"Still round the corner there may wait / a new road or a secret gate, / And though we pass them by today / Tomorrow we may come this way / And take the hidden paths that run / Towards the Moon or to the Sun."
These captivating words of the great JRR Tolkien, from his timeless 'Lord of the Rings', led me to think about Scotland's opportunity today. The "new road" or "secret gate" to be travelled upon, or through, struck me as being applicable to post-independence Scotland.
Tolkien believed that for any individual to find himself and eventually fulfil his potential, he must leave his comfort zone and venture out into the world which will put him to the test. Staying put, clinging to what is perceived as a safe harbour, without ever spreading your wings, means that your true purpose in life will forever be obscured.
Tolkien's view of what it takes for an individual to fulfil his potential, and grow in strength and virtue, can be extrapolated upon to encompass a country. The restoration of independence is the new road that must be ventured on if Scotland is to come out of her shell, to find herself again and fulfil her potential.
I have been a long-time supporter of Scottish independence, as I do not believe that Scotland comes close to fulfilling her potential, either socially or economically, whilst being treated as a child of the British state. It is my great hope that Scotland votes Yes to independence today.
John B Reid
Monkstown, Co Dublin
It was reported at the time of the handover of Dublin Castle to Michael Collins, on behalf of the new Irish Free State government, that the Lord Lieutenant, Edmund FitzAlan, said: "You are seven minutes late Mr Collins."
He received the reply: "We've been waiting over 700 years, you can have the extra seven minutes."
Could it be that Collins then added, sotto voce, "Don't worry, we're not too pushed about this independence thing, we only want it for about 90 years", perhaps foreseeing a situation where the State, when trying to re-negotiate a deal on debt, would have to obtain the approval of 27 other states.
In the light of this precedent, maybe when they go to the polls today, the Scottish people can take solace in the fact that, even if they vote for independence, they will probably have the opportunity to change their minds somewhere down the line.
Navan, Co Meath
I always understood that Scotland belonged by right to the Scots. They lost their country and their language, but they could no more lose their right to their own country than their accent. This is their first real chance - in more than 300 years - to take back what always belonged to them, their own native land. The vote will show who is a Scot, and who is not.
Belcoo, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh
Now that Scotland is having its say, is it not time that we declare independence from Geldof and Bono?
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim
Perhaps the Brits could avoid what will doubtless be embittered and acrimonious fall-out from the 'Scottish Question'.
Whichever side should win by a minuscule majority could take a lesson from history by offering Alex Salmond the position of UK Prime Minister, in much the same way that 400 years ago James VI of Scotland was invited to become James I of the United Kingdom?
And should you doubt that any referendum between two evenly-matched and extremely passionate sides can be anything but acrimonious, just wait until the next referendum on abortion is held in Ireland.
Roger A Blackburn
Naul, Co Dublin
Ireland can show EU the way
I am an Italian teacher who, with three other colleagues of mine - Mrs Gaggiano, Mr Di Fiore and Mrs Occhionero - is in Ireland with 42 young students who want to improve their English following some lessons in an institute of your wonderful capital.
I followed, some days ago, a debate about Europe at the Italian Institute of Culture in Dublin (in the presence of the Ambassador Giovanni Adorni Braccesi and the journalist C. La Malfa) about how to overcome the crisis and build a new Europe made up of ideals, freedom and economic development.
I think there are two essential guidelines through whom the whole training process of this new Europe passes: the young people and the culture. And this is what happens in our experience in Dublin, where students and educators, both Italian and Irish, are sharing their history, tradition and culture in a peaceful and constructive way.
In my opinion using the tourist route to recognise and discover own identity, through cultural ideals and traditions that unite and not divide, is the better way.
This wonderful Joycean land, that collects all European feelings, should make us better appreciate the beauty and the culture of the world-unifying emotions, ways of feeling and seeing. The young people who would like to build the tomorrow Europe, the future Europe and the advanced Europe could do it with us.
San Marco in Lamis, Foggia, Italy
Positive side of Irish history
Mr John Bellew wrote (Letters, September 1): "By the time of the Famines, Ireland had been deforested and timber was at a premium. The only boat available to the inhabitants was the Curragh..."
I will respond to this generalisation with specific facts. In Kilmore, Co Wexford, men fished in conventional boats before, during and after the Famine. Their great problem was the tiny harbour there and there was a prolonged campaign involving landlords, Catholic and Protestant clergy, Catholic gentry, farmers and fishermen, to obtain funds from the Board of Works to build a better harbour. The Board had given money for harbours elsewhere.
In 1849, on the basis of funds from the Board of Works, work commenced on a new harbour in Kilmore; this later proved inadequate. All the eminent people involved believed that there was a cornucopia of wealth - the fish - off Kilmore coast. A large number of boats plied conventional trades off the south Wexford coast.
There was a forest of 1,500 statute acres at Killoughram, Co Wexford. It was leased to the Purdon brothers in 1862 - trees included! - at £160 a year; a rent later deemed excessive by a court. The Purdons made farm lands of it. The contemporary newspapers carried notices of regular timber auctions.
Research of the micro-details confounds the irredeemably gothic and apocalyptic scenarios of modern Irish history.
There is, indeed, trauma in Irish history but there is, conversely, a more positive aspect.
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford
The centre cannot hold FG
I was amused and baffled by Pascal Donohue's assertion that Fine Gael is a party "of the centre", unless he means that - on the political spectrum - Fine Gael lies in the centre between the Conservatives in the UK and the Republicans in the US.
In that case Fine Gael would indeed be "right" in the middle.
Crumlin, Dublin 12