Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Anyone for Cricket?

Was at a fascinating book launch tonight. A new book has been released by one of the Kilkenny Archaeological and Historical Society's luminaries, Michael O' Dwyer, my former neighbour from College Road. Micahel has dedicated a number of years of his life to researching the history of cricket in Kilkenny. Far from being the sport of the wealthy in the county, or the sport exclusively of the protestant ascendancy, Michael's book, 'The History of Cricket in County Kilkenny-The forgotten game' details the over 200 clubs which at one time or another, saw cricket as the universal game in their communities.

Areas like Gowran indeed had active cricket clubs until the mid 50's, before their hurling clubs were even established. Indeed as Michael's friend Peter McQuillan, wittingly infromed the large gathering of people present tonight, a certain J. Carey scored 25 runs against the Palmerstown club from the city in 1970. We don't know for sure if there is a connstion to the God of hurling, bet we do know that uncles of the Henderson clan of Johnstown and now some connections with the Dicksboro hurling club, (who play at Palmerstown!), were prominent cricketers, as were uncles of the famous Fennelly family of Ballyhale Shamrocks, whose family played a prominent role in taking this year's County Championship, and scooping the Leinster club title last Sunday. Other famous hurling familes included the great Lowry Meagher's father, Henry J., who we were told hit the ball into the next field during a game against Mullinahone. Interestingly Henry was present at the founding meeting of the GAA in Hayes Hotel, Thurles in 1884.

My own only connection with cricket in Kilkenny was the wonderful Jack Notley, twice capped Ireland rugby full back, but a man who was also cappped for Ireland in cricket. Jack moved to Kilkenny in the early 50's and having spent a few night's in my wife's home, the then Carmel Hotel, with Marian's mother and father, decided not to leave, only to stay till the day the hotel was sold, over 40 years later!! Jack was a gentleman of the oldest sort, and never tired of talking, and encouraging anybody, particularly young people in their interest in any sport. How Jack would have loved to read Michael's wonderful production. You should do if you get the chance.
Another nice touch was the message received from Ed Joyce, Ireland's new cricket superstar. The young Bray man has an uncle in Kilkenny, teacher Tomás Ó Murchú, who handed Michael a personal message, faxed from the Ashes in Australia, where he is the first Irishman for many years to feature on the world atage of cricket, albeit for the ould enemy. He recorded his memories, and he's hardly old enough for memories, of cricket in Mount Juliet in his youth.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Support the Make Room Campaign, ending homelessness in Ireland by 2010

I'm delighted that the Labour Party has formally backed the Make Room campaign, launched recently by some of our major voluntary organisations dealing with the homeless. The organisations include Simon, one of the first charity organisations I became aware of. It also includes Focus Ireland, the other voluntary body doing work with young homeless people in particular , and set up by that indomitable Kerrywoman, Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy. Stan, as she's known, spent a lot of time in Kilkenny where the late Bishop Birch was pioneering the Catholic church's social development structure.
The other two groups are the Saint Vincent de Paul charity, who have a presence in every parish in the country, and finally the Threshold group who have done so much to advance the rights of tenants. Please take the time to sign up and pledge your support to the campaign now, and try to make homelessness a thing of the past by 2010.
From my own experience, the problem of sub-standard private rented accomodation is becoming worse, and the failure of both our own local authorities and central Government to register and inspect this type of accomodation is a local and national disgrace. Of course, building social and affordable housing is the real answer to homelessness, particularly for young people, who are increasingly being forced to live at home with their parents until well into their twenties.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth-Get out and see it

I' m delighted to have persuaded the management of our local cinema, Kilkenny Cineplex to show the controversial movie featuring former US Vice-President Al Gore's environmental campaign against global warming. The movie called 'An Inconvenient Truth' has captured the imagination of people around the world, and if the trailers are anything to go by it is a must-see film. It begins in the cinema tomorrow evening (Friday 10th and runs for a week, finishing on Thursday next). Unfortunately the last sitting is at 6.30 pm at the moment but this may change depending on demand.

Thanks to Anthony Hogan, the local manager and the parent company in Dublin for their response. We always seem to have to fight to get so-called minority films, with just the commercial stuff being given to us here. I had hoped for just one night, but the company reacted positively quickly.

Please get along to see the movie as quickly as you can and encourage others to do so. It's a General certificate, so an ideal opportunity for families to get along and learn together. I'll be there on Monday night, and hope to have a gang organised to do likewise.

An indication of the seriousness and impact of the movie is Gore's appointment to head up the British campaign against global warming. Tony Blair has appointed Gore to front the camaign after the damning Stern Report last week. He'll have to start by getting his own President to wake up and face up to the oil barons first though. That might be a bit easier after the US voters put some manners on him this week!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Addicted to Politics

Hi, my name is Seán and I'm addicted to politics! I've just been proclaimed mad by my wife who's witnessing me following the inner workings of the US House and Senate elections late into the night. The fact that we can get excited by exit polls from Virginia, Alaska and Vermont shows how much of an influence this country's politics has on all our lives. Hopefully it will be a good night for the Democrats, and Bush will lose control of both houses. This will see the start hopefully of a push to see the Presidency return to the Democrats in 2008.

My favourite candidate is Illinois Senator Barack Obama, whose star is on the rise in the party and the country and who is a good bet for America's first black President. His book, 'Dreams from my Father' is one of the best reads I have ever had, and he may just make up a dream ticket with Hillary Clinton, with her becoming the first woman VP hopefully.

One of the interesting things about US politics thesee days is the impact of the net and blogging in particular. I'm now watching Howard Dean on MSNBC, a man who made huge use of blogging in the run-up to the last Presidential election. Blogging parties are all the rage tonight including one hosted by CNN-how about it RTÉ during next summer's election? We wouldn't mind sipping a few glasses of vino in Donnybrook- I'm actually enjoying Los Robles, a wonderful Fair Trade wine from Chilé as we speak-God Bless Superquinn!

By the way have a look at one of the better US blogs I've seen, which amazingly is called Crooks and Liars- Nothing to do with politics surely!

Who's this Sanders Guy- A Socialist in the US Senate!!

It's incredible that we finally have a Socialist Senator in the US after it seems that Bernie Sanders is going to romp home tonight in the state of Vermont. The home of skiing, timber and liberal/left-wing politics has taken another brave decision by electing this colourful character. May we see more soon. Have a look at Bernie's site to see how what sounds so radical over there would seem so normal over here!!

Venceremos-Ortega is back!!

It looks to be a great night for the left on the American continent. As a long-time supporter of the former Sandanista Governmeent in Nicaragua who got rid of one of the US Government's favourite dicatators Somoza, it's astonishing to see former President Daniel Ortega back in power tonight. The pictures on CNN of huge crowds in the centre of Managua celebrating the defeat of the right, who are backed by Bush and co., adds to Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia and the great survivor, Castro in Cuba. Hopefully we will see a Democratic House and Senate before the night is out to bring a bit of normality back to the world and signal the pending end of the Neo-Cons in the White House. Meanwhile I can't help remember meeting Ortega in the National Concert Hall, on a night when Michael D. Higgins gave a magnificent, if slightly innebriated speech welcoming 'El Presidente'. One of my proudest posessions is a Sandanista bandana signed by Ortega, and I unfortunately lost a t-shirt which proclaimed the best Sandanista slogan 'Los Pueblos Unida jamas sera vincido' (the people united will never be defeated). It looks like it's still true hopefully!!