With war on the doorstep, The Singing Cowboy came calling

His tour of the U.K. and Ireland just before the Second World War was a huge success. But prudence meant his entourage came home early to avoid any danger

With war on the doorstep, The Singing Cowboy came callingThe summer of 1939 was nerve-wracking for Europe. As July slid into August, it became increasingly clear that – barring a miracle – war was on its way. And there were no miracles to be had. There was, however, a distraction that delighted tens of thousands. Gene Autry, The Singing Cowboy, came calling across the…

How Ireland stayed neutral in a world at war

Under the leader ship of Eamon de Valera and with a very small army, virtually no aerial capability and little naval service, Ireland was a sitting duck in the Second World War

How Ireland stayed neutral in a world at warAs we approach the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, it’s worth remembering that many of the countries caught up in it were unwilling participants. Rather than enlisting in a universal crusade against the evils of Nazi Germany, they wanted nothing more than to stay out of the conflict. For instance,…

The unexpected rise of Margaret Thatcher

Into the U.K.’s Winter of Discontent came a woman of sharp edges and a clear mind about how change would be managed

The unexpected rise of Margaret ThatcherOn May 3, 1979, United Kingdom voters trooped to the polls and produced a result that nobody would have countenanced a mere five years earlier. Defeating the sitting Labour government, Margaret Thatcher led the Conservatives into a lengthy sojourn in office. The novelty derived from the U.K. never having had a female prime minister, let…

The echoing calls for reconciliation and sound social architecture

In Ireland, in South Africa, in Canada the desire for stability, resolution and trust runs deep

The echoing calls for reconciliation and sound social architectureRose Conway-Walsh identifies as a confidently progressive left-of-centre leader of Sinn Féin in the Irish Senate. She’s equally confident, however, that many of Ireland’s pressing, implacable existential problems could be resolved by turning the clock back to April 24, 1916. “Everything is rooted in the Proclamation. If we only had fulfilled the ideals laid out…

Ireland’s greatest mythical hero

The story of Cuchulainn is one of heroism. But it has also become a cultural touchstone and a political rallying cry

Ireland’s greatest mythical heroWith St. Patrick’s Day almost upon us, it’s appropriate to write something with an Irish theme. And what better subject than the greatest hero of Ireland’s mythical past – Cuchulainn. As the word is derived from old Irish, a bit of phonetic assistance would help. The variation familiar from my childhood is “Coo Cullen.” It…

Travelzoo’s top 2019 picks for deal-seeking Canadians

And one Calgary hotel helping you keep up your fitness resolutions while on the road

Travelzoo’s top 2019 picks for deal-seeking CanadiansYour news feed has no doubt been peppered with lists aimed at inspiring your travel choices in 2019. But here’s a list that speaks to what many Canadian travellers hold dear: good value. Travelzoo, an international publisher of exclusive offers and experiences for 28 million members, has curated a list of six diverse destinations around…

Ireland’s abortion referendum puts it all on the table

If you probe the granular views of most people, I suspect you’ll find they’re somewhere between the two extremes

Ireland’s abortion referendum puts it all on the tableThere is no abortion law in Canada. Canadians uneasy about that can look across the Atlantic for an alternative way of doing things. On May 25, the Republic of Ireland goes to the polls in an abortion-related constitutional referendum. Abortion was outlawed in Ireland by the Offences Against the Person Act passed by the United…

John F. Kennedy: an anglophile for all seasons

The storied president was more English than Irish, despite being seen as the ultimate symbol of Irish-American success and social acceptance

John F. Kennedy: an anglophile for all seasonsJohn F. Kennedy is often seen as the ultimate symbol of Irish-American success and social acceptance. And there’s much truth to that. Irish by ancestry and Roman Catholic by religion, Kennedy’s election to the U.S. presidency represented a breakthrough in status and prestige for an ethnic group that had once been viewed with suspicion. But…

Irish Civil War left long memories and bitter divisions

Ninety years ago this month Irish cabinet minister Kevin O'Higgins was assassinated as payback for his role in the Irish Civil War that ended four years earlier

Irish Civil War left long memories and bitter divisionsOn July 10, 1927, Irish cabinet minister Kevin O’Higgins was murdered while en route to Sunday mass. It was payback for the role O’Higgins played in the Irish Civil War that ended four years earlier. The three perpetrators were never prosecuted. Decades later, I had a conversation about this with my father, who told me…

Meet Ireland’s new power pair

Polar opposites, Leo Varadkar and Arlene Foster together must help the Irish people navigate political and economic minefields

Meet Ireland’s new power pairLast week, I saw a photo of two Irish politicians standing together after a meeting in Dublin. One, Leo Varadkar, is the Republic of Ireland’s new prime minister. The other, Arlene Foster, is the leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). It would be hard to imagine a more unlikely pair. Varadkar is cool,…