Bank Holiday Sunday Morning

Image result for holstein cows

Sitting here in the kitchen on a sunny Sunday morning of a Bank Holiday and I am wandering the wide spaces of the world with deft strokes of my fingertips.

And here I found Billy Collins, the Irish-American poet with a poem about Irish-Dutch cows, if they are Holsteins, or Dutch-Irish cows if Friesians, or they could be a US bred strain of Holstein-Friesians imported back into Ireland.  He didn’t say.

Cows it seems are not like people.  We bring in a Friesian, or a Limousin, a Belgian Blue or a Scottish Angus.  We set it on the land and it eats the green grass of Ireland and magically becomes an Irish steer, an Irish Bull, or an Irish Cow.

We don’t point at it in the field and shout “Go back to Hungary”, or “We don’t want your type of cattle round here”.

Ireland is sometimes personified as a cow.  In his lament for Thomas McDonagh, Francis Ledwidge uses this analogy very powerfully.  And of course the greatest ancient epic in Ireland, central to the tales of Cúchulainn and the Cycle of Tales of the Knights of the Red Branch is the Cattle Raid of Cooley.

Afternoon with Irish Cows


Glass my ass!


The most feeble lament for “Why not?” is “because THEY won’t let me”.  That’s why it enrages me when competent, intelligent business women gather to discuss “The Glass Ceiling”.  Beware if you attend a “Women in Business” conference, and the topic of the Glass Ceiling comes up.  Bring a hammer in your briefcase, and wave it around if anyone so much as mentions the topic.

There is no glass ceiling but the one you make for yourself.  Man or woman, rich or poor, educated or self-taught the only limitation on your ambition is that imposed by you.  Yes, there are barriers to success, but they are only there to keep out those who don’t have genuine ambition.

Where would Ireland be without Mna na h’Éireann, the women of Ireland?   Eamonn de Valera had no fear of the British, because he had to devote all his fear to Cumann na mBan.  William Butler Yeats was forged by the Gore-Booth sisters and tempered by Maud Gonne mcBride.  Constance Gore-Booth went on to become Countess Markievicz.

Who was Cuchulainn without Dechtire or Fionn McCumhaill without Liath Luachra?  Behind every great Celtic hero is a fiercely impressive woman.  Celtic women have a long and proud tradition as leaders and warriors.  Queen Maeve of Connacht, Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, who almost threw the Romans out of Britain, Gráinne Mhaol (Grace O’Malley) the pirate queen of Mayo, Betsy Gray who died in the 1798 rebellion, Anne Devlin who refused to incriminate Robert Emmet.

When Cumann na mBan formed in Wynns Hotel in 1913 do you think Kathleen Shannahan was speaking about a glass ceiling preventing women from rising?  When Winifred Carney marched into the GPO with a Typewriter in one hand and a Webley Revolver in the other was she concerned that her male colleagues might impede her progress?

The business women of today need to do a bit of growing up.  Follow the advice of Big Jim Larkin:  The great appear great because you are on your knees – Arise!

Don’t stand back and wait for a gentleman to open the door for you.  Step forward and open it yourself.  Then, if you like, invite him in!

No Second Troy; by William Butler Yeats

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?