Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
THE Franciscan Friars of the Renewal based in Delmege Park, Moyross, have been awarded the Limerick Person of the Month award for their efforts in bringing a new sense of hope to the people of the area.
Full story here.
Monday, November 19, 2007
She was born in the very same week as Frank Sinatra.
A few years ago, I got Moore's memoirs out of the library. He quoted what is probably the best-ever newspaper review of a recital by a singer:
"Last night Miss Blank sang at the Wigmore Hall. Why?"
Thursday, November 08, 2007
It was in the Engineering Building, very close to the number 10 bus terminal. About 30 people were present, mainly students I presume.
His subject was "101 Reasons Not To Be Catholic". He went through various lists of objections to Catholicism from some Protestants, secularists, dissident Catholics, etc, and how they tend to cancel each other out. For example, for every complaint against the Church one person has, another person has the exact opposition complaint. Such as, one person might say that the Church is too dogmatic and rigid for sticking up and maintaining beliefs, such as the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception. Someone else might say that the Church is too lenient by insisting on the doctrine of free will!
In talking about atheism/agnosticism, he came up with a brilliant quote which I feel best sums up the attitude of many so-called atheists: "Why does Jesus get to be God, and not me?"
At one stage, Mark paused for effect to tell us the single most important question that has ever been asked, and ever will be asked: "Who Do You Say That I Am?"
Another line he came up with that I had to write down immediately: "The faith is an anvil that has worn out a thousand hammers".
Afterwards, I shook hands with him, so this is proof that he really does exist. Sometimes with some websites, I get the opinion that they are actually produced by a group of people, all working under the same pseudonym, like the Hardy Boys novels, for example.
His tour of Ireland is not finished yet, so here is his itinerary. Do go to hear him speak if you can.
I recently acquired a second-hand copy (in very good condition, I must add) of Volume Four of Fr. Frederick Copleston's famous multi-volume History of Philosophy.
My question is: could I successfully read this alone, or would I be better off to get my hands of the FULL set and start from the very beginning?
Answers in the Comments box below will be gratefully received.
Friday, October 19, 2007
First, here is the story from the slightly anti-Catholic Irish Independent.
And, here is the piece in a local newspaper, the Western People.
Here is a more deep-down analysis from the Belfast Telegraph, a newspaper which has been traditionally regarded as "a Protestant paper", but is now part of the Independent News & Media group, a company which dominates the Irish newspaper scene.
Here is the online version of the latest edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette. You will have to scroll half-way down the page.
I know today is Friday, but I haven't seen this weekend's The Irish Catholic yet.
So, Mrs. Henderson, as a Catholic layman all I can say is welcome aboard the Barque of Peter. And I can promise you that it's not going to be a totally comfortable trouble-free journey.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
There will be a talk on "Venerable Edel" given by Most Rev. R.S. Ndingi Mwana 'A Nzeki, Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya. There will first be Welcome and Introduction by Fr. Bede McGregor, O.P., the Spiritual Director of the Concilium, which is the highest governing council of the Legion of Mary. Then it says that Most Rev. John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne, will give the vote of thanks.
This will take place in Nazareth Hall, De Montfort House, Morning Star Avenue, Dublin 7, on Wednesday October 3rd, at 7.30 pm.
Morning Star Avenue is a cul-de-sac off North Brunswick Street.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
She was born in Kanturk, County Cork, and died in Kenya on May 12th, 1944. She was a Legion of Mary Envoy, that is someone who basically works full time setting up Legion branches in what would be termed new territory.
Here is a link to the official Legion profile of her; you might have to click the link to her name at the top.
And here is a longer article about her from Down Under.
There are two biographies about her: the first written years ago by the late Cardinal Suenens of Belgium, the second written about ten years ago by Fr. Desmond Forristal, and I have read both.
My favourite Edel Quinn story is about the day when the Concilium, which is the highest governing council in the Legion, was debating whether or not to appoint her as Envoy to East Africa. Some Legionaries were concerned, mainly because she was a tuberculosis survivor, and they were worried that her health would not stand up to the demands of the job and the climate. Edel's response were words that rank as one of the best Catholic quotations of the century. She said: "I know I am not going on a picnic!" The Concilium approved her appointment.
