An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s Day

Sarsfield was the de facto commander of James’s forces in Ireland. The mission failed but his reputation for gallantry was assured

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s DayThis being the season of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish-themed column seems appropriate. And a recent news story provides a suitable prompt. Born between 1655 and 1658, Patrick Sarsfield was a dashing Irish hero. He was brave, patriotic and charismatic. And the fact that he was mortally wounded leading a cavalry charge at the 1693…

Why exercise should be a key component of business success

Numerous studies have shown that regular daily exercise can reduce stress, improve mental health and increase immunity

Why exercise should be a key component of business successMy brother Rob – a 50-something entrepreneur living in Ireland – annoyed me the other day when he told me he’s on track to be the same weight and almost as strong as he was when he was in his 20s. Rob and I have had ongoing competitions since the day Rob was born, which…

Christmas pantomime a charming holiday tradition

There’s no requirement to stick to the details of the original story. The entertainment imperative trumps ‘authenticity’ every time

Christmas pantomime a charming holiday traditionPeople raised in North America aren’t usually exposed to the phenomenon of the Christmas pantomime. Some might even think it has something to do with mime, which it most assuredly doesn’t. But those who grew up in Britain or Ireland will have an entirely different perspective. Pantomime – panto for short – is an integral…

The past isn’t a script set down in stone

Vandalizing public spaces under the delusion that such acts make yesterday a better today is sad-sack politics that fosters democratic weakness

The past isn’t a script set down in stoneFor her book Talking Stones: The Politics of Memorialization in Post-Conflict Northern Ireland, Elisabetta Viggiani mapped 157 publicly visible sites of Troubles commemoration in Belfast. Broken down, the city’s memorials alone offer a ratio of one wall plaque, garden, public tableau or statue for every 25 of the 4,000 or so people killed by the…

The power life of a medieval heiress

The combination of Isabel de Clare’s inherited wealth and William Marshal’s earned status made for a fortuitous pairing

The power life of a medieval heiressThe teenage Isabel de Clare was a desirable prize in the late 12th century marriage market. As the heiress to substantial lands in Ireland, Wales, England and Normandy, she had much to offer. Both sides of her pedigree contributed to this inheritance. Isabel’s father was Richard de Clare, popularly known as Strongbow. He came from…

Digging for the bones of a lost Irish hero

Digging for the bones of a lost Irish heroThe Spanish city of Valladolid has an Irish historical connection. It was there that Red Hugh O’Donnell was buried in 1602. Now, thanks to an archaeological dig aimed at finding his long-lost tomb, the connection is back in the news. Known as Red Hugh because of his hair colour, he was the kind of historical…

Flu pandemic of 1918 brutal, virulent killer

One hundred years ago, a flu pandemic swept across the world, killing tens of millions of people, particularly those in the prime of life

Flu pandemic of 1918 brutal, virulent killerFrom the wet and windswept northwest of Ireland to rural southwestern Ontario, the flu pandemic of 1918 to 1920 was remorseless. My mother and my wife’s father lost siblings to an illness where death might come within 24 hours of first symptoms. And sometimes it was particularly brutal. Historian John Barry has described it this…

Ireland on the cusp of political upheaval

Should Sinn Fein come to power, it’ll be interesting to see how they deliver results. Making promises is easy. Getting a job done is different

Ireland on the cusp of political upheavalIreland’s recent election produced an unusual result. You might call it downright peculiar. Or maybe just momentous. Irish politics has been dominated for the past century by two parties whose origins derive from the civil war that followed the establishment of an independent Irish state. In many cases, family voting patterns were faithfully handed down…

A child’s Christmas Eve in 1950 Dublin

One of my earliest Christmas memories was going to see Roy Rogers, the "King of the Cowboys", in The Gay Ranchero in a Dublin cinema

A child’s Christmas Eve in 1950 DublinAs you get older, one of the things that Christmas evokes is a sense of remembering. And for me, one the earliest such memories relates to Christmas Eve 1950. It was the first time I ever went to the cinema. Or, as Dubliners would have said, the pictures. I was six years-old at the time…

What if Brexit leads to the breakup of the United Kingdom?

A separate Scotland and a unified Ireland would certainly face new challenges. But life might be easier for the English

What if Brexit leads to the breakup of the United Kingdom?If Brexit happens and has the unintended consequence of facilitating Scottish independence and Irish unification (picking up where last week’s column left off), what would that mean for various groups? For Scottish unionists, leaving the United Kingdom would certainly be a major psychological wrench. Unlike, say, the former states of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia – both…
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