Sunday, September 15, 2019


In times of doubt as a European I often turn to John Hume’s December 10, 1998 Nobel Lecture – when the 1998 Peace Prize was bestowed on him and David Trimble – to reaffirm my belief in the European ideal, and faith in its intentions. We miss enormously, at this juncture in our history, his, David Trimble’s, Mo Mowlam’s, Ian Paisley’s and Martin McGuinness’ pragmatism and ability to surmount the intransigence of centuries with a common-sense approach to solutions, to finding a pathway to sustainable peace. 
To paraphrase another speech of Hume's, the recidivist approach of Boris Johnson and the DUP, in beating the drum of Brexit, to the accomplishments, to the negotiated construct of the Good Friday Agreement, is about principles compromised and not principled compromise.

Your Majesties, Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Excellencies, Ladies
and Gentlemen.

I would like to begin by expressing my deep appreciation and gratitude to the Nobel committee for bestowing this honour on me today. I am sure that they share with me the knowledge that, most profoundly of all, we owe this peace to the ordinary people of Ireland, particularly those of the North who have lived and suffered the reality of our conflict. I think that David Trimble would agree with me that this Nobel prize for peace which names us both is in the deepest sense a powerful recognition from the wider world of the tremendous qualities of compassion and humanity of all the people we represent between us.

In the past 30 years of our conflict there have been many moments of deep depression and outright horror. Many people wondered whether the words of W.B Yeats might come true,

 “Too long a sacrifice Can make a stone of the heart.”

Endlessly our people gathered their strength to face another day and they never stopped encouraging their leaders to find the courage to resolve this situation so that our children could look to the future with a smile of hope. This is indeed their prize and I am convinced that they understand it in that sense and would take strong encouragement from today’s significance and it will powerfully strengthen our peace process.

Today also we commemorate and the world commemorates the adoption 50 years ago of the Universal declaration of Human Rights and it is right and proper, that today is also a day that is associated internationally with the support of peace and work for peace because the basis of peace and stability, in any society, has to be the fullest respect for the human rights of all its people. It is right and proper that the European Convention of Human Rights is to be incorporated into the domestic law of our land as an element of the Good Friday Agreement.

In my own work for peace, I was very strongly inspired by my European experience. I always tell this story, and I do so because it is so simple yet so profound and so applicable to conflict resolution anywhere in the world. On my first visit to Strasbourg in 1979, as a member of the European Parliament, I went for a walk across the bridge from Strasbourg to Kehl. Strasbourg is in France. Kehl is in Germany. They are very close. I stopped in the middle of the bridge and I meditated. There is Germany. There is France. If I had stood on this bridge 30 years ago after the end of the second world war when 25 million people lay dead across our continent for the second time in this century and if I had said: “Don’t worry. In 30 years’ time we will all be together in a new Europe, our conflicts and wars will be ended and we will be working together in our common interests”, I would have been sent to a psychiatrist. 

But it has happened and it is now clear that European Union is the best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution and it is the duty of everyone, particularly those who live in areas of conflict to study how it was done and to apply its principles to their own conflict resolution.

All conflict is about difference, whether the difference is race, religion or nationality. The European visionaries decided that difference is not a threat, difference is natural. Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace – respect for diversity.

The peoples of Europe then created institutions which respected their diversity – a Council of Ministers, the European Commission and the European Parliament – but allowed them to work together in their common and substantial economic interest. They spilt their sweat and not their blood and by doing so broke down the barriers of distrust of centuries and the new Europe has evolved and is still evolving, based on agreement and respect for difference.

That is precisely what we are now committed to doing in Northern Ireland. Our Agreement, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people, creates institutions which respect diversity but ensure that we work together in our common interest. Our Assembly is proportionately elected so that all sections of our people are represented. Any new administration or government will be proportionately elected by the members of the Assembly so that all sections will be working together. There will be also be institutions between both parts of Ireland and between Britain and Ireland that will also respect diversity and work the common ground. Once these institutions are in place and we begin to work together in our very substantial common interests, the real healing process will begin and we will erode the distrust and prejudices of out past and our new society will evolve, based on agreement and respect for diversity. The identities of both sections of our people will be respected and there will be no victory for either side.

