Friday, February 11, 2022

Update 12th February

 World in Jeopardy

“The whole world is in a terrible state o’ chassis” so says Sean O Casey in his play ‘Juno and the Paycock’ set in 1922.

We are today no different. The possible disaster of a ‘hot war’ involving a possible Russian invasion of the Ukraine is mind-boggling.

In a little forked diversion here it was maybe eight months or so that I tuned into a documentary on the Assad family dynasty of Syria.  The present President is Bashar Assad with his wife Asma. Bashir was a doctor in England and married Asma who was born in London with Syrian parents. When Bashar’s father died he succeeded his father. It was thought by many that ‘the doctor’ would be a much more benevolent ruler than his father in a troubled land. That was not how it turned out. An end camera shot of Bashar was of him driving through one of many destroyed cities of Syria. That Middle Eastern region is seen as the birthplace of civilization and goes back to biblical times.

The image of an educated man seeming relaxed and confident about the destruction all around him and the thousands of people who were killed or imprisoned to satisfy his interpretation of the appropriate rule, was to me incredible. There have been many modern examples of this.  Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and so on.   

I was reminded of a sketch I had seen decades ago during some crisis which I would like to have now. It was a drawing of the planet earth with all the evidence of it having been through a catastrophic war of destruction. Atop the graphic of a destroyed world globe a couple of military figures were hailing the fact that; ‘We won!”.

Could that be the case with a possible war beginning with an invasion of the Ukraine. Are Putin, Biden and their acolytes really willing to risk a war with all the incredible utensils of war available to them? The title used by soldiers of the First World War to artillery bombardments was, ‘hell’. The capacity of the great powers today has multiplied to ‘unleash hell’ by any factor of X. 

Senior people will remember the threats of a possible third world war in the early sixties during the Cuban Crisis. As the U.S. military strained at the bit to use their terrible resources luckily common sense prevailed. If a ‘limited’ war began where would it stop? Could it be stopped? In 1965 Barry McGuire pounded out one of the great chilling anti-war songs part of which I post to here. You really have to hear it of course. 


Eve of Destruction

Barry McGuire

“The Eastern world, it is explodin'

Violence flarin', bullets loadin'

You're old enough to kill but not for votin'

You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'?

And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin'

But you tell me over and over and over again my friend

Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Don't you understand what I'm trying to say?

Can't you feel the fear that I'm feeling today?

If the button is pushed, there's no running away

There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave

Take a look around you boy, it's bound to scare you, boy

But you tell me over and over and over again, my friend

Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

I seem to remember reading that Douglas McArthur toyed with the idea of using a nuclear bomb against the Chinese at a point during the Korean War.


 Think of all the hate there is in Red China

Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama

Ah, you may leave here for four days in space

But when you return, it's the same old place

The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace

You can bury your dead but don't leave a trace

Hate your next door neighbor but don't forget to say grace

And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend

You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction”.


Tomorrow is Saturday a Sports Fest.

It is hard to come down from Barry McGuire but thankfully tomorrow is another day!         

As a sports nerd, which I imagine people who read this from time to time can see, tomorrow, Saturday 12th is a feast day.

Manchester Utd. V Southampton early on I’ll give a miss to as I’ll try and get a walk in then.

In rugby Wales v Scotland at 2.15 which I will probably get snitches of as I’m doing something else.

Then come the GAA club hurling and football finals. My pick there is the contest in hurling between pretty close neighbours Ballygunner of Waterford v Ballyhale Shamrocks from Kilkenny. I fancy the Kilkenny cats to do the business with T.G. Reid the man to watch.

I will have a problem with Kilmacud Crokes of Dublin v Kilcoo of Down. Though Kilcoo are favourites I go for Kilmacud. K.O. 5.

My problem with watching that game is that there is a bone crusher of a rugby game with Ireland v France in Paris. K.O. 4.45. The loss of Johnny Sexton is a big one for Ireland but they seem to have a very good side with a number of very seasoned players to come on from the bench. Impossible to call.

Then on cue comes a top league hurling game with Limerick, the current giants, v Galway with King Henry (Shevlin) in charge of Galway, at 7.

It would have been some day if the U.S. Super Bowl topped it off but that starts on Sunday night at 11.30 p.m. That can be a long night. It takes place in California with the Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are nearly the epitome of the ‘zero to hero’ catchphrase as they have shocked American football followers with their rise to fame this season. Of course the quarter-back, 25year old Joe Burrow, has had a major role in that transition. 

[It is worth noting that the GOAT has retired at the end of the season just gone. The ‘Greatest of All Time’ has been Tom Brady].

