The real art of McGregor
Published 26/07/2015 | 02:30
Sir - Does Willie Kealy have any literary heroes?
Is he proud of our Irish literary giants or artists? I know I am. You may show your appreciation for an author by reading their publications after which you may choose to discuss with you friends, maybe down in your local, maybe even get into a heated debate over something you are passionate about.
To me, MMA (mixed martial arts), boxing or rugby or other sports are no less art forms than painting or wordsmithing.
Supporting an athlete or team is no different than buying an author's book.
Thai boxing was my sport of choice when in university but I am a lifelong boxing fan and have been watching MMA for the past 10 years.
I am not sure if Willie Kealy's article (July 19) is a shot at combat sports, McGregor, the ole ole brigade that show up to some sporting events or the Irish people in general. But wow, what an event, what an athlete and personality, what a spectacle.
Mr Kealy's tone in the article and use of the terms such as "mindless form of violence" is disrespectful to me and I would say many more.
He only sees the blood and ferocity during the fight - but I assure you if he goes to any gym in the country he will see that combat sports are about so much more than what you see in the ring. You'll never understand it until you try it - go down to any gym in the country and see for yourself. The characters you meet, the people from all walks of life, countries and ages.
You are taught respect for other people, respect for yourself, you learn humility and control and much more.
The world is a tough place, if the sight of a little blood produces such strong sentiments that makes you write such articles then you might be better staying in your bed in the morning to protect your weak disposition.
Alstom Tzafit CCPP, Israel
Contradictions of Irish Water
Sir - Gene Kerrigan's article (July 19) regarding the current incompetent and untrustworthy government and its Frankenstein creation was right on-the-nail apart from one minor issue; he took their 43pc figure as fact.
While Irish Water do indeed tout that summary figure, their own figures contradict it, as they have previously stated that they sent out 1.7 million bills and now say that 675,000 have paid. 657,000/1,700,000 is only 39.7pc
So the dismal 43pc is yet another lie to add to the ever-increasing list from FG and Labour.
Hopefully the Irish people will see truth and sense when the next election arrives, and hopefully enough decent-minded, dedicated people will decide to run, to improve Ireland. It would be a refreshing change from the "party & cronies first" infection.
We can only hope, as the alternative is depressing.
Back to the excesses of the past
Sir - it was with a growing sense of dismay that I read (LIFE, July 19) about the 'genuine glamour' of Leeson Street and the abundance of young professionals in D4 in the same newspaper where it's reported that 1,300 homes were repossessed in the last 10 days.
Have we learned nothing from the recession. It all sounds like the world of boom and bust echoing through the barren halls of the banking inquiry, Nama and Irish Water. Here we go again!
Kilbride, Co Wicklow
Atrocities in war and peace
Sir - When I was generously invited to visit Ireland by way of getting up to speed on local attitudes and knowledge, I did some reading on the War of Independence and the Civil War.
How does Fred Johnston (Letters, July 19) square his conscience on the Free State government shooting more Irish in the Civil War than did the British in fighting Michael Collins and his comrades? Or are there no war crimes charges because it was long ago before such things were codified?
Can he explain why it is OK for Arabs to wage war on Israeli existence in defiance of UN policy that Israel exists? Palestine Arabs might have had a rough time out of their own arrogance, but complaining because Israel defends itself is ridiculous.
The bottom line in this debate is that the Arab parties to Palestine are kleptocrats and hypocrites who don't help themselves by shifting their own goalposts and continuing to refuse to draw a line under Israel and get on with their lives.
Prestwich, Manchester, UK
Raising issues of mental health
Sir - I write in relation to Brendan O'Connor's article about Ashling Thompson (July 19). I am concerned with aspects of the article which relate to allusions to the perceived ineffectiveness and incompetence of trained professionals in communicating with young people with mental health difficulties.
These statements were not backed up with any research or reference to outcome studies or similar evidence to support such damning statements.
This article's supposed aim was to highlight mental health difficulties which young people often experience and to praise Ms Thompson for acting as a role model for such young people.