The other very interesting story about her is one that did not appear in the Suenens book; my guess is that Cardinal Suenens did not put it in to spare the dignity of Edel's family. But it's in Fr. Forristal's book.
Edel's father worked for a bank, and he kept getting transferred around the country, meaning that Edel's childhood was divided among several locations. One location was in Tralee in County Kerry. What happened was basically that Edel's father was fond of the odd flutter on a horse now and then; that doesn't sound unusual, but this situation was different, because since Edel's father worked for a bank, he had access to other people's money!!
Luckily for him, and the family, he wasn't fired, but was transferred to Dublin and to a position where he did not have access to other people's money! And that was significant, because the Legion had not yet spread around Ireland, so Dublin is where Edel came into contact with the Legion! Such are the turning points of history!!
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
The new location will be St. Kevin's in Harrington Street. This is about a ten-minute walk south of St. Audeon's. Someone I know was at the 6 pm Saturday Vigil Mass yesterday evening, and the Parish Priest, Fr. James Larkin, announced it. Now the Holy Father's Summorum Pontificum comes into effect September 14th, but the switch will probably not happen for some time after that; apparently a news Parish Chaplain for the Tridentine Rite has to be appointed. The Tridentine Rite will be 10.30 am, and then the Novus Ordo Mass at 12 noon.
Currently Fr. Larkin is on his own in St Kevin's; this parish, like others in the city centre, has seen a population exodus to the suburbs over the last two decades or so; and this church is only a ten -minute walk from the Dublin Mosque, so there is a reasonably-sized Moslem population in the area.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
In recent years, Norway has had an influx of immigrants, especially from Poland, so one of the Sunday Masses here is in Polish and another in English. If you are looking for Mass times in Norway, the best source is http://www.katolsk.no/ which is in Norwegian, so the magic word you are looking for is "Messetider".
St. Olav's is located on Akersvein, a street on the northside of the city centre of Oslo. There is a small Catholic bookshop, located over my left shoulder as I took the photo.
Obviously this is not the only location for Mass in Oslo, and frankly since I did not spend much time in Oslo, I did not get to visit any of the others. But I suppose that gives me an excuse to go back.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
And I have come back.
Yes, I really, really, did go through Hell.
On a train.
Here's the proof. Here is a picture of Hell. Actually, this is is the train station.
If you ever land at Vaernes Airport, the airport serving the city of Trondheim, you can get a train from the Airport to Trondheim Central which takes about 45 minutes, and after the Airport, the next stop is Hell.
I didn't get out of the train; the doors opened, and I just pointed my camera and clicked. In fact, I was hoping to come back to Hell on another day to have a proper look around. But I didn't get the chance.
The word "Hell" obviously means something in the Norwegian language. But I can always say, if anybody ever tells me to go to Hell, that I've already been there!
Monday, July 02, 2007
I went to Norway. More to follow, including photos, about this beautiful corner of God's earth.
So now I'm back in wet Ireland; but in fact, it has been quite wet in Norway for the past week as well.
As for me, I had one bad weather day in Norway; the rest of my holiday was mainly like in this picture:
Try not to be too jealous!
Monday, May 21, 2007
As most of you know, here we have what is technically known as Proportional Representation by the Single Transferable Vote (PR/STV). I have heard the system criticised mainly because it increases the possibility of "unstable" coalition governments; the last time a party got a majority in the Dail was 1977.
You get your ballot paper, and mark in your first preference candidate. But you can continue to vote for other candidates by writing in numbers 2, 3, 4, etc, against their name. The transfers come in two possible ways; first, when a candidate exceeds the quota and is elected, the surplus of votes (difference between quota and votes received) are then distributed. The second way is by elimination: the candidate with the lowest votes is eliminated, and the votes distributed by second preference, and so on. This process continues until all the seats are filled.
It is possible to be elected without reaching the quota, because after successive candidates are eliminated, there might be only one remaining. Some voters will only vote for one candidate, so these votes are described as "non-transferable".
The whole system is in contrast to what they have in the UK for Parliament, the "first past the post system", where you can be elected with considerably less than half of the vote, especially if there are a lot of candidates.
Here, it results in what some regard as a fairer representation for smaller parties, and prevents the larger parties, especially Fianna Fail, from monopolising power. In the past, Fianna Fail in government has put forward to the people two referenda to amend the constitution to abolish the PR/STV system, and both times the people said No.
