Letters to the Editor: The magical hurling theatrics many cannot afford to attend

Catching sliotars falling from the sky. Photo: Don Moloney

Letters to the Editor

Sir — I have played GAA for most of my life. I am 34 now and strongly doubt I will grace the field of play again. I keep my hurley in the boot of my car just in case. You just never know when a corner-forward, with extensive experience at corner-back, might be needed at short notice.

Who am I? You haven’t seen me in the sporting pages of any national or regional paper. My name was never called up the steps at Croke Park. I have never held a winning cup aloft. I have a few club championship and league medals which I hold dear.

Moreover, I have memories of playing with friends and wonderful team-mates. I have seen colleagues catch falling sliotars out of the sky, jumping, it felt like, 10 foot in the air.

I have seen the best blocks, the coolest hooks. I have seen epic dives and points scored from silly angles and goals flicked casually, cruelly past unfortunate goalies.

My own personal zenith, a dinky pass received from a team-mate, controlled on my hurley before flicking it into my hand and making the net in the far corner sing with the leather. And on my bad side, if you don’t mind. A day among days.

Other days I remember tears and mud and blood and a physio’s pillow in my mouth, and me telling her: “No, no, it doesn’t hurt, keep going on my cementy hamstring. Can I still play on Sunday, ya? Ya?”

You don’t know me but I live in so many parishes. I started out on Saturday mornings. I can still smell the freshly cut green and yellow ripe summer grass and the Deep Heat spray lingering in the old clubhouse. A heady mix.

I can still remember my dad telling me to pull hard, when I was too young or too nervous to rise the ball. I still remember the pride of a beautiful connection, watching the sliotar zip over the grass, like a stone skimmed on a lake.

You don’t know me but I remember you all. I remember every coach I ever had, every one of them that offered their “free” time, their dedication, their support, their encouragement. I heard your voices, only yours, out on the field, listening for you, for your direction. You taught me to be a team player and when to go myself.

You and my team-mates gave me a reprieve, a dopamine hit on the harder days. You made tough days in the office irrelevant. Many’s an evening we watched the sun dye the sky orange, plotting how this was OUR year, how we would win “champo” THIS year.

You don’t know me and neither does the GAA. An organisation that has put the summer’s hurling theatrics, a veritable ballet of grass and leather and hand-smoothed ash, beyond the enjoyment of those who cannot afford it and those who won’t pay for it because they feel like they already own it, like maybe they already paid.

Can I still watch on Sunday, ya? Ya?

Louise Shanahan, Clonoulty, Co Tipperary

Cash is king as royals flex people’s wealth

Sir — Congratulations to our nearest neighbours on the coronation of their new King. Brexit not being regressive enough, now almost a quarter of the way into the 21st century they are spending £100m (€115m) on a one-day coronation quiche party.

A solid-gold crown of stolen jewels will be placed upon the head of the unelected head of state of the United Kingdom and 14 other nations. Perched above the stolen coronation stone with a personal net worth estimated into the hundreds of millions, good old King Charles will not contribute one single penny towards his own vanity show.

Nice work if you can get it, or the heavy burden thrust upon you by accident of birth.

John Fogarty, Ennis, Co Clare

​Sinn Féin is no match for late Queen Elizabeth’s class

Sir — The late Queen Elizabeth did a lot more for Ireland by way of her official visit here than the latest Sinn Féin incarnation could ever achieve. A party of Walter Mitty enthusiasts.

Robert Sullivan, Bantry, Co Cork

​My beloved dad rose above pension bias

Sir — What a lovely article by Liam Collins (April 23) about the receipt of a letter, 30 years on, regarding the widower’s pension.

Thanks to David Kingston and like-minded people, fathers over the past 30 years who have experienced the heartbreak of losing their wives no longer have to endure the additional burden of state bias.

My enjoyment in reading this was tinged with sadness, owing to the fact the widower’s pension did not exist when my beloved dad lost his wife and best friend in 1960s Ireland. With six children aged from one to 13, it was always going to be a difficult road ahead, but one he negotiated as only he could in his caring, unselfish and loving manner.

Kindly neighbours and friends assured him of their support. They had it all sorted, they told him. Two would go to X, two would go to Y, and the two older children would stay at home. On recounting this, his gentle demeanour would momentarily slip as he described how he replied: “None of them will be going anywhere.” And so we didn’t.

