Monday 26 September 2016

The Wake is authentic

Published 17/07/2016 | 02:30

'Well done to Aisling O’Sullivan and to The Abbey and to Mr Murphy (pictured) for keeping us all on our toes!'
'Well done to Aisling O’Sullivan and to The Abbey and to Mr Murphy (pictured) for keeping us all on our toes!'

Sir — Joseph Haslam’s letter (Sunday Independent, July 10) derides Tom Murphy’s play The Wake for its “crude and filthy language and actions used”, and The Abbey for performing this “type of so-called art”. 

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Aisling O’Sullivan was exceptional as Vera, putting every ounce of herself into what is an extraordinarily difficult role. Vera is a lonely, exiled prostitute living a marginalised life in New York. Her return home only highlights the greed of her ‘sane’ family and the people of her home town. In fact, she tells them that she is the only one who is certified sane; the Xanax she keeps is not for herself but for the ‘animals’ who visit her.  

She is disconnected therefore to her body; she too, like the hotel she has inherited, is property to be used as a cash nexus and her value as a woman and a human being lies between her legs. 

For me, the whole point of the play was to expose the superficiality of those who sit in judgement on the moral high ground whilst ignoring the mote in their own eyes.  They too readily saw her as ‘a hole’ also and dismissed her as a human being in order to get her to sign over the hotel.  It wouldn’t have hit home in an authentic and raw sense if Vera had worn knickers. I didn’t mind at all, in fact I have one myself, and as for the dry-ride she mimicked with a bottle of whiskey (not wine) and the language, I’ve seen and heard worse on a Friday night outside the chippers. 

Well done to Aisling O’Sullivan and to The Abbey and to Mr Murphy for keeping us all on our toes!

Fidelma Mahon
Edenderry, Co Offaly

Our own worst enemy is us

Sir - In my ripe old age, I've discovered that we are our own worst enemies. The saddest thing I've learnt is the mental attitude of people, one to another.

Long-term friendships can be and are broken up for very trivial reasons. The only hope any of us can have is love and understanding overcoming selfishness and greed.

There was a time when it was said that cod were so plentiful in the sea that you could nearly walk to America on their backs.

Selfishness and greed have altered that so that cod are now very scarce and the females are so small that they reproduce less.

Modern farming has been intensified to feed the masses and in the process has decimated our wildlife. Slurry has contaminated our water so that frogs are very scarce.

Silage cutting has killed our leverets and small birds. The corncrake has disappeared. Eels have disappeared from the River Lee. Previously, when I tried to catch a trout the eels got my bait first. Hares and frogs are still plentiful, but only in paces where silage is not cut and where slurry is not spread.

Grasshoppers are sprayed out of existence. Butterflies have disappeared. I saw just one Red Admiral this year. The bee population is decimated. Beekeepers are now losing their bees in enormous numbers.

We do not now see a large flock of birds following the plough anymore.

The two main sources of honey in this country are the blackberry briar and clover.

Fences are now being replaced with a single strand of electric fence and the clover is not welcome in silage.

Vegetable growers used to scuffle between the rows but now use sprays to control the weeds with chemicals.

The use of sprays has increased to the detriment of our insect population upon which we depend for pollination, not to mention our own health.

It's easy to be honest with other people but it is not so easy to be honest with yourself.

When are we going to learn to love and live together in peace?

Michael Kiely
Ovens, Co Cork

The heroism of Jadotville

Sir — I was very happy to read the article, ‘Irish Congo war heroism will be finally recognised’ by Jim Cusack (Sunday Independent, July 10). 

It is indeed time that these brave men of the Irish Defence Forces were recognised for their heroic actions in what was indeed one of the most heroic and successful defence actions in military history.

The success of the action, its planning and the subsequent unbelievably low casualty rate amongst the defenders should place the battle of Jadotville high in the annals of successful military engagements.

I have just one point of contention with Mr Cusack’s excellent article.

He mentions another heroic action, that being the successful defence of Rorke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu war. Mr Cusack states that all 150 defenders in this action were killed. This was not the case and again the casualty rates among the defenders was quite low, with only 17 killed and about 15 wounded.

The defence of Rorke’s Drift is also notable for the 11 Victoria Crosses awarded to the defenders, the most to a single regiment in a single action ever.

