John Daly: 'City planners are barking up the wrong tree'
Cycling aimlessly around Dublin this weekend, it was impossible not to sense the atmosphere of fear and loathing stalking the city.
As the ominous threat of destruction draws ever closer for hundreds of mature trees, the urge to croon a few bars of Tony Orlando's 'Tie A Yellow Ribbon' seemed entirely appropriate as a soundtrack to a war between progress and beauty. Residents have warned the BusConnects plan will "rip the lungs" out of the city - and could have added heart and soul to the list of vital organs about to be fatally removed by the cruel teeth of ruthless chainsaws.
"Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world - there is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf." The words of Albert Schweitzer seem unusually fitting as the battle lines between conservation and desolation are drawn, and recall vividly the sorrow last year when the majestic Oregon maple in Trinity College toppled without warning.
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Dating back to the 1840s, it sheltered the dreams of Wilde, Beckett, Swift and Goldsmith - plus errant scholars like myself who stole a kiss or two beneath its towering arms.
A UCD study revealed Dublin's overall tree canopy covers just 10pc of the city - a sad contrast with 57pc in Stockholm or Helsinki's 49pc.
In our polluted and urbanised world, trees are a precious life form, celebrated not just for their aesthetic beauty, but literally as the manufacturers of the air we breathe. It is sadly ironic that Ireland, having the unfortunate distinction as the least forested state in the EU, is now the place where magnificent natural specimens a century old are the first to be sacrificed for the convenience of the noxious combustion engine.
A single 50-year-old tree contributes an estimated €250,000 during its lifetime through the recycling of water, controlling air pollution and fertilising the soil - could the same value be placed upon the faceless bureaucrats whose imprimatur unleashed the chainsaws?
Indeed, while Samuel Coleridge waxed poetic that "friendship is a sheltering tree", what manner of lyricism would he thrust upon the municipal brains who genuflect to vast expanses of concrete as the optimum vision for Dublin? Those brave folk standing firm on every tree-lined street against the advancing heartless teeth of ignorance should take comfort from the words of Edna O'Brien: "When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious."
Yield not, comrades.
I'll duck drone delivery
Fried rice and Peking duck will never be the same. The plans to replace takeaway delivery people with drones does not rest easy on this particular palate. Speedier and more efficient a service it may promise to be, but who'll bring gossip as a tasty side order accompanying my weekend food indulgence?
How could a witless piece of whirling carbon match Raoul and Jose, the redoubtable riders who brave hail and howling wind to bring Indian and Asian-fusion to my door, always garnished with a healthy helping of local tittle-tattle and scandal from the avenues and alleyways of our fair city? If drones are on the menu, they'll be nothing for it but to eat out in protest.
Catch up with Clooney
All social engagements are cancelled this Thursday as George Clooney's adaptation of 'Catch-22' screens on Channel 4.
One of the great anti-war novels by Joseph Heller, it remains as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.
And it's very, very funny.