We have also had enormous solidarity and support from right across the world, which has strengthened our peace process. We in Ireland appreciate this solidarity and support – from the United States, from the European Union, from friends around the world – more than we can say. The achievement of peace could not have been won without this goodwill and generosity of spirit. We should recall too on this formal occasion that our Springtime of peace and hope in Ireland owes an overwhelming debt to several others who devoted their passionate intensity and all of their skills to this enterprise: to the Prime Ministers,Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, to the President of the United States of America Bill Clinton and the European President Jacques Delors and Jacques Santer and to the three men who so clearly facilitated the negotiation, Senator George Mitchell former Leader of the Senate of the United States of America, Harri Holkerri of Finland and General John de Chastelain of Canada. And, of course, to our outstanding Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam.

We in Ireland appreciate this solidarity and support – from the United States; from the European Union, from friends around the world – more than we can say. The achievement of peace could not have been won without this good will and generosity of spirit. Two major political traditions – share the Island of Ireland. We are destined by history to live side by side. Two representatives of these political traditions stand here today. We do so in shared fellowship and a shared determination to make Ireland, after the hardship and pain of many years, a true and enduring symbol of peace.

Too many lives have already been lost in Ireland in the pursuit of political goals. Bloodshed for political change prevents the only change that truly matter: in the human heart. We must now shape a future of change that will be truly radical and that will offer a focus for real unity of purpose: harnessing new forces of idealism and commitment for the benefit of Ireland and all its people.

Throughout my years in political life, I have seen extraordinary courage and fortitude by individual men and women, innocent victims of violence. Amid shattered lives, a quiet heroism has born silent rebuke to the evil that violence represents, to the carnage and waste of violence, to its ultimate futility. I have seen a determination for peace become a shared bond that has brought together people of all political persuasions in Northern Ireland and throughout the island of Ireland.

I have seen the friendship of Irish and British people transcend, even in times of misunderstanding and tensions, all narrower political differences. We are two neighbouring islands whose destiny is to live in friendship and amity with each other. We are friends and the achievement of peace will further strengthen that friendship and, together, allow us to build on the countless ties that unite us in so many ways.

The Good Friday Agreement now opens a new future for all the people of Ireland. A future built on respect for diversity and for political difference. A future where all can rejoice in cherished aspirations and beliefs and where this can be a badge of honour, not a source of fear or division.

The Agreement represents an accommodation that diminishes the self-respect of no political tradition, no group, no individual. It allows all of us – in Northern Ireland and throughout the island of Ireland – to now come together and, jointly, to work together in shared endeavour for the good of all. No-one is asked to yield their cherished convictions or beliefs. All of us are asked to respect the views and rights of others as equal of our own and, together, to forge a covenant of shared ideals based on commitment to the rights of all allied to a new generosity of purpose. That is what a new, agreed Ireland will involve. That is what is demanded of each of us.

The people of Ireland, in both parts of the island, have joined together to passionately support peace. They have endorsed, by overwhelming numbers in the ballot box, the Good Friday Agreement. They have shown an absolute and unyielding determination that the achievement of peace must be set in granite and its possibilities grasped with resolute purpose.

It is now up to political leaders on all sides to move decisively to fulfil the mandate given by the Irish people: to safeguard and cherish peace by establishing agreed structures for peace that will forever remove the underlying causes of violence and division on our island. There is now, in Ireland, a passionate sense of moving to new beginnings.

I salute all those who made this possible: the leaders and members of all the political parties who worked together to shape a new future and to reach agreement; the Republican and Loyalist movements who turned to a different path with foresight and courage; people in all parts of Ireland who have led the way for peace and who have made it possible.

And so, the challenge now is to grasp and shape history: to show that past grievances and injustices can give way to a new generosity of spirit and action. I want to see Ireland – North and South – the wounds of violence healed, play its rightful role in a Europe that will, for all Irish people, be a shared bond of patriotism and new endeavour. I want to see Ireland as an example to men and women everywhere of what can be achieved by living for ideals, rather than fighting for them, and by viewing each and every person as worthy of respect and honour. I want to see an Ireland of partnership where we wage war on want and poverty, where we reach out to the marginalised and dispossessed, where we build together a future that can be as great as our dreams allow.

