Letters to the Editor: 'What tales they could tell'
Sir — The new walkways in Corlea bog in Longford are a credit to all those who created them. There is an art to the way the old tree trunks, that were extracted from their silent tombs, are strategically erected along part of the walkways.
What tales these old trees could tell of the days of yesteryear, when their leaves fluttered in the summer breeze, succumbed to the autumn breeze and produced new buds and started the cycle again in spring. There was no air or road traffic then, just the presence of wild animals and the footfall of our ancient hunter-gathering ancestors hundreds, thousands of years ago.
There is a peaceful and calming ambience there, especially in the evenings before sunset. There is a beauty there in all seasons. I have walked there in summer days when the skylark put on his show... he sang and he rose, he sang and he rose till he almost reached the clouds. When his song was finished he plummeted straight down to the heather. I know his song was more than likely territorial, but I like to think it was just for me.
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Many water birds have appeared there in the past couple of years, perhaps the almost extinct curlew will return and multiply again.
Who knows if we might hear what Oliver Goldsmith heard so long ago “the noisy geese that gabbled o’er the pool”.
There is a beauty there also in winter and spring when the harsh winds blow across the bog and fondle the rush beds and arrange their heads with nature’s own hairbrush. One wonders why so few people use this amenity, maybe because there are so many walkways here in south Longford, with canal walks and woodland walks they are spoiled for choice.
I, for one, am not complaining because sometimes I feel a little selfish and almost treat the bog as my own.
Bord na Mona took away a lot of the bogs over the past few decades but they left enough for us to enjoy. They have given a lot of employment and helped to rear many families and here is hoping that the present difficulties can be amicably resolved and all can move on with good feeling.
As for Corlea bog, I feel the future has just begun.
James J Heslin,
Keenagh, Co Longford
Lisa Smith is still an Irish citizen
Sir - I write in reply to Dr Ciara Kelly's article headlined "Why I have zero sympathy for Lisa Smith" which was published in the Sunday Independent on July 21.
I have been asked why I bother about what happens to Lisa Smith or her child. My answer is simple. Dr Kelly does not speak for me. I do not by my silence want to be associated with what she has written. Ms Smith and her daughter are Irish citizens - is that not enough?
Dr Kelly states that Lisa Smith is the author of her own misfortune, having chosen to align herself with the Isil regime in Syria that cold-bloodily beheaded James Foley, an American journalist, at the height of their murderous campaign.
Her reference to western "values" and "traitorous" behaviour is difficult for me. Those western values are designed to overthrow governments in the Middle East not deemed suitable puppets by our western leaders.
Dr Kelly poses the question should the Government try to return Lisa Smith and her child to this country? Once again I remind Dr Kelly that they are Irish citizens.
Ms Smith is in a very difficult place right now. Many have closed their minds and hearts to her plight, believing that she should live with the consequences of her behaviour. The question I ask myself is what would Jesus do in this circumstance.
I don't believe that He would abandon her - and neither will I.
I stand with her and her child. I don't want them to be on their own.
I want to bear witness to their plight. I don't approve of what Lisa Smith did but I do not condemn her.
I see redemption in everyone despite what they have done wrong. I believe Ms Smith is redeemable, if given the chance.
Trim, Co Meath
Poor health service lets Ireland down
Sir - My wife and I came over from Holland to Dublin for our summer holidays. We rented a car and made a trip via the Wicklow mountains, the south and west coasts. We fell in love with your country. We enjoyed the people, the nature, the coast, the beer. It was a wonderful trip.
There is only one exception, and that is your health service. One day I was bitten by a dog and treated by a local doctor the same day. Five days later, an infection showed up and I got a fever. Local people advised me to visit the emergency department at a nearby hospital. That was bad advice. I arrived at 5pm and was seen by a nurse. She classified my injury as five - the lowest category. After more than eight hours, at 1.15am, we decided to go home without having seen a doctor. On arrival there were about 30 people in that waiting room, and about 22 of them were still there at 1.15am. A cyclist with an open wound on his head came in at 6pm and was lucky - at midnight he was treated. His priority level was three. Between 9pm and 10pm the door stayed closed; not one patient was called by a doctor.