Name and address with editor

Modern slavery was driven only by greed

Sir — Regarding recent controversies around the slavery issue and “denaming”, such as the Berkeley Library at Trinity College Dublin, can we get one thing straight: there is little comparison between the slavery of ancient Rome and other early regimes and the transatlantic slave trade that commenced at the end of the 1700s. Those who use such a comparison are being disingenuous and reaching for straws to defend their heroes. The ancient forms of slavery emerged from conflicts and comprised of defeated captives and those seen as enemies that needed to be contained.

The transatlantic trade of the 17th and 18th centuries was driven by greed. It was industrialised and racialised and regarded the enslaved people as not human at all but as commodities to be bought, sold and exploited.

It was a vile business and utterly indefensible. That well educated people, such as Berkeley, did so, is unforgivable.

We should remove all commemorations to such persons and replace them with the images and names of those who had the courage to condemn it and fought to have it abolished.

Jim O’Sullivan, Rathedmond, Co Sligo

Coiner McCarthy a real Cromane man

Sir — In an otherwise excellent article by Rodney Edwards about AI and ChatGPT (April 30), when referring to John McCarthy who coined the term “artificial intelligence”, Mr Edwards erroneously states he was the son of an emigrant from Cahersiveen, Co Kerry.

John McCarthy was my mother’s first cousin and, while he was the son of an emigrant, his father (also John McCarthy, my grandmother’s brother) hailed from the small fishing village of Cromane on the Iveragh Peninsula, some 25 miles from Cahersiveen.

John McCarthy Snr emigrated to the US in 1914. He married a Lithuanian Jew, Ida Glatt, and they had two sons including John McCarthy Jnr, who became a computer scientist based at Dartmouth College.

Mike Nuding, Marlay Wood, Dublin 16

​AI explosion a threat to our very existence

Sir — Artificial intelligence is all about making people and their jobs redundant. There may be some good uses, such as tedious and expensive research, but many believe it will be perverted into a nightmare.

Parameters given to AI will decide many aspects of people’s lives — if they have any to live when AI takes over our world.

Oppenheimer split the atom and changed the face of warfare forever. AI could do the same thing in a million other ways.

Maurice Fitzgerald, Shanbally, Co Cork

​Fragile ecosystem being destroyed

Sir — Fiona O’Connell, as usual, has written an insightful account of the vicissitudes that affect our fragile environment (April 30).

It was ironic and profoundly depressing that you reported elsewhere about the destruction of trees at Ryevale in Leixlip. Ignorance is bliss, but when those charged with environmental protection display ignorance of the highest order, we see just how fragile and threatened the natural world is.

Your columnist need not be surprised at the failures at state level. A few years ago, during debates regarding hedgerow destruction, the minister responsible, when asked about extending the hedge cutting season, advised people to “put more bird feeders in your gardens”. Enough said?

Peter Declan O’Halloran, Belturbet, Co Cavan

​Too few abortions are happening here

Sir — We never really knew for sure how many Irish women were having abortions prior to the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment in 2018. Figures were estimated, based on the numbers who gave Irish addresses while seeking abortions abroad, and on the number of pills the authorities thought might have been illegally ordered on the internet.

We still don’t have fully accurate figures. What we do know, with absolute certainty, is hundreds of people have been forced to travel for abortion care abroad which they were unable to access at home since legislation came into force in 2019. While this keeps happening, there are too few abortions happening in Ireland — not too many.

Bernie Linnane, Dromahair, Co Leitrim

​Minister Stephen Donnelly shows brass neck with this report

Sir — Pro-life people could be forgiven for thinking the sole purpose of the recent Abortion Review Report was to argue for even more abortions. The Health Minister has a brass neck publishing this report just after he informed the nation abortion numbers last year were 8,500, up 2,000 on previous years.

The report spends a lot of time highlighting what it sees as barriers to accessing abortion. Bizarrely, the report actually reproduces Department of Health data on abortions in different counties, but fails to link this into its own discussion on access.

If it had done so, it would have found that, for example, in 2019 Co Sligo did not have a single GP providing abortions, yet in that year the abortion ratio — abortions per 1,000 live births — in Sligo (at 76.8) was higher than in neighbouring counties Mayo (74.9), Leitrim (61.6), Donegal (69.9) and Roscommon (53.5). The same was true of 2020.

Jim Stack, Lismore, Co Waterford

​Hector a top tip for ‘Late Late’ hot seat

Sir — In the name of the fada, how about Hector Ó hEochagáin for the ‘Better Déanach than Never Seó’?

