The Irish Then And Now

Over the years and for as long as I can remember the people of Ireland went all over the world in an effort to improve the living standards of the most oppressed and poor people in which ever countries they went to 

In the past 100 years and more they have brought religion faith and hope to people weather that be in England, Africa ,The Philippines, Japan, South America, India and Europe, but no matter where they went they brought health care , education, self esteem self help,  water production,animal welfare and hope for a better future, This was carried out much to the distaste of the elites of these countries who for their own reasons did not want to see change.

  In the early days this work was carried out by the various Irish religious orders who educated , each brother priest or nun  in a skill which they  brought with them to these far off lands, but the most of them were farmers sons and daughters, teachers, nurses, and doctors who would have also given their lives to their god and were dedicated to working for the poor and improving their lives, even tho the numbers of the religious orders have dropped  this work goes on as they now manage the schools and hospitals as the people they trained and educated  are now taking over and running the day to day activities, and indeed many of these people are now working in our own health system and schools in Ireland so all that good work carried out by the early Irish missioners in these countries is now showing a benefit to the Irish nation. I don’t really   belive in Karma but I do belive that good will always overcome evil  and we will be rewarded as we are here in Ireland with the arrival into our mist the most beautiful and caring of people as I personally know from my own experience having met nurses from India and Africa all trained by the same Irish nuns and brothers who went to their homelands to help them and their families for a better future. 


There is now a real threat to this work being able to continue as it did in the early days . but I do see hope that it will emerge from this down turn as I see the number of Irish lay people now doing this work, as I think of Gina Heraty  from Westport  Ireland doing amazing work in Haiti among the poor and victims of the recent storms and earthquake or Mrs Nobel  in Vietnam where she runs an orphanage for street kids and there are many many more like her around the world all of them are Irish who are  working  quietly  in different parts of the world bringing hope for a better life as they do the work that the capitalist system will not  do     


This was brought home to me  early this year as my son Diarmuid sent me photos from Hanoi in Vietnam as he made up battery boxes to supply electricity  for a village which two of his Irish friends who like himself are teachers, have adopted,  because the people in this village can’t afford to send their children to school they teach them at the weekends in the hope that will get some kind of a start in life, once again  we witness the kindness, caring and selflessness of the Irish abroad.

We are still missionaries at heart !!!


 My son Diarmuid  making ready battery boxes 

My daughter celebrates Halloween  with her pupils in Hanoi Vietnam 


I was born and raised in Belfast 70 years ago  and the most part of my life was spent in cities like Dublin  and Belfast  so I never really understood  the life of living in the countryside and nature. 

During the past 18 years  since  we moved to Mayo it was there  that I started  to appreciate  the seasons , the spring  the summer the autumn and the winter  and how life continue’s  in the circle of life.  But this became more important to me in the past 18 months .

 I  started A journey of recovery following A nervous breakdown in 2017 and a bad bout of (PTSD), as part of that recovery I had a long time to look back and re-assess my life and the desisions I made  over those years. 

During those early years  (1964) I saw the disrespect for human  life committed by the forces of the Northern Ireland state as they raced up and down Davis Street and the Lower Falls Road firing at will from armoured cars not worrying who they shot as we were only Irish Catholics ( or fenians as they described us). Little did I know that this was to be the beginning of the nationalist /catholic fight back against a corrupt state which was being governed by  a bible thumping fundamentalist protestant government whose only aim in life was to destroy any Catholic community living in the six north eastern counties of this Island. A form of ethnic cleansing!! at least that was how this was/is perceived within the nationalist community , this was to be reinforced a few years later  (1969) , when the catholic community asked for basic human rights just as the African American and Dr Martin Luther King was doing in the united states of america  at that time  

As a result of this campaign the government launched an un-merciful attack on the catholic community across the six counties which was to lead to a 30 year war with them and the British and their army as they once again tried to  impose their rule / misrule on the nationalist/catholic people  of the six counties .

It was at this period of my life where I saw the unqualified misery of war.  The loss of innocence , the murder of young children  and not so young men and women as their blood ran through the streets of Belfast and across the north and at that time it did not matter whether you were catholic, protestant,  Irish or British or loyalist because all blood is red and all bones are the same and all had mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and extended families who will mourn for the rest of their lives at that loss.  

Added to this this is the mental scars which last for life plus alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide, these are all side products of war and trauma where the taking of human life is justified because it’s a war, stupid  or is it ?

