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The Irish eyes of Vera Lynn

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Dame Vera Lynn circa 1940

Dame Vera Lynn circa 1940

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Dame Vera Lynn circa 1940

Sir - Your obituary last week of Dame Vera Lynn did not mention that her mother's people all came from Ireland.

Her stage name Lynn, which she substituted for her father's name of Welch, was the maiden name of the woman she described as her Irish gran.

That grandmother Margaret Lynn was, in fact, born in Liverpool of Irish parents and married Simon Martin, a Dublin-born gas stoker, Vera's grandfather.

The Martins were city folk, but the Lynns were from Dardistown in Co Dublin and were connected with Mooneys in those parts.

Does anyone know if she ever visited Ireland?

Charles Lysaght,

Merrion, Dublin 4

 

Widen the pool of political candidates

Sir - In order to avoid another prolonged government formation in a fragmented Dail, perhaps future ministers should be drawn from outside the Dail, which would also widen the pool of candidates.

The country is not served well in the selection of ministers by requiring them to be TDs who are in favour with the incoming Taoiseach, and also by having to adhere to calls for geographical and gender consideration.

Adhering to some of these aforementioned criteria led to Josepha Madigan - a non-Irish speaker - being appointed Minister for the Gaeltacht. If we want good government then we need to widen, rather than narrow, the pool of candidates.

John Kelly,

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

 

Case of hair today, gone tomorrow

Sir - Imagine the amount of hair that will fall on the floors of barber shops and hairdressers tomorrow? It will be a great 'wait' off our shoulders.

Eamonn Kitt,

Tuam, Co Galway

 

Salad days as old foes turn over a new leaf

Sir — John Dalberg-Acton said: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But it also seems to have healed a century-old rift between the two big beasts of politics in our country.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, not wanting to relinquish power, have joined together with the Green Party to govern for the next four-and-a-half years.

Can we say there are salad days ahead?

Ken Maher,

Kilcoole, Co Wicklow

 

We must help each other along road

Sir — One of the first gatherings of people in this country was last Sunday at the various garda barracks to pay our respects to Detective Garda Colm Horkan.

To be honest, I nearly didn’t go. My good wife convinced me otherwise. I’m so glad she did.

But I was feeling a little reluctant to join the crowds after three months. I think we’ve lost the habit of having other people in our lives — now we must get it back. We must help each other to move out of this strange lockdown.

Brian McDevitt,

Glenties, Co Donegal

 

Statue a reminder of brave survivors

Sir — Two years ago I watched survivors of the Magdalene laundries getting off buses to be greeted by the lord mayor and then brought into the Mansion House for a meal and an apology.

I stood at the top of Dawson Street outside my shop and my heart went out to those ladies to think of the abuse and torture they went through.

For a long time after that night I would walk down Baggot Street and get very upset when passing a statue of a religious sister. I thought about having a go at tearing it down, but I didn’t. As time went on my feelings changed — and instead of getting upset about the statue, it began to remind me of the criminal assaults on those survivors, and of those beautiful dignified ladies who had the courage to come back and tell the stories of the horrific abuses they had experienced.

I guess I’m writing this because of what’s going on with statues around the world. I think they should stay up — and allow everyone to have their own opinion, just as I have mine.

David Hennessy,

Dawson Street, Dublin 2

 

Luke would smile down at vandals

Sir — The vandalising of two statues of the late great Luke Kelly in recent days is sad to see. 

Leaving school at 13, the self- taught red-haired troubadour could hold a conversation in any company — be it priest or parson, prince or pauper.

Looking down at vandals and smiling in a kindly way, he might be heard to utter the immortal words “scorn not their simplicity, but rather try to love them all the more”.

The old proverb might apply here — a prophet is never fully respected in his own land.

Tom Towey,

Cloonacool, Co Sligo

 

O’Malley should be put on a pedestal

Sir — As statues have been very much in the news of late,  I think it is an opportune time to propose the erection of a statue to someone who did some good for his country — former education minister Donogh O’Malley.

His introduction in 1966 of free secondary education for all, together with a free transport system, revolutionised this country. Before this, the majority of Irish children left school at age 14.

O’Malley, a charismatic figure, carved out a place for himself in history and deserves to be honoured in bronze. The man from Corbally, Limerick, was a colossus amongst his peers. 

I say the time has come to honour the legacy of Donogh Brendan O’Malley — either in his native city or outside the Department of Education.

John MF Leonard,

Corbally, Limerick city

 

Tail wagging dog after Seanad poll

Sir — Back when we had the referendum as to whether we should retain the Seanad, the retain side put forward the argument that it should be retained and reformed.

What has been done since? Nothing and as a result important legislation cannot be enacted until the Taoiseach appoints his 11 senators.

Do politicians ever learn?  Why can’t the people have a say in who is elected to the Seanad rather than the elite few? Why can’t the Seanad be elected at the same time as the general election? Why can’t we have another referendum to get rid of the Seanad or at least reform it so the tail doesn’t wag the dog!

John Condon,

Silversprings, Clonmel

 

Dead hands won’t stop housing crisis

Sir — Tim Ryan’s article last week on the failed Kenny recommendations does not address why, after almost 50 years, not one of the relevant ministers has offered an explanation for this failure to do the obvious.

The magic figure for an affordable or social house could be €200k and achievable if Vat were scrapped and builders were offered free serviced state land.  But first you must deal with the dead hand of the legals in the Dail and their back-up — the legally loaded Seanad who are masters at holding things up.

