Sunday 26 May 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Lyra’s murder shows our history will not go away'

Flowers at the scene where the 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead. Photo: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Flowers at the scene where the 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead. Photo: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

The War of Independence started 100 years ago and we are commemorating this anniversary in style – with justification, as independence was granted to 26 of the 32 counties after a long and painful struggle.

But consider what we did with our freedom – we handed over our destiny to another oppressor. The Black and Tans gave way to the Black and soutanes. Industrial schools which were austere, forbidding enough places up to 1922 were turned into hellish punishment centres for children.

Magdalene laundries, originally intended as temporary refuges, were converted by fanatical religious orders, with the active collusion of the State, into slave labour camps for women. One of the first actions of the new Irish government in 1922 was to outlaw divorce, which had been legal. It wasn’t lawful again until 1996, the year the last Magdalene laundry closed.

In recent days, further shocking revelations about mother and baby homes have surfaced. Our dark past still casts its fearful shadow over us. More evidence of cover-ups: an unending stream of real-life horror stories.

And, then, 100 years after the War of Independence started, people claiming allegiance to that ancient cause kill Lyra McKee, a brave journalist whose life and work enshrined the value of freedom, pluralism, non-sectarianism and equality for all, a woman who epitomised the ideals of true republicanism – in a way the misguided monsters who murdered her never will.

John Fitzgerald
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Peaceful majority must work to give hope to youth of Derry

The inexcusable murder of Lyra McKee is a sad indictment of the political inaction which has kept Stormont closed.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was the starting point in the long and somewhat arduous journey to peace and prosperity for all citizens of Ireland.

If, for some, the aim is a united Ireland they must accept the fact it cannot, nor will it ever be, accomplished by violence. Therefore, a self-appointed minority has no moral right to use or urge others to use violence.

On the other hand, the peaceful majority is obliged to take a stance and object vehemently to thuggery posing as political protest. It is incumbent on politicians of all parties on the island of Ireland to work harder, together, to ensure the young people of Derry can obtain meaningful employment in their home county. A good place to begin would be to start work immediately on the Derry-Dublin motorway, which would make access to the area easier.

Declan Foley
Berwick, Australia

We must hope this Easter death is also a milestone

The senseless and barbaric killing of Lyra McKee last week reminded me of another murder 2,000 years ago in Calvary.

Both occurred around Good Friday, both were social activists, both were inclusive of all people, both were a similar age when they died and both deaths had a profound effect on a very large number of people. Hopefully Lyra’s life and death will be like Jesus’ – a significant milestone, especially for peace on this island.

Aidan Hampson
Artane, Dublin 5

Why the weather turns ‘cuckoo’ at this time of year

The seasonal “cuckoo cuckoo” song is in the air, heralding the arrival of Scaraveen and the return of the cuckoo from a winter sojourn in sub-Saharan Africa.

The cuckoo is a solitary bird, more often heard than seen. As one of the most infamous freeloaders, the cuckoo lays her eggs in the nests of small songbirds with precision timing. Once hatched, the cuckoo chicks eject the legitimate occupants and are fed by unsuspecting foster parents. The cuckoo chick is already a true master of deception.

Folklore has it Scaraveen is nature’s retribution on the cuckoo for the havoc caused in the bird world. Unfortunately, we all pay the price for its misdeeds. During Scaraveen, from mid-April to mid-May, mild weather has been known to revert to cold, wet, miserable weather typical of winter.

The word Scaraveen is an anglicisation of “garbh shion na gcuach” which means “the rough weather of the cuckoo”. The Irish term gradually became “garbh shion”, then “garaveen” and, finally, “Scaraveen”.

Alexander Buchanan, the 19th century father of meteorology, researched Scaraveen and other unseasonal weather glitches at certain times of the year. He found there were six cold and three warm spells. Among the cold spells was late April/early May, which coincides with the modern Scaraveen.

I’m sure current weather forecasters can offer a more scientific explanation for Scaraveen, if in fact it exists at all. Indeed, the much-maligned cuckoo may be an entirely innocent party.

Billy Ryle
Tralee, Co Kerry

Irish Independent

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