Selling Bars


Yesterday, my dad and I went to Semple Stadium to sell Butlers Chocolate bars and raise money for the Hope Foundation. The weather was great and there were large crowds of people going to Waterford v Wexford and Claire v Galway. The perfect setting to fundraise. We sold all of our bars just in time before it started to rain. It was as if the rain waited politely for us to complete our work.

While I was outside Semple Stadium trying to sell bars, a few people told me that they had already bought the Hope bars from someone else. After brief investigation it turned out that two people were down the road selling bars for the Hope Foundation and stealing my customers! You are probably getting the notion that I was annoyed by this but there was really no issue. I know you want to read about an epic…

View original post 134 more words

Change the world

Change the world

My No.2 son is embarking on a life changing journey.  Here in Ireland we have an optional “transition year” in secondary school.  It takes the focus off exams and gives students the opportunity to explore subjects, occupations and activities that may influence their life choices.  One focus is on voluntary work and charity giving.  It is great to see education that focuses on what you can do for society rather than racing blindly into a career path.

One of the greatest things you can become is a philanthropist.  Some start small and early.  Others take many years to understand that giving away your money makes you far happier than accumulating it.  Chuck Feeney followed in the steps of great American philanthropists such as John D. Rockerfeller and George Eastman.  Initially Feeney stayed in the shadows, secretly channeling his money through Atlantic Philanthropies.

Then Feeney had a revelation.  He realised that he could achieve more by using his position and his example to stimulate philanthropy in other billionaires.  So he went public and in the process he set an example for Bill Gates.  When Bill and Melinda set up their foundation it convinced Warren Buffet.  Giving is like a contagious disease, one that makes the givers feel great.

So I am glad to see my son step down the path of philanthropy in his own small way.  A tender sapling like this needs to be supported and nurtured and fed and watered.  If you would like to follow his journey he will post his progress on his own blog:  Gavin’s Kolkata Blog

If you would like to take your interest a step further and do a little of the feeding and watering then his charity crowd funding site is here:

Gavin’s Crowd Funding Donation Site

If you would like to help but don’t have the funds at present, a share, a forward, a comment, even a like helps keep things going.  But don’t “Like” my page, go over and like his 🙂





Write me a victory


On this day in 1809 Arthur Wellesley became the Viscount Wellington.  This was a man who knew a thing or two about PR in the days before PR was invented.

Born Arthur Wesley in Dublin he was a member of the Protestant ascendancy.  He did not want to be held back by his Irish roots and is  supposed to have said “Because Jesus was born in a stable did not make him a horse.”

He changed the spelling of his name to Wellesley when he was serving in India in a move to brand himself as distinct from his older brother, Richard, Lord Mornington, Governor General of India.

July 28th 1809 was when Wellesley won the Battle of Talavera against the French during the peninsular campaign.  Up to this point he was looked down upon by the military establishment.  He was seen by some of his contemporaries as a “Sepoy” general, a lower class of leader than those who fought in European wars.  He had gained his seniority mainly through the purchase of commissions, which was standard practice at the time.  The British Empire was stabilised by a system where the sons of the nobility and the ruling classes dominated the military through purchase of position.  This prevented the rise of populist demagogues, such as Napoleon.

Wellesley saw some action in Germany and Denmark, but it was in the Peninsular campaign that he was destined to shine.  He defeated every French field marshal in succession before eventually defeating Napoleon himself in Waterloo.

Talavera was his first real test in Iberia.  Despite losing 25% of his troops, and retreating from Spain for a year, Wellesley sold it to London as a victory.  As a result he was ennobled and was known henceforth as Lord Wellington, first as Viscount and later Duke.

Wellington was a quick study.   At Talavera he learned that the Spaniards did not have the resources or matériel to support the British forces in Spain.  While the French and Spanish armies had the ability to live off the land his troops could not.  He could not risk dispersing his men to forage, and having them picked off piecemeal by superior French forces.  He retreated from Spain with a tactical victory which served his interests in London, but giving the strategic victory to the French.  He would not return to Spain until he could guarantee secure supplies for his forces.