The Irish poet, Louis MacNiece wrote words of affirmation and hope that seem to me to sum up the challenges now facing all of us – North and South, Unionist and Nationalist – in Ireland.

“By a high star our course is set, Our end is life. Put out to sea.”

That is the journey on which we in Ireland are now embarked.

Today, as I have said, the world also commemorates the adoption fifty years ago, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To me there is a unique appropriateness, a sort of poetic fulfilment, in the coincidence that my fellow Laureate and I, representing a community long divided by the forces of a terrible history, should jointly be honoured on this day. I humbly accept this honour on behalf of a people who, after many years of strife, have finally made a commitment to a better future in harmony together. Our commitment is grounded in the very language and the very principles of the Universal Declaration itself. No greater honour could have been done me or the people I speak here for on no more fitting day.

I will now end with a quotation of total hope, the words of a former Laureate, one of my great heroes of this century, Martin Luther King Jr.

We shall overcome.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


First Day of Issue from my childhood stamp collection. 

At around 20.17hrs UTC (Coordinated Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time) on the 20th July 1969 I watched as the Eagle lunar module from Apollo 11 touched down in the Sea of Tranquility crater. We were watching this live on television in Myrtleville, Cork and were then packed off to bed about midnight as the moon walk was not scheduled to take place until after the crew had had 4 hours rest and then taken another 3 hours for their pre-module exit preparation protocols.

Near Side Moon Landing Sites (adapted from National Geographic Magazine 07.2019)
and US Postal Service Commemorative "Forever/USA" Stamps (19.07.19)

Thus the walk was scheduled for about 08.00 Irish Summer Time (1 hour later than UTC) in the morning, a perfect time for Irish TV viewers. However, as it transpired, Armstrong decided he did not need a rest (last thing I'd imagine any of us would insist on having just landed on the moon) and having initiated the 3 hour preparation schedule was ready to exit the module at about 02.39 UTC (03.39 Irish Summer Time). My father, who had stayed up, hauled us out of bed and the grainy images on a dodgy tv, subject to terrible atmospherics, became the centre of the universe for all of us. The wonderment and the possibilities of human achievement have remained with me since. 

My Grandson Leon looking up at the site of the Shackleton Crater
on southern pole of the moon where lunar space base is
planned to be situated, allowing staging point for trip to Mars.

JFK promised the world he would get a man on the moon and was even prepared to share this endeavour with the Russians.

DJT does not want to go back to the moon (..or maybe  he does since after all the moon apparently is a part of Mars!!!), but whether he does or he doesn't (have a moon bone in his body!) he doesn't really want to share the experience with anybody beyond the US border fence (even if the EU are already shipping components for the necessary Mars staging moon base planned for the Shackleton Crater on lunar south pole) because of "Defence" concerns. I suspect, given the marketing opportunity even if not "Science" he would be prepared to have a Trump International resort flag planted near where Alan Shepard, on the Apollo 14 moon landing mission, hit two golf balls with a modified Wilson 6-iron.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Monastery Cells up against the west wall of Koroni Castle Keep looking north

Rihla (The Journey) – was the short title of a 14th Century (1355 CE) book written in Fez by the Islamic legal scholar Ibn Jazayy al-Kalbi of Granada who recorded and then transcribed the dictated travelogue of the Tangerian, Ibn Battuta. The book’s full title was A Gift to Those who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling and somehow the title of Ibn Jazayy's book captures the ethos of many of the city and country journeys I have been lucky to take in past years. 