A sporting first which we should all applaud was that of Cavan lady Leone Maguire who had a significant win in a U.S. golf tournament last weekend. She was the hero of the victorious European Solheim Cup team last Autumn. She looks like a lady who will be a regular ‘contender’ in ladies’ golf, in the states, for years to come. An honourable mention goes to another golfer, Seamus Power from Waterford. He blazed around Pebble Beach with the first two rounds of 64 each last week. This had him in a leading positon. He dropped back with two modest rounds on the Saturday and Sunday. However, for a while there it looked as if it could have been a mighty double for the Irish golfers. Still it was pretty impressive.

I’ll adjourn here and maybe get back to the keyboard sooner rather than later.

Take care.

We are not there yet even if our world seems to suggest that we are home and hosed!

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Update 1st February 2020

 Journey to a Funeral

We walked quickly winding our way through the alleys avoiding the sea-front which was being lashed by a gale. A knock at a downstairs window to be joined by a companion.

We continued down Lower Salthill, through Nile Lodge and along Newcastle Road all the time shielding our faces from the wind-driven rain. Past the hospital corner to where the transport waited at the college gate. This was spring morning- February but three days old- but spring had been denied.

The dark hulk of the bus blended with the dawn blackness. We waited at the bus door waiting to be inside.

“We move at seven”, said the organiser. “If there is room you can come”.

We were not really supposed to be there. We waited anxiously, nervously hoping. A trickle of people filled the few vacant seats that remained, the trickle of people against the trickle of time. Time won.

The bus moved off like a ship away from a quay. We relaxed a little. Rumour spread of floods and storms and impassable roads. The bus trundled on uncertainly as if echoing our own uncertainty. I felt uneasy, maybe I shouldn’t be going. Maybe I should not have given in to that abstract impulsive.

The dawn light had wrestled with the elements but now gave up its forlorn battle with wind, rain and cloud. The elements had won and a dark sullen sky overshadowed all.

We wound our way through counties Galway, Mayo and Sligo. The country did not look alive this morning. The end of the world, for some. In Donegal we stopped as a funeral passed. It was not the first funeral we had met on the way. There were many funerals throughout the country on that day. But then there are funerals all over the country every day but not as many as today. Today was different.


We wound our way now very slowly as if nervous of reaching our destination. We cut across through the Gap of Donegal. Not a sign of life. More dark houses but yet no sign of life. Soon there is a whisper, the border! Confusion, which way? As if wishing to turn away. We pass a burnt-out customs post. The driver has been urged to bring us into the city over three miles away. We might be late. He reluctantly agrees. We come to a signpost for Letterkenny but turn in another direction.

Through the mist we see something up ahead. Coming closer we see the green hulk of a half- track stretched across the road. The soldiers wave us down with their rifles. A soldier steps up into our bus.  A hush. He is unarmed. Outside his crew watch. A few drink from enamel mugs. They shift about restlessly. They are cold probably. We freeze inside as the guns eye us arrogantly. The lone soldier walks through the bus. He scans each anxious face. No other sound. He gives a cursory inspection, finds nothing. Relief. The bus creeps through the narrow path left by the driver of the army vehicle. We have difficulty. Not an inch. The bus loses patience and lurches into a hollow and out again. The driver regretting his decision.

I look back. A soldier makes a sign of the cross, in mockery. Yet we are through and soon the cars line up in front of us. We stop and leave the bus which immediately begins to turn and retreat. It will wait for us over the border that evening. We will have to make our own way back to the meeting point. Confusion again, which way now? A suggestion ‘Up the hill’. A suggestion becomes a fact. We try to hurry. We may not be in time. The rain lashes the hill. A big bleak hill dotted with equally bleak housing estates against a murderous and revengeful sky. The rain water rushes down the sloped roadway, it too in a hurry to hide. We scramble on through torn up pavements and burned-out barricades. We move through an estate following the former trickle which is now a crowd. We reach the gates and push through into the graveyard of the adjoining church. We follow the well-ordered plots. From the headstones it can be seen that it is not an old graveyard. Very young as headstone inscriptions relay ’68. ’69, ’71, ’71, ’72 tell that.

We move on slowly now.  There are a number of open graves ready, one here, a couple more over there. A number of others speckle the green hill with the brown-black earth. One area catches our attention. We walk towards it and stand and look into the group of open graves as they lie side-by-side. Twelve graves in all here today and another in Donegal.

The coffins of the dead are borne out along the pathway. We line the route. The rain still unrelenting on the Regan. The hearts of many are cold. The apparently endless cortege passes through the ranks of the shocked and silent witnesses. The coffins are laid into the earth. Five in one neat row. The ceremonies are performed and slowly we retreat. The reporters and photographers record. The curious still try to absorb it all. Parse might have said, ‘a great offering, a great sacrifice, a foul deed’. It was not meant to be so. The aggrieved too are silent, trying to comprehend the nightmare of their loss without understanding how or why?

Ten years later, today Wednesday, I remember another quotation “Where does remembrance weep when we forget”,