Saturday 22 October 2016

Down pit of nostalgia

Published 10/01/2016 | 02:30

Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison

Sir - What a lovely piece to lift the drooping spirits. I refer to Declan Lynch's television review (January 3), which did indeed lead me into "the terrible pit of nostalgia". And I loved it.

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The 1960s, tuning in on Sunday night to Radio Luxembourg to listen to the top 20. All that fabulous music! Del Shannon's great song Runaway was a favourite.      

I remember singing Buddy Holly's Rave On with a group led by Brian O'Reilly from Fermoy, who later led Loudest Whisper.       

He still does and some great music still gets made in his Studio Fiona in Fermoy.       

We had Cathy's Clown from the Everly Brothers. You Don't Know sang Helen Shapiro and indeed you don't know how much such songs and artists are missed.

We were all looking for a 'Pretty Woman' but were consoled in our misery by the same Roy Orbison singing Only The Lonely. When we grew up (if we ever have) we reflected with The Seekers that The Carnival is Over.       

Of course, there was The King with such gems as It's Now or Never and you'd have to have had a Wooden Heart not to be moved by Billy Fury's Halfway to Paradise.

Declan's well-written (as usual) article brought me back to the good places of the Sixties - the musical places, which made some other places bearable. It lifted the start of 2016 for this nearly 70-year-old.

It was as good as Lily the Pink's (The Scaffold) medicinal compound and a damn sight safer that some of the compounds around in the 60s.      

It gave you that feeling like Gerry and the Pacemakers that while this music is still around, You'll Never Walk Alone.      

So as The Beatles would sing - From Me to You - thanks, Declan.      

Joe Heffernan      


Co Cork.

A dumb culling of Lyric

Sir - Declan Lynch speculates in his brilliant article  'The Inexplicable Vanishing of some of Lyric FM's finest' (January 3) that RTE's culling of Lyric presenters Donald Helme, Tim Thurston and Eamonn Lenihan was probably done just to annoy him, as there is no other logical explanation.

I don't agree. In subsidised, dumbed-down RTE-land, the fact that people like Helme, Thurston and Lenihan actually know what they are talking about makes them a potential threat to RTE's wonderous galaxy of eejits and spoofers.

Declan Lynch also wonders why Marty Whelan wasn't 'Martied' again by RTE. The answer lies in the fact that his loyal band of listeners are on permanent stand-by, with biros and knitting needles at the ready, in case RTE subjects him to yet another cruel defenestration.

Perhaps the auld fellas in smoking jackets who listen to the venerable Helme's 'Jazz Alley' should follow their example, fire up their Vespas and Alfasuds, and get down to RTE pronto!

Karl Martin


Dublin 13

The deferring Dev

Sir- Recent correspondence regarding Eamon de Valera and minorities merits a final comment. The constitution of any country can say whatever those drafting the constitution want it to say; it's what is put into practice over time that counts.

Mr de Valera was anxious to be seen deferring to Archbishop McQuaid on every occasion, even kissing his hand when they met in public.

He agreed to draft legislation being sent to the Archbishop for his imprimatur, and if such approval was not forthcoming it went no further.

I accept that earlier governments in the North had too close a relationship with the Orange Order - but not to the extent referred to above.

A Thompson,


The hopes and lessons of 1916

Sir - It gives me great hope when a young mind like Niamh Horan's (Sunday Independent, January 3) shows how the present political emperors, be they FF, FG or Labour, are utterly ill suited to wear the attire of 1916.

The treachery they engaged in with our new colonial masters, bondholders, the ECB, finance houses and vulture funds on the backs of the people, and their collective culpability in facilitating their tightening grip on our nation is a new slavery that I have no doubt Pearse would have found nauseating.

These 'emperors's naked political opportunism is of the worst kind and I, from the county of one of those emperors, look forward to campaigning to ensure, as happened in 1948, that there is real change, encouraging people to vote left, right and centre, be it independent, or whoever else, to make it so.

For me, Niamh Horan made hope and history rhyme in her exposure of an ugly political truth. That article should be copied and put into every voter's home in the country.

Thank you, Niamh.

Martin Daly

Moy Valley

Sir - Niamh Horan in her article (January 3) argues that the 1916 leaders had guts and that Enda Kenny has no guts because he co-operated with the Troika.

