The lady’s not for moving
Sir - I could not start my tractor on Monday last week, having previously used it some days before to shift some silage bales. Was the battery flat, was the starter stuck, had I a flat tyre? The answer to all these questions was no, it was due to something entirely different.
The answer was that I was being held to ransom and partially blackmailed by a particular 'lady'. Did I have a run-in with this 'lady', did I offend her in any way, was she in charge of a farm or other financial body that I owed money to, or a member of An Garda Siochana checking to see had I insurance or tax on said tractor? The answer once again was no to all these questions.
In fact, I had supplied this 'lady' with a meal on several occasions, on her arriving at my doorstep and looking very hungry. In fact, she brought some of her cousins on occasions to be fed, and they were always given a meal as well. So why, then, was she stopping me from using my tractor to do my farm work?
Well Mrs Thrush, as I later found out to be the name of my 'bird', was in fact after doing something to the starter of my tractor - she was after setting up and building her home on top of said starter. She was, of course, of the feathered variety and had laid three eggs in the nest, and this is what led to my dilemma.
On ringing the local conservation society, I was informed that they usually get one similar incidence each year, and perhaps I could use the tractor as long as it was left back in the same place and position, but it would be better if I could just leave it until Mrs Thrush had reared her family.
So I have had to borrow another tractor to do my farm tasks, while Mrs Thrush sits comfortably on her eggs in her home on my tractor, until her brood has hatched out and left their temporary home - and probably called with her to my doorstep to be given a meal as well.
I have been told since that it is a lucky omen having her build her nest in such a manner and place, but I wonder how many people would do as I have done and given up the use of their tractor for so many weeks just to accommodate a 'lady'?
Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo
Our law would sink 'Woodstein'
Sir - Declan Lynch (Sunday Independent, September 23) is, of course, right as far as he goes about how great Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein still are.
But what he omits is to mention one place in the democratic world where they would be anything but heroes, namely Ireland and its courts.
Back in late 1970s, it was famously said that if Watergate had happened in Ireland then Nixon would still be president but everybody would know who Deep Throat was.
And that is even more true today. Suppose for a moment that Woodward and/or Bernstein happened to mention an Irish citizen in something they wrote and then happened to be in Ireland. Assuming that citizen had the money, 'Woodstein' would be hauled before the courts for the horrendous libels committed by them.
The lawyers would both spend and take their time to go to extravagant lengths to tell what a great lad their client was and what a horrible libel Woodstein had committed against them.
And Woodstein's own reputation as the greatest reporters in American history?
Sorry, but the court would not even think about not thinking about it.
In Irish law there is simply no such thing as a good reporter.
The only question would be how many millions of copies of Woodward's Fear would equate in cash to how much damage had been done to somebody's reputation as far as the court was concerned.
A thought for Journalism Matters Week.
Turners Cross, Cork city
Sir - It appears Tommy Conlon has worries (Sport, Sunday Independent, September 23) - that this spinning, inflated golf-ball like orb we are all teeing up on might hit deep rough in future.
No fear Tommy, we are all safe as clubhouses... because the Tiger is back. What a story.
Tiger Woods winning the Tour Championship in East Lake, Atlanta, last weekend is a story of stories. As comebacks go, this is incredible. With serious personal issues, and a crippling back problem that at one point threatened his ability to walk comfortably, never mind play golf, Woods has shaken up the golfing world - again - with maybe his greatest triumph.
Coming from a ranking of 1,193 at the start of the year, he tees off now at 13 in the updated rankings.
That Tour Championship win was his 80th on the PGA tour. Sam Snead's record on 82, is surely reachable now. The five majors he needs to surpass Jack Nicklaus's 18, while still unlikely, is back on in the ball game, knowing this guy's ferocious competitive appetite.
Fitness will be key for Woods, as the magic is still there, it seems.