This Rihla is about the verve and vertigo of history in a place that Venice once called (along with Modon/Methoni) one of the “eyes” of the Republic.
I like going into Mediterranean ports for the first time, particularly those where you descend off the escarpment, down into the folds and history of the shoreline, where at the last moment a port reveals itself. Many of the old ports are really old, surviving both coastal piracy and the politics of millennia that drove people inland… or away. Oftentimes for me the arrival is like opening a new jar of honey: the smell is familiar but the scent or sense is different: a different flower, a different pasture, a different experience. More intense nowadays, that I have laid aside my pipe after 40 years of puffing. Where ports are concerned the aroma from the quaysides of café’s and drying nets, of freshly caught and cooked fish, of the local olive oil seem to differ slightly (in Koroni’s case the famous eponymous Koroneike variety), of local tobacco sometimes; a difference created by the intersection of soil, vegetation, sea, wind and human toil. 
Coronelli's map showing Venetian bombardment of Coron (Koroni) castle in 1685. The village sketches down the North west slope to the port.

Koroni’s quays are one of those that are somewhat difficult to access. You descend a single-lane, narrow arteriole of road to wind round its heart, the small church square (The Church of Agios Dimitrios), which at any moment could be plugged by the fibrillation of a punctured tyre, the atheroma of a dodgy fish or watermelon truck, or a flushed faced driver in determined lederhosen. 

Koroni town is pretty, its lanes part cobbled and slated, with rustic sienna tile atop layers of white washed houses cascading from the acropolis to the sea. There is also a newness, that is unexpected, the illusion created by the rebuilding of the town over centuries following recurrent seismic shifts and the application of whitewash. 
Koroni town from the north west

On the quays of Koroni the fishermen – of Eos, the dawn Goddess and mother of the Winds – have returned to port in the morning twilight and having discharged their catch, and checked their nets and long–lines have retired to an off quay café for breakfast, before heading home to sleep.  The main street, the Periklis Rallis Street, running east to west is mostly in shadow, with traditional cut-throat wielding barbers and baklava bakers, craft makers and banks, supermarkets and café’s all plying their trade in a street that is 100m at most. And also there one building demolished behind hording, perhaps a reminder of impermanence from the last earthquake.

The North Gate and Fisherman's Cottage

Southern Walls of Koroni Castle- the Vertigo

Predrag Matvejevic wrote in his seminal Mediterranean – A cultural Landscape that there are places in the Mediterranean where,
    “…ecstasy and sacrifice derive from more  than beauty
     or despair, where there is a   verve at work, a vertigo,
     that the Mediterranean dares not name and that 
     the maps too pass over in silence.”
This is my sense of the port of Koroni, or as Matvejevic would have it, a limen autophyés, a self-occurring harbour, created by the “will of the sea”. It is also a sloping, white-walled, narrow-passaged spill-over of a town from within what was once the sanctuary of the outer ward of the acropolis above, tumbling seawards to nestle on the north-western slopes of a promontory that juts bullwarked into the Messenian Gulf. It is a location that provides shelter from sudden summer Sirocco storms … and the vertigo
Map of Koroni Castle

Above the town, an acropolis reached by passing an immaculate white-washed house draped in vukamvilia (bougainvillea) and a white bearded net-mending old man of the sea in a Lacoste tee-shirt, is the theatre of “ecstasy and sacrifice”, where Mycenaean, Lacedaemonians, Dryoponian, Messenian, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish (1205), Venetian (1207-1500, 1685 -1715), Ottoman (1500-1685, 1715-1828), Knights of St John, Spanish (1532), Algerian, Austrian, French, Arvanite, Greek Independent and German World War II memories dissolve into the cracks in the masonry. It is an acropolis where salvation and sacrifice co-existed. There is a sense that it is as it always has been, solid, immutable, defined. But not so! The solidity of the Venetian and Ottoman walls surrounding the town’s acropolis belie the topographical enigma of Cornoeae/Corone/Coron/ Koroni etymology over time and makes you wonder whether its fluid identity meant it was determined to be forgotten, to be left alone.

The small Byzantine church of S. Sophia built on the North apse of the older basilica.
The church and former mosque of Agios Haralambos in background

According to Pausanias 2ndCentury Description of Greece (IV 34. 4-6) ancient Corone (near the port of modern Petalidi) was originally called Aepeia, one of the seven cities promised by Agamemnon to Achilles for taking part in the Trojan campaign (Homer II. IX.152). In 371 BCE, following the expulsion of the Spartans and re-establishment of the Messenian kingdom, Aepeia was repopulated by the oikist Epimelides, and renamed Coronea, after the oikist’s home village in Boeotia. According to Pausanias, who was able to visit Epimelides tomb 500 years later, the settlement became known as Corone instead of Coronea because the locals did not pronounce it right or because a bronze cow (korone) was found when digging the foundations. It became part of the Achaean League (by conquest) and then part of Rome’s province of Achaea following defeat of the League in 146 BC. 

