Magic of puppet masters
Sir - The news that the Lambert Puppet Theatre is to close, though sad, stirred a few happy memories for me of childhood days watching Wanderly Wagon after getting home from school.
I loved the storylines and took the immense talent of the puppeteers and the professionalism of the human cast for granted - as we all tend to do at that age.
Judge was wise and his words always carried weight, but Mr Crow played his part, too, intervening uninvited in the mini-dramas to everyone's annoyance and distraction, and Mr Fox lived up to his name as a wily observer of life in general.
There was always a moral in the story, something for young minds to mull over if it caught their attention, but a feature that held me enthralled was the Magic Machine. Located on the side of the Wagon, you just pulled a lever and anything you wanted emerged from it. I waited with bated breath whenever O'Brien (the late, great Eugene Lambert, pictured with Judge, below) called forth the latest gift. It was a bit like an ATM machine but infinitely better, because that only gives you money, which, though useful, isn't everything in life.
Puppetry isn't as popular as it once was - though I wonder sometimes if most of us are being manipulated like puppets by powerful people who make the big decisions about how we live, where we live, and the futures we can expect.
Unlike the puppets that the Lamberts created, we human puppets would be happier if we could retain control over our own destinies and not be at the mercy of faceless institutions that may not have our best interests at heart.
A lot of us in today's Ireland would be happier if we knew who was pulling the strings!
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Vote, vote, vote for a new Marty Party
Sir - Soon it will be easier to declare who is not running for president than who is! We are likely to have a bigger field than the Rose of Tralee.
You can see the attraction: free parking in central Dublin, excellent accommodation and well within walking distance to the shops and easy Luas access. What's not to like?
A pick-and-mix of candidates are declaring. We have a number of faces from reality TV. So when will we get a Fair City actor?
We may even get Marty Morrissey to consider the Aras. His energy, enthusiasm and his ability to deliver a well-constructed GAA anecdote may well appeal to the electorate.
I like to imagine President Marty hosting a state dinner for the Queen of England and regaling her with an account of the Dublin/Meath replays from 1991. I see a fascinated President Trump, riveted as Marty explains the leadership qualities that Ger Loughnane displayed in Clare.
Who knows what other surprise candidates are in store? Daniel O'Donnell, Twink, the cast of Ros na Run?
Mount Green, Limerick
The Aras? Only wealthy need apply
Sir - Sometimes a collective moment of clarity comes as a relief. Just think of that child who dared to say, " but the Emperor has no clothes on".
So now I'm calling for people to fix our presidency and the way we select candidates for the office - or else to boycott it. After all, we only came up with this presidency thing because a Republic (a word battered beyond all recognition) should have a nominal head of state. And now we pretend it's all democratic and "above politics".
Hmm. Is that why we made it that only politicians can nominate a candidate? Though an incumbent only needs their own nomination to re-run - a nice touch.
Apparently we only need rich people. If you're young (under 35) you can't do this job. We need grey, sensible, rich, respectable people. They'll impress the world with their youthful dynamism.
I'll fire in a name - just to start things off. How about Joanne O'Riordan? Young, fun, smart, representative of us - now that would give middle-aged, institutionalised politicians something to worry about.
Unfair criticism of Catholic Church
Sir -The recent visit of the Pope seemed to incense those hostile to the Catholic Church. And they made much capital of the sad history of the mother and baby homes, and the industrial schools. It was forgotten that these unfortunate people were sent there with the blessing of the Irish State and the support of most of society. What do they say about people in glass houses?
John Farrell, The Derries, Edenderry, Offaly
It's time to stop the blame game
Sir - In the past, there was a stigma attached to any woman who had a baby out of wedlock.
Rather than have shame brought on their families, the parents of these unfortunate women invariably banished their pregnant daughters to England or to a mother and baby home run by a religious order.
The State failed abysmally to oversee how those homes were run and various abuses occurred. In apportioning blame for these abuses, the religious orders and wider Catholic Church took all the blame. That blame should be apportioned in equal measure to the parents of these unfortunate women, the State which failed to oversee what went on in the homes, and the religious orders who ran the homes. However, that was not the case.
We cannot lay the blame for what happened in those homes on Katherine Zappone. She was not involved at the time. So let us be consistent and not apportion blame to Pope Francis as he was not involved either.
However, Minister Zappone, as Minister for Children, has allowed a situation to develop where there are 3,824 children homeless. That is a shameful statistic. Over the years, the State has failed the Irish people miserably and continues to do so - regardless of who is in power.
Midleton, Co Cork
Shop local to save rural communities
Sir - The Minister for Communications is correct in his claim that the excursions undertaken to megastores is causing the decline of rural Ireland and the closure of many post offices around the country.
Many of those people who drive past the local greengrocer to go to the megastores are among those cut from the same cloth who would blame the Government for the brain drain and lack of services in rural Ireland, including the closure of our local post offices.
This bears a stark resemblance to those who took to the streets in vehement protest against paying a minimal charge for water service while simultaneously willingly paying for digital TV bundles, scratch cards and 20 Silk Cut.
This country manifests clear hypocrisy, a sense of entitlement and the unwavering desire of not wanting to pay our way. This claim of entitlement is a scourge on our society. Shame on those who do not support their own
Take the plunge to change your life
Sir - How quickly the summer has passed. I have been addicted to the joy of swimming in the sea for the last 40-odd years. I love open-water swimming. I am passionate about its life-changing effect on body and soul.