At Talavera he also practiced a technique that later made him famous at Waterloo.  He ordered brigades of foot soldiers to lie down on the reverse slopes of elevated positions.  This kept them safe from artillery fire which was designed to clear a path for the French columns.  Once the columns began to march the troops were ordered up and into the “thin red line”.

What I find most interesting about Talavera is that the winning side on the day, the combined British and Spanish forces, lost more troops than the French.  This is often the way in battle.  It is the army that is prepared to take the hard hits that wins the day.  In most battles the losing side withdraws in good order, defeated but not routed.  It is only when the losing side loses formation and collapses that they suffer large losses.  When the fear takes hold, when the common soldiers realise they have lost, and it becomes every man for himself.  The lines break up and the victorious cavalry go to town on retreating infantry.  In battle, in sport and in business it is the ability to weather defeat, to avoid a complete rout, that marks out a side with character.  That is a team with the ability to come back and win the next time.

Bucket List #3

Metal Bucket

This is a galvanized bucket.  Light and portable and fairly sturdy.  The real benefit of this bucket it its ability not to melt if you put some hot ashes into it by accident.

You can carry coal into the sitting room for your fire in this bucket, so it doubles as a coal scuttle.  In the morning you can clean out the ashes in your grate.  Sometimes when you think the ashes are cold there are a couple of hot coals hiding in there just waiting for their chance to heat up again.  The disturbance  of cleaning out the fireplace gives them air, and they heat up again.  Anyone who has used a plastic bucket to clean out fires has come across this problem.  With this metal bucket you have no such worries.

I grew up in a house without a fire.  I suppose my parents were being ultra modern, rejecting the primitive technologies of the past.  When they built our house in Pinewood in 1966 they installed a piped gas fueled hot air ventilation heating system.  This is called a ducted warm air heating system.  Underfloor ducting carries the heated air around the house and blows it out through floor ventilators.  Instead of standing in front of a fire to warm up in winter we would sit on the ventilator.

Before going to bed as kids we would hold our pajamas over the vents and the air would blow them up and warm them.

Growing up in a house with no fireplaces has advantages.  We had the use of all four walls in every room.  We did not have to set and clean fires.  We did not have the need to clean chimneys and the problem of dealing with ash.

On the down side a fire is a very powerfully comforting feature.  There is a love of the fire programmed into our human DNA.  Mastery of the fire appears to be the skill that set man apart from all other animals.

Heat:  The fire gives you warmth.  Having a fire to keep them warm enabled humans to inhabit alpine and tundra environments.  The ability to exploit a wider range of environments helped the spread of humans and protected the species from local famines and disasters.

Safety:  Most animals fear fire.  The ability to command fire gave humans an advantage over large and dangerous predators.  On a smaller scale the smoke from fires helps drive away biting insects, offering some protection from diseases such as malaria.  On a psychological level it provides a comforting illusion of safety, and sometimes that in itself is enough for people to get by.

Food:  Once you have a fire you also have the ability to cook.  Cooking food allows you to extract more energy from a given amount of raw ingredients.  In certain circumstances cooking converts something that is poisonous into an edible and nutritious food.  Boiling can make water safe to drink and has a sterilizing effect on foods.  This ability to convert food more safely and more efficiently gave man an important advantage over other animals.

Light:  As early cave art demonstrates, primitive man used the ability to command fire to explore dark caves that were inaccessible without some form of artificial light.  A torch or a camp fire extends the day and provides more time for activities that make life easier, such as sewing clothing, flint knapping, basket making etc.

Quality of life:  A fire is also a dynamic piece of furniture.  Fire is mutable, the flames dance and change.  Long before we had television families would sit and gaze into the fire, and talk and sing and recite.  Home is the hearth as the saying goes.

Now I live in an old house, built in the 1840’s.  Originally there would have been a fireplace in every room, including the bedrooms.  It was the only way to heat a home in those days.  Over the years the fires have been replaced by central heating, and there are radiators in every room.  The only fireplace that remains is in the sitting room.

The kitchen is the beating heart of our house.  It is a place of fun and energy, noise and bustle, where all the action happens.  At a certain stage in the evening you want to begin the process of winding down, cooling down mental energy, preparing for sleep.  This transition involves the family focus moving from the kitchen to the sitting room.  Like primitive hominids we retreat to our cave and light the fire.