Chris Fitzpatrick, Dublin 6

​Poetry in motion has now ground to a halt

Sir — Some weeks ago, we had a rumour from Leinster House about the possible appointment of an Oireachtas Poet Laureate. One wonders if somebody decided there was neither rhyme nor reason to the proposal?

Tom Gilsenan, Beaumont, Dublin 9

Eamonn Sweeney scores own goal in City diatribe

Sir — In last Sunday’s sports section we were treated to not one but two articles portraying Manchester City FC as a negative entity, including the now regular contribution by Eamonn Sweeney.

In the interest of balance, may I point out that Mr Sweeney fails to recognise that City’s recent success is due to having the best coach and the best coached players playing at the best run club in the Premier League, who now have the resources to compete with the traditional big clubs of the last five decades.

Linking City to Nixon, Lord Denning and Lance Armstrong is a desperate attempt at throwing enough muck so that some may stick.

Kevin Costello, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

​Sir — I am a 76-year-old man and have bought the Sunday Independent all my adult life. But our relationship has come to an end due to your sports writer Eamonn Sweeney’s regular and consistent slagging of Manchester City, a team I’ve supported since 1956. Every couple of months he has a go at City, especially when his own beloved Liverpool are not doing so well.

I cannot and will not accept this type of journalism, no matter what or who the team is, so I’ve bought my last Sunday Independent.

Capt Phil Devitt, Kinsale, Co Cork

​Bank’s generosity knows no bounds

Sir — Today we received a cheque from a long-forgotten Ulster Bank account. When himself opened it, the excitement was immeasurable.

Looking for his glasses we planned all sorts — holidays, home improvements, sure the list was endless. With shaking hands and glasses eventually in place our bubble very quickly burst. The amount blew us away: two cent. The instructions with it were even more bubble-bursting: lodge quickly or donate to charity. Applications on a postcard, please.

Bernie Kirwan, Gorey, Co Wexford

​Milk prices fall but what else goes up?

Sir — Butter and milk prices coming down? I’m not buying it. Why pick butter and milk? It’s an easy win. Look at all the media coverage: everyone is talking about it, so it’s free advertising for the supermarkets.

There is a price war in supermarkets at the moment. They are making a lot of noise and hiding all the other increases in the background.

Claire Mulrooney, Birr, Co Offaly

​President quite the economist himself

Sir — I see that our President had a go at economists. He also gave the Government a crack of the whip about housing some time ago.

Is this the same President who bought a house in Galway, circa 2012, which he rented out to six tenants? He sold the property to avail of a Capital Gains Tax exemption once he had held it for seven years.

It seems to me the President could teach the economists about sharp economics.

Denis Larkin, Mullingar, Co Westmeath

​What about a tax break for us, then?

Sir — The Government decided last week to extend the rent-a-room scheme (where people can receive up to €14,000 a year tax free for letting out rooms in their home) to local authority council houses.

But private landlords who own houses and rent them to homeless families are expected to pay up to 52pc of the rent in tax to the State and are subject to all kinds of regulations by the Residential Tenancies Board.

Surely somebody who rents a complete house should be entitled to this same tax allowance?

Brian Lube, Co Meath

​Harry Crosbie has a good point on docks

Sir — Regarding Harry Crosbie’s letter (April 30), shifting Dublin Port to a suitable location further north would not only benefit logistics and the environment, but also provide urgently needed space for housing. London Docklands is a good example.

Peter Wolf, Knock, Co Mayo

​Only a visionary can fix the mess we’re in

Sir — Oh for a politician or civil servant with a bit of vision or originality such as Harry Crosbie has exhibited time and again.

Where is a Michael Collins, TK Whitaker or, dare I say it, Charlie Haughey, when we need him? Instead, we are lumbered with a bunch of second-raters too busy braying at each other to actually achieve anything.

Paul Mullan, Navan, Co Meath

​Gardaí don’t need 15,000 for patrols

Sir — Willie O’Dea says that even with a complement of 15,000 garda personnel, it would still be a struggle to deliver the high-visibility policing we need (Sunday Independent, April 30). This is untrue.

Prior to the 1960s, An Garda Síochána used to maintain foot patrols in the towns and cities across Ireland. Their visible presence reassured the public and made the would-be criminal wary. They achieved this with a fraction of the number of personnel we have today.

Andrew Young, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow