Sunday, August 20, 2006

I measc na ndaoine-Meet the people

Saturday last was definitely the maddest day of the week as acting mayor. It was also the most eclectic. I was all ready to collect for Amnesty International at lunch time when Dessie McGrath from the James Stephens GAA club arived to aask me to be in the Village club in 10 minutes.Paul Kavanagh, one of the best supporters of hurling in the county was presenting a sponsorship cheques to the club, and they wanted the Mayor there. I was delighted to do the job, and even got the Kilkenny Rose, Ann Phelan to wear the chain, as you can see here. Here's to a good championship for the Red and Green when it restarts in September.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

All that Jazz, Blues, etc. I lár na Féile

It's been a mad few days since the start of the Arts Festival. It all kicked off on Friday (officially that is anyway) in the crescent of the Design Centre where Dara O' Brien of Newstalk opened the proceedings officially. Loads of VIP's including Olive Braiden, the Chair of the Arts Council, and of course all the people who have been lifetime friends of the festival. It was a really liveley evening, with sunshine, vino and plenty good company. The good news announcement was that Mike Fitzpatrick, who heads up the visual arts end of the festival, has been selected to curate Ireland's part of the Venice Biennale, the biggest arts festival in Europe. Mike is a great fun character, full of Clare wit, but really knows his stuff too.

From there it was on to the opening of the Kilkenny Photographic Society exhibition in the Club House hotel. The society has a great website with loads of the work of its 30 plus members. Holding court on the night was old friend, Greenshill neighbour and doc Johnny Cuddihy, who was acting Chairperson for the night. One of the most interesting people I met was a young Polish man working in Callan called Petr, who has mastered the local art of answering questions with cryptic riddles fairly quickly. Get along to the Club House if you can, and here's one of Petr's pics. Nothing to do with faulty fish passes either.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Openings and all that Jazz-The madness begins!

The craic kicked off yesterday in earnest with a round of openings of art exhibitions around the city at the start of Kilkenny Arts Festival. First off I visited Daithi Ó hÚallcháin's fantastic collection of line drawings and colour landscapes which are firmly set in the city. Davy's exhibition was opened eloquently as usual by my colleague Malcolm Noonan.

Then it was on to Gallery One on William Street where Thomastown artist Debra Bowden has some striking oils and mixed media pieces. Many of them reminded me of the interiors of derelict houses in rural Kilkeny and in my native county, and one fabulous piece represented the fulacht fiadh, the ancient cooking pits of the celts which are becoming hard to find now.

Then it was on to Kieran Street where I officially opened joint exhibition which Brock Butler and Roger O' Reilly are holding ain the Kilkenny Gallery, (formerly the Leather and Hide shop), and the new Blackbird Gallery across the road. I described the exhibition as an eclectic ballroom of art. For my speech at the opening click here.

All the above involved a few glasses of wine and led on to Tynan's and further. Today sees more of the same. Roll on the good times. Now I'm really finding out the joys of being Deputy Mayor!

All a Racquet- Parks Tennis Fun

I was delighted yesterday to take part in presenting the prizes for the Parks Tennis Summer camps up at Kilkenny Lawn Tennis club. In my time involved in community and political work, this initiative is one of the best I've seen. For just €15, chidren get a fotnight's coaching at venues all over the county. It's an attempt to bring what some might have seen as a slightly eleitist sport to everybody and to give chidren the basic skills. Well done to Catherine Dore who roped me into the Parks Tennis committee when I moved to Kilkenny, and to all the other voluntary workers on the committee. Yesterday saw almost 100 players take part in the county finals, and they will now go on to represent the county in the South East finals. Go n-eiri ádh leo.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

An Riocht Abú- Bring on the Rebels

Cad é mar chluiche- cad é mar bhúa!! Just back off the train in time to see the ball thrown in against Armagh. What a Kerry performance. So much for not being able to come from behind, play with 14 men, not being able to beat an ULSTER TEAM. We've finally got the monkey off our back and we're back on track. Best of all was the smile on Jack O' Connor, my fellow parishioner's face at the end. After all the nonsense in Kerry for the past few weeks, Jack summed it up perfectly. 'What harm if fellas hit each other a few slaps in training?' says he. 'I was praising them for that.' Well done too to Brian Sheehan and Declan O' Sullivan from South Kerry who both redeemed themselves when they came off the bench.

