It’s breezy in Ballypatrick Forest, but the car park is well-populated.
Families step out of cars, stretching and reaching for jackets. Cyclists kick off down the forest path.
Motorcycles race past on the main road at the top of the hill. Though no more than 200 yards away, the noise of their engines feels distant.
In the corner of the car park, the breeze is rippling a German flag, its strips of yellow, red and black catching the eye.
A small gravel path leads across the grass to a memorial stone. …
Four years ago today, our daughter Fionnuala was stillborn.
Our second daughter, Muireann, fell asleep last night while reading a story to ‘Fionnuala’, one of her soft toys.
It was given to us by my aunt, and is a little girl holding a doll in her hand. The girl is Muireann, the doll is Fionnuala.
Even though Fionnuala is her big sister, Muireann dotes on her. She turned three last week, the first step on what will forever be a month of milestones.
The dates are etched in our heads. The numbers track a fortnight that changed our lives.
Propaganda. Spin. Fake news. The flames of their influence are fanned by doubt. A doubt intentionally sown.
A recent BBC Sounds podcast, How They Made Us Doubt Everything, by Peter Pomerantsev, looks at how a ‘playbook’ put together by the tobacco industry in the 1950s has provided the basis for obscuring the truth.
A manual for truth-twisting.
The podcast charts how tobacco companies, faced with uncomfortable evidence suggesting cigarettes were leading to an increase in lung cancer, set out to reduce scientific evidence to mere theory.
Rather than rely on PR companies or politicians with transparent motive to articulate their…
It has loomed on the horizon for months and now it feels like it was always here.
Coronavirus arrived on these shores on February 27 and at the time of writing there are 221 confirmed cases in Ireland, north and south.
When I wrote the first draft of this piece last Tuesday, that figure was 50.
The reaction has evolved like the onset of the illness. Gallows humour has given way to muted concern and eventually to the barely supressed panic you can now feel on the streets.
But the intricacies of COVID-19 have brought a callous edge.
Not many were bothering with the football that was on the television. Indeed, most were doing their level best to avoid it. Liverpool v QPR.
English football, that had no place in Ireland, according to the regulars. A foreign sport.
Only two young men sat watching it, adorned with red T-shirts that screamed You’ll Never Walk Alone, trying their best to ignore the opinion of one particular man;
“Looks more like fruitball than football to me!”
His comrades agreed enthusiastically. There were eye rolls elsewhere.
Paddy walked into the bar. A giant of a man, with a physique honed from…
This is my iPod. It’s not a fancy new one. It doesn’t even have a touch-screen. Time after time, though, I’ve rejected disdainful suggestions to upgrade.
Why? It’s difficult to explain. I’ll do my best though.
On this iPod is a beloved collection of music. Music I’ve collected from 2004 to around 2011. In total there are 1459 songs, using 7.3GB of space. A tiny fraction, given today’s available options.
A few years ago I stored the entirety of my music library on an external hard drive. Somewhat predictably, the hard drive malfunctioned. It’s now lost to the ether.
Today I visited my daughter’s grave.
A short sentence. Only six words. Six words no parent would ever hope to speak, but it’s our reality.
Four years ago, just a few weeks before Christmas, my wife and I lost our daughter, Fionnuala, at just 22 weeks.
I’ll never forget the excitement I felt the day Colleen told me she was pregnant. The unadulterated joy of new life, of unconditional love. It took serious willpower not to walk out the door and tell the world.
Friends and family were, of course, delighted at the news of our first child. Congratulations came…
A lone dog meandered down the footpath outside Sean’s house. A greyhound, he thought, but it was hard to be certain in the half-light of the empty street.
It reminded him of an old television set that had lapsed into resignation when he was a child, casting a cloak of translucence over the scene. Sean slipped on his coat.
He closed his eyes momentarily, hoping to clear the haze. When he reopened them, the dog had vanished.
Stepping outside, he closed the heavy wooden door in his wake. The click of the lock echoed in the quiet street. …
Teaching is a profession feeling the squeeze, suffering more cuts than a five-year old’s Christmas snowflake creation.
As a result, Continued Professional Development (CPD) courses are becoming like hen’s teeth, but when you do get out on one, you experience the unmistakable rush of being somewhere you didn’t quite expect to be when you entered the teaching profession.
The giddiness of a late start. The placebo feeling of playing truant from work. The dressed down approach, even the tired old jokes about finishing at 6pm create an aura of otherworldliness.
Your companions for the day sit dotted around the room…
| Journalist @derrypost & @derrynow | Formerly @UnitUpdates | Gaeilgeoir | @TheSaffronGael Contributor |