So let me return to my heading,  Farming families  in this and most countries have a right to protect their livestock especially sheep and that right allows them to shoot your dog if he is caught worrying or attacking the farmers sheep which can and does lead to the sheep aborting their lambs or babies as this goes on, but I have never seen or met a farmer who wants to end the life of that dog. As a matter of fact I have seen grown men and women cry because they had no option but to shoot that dog because once again some  child or parent loved that dog and that shooting will bring sadness and loss to that family and once again the circle of life continues, hurt, pain, and loss , its not someones dog it was my dog   This brings me to the 8th amendment here in Ireland and the yes vote  I have to admit I voted yes for choice even though abortion would not be my choice  I can not deny others that choice, that is a decision they will have to live with and I can’t and will not  judge them                                                             

This is a complex situation with many questions and very few answers. Some people may abuse the law, some people may have other difficulties like drugs or may be homeless or for financial reasons or the baby may be disadvantaged with a birth defect like Downs syndrome, and may not be able to cope with that scenario, these are questions I have never had to face.                                                                                   

Yet I do know families who took on that challenge and have never regretted it as that child has brought great joy  as did my great nephew’s mother.           So its not easy to make those decisions, but abortion should always be the dooms day option as that baby will always be remembered.   just as our mothers do when a tragedy of death and loss enters their life.                 

This is all written down as the CIRCLE OF LIFE a beginning and an end but abortion does not give that un-born the chance to even join the circle               

Just ask any woman who had a miscarriage or a still birth , as that prospective mother will carry that tragedy for the rest of her life and that I know from personal experience                                                                    Remember the sheep  who lost its lambs,as it wanders the field looking for her lamb or the cow who cries for days when her calf is taken from her


November Comes Again A Month Of Remembrance


My Father John And My Sister Rita On Her Wedding Day

This month of November my memory returns to my father John and my sister Rita who both at great cost to themselves worked hard all off their lives, worked for a Republican united Ireland of justice ,equality and freedom from British rule :

My father when he married my mother was a printer with the Irish news paper in Belfast that was in the early 1930s , they had 9 children 4 girls and 5 boys.

My father was a very quite man but a very brave man as I was to learn later in his life as his whole life was about his children and my mother , yes they struggled being a catholic family in the north of Ireland but the big thing that drove them, was that all their children would be educated for the world off their time, never would the bigoted state-let of the unionist /British/ anti catholic ruled North of Ireland hold them back as it did in his time, where they suffered discrimination because of where they went on a Sunday morning or in his case every morning and the fact that they are Irish in body and mind, who believed in the principles of 1916 and the proclamation of freedom, in fact he and my mother lived it  until they both died

As I was born in 1948 and  the youngest in the family my first memory of my father was in 1954 as he took me by the hand to St Patrick’s CBS school  in Donegall street Belfast . He was to take my hand to safety many times after that

Like the night of 26th December 1960 when my oldest Brother John who was a republican prisoner  in Crumlin Road Jail Belfast  where he was serving a 8 year sentence tried to escape along with a fellow prisoner Danny Donnelly while Danny made it John fell back down into the yard.

Danny arrived at our home in Adela street off the Antrim Road  which was close to the jail, As I answered the door to Danny and as it was my 12th birthday , the only other people in our home that night was my sister Rita and my mother and father.

As my mother and Rita got Danny to a safe house  my father and I went up around the Jail and the Mater Hospital grounds looking for John we were not sure if John fell back into the jail or outside off it but to no avail he fell back .

As he held my hand that night I saw a father who cared for his son and  republican ideals, he made  sure we were all safe before the the RUC /B’Specials arrived at our house were he  with my mother were put under house arrest for almost a week.

All through the late fifties and  sixties he was the quite strength to all of us , but as the trouble off 1969 started even tho he was suffering from serious heart disease for a number of years he was still there making sure we looked after our neighbours and friends as he sent us to man the barricades

As all this trouble raged and his two oldest sons Billy and John where at the forefront in organising the defence of the nationalist  areas from the loyalist, the RUC, and the B’Specials he was always there when we would come home the teapot was on he never went to bed until Oliver and myself came in from the barricades

In April 1970 my brother John was arrested in Dublin by the fianna fail party and Jack Lynch as he was organising arms from Europe a episode that was sanctioned by the Irish government and became known as the arms trial.

This was a very testing time for him as we as a family were now  pointed out  as leading republicans  John went on trial in May of that year and he was found innocent , but we lost our wholesale green grocery business and all of us were in danger of being murdered at any time by loyalist gun men or the RUC/B’Specials

On the night of the 3rd of November 1970 Oliver was home before me he found daddy dead in the coal yard as he was filling the coal bucket.