Instead this article denigrates thousands of people who work tirelessly and effectively with young people which, in fact, is more likely to discourage young people from seeking out help when there is help out there, passionate and highly skilled individuals trained in the treatment of mental health difficulties.
Indeed, if a young person was to read this article and decide to seek help, there are no details provided of mental health services including Aware, Bodywhys and Samaritans or resources including spunout.ie
If the goal of articles such as these is to raise awareness of mental health in young people, consideration as to their effects on vulnerable individuals should be a priority.
Rathmines, Dublin 6
Poor interpretation of Casey's Shadow
Sir - There is a real danger that the work of Sean O'Casey could be consigned to theatrical history if the truth is not faced up to by the way the classic play The Shadow of a Gunman was treated by all involved in this co-production by the Abbey Theatre and the Lyric Theatre Belfast.
Every classic play is entitled to be looked at with new eyes - but as Emer O'Kelly pointed out in the Sunday Independent (June 21), you cannot keep the play in the 1920s War of Independence and have the poet Donal Davoren type on a 1960s typewriter. You cannot refer to Kathleen Ni Houlihan as a 1990s animated toy. You cannot set the play in a Georgian tenement and have two windows with no panes of glass, you cannot have Minnie Powell in a 1960s costume.
I am also worried that modern day actors do not understand/appreciate the tempo, nuance and intelligence of O'Casey's characters and the beauty of the language and its delivery.
This production of O'Casey's first play is without doubt the most insensitive, crude, unfunny interpretation I have ever seen, and to me it's a reflection of a National Theatre that has lost its way and even its classic repertoire cannot camouflage this fact and the matinee I attended was less than half full.
For O'Casey at the Abbey Theatre, in the tourist season, and the public seem to have made their statement as well.
The Abbey/Peacock 1967-1974
Merci beaucoup from the French
Sir - We recently visited Ireland with a French package tour on a coach trip. We discovered Dublin and visited Christchurch Cathedral, also Limerick and Connemara. In Galway we listened to Trad on the Prom, which played very good music.
The country seems to be efficient, the streets are clean indeed. Today we are speaking about Greece, but Ireland succeeded in reducing this debt during the crisis. It is brave.
Chantal and I would like to thank the drivers from Kavanagh and Sons, John and Edward and also the guide Coralie. I hope you will be welcomed to France the same way as we were in Ireland.
And of course I remember the advert: "Guinness is good for you" - and for us!
Loos Lez Lille,France
Sir - Lady's Mantle would be an ornament to any garden. Gerry Daly's praise for this pretty plant (July 12) is well deserved.
However, I doubt that its veil-like sprays of tiny flowers gave the plant its name. To my eye, the most distinctive feature of Lady's Mantle is its rounded, undulating, leaves. They always remind me of the cloaks that fashionable ladies would have thrown around their shoulders in former days. Mantle, rather than mantilla?
Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary
Paul Kimmage and Chris Froome
Sir - The article by Paul Kimmage on Chris Froome (July 19) was deeply disappointing and lacked empathy.
One can never tell with absolute certainty if an athlete is clean. But a rational and logical view may be formed based on the amount and credibility of information that is available. Rational people that closely follow professional cycling believe Froome is racing clean.
The rider's body language and behaviour (unlike with other riders) strongly indicates that this is the case.
Froome himself is inspirational. He has also handled himself brilliantly in recent days in terms of the very anti-social and unfair behaviour that he has been subjected to.
It is a shame that the coverage of the Tour so far hasn't acknowledged the real story here which is the intense training and supreme dedication to nutrition and weight that Froome adheres to - his vision, determination and ability to sacrifice and suffer is why he sits at the top table of athletes in any sport (professional or amateur).
Conor MacNamara, Dublin
Power of positive thinking
Sir - I could never understand why inspirational and motivational thinking patterns are not dominantly incorporated in all forms of education, from fourth class primary right through second and third level. By familiarising themselves with the power of positive thinking students are taking the right path in achieving, success, happiness and good health.
Sir - I looked forward to reading the article on Dr Emma Stokes. (LIFE, July 19).
