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 …

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 …

Vegans to Farmers: Let’s Communicate

No doubt farmers will dismiss out of hand someone who believes that animals have rights. But I hope you’ll hear me out. I am not saying you are going to hell for raising animals for slaughter or for trying to make a living from your land, and to take care of you and your family. In my view all of …

Reforming Our Food Culture

Steven Poole declares that ‘Western culture is eating itself stupid’. His book You Aren’t What You Eat (2012) pokes fun at the snobbery, fads and celebrity culture that attend ‘foodie’ culture. The term ‘foodie’ emerged in the 1980s, but the idea of discussing the enjoyment of food is much older. In France it goes back to the start of the …

Slaughter House Rules of the Jungle

(Published in Village Magazine, June 2016) Ireland is awakening to the environmental impact of its livestock industry. Village has led the way, tackling an unpalatable subject that the O’Reilly/O’Brien press and the Old Lady of D’Olier Street for a long time ignored. RTE has been more craven still in its favouritism towards a livestock industry, often lovingly referred to as …

An Enduring Legacy – Lessons from the Great Famine

(Published in Village Magazine, November 2012) Who was to blame for the Great Famine? This thorny question rears its head with the recent publication of the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine by Cork University Press. We may accept the detached assessment of the American economic historian Joel Mokyr expressed some years ago that ‘Ireland was considered by Britain as …

The Body and Shame

Review of The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism and the Socially Shaped body by Luna Dolezal. Lexington Book, Lenham, 2015 (Village Magazine, July 2015) In Ireland philosophy rarely features in mainstream discourses. We seem more comfortable in either the narrow empiricism inherited from our former colonial overlords or the lyrical engagement found in poetry. The unflinching analysis of concepts found …

Too Much of a Bad Thing

(London Magazine, December 2011) So many tears have been shed for sugar that by rights it ought to have lost its sweetness. Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat The English palate, especially the working class palate, now rejects good food almost automatically. George Orwell Type: ‘Haiti’; ‘Dominican Republic’; and ‘border’, into an image search on Google. A split-second-cyber-miracle-later a startling aerial photograph of a …