Gillian Bowler’s precious lesson
Sir — In a tribute to the late Gillian Bowler (Sunday Independent, December 18), Liam Collins included a quote from her from 2004: “Time is the most precious thing we have and yet we don’t realise it.”
Although Ms Bowler died at a relatively young age, she could never be described as wasting time. She achieved enormously in her life.
She never let her health problems in her early life, or the fact she didn’t finish her education, hold her back. She is an example of someone who took life by the scruff of the neck and lived it. On Sunday, I watched that excellent film The Way on that soon-to-cease channel UTV Ireland.
The film tells the story of an American ophthalmologist who travels to Europe to recover the body of his dead son, who had dropped out of college to travel the world and died on the Camino. In the film, Martin Sheen played the father, who sadly said to his colleague after learning of his son’s death: “He wanted to see the world.” His colleague replied: “He did.”
None of us knows how long we have on this planet. Both of these examples show the importance of living our lives as fully as we can. Tommy Tiernan said recently: “It’s better to be half dead on the side of a mountain than half alive on the edge of the sofa.”
Gillian Bowler discovered her niche and lived a full life. As we all approach a new year, it’s a good time for us all to realise the life in our years is more important than the years in our life.
Politicians betray ideals of 1916
Sir — The season of goodwill is upon us in this historical year of 2016, but I firmly feel it’s somewhat inappropriate to extend any such Christian values towards many of those within our political establishment.
I say this because I am fed up of listening to their unforgivable engagement in hypocrisy, but also of their disgraceful failures in protecting many vulnerable citizens of this seemingly corrupted country.
In all honesty, nothing has really changed, even though this was supposed to be a historical year of a nation’s achievements.
Why should we be proud of having such a large number of homeless people and tens of thousands in extreme poverty? Family evictions as we commemorated the sacrifice made by those men and women who fought and died in the Easter Rising of 1916? It was an excuse to engage in the hypocrisy of the hypocrite.
Yes, the Irish people did hear the Army officer reading aloud the noble visionaries, enshrined in the Proclamation by those signatures, who were executed as they wanted a better and more equal Ireland for all the nation’s citizens alike.
The reading happened while Enda Kenny was boasting about keeping the recovery going.
However, it never materialised as their despicable order of self- importance took pride of place when ordinary, hard-working, honest Irish quickly learned the reality of austerity measures and its effects on their life on a daily basis. This is the Irish Republic of 2016 wherein exists an ever-growing distance between the daily struggle of ordinary people and the protection of the wealthiest in a secluded circle by the entrusted for their cronies among the elitists in this two-tiered society.
That, in my opinion, has become extremely obvious when one looks at those in society who have become homeless over the last eight years since the crash of this economy.
I strongly doubt their plight was envisioned by James Connolly, Padraig Pearse or any of the other signatories.
Matthew Joseph Greville,
Wealth isn’t defined solely by possessions
Sir — The Christmas spirit, despite the bitter cold and harsh winds, has silently crept in on us. It is a time when generosity inexplicably tickles our personas, with never a thought of return.
It is a time when we see joy in others, having begrudgingly forgotten ourselves and spontaneously shared it with them. I didn’t plan happiness for today, it’s simply an atmosphere that automatically enveloped me.
Above all else, it’s a time of no evaluation, realising we are all God’s creation.
No money could compensate for this happiness, this wealth. No success could equal or sustain its unchallengeable naturalness. Why? Because so few recognise we have two great means of wealth — material and spiritual — one complementing the other.
Experiencing some health issues over the past year has strengthened my spiritual wealth. I meditated more on how lucky I was to have the normal necessities for happiness, a nice home and a caring family.
I despised the torment inflicted by selfish governments on the men, women and children of the war-torn countries in the Middle East.
The terrible struggle refugees endure packing their families into rubber dinghies and risking the Mediterranean to find a very uncertain happiness that we take for granted, is worthy of our contemplation.
It’s more obvious why we should support them in any way possible according to our means while we are blessed in being able to lap up the joys and blessings of this wonderful Christmas.
Human nature being as it is, it’s understandable we have a tendency to ponder on the things we fail to get in life as opposed to counting our blessings and celebrating all the wonderful possessions and favours we have.
We shouldn’t be envious or jealous of two famous Irish businessmen in the news recently who invested in prime property near the Ritz Hotel in central Paris for €650m in 2007, and have just passed it on for close on €1bn.
Fortunately both are known for their philanthropy and are an asset to Ireland and undoubtedly do their share towards the unfortunate refugees mentioned.
Finally, when one recalls we all came into this world naked and leave exactly the same, with nothing; you will understand the value of the spiritual wealth I mention.
Garda not at fault for doctor charges
Sir — Like most people in the country, I was delighted to see Dr Scully acquitted on the charges brought against her, and I know the gardai who were involved were also glad.
What grieves me is that people sought to blame the gardai for having brought the charges in the first place.
However, people should know that it is the DPP that gives instructions as to what charges, if any, are to be brought against a person.
Again, Dr Scully, as an ex-member, I am delighted for your sake.
Good luck to you always.
John N Barry,
Christmas bell tolls for a happy holiday
Sir — As we enter the New Year and leave behind this one, it is with much sadness after so many people have lost their lives across the world in very violent situations — all too many in the name of religion.
Having said that, it is not difficult to be aware of the political correctness that also emerged across the globe in 2016 and has finally reached the shores of Ireland.
However, I found it difficult to restrain a broad smile when I noticed RTE went to great lengths to use the politically correct phrase “happy holidays” throughout the last Christmas episode of Fair City.
What brought the smile to my face was to notice how the Fair City episode was broadcast a short time after RTE rang the Angelus bells at six o’clock.
