Monday 25 March 2019

Dull Familiar Drumming

Ruth Dudley-Edwards. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Ruth Dudley-Edwards. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - It was with surprise, and pleasure, to see Ruth Dudley Edwards begin her column (Sunday Independent, September 3) by reprinting some lines of my 1991 poem, The Dull Familiar Drumming.

The clatter of pieces of clay hitting the coffin of a loved one is surely the loneliest sound. Second only to the eternal silence of never hearing their voice again.

For 30 plus years in our recent past this sound has reverberated in our Northern counties. I include Louth in this landscape.

I didn't know Tom Oliver, but his death, and the manner of it, pierced the marrow of my humanity.

This short poem was my reaction to the savagery which has stalked our land, and which has not gone away, you know.

It's in memory of all of our victims of 'political' violence.

The Dull Familiar Drumming

Clay rattles down on the coffin with a dull familiar drumming.

July cries; her face is wintry.

The soul of Cooley is frozen.

The merry eyes of children have turned to wells of hurt.

Tears spring from memories seeding the flower of freedom.

Where love is sowed, peace is the fruit: man cannot kill this timeless truth.

Clay rattles down on the coffin.

Grief embraces, with its grip of pain.

The dull familiar drumming is the sound of a nation's shame.

Sean Brannigan,



Perfect number of partners

Sir - I loved Ciara O'Connor's piece on sexual history (Sunday Independent, September 3). Statistics can, of course, be used to prove any point you want to make (right, Donald?).

We are talking about track record here. It seems that we need to pitch it somewhere between the virgin and the ridiculous.

Most men like to think of themselves as super studs and mistakenly believe that women will be impressed if they have been round the block/office/college a few times.

It is invariably the male of the species who takes the lead when it comes to sexual foreplay. He needs to know his way around a female's anatomy without the aid of a sat-nav yet not appear too advanced. But where is he to amass this wealth of carnal knowledge? Nowadays it is not difficult to access "adult" material but seeing is one thing and doing is quite another. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes.

So what should a guy answer when his lady friend asks about his sexual history. Too few partners would mean that other women don't fancy him, so why should I, and too many means he is a male nympho so I should steer clear.

A happy medium is called for.

Using algorithms, mean average deviations and baseball similes (to see which base you end up at), I have calculated that the perfect number of ex-partners acceptable for the male of the species is 8.2731 recurring.

So guys, this is the number you have to aspire to. Any less and you are dismissed as a minger; any more and you are a philandering lothario.

Paul Cleary,


Dublin 15

Selective amnesia of Labour Party

Sir - Last week I was reading, as usual, all the political points of the week gone. You know, one party telling another party how to run the country, and some of the points can be quite funny.

But, and I stress 'but', Brendan Howlin's views were (Sunday Independent, September 3) as funny as I have read in a long time.

Now he's telling this Government how the country should be run, and wasn't it so funny when he said that Fine Gael was in Government 'seven years' now. Talk about selective amnesia, Brendan. Just to remind you, you and your Labour party 'propped up' Fine Gael from 2011-2016, allowing cuts to everyone, especially the worst off in the community, but you got your answer in the 2016 election, when you lost 30 seats, leaving you with just seven.

You also say the health section is as bad as ever it was. Yet more selective amnesia, Brendan, when it was the Labour Party who, when in Government, implemented all these cuts to the health section, and many other cuts as well. The only thing you got right on your views in the paper was the figure of 600,000 waiting for treatment in hospitals, but never should the people forget, it was your party, Labour, who started it all off, cutting and shredding all sections in the government planning. Next election, the people will never forget, or forgive, your party for all your false promises in the election of 2011. In my opinion, your Labour party will be gone out of politics, and good riddance, say I.

Finbar Bevan,



'Each outcry of the hunted hare'

Sir - Aideen Yourell's 'The Letter I Wish I'd Sent' (Sunday Independent, September 3), addressed to the hapless hares of Ireland, was a timely and poignant reminder of the cruelties inflicted on this gentle, iconic creature in the name of sport. The Irish hare (lepus timidus hibernicu) is a sub-species of the mountain hare unique to Ireland and a survivor of the last Ice Age of 10,000 years ago. In recent years it has been in decline, mainly due to the unintended ravages of modern agriculture and urbanisation. From Cork to Donegal, its habitat has been decimated in vast tracts of countryside.

Monoculture is inimical to the hare's survival. This necessitates the cultivation of great swathes of land with a single crop, and the deployment of all sorts of agro-toxic chemicals and the latest hi-tech machinery. When the dust settles on this intensive agricultural procedure, the hare is left with little cover in what may as well be a desert.

But the other threat to our native hares; alluded to by Ms Yourell in her heartfelt panegyric, is no mere side-effect of farming or the expansion of towns or cities. Thousands of the animals are netted each year for coursing, and although a relatively small percentage die during the chase, many are mauled or otherwise injured by the muzzled dogs, and all of them are subjected to the terror and trauma of being snatched from their habitats, held in unnatural captivity, and then the stressful ordeal of being forced to evade pairs of greyhounds within a wired-off enclosure.

Dr Donald Broom, a Professor of Animal Welfare studies at Cambridge, has asserted that the hunted hare will show physiological changes associated with extreme fear which will reduce its life expectancy, whether it is injured or not. One does have to be a scientific genius to appreciate the implications of this for a hare.

William Blake, in his acclaimed poem Auguries of Innocence, wrote: "Each outcry of the hunted hare/A fibre from the brain does tear."

Unfortunately, it seems that the cry has gone almost unheeded in the corridors of power. A new coursing season commences later this month. I hope and pray that, some day, an Irish government will move to protect this jewel in the crown of our wildlife heritage; an animal that has been around since long before politics itself was invented.

John Fitzgerald,


Co Kilkenny

Sunday Independent

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