Apart from voting, my closest democratic experience has been two days as Poll Clerk, both over ten years ago. For the first experience, at a General Election, I was "between jobs" at the time, and following a tip-off, I went to the City Sheriff's office and told them there that I was available for election work. A couple of weeks later I got a letter appointing me as Poll Clerk at a polling station in Dublin, which was not far from home. Frankly, I was hoping to be counting the votes, which I suspected was more fun!
Polling stations in Ireland are generally the local schools, as this one was. We were in the constituency of Dublin Central in what would be regarded as a staunchly working-class - and socially-deprived - area of Dublin.
Each voting station in Dublin has different desks; each desk is assigned to certain streets, and depending on where you live, you go to that Polling Station, and find the desk assigned for your street/road. Each desk has a Presiding Officer and a Poll Clerk. They check your name on the register, (they may possibly ask you for i.d.) give you your ballot paper, and point to the ballot box into which you place your votes. There is a different box for different desks.
Each Polling Station also has a Supervisor - and a Garda on duty!
Sometimes, the desk may also have who is known as a Personation Agent. This is a representative of one of the political parties. When a potential voter comes in, they may ask the Presiding Officer and Poll Clerk to insist and ask the potential voter for i.d.
When I first did Poll Clerk, the Presiding Officer was a girl who worked in Dublin Corporation; and we had a Personation Agent, a lady whose husband was a Fianna Fail worker; she admitted to us that she really didn't have a clue what she was doing.
As I said, each desk has its own Electoral Register for that desk. When the voter arrives, the Poll Clerk or Presiding Officer gets a pencil and draws a line to cross out the name of the voter, thus preventing them from voting twice! What is significant here is that although voting is secret, and nobody knows what way you yourself voted, the candidates and the candidates' agents are entitled to see this document, so they know who turned out to vote, and who didn't!
In my time, the station was open from 0900 to 2100. Next Thursday, stations will be open from 0730 to 2230. In order to encourage higher turnouts, the hours have steadily been increased. Incidentally, today, voting actually took place on Co. Donegal's offshore islands.
So I had a twelve-hour workday. Being prepared, I had brought some food with me. You can't leave the station. Obviously, toilet facilities are in the building!
We were told to get there well before 0900 to set things up. Now the little wooden booths, to allow you to write up your ballot paper in privacy, were already there. We put up some official notices, left out pencils in the booths, etc. The equipment each table has was something I wasn't expecting: as well as the ballot papers, there was lots of string, wax, a box of matches, a waxing seal, and a small Bible. At the end of day, the ballot box is closed, the lid tied up with string, and the wax poured onto the string and sealed! Then the boxes are taken to overnight storage before counting begins next morning.
We never needed the Bible; I believe it is for use when someone comes in who cannot vote by themselves, such as someone blind, or possibly disabled with no use of hands. The Bible is used for a third-party, possibly the Garda, to declare publicly that they will fill in the ballot paper on behalf of the voter in accordance with the voter's wishes.
Our day went gradually and slowly; the lady Personation Agent left around lunchtime, and was replaced for a couple of hours by a young man. I never forgot one piece of advice he gave us; it related to our voting register. Our area included a nursing home run by nuns, and the register included the elderly residents, about fifty people. He told us that if anyone came and claimed to be one of the people on that part of the list, he told us to definitely ask them for i.d. All day, none of these residents came to vote.
The turnout at our table was about 50%, which would have been expected considering the area and the state of the country at the time. People in poorer areas tend to have a lower interest in politics, and a lower confidence in politicians.
And a high point of the day was getting to shake hands with the one and only Bertie Ahern!! Note that he was not Taoiseach at the time, so I have never shaken hands with a Taoiseach!!
I had one more day as a Poll Clerk; not too long after that General Election, there was a European Parliament Election. This time the City Sheriff made the first move and sent me a letter; I didn't have to go to his office! I was appointed Poll Clerk in another school in another constituency, but fortunately within walking distance of home. By coincidence, there was a by-election for the Dail in this constituency as well, and I remember we got to shake hands with two of the candidates.
And on both occasions, a couple of weeks afterwards, a cheque arrived from the City Sheriff. I can't remember how much, but on both occasions it was less than £100 in old money.