Michael Foley,

Rathmines, Dublin 6

 

Teachers are being way too precious

Sir — Am I alone in being stupefied listening to the interviews with the representatives of the various teachers’ unions?

I hear them ‘concerned’ about the safety of their members returning to teaching in September when the pandemic is still an unknown landscape. As many members of my family and many friends have worked unstintingly in the frontline during this pandemic without moaning, I wonder at the preciousness of the teachers.

M Crowley,

Co Cork

 

Posters should be  put up in libraries

Sir — I wish to compliment the Sunday Independent for issuing those three colourful, bilingual posters in association with Ionad Naisiunta Sonrai Bitheagsulachta (National Biodiversity Data). I think they would be an educational attraction in any classroom, library or information centre.

I look forward to the Sunday Independent every week, especially in times of restriction. Last week we got a great write-up on one of my Corkonian favourites, Roy Keane, and wonderful features on Micheal O Muircheartaigh and his GAA memoirs. There were also features on the two Byrne greats, Gabriel and Gaybo.

The Sunday Indo is the cosy highlight of my Sundays in quiet solitude with a creamy cappuccino!

Ni cheannodh or suaimhneas agus scealta o bheal an scealai...

Eilis Ui Bhriain,

Caislean Ui Liathain, Co Chorcai

 

Black brother I won’t forget

Sir — With all the disturbances in the past few weeks with the killing of black men in the USA, it made me think back to when I saw my first black man in my native town. He was a vet and he came to Ballyhaunis many years ago to help out a local vet with the TB testing of cattle.

The first time I saw him I stood in amazement — as it was my first time to meet a black man face to face.

Of course I had seen pictures of black people in papers and in magazines like The Far East and Messenger, and indeed in later years I contributed many, many times to charities supporting children in need in Africa, suffering with river blindness, from drought and so on, and also to support Irish missionaries. That was the Irish experience of that time.

While very young, back in High Infants, the nuns had cards with all our names and there were 50 little circles and every time we brought in a penny we could stick a pin in a circle until all the holes were pricked — and then we could put a name on a child in Africa and he or she would become our brother or sister.

It was not easy for a country boy like myself to get a penny, and the children of the doctors, shopkeepers, teachers and lawyers would have their cards filled first. But I persevered — by which I mean I personally tortured my poor parents until eventually I got my card filled in — and got a brother in Africa whom I called John.

The Irish missionary work in Africa has now turned full circle — and partly thanks to them we now have black priests administering in so many Irish parishes, due to the scarcity of vocations in this country. And that is the Irish experience of today.

But I will never forget my black brother John and hope he had a good life. My dream is that maybe one of his descendants is one of the priests now helping out in one of our dioceses in Ireland.

Murt Hunt,

Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo

 

Economic ideology isn’t fit for purpose

Sir — Michael Noonan is a decent and honourable man who believes he and his government did a good job following the economic collapse of 2008. Probably the vast majority of Irish people believe likewise. He did save the country from financial meltdown, though an enormous price was paid.

It is commonly understood that the period since is spectacular “recovery”. But I disagree. I believe our experience since 2008 is much better described as “remission” — a period when the patient feels and looks much better due to a large dosage of soothing medication which temporarily keeps the worst aspects of  malady at bay, but does nothing to cure the core disease.

So it is with global economics and Covid-19 has stripped away the pretence of healthy economic progress and shown the frailty and inadequacy of a system that is simply not fit for purpose.

Though no one will admit it, Covid-19 is proving a welcome escape for politicians and economists who were failing bitterly to sustain the “growth” principle in a world that, thanks to technology, no longer needs relentless growth.

It’s surely obvious that our only hope is to change the ideology. The solution must include moving from “growth” economics with priorities of constantly increasing output, to “sufficiency” economics with priorities of distributing wealth to all as equitably and securely as possible.

It is of little consequence what government we have, or if we have any at all. If economic ideology does not change from growth to sufficiency, much more traumatic times, than the present, are inevitable. Sufficiency economics would also alleviate almost overnight most of the problems with climate change and pollution.

I know that all this is not what people — politicians and economists especially — want to hear. Most want to think we are on the right path and eternal prosperity is just around the corner. Often I appear to be in a minority of one.

The tragedy is that long-lasting prosperity is within our grasp — if we would just turn the corner between growth and sufficiency. For me, the truth is we must change economic ideology to accommodate technological achievement.

Padraic Neary,

Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

 

Love will always conquer racism

Sir — Thank you for your recent articles on racist slurs. I enclose a poem which I wrote for my brother, which is again relevant in these days.

A Target

Brought home from the orphanage,

Sat in a buggy,

You turn to inspect us.

Eighteen months old,

small for your age,

Brown frightened eyes,

curly black hair,

Light chocolate skin, timid, quiet,

Check coat with velvet collar.

 

Showers of love as my siblings and I

Fought to take care of you.

A neighbour calls you n****r.

Darts in our hearts when you ask

Could you wear a long-sleeved shirt?

As your skin darkens with the sun.

School was difficult too,

A butt for pupils’ mockery,

We could not shield you always.

 

Grown up now, demons eradicated,

Live abroad amongst all races,

Found your niche,

No longer a dart-board.

“Love conquers all”.

Evelyn Nolan Dowling,

address with editor

 

Brolly wrong to bash GAA stars

Sir — I would take issue with comments made by Joe Brolly last Sunday about GAA players needing to be more outspoken and using their influence for the common good.  

There were many examples during the lockdown of clubs and players helping their communities. I think our GAA players have always stood up and can be proud of the contribution they have made — on and off the field.

Richard Holden,

Maynooth, Co Kildare

Sunday Independent