Bucket List #2

Brewing Bucket

So again, I have one of these.  My bucket list is a list of stories about buckets and their place in my life (in case you haven’t guessed yet).

So roll back to the year 1977.  I feel sure that was the year, but I am open to correction.  My oldest brother Jerry got married.  I wore a kind of safari style jacket that my mother made, and a pair of brown flares.  Flares were not just “in fashion” in 1977, they were all you could buy.  I hated flares, but there seemed to be no alternative.

The jacket was god-awful too.  I have my own self to blame for that I guess.  My mother asked what I would like to wear for the wedding.  I was very into things african, safaris, Daktari, Born Free and all that guff.  I had ambitions to become a game park ranger when I grew up.  So I asked for a Safari jacket.  I knew the moment that she bought the cloth for it that she was way off the mark.  But I didn’t have the heart to upset my mother by pointing out that she hadn’t a clue.  She wanted me to look neat and well dressed.  I wanted to look beat, worn, creased, just off a dusty landrover.

Looking back I see now that I was in the early stages of my love affair with punk.  I was rejecting the glamour and sparkle of the disco era.  I wanted to disrupt, to break out, to smash convention.  I was just that little bit too young.  This was the year punk erupted on the scene in Ireland.  The Boomtown Rats released “Looking After Number 1” and the music world changed completely.

So what has all this to do with large white plastic buckets?  Anyone who grew up in a large family has experienced the joy of what happens when someone gets married.  There were nine of us sharing four bedrooms.  The departure of Jerry opened up a bed, and for the first time in my life I did not have to share one with my younger brother.  My own bed.  And only two of us in the room.  I felt like Hitler expanding into Poland.

And since I was taking over Jerry’s bed I was not going to stop there.  Jerry had a beer and wine making operation up and running.  When he moved out I moved in.  I had a ready made inventory of demi-jons, a pressure barrel, wine and beer bottles, crown corks, barley, hops, malt, hydrometer, thermometer and …….you guessed it…..fermentation vessels.  I had a large jerry can for lager, and a big coloured plastic bin for fermentation.

I learned more about chemistry from brewing and wine making than I learned in school.  I learned about enzyme reactions, the importance of temperature control, the importance of controlling the environment, sterilization.  I was the 1970’s version of Walter White.  I kept my family in country wines and beers for many years.  I deviated into mead and it’s derivatives, and developed a taste for Metheglin.  I made cordials and in turn used them to create cocktails.  It was a marvelous education.

Over the years what with kids and career, my brewing activities declined.  Dust gathered on the kit.  Then, when we converted our garage in Clontarf into a den for the kids the brewing gear was just in the way.  I sold it off.

Last Christmas my Daughter pulled me for her Kris Kindle.  To my surprise she had picked up on my love of home brew from hints over the years.  She bought me a kit online.  So now once again I am brewing.  It was a fabulous present, because it unlocked all those memories of times past.  Good times, if somewhat crowded.

I almost pity my kids that they will never realize the joy of getting your very own bed.  Almost…..





Bucket List #1

Heavy duty black plastic

I already have one of these buckets at home.  They are tough black plastic, very durable, very strong.  The reason this one is on my bucket list is because of the one I lost back in about 1988.  Summer of ’87 I learned how to sail and took to it like a duck to water.  The following year I jumped on any boat that would have me.

I think this bucket was on Tom Colliers boat, a steel 50 foot sloop.  We sailed her from Kinsale to Baltimore and arrived for the Baltimore Regatta.  So that gives me an exact weekend, the August Bank Holiday.

There was a rope tied to the bucket handle, finished off with a beautiful monkeys paw.  Not the hand of a tree dwelling simian.  The rope one (see below).

So I, in my naivety, thought I could dip for a bucket of water from a cruising yacht simply by slinging over the bucket and holding onto the rope.  The bucket hit the sea, the bucket filled.  Bye bye bucket.

When we got to Baltimore I toddled up to the chandlers and purchased a replacement for the boat.  The damage to my wallet was minor in comparison to the damage done to my ego.  Lesson learned.  When you throw things into the sea off a yacht you must tie them on if you ever want them back.