Ms Horan is wrong. The 1916 leaders were fanatics who would not compromise or negotiate. The actions of the 1916 leaders caused the deaths of hundreds of people, including women and children. Their actions inspired many more brutal murders, bombings and other atrocities.

The 1966 50th anniversary celebrations of the Rising inspired much of the sectarian murders in Northern Ireland from 1968 to 1996.

It is Enda Kenny who is the hero faced with Ireland under the rule of the Troika, who demanded very many austerity measures, social welfare cuts and other spending cuts.

Enda and his government vowed to get rid of the Troika. He did not do everything they demanded. He restored our economic freedom. Nobody died and prosperity has been restored.

People remember and glorify the men of violence, but people who bring peace and prosperity through compromise are never recognised.

Fine Gael and Labour are the real unrecognised heroes of our country, not the 1916 men of violence.

J Hyland

Dun Laoghaire

Co Dublin

Sir - I have rarely read such a fine, gutsy and unapologetic piece of writing as Niamh Horan's "Remember 1916, when we had guts and self-esteem?" (3)...! I am filled with admiration.

There is so much so wrong in this country for so long that it is now easier to accept than challenge. The country is weighed down with apathy and paternalism and an almost complete absence of 'bottle'.

We are settling for mediocrity.

In desperation, and feeling that the upcoming election may be our last chance, I am putting myself forward as an Independent candidate here in Mayo... our Dear Leader's home county. I won't be mincing my words during the campaign.

More power to Niamh's independent thinking and the courage to shout it out.

George O'Malley


Sir - I was reading and enjoying the article by Niamh Horan (January 3) when I came upon the unnecessary and churlish comment "would never have rolled over like a pair of schoolteachers" in reference to how Charles Haughey would have overseen the country in a time of crisis.

Niamh Horan should resist the temptation to employ an easy put-down of teachers generally and be brave enough to name the two politicians to whom she is referring, rather than the careers they had temporarily occupied in a previous life. There is no connection between the two. Move on with your argument.

Maureen Breaden


Co Dublin

Sir - Gene's Kerrigan's article (Sunday Independent, January 3) was an excellent analysis of the nationalist narrative surrounding 1916.

However, like most nationalists, he almost totally ignored/dismissed the elephant in the room - one million northern unionists who steadfastly refused to be dragged, pushed or shoved into all-Ireland Home Rule.

By dismissing the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force to defend themselves from Dublin rule as treason he effectively denies the unionist people the right to self-determination.

This denial remains the root cause of the conflict between the two tribes who inhabit this island. Until we nationalists renounce our atavistic desire for a united Ireland, there can never be peace on this island.

Dick Keane,


Co Dublin

Sir - Gene Kerrigan (January 3) said that democratic structures were relatively new 100 years ago and most nations emerged through violence of one kind or another and we should not strike pacifist poses in relation to 1916.

But one famous Indian nationalist, Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi over 100 years ago, did argue the case for non-violent resistance as editor of his paper Indian Opinion. He called this ideology ' Satyagraha'.

This was a method of direct social action based upon courage, non-violence, and truth. Thus if any of his campaigns turned violent he would call the campaign off and fast until peaceful methods were put into practice.

The conduct of Anglo-Irish relations from 1916 until now would have been more peaceful if the ideology of 'Satyagraha had been followed by Irish people of all political persuasions.

Sean O'Brien


Co Clare

Sir - I wish to comment on Gene Kerrigan's article on 1916 (January 3). The chance of a peaceful solution to the Irish independence problem was, as you have outlined, very slim against a background of extreme violence gripping the world at this time.

Nevertheless, a better strategy, instead of Irish insurrection, may have been to push the onus of responsibility onto those unionists who were armed and ready to rise against the possibility of Home Rule.

This would have placed massive pressure on the British government in London (which was already committed to a world war) and it would have placed huge responsibility on them to resolve a crisis created by their own followers.

Furthermore, the Catholic population in Northern Ireland may have got a better deal than what emerged as a consequence of the events of 1916.

The complete separation of Catholics in Northern Ireland from the Irish Free State, guaranteed through the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 and the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, left this section of society vulnerable to discrimination and hatred, which eventually culminated with the terrible events during the 'Troubles'.

Moreover, the Catholic community in Northern Ireland in the early 1920s must have felt terribly isolated and let down by the Irish government.