As a future allied health professional her appointment as President of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) is strongly welcomed. However, on commencing reading the piece by Joy Orpen I was very disappointed to read the following; "When Dr Emma Stokes (48) walks into a crowded room, heads turn. They do so, not just because she is a strikingly good-looking woman, but because she also has the admirable quality of self-assurance, and she has it in spades."
Why is it necessary to comment on Dr. Stokes physical appearance and her role as WCPT president? Is this part of her job description? Are similar references made in print journalism in relation to men in equivalent roles?
I can't recall reports of Enda Kenny or Leo Varadkar's appearance entering a room recently. Media coverage of females in leadership positions is very welcome as coverage is generally underrepresented to date - however, I believe there is a responsibility on the media to ensure that biased gender stereotypes are not reinforced.
Linking females and their physical appearance in the media is only adding to this culture of stereotypes. It was great to see an article on Dr Stokes and the role of physiotherapy -but I'd have preferred not to have read the starting sentence.
Blackrock, Co Dublin
Mighty protected by shield of office
Sir - I appreciate that Aileen Lebrocquy's letter of the week (July 19) was written out of justifiable anger and resentment at the way that she, and many others, have been treated.
That said, the letter is both unfortunate and confused. Unfortunate for the following reason: I know several people who were self-employed workers in the private sector. These are decent tax compliant people who, having paid their taxes, put a certain amount each month into a pension fund.
The Government then conducted a smash-and-grab raid on their funds.
As a retired teacher I profoundly sympathise with them. However, they also slapped a levy on my pension.
I find it unfortunate that Ms Lebrocquy has been sucked into a public versus private workers divide - much, I am sure, to the delight of those who landed us all (public and private workers alike) in such a mess.
Indeed I can hear those people chortling with delight at this welcome diversion.
The fact is that we - public and private - were all screwed!
To clear up the confusion, Brendan Howlin was asked how he could justify restoring substantial amounts to the pensions of retired Taoisigh who enjoy pensions in excess of €100,000 and so on.
He replied that, given the protection given to property in the Constitution he "could no more interfere with a person's pension than with their property rights."
Need I remind you, he was not talking of modest pensions enjoyed by most teachers.
Sir - Ms Aileen Lebrocquy (Letter of the Week, July 19) is quite correct. The Irish Constitution (in Article 43.2.1) states in simple English: "The State recognises, however, that the exercise of the rights mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this Article ought, in civil society, to be regulated by the principles of social justice."
This is more pointedly observed in 43.2.2. "The State, accordingly, may as occasion requires delimit by law the exercise of the said rights with a view to reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the common good."
That gives the State the power to set a boundary or limit to the exercise of the right to private property for the common good.
It is absurd that persons with Defined Benefit or Defined Contribution pensions (whose value were decimated in the financial crash) suffered further permanent effect reductions by the levy imposed on their funds - while those on unfunded public pensions had a temporary current reduction, because they have no fund.
The equitable solution would be a permanent reduction on a sliding scale to achieve a maximum public service pension of €100,000.
When former FF ministers announced their decision to retire prior to the last election, a pension expert on the Pat Kenny Show estimated the cost of these actual gold standard pensions (which are indexed-linked for life, 50pc for spouses and payments for children up to 18 etc, coupled with eye-watering gratuities) to be in region of €7m each if funded.
Members of semi-states (such as ESB and Aer Lingus, who also were gold standard) now know better. Their funds and pension were delimited by the market collapse - while the golden circle remained untouched.
That is a simple political decision of self preservation by those who claim to act in the "national interest". It would make interesting reading to see how the pensions of each of our TDs and Senators (that includes the anti-austerity group too) would compare to that expected from 40 years of work in their previous job - if they had one.
Ballincollig, Co Cork
Sir - On behalf of all her many fans, and through your paper, may I please wish the beautifully talented, gorgeous, sexy, bubbly, lovely, generous, special lady of rock - Imelda May - every happiness, as soon as ever possible, after the recent sad end of her 13-year marriage.
Life can be very cruel, even to the really good among us.