Because of the Arms Trial in Dublin John who was a wanted man in the north  and was to be  charged with conspiring to over throw the state ( northern Ireland) he arrived to our home under cover of darkness escorted by his comrades

My father was one of the unknown victims of the troubles

May you rest in peace Father and thank you for looking after me for all these years always in my thoughts and prayers as I ask you for guidance and protection

Your son


Even thou his father who was a member if the Irish volunteers, he joined the Munster’s and followed Redmond on to the green fields off France where he died in 1916 he would never allow any poppies into our home as his father did not die for the British but a promise that by going to war  he was promised home rule for the island off Ireland,





I started my day in the normal way, breakfast , chat at the table, and feed the dogs and cats  before we left for Knock Shrine 

During the drive my mind wandered to my many visits to Knock in the 1950’s and 1960’s A time when for the people from the north of Ireland our faith and belief in the Catholic Church was unquestioned,where because off our faith we constantly faced persecution, suppression,and discrimination,where the church and its religious orders nursed our sick,delivered our babies, educated us to prepare us for the world, where we where taught that education was the door to personal freedom  As christian brother Hanley often told us , ” they may take your clothes , your home and in some cases your life but they can never take your brain, your mind or your freedom of thought your education is your gate to freedom”.

As my journey continued my mind then turned to the more recent past and the reasons why I ended up disillusioned with the catholic church and its priests and nuns , the abuse of little children , the abuse of single mothers as they took their babies from them and sold them into other families like cattle at a mart as they forced many of them to leave their homeland in search of happiness as the trauma of their loss was unbearable many where lost to alcohol, drugs, and an early death, the slavery of the Magdalene laundries , the abuse of young people and children at the Artane boys home and the abuses carried  on young men in Letterfrack  and of course the abuse of girls in Golden Bridge.


So I lost trust, I lost faith in the church ,in its Priests its  Nuns its Bishops and its Cardinals as they covered up the rot/ cancer that is /was within the Irish Catholic Church,so I became a total sceptic of the church , but I still held on to my own spiritually as I continued my own relationship with my god through daily prayer so my excursion to Knock was more to satisfy others than myself , so what was to happen was totally unexpected and remains totally unexplained by me.

We arrived at knock and I let my wife and my sister-in-law out of the car at the main gates to the old church as I went to park the car,to join them later.

When I  returned I found the girls in the mass card shop buying mass cards after which we made our way to the Church for the mass , but I made a detour to the book shop for a look around , during which I found a number of books that I hope will be of benefit to me as I work through my illnesses mental and physical.

After this I proceeded to the main church and joined up with my wife and sister-in-law as we waited for the 3pm mass but this for me was not going to be your ordinary mass this was different there was a sanctity about it as up to 30 priests made their way around the alter to say a celebration  mass for priests and to pray for more people to come forward to serve in the priest hood.

It was during the sermon given by a Fr Finnegan  at this mass that  my thoughts and attitude  seems to have changed.

For the first time I heard a priest ask for forgiveness and to acknowledge the wrongs committed by the church on the innocent children entrusted to their care, for the wrongs committed by his fellow priests on the young people they betrayed and destroyed their innocents and lives,who betrayed the church and their fellow priests and nuns , this priest stood in front of the whole congregation of about a thousand  people and asked us in all humility to forgive the church,he then went on to outline what are the real purpose of a priest, to serve their community to be that trusted hand of comfort to those in distress and sadness, to bring and work the gospel in word, deed, and example to his flock for which he is their Shepard.

This is the kind of priest that I had known the Fr Bradley’s the Fr O’Neill’s the Fr McAllister’s, these were as a young person and a boy I looked up to, who I served mass for , who where regular visitors to our home in times of great stress to offer comfort and prayers to our family when we needed them most

So now the question is ,” do I return to my faith do I give it another go”?  do I do as Fr Finnegan ask’s and forgive and acknowledge  the weaknesses of the church do I remove that pedestal ? BUT I HAVE A FEELING AFTER THE SERMON TODAY I MAY NOT HAVE TO , AS THE CHURCH IS NOW ON THE WAY TO DOING THAT THEMSELVES

THANK YOU Fr Finnegan for your  passion and your truthfulness and yes I will give it another go.


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Image result for ireland

Listening to Jonathan Powell on rte this morning, he raised a few very serious questions about Brexit Theresa May and the Conservative Party

The most important thing he pointed out was/is the attitude of the Brexiteers to the Good Friday Agreement, ( GFA) where some are advocating its removal to be replaced by majority rule.