Declan Monaghan


Co Offaly

Families of Rising

Sir - I wish to point out three errors in Liam Collins's article (LIFE, January 3) on 1916 families and their descendants.

The first was in relation to Sean MacDiarmaida.

Min Ryan was Sean MacDiarmaida's girlfriend and not Mary Kate as stated by Collins. Min later married Dick Mulcahy. Mary Kate and her sister Phyliss were the successive wives of Sean T O'Kelly.

Harry Boland wasn't 'shot dead' in the Grand Hotel in Skerries. He attempted to wrest the gun from the Free State soldier who was arresting him.

The gun discharged, wounding him in the leg. He died the following day in St Vincent's Hospital. His assailant was a fellow 1916 volunteer who was known to Harry but the great man that Boland was he wouldn't divulge his name.

Finally, Kevin Boland (nephew of Harry Boland) wasn't sacked by Jack Lynch during the Arms Crisis.

Kevin Boland resigned in sympathy with Neil Blaney and Charlie Haughey.

W Dunphy


Obama's tears

Sir - I'd be more impressed if Obama shed tears for the children of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, who are the victims of US bullets and bombings. The hypocrite.

Robert Sullivan


Co Cork

Distasteful tactics by Labour Party

Sir - I refer to the front-page article in the Sunday Independent (January 3), written by Philip Ryan and Ronald Quinlan. The heading, 'Labour plots "gay" attack ad on Martin and Adams', clearly demonstrates just how low Labour are prepared to stoop.

If they honestly believe that "a US style of negative election campaign" will secure them votes in the pending general election, they should think again.

I have no doubt that while Labour may think they are "getting across a serious point in a humorous way", many of us just don't share the same humour.

Surely, Labour are aware that all too many of us lost our sense of humour over the last five years, having endured the pain of losing our homes and much more since they teamed up with Fine Gael?

Derry-Ann Morgan


Co Dublin

Seamus Mallon and John Hume

Sir - Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent, January 3) would do well to take Seamus Mallon's recent assessment of the talks between John Hume and Gerry Adams with a pinch of salt.

If John Hume sensed a change in direction of Sinn Fein and the republican movement generally, he had a duty to tease that out. I like to feel that Seamus Mallon, as leader of the party, would have done exactly the same.

My recollection of that era around the first talks between Hume and Adams in 1987 was that there were reasons for Adams to change direction. They might not have been rational reasons but they were nonetheless significant from his perspective.

I was a student then in Galway and in Spring 1986 I 'came across' a numeric alphabet on which the names of Ian Paisley and, significantly, of Gerry Adams came out at 666. [A=6, B=12, C=18 … Z=156]

I was vice-chair of the Political Discussion Society in UCG and, having family connections to the SDLP in Derry, I invited John Hume to come to speak with students, as he kindly did in November 1986.

The UCG Sinn Fein cumann chairman, an acquaintance, nervously asked me that November night if I had told John Hume about the 666 thing. I told him that I had, "a long time ago", and I added that he had taken the same significance as I had.

I was just bluffing in order to ensure that I was not seen as being alone and therefore vulnerable in the endeavour.

To me, John Hume was a Maynooth man who would most likely have agreed with me on the 666 issue.

Anyone who knows Sinn Fein will know that that information regarding John Hume and the 666 of Adams's name would go back straight away through the party channels and directly to the party leader within days.

Weeks later, in early 1987, Fr Alec Reid, a Clonard confidant of Gerry Adams in West Belfast, came to John Hume, insisting that it would be worthwhile for him to talk to the Sinn Fein president.

Sensing a change in the Sinn Fein position from Fr Reid - and Seamus Mallon should take note of this - John Hume agreed straight away to talks with Gerry Adams.

However, John Hume, ever cautious of dealing with Sinn Fein, with their ability to undermine him coming up to a General Election in the North, insisted that the talks begin after that election in the summer of 1987.

So began the Peace Process.

I challenge anyone to explain the origin of that process in any other way because to most people Sinn Fein's change in direction has been the biggest mystery of all mysteries concerning the Troubles.

John Hume was not played like a 3lb trout, as Seamus Mallon has suggested, during any part of the Peace Process.

He was treated with kit gloves in case he got nasty with them. There is evidence that republicans were keen to stop the Process, not least of all the Enniskillen bomb in November of that year, which will no doubt be understood much more readily in the context of the Peace Process that began a few months previously.

John O'Connell,


Sunday Independent

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