Personal thoughts, opinions and comments of an independent consultant, political analyst and historian, who lives in Ireland but is aware of the whole world.
23 March 2008
As this year the Vernal Equinox (March 21st) and Ostara (March 23rd) are so close together, we have celebrated them together in one large combined ceremony. To our friends and to the readers of this weblog we like to extend our special greetings and blessings on this occasion, wishing you all
You are indeed most welcome to my humble weblog, to which I post each day a personal column, reflecting my views, thoughts and opinions of the day. Often the entries will be inspired by events and news from Ireland or abroad. Having lived in various countries before I grew solid roots on the Emerald Isle, I take note of many things that happen on the planet. And I have views and opinions. Please be my guest, read and think, and feel free to leave your personal comments as well. They are as welcome as you are here. On the right you also find some additional information, related to Ireland and other matters, for example books I recommend. From time to time I also have opinion polls and appreciate your participation. And if you like what you read, you can subscribe to my weblog (using the box below) and will receive every new entry automatically. And in case you want to find a specific word or subject - on the world-wide web or on one of my two weblogs - then you don't even have to leave the site. Scroll down to the very bottom and you will find a perfect search engine, powered by Google.
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Salvage Asgard II
Ireland's national sail training vessel, which was tragically lost at sea off the coast of France on September 11th, 2008.
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In this section you are invited to participate in opinion polls. They can be on philosophical or political matters, be related to up-coming elections in Ireland or abroad, or perhaps ask your opinion on something entirely different. The more people take part, the more representative the result will be. Please be so kind and give this section a moment of your thoughts and attention, and place your opinions below. For your kindness, time and participation I thank you in advance.
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(also known as Ireland) has been inhabited by humans for at least 10,000 years. This image shows the topographical structure of the island, which was until recent times very important and decided in many cases where the people would build their settlements. The oldest surviving monuments in Ireland date from megalithic times between 5000 and 3500 BCE. About 200 BCE the Celts, familiar with the use of iron, conquered the island.
Around 1000 years later Viking raiders from Norway appeared, and in 914 they built the first city in Ireland, calling it "Vadra Fjord" (safe anchorage), which later became Waterford. In 1169 this city was the first to be taken by the Normans, when they invaded and conquered large parts of the island, including the capital Dublin.
In later centuries Ireland became more known for emigrants, as famine, poverty and oppression drove people out into the world. (About 45 million Americans have Irish ancestry.) However, since the unexpected economic boom (known as the "Celtic Tiger"), which we had for about a dozen years, there are now many immigrants on the Emerald Isle, coming from almost everywhere and turning the once quiet and introvert island into a vibrant international community.
Unfortunately the boom turned out to be only a bubble, based on false hopes, speculation and criminal gambling by reckless bankers. So now we are in a deep economic recession, which is made even worse by our current incompetent government. What will happen to Ireland in the future is hard to say, but it all will depend on making the right political, economic, and social decisions.
There is a realistic chance that Ireland could become a major producer of clean energy, and proposals have been presented already to the government and the public. It will now depend on our politicians to make the right decisions. If they do, then we can have a bright and promising future. If not, Ireland is in danger of becoming a poor third-world country.
is predominantly green. It is said that there are actually forty different shadesofgreen on the island, but few people go around counting. The landscape is rolling, with drumlins, hills and river valleys, and one is never far from the sea in Ireland. Ancient Stones like the one on this photo can be found in many parts of Ireland. They are the remnants of the old religion, which is once again growing on the Emerald Isle.
Ireland's National Flag
was first introduced during the uprising of 1848 in Waterford, Ireland's oldest city, by Thomas Francis Meagher, a native of the city who later rose to prominence as a Union General (and leader of the famous Irish Brigade) during the American Civil War (1861-65). An Bhratach Náisiúnta, as she is called in Irish, is a vertical (revolutionary) tricoleur, inspired by and modeled on the flag of the French Republic. The colours are green, white and orange. They represent the land and the predominantly Catholic nationalist majority (green), the protestant Anglo-Irish minority (orange), and the peace (white) that exists between them.
The flag was used by nationalists in private since 1848 and flown in public again during the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin. In 1919 she was adopted as the official flag of the Irish Republic.
Republic of Ireland
Political System: Representative Democracy (officially), Nepotism (de facto)
Total Area: 70,273 sq km / 27,133 sq miles
Total Population (2007): ca. 4,335,000
Independence declared on April 24th, 1916 (first time)
Independence declared by the Irish parliament with formal vote on January 21st, 1919
Saorstát Éireann (Irish Free State) since 1922
New name "Éire" and Constitution adopted in 1937
Fully independent sovereign Republic since 1949
Uachtarán na hÉireann (President): Mary McAleese
Ceann Comhairle (Speaker of Dáil Éireann, our parliament): John O'Donoghue, TD
Taoiseach (Prime Minister): Brian Cowen, TD
Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister): Mary Coughlan, TD
Uachtarán na hÉireann
Prof. Mary McAleese is the 8th President of the Republic of Ireland. First elected to the office in 1997 as a representative of the majority government party Fianna Fáil, she is now in her second seven-year term, to which she was elected without opposition in 2004. She is the second female President of the Republic and currently also the longest-serving elected female head of state in the world. Born in Belfast, she encountered the Northern troubles first-hand and her Catholic family was forced out of their house by "loyalist" terrorists. After studying law in Belfast and Dublin, she qualifed as a barrister. In 1975 she was appointed a professor in the legal faculty of Trinity College, Dublin and in 1979 joined RTÉ television as a journalist and presenter. Since 1981 she combined both areas of work, but returned in 1987 to Belfast, as Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen's University, which appointed her Pro-Vice Chancellor in 1994.