For 2007, I am in gainful employment, so there is no need to make a trip to the City Sheriff's office. But whereas 0900 to 2100 was manageable, I don't really fancy being there from 0730 to 2230.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
A man who was declared dead by staff at the Mater hospital in Dublin
earlier this month was subsequently found to be alive when mortuary personnel
came to collect his body from his hospital bed.
Full story here from The Irish Times.
I have to admit that, at first, this story made me laugh. But on second thoughts, it looks like it was a stressful experience for all concerned.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
AFTER READING and listening about Ryanair and their charges I decided to open a barbershop and call it Ryan-Hair.
I will determine the price of haircut by the following criteria.
First of all, the charge for the haircut will be only €0.01 with a few other charges.
If you want to sit while getting your haircut it will cost you €4.00 to get in the chair and €4.00 to get out.
If you decide to stand during the haircut there is a priority charge of €10.00.
If you want your hair washed it will cost you €4.00 for cold water or €6.00 for hot water and if you want it dried add €4.00 more.
If you want to sit inside the barbershop while waiting for an open chair it will cost you €2.00 sit-down charge.
If you bring shopping bags with you, it will cost €1.50 per bag when you enter and €1.50 when you leave.
Other charges include VAT at 13.5pc, a service charge of 10pc, €2.50 for credit card charge and last charge will be for €3.00 for hidden charges such as the use of the loo, one cup of coffee or tea, depreciation on clippers and combs, shampoo and conditioner.
Terms and Conditions: Hair cannot be more than 4 inches long; Check-in times for haircut at least 20 minutes before appointment; Seating is not assigned, first come first serve.
Kevin Devitte, Westport, Co. Mayo.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
A man who dressed up as Buho, a female elf, has been convicted by a jury at
Belfast Crown Court of taking underwear from a shop in a knifepoint raid.
Robert Boyd, 45, from Broadlands in Carrickfergus, held up staff at the
Orchid shop in Belfast disguised in a wig, hat and glasses.
But that wasn't the first; in fact, the first statue movement happened on this day, March 8th, 1966, when a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson in O'Connell Street, Dublin, moved.
In fact, Nelson's Pillar was blown up by a bomb. The full story is here.
Actually, the first bomb blew off the top half of the Column; after that, our Army was brought in to destroy the remainder of the Column by a so-called "controlled explosion". People tell me that the second bomb actually did more damage to O'Connell St than the first. I have heard that the rubble was used to build tennis courts in Raheny.
Because nobody was hurt, the whole events are remembered with typical Dublin good humour. It inspired a song which topped the Irish charts, and here are the lyrics:
To the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic".
Up went Nelson in old Dublin,
Up went Nelson in old Dublin,
All along O'Connell Street the stones and rubble flew,
As up went Nelson and the pillar too.
One early morning in the year of 'sixty six,
A band of Irish laddies were knocking up some tricks,
They thought Horatio Nelson had overstayed a mite,
So they helped him on his way with some sticks of gelignite.
The Irish population came from miles around,
To see the English hero lying on the ground,
The Dublin Corporation had no funds to have it done,
With the pillar blew to pieces by the tonne, tonne, tonne.
A crowd of lads and lassies from a dance nearby came out,
To see the bits of Nelson scattered all about,
A gossoon from the Coombe says we'll have to have a care,
In case the Corporation put King Billy there.
(Note that although I am posting this, I do not condone acts of violence!)
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
To their credit, they made a phone call to Jerusalem to talk to someone who REALLY knows the score, Fr. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor.
Here is the link to the programme's archive page: scroll about halfway down.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The paper actually hits the streets late Wednesday, so this story got coverage in Thursday's edition of the Irish Examiner. And thus got a far wider audience.
The bulk of the story is here from catholicireland.net
The story is that the Irish Bishops' Conference got a letter from the Diocese of Dubrovnik about the issue of Irish couples wanting to get married in Dubrovnik, mainly because it's a nice place to take photos, and the weather is generally much nicer than it is in Ireland. Not because either bride or groom has any real connection with the place. In other words, to them, the marriage is a social event first, not a sacrament.
The letter says that "wedding candidates put our parish priests under a lot of pressure arranging wedding ceremonies and booking place tickets and hotels before getting all the necessary papers. . . We think that it would be very useful, for pastoral reasons, to discourage those who want to get married outside their parishes, dioceses and country".
