Photo of the Day

Black Jack Adair, artist unknown.

Black Jack Adair

Donegal?s Most Hated Man

Ireland was no stranger to atrocities by landlords in the 19th century, but even by the standards of those dark days, the Derryveagh Evictions were hard to surpass in terms of casual cruelty. Overnight, 244 men, women and terrified children were evicted from their homes and left to wander the roads seeking shelter wherever they could. All this was at the whim of their landlord, John George Adair, who has gone down in history as ?Black? Jack Adair.

It was often said that the reason for the evictions was Adair felt that the dark, dingy houses occupied by the unfortunate tenants spoilt the view from his mansion home. That may have been a factor but there was more to it than that.

In the heart of Donegal sits the second largest national park in Ireland, forty-two thousand acres of wilderness. Here are found many iconic Irish creatures, from Ireland?s largest herd of red deer to a population of golden eagles, once extinct on the island but reintroduced in the year 2000. Here also, on the shore of Lough Veagh sits a castle. One of the youngest castles in Ireland, less than a hundred and fifty years old; it was also for a time one of the most infamous, home to one of Ireland?s most detested landlords. Now it belongs to the people, and it and its gardens are open to the public to roam. The park is Glenveagh, the castle is Glenveagh Castle, and the man who built it is one whose name was once as a curse to the lips of any Donegal native, John George Adair.

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Another dead terrorist meets his maker

Martin McGuinness, an IRA terrorist and latterly a politician, has croaked.

Hundreds of people accompanied the coffin, draped in the Irish flag, as it was carried through the Bogside area.

The ex-IRA leader turned politician died in Altnagelvin Hospital overnight aged 66. It is understood he had been suffering from a rare heart condition. ? Read more »

Ireland v New Zealand




All Blacks v Ireland (Chicago USA!)


Morning fellow multi-screening tragics. ?Join others here while you’re watching the game and getting through your eggs bennie. ?Or pie. ?Or toast. ?We’re not proud.

No game scores in General Debate please, even after the game is done. ?Some people may want to watch delayed.


Driving in Ireland – My Impressions

Guest post

There are three kinds of roads in Ireland: “R” roads, “N” roads and “M” roads.

“R” roads are ‘Regional’ and the speed limit is 80km/h – although most are so bumpy, narrow and windy, you’d be hard pressed to reach 70km/h! These would be the equivalent of our rural back roads (but narrower and with no verge)

“N” roads are ‘National’ roads and have a 100km/h limit – these would be more like our State Highways. Again no verge and generally no passing lanes. However they are reasonably wide and have a yellow striped marking about three quarters of a lane wide on the left (both sides) where slower vehicles are expected to pull over into to let traffic past. And with few exceptions, this did occur.

“M” roads are motorways with a limit of 120km/h. And with absolutely no apologies to NZTA, these bear absolutely no resemblance to our so-called ‘motorways’. The on-ramps and off-ramps are usually kilometres apart (which is one of the reasons why the higher speed is viable), not 1.5 km apart or less. The closest we would have (I think) would be the Albany Expressway or Waikato Expressway, where, in the latter case, I think there has been talk of having higher limits…

On all roads, the limit is regularly posted and there are also many, many speed camera warning signs. Although the fitted GPS in the car sounded a wee warning when I was going over, I confess to have been driving a few (maybe 10?) kilometres over the limit on occasion. I never saw a camera, and hope I didn’t cop a ticket, but I guess I will know in the next few weeks. All in all, the traffic was a joy to drive in, heavy or not, as people seem to be less aggressive and more considerate. Although they tended not to use indicators very often…

And an observation: I suspect the number of tractors (big John Deeres, Fords and Fergs) driving on the country roads is close to 10% of total vehicles, outside the cities!!

Some of the R roads were pretty hairy – just wide enough for the car plus a bit, high hedgerows or stone fences right up to the edge of the road and poor visibility for oncoming traffic. But we made it with no dings or scratches, I’m pleased to say.

Over the distance I drove in Ireland, I think the worst driver behaviour I saw was a woman going through a roundabout a bit quick. Speed limits were mostly observed and traffic kept left.

Contrast this with the 50km drive home from Auckland Airport where I experienced tailgating, speeding (past me), slow traffic in the “fast lane” not pulling over, no headlights on (at night: several cars and one large truck) and an idiot diving from the “fast lane” across three lanes in front of a truck to get to an off-ramp.

I despair of NZ drivers!!

Ireland is interesting to watch right now

Ireland’s main opposing parties will have to start thinking about forming an unprecedented alliance, analysts say, after exit polls suggested voters had rejected the ruling coalition, many opting instead for protest groups and independents.