In the mean time the British are attempting to gerrymander the voting boundaries in favour of the unionist parties, while they ignore the fact that the vast majority of the nationalist community live and work in the areas of Derry, Mid-Ulster, South Down, Armagh, Fermanagh, South Tyrone,while the unionists control,: North Down, North Belfast , East Belfast , East Derry County,  East Antrim

So as the last Westminster  election and the assembly elections shows the unionist majority is indeed a very flimsy one.

Over the past 20 years the GFA has guaranteed that a political settlement can be reached but the behaviour of the British Conservative party have now put all that at risk

So lets  ask the British do they want a return to this

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Image result for ira ireland

Image result for ira ireland






OR to continue  with the efforts to maintain the peace process Image result for northern ireland peace process

Image result for northern ireland peace process

On The Run

There are many reasons for a mental illness, especially depression  and how we deal with it.

Depression can be caused by a childhood trauma,being made feel useless to the extent that you loose your self confidence and self  esteem

Soon after this abuse begins you are inclined to ignore it or decide (Ah, I WILL SHOW THEM ATTITUDE, I’M BETTER THEM !!! )

Mistake number 1;  In later life This can be the seed of / for depression, this is when you go on the run , not from them your abusers but from yourself because every time you fall or fail you will get up and brush down  with that thought on your mind , {I AM AS GOOD AS OR BETTER THAN THEM}

As this continues through your life you  start to loose contact with what you really have achieved in your life the positive things in your life,but their comments of negativity and disrespect  continue to control you as you struggle on with your life  you keep running away from yourself by trying to measure up once again to the very people who have caused the problems in the first place and who have played a significant part in your suffering !!!

time to end that suffering ,look into the mirror and ask your self how was my life ? where did I succeed write it down and compare what you have achieved with the lives of your bullies and abusers



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The Holidays Are Over So What Now?

So here we are, all the rushing, exchanging presents,  eating Turkey eating pie and the few glasses of wine is over for another year.

As I sit here in front of my computer and look back over the past few weeks and wonder was it really a happy Christmas and New Year, and yes in many ways it was and yes I did make a few mistakes and no I did  not drink wine but my beloved wife did and for the first time in 2017 we laughed and hugged as we chatted about the year the sad times the happy times and the not so happy times especially as I have from May to December 2017  been receiving treatment for a acute bout of depression, and PTSD which had me hospitalised for 10 weeks plus 6 weeks as  an outpatient as I received further treatment on how to cope with my depression.

Depression is a very serious illness and sometimes it’s not easy to re-engineer our lives in order to live with the consequences of the illness . As there is no one fits all solution’s for depression so in order to do that we need to learn about your /our particular illness.

The one thing I learned last year, was about taking responsibility for my mental health, taking the things that will come at me every day and being able to cope with them, to achieve this I  will be using what I was taught on the WRAP course, the most important thing is to have a structure that we can use as our guide and in some cases our crutch to lean on when things are not so good, just as if you see someone with a broken leg he uses a crutch for support, and so our structure for our bad days is our crutch.

So what is our structure and how do we implement it?  below I have listed some of what I use for my structure:

One of the things I find difficult is getting out of the bed which in many ways it can be a fear of what the day holds, this is because every thing in our minds is exaggerated and even-tho we had what we thought was a goodnight’s sleep we might still feel tired so the first thing to do is make yourself get up make the bed and head for the shower, because those jets of warm /hot water hitting your skin will waken up your senses and you will feel refreshed for the day ahead , this to “ordinary/ normal person” does not have the same type of effect as it does for a  person with depression because that shower will wash away all our fears and anxieties for that day.

1, If you have a mobile phone with an alarm set it for fixed times to remind you to take your medication, that was one of the things I would forget until it was to late to take them, the alarm solved that problem for me.

2, Have a daily plan of what you want to do that day and a backup plan for any changes like the weather but the one thing to do is to get out for that walk or that cup of tea/coffee so that you can meet other people who are not family to maybe have that conversion about the weather or any other topic that comes to mind or just to say hello

3, Make up your day with little tasks , like cooking or doing some kind of volunteering work that will help others, join a men’s shed group doing these things will enhance your sense of well being and self esteem

4  In the morning or in the evening do some kind of meditation, in a room or a space you are comfortable in, where you can play any kind of music that will help you to relax.

5  Another thing that you can do , is keep a journal of the things that made you smile, and the people you met these are things you can write about at a later stage

The above are only a couple of suggestions as to what  can be done to  help with your structures which are so important for your daily life.

 So in conclusion can I wish all my fellow suffers out there A Happy New Year And Every Success in 2018