Brian Cowen, TD is the 12th Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland and the 7th leader of the majority government party Fianna Fáil. In 1984, aged 24, he was elected to the Dáil in the constituency his father Bernhard, a local publican, had represented before. After 8 years in parliament, Cowen was appointed Minister for Labour in 1992. Since then he served as Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, Minister for Health and Children, and - from 2000 to 2004 - as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Since 2005 Brian Cowen was Minister for Finance, and since 2007 also Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister). When Taoiseach Bertie Ahern declared his resignation on April 2nd, 2008, Cowen was elected unopposed as the new leader of Fianna Fáil on April 9th. On May 7th, 2008 Dáil Eireann elected him Taoiseach. He leads a coalition government inherited from Bertie Ahern and supported by the Green Party and four independent TDs. The now 48-year-old, sometimes referred to as 'Biffo', is married and father of two daughters. A keen Gaelic football fan, he also continues to be president of Clara GAA club.
of Ireland is known as the Houses of the Oireachtas. The House of Deputies (currently 166) is called Dáil Éireann, while 60 Senators form Seanad Éireann, the Senate. Both meet at Leinster House on Dublin's Kildare Street (above). The former city residence of the Duke of Leinster was sold in 1815 to the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) which added two new wings, to accomodate the National Library and the National Museum. After the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922 the central part was chosen as the provisional parliament chamber (until some proper building would be found). Despite plans to turn the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, into the seat of the Oireachtas, it never happened. So Leinster House is still at the heart of Irish politics. And when Irish architect James Hoban designed the White House in Washington, D.C., he modeled it on Leinster House.
Having been born into an old European family (with 75% of the genes Celtic) I learned early that history and traditions are very important. After a quite turbulent childhood and youth, spent in different countries on three continents, I joined the Navy, served for many years in ships, other commands, and became a historian.
After leaving the Navy I worked in a museum and national monument, taught in school and college, edited a magazine and worked as journalist and broadcaster. Now I earn my crust as an independent consultant and analyst. In my scarce spare time I am involved in various social activities and charity work, write and read a lot, and sometimes even find time for painting.
My house is old and small, and I share it with a cat. Living a simple Spartan life, I eat vegetarian food and do not enjoy alcohol and most entertainments.
Life is too short to be wasted on fripperies. Every day is needed to do one's share - no matter how small it might be - to save the planet and its living creatures.
Das Leben der Anderen (dt.) The Life of the others (engl.)
In the Valley of Elah
Patrick Hennessey: The Junior Officers' Reading Club - Killing Time and Fighting Wars
Ben Mezrich: The Accidental Billionaires - The Founding of 'Facebook'
Recommended Books (non-fiction)
Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln: The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
Christopher Catherwood: Winston's Folly - Imperialism and the Creation of Modern Iraq
Jung Chang: Wild Swans - Three Daughters of China
Jung Chang & Jon Halliday: Mao - The Unknown Story
Diarmaid Ferriter: Judging Dev - A Reassessment of the Life and Legacy of Eamon de Valera
Baltasar Gracian: Handorakel & Kunst der Weltklugheit
David Ray Griffin: The New Pearl Harbor
Sam Harris: The End of Faith
Tom Holland: Rubicon - The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic
Amy Dockser Marcus: The View from Nebo - How Archeology is rewriting the Bible and reshaping the Middle East
Martin Meredith: The State of Africa - A History of 50 years of Independence
Farley Mowat: The Alban Quest - The Search for a lost Tribe
Sarah Rose: For all the Tea in China - Espionage, Empire and the Sercret Formula of the World's favourite Drink
John Toland: Hitler
Adam Zamoyski: Holy Madness - Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871
Recommended Books (fiction)
Boris Akunin: Murder on the Leviathan
Boris Akunin: The Winter Queen
Boris Akunin: Turkish Gambit
Dan Brown: The Da Vinci Code
John Buchan: Greenmantle
John le Carré: Absolute Friends
John le Carré: The Constant Gardener
J.M.G. le Clézio: Désert
J.M.G. le Clézio: Le Chercheur d'Or
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
Colin Forbes: The Leader and the Damned
Colin Forbes: The Stockholm Syndicate
Colin Forbes: This United State
Frederick Forsyth: The Afghan
Frederick Forsyth: The Day of the Jackal
Frederick Forsyth: The Odessa File
Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana
Graham Greene: The Quiet American
Graham Greene: The Third Man
Hermann Hesse: Das Glasperlenspiel
Khaled Hosseini: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner
Ernst Jünger: Auf den Marmorklippen
Patrick Kavanagh: The Green Fool
Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks
Joseph O'Connor: Star of the Sea
Orhan Pamuk: Istanbul. Memories of a City
Orhan Pamuk: Snow
James Redfield: The Celestine Prophecy
Kathy Reichs: Cross Bones
Joseph Roth: Kapuzinergruft
Joseph Roth: Radetzkymarsch
Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things
Invitation to Smile
The HSE, as seen by "Green Ink"
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