Slane, Co Meath
'No' voters without real representation
Sir - Wendy Grace's excellent but shocking article (No money to be had except for abortions, Sunday Independent, September 23) is certainly a very distressing and serious situation for the sick and terminally ill of this country.
Every taxpayer in the country must surely be asking the question: who gave our inexperienced Minister for Health the mandate to pledge taxpayers' money to fund abortions while the beleaguered health system is teetering on the brink of collapse?
This insightful article highlights how the 'undecided' were hoodwinked and misguided into going down the Yes route. In the run-up to the referendum, I watched every debate on television and followed arguments for both sides in print. It was blatantly clear from the outset that the rights of the unborn never stood a chance against two indomitable forces, politicians and the media, who conducted a ruthless and relentless campaign to have the Yes vote carried. However, it should be mentioned that Senator Ronan Mullen campaigned tirelessly to retain the Eighth Amendment.
In Ms Grace's article, she addressed the various disturbing issues with veracity and courage. Those who voted to retain the Eighth Amendment had no meaningful political or media representation: a chilling indictment of our democracy.
She refers to the future absence of the unique and unrepeatable person in the classroom. Nazi Germany springs to mind and the quest to have the perfect race.
Stranorlar, Co Donegal
Zero balance in referendum debate
Sir - While Willie Kealy (Sunday Independent, September 23) claims John Bruton 'seems unable to accept the result (of the abortion referendum)' he himself returns to the lie that the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar was due to the Eighth Amendment, when, in fact, three independent inquests confirmed she died from sepsis and dreadful medical neglect resulting in censure of individuals involved in the neglect she suffered.
Mr Kealy may see Health Minister Simon Harris as offering 'balance' by refusing to omit the three-day waiting period as set out in the proposed legislation, but he could have pointed out the irony of Dr Peter Boylan's request for its omission when he stated before the referendum that it was an important part of the legislation "which will allow women a time to reflect whether or not they want to proceed with the termination and that is to be welcomed".
Certainly balance is to be welcomed, but it would have been much more acceptable if it had occurred during the campaign, which instead consisted of an almost complete media support for repealing the Eighth Amendment and no proper examination of the many relevant points put forward by the pro-life campaign. It should be pointed out, too, that it was claimed the removal of the amendment would not result in an increase in abortions here but it is now confirmed this is not so.
As regards 'accepting the result of the referendum' those who sought to retain protection for unborn babies in our constitution can certainly not refrain from continuing to make every effort they can to prevent the killing of innocent babies in the womb for any reason and none. As someone who is totally against the death penalty and seeks to have it abolished, I have no intention of supporting it in the case of helpless babies in the womb and it is no harm to point out more than 700,000 people in Ireland agree, so Mr Kealy may expect to see other voices join Mr Bruton in speaking up for those with no voice.
At one time that would have been considered the compassionate thing to do but those who support abortion have tried to hijack the word 'compassion'. They have not succeeded, however, as there is no way deliberately killing a vulnerable, helpless baby can ever be seen as compassionate.
Doctor knows best
Sir - Contrary to Willie Kealy's belief (Dr Google won't help, Sunday Independent, September 23), pro-life people still abide by Dr Anthony Clare's time-honoured maxim 'Take your doctors' advice; it's the best medicine'. The clarion call prior to the referendum was 'Trust doctors and trust women'.
A physician's professional opinion should still be respected. We are regularly reminded a free press is essential to a democracy. Surely a provision not to coerce healthcare professionals to violate their principles is at least as equally important a factor.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
Loves of our lives
Sir - I just loved "The loves of my life" of TV presenter Kathryn Thomas (Sunday Independent, Life, September 16).
Please let me revisit a few with a few comments of my own:
1. The person: My gorgeous baby girl, Ellie.
2. The movie: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The big dumb Indian man in the hospital speaks to Jack Nicholson for the first time unwrapping his chewing gum and says "Juicy fruit" - pure magic.
3. The book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. "He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."