So this bucket is on my bucket list, not as something i want to do, but as a memory of a good lesson learned.

Monkeys Paw


Vive la révolution


Yes, I remember it well.  1998.  The Tour de France started in Ireland for the first time ever.  There were stringent traffic restrictions in place all over Dublin city, with made it tricky getting to the maternity hospital.  When we got there the midwife was a French nurse.  Everything was French that Bastille day.  So when Esha was born we gave her a French second name, Isabelle.








God damn you all to Hell

Consequence : a result or effect, typically one that is unpleasant.

Britain is suffering the consequences of cynical politicking.  David Cameron came up with the idea of a Brexit referendum as a means of remaining in power. He used the idea to appease the Eurosceptic wing of his own party, and secured a majority government for the Conservatives in Britain.  Then he had to pay the price by giving what he promised.

The Brexit referendum in the UK has rolled the country back 100 years.  On the one hand you have British people who still think they have an empire.  They want Britain to be “Great” again.  They miss the “good old days” long before they were born when Britain stood in splendid isolation from European politics.  These are people who simply have no grasp of the complexities of international trade in the modern world.  They believe the lies about the EU costing Britain money.  They don’t understand that their jobs are reliant on exports to the EU and on the flows of trade, capital and currency through Britain because they are in the EU.

On the other hand you have Brexit voters who are simple xenophobes.  They have no passport, have never really encountered other cultures and frankly are afraid to do so.  They rail about “poles taking our jobs” while refusing those same jobs.  They are happy to accept the lies about the “Schrodinger Immigrant”, you know;  the one who steals your job while living on state benefits.

The Brexit outcome has divided the United Kingdom.  London, Scotland and Northern Ireland all want to remain in the EU.  Those who voted to leave are the old, the uneducated and the working class;  the very people who are best protected because of EU membership.  They are people who do not understand economics.

The politicians who lied to the voters about the benefits of leaving the EU seem to be shocked that anyone actually listened to them.  Now that they have succeeded they are facing the awful consequences of the outcome.  What is their reaction?  They are all running for the hills.  Cameron, Johnson and Farage are all gone.  Gove will soon follow.  The idiots who launched this ship of fools have refused to step on board and take the tiller.  They can see that there are no happy outcomes to this path.

Sterling is taking a beating on currency markets and the purchasing power of the British has already collapsed.  International companies who sited in the UK to gain access to the EU are reviewing their location options.  This will have enormous consequences in terms of employment levels.  The EU is playing hardball with the UK in trade terms.  The politicians who believed they would have Norwegian style access to EU markets are now feeling like Maxwell Smart with the end credits rolling, as the doors close in front of them.

The Scots voted only 2 years ago to remain in the UK on the Conservative Party campaign slogan of “Better Together”.  For the Scots the idea of better together encompasses Europe, not just England.  If England successfully negotiates its way out of the EU we may see Scotland negotiate its way out of the UK and back into Europe.

That outcome could see an interesting dynamic emerge.  There is a potential for a United Kingdom of Scotland and Northern Ireland standing separately from the Britain of England and Wales.

All across Europe it was understood that the ordinary voter finds it difficult to understand the benefits of EU membership.  The layman sees the bureaucracy and the raft of laws and regulations.  It is easy for cynical politicians to make personal capital by attacking the EU.  The truth is that the EU is the greatest force for peace in the history of the planet.  It converted a plethora of quarreling nation states into a peaceful and cooperative economic bloc.  It turned a mixed bag of nations into a formidable economic bloc.  The long lists of seemingly tiresome rules and regulations that underpin this cooperation are designed to protect the citizens of Europe and to enhance their lives.

No experiment is perfect. The EU is a work in progress, but it is a great thing.  It takes a particularly small minded, short-term focused, self-serving politician to attack such a wonderful institution.  But then modern western democracy is based on small mindedness, local issues, the time-frame of the next election and selfish politicians.  When I go to the polls I want to vote for leaders, people who will do their best for the welfare of all the people.  Instead I am faced with candidates who promise to deliver medical cards, hospital beds and planning permissions to people who do not deserve them.  I despair.