Thursday, November 14, 2019

Update 15th November

Prologue Notices

1.       Boyle juniors play FUERTY (Note spelling please) in the replay of the Junior ‘B’ championship on Friday night in Strokestown at 8.30 p.m.!  Boyle was in a winning position, coming down the straight, in the first game but the winning chance slipped away in the very end.
2.       Sister Act’ begins next week on Wed. the 20th and continues to Sat. night. The Musical is one of the highlights of the Boyle entertainment calendar so make sure you do not let the opportunity pass without being there.
3.       Climate Change’/ ‘Global Warming’ Disaster the greatest universal challenge for mankind.  
4.       The Irishman’ film. I went to see this film on Wed. It was scheduled for 7.30 but with trailers for coming (and past) films it began at 7.55. It is a very long film and went on until after 11 so over three hours. It has a stellar cast of De Niro/Pacino/Joe Pesci with director Martin Scorsese. Much of it is related in extended flashback. It hangs on a journey and is the supposed memoir of De Niro’s character Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran. There is actually no Irishness about it. It tells the story of Teamsters (Truckers) Union President, Jimmy Hoffa played with panache by Pacino. The film was financed by Netflix and I presume planned to be shown in say 3 segments of an hour each at most. It shows the strong links between the Union and the gangster clans, Italian in this film. A Sat. Indo. Reviewer gave it 5 stars but I’m afraid it would get no more than 3 from me. Firstly it is much too long and a real challenge on the butt. It could have been edited down by the guts of an hour. The hanging of the story around a car journey is problematic. The Sat. reviewer used a nice assessment of the role of Pesci as “gloriously composed’. Pacino was excellent but De Niro had too much in terms of a repetitive nature as the minder/enforcer. The ladies in the film are classic Italian gangster asides. So 3 from me but it is a real challenge to go the distance with it. Back in the day there was an ‘Intermission’ for such films eg. Ben Hur. The ‘Irishman’ is only in cinemas to give it Oscar credentials. It will struggle there but Pesci and Pacino might make a medium list. I’ve already awarded my Oscar from ‘The Joker’ to actor Joaquin Phoenix.           

Climate Change
This was once called ‘Global Warming’ but the name was changed to the softer more benign title of ‘Global Warming’. This week RTE in supporting Science Week dedicated an amount of coverage to highlighting its progress and the devastating consequences for the human race in the near future say 40 or so years. I am not an expert on it all but there is plenty of evidence that changes in the climate are taking place. As I write I can see on the T.V., over my shoulder, the devastating fires in Australia now on the edges of the great and beautiful city of Sydney. Later the news item focuses on the flooding of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice.
During this week as I said R.T.E. transmitted a series of programmes dedicated to the threat of Global Warming. On Monday night the title of the programme was “Will Ireland Survive 2050?” In it meteorologist Gerald Fleming talked of melting glaciers causing rising sea levels and displayed diagrams of areas around our major cities that will be impacted by this and they are hard to comprehend. One gentleman related how he moved from Clontarf to a district which was considerably more elevated because of the future flooding threat to his home. That must be an unsettling example to the people living there or possibly seeking a house there. The thing about the potential disaster is that it may not impact too much on us senior people but we have children and grandchildren and what is the legacy the actions of our generation pass on to them?  Vested interests will hone in on defending their sectors in short minded ways. The farmers will defend their herd and cow numbers and say that they are producing milk at low carbon emissions as opposed to x country and so on. I was puzzled by a farmer last night saying it cost €5 approx. per kilo to produce beef and he sells it for under €4. I may be wrong but the dairy herd has increased enormously in very recent years since the changes to ‘milk quotas’. Why was that allowed when the call now is to decrease cattle and cow numbers?     

Tuesday night’s programme was titled ‘Hot Air; Ireland’s Climate Crisis’. This examined what and where Ireland needs to make the necessary changes to current practises.  A current issue is the generation stations at Lanesboro and Shannonbridge. Since the forties Bord na Mona has been extracting turf from the midland bogs on an industrial scale but a few years ago it was the domestic turf cutters who were first accosted. The use of fossil fuels, oil, gas and peat are also huge contributors to carbon emissions and ‘Global Warming’. But the question for us as consumers seeking to keep reasonable warmth in our homes is; how do we do that? Electric generation by wind is progressing but it too has its costs in environmental impact. Still it is looked on as one of the get out mechanisms. Wave power is not touched on in Ireland though France generated from wave power decades ago.   
An area that is hardly visible to us is the pollution of seas. Tuesday night showed areas around Kerry which were filmed some 30 years ago and again recently. From being a vibrant fishing area with a fulsome eco system some 30 years ago it has turned into what was referred to as ‘a desert’. We hear this from time to time about one of the natural wonders of the world i.e. ‘The Great Barrier Reef’ off the coast of Queens land Australia. 
The skies too contribute with aeroplanes contributing on each journey proportionally huge amounts to the carbon footprint.
What are the answers? Reduction of fossil fuels; major transport efficiencies and so many more. Ireland despite its difficulties is a wealthy advanced country so we should be able to achieve our targets. A question we do not see debated is while we could and should make our positive contribution it would be very small by comparison to the Global giants such as China, the U.S. Brazil and India.    
The Voice of Greta Thunberg
One can see in the demeanour of the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg the concern and almost the despair in her cry for positive action on ‘Climate Change’. While she is being listened to are her cries being heeded by the powers that be?    
It is important that this lobby does not allow itself to be brushed aside with platitudes by the vested interests and lobby groups who rarely took student activism seriously. Hopefully in the immediate years there will be many more like her.
Occasionally, in say London, one would come across some eccentric with a banner slogan ‘The End is Nigh’ and this was also a cry prior to New Year’s Eve 2000. If the current pessimism is valid those sentiments are not far off unless mankind can rise to this incredible challenge.
Commemorating the Great War
It was on last Monday, November 11th that the end of W.W.1 one hundred and one years ago in 1918 was commemorated. There were a number of T.V. programmes remembering this historic event. These included ‘The Unremembered –Britain’s Forgotten War Heroes’. These turned out to African soldiers and a large number who acted as ‘porters’ who facilitate the transport of goods to the front lines. These front lines were in Eastern Africa where the British colonists faced up German colonists. This is one of the forgotten war zones of WW 1 as Burma became in WW 2.
Also on Sunday night on BBC 2 was ‘They Shall not Grow Old’ about the Western Front with old film getting a modern facelift. Gary Lineker also investigated his grandad’s war which his grandad never talked of. This was the campaign in Italy and the battles against the Germans particularly around the great mountain monastery of Monte Cassino a place I visited once.
When I was circa 15 and going to Roscommon CBS I frequently visited the County Library across the road from the school to borrow books. For some reason I was absorbed by WW 2 and read a great deal on it. It wasn’t quite so with the first war apart from some books like Eric Maria Remarque’s ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’- a rare German take on War 1. There was also one by American writer Ernest Hemingway called ‘A Farwell to Arms’.   
World War 1 saw the emergence of a group of poets who became collectively known as ‘The War Poets’. Amongst these was Laurence Binyon with his most referenced poem being ‘For the Fallen’;
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them’.
Wilfred Owen with ‘Dulce et Decorum’
 It relates the horror of war and warns against the old lie about the glory of it. 
Rupert Brooke, ‘The Soldier’
‘Think only this of me
That there is some corner of a foreign field forever England’

