Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous 10

17th Jan, 2019



Something we Irish adore is a good cup of tea. We love nothing more than starting the day with a nice, warm brew. But as the years move on, so has our love for coffee. I love a latte and never fail to have one while on my afternoon walk.

But I see that 60% of wild coffees are now threatened with extinction from the loss of forests, climate change and fungal disease and pests.

"Warbler and Wren", a brand I like, are new Irish coffee roasters who use 100% premium Arabica “shade grown” beans from Ethiopia which are among the ones most threatened. Both birds are the natural world's protectors of the coffee bean by keeping devastating coffee pests from the insect world at bay.

16th Jan, 2019



A small Irish-based restaurant chain (Supermacs) has challenged the worldwide burger chain (McDonald's) to cancel the use of the Big Mac and Mc trademarks - and won! This is an indication of how important the European institutions are to help protect small businesses.

Supermacs claimed McDonald’s engaged in “trademark bullying; registering brand names… which are simply stored away in a war chest to use against future competitors”. The European Trademark Office says that McDonald’s had not proven genuine use of the contested trademark as a burger or as a restaurant name.

The battle comes after McDonald’s previously succeeded in stopping Supermac’s plans to expand into Great Britain and Europe on the basis of the similarity between the name Supermac’s and the Big Mac.

Supermac’s currently has 116 restaurants across Ireland, including three in Northern Ireland. Following this judgment, it now hopes to expand into Great Britain and Europe.

15th Jan, 2019


Mild Dementia

While others around me do not seem to notice it, I myself feel that I am suffering from at least the initial signs of dementia. Although these may at present be subtle, I recognize the early signs in myself.

These include the usual memory difficulties, but also embarassing word-finding problems when words will not come to me in mid-sentence and other people try to  suggest the word I am searching for. Another sign is getting lost even in places I once knew like the palm of my hand, and repeating things, actions and stories, and increasing confusion. These problems, however, are not yet severe enough to affect my daily functioning - especially looking after my bit of money!

12th Jan, 2019



Do we Christians really believe all that stuff we say every week in the Creed?

Recently I've been re-reading the memoir written by the Rev. Patrick Semple, a Protestant minister who was born and reared here in the Bull Ring in Wexford. He was born at the beginning of the second world war - a time of Catholic triumphalism when ecumenism was non-existent.

It is a very straight-talking, honest and often humourous 'insider' account of growing up in a kind of society I was reared in myself and recognize. He writes about ecumenism and lack of it at parish level, of the idiosyncracies of aspects of the Church of Ireland, about difficulties with various aspects of Christian faith itself and about the hypocrisy often found in all churches and creeds of the time.

His approach could well be summed up by Tennyson's lines in "In memoriam" : "There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds." This seems to me a critique not of the creeds themselves, but of the hypocrisy often associated with them.

A phony faith won’t save anyone. But the answer isn’t to jettison the historic creeds because some recite them hypocritically. Instead, the answer to such hypocrisy, which I believe Tennyson is rightly decrying, is found in Jesus’ words to Thomas: “Stop doubting and believe!(John 20:26).

The photo above is of the apse of St. Iberius' Church, Wexford, where Semple and his family were staunch attenders.

11th Jan, 2019



We are generally never 'too old'. Age is just a number; it can be just a state of mind. Let us dare to be different, take the risk, move beyond where I am comfortable. As many have shown and continue to show us, there is no need to stop living life to the full or to cease from fruitful work simply because we have reached some arbitrarily set age for what broader society calls ‘retirement’.

Older people have a store of wisdom and experience that cannot be accessed by those of fewer years. Older people have the capacity to offer time and presence to tasks that do not require a nine-to-five regular daily commitment. We can open a blog, open an account with Facebook or Twitter, write letters to editors and politicians. We can write to those in detention or prison. We can call radio talkback programs. We can make our collective voices heard in the cause of those less able to have their voices heard. We can take minutes, account for donations, keep records, scan the media, manage archival material, summarize government papers and academic articles… All of these talents are invaluable when put at the disposal of charitable organisations.

Maybe such organisations can call on us oldsters for help, or suggest ways we can be of service to the community.

9th Jan, 2019



Is there any word more used and abused in the English language than 'love'? This comes to mind because this morning at Mass a reading from the New Testament speaks of God's love for all of us. "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 Jn 4:12)

But what does love mean at all, at all?  I love bananas,  they made love, it's a love story, etc.

Myself? If it does not involve giving, it's not love. Love must always be outgoing. 'I love bananas', in the sense that I am thinking of the pleasure they give me, is not true love. In 'They made love', to be true love, one must always be thinking of the pleasure one is giving rather than the pleasure one is receiving.

