Say what you like, but it's hard to beat the craic in Irish pubs
Published 26/12/2015 | 02:30
It is my first Christmas home in a few years and I would just like to say that it is really lovely to be back.
You miss so much abroad - but the people are what you miss most.
Out for a few pints on Christmas Eve, the craic was brilliant. The begrudgery, blended with some sharp wit and the way it glides off the intended target like so much water off the duck's back, is brilliant.
No matter how withering the put-down - let's face it, the season of goodwill should never get in the way of a good slagging - the rejoinder will come back even more barbed and vicious.
I heard one fella asking his mate "will your mother be taking the coal out of the bath, to make way for the turkey?"
And without batting an eyelid the mate replied: "No, you're not invited this year." And so it went on. The banter and the devilment is hard, if not impossible, to replicate anywhere else.
Nothing is sacred in the pub - except, perhaps, the pub itself.
The Woodbines and the Gold Flakes have been replaced by e-cigarettes. Can't say that I'm too sorry to see the Marlboro man taken down off his high horse.
One fella spent the night explaining: "You must excuse me, I'm not a seasoned drinker. Was out earlier collecting holly and ivy - couldn't find any with berries on it. It's is amazing how thirsty you can get, especially if one is not used to it. Am I boring you?"
There was warmth and friendliness, and later, going home in the city, people were in good form.
Because the euro has been taking a battering all year, the few dollars go a bit further - so for once it felt like I could spend a few bob without that dispiriting fear of being broke for the rest of the year.
January comes around like a cold shower every year, but each Christmas is always different.
Enjoy it while you can.
NY (Formerly Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin)
Take care of our older folk
At this time of year it is a good thing to remember the older members of our communities. For many living alone, Christmas is a bitter-sweet experience - so it makes sense to keep an eye out for each other.
Many of those who they loved are no longer with them, and the memories of other times long gone may be the only warmth they get from the festivities.
It's worth reminding yourself that these people were once as young and full of the joys as the rest of us and, with God's grace, we will be old some day too - just like they are now.
It's not about the growing old, it's about the growing.
D G Fullam
Connemara, Co Galway
Don't repeal - amend
The only change required under the Eight Amendment is to remove the suicidal clause and 'correct' the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act, which failed miserably to reflect the overriding view at the Oireachtas hearings (held prior to same) that abortion is never a treatment for suicidal ideation.
The 'interpretation' of the wording contained in the 1983 Eight Amendment by four of the five judges in the 1992 Supreme Court 'X case', which 'accommodated' suicidal ideation as a medical reason for an abortion, was so blatantly outside the spirit of what 67pc of the electorate voted for in 1983.
Of course, the pro-abortion lobby will refer to the two subsequent referendums - where the removal of the suicidal option was rejected, albeit by the slimmest margin of 50.42pc v 49.58pc, in the more recent one of March 2002.
However, if the electorate at that time had the knowledge gained at the more recent hearings then the 2002 amendment to exclude suicide would have been overwhelmingly carried.
The Eighth should be amended - not repealed!
Clontarf, Dublin 3
Sainthood defies logic
I refer to Killian Foley-Walsh's letter (Irish Independent, December 23) on Mother Teresa's canonisation.
He suggested that the 'usual suspects' have reacted with annoyance to the news of the lady's elevation to sainthood, given the disputes over how virtuous an individual she was.
As sainthood is based on having performed miracles, I would suggest the reaction for many of the 'usual suspects' is simply one of bemusement that, in the 21st century, there still exists the notion that through mystical forces certain human beings are able to suspend the laws of nature in very particular circumstances for the benefit of themselves, or for others they have designated as being worthy.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
Ireland must help migrants
EIGHT more migrants have been drowned making their way to Europe. Three of these refugees, for that is what they really are, were children.
I read in your paper that around one million refugees came to the EU this year. Thousands have drowned this year trying to find somewhere safe for themselves and their loved ones.
These are not lifestyle choices - this is a quest for sanctuary away from war, poverty and the absence of the most basic human rights.
All year I listened to various reminders that we have a special duty to help these poor people, considering our own history of emigration, famine and the darkness of the coffin ships.
We have talked the talk but, so far as I know, we are still making plans - yet we haven't really done much else if we're honest about it.
Internationally - because of collective history and because of the far-reaching influence of the diaspora - we have the potential to be a powerful voice of advocacy on behalf of these desperate and displaced people.
But we have not mobilised or rallied to their cause. The Government must show leadership. A global summit on the issues tearing the Middle East apart must be convened.
Safe havens for migrants with secure protected zones have to be established.
So far, competing global interests have paralysed any chance of negotiation.
Meanwhile, Isil exploits the situation while families are tortured and terrorised. The relentless bombing and removal of any prospect of normal living is forcing people into impossibly desperate choices.
So do we just keep picking the bodies up off the beaches, or do we stand up and live up to the responsibility that our shared history and humanity demands?