Enda Kenny’s government looks to be the latest victim of European voters’ growing antipathy to mainstream politics.

Although under his premiership Ireland has bounced back from a bailout to become the continent’s fastest-growing economy, voters said the fruits of the recovery had not been shared.

“There’s total disillusionment with party politics. The independents and the smaller parties seem to be almost like the last hope for the country,” said John McKeever, a voter in Dublin.

Exit polls suggested the only viable option may be a problematic alliance of old rivals Fianna Fail and Kenny’s Fine Gael – although even their combined support was set to fall below 50 percent of the vote for the first time. Read more »

Should a Pro-Human rights organisation be actively Pro-Abortion?


Amnesty International was founded to advocate for the rights and freedom of prisoners of conscience.Today, Amnesty?s website states that: “Through our detailed research and determined campaigning, we help fight abuses of human rights worldwide. We bring torturers to justice. Change oppressive laws. And free people jailed just for voicing their opinion.”

Even though that is Amnesty International’s stated aim they are actively campaigning to legalise abortion in Christian countries across the world. This month they released an ad starring actor Liam Neeson to push for the introduction of abortion in Ireland

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Looks like the Irish have welcomed marriage equality with open arms

Final results are not expected until later in the day in a vote that would make Ireland the first country to adopt same-sex marriage via a popular vote, just two decades after the country decriminalised homosexuality.

State broadcaster RTE said the victory appeared to be overwhelming and government minister Kevin Humphreys predicted the margin would be two-to-one.

“I think it’s won,” Equality Minister Aodhan O’Riordain told Reuters at the main count centre in Dublin. “The numbers of people who turned out to vote is unprecedented. This has really touched a nerve in Ireland today.”

Gay marriage is backed by all political parties, championed by big employers and endorsed by celebrities, all hoping it will mark a transformation in a country that was long regarded as one of the most socially conservative in Western Europe. Read more »

Guest Post – St Patricks Day

Belmont Belmont Abbey St Patrick ISO 400 f5.6 s100 JPEG Small

by Terry Dunleavy

When Auckland?s iconic Sky Tower turns green tonight in honour of the feast day of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, I wonder how many viewing Aucklanders will realise that it is also a tribute to the man responsible for saving what we now enjoy as Western civilisation.

I am fiercely proud to be, and feel privileged to be, a New Zealander, one of the chosen of God?s Own Country. But I?m almost as equally proud of my Irish heritage and for good reason.

The Irish are part of a larger ethnic grouping called the Celts, who first entered western consciousness about 600 BC, only a century and a half after the legendary founding of the City of Rome. Celts settled in what is now France, Spain, Turkey and Britain. British Celts were pushed by Angles and Saxons into Cornwall where they would become Cornish, and into Wales, where they became the Welsh. About 350 BC, some 50 years after Celtic tribes began their invasion of Britain, they reached Ireland. Some came by way of Britain, but most are believed to have come from Spain.

For some nine centuries, Ireland had an illiterate, aristocratic, semi-nomadic, Iron Age warrior culture, its wealth based on animal husbandry and slavery.

It remained largely wild and untamed until the 5th century AD, and the arrival of the man who began civilising Ireland, a newly created bishop whose youth had been spent as a slave shepherd boy in Ireland after he had been kidnapped from Britain. He was Patricius, now venerated as the great St Patrick, who turned the Irish to religion, learning and the writing of books.

So it was that Ireland, a little island at the edge of Europe, had its moment of unblemished glory, as recounted by Thomas Cahill in his book, How the Irish Saved Civilisation:

?As the Roman Empire fell, as all through Europe, matted, unwashed barbarians descended on Roman cities, looting artefacts and burning books, the Irish, who were just learning to read and write, took up the great labour of copying all of western literature. These scribes then served as conduits through which the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian cultures were transmitted back to the tribes of Europe, newly settled amid the rubble and ruined vineyards of the civilisation they had overwhelmed.

?Without the mission of the Irish monks, who single-handedly re-founded European civilization throughout the continent in the bays and valleys of their exile, the world that came after them would have been an entirely different one ? a world without books. And our own world would never have come to be.? ? Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Immigration poster

New Zealand was not known to Europeans until 1642. Over 150 years later, settlers started to arrive from England, Scotland, and Ireland. The journey was long, arduous, and uncomfortable, but they came in the hope of a better life.

In the 1850s Auckland province offered 40 acres (16 hectares) for any immigrant to the province who was likely to become a ‘useful colonist’, plus another 20 acres (8 hectares) for any child aged five to 18. Such immigration advertising helped to establish the idea that New Zealand was a pastoral paradise where there was abundant fertile land for farming.

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