I was shocked by this experience, but our B&B host told us this was not an exception. It happens that people wait two or three days before being treated by a doctor.
Irish people, you are inhabitants of a well-developed country, part of the EU. I paid for my Guinness and Smithwick's with euros; your country is clean and safe. Many of you are wealthy. But this part in your society is badly organised.
I am not interested in an explanation. I have only one piece of advice: Ireland: you should do better. Politicians: please step over your personal or electoral interests and start an improvement of this badly operating system.
Not only for me as a foreign tourist, but for all your people. Invite yourself to, and be informed in, the EU-countries around you - many perform better on this subject. Get rid of this part of your rich history as soon as possible.
Finally, our love for Ireland still remains. We certainly will return.
Groningen, The Netherlands
This way lies vulture culture
Sir - Great column by Miriam O'Callaghan (Sunday Independent, August 11), "Mysteries that mask the real issues we face". Her brilliant weaving of words exposes the pattern of this vulture-culture Government's mismanagement, neglect, conceit, and deceit carelessly spinning its way down the pathway towards a society in which the words responsibility, accountability, empathy, caring, and social justice have no meaning.
Ballinspittle, Co Cork
Johnson needs to resell the backstop
Sir - A core principle of the EU is the promotion and preservation of peace.
In drafting and agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), the EU recognised, and the UK conceded, that the reintroduction of a hard border between the Republic and NI would be at odds with the Good Friday Agreement, leading to the possibility of a return to violence.
With the rejection of a border up the Irish Sea, the backstop was devised and agreed upon accordingly.
The EU cannot deviate from the backstop, for to do so would be contravening its core principle of "the preservation of peace". Thus, the EU's position on the backstop is immutable.
So, is it now not time for Prime Minister Boris Johnson (who has already voted for the backstop) to demonstrate real leadership by deploying his undoubted political skills in re-selling the WA to his followers?
Oh, Ireland has surrendered before
Sir - Pat O'Callaghan (Sunday Independent, August 11) maintains that one path the Irish have never chosen is that of surrender and submission.
Really? No doubt our meek acceptance of a bill of €65bn to bail out the banks and bondholders qualifies as spirited resistance.
Charleville, Co Cork
Beautiful article on love and loss
Sir - Thank you to Brendan O'Connor for his beautiful article on love, loss and parenting (Sunday Independent, August 11). It was just as moving as the story of Nora Quoirin that inspired it.
Clarinbridge, Co Galway
What a powerful piece of writing
Sir - I've just read Brendan O'Connor's article regarding the disappearance of Nora Quoirin.
It is an astoundingly powerful piece of writing and I'm sure has given a voice to many parents of children like Nora, as he has done on many occasions.
For parents who haven't had the experience, Brendan practically brought it into the room with his wonderful descriptions of the challenges of everyday life. I have been so touched. I am very privileged to hear my three grandchildren playing next door to me.
More thought needed on roads
Sir - In the area of road safety, I believe stressed-out drivers are a threat to safety on our roads. Often, the difficulty of finding a parking space is a contributory factor.
Drivers should be aware not to stress out other drivers, following too close or blowing the horn unnecessarily. An act of courtesy received on the road should not go unacknowledged by the recipient.
I would suggest that all bicycles sold in the Republic should be finished all over in a high-visibility colour - the better to stand out - on the principle of 'be safe, be seen'.
Dundrum, Dublin 16
We should put up statue for Browne
Sir - Would it be possible to erect a statue to the great Noel Browne for all the achievements over the years, in particular his work around tackling TB, as well as the Mother and Child Scheme?