7th Jan, 2019



‘What kind of Christian am I?’ A sinful one, I suppose, although sinfulness is not generally considered a requirement for being a Christian (even Pope Francis admitted to being a sinner in one of the first acts of his papacy). I am a Christian in the Roman Catholic tradition. These days, identifying oneself as a Christian, never mind as a Catholic, can be difficult, even in Ireland.

Pope Francis attaches great importance to the sacrament of baptism—an initiatory rite which, for him, goes straight to the heart of the matter of being Christian. Speaking at a general audience one day he said: ‘I would like to ask each one of you here, and you can respond in your heart: how many of you remember the date of your baptism?’ He urged them to find out and to celebrate the day in future with gratitude. He could have told them that he himself had been baptised in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians and Saint Charles Borromeo in Buenos Aires on Christmas Day 1936.

Where and when was I myself baptized a Christian and a Catholic? I know that I was baptized in 1932 in St. Brigid's wooden military chapel (1930) in the Army Barracks on the Curragh of Kildare. I must admit I do not know the date but I intend to find out! The same can be said of the date when I was confirmed as a baptized Christian in Ballymore Eustace.

5th Jan, 2019



The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in the Christian calendar on 6 January each year, and commemorates the revelation of Jesus’ divinity to the Magi, the three wise men who had followed the star to Christ’s birthplace.

A definition of an epiphany can be  "a moment of sudden or great revelation that usually changes you in some way."

James Joyce gave the name epiphany to certain short sketches he wrote between 1898 and 1904, and the idea of the epiphany was central to much of his early published fiction e.g.

"Stephen Hero was passing through Eccles' St, Dublin, one evening, one misty evening, when a trivial incident set him composing some ardent verses which he entitled a "Vilanelle of the Temptress." A young lady was standing on the steps of one of those brown brick houses which seem the very incarnation of Irish paralysis. A young gentleman was leaning on the rusty railings of the area. Stephen, as he passed on his quest, heard the following fragment of colloquy out of which he received an impression keen enough to afflict his sensitiveness very severely.

The Young Lady-(drawling discreetly) ... 0, yes ... I was ... at the ... cha ... pel ...

The Young Gentleman- (inaudibly) ... I ... (again inaudibly) ... I ...

The Young Lady-(softly) ... 0 ... but you're ... ve ... ry ... wick ... ed .

This triviality made him think of collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies. By an epiphany he meant ' a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments. He told Cranly that the clock of the Ballast Office was capable of an epiphany.

Yes, said Stephen. I will pass it time after time, allude to it, refer to it, catch a glimpse of it. It is only an item in the catalogue of Dublin's street furniture. Then all at once I see it and I know at once what it is: epiphany.

Imagine my glimpses at that clock as the gropings of a spiritual eye which seeks to adjust its vision to an exact focus. The moment the focus is reached, the object is epiphanised.

No esthetic theory is of any value which investigates with the aid of the lantern of tradition.

That last might be reflected upon by Christians!

3rd Jan, 2019


Back to Lower Class Dining

So the festivities are over and we’re back to plain menus again. No more fancy recipes, TG. Back to my favourite potato boiled in its jacket, with some butter, salt and dill! I'm not gone on baked or mashed potato, but I do like chips!

Are potatoes good for me? Yes. Are they good for weight loss? No. Do they make you fat? No, but enjoy them in moderate quantities. Potatoes are recognized as one of the most filling foods available. Boiled potatoes have the highest satiety rating and are considered seven times more satiating than croissants, which have the lowest score on the satiety index.

In Ireland, the potato is still served in its jacket in the middle of the day as it traditionally was for the lower classes. Nowadays, unfortunately, one would never find a potato in its jacket on the menu in hotels or in higher or middle class places.

1st Jan, 2019



At this time of mid-winter festivals I am reflecting on the many things that are going on in our world at present. I'm wondering about the relevance of Christmas for Christians and of Climate Change for all of us as we enter into a new year. I wonder are the efforts that we are making to have new beginnings and fresh hopes about the world we live in sufficient. Do our modern spirituality, politics, and science seriously affect these issues?

Christmas challenges us to explore and discover afresh the place of God in all things. For me it matters that God is the centre, the meaning, and the appearance of all that comes into our lives. God is all there is and God appears in all kinds of ways, especially in the Incarnation.

The past year has been very challenging. Participants struggle to make decisions to save our planet. If we cannot save life for future generations, then I am no longer sure that we can save it for heaven. But this planet, in all its aspects, beauty and variety, developing and growing as it is in a wondrous cosmos, has been described as nothing less than the Body of God. The whole of creation is Christmas from the “Big Bang" and we need a new spirituality for this.

This is increasingly becoming the challenge for Christians and for politicians and for scientists. Are we seriously facing up to the challenge? Can this be our hope?

Previous 10