Comhgáirdeachas do mhuintir Ui Shé, Dara, Marc agus Tomás a d'imir go diabhail. As for Billy's boys- Bring 'Em On!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Pat the first Leader to Podcast

Labour Party Leader Pat Rabitte T.D. has become the first Party Leader to take part in a digital Podcast interview with The cast covers a range of issues from privatisation of the health services to digital access, and even to Mayo and the Dubs' chances in the football championship. Listen to the podcast here, and let us know what you think here. Once again, Labour is to the fore with digital progress.

Two Anniversaries-Cook and Casement

Yesterday was a strange co-incidence of two anniversaries of humanitarians, whose lives have some funny overlaps. My Dad travelled to Banna Strand, in his own native parish in North Kerry to take part in the commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the execution of Sir Roger Casement. An intersting character, who devoted his life to the emancipation of oppressed peoples in British colonies, he ended his life in the cause of Irish freedom in a somewhat chaotic attempt to recruit Irish POW's in Germany to assist in the 1916 Rising. Finally he managed to presuade the Germans to send an arms shipment to Tralee on board the ill-fated Aud, only to fail to make contact with the local volunteers. Having landed himself, he was duly arrested, with major questions remaining about the failure of the local volunteers to free him. He then became the epitome of the British traitor, being executed for treason, but not before his reputation was destroyed by the famous 'Black Diaries', which insinuated that he was gay, then a fate almost as bad as death. He remains however a much admired figure in Ireland.

Sir Robin Cook, another man with a huge commitment to International justice died a year ago yesterday, with many of his compatriots also considering him a traitor as a result of his principled resignation as Foreign Secretary because of his opposition to British participation in the Iraq war. Like Casement, he was also dogged by sexual scandal, albeit of a heterosexual nature. He was also, as the 2004 Labour Party Conference showed hugely admired for his principled stand by Irish socialists. Click here to see the Labour Party's (and my own) web tribute to Robin. I was fortunate to have met Cook, and can only reflect today on how different our lives might be if both Cook and Casement had succeeded in winning the debates of their day. Ar Dheis Dé go raibh an beirt laoch seo.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Politicians Squeeze Through again

The lads made it through again last night although I'm not sure about the wisdom of chosing 'Set on You' which George Harrison didn't write but covered from 50's star Rudy Clark. Luckily our lad McCarthy can sing because some of the others struggled last night. Great to see them still there however.

I spoke to Mike after the show and they're having great fun and delighted to be making money for the hospice cause. Keep up the votes for them tonight on the show, and hopefully they'll be there at the end to go one better than that so-called leftie (only joking Finian!!) from the Northside. Remember to text Vote Politicians to 53600 or by phoning 1513 7127108.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Solution in sight on the Lacken Weir??

It was back to Council business yesterday, after a sociable weekend in Kilkenny. Huge congrats to Shane O' Brien and Ellen Nolan who were married on Friday and thanks for a great night's craic in Lyrath. We'll turn up even if Bertie won't Xavier. On Saturday it was off to Croker for Billy Joel. For anybody under 35, please refer to Google!! We were with friends John and Myra, and a good night was had by all.

Yesterday saw a joint briefing for Borough and County Councillors by O.P.W. officials on their plans to replace the disastrous Lacken Weir which hit the headlines so much last Spring. What happened then was outrageous, although, as many speakers pointed out yesterday, the overall effect of the River works has been hugely beneficial for the city centre. The officials estimated yesterday that the damage which would have been done by the last major flooding would have been close enough to the cost of the work so far.

They are now proposing to replace the Denil Pass which was so unsuccessful last year with a rock ramp which will allow the salmon a more gradual passage on their way to their spawning grounds further up tyhe Nore. They have visited a number of similar sites, including in Germany, and seem confident that this solution will work. I warmly welcome their proposals and hope to God they do work. This stuff is an indefinite science, and I genuinely think that the O.P.W. are doing their best. Their characterisation in the local media sometimes as bumbling incompetents is wide of the mark. Local anglers I have talked to seem to be relatively happy also.

It amused me to hear one Fianna Fáil Councillor say that it was their priority to get the fish up the river to spawn. He should have told that to Pat the Cope Gallagher when he was Minister and doing his best to continue allowing the drift-net fishermen to kill every salmon they could before they ever got into the Nore. Equally amusing was the Fine Gael Councillor who was very anxious to know that it would be O.P.W. staff who would actually carry out the work. I reminded him that Labour always believed that public servants do it better. Fine Gael's conversion will be welcomed by all of us on the left!

The proposal also looks like it will be hugely visually attractive, and this canoeist is looking forward to trying to paddle down a fine challenging weir.