Siegfried Sassoon 
Does It Matter?
Does it matter?-losing your legs?
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.
Does it matter?-losing your sight?
Ireland also contributed a famous war poet with Francis Ledwidge of Slane, County Meath. Senior people will remember his tribute poem to Thomas McDonagh;
 ‘He shall not hear the bittern cry.   In the wild sky, where he is lain, Nor voices of the sweeter birds, Above the wailing of the rain”.       
When I first started teaching-English-in St. Mary’s College one of my classrooms was in the grounds of the Vocational School where the principal was Anthony Martin. My classroom was a double prefab. I taught a first year class, including Paddy McLoughlin, there and used a basic book for First Year edited by Kevin Brophy. Oddly for a first year book it included two WW 1 poems. One was called;
‘Reconciliation’ by Sassoon again.
When you are standing at your hero’s grave,
Or near some homeless village where he died,
Remember, through your heart’s rekindling pride,
The German soldiers who were loyal and brave.

Men fought like brutes; and hideous things were done;
And you have nourished hatred, harsh and blind.
But in that Golgotha perhaps you’ll find
The mothers of the men who killed your son.
It is a generous and rare enough sentiment penned shortly after the war. 
Last Sat. night I happened on a late film titled ‘Testament of Youth’ where this sentiment was also at its end. The original book was by Vera Brittain and was published in 1933. In it the horrors of war, love, loss and the futility of it all are portrayed with the expression of reconciliation at its end.
I know that there is a group of Boyle people for whom the Remembrance of that War, its local participants and its implications are their lives legacy to it not being forgotten. I’m thinking of Oliver Fallon, Michael Beirne and Danny Tiernan. I’m sure there are others. 
There were many more distinguished War Poets such as Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke     

R.T.E. in Crisis
A minor crisis by comparison is the future of R.T.E. RTE is funded by a license fee of €160 and whatever it raises from its advertising. There is supposed to be a significant percentage of defaulters in terms of paying the license fee and RTE currently is in financial jeopardy. The head of RTE Dee Forbes says that the license fee model is broken and the whole funding model needs to be restructured. The ideal would be for central funding from the central funds.  
RTE raised some €60m. or so from the sale of lands adjacent to its home at Donnybrook in recent years but that is now gone. A few weeks ago the Director mentioned the sale of ‘paintings’ which might raise a million or so. It was hardly a strategic answer to its problems.
It is proposed to reduce staff by 200. I wonder how many are actually employed by RTE?
A lot of us cringe at the salaries of RTE stars with the frontrunners being regularly listed as Ryan Tubridy €495,000, Miriam O’Callagahan €299,000, Ray D’Arcy €450,000, Joe Duffy €395,000, Sean O’Rourke and Marian Finucane (2 week-end radio shows) €300,000 in 2016. I’ve made the comparison before with the population of Ireland being the equivalent of Birmingham. I would very much doubt if that would obtain there. Yet big star salaries in a small pool environment emerged. While a number of Irish presenters from Ireland ‘made it’ in England I doubt if this would be the case with most of the above.  
Even serious and logical savings in these salaries would not be of much help. Still I’m puzzled by the disregard for current licence payers who must contribute a decent sum. There will always be defaulters but it does not sound logical to abandon a rich source unless a better one is in place.
I may have my paragraphs back to front here because I am a supporter of RTE. It can be criticised in its parts but it has regularly been outstanding also. (This could also be said of the traditional standard bearer of Public Service Broadcasting i.e. the BBC.) It has over the years made telling investigative series and even with a sometimes maligned Joe Duffy it has an outlet for many of the publics woes and difficulties as it is currently doing with its ‘bullying theme’.
So hopefully RTE, in a more subtle way perhaps, will continue to be a national platform for national issues and concerns.   




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