Derek Griffin.
Dublin 9

Luba warriors or Baluba warriors?

Sir — In the article about the Irish Army in Jadotville, it states that they were surrounded by 3,000 to 5,000 Luba warriors and French, Belgian and Rhodesian mercenaries.

I was a schoolboy at the time and, if my memory serves me correctly, they were surrounded by thousands of not Luba but Baluba warriors.

Martin Aherne
Loughrea, Co Galway

Bravery of the Munsters in 1914

Sir — The awarding of a special unit citation to the survivors and families of the 150 Irish soldiers who in 1961 fought off 3,000 Congolese rebels and mercenaries supported by artillery and fighter jets at Jadotville is long overdue and most welcome.

Fifty-five years is a long time to be waiting for recognition of their bravery from an Irish government.

The report by Jim Cusack (Sunday Independent, July 10) was very interesting to read.

However, to state that the British soldiers who defended Rorke’s Drift in 1879 were all killed is incorrect.

 Not wishing to take from the bravery of these men and those at the Alamo.

It was disappointing to read that the action of the Irish soldiers at Jadotville had not been compared to the performance of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, an Irish regiment of the British army, at Etreux, Northern France on August 27, 1914.

They fought a rearguard action against between six and nine battalions of the Tenth Reserve Corps of the German army, overwhelming odds to say the least and only surrendered when their ammunition was expended.

This action of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers allowed I Corps of the British army, under the command of the then General Douglas Haig following the Battle of Mons on August 23, 1914, to withdraw in good order and 10 miles separated the German army from the British army by the time the Munsters had surrendered. 

Surely an action to be compared with?

Dr Tadhg Moloney
Gouldavoher, Limerick

John Giles, thanks for the memories

Sir — It was Sunday, November 1, 1959, behind the school goal at Dalymount Park.

I saw the ball coming for me at speed and nearly felt like ducking but, no, this was heading for the Swedish net.

John Giles had just scored his first senior goal for Ireland and we all knew, 40,000 of us, that something special was happening. Imagine 40,000 in Dalymount Park.

He was one month older than me that day and, as they say, the rest is history. Fifty seven years ago and it’s still so clear.

Good luck, John, in your retirement and thank you for the years playing and the TV work.

It was special.

Brendan Grist
Dublin 8

Charity bosses’ pay  needs explaining

Sir — Reading Michael Cogley’s article in your Business section last Sunday (Sunday Independent, July 10, “Charity bosses’ pay: the haves and have nots”), I see only one CEO’s salary, that of Adi Roche, Chernobyl Children, showed nil euro, and all the rest were over €100,000.

Until someone explains to me very clearly as to why these people are paid these six-figure amounts, I, for one, will not give another cent to any charity in this country.

End of story.

Brian McDevitt
Glenties, Co Donegal

Anita Reeves was a real inspiration

Sir — I read of the death of Anita Reeves with great sadness. 

She contributed to a book I edited in 2003 on the theme of the ‘Outsider’, and so too did her young son Danny. 

“Sometimes acting can seem unimportant, trivial, even unnecessary, but it is none of those things. It is a daily reminder to us all that everyone has a part to play.

“Everyone, no matter how different, or just seemingly different, has something to offer, something to say and they should be listened to.” 

Wise words from a truly wonderful woman and great actor.  She inspired and encouraged those of us lucky enough to have crossed her path.

Anita will be sadly missed, especially by her family, and we remember her with great affection.

Alice Leahy

Director of Services
Alice Leahy Trust                             

Time to row in behind Kenny

Sir — Your Editorial (“Who will lead?”, Sunday Independent, July 10) was well and truly answered on Monday evening’s RTE News. 

Like a real stalwart on the battlefront, Taoiseach Enda Kenny impressively declared his intention to rule into the future.

Appearance-wise, his determination and ability to do so seemed indisputable; and, as for experience, few will deny he went through the mill.  Within reason, he has  admirably justified his leadership.

Gene Kerrigan can withdraw his remarks on Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney arguing about “which of them gets to choose the new carpets and curtains”.

Both should stop the bickering, act responsibly and be a bonding factor on the more erratic, less experienced Independents.

A solid, cohesive government is needed now more than ever. 