Modern Koroni, on the other hand, the town and castle seen today on a promontory on the SE of the Messenian peninsula was originally called Asine having been populated by people of Dryoponian descent (from the descendants of Dryops, a mortal son of Apollo). This tribe, originally from the Sperkheois valley in Thessaly, had migrated first to Southern Euboea but then were enslaved (by Hercules!) and offered to the Apollo shrine at Delphi. They were subsequently allowed to establish at Asine in the Argolis but here their luck also ran out. The original Asine was destroyed by the Argives and following the Spartan annexation of Messenia in the late 8th/ early 7thcentury BCE the Dyroponians were offered re-settlement at neo-Asine (the modern site of Koroni castle and town) in Messenia. Here they established a shrine to Apollo and also a sanctuary of Dryops, where the mysteries were held every second year, on the hill summit above the town and were allowed to remain in situ even when Sparta was expelled from Messenia in 371 BCE.
The tiny cell of the Monk Theodoulos

Following Pausanias’ visit to Messene, Corone and Asine (Koroni) the territory appears to be have enjoyed a long period of relative isolation. Then, in 395 CE Messenia became part of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire and shortly afterwards, in 397CE with the Visigoths, and continuing with the Slavic and Avar invasions of Messenia in the early 6thcentury, and most acutely with the coastal piracy raids by militant Arabs in the mid-7thcentury on a poorly defensible port, ancient Corone appears to have suffered repeated traumas. It is most likely that the people of ancient Corone at this point abandoned their own town and moved south 24 km to the acropolis of the more defensible site and port of Asine, which may or may not have been deserted, and taking their ancient name with them applied it to the new settlement. Much of their previous history, the history of ancient Corone is held in the archaeological museum in Kalamata today. 

Shortly after the migration from ancient Corone, in the mid-8thcentury, the Byzantine Empress Irene’s chief minister Staurakios subdued the Slav’s and a re-Hellenisation and Byzantine re-building of the Messenian peninsula begun.  It is at this time that the main Byzantine fortifications of the acropolis of renamed Corone were completed and the building also included, just outside the walls of the inner citadel the erection of a three aisled basilica on the site of the former Dryoponian Temple of Apollo. The basilica was dedicated to the Virgin Mary Theotokos, who had been declared the Bearer or Mother of God for the final and determinative time at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE. 

The central apse of the 8th century basilica

Today only the outline of that early 8thC 3-aisled basilica with a stairwell to a gallery on the south aisle can be made out along with some of the incorporated columns from the former Temple of Apollo lying about. In 1154 Corone appeared as one of 16 Peloponnese towns on the Kingdom of Sicily’s cartographer Muhammad al-Idrsi’s World Map, the Tabula Rogeriana. At some point however, before the Venetian occupation in 12thcentury, the basilica appears to have collapsed, or partially collapsed perhaps in an earthquake that Koroni is prone to (such as the one on August 27, 1886 or Oct 6, 1947) or at a later stage bombarded into final destruction by Ottoman, Spanish or French guns. The former is more likely as part of the north aisle and apse of the original basilica was turned into the tiny early 12thByzantine Church of Agios Sofia,  which still exists on the site today. 