4. The hero: David Attenborough, a wonderful human being.
5. The pet hate: Judgmental people who don't know you - or, for that matter, who do.
6. The friend: I love all my friends, such a generous answer.
7. The piece of advice: There's always something else to learn - how very true.
8. The part of my body: My brain - a great answer from a beautiful woman.
9. The virtue: A sense of humour - now why does that not surprise me?
10. The memory: Meeting Ellie for the first time. "I had never felt anything like that surge of love before." Bravo Kathryn, bravo.
Glenties, Co Donegal
Sir - Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent, September 23) quite rightly pointed up the inexplicable silence of the lambs in The Irish Times regarding the appalling treatment of Mairia Cahill at the hands of Sinn Fein/IRA.
One wonders why the paper of record's famed sisterhood had no words of comfort for Ms Cahill or words of opprobrium for a blood-soaked organisation which harps on about civil and human rights ad nauseam as though they had never even heard of Mairia Cahill or, indeed, Jean McConville.
It is incredible to think that since she waived her anonymity as an IRA rape victim four years ago, Ms Cahill has, almost daily, been vilified, traduced and tormented by members of Sinn Fein, while leading Irish feminists turned a deaf ear or looked the other way. For shame.
The Coombe, Dublin 8
Little thought and love would go a long way
Sir - I am in my 60s and a separated woman and mother of three lovely children who are all married with children and with degree positions for which I am thankful.
I work full-time and I am pretty independent, but I love my children and grandchildren whom I never see.
This is probably because I left their dad - a good man, but one who had alcohol for his best friend.
I have been ill a lot of this summer but this is now behind me thank God, and one of my children visited once during this six-week period.
I lie here in bed awake most nights, as I find it difficult to sleep and I don't want to go down to the kitchen again and take a drink to try to sleep as I know it's only leading down a bad road.
Through my tears, my mind wanders back to my three darling children when they needed me and I am sad, those little people who cried in the darkness and whom, though exhausted, I jumped out of bed to soothe, hug or clean up sickness or medicate.
Now I am a forgotten nanny who never gets a call returned when I phone, maybe three days later, and that might be a text message which I hate. It's so banal - a quick text that they are very busy and have sleepless nights but will phone soon, which they never do. How I miss unconditional love and a big hug.
It was a hard slog for their dad and I to educate three, one after another, in university and to have to re-mortgage to get them there, but we were happy to do it. I write this because I have a lot of friends whom I go to tea with and many of my age feel the same and are also very perplexed as to what went wrong - we all treated our parents with reverence and got nothing in many cases, as there was no money for further education or any holidays abroad etc.
Is it our children got everything at our expense? That the children of the 90s have no respect for anything and expect everything given? I know life is busy for young parents and very demanding jobs are stressful, but a little thought and love would go a long way in appreciation of all the love and doing without we did when they were young.
Name and address with the Editor
They're laughing, but is he funny?
Sir - They're not laughing any more. Well, actually, yes they are. The laughter that greeted US President Donald Trump at the UN was unexpected and very unusual in such an august setting. His response - "Didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK" - suggests that he didn't realise what was so funny.
American politics has often been a rich source for comedians, as demonstrated hilariously by Tina Fey, who simply repeated the words of presidential running mate Sarah Palin. Some time spent on YouTube searching for funny speeches will provide many other examples, and it appears to be a worldwide phenomenon.
Humour comes in many forms, from prat falls through to insightful reflections on life. Perhaps the highest form is the use of complex speech and language as demonstrated by Danny Kaye or Groucho Marx.
The language of a president really shouldn't be funny.
It appears that, this time, the humour comes from a perceived disconnect between what is said and what is the reality. Claiming more than what is due is a standard characteristic of a politician, so that shouldn't be seen as unusual or funny. There is a need for both a speech-writer and a speech-checker to confirm the content.
It's time to go back to repeats of Seinfeld, which was a comedy about nothing, but, then again, so are many political speeches.