Health, History, Sport, Uncategorized

Sport offers mythology for our time.

Across the world, every week, millions of men and women descend on stadia in homage to sporting spectacles. Countless others, of all ages, slouch before TV sets, and even squint into smartphones to satisfy a compulsive appetite, which I know too well. In Ireland we have a particular grá for team sports, as participants but mostly as viewers, or even …


Communism, Development, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, Ireland, Politics, Uncategorized

Green should mean Red

The leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan has written an article for Village Magazine on the origins and current orientation of his party. I welcome references to seminal influences such as Rachel Carson, whose Silent Spring (1962) drew attention to the environmental damage wrought by industrial farming; and to 1960s ‘systems thinking’, culminating in the Club of Rome, which …


Ireland’s Livestock-Industrial-Complex

It may come as a surprise that a Republican President, and former Allied commander-in-chief, Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term ‘the Military-Industrial Complex’ before leaving office in 1961. Throughout the Cold War, and beyond, the US arms industry has exerted profound influence on political decision-making. This has yielded vast federal investment in manufacturing operations, and brought sinister deals with tyrannical …

Undoing kitsch: why I am asking for your financial support.

Writers today confront challenges similar to musicians. People don’t expect to pay for online content, or the music they listen to. It is time for that attitude to change. I have added a pop-up to this site, allowing readers to contribute financially after spending longer than two minutes on an article. Large organisations such as the Guardian and Radiohead put …

Vegans march on man eating pepperoni pizza.

There’s been a scent of Veganism in the air this week. Before I hear the cheap joke about the consequences of a diet high in fibre, let me explain what I mean. To some people the Irish Times Magazine is an emblem of the degeneration of Irish culture into mindless consumerism. In general the magazine’s articles have a lifeless quality …

Feirme-geddon. Ten reasons why Irish farming as we know it is on the way out.

We have already seen two agricultural revolutions in Ireland, now we are set for a third. This presents opportunities to farmers who are willing to adapt. After the last Ice Age, the agriculturists who arrived in Ireland brought with them a tool kit of grains and domesticated animals that had spread from the Middle East into Europe. Irish conditions could …

Spinning Yarns and Weaving Tales

I start with a little criticism before I get into rhapsodies. For a venue to prohibit a band from playing any covers during a performance strikes me as misguided. I commend encouragement of artistic creation, but this rule offends my Romantic sensibility; it could encourage a breakdown of hallowed musical and poetic form. Experimental music has its place, even at …

After a name change, it’s politics as usual in Czechia.

Last Thursday I was given a Tibetan flag to wave in front of Czech President Miloš Zeman in the small town of Zabreh na Morave. The photo above shows me under a banner in Czech proclaiming: ‘we are ashamed of you’. I had met a Czech friend off the train, and proceeded straight to the main square along with a …

It’s personal: why I want to give up Ryanair.

Most of us have a Ryanair horror story to recount. My own version occurred at the end of a trip to my then Czech girlfriend in Prague. I blame Ryanair for the end of that affair. Though it was also my own fault for getting into a post-modern, long-distance relationship. Anyway, we’d just spent a week together before Christmas in …

Ireland: a failing state. 10 reasons why.

A French geographer once described Ireland as ‘une isle derriere une isle’, ‘an island behind an island’, which neatly expresses this island’s insulation from wider European currents. That is not to say we have had an easy time, acting as a guinea pig for English colonial exploitation, but at least since independence in 1922 our remoteness has brought a stability …