A Word for Robert Graves… A Writer Partial to Bling


  The poet Robert Graves was addressing the audience from the dais in the bear pit of “The Dairy Sci” in University College Cork. All the large auditorium’s tiered seats were full, literally to overflowing that May night in 1975. They were so full that...

When You SUP on Lake Annecy You Need a Long Oar


We spent last Christmas and New Year in Australia (“spent” being the operative word:  it was the most expensive place I have ever been, bar none. It was a relief to go on to New York to find everything reasonable and good value.)  The people...

Graduation: 2. Conferring Speeches


The Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood, speaking to new graduates in the University of Toronto a while back, said she wondered why the speech at conferrings was called a “Convocation” when….“’Ejection’ would be better.  Even at the best of times, it’s more or less...

Graduation: 1. Modes and Mores


It’s graduation time.  In universities all over the world, students are standing before their chancellor, dean or president to be handed a scroll saying that they have completed a course of education (which essentially also involves schooling) at that college and have been deemed now...

Gloves and OJ Simpson


On the night of June 12/13th 1994, we were staying with friends in the hills above Santa Monica.  After supper I sat on the low stone wall behind the swimming pool and looked down over the twinkling dark bowl of West L.A. communities. Suddenly, and...

My Lovely Canoe


July 2nd and the first time taking my canoe out on the lake this year.   Shame and fie……but life kinda gets in the way and if not life, then weather or lack of a strong-muscled crew……   I have always loved boats, but not necessarily...

Cherry Season


  All is not fair in love (nor indeed, in war) for a difficult life choice is in determining between elegant hands and a trim waistline, or the love of cherries. I have decided that the joy, wellbeing, artistic and gastronomic satisfaction won from growing,...

Air India Disaster 1985


  It was 1985, the year that Cork was celebrating its 800th birthday. It was a Sunday and it was raining. As The Irish Press newspaper was on strike I was relishing staying in and catching up on housework. So, despite the noise of what...

Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle, or I Love My ECAL Crystal


    I got a beautiful present the other day.  It is a calorimeter crystal photomultiplier tube.   The moment I saw it I was so struck by its beauty, as to become instantly avaricious and told my nephew, at whose table we were sitting, “I...

The Secret Life of Diarmuid Gavin


  We know him as a horticulturalist, television presenter, author, Honorary Doctor of Art from Nottingham Trent University, and last month, winner of the Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show for “The Irish Sky Garden” (in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and the City of Cork)……but...
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