They're tough mudders in Tipp
Published 22/07/2015 | 02:30
Being an avid reader, I frequently write on what I consider are the best of the many books I have acquired. Occasionally I get taken to task for mentioning one that is long out of print but readers should take note that there are excellent internet bookstores such as Kenny's bookshop, Alibris, AbeBooks and others who stock a huge range of both current and out of print literature, frequently at very reasonable prices.
One particular favourite is about the life of the legendary stock market trader, Jesse Livermore, who, having correctly foreseen the 1929 economic crash, sold the markets short and made approximately €14bn in today's money from that investment yet he died virtually penniless.
"The average man desires to be told specifically which particular stock to buy or sell.
"He wants to get something for nothing. He does not wish to work. He doesn't even wish to have to think," according to one of his more famous quotes.
All of this of course reminds us of the relatively recent lunacy in the property markets in Ireland and the recent banking inquiry hammers home the lesson that during that time, people ceased to think for themselves and simply followed the herd, buying houses they couldn't afford in the belief that such a thing as easy profits existed.
It was really amusing to hear some of the politicians who were in power then denying any culpability for allowing the boom to run unchecked.
I recall that when house prices were really taking off, capital gains tax was halved and the section 23 tax breaks were introduced to further fuel the flames.
Do you remember Bertie Ahern's famous quote "The boom is getting boomier"?
Well we all know what happened next and the hardship it caused is still with us today.
And we criticise the Greeks for their loony tax breaks and pensions?
I must mention one further book which clearly spells out the idiocy of lax monetary policies.
It is aptly titled Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Written by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, it was first published in 1841 and proves that nothing ever really changes.
It spells out the history of economic bubbles up to that time and how political and economic leaders all said the same thing "There is no reason to fear a crash".
Enough said. Ireland is doing fine right now and I believe this is largely due to some sensible political decisions but also to the wonderful efforts of selfless individuals who work for the greater good rather than for their own personal welfare.
Rather than moaning about austerity they tackle difficulties head on and help those who, due to disability or other misfortunes, are unable to help themselves.
This terrific sense of community care and involvement was evident when I visited the village of Ballycommon, near Nenagh in Co Tipperary to attend a charity weekend, which was in aid of a local hunt.
The local group, which relies heavily on farmer support, ran a charity ride last winter which raised over €32,000 for a summer camp for autistic children.
Last summer, some friends and I purchased, at an auction in aid of One in Four, a stay in a luxury holiday home for two nights.
This included all sorts of entertainment put on by local volunteers.
We returned for more of the same this year and were given wonderful meals, all donated by local restaurants along with a speed boat ride on Lough Derg in a craft that would not look out of place in a James Bond movie.
We were also taken on a delightful ride in two pony traps around the leafy lanes in the immediate area.
But perhaps the highlight of the weekend was the Tipperary Mud Run which attracted hundreds of competitors running around farmland and traversing mucky drains and tunnels, crawling on hands and knees under nets and finishing with a final drenching down a slide in to two huge drinking troughs.
Why on earth would anyone do this?
Goodness knows, but some of our group courageously took part.
It was wonderful fun and all thanks to some dedicated local individuals including Albert Purcell, a member of the legendary cattle exporting family.
As one farmer said to me, "if Albert needs your machinery or help for a charity event, you simply cannot refuse him."
His energy and enthusiasm seems limitless but then as the saying goes: "If you want to get something done, ask a busy man."
Where there's muck, there's pluck
Mud runs are the brain-child of an international group called 'Tough Mudders' and the rules and aspirations laid down for competitors are as follows.
"Tough Mudder puts camaraderie over finisher rankings and is not a timed race but a team challenge that allows participants to experience exhilarating, yet safe, world-class obstacles they won't find anywhere else."
Best of all is the pledge they make. "I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine - kids whine. I help my fellow mudders complete the course, and finally, I overcome all fears."
Now who could resist that challenge?