* A number of years ago I spent Christmas on my own and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I had been going through a very difficult time emotionally and I was angry with family and friends.
I had been dreading Christmas for weeks.
I remember thinking at one stage in December, that if I could have put myself to sleep and woke up in early January I would have gladly jumped at the opportunity.
On Christmas morning I went to Mass in Salthill. I was conscious of my journey there and back.
Who would see me? Would they know I would be spending Christmas on my own?
I arrived back at my flat and the reality of being on my own for Christmas really hit me.
This was the moment I had been dreading for weeks. I experienced a loneliness the likes of which I had never experienced before and I started to cry.
In that state you feel as if you are in an icy, bottomless well of aloneness and loneliness. It even feels as if your body temperature drops. Time slows down and you are lost in the abyss of your misery.
I cooked my dinner, the long hours of the afternoon slowly melted into the evening hours.
I decided to go for a walk.
Salthill, normally with it's bright lights emanating from the various businesses, was eerily quiet and in darkness.
This just added to my sense of isolation as I imagined the various proprietors/employees of these businesses at home enjoying the company of their families while I wandered alone in a desolate city.
Thankfully, the day ended with the comfort of my bed and the oblivion of sleep. I never experienced Christmas on my own again after that.
This Christmas I will be volunteering at the COPE Galway swim at Blackrock beach and then spending Christmas day with friends.
I implore anyone reading this that if you know someone who you suspect may be spending Christmas on their own and you are in a position to do so, invite them to your house.
Salthill, Co Galway
Admit bailout error
* I cannot get my head around the fact that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan have spent weeks lauding the exiting of the bailout as a success.
Do they not realise that each time they make such outlandish statements it is greeted with a bout of sniggering behind their backs by those who have become extremely wealthy?
Where would we be if Fianna Fail had not signed the bank guarantee? And why did Fine Gael promise it would do things differently, when in reality it picked up from where Brian Cowen had left off and continued into an aggressive bailout programme that we should never have entered into in the first place.
All pro-austerity parties agree in whispers that it was a mistake but will not actually own up to saying it. If your house is off square when you start building and do not realise it until you are putting the roof on, the hardest thing to do then is to admit you made a hash of it in the beginning.
We would have been in a much better position going looking for money with a clean sheet than the position we're in right now, post-bailout.
Gort an Choirce, Dun na Ngall
Save our language
* Many forces have done their best to kill the language, some with the best of intentions. The horrendous spelling and writing of the Irish language make it unnecessarily difficult. In comparison, Japanese is simple.
Phonetic Gaelic could be simple and attractive; please help resuscitate it before its last gasp.
Address with editor
Do blame the troika
* A Leavy (Irish Independent, December 12) feels that the "hostility" expressed in my original letter against the so-called troika is "misplaced". I beg to differ.
While no rational person would dispute his assertion that responsibility for the troika on our doorstep rests squarely with the Ahern/Cowen administrations, the fact equally remains that the actions undertaken by the troika were for the benefit of a minority at the expense of the majority.
Furthermore, to suggest that the present administration had -- and still has -- no choice in the policies they implement and that austerity was automatically "necessitated" is a little wide of the mark -- something former IMF chief Ashoka Mody has admitted.
Stillorgan, Co Dublin
Car is our only choice
* What a wonderful headline on the front page of your paper (Irish Independent, December 18): 'Taxes to force you from car on to bus'.
I live in a village in Westmeath and when last I checked there was no such thing as public transport in or out of the village.
The single CIE bus that used to service the village has been removed. I would be eternally grateful if you could ask Mr Varadkar how I get to work if not in my own car?
Raharney, Co Westmeath
* We're told the Government is proposing additional road tolls and motor tax increases to force users out of our cars on to public transport.
In Dublin, Dublin Bus continually refuses to route buses through housing estates. In rural Ireland, some communities have just one bus a week to their nearest large town, and others have no service at all.
That's public transport -- Irish style! Extra taxes won't fix that problem, but insisting CIE fulfills its primary role effectively, ie providing adequate public transport, just might.
Remembering a lady
* I wish to extend my sympathy to the family of the late Pat Crowley and add the following comment to the detail provided by Laura Butler.
In Issue 6 (2011) on page 221 of 'A Window on the Past' published by The Rathfeigh Historical Society, the following appears:
"The RDS encouraged the Association [The Side-Saddle Association of Ireland] to find a sponsor for the Ladies Side-Saddle Classes at the Dublin Horse Show. Their efforts were rewarded with sponsorship from Pat Crowley, Dress Designer. For several years Pat provided £1,000 in prize money plus a voucher for a dress." Her assistance helped the Side-Saddle Association to survive and grow.
Tara, Co Meath
Another FF joke
* Listening to the Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin addressing the nation on Monday evening I frankly didn't know if I should laugh or cry .
A man who played an active part in the mess we are in, now telling us that there is a better way.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
Fine economic mind
* I have just read David McWilliams's article on the Government's strategic plan (Irish Independent, December 18). I must congratulate Mr McWilliams for the brilliance of his comments on the subject.
It is a pity that the Government doesn't think of recruiting fine economic minds like his to prepare a meaningful strategic economic plan at this crucial time.
Concetto La Malfa