. You saw flickers of her spirit on…

When pro-Government 'spin' erodes trust in our media

How much do you trust the news you read?

Do you trust the newspaper you buy or website you visit for the latest updates to tell you the truth and hold the powerful to account?

Do you expect journalists to report accurately, to investigate the truth behind the news, and sometimes to annoy those in power in the course of carrying out their duties?

Or have you become disillusioned or cynical about what you read in your news feed?

Laughing at 'fake news'

In Ireland last year, we laughed with bewilderment at President Donald J. Trump and his obsession with “fake news”.

Already shocked by his election the previous November, we were fascinated by the dispute which arose over the size of the crowd at his inauguration in January 2017.

How did something so trivial, so unimportant, become headline news for days? Why did it become such a bone of contention with the new leader?

It was amazing to see the new President of the United States claim that the crowd went “all the way back to the Wa…

Why do the Irish not talk about 'The Famine'?

By Ciaran Tierney
Why, until now, has there been so little evidence of the Great Hunger of 1845 to 1849 on and around the streets, parks, and monuments of Ireland?
A former Hollywood scriptwriter, the people of a Cork village, and a Dublin taxi-driver were not the only ones to be struck by it.
But they decided to do something about it in recent years.
Sometimes you need to go away or talk to strangers to see your home place with clearer eyes or question why some things are somehow best forgotten or ignored.
After many years spent in Britain and the United States, it shocked Mark Kennedy upon his return to his native Galway that there was no public memorial to the greatest disaster in Irish history.
There was no place or statue in his city to commemorate the catastrophe that stole a million lives and forced up to two million to seek out new lives in North America. And Mark wanted to know why.
There was nothing to show friends from the U.S. when they visited the West of Ireland to explore thei…

Do the Irish really need to "get over themselves"?

Are the Irish an over-sensitive lot?

Is it really worthy of a national debate – and even a Twitter tag – when a British TV presenter goes on social media to tell us that some of us “need to get over ourselves”?

And all because he described a row between the British and the Irish over the impact ‘Brexit’ will have on the Irish border as a “kerfuffle” in an interview with the Irish Tanaiste (or Deputy Prime Minister)!

The online reaction to a Twitter outburst by Sky News presenter Adam Boulton might have been something of a storm in a tea-cup this week, but it comes at a time when Irish people are deeply alarmed by the attitudes they are hearing from some people on the other side of the Irish Sea.

Not to mention general disquiet over the impact Brexit will have on the Irish economy, particularly in border communities which were devastated by 30 years of The Troubles until the 1998 Good Friday Agreement brought wonderful changes to all of our lives.

The Republic exports €15.6 billion wo…

Bluster over Brexit shows many wounds have yet to be healed

Irene from Manchester, England, was very upset.                                 

She thought it was terrible that a small little island has been holding up those important Brexit negotiations.

She wrote to a newspaper this week to say that the island next door to Britain was “too small to have a border” and “causes everybody a headache”.

In her opinion, Ireland “should never have been split”.

She said it was about time the Irish made up their minds, to decide whether they were “in or out” of the wonderful United Kingdom.

It seemed to have escaped her attention that the Irish pretty much made their minds up about the British Empire a long time ago.

They spent hundreds of years trying to break free; issues such as the Plantation of Ulster, the Great Famine, the Penal Laws, and the attempted destruction of their native language might just have helped the pesky peasants to “make up their minds”.

Irene was quite shocked to discover that this little island to the west had a border, the onl…

The great Galway 'busker war' of 2017!

This is Emma.                                                                           

Emma’s a gem.

Emma and people like her add so much to the vibrancy of my city.

Throughout the year, she’s a huge hit with tourists and locals alike. She takes up her spot at the top of High Street, puts on a backing track, and dances to the best of Irish music.

Shoppers take a break to enjoy her superb skills as a traditional Irish dancer, while visitors soak up this perfect taste of the vibrant native culture in Galway.

A few yards up the street, more visitors are captivated by the Galway Street Club. A ‘raggle-taggle’ collection of performers from all over the world, they entertain the masses for free on Shop Street and their act has become so successful that they are now invited to play decent-sized venues all over Ireland.

When they are not pumping out the sounds outside Eason’s, their perch is often taken up by James.

Gifted with a voice akin to Luke Kelly, one of his sessions on the street …