Everyone is a star in someone’s eyes
Sir — The year 2016 has seen the passing of some immensely talented singers, writers, comedians and broadcasters.
Terry Wogan was for decades a household name. I always liked the haunting music of Leonard Cohen. Alan Rickman was first class, I thought, in the Michael Collins film. I was also a fan of Zsa Zsa Gabor.
These and others are such a loss to their professions and to humanity.
But I can’t help feeling that the attention given to celebrities in death, as in life, can completely overshadow the lives of the people who pass away with scarcely a word written or broadcast about them.
I’ve just got the local parish newsletter and I’ve read through a long list of people who died during the year: all precious human beings to their friends and loved ones, each death a staggering loss.
Each one of the names on the “departure list”, if I may call it that, means the world to at least one other person. He or she is a star, shining brightly in remembrance as surely as any of the ones that light up a crisp winter’s sky.
Life is so precious and so vulnerable that surely everyone’s stint on this planet is worthy of celebration, even if one hasn’t achieved celebrity status as categorised by those who define such things.
Don’t play games with our economy
Sir — When Shane Crosby tells us that “nothing seems to be happening” in Irish politics, that it is all a “charade” and advises the people in power to “just try something” (Letters, Sunday Independent, December 18), I am afraid I have to disagree with him.
In the decade or so before 2009, and since, an awful lot has happened.
The problem was that what was happening before 2009 was funded by trebling bank lending and trebling government expenditure. The opinion at the time was that everything was getting better and better and there was no downside.
Nothing could be further from the truth because the result was that the country became bankrupt and had to be bailed out in 2010.
That was no charade.
The consequences were major cuts in public expenditure and a severe deterioration in public services.
The cuts and the deterioration in services would have been much worse but for a spectacular increase in borrowing to fund the reduced services.
In addition to that, financial institutions had to be rescued by taxpayers, which gave rise to a further spectacular increase in borrowing.
Despite all of that, and Shane Crosby describing the present situation as “a complete farce”, there has been some recovery here. That recovery was no farce. We only have to look at Greece to see how much worse we could be.
Greece was also bailed out in 2010. How lucky we are is highlighted by the fact our situation was worse in 2010 than that of Greece, relative to the size of our and their economy.
Yet we have made some recovery but Greece has made little or no recovery.
The era of just trying something without considering the consequences ended in calamity in 2010.
It should not be revived, despite Shane Crosby’s impatience with our present situation.
Do not repeat the mistakes of the past is better advice.
Sinn Fein’s blunder on abortion stance
Sir — Sinn Fein courting the liberal attitude on abortion is antagonising its supporters, as Sinn Fein is now countenancing the killing of unborn Irish citizens both in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic.
Fr Con McGillicuddy,
Let us forgive, but keep on our quest
Sir — Plenty of reading regarding the fortunes and misfortunes of the Mayo team in their quest to gain Sam (Sport, Sunday Independent, December 18), and the telling of their side of the story by the sacked joint trainers. Some players have come out in their defence but a majority voted for their removal, and majority rules in all cases.
We in Mayo who have followed our team faithfully down the years were left wondering what was going on in the Mayo camp in the more recent past, with rumblings of discontent very evident.
According to the ex-joint managers, a few players had their heads in the clouds and were trying to dictate to management, while in a follow-up story the players gave a different version of events, and laid the blame firmly elsewhere.
We were taught in school the part can never be greater than the whole, but now even this is debatable. Who was right and who was wrong is immaterial as we have more serious issues to debate in our quest for 2017 glory, and we were always told “two wrongs never made a right”.
We all know the heartbreak of last September’s All-Ireland loss, the targeting of one of our best players, the subsequent admittance of the match official that he made a mistake in not sending certain other players off, and the last-minute change of Mayo goalie scenario.
It’s time to put all that to bed and concentrate on getting a grip on Sam and finally bringing him home to Mayo, as we are all fed up of being runners-up.
In this season of goodwill it’s about time for handshakes all round and for forgive and forget to be introduced by all concerned in every aspect of Mayo football.
As we have a proven manager and dedicated players, we have the potential to put all behind us and reach for and accept the holy grail of football of the Sam Maguire.
So, let us forgive, but not forget our quest for the trophy we deserve to regain after 66 years of being nearly men, and as we have heard so much of in recent politics: “Yes we can.”
Dishonesty among ‘speeding’ drivers
Sir — Road deaths are up by 20pc this year. A shocking statistic and a terribly sad Christmas for many families.
The Road Safety Authority has worked hard over the past years with radio and television advertisements creating awareness of the dangers of speeding and drink-driving.
Therefore it was quite shocking to read one of the quotes of the week (Sunday Independent, December 18) from Judge Patrick Durcan sitting in Ennis District Court: “This courtroom is stinking of dishonesty and is stinking of perjury today.”
His comment came after 15 people suspected of speeding walked away without sanction after stating in sworn evidence that they never received the fixed-charge penalty in the post.
Did the postman lose 15 letters or did the gardai fail to send out 15 letters? The judge did not seem to think so.
Is it any wonder there is such carnage on our roads when motorists would lie before a judge in a court of law?
Law and order is breaking down when people show such disrespect for the court, judge, gardai and their fellow citizens.
Plain and simple law-breaking
Sir — This nation is on the road to anarchy. Not only are ordinary people breaking the law daily but elected officials and media presenters are encouraging law-breaking by calling them “acts of civil disobedience”. They are not acts of civil disobedience, they are plain and simply law-breaking.
When will somebody in a position of power and influence stand up and say “thus far and no further”, and prosecute these criminals to the full extent of the law?
Vincent J Lavery,