James Laurence Dunne, Kilnamanagh,
Politicians at fault
Sir - Gene Kerrigan (Sunday Independent, August 11) refers to the 'vulture funds' that bought so many distressed mortgages so cheaply in recent years.
Our politicians facilitated this outrageous policy, which contributed to the number of homeless people.
The vulture in the natural world is a wild bird of prey, which survives by eating the rotting carcasses of dead animals.
He doesn't rush to the feast, he takes his time and glides in on the wind at a leisurely pace, as the dying animal breathes his last. He then goes to work and strips the carcass to the bare bones.
Construction died a death, thousands emigrated as austerity hit. Hospital waiting lists grew, the sick and elderly waiting to see a junior doctor or nurse run off their feet.
And the politicians who made the decisions and oversaw the wreckage have insulated themselves by ring-fencing themselves with gold-plated pensions.
Cloonacool, Co Sligo
Time for a helping of nutritional nous
Sir - Niamh Horan (Sunday Independent, August 11) casts a fair and sharpish eye over the spectrum of responsibilities relating to the obesity epidemic relentlessly ravaging the health of the nation at large.
Responding to the recent Sunday Independent/Kantar poll, she engages the wisdom and experienced insights of specialist Dr Donal O'Shea, quoting his commonsense appraisal of the 'crisis'.
The fact that already "over 62pc of Irish people are overweight... [and] the World Health Organisation's warning that Ireland will be Europe's fattest nation by 2030, with 89pc of men and 85pc of women being overweight", is shocking, daunting and sobering.
Hopefully we might manage to avert such disastrous proportions, not only through galvanised personal self-discipline but, crucially, if the constant corporate menace of flooding our sentience with lowest common denominator nutrition can be curbed and eradicated.
Apparently those global junk-food and 'sugarised' purveyors of obesity are way ahead of us unsuspecting 'gorging' consumers, who struggle to combat the refined finesse of their marketing strategies and advertising, which overwhelm.
Dr O'Shea is a worthy whistleblower indeed, who even fesses up to his own little peccadillo in the realm of "comfort-eating" - the humble wine gum. The statutory responsibility is blatantly obvious vis-a-vis "paving the way for a more aggressive legislative approach to our food environment", as Dr O'Shea reckons.
But surely we all, as not-so-unwitting "feasters", must exercise the apposite discipline and don the personal responsibility for our own sake and the sake of our children. Becoming an obese nation of unhealthy dependants on an ever-creaking health service, offers only collective debilitation and inevitable dwindling of quality of life in the round.
It's only common sense with a sprinkle of nutritional nous.
Lismore, Co Waterford
Too many hands affecting the game
Sir - I have just watched the two GAA football semi-finals and enjoyed them both, especially the second half of the Dublin-Mayo game.
What was noticeable in both games was the amount of hand passes. In a re-watch I counted three hand passes to every ball kicked.
Is it now time for the GAA to rename the sport hand pass, or punch ball?
Just an observation.
Santry, Dublin 9
Hare coursing ban must stay in place
Sir - Recently, Culture and Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan dramatically withdrew the licence that permits coursing clubs to capture hares - meaning that no hare coursing can take place.
The reason for the decision was an outbreak of the deadly rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) that could decimate the hare and rabbit populations in Ireland, as it has done in other parts of the world.
The minister's decision was not only commendable, but clearly unavoidable as the future of our iconic Irish hare is in the balance.
This animal is a sub-species of the mountain hare unique to Ireland.
It is a treasured part of our wildlife heritage, renowned in song and folklore and an animal that country folk love to see when they picnic or go walking.
Despite the enormous threat posed by the disease, however, some coursing fans are lobbying for a reversal of the minister's decision.
Those of us who care for the future of the Irish hare should urge the minister not to capitulate to this pressure.
Let's take a stand on behalf of our persecuted Irish hare. It has suffered for long enough.
(Campaign for the Abolition Of Cruel Sports), Callan, Co Kilkenny