The letter goes on to ask: ". . . we will insist also, that they bring a priest with them to perform the wedding ceremony and be a witness at the ceremony".
What I especially like is that they are not afraid to raise the key issues of receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation before the Sacrament of Marriage; "it seems that a number of them do not go to Confession at all, including invited guests and still go to receive Holy Communion"; and dress code, especially for ladies.
This is really a by-product of the Celtic Tiger; also, a good number of Irish people have basically forgotten that marriage is a sacrament (or maybe they were never taught that in the first place) and it's not just a social event.
Though I have heard stories that if you're getting married here, you have to book the church and/or reception up to a year in advance. And it must also be said that getting married in Ireland can be very expensive, depending on how many guests you have at the reception.
But I've never been invited to a wedding in Dubrovnik. Maybe if I got invited to one, with all expenses paid, I might feel differently!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
It's by author and journalist Aubrey Malone, who regularly writes film reviews. But with tongue firmly in cheek, he has come up with "Movie Predictions for 2007".
Grateful thanks to Editor Garry O'Sullivan for permission to reproduce here.
Shirley MacLaine claims Marlon Brando has come back to life as her new goldfish. Plans biopic to mark the occasion.
Jack Black signs contract with Columbia to make 17 films about a dysfunctional vegetable salesman with cross-dressing issues.
Julia Roberts gets a barring order against Danny Moder because he keeps wearing the same turquoise shirt.
Kevin Costner to make new 4-hour epic about shoelaces.
New James Bond for the screen, with orange hair.
Jennifer Aniston changes her name to Jennifer Jolie to annoy Brad Pitt.
Burt Reynolds announces screen comeback, as a chimpanzee.
Robert de Niro in Raging Bull prequel, Raging Calf. The make-up will take 3 years.
Robert Downey Junior becomes barman in Betty Ford Clinic.
Sean Penn announces he will appear in John Lennon biopic. To get "into" the part he's going to have himself shot for real, with five rounds of ammunition. He's to receive $20,000 for the part, but his medical bills will be another $150 million onto that.
Robert de Niro cameos in Fair City.
Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger to make a film about a couple who are trying to murder one another. Baldwin accuses the director of typecasting.
National Enquirer scoop: "James Dean Spotted Shooting Up In The Viper Room".
Vince Vaughan moves in with Brad Pitt.
Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie announce plans for new chick flick.
Matt Damon sues the Enquirer for accusing him of being interesting. In a startling court development, he wins the case after removing his glasses in front of the jury.
Nick Nolte plays binliner in new Oscar-nominated blockbuster which will also feature Ashton Kutcher as a soother.
Robert de Niro does cameo in The Simpsons.
Latest Enquirer exclusive: Elvis Plotted To Assassinate Marilyn Monroe.
New Michael Barrymore biopic mooted. Barrymore applies to play the lead role but is rejected because deemed to be "too tall".
Kiera Knightley to star as the new "Jane" Bond. (Pierce Brosnan now wants to be Q).
Jack Black announces he's currently shooting Dodgeball 2 - he will play the ball.
Quentin Tarantino to cut mother's arm off in new martial arts flick. "She's philosophical about it", he explains, "she knows it's in the cause of art".
Michael Jackson to play the part of a toy train in new Disney "vehicle".
Jessica Simpson sells her teeth for a record six figure sum. They're to be used as piano keys in a Liberace biopic.
National Enquirer scoop: "I Saw Neil Jordan Smile". Jordan, in his defence, says it was unintentional. "I tried to grimace and it went wrong". He wants to re-shoot the piece of footage in question.
Robert de Niro to audition for The X Factor.
Elsewhere, Oliver Stone announces details of his new John F. Kennedy movie which claims that JFK was a love-child of Adolf Hitler and conspired with Marilyn Monroe to assassinate Fidel Castro. "It will be the usual meat and two veg affair", says Stone to a bunch of critics attending a sneak preview in Cannes.
Tom Cruise says he wants to re-marry Katie Holmes, the ceremony to take place on the sofa on Oprah.
Sequel to The Da Vinci Code planned with the Pope as the assassin of a curator in this version.
Charlize Theron says she'll marry Stuart Townsend in 2019. A caterer in Howth has been inked in to make the wedding cake.
Elvis Presley comes back from the grave to make new movie: I Shot John Lennon.
Angelina Jolie adopts 37 babies from Biafra as Brad Pitt loads up on the Pampers in his local Starbucks. Brad has third thoughts about his second thoughts about Angelina Jolie, thereby reverting to his first ones.
New re-make of Jaws mooted, with Jay Leno in title role.
Oprah Winfrey suggests Brad Pitt should marry Katie Holmes. Holmes in tabloid rumour of relationship with Angelina Jolie.
Warren Beatty attends birth of next wife.
Sharon Stone to appear in another Basic Instinct sequel, this time as the ice pick.
Sean Penn says he still loves Madonna and is going to name his first ulcer after her.
Demi Moore appears in new movie fully clothed, but nobody recognises her.
Brokeback Mountain sequel planned. This time Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall will be straight, but the horse will be gay.
Ben Affleck publishes his autobiography but publishers reject it when they find it contains just one sentence: "My name is Ben Affleck".
Robert de Niro to guest-host Tubridy Tonight.
National Enquirer sensation: "Elvis Had JFK Wiped Out Because Of Secret Infatuation With Marilyn".
Ben Stiller inked in for sequel to Meet The Parents - Meet The Divorce Attorneys.
Madonna becomes born-again atheist.
Cher dedicates her latest song to her plastic surgeon: "Everytime You Go Away (You Take A Part Of Me With You)".
Jessica Simpson drops out of Helen Keller biopic because: "I couldn't remember the dialogue".
Catherine Zeta Jones agrees to auction Michael Douglas' zimmer frame for charity.
National Enquirer scoop: "Marilyn Monroe And Elvis Presley Still Alive And About To Make New Movie In Catskills". It will be about a bunch of extra terrestrials trying to take over Hollywood and turn it into a theme park for demented cyborgs.
Bob Dylan to appear in a movie about his life, but refuses to talk to the director because "He keeps asking me questions about myself".
Ben Affleck nominated for Oscar for playing a wardrobe in latest David Lynch chiller.
National Enquirer scoop: "Marlon Brando Populated The Entire Island Of Tetiorea".
New James Bond for the screen - with pink feet.
Sienna Miller dating Jude Law's babysitter.
Angelina Jolie delivers Brad Pitt's baby. They call it Brangelina. Nobody is quite sure if it's a boy or girl. "What does it matter if the name fits", Brad tells interviewers at the hospital.
Tom Cruise allows Katie Holmes to get pregnant, but only on condition that she promises to keep quiet during the birth.
Monday, January 08, 2007
So 2007 has arrived, and I have decided on my New Year's Resolutions for 2007.
Answer: none whatsoever, so I don't have to go through the demotivating experience of failure.
So what's happening in 2007? Well, in Ireland, the first main event looks like being the General Election, which will probably be in either April, May or June this year. It won't be too early in the year, because the weather won't be as good and that might cause a small turnout; and it won't be in July or August because many people go on holidays then as our schools will be closed. So my prediction is May.
What looks interesting about this year is the prospect of what the Irish Independent described last week as Ireland's "dirtiest" EVER General Election.
Fianna Fail, in their bid to stay in power, have engaged an American political consulting firm named Shrum, Devine, Donilan. And the largest opposition party, Fine Gael, have taken on board a different American firm of gurus, Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner.
If you have an interest in psephology, I recommend visiting Elections Ireland, to which I have linked in the sidebar.
Before the General Election, in Spring, we will have the Six Nations' rugby Championships, and a good performance here by Ireland could result in much hype and expectation for the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.
In Ireland, the "ordinary" people play Gaelic football, hurling, or soccer, and spectate at horse racing. Rugby was always just behind these in popularity, but the success in the last few years, culminating in Munster's European Cup success in 2006, has been a huge boost for the sport - and thus Ireland has not been left behind following the introduction of professionalism into the game.
I remember several years ago doing some research in the National Library in Kildare Street, when I accidentally came across an article in a sporting newspaper either from 1948 or 1949; I can't remember which but I'm pretty sure it was from whatever year Ireland won the Grand Slam. There was a photograph of the 15-man team, and an article describing the players, and also comparing them with past Irish players; but what I noticed most was that this piece had no reference whatsoever to a coach, trainer, or manager.
And of course, most especially we can look forward to the Cheltenham Festival in March.