Hallowed Out

This is the week of Halloween night. Traditionally it was a time when wraith-like creatures haunted the darkness, causing havoc in the world of the living. But it’s not all about teenagers drinking cans around burning pallets. It’s not just Arthur’s Day for tots. The history of Halloween in this country is almost as old

Happy Stance

I’m a great believer in serendipity, using it as a perfectly adequate substitution for hard work. The word means happy accident or fortunate mistake. It was apparently coined by the 18th century Horace Walpole after he heard of the Persian fairytale The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes had a happy knack of making discoveries

Rose To The Occasion

The Rose of Tralee: in the modern world of televisualising, it’s a rarity. There are not many programmes that an entire household will actually sit down and watch together, on a TV, live, interrupted only by trips to the kettle and a bit of snarky tweeting. As the fine sensible smart girls nudge, wink and

Post Haste

It’s the part of the internet that makes you a little sheepish. You’re filling out a form, typing in your name and address and then the website asks for your ZIP code. You almost blush on behalf of Ireland. It’s like being the customer in a queue whose situation is complicated and needs to speak

An Awful Larynx

It’s getting late in the bar in Alphabet City on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The place is called the Dorian Gray. Apparently the owners are distantly related to Oscar Wilde. Either that or it’s because it hasn’t aged a bit over the years and the back room is in an awful state. I’m


“’Janet! Why shouldn’t we have a Secret Society, too?’  said Peter.” Peter and his sister Janet have the good fortune to find themselves in the middle of Enid Blyton’s first short story about The Secret Seven. They are virtually guaranteed many summers of adventures, following skulkers and solving mysteries before the cack-handed police arrive. And,

Voter Anxiety

I’m not proud to say this: I’m not a great voter. I mean, I do vote – it’s only good manners after everyone went to so much effort to print all the ballot papers and shake off the yoke of colonial oppression ‘an all.  It’s just that quite often I haven’t given it enough thought. 

Baths of the Day

Arthur’s Day: Traditionally a time for handwringing about where we are as a nation. Commentators will ask: What can we do to change our preoccupation with alcohol? That battle is long lost. Let’s just assume that we are a nation of borderline functioning alcoholics and shur-what-harm-is-an-oul-drink? Let’s also assume the government will always lack the

One Track Mind

“The Germans think of everything” Someone said this in an advert on Irish television more than twenty years ago. Extensive research (google and asking around) doesn’t yield a precise answer to what the ad was for. I remember it may have been said by a woman in a suggestive put-a-bit-of-butter-on-the-spuds-Andre kind of way. The words

Flight of the Early

      I’m up early this morning – fierce early. The feeling of smugness is overwhelming. That’s not a surprise – the world attaches a moral value attached to it. The early bird catches the worm; early to bed and early to rise leads to health, wealth and wisdom. By contrast, late is only


      They think it’s all over – it will be tonight. Then we can all get back to our lives. Even if you’ve no interest in sport in general but you’ve watched or listened to any kind of broadcasting device over the last while, and are partial to a bit of news, you

Dental Awareness

I flicked through magazines on the table. There was a comprehensive selection of women’s monthlies. FEEL BAD ABOUT YOUR BODY WEEKLY! had an exclusive on some unfortunate celeb who had been been SPOTTED! having the temerity to store some of her body weight as fat. The latest ‘Ireland’s Own’ was there – an reassuring essential