The Serinisìma Repùblica Vèneta controlled Coron from 1209 until 1500 and again from 1685 to 1715. It primarily acted as a “nest” for Venetian Galleys, but also had a significant silk and oil exporting industry. The other church near the ruins of the basilica is the Catholic Venetian Church of St Rock, converted into an Ottoman mosque during Turkish control and then into the Orthodox Church of Agios Haralambos (when the minaret became a bell tower), a Saint from Magnesia in Asia Minor who was tortured to death. In 2012 a fire in this church caused massive destruction, which is only now being partially restored.
Looking south east over Monastery (nun's convent) of St John the Baptist
in inner ward of Koroni Castle

Within the 1918 Monastery Convent of St John the Baptist (Timios Prodruma, the Forerunner) there are hermit cells and painting nuns and also a number of smaller chapels perched on the walls including that of one dedicated to the memory of the Greek Independence fighters in 1824 who tried, to climb the Resalto tower on the southern flank to try and capture the citadel. They were discovered and massacred. A walk through the monastery gardens, within the old keep of Koroni Fortress, and along the curtain walls is a must. Most impressive are the number of underground cisterns scattered about.

Apollo, to whom the Dyroponians of Asine dedicated their temple, was the most Greek of all the Gods. In addition to being the god of truth, and archery he was also the god of colonists and seafarers ( a tradition carried on by the Church of Agios Nikolaos – the patron saint of seafarers in the town today), as well as being the protector of foreigners and refugees. It is no wonder that the Dyroponians dedicated their primary temple to him. His intercession however did not prevent the Venetian massacres of the Ottoman defenders and their families in 1685 and of later Ottoman reprisals from occurring: a sacrifice to the sea, the Mediterranean sea of both dreams and death, then and today. 
   “When the ships spread their sails and our land was lost
     to the eyes, all the men with a sigh and with a wail
     cried out: Get out Ghost! Devour us! Oh my Morea! 
     Oh Arberia.”
Lament for Coron

Migration of people, settlement names, and migration identity, was always a feature of Greek history, even on the Greek mainland. Koroni, despite its layers of occupation, including the German Army in World War II has yielded up surprisingly little in the way of archeological finds, thus we are dependent on the memory of migration. When the Spanish abandoned Koroni in 1534, only 2 years after taking the town, they took with them 2,000 inhabitants who were of the Arvanite or Arberore community, an Albanian dialect-speaking group of Byzantine Greeks from the Theme of Dyrrhachium (in modern Albania) and resettled them in Italy and Sicily, where other Arvanites had migrated 70 years previously. A German historian many years ago suggested that the ethnic make-up of the Peloponnese was Slavic rather than Greek but modern genetics investigating the Messenian region show that the fishermen of Koroni’s closest relatives exist in populations of southern Italy and Sicily, rather than the Slavic hinterland of Serbia and Bulgaria. Memories in contrast, are intangible. I thought of this as I passed a sign near the small children’s playground at the east end of Koroni's waterfront.

In 2010 Koroni was declared by the UNESCO as one of the communities who were to be “guardians” of the Mediterranean Diet. In the Decision (5.Com 6.41 2010) confirming this the Intergovernmental Committee declared that it,
Takes note that Spain, Greece, Italy and Morocco have nominated the Mediterranean diet for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, described as follows:

The Mediterranean diet constitutes a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a nutritional model that has remained constant over time and space, consisting mainly of olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruit and vegetables, a moderate amount of fish, dairy and meat, and many condiments and spices, all accompanied by wine or infusions, always respecting beliefs of each community. However, the Mediterranean diet (from the Greek diaita, or way of life) encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events. It has given rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, tales and legends. The system is rooted in respect for the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts linked to fishing and farming in the Mediterranean communities which Soria in Spain, Koroniin Greece, Cilento in Italy and Chefchaouen in Morocco are examples. Women play a particularly vital role in the transmission of expertise, as well as knowledge of rituals, traditional gestures and celebrations, and the safeguarding of techniques.

One of the many cisterns in Koroni Castle St John the Baptist's monastery.

I like to think that within its curtain walls and whitewashed beauty Koroni’s destiny is always going to be linked to migration, as a diaita, as a way of life.

Thursday, May 30, 2019


1842 Ordnance Survey Map
(Queen's College not yet built)

1235 - 2019
The very first recognised hospital in Galway, a Lazar, or house for Lepers was opened by the Premonstratensian Order on St Marys-on-the-Hill (now the Dominican Church) in the Claddagh in 1235 on land (outside the city walls of course) donated by the O'Halloran clan (Clan Fergail) on whose tuath or territory Galway city developed. The other Lazar was St Bridgets on Prospect Hill, also outside the city walls, opened in 1542. There were many temporary workhouses established during the famine years 1845 -1849 which would have had dedicated fever beds to deal with typhus and dysentry cases that the main fever hospital or temporary workhouse fever sheds could not cope with. The most recent hospital development is the 2004 Galway Clinic in Doughiska in the eastern suburbs.

