Terry Dunleavy

Guest Post – Hearts are Trumps ? in Auckland Also

Older journalists of my generation (I am shortly 88) don?t know whether to gloat or groan at the dismal performances of so many of our younger colleagues over the American presidential election.? Those of us who are optimists hope that it will change the direction of the modern scourge of ?interpretative reporting? to less interpretation and more straight reporting. Back to the dictum of the great giant of journalism, C.P.Scott, a past editor of the Guardian:

?Comment is free, but facts are sacred.?

Scott?s memorable essay should be re-read annually by everyone claiming to be a journalist.

I?m sure I wasn?t the only old-timer to predict the victory of Donald J Trump. In my case, the prediction rested on what I have always pronounced as the three key principles of political power:

Politics 101: Politics is the art of the possible.

Politics 102:? If you can?t get what you want, take what you can get.

Politics 103: Politicians must learn to count.

How did these relate to USA 2016? ? 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 »