No matter what age, a refreshing dip in the sea does absolute wonders for one's mental health. The ocean really does offer much more than just simple exercise. It offers moments that border on the spiritual. The physical and psychological benefits of a plunge into the cold Irish seas are beyond compare. There's a definite sense of leaving all your problems behind on shore. But do remember to take care, the ocean is the boss.
Brian McDevitt, Glenties, Co Donegal
Make them take tents back home
Sir - When I saw pictures of what was left behind by the attendees at the Electric Picnic festival, I felt that it was a shame that young people know nothing about the scarcity of resources.
With the housing crisis getting worse, they should keep in mind that their tents might solve their own potential homeless problem in the near future.
So why not get them to pay a deposit for the site on which they pitch their tents, which they could claim back on exit - if still in possession of their tent.
I wouldn't say the promoters might favour this policy but it should be mandatory... hitting them in the pocket always seems to work.
Hail Dublin's GAA city slickers
Sir - Just to let you know that a very big (but silent) majority of "culchie" football fans absolutely rave about this Dublin outfit, both players and management.
Yes, they have huge opposition from other sports.
Yes, they have a large number of clubs, and, I know first hand, the effort put in by volunteers.
Rural clubs visit their city colleagues to learn from them. These clubs are entitled to their percentage of grants, and, hence the amount given to Dublin GAA.
Why is the city's hurling team not winning even one in a row? Not good enough, at least not yet anyway, but great coaching is going on at under-age level in that game, too.
We would only be jealous, here in Tipp, of the city set up, of their commitment, of their skill, of their management, and especially, of their humility.
More luck to them. Hope they get the five - as long as we get the one after that.
Michael Teehan, Moyglass, Tipperary
Fond farewell to broadcaster Lyster
Sir - What a moving sight, last Sunday, to see Michael Lyster on his last All-Ireland broadcast. He was his usual, smiling self but underneath he must have been heartbroken to be leaving a programme that he has graced for many years.
He was always a very fair, and impartial host, and often gave time to the panel members, to give their verdicts on the various matches - and if they were getting close to an argument, Michael would say "let's move on from there".
Although he was a Galway man through and through, he could be seen to have time for all the counties in their quest for Sam. It was interesting to hear, that as a reporter for a newspaper as a young man, he only went for an interview at RTE for the craic, as he said himself, and to have a look around Croke Park.
Well, on getting the job, he got to look around Croke Park many times in the intervening years, and became part and parcel of so many GAA championship matches.
Best of luck on your retirement, Michael. We will miss your football knowledge, cheerful personality and panache.
Murt Hunt, Co Mayo
Politicians need less pay and more work
Sir - I was delighted to see that Karen Bradley, the UK's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has cut the salaries of politicians in that region.
Now they may get some work done and represent the people who put them there in the first place!
Kilcoole, Co Wicklow
John McHenry is a true champion
Sir - Compliments to Paul Kimmage on his excellent writing on golfer John McHenry (Sunday Independent, September 2). As always, it was of the highest standard and personal in approach and style.
However, even higher congratulations to John McHenry who clearly represents the integrity that is expected within the game of golf.
Anyone who has observed McHenry over the years - on the course or in the commentary box - will acknowledge that he is as genuine today as he obviously was when calling that penalty stroke on himself all those years ago in Douglas Golf Club.
In Ireland we embrace and hold our sportspeople in high esteem. Golf has provided us with many memorable moments. This story shows the opposite end of the scale.
Professional golf, for all its glory and financial reward to the elite, is a tough sport. John McHenry's story highlights the impact of good and not-so-good choices, and perhaps naively expecting the best of others in business. But having an idea that he was clearly passionate about not fairly dealt with by the European Tour is a black mark on the game of golf. Ireland is not without influence at the highest level of golf, which makes this harder to understand.
McHenry clearly has a lot to add to the game. His commentary is always insightful and informative and he understands the need for golf to change and be more attractive for a changing demographic. I hope he will find that niche within the sport he deserves.
In a sport where success is often measured in titles, by his behaviour John McHenry is every much a major champion as some our more famous golfers. I expect not much has changed from that teenager who made his father proud many years ago. I wish him success in the future and continued good health for him, Sylvia and family.
Kilcock, Co Kildare
Statistics reveal global abortion toll
Sir - In his opinion piece 'In losing our religion we've finally found our soul' (Sunday Independent, September 2), Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland declares that, among other recent developments, the repeal of the Eighth Amendment shows Ireland has become a "sudden light for progressive action in a world which so often appears to be heading in the opposite direction".
I agree with Mr O'Gorman that Ireland is now undergoing rapid and welcome changes of attitude on several fronts - such as the appeals to Pope Francis to deal urgently with the perpetrators of abuses in the Catholic Church. However, I cannot agree that the introduction of abortion on demand into Ireland is a positive change. Despite the decisive majority in favour of repeal in the recent referendum, abortion remains what it is - the killing of unborn human life.
It is sobering to ponder the statistics of abortion on demand. A Guttmacher Institute worldwide report from March 2018 estimates that 25pc of all pregnancies are aborted and that, over the period 2010 to 2014, there were 56 million induced abortions per year.
The World Health Organisation reports 56.4 million deaths from all causes worldwide for 2015. So worldwide we are now killing as many human beings before they leave the womb as die from all causes outside the womb. How could anybody, least of all the director of a body tasked with defending human rights, think these statistics are "progressive"?
Prof William Reville, Waterfall, Co Cork