Brexit is going to make it a trying time over the next two years and how the Government handles it now can seal Ireland’s future in the European Union.

Our most immediate and important discussions will be with Britain — where they have just installed a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, to replace David Cameron. 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has proved his skill in dealing with Europe’s Iron Lady, Angela Merkel, hopefully having won her as an ally.

He can be equally successful with the fledgling UK prime minister.

It is up to the Government to act as a unified block behind their leader and loyal to the people who elected them.

James Gleeson
Thurles, Co Tipperary

The instructions from Merkel

Sir — Enda of the endless error really went to see Merkel to receive further instructions,and not to make ‘demands’ of Ireland being a  “special case”, as he says.We are only a special case insofar as he continues to embarrass us with weak leadership.

He always makes me feel as if we are in the observation ward of the EU,with his little hand stuck out in front of him to receive some placebo to bring home and wave at us, Chamberlain-like.

Robert Sullivan
Bantry, Co Cork

Need for action on water services

Sir — ‘Water charges, they haven’t gone away, you know’, or words to that effect, were uttered by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar recently on Newstalk Radio and since endorsed by others, including the European Commission.

Mr Varadkar added that paying for it is “the best way to encourage people to conserve”.

A recent article in the Irish Independent was headed, ‘Forget floods as drought set to be next climate disaster’. Although Ireland is prone to heavy and continuous rainfall, droughts have occurred. It is recorded that there were eight periods of drought in the last two centuries, the latest being in the 1970s. Was this the occasion when the level of Blessington Lake lowered so much that the broken arch of a bridge was revealed and grass began to grow on the uncovered shoreline? More recently, did not the shrinking of the Roundwood Reservoir help to solve a murder case?

So far Blessington has met the city’s demands but is there now talk of tapping into Lough Ree on the Shannon, just in case?

To my mind, water is collected in reservoirs, treated, filtered, pumped and piped — a process leading to product. The Terrible Trio of the ‘Anti-Everything Party’ seem to be the main protagonists calling the shots on the question of water charges.

Some time ago on TV, one of the trio, Ms Coppinger, had the effrontery to criticise the responsible citizens, obeying the law and their civic duty by paying their bills. Has she not considered that the taxes paid by these “dupes” are contributing to her generous Dail remuneration?

However, no matter how divergent one’s views are from others, there is always an area of agreement. I think it is highly irresponsible of local authorities to give all to private enterprise matters concerning the health and welfare of the citizenry, namely, disposal of waste and clean water. 

Patrick Fleming

Dublin 9

Realities of life for ordinary people

Sir, — Dan O’Brien’s article on Globalisation (Sunday Independent, July 10) shows once again that the West’s political elite are very much out of touch with the reality of life for ordinary people.

I am not angry with what is an inevitable consequence of free trade and the movement of people.

If less skilled jobs pay less, well, I can see that for myself and decide to upskill. This is called maturity, or living in the real world.

What I resent is paying my taxes and having no say in how they are spent or, more likely, wasted...

Paying for people who never work and are allowed to live off the state/taxpayer, and seeing this repeat for three and four generations, unchallenged.

Paying for such people to have free medical care, and free transport, while I pay for everything.

Paying over 1,500 social insurance contributions, yet having to pay €60 to see a doctor.

Writing to the Revenue Commisioners regarding the Property Tax – and not even getting an acknowledgement, never mind a reply.

Being told my political choices are populist/right-wing/fascist.       

Being told Dublin can’t have a directly elected and accountable Lord Mayor because the people could vote for anyone (I thought that was the point of democracy).

Seeing our main street a national disgrace for the last 30 years.

Watching drinkers and drug addicts getting priority treatment in A&E wards.

Being constantly lectured on how society is “unfair”, usually by politicos who think everything should be free.        

Paying for the third highest-paid head of government in the EU.

Paying vast salaries and pensions to senior civil servants and advisors who never seem to be held to account.

My hope is to see a Taxpayers Party emerge in time for the next general election in order to represent the most unrepresented group in the State. As an opening policy, a 30pc pay cut for all politicians and their advisors would be a good start. Then I might just begin to believe that we really are all in this together.

Gerry Kelly 
Rathgar, Dublin 6

Sunday Independent

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