Shambles Barracks demolished.

Detail of Hospital No. 8: 
Castle Barracks Hospital 1866


James Hardiman's History of the Town and County of the Town of Galway (1820) Folds & Son, Dublin.

James P. Murray. Galway: A Medico-Social History (1994) Kennys, Galway.

Jacinta Prunty, Paul Walsh. Irish Historic Town Atlas No. 28: Galway (2016) RIAI, Dublin.

Thursday, May 23, 2019


Escape from Tehran
Sculptor: Ahad Hosseni
Azerbaijan Museum, Tabriz, Iran.

The philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote in his 1786 essay, Conjectural Beginning of Human History that, “Undoubtedly war is the greatest source of the evils which oppress civilised nations; not so much actual war, but rather the never-ceasing and indeed ever-increasing preparation for a future war.” The current ramping-up of the anti-Iranian rhetoric by the two countries most persistently on a, reciprocally promoting it often appears, war footing, the USA and Israel, serves only to illustrate this point. Sketching out a Trumpian war-games escalating scenario that includes a calculated withdrawal from a nuclear disarmament deal to sending in any number of guided missiles towards the Iranian underground nuclear facility at Nantaz on the Western edge of the Great Salt Desert is not that difficult.

Abyanah Village in mountains above Nantez, Iran:
One of oldest villages in Iran and still speaking a Sassanian Persian dialect.

I remember driving into towns, particularly the towns and cities of north-west Iran like Qazvin, Zinghan, Orumiye, Tabriz, being struck by poster after poster on lampposts of young men who had been killed in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, including some that had walked deliberately into minefields. There is a national fault line, born of a deeply conservative Shia-influenced notion of martyrdom in Iran, that the “future-war” planners in Jerusalem and Washington would need to factor in. The nuclear winter of any “targeted” strike on Nantaz would affect Abayaneh, Isfahan, Yazd and Kashan and will change nothing and destroy everything. Regime change in Iran will not come as a consequence of confronting a conservative theocracy but eventually will come as an implosion of the indulged militarily, economic and educational sense of entitlement and, it must be stated, vested interest in also being harbingers of war, of the elitist Revolutionary Guard (IRGC).
Kant also wrote that the fall of a despot or “tyrannical oppression” never induces a true reform in ways of thinking. Unfortunately in Trump’s and Netanyahu’s and the new leader of the IRGC, Major General Hossein Salami’s  cynical and sinister calculation, 
                             “new prejudices will serve as well as old ones  
                                   to harness the great unthinking masses.” 
“new prejudices will serve as well as old ones 
to harness the great unthinking masses.” 

Friday, April 05, 2019



I've always admired our desire as a society to lay down paths of communication (while not ignoring conquest as an equal motivation), and particularly liked, when driving back last week to the coast from Granada, in Southern Spain, this confluence of structure and time of the the three (+1) bridges over the River Izbor ravine where the Sierra Nevada Autovia (A44), and the Carr. Bailen-Motril (N323a) and local Calle los Acebuches tunnel road cross. The (+1) refers to a very old ?11th century bridge that was located where the 1860 bridge is now and where the ancient "mule drivers" path that approached it still exists.

Friday, March 08, 2019


Freya Stark is a heroine of mine.... maybe I should say "hero", or even invent a gender neutral, 
" a hro of mine".

She more than any other traveller/writer was the person who made me want to travel in the Hadhramaut, Yemen or to Alamut, The Stronghold of the Assassins, in Iran. 
Both I managed in her company... well in the company of her books at least.

On this International Women's Day I think her aphorism holds true, if true equality, is to be subscribed to by all societies.  

Sunday, February 10, 2019


I'm going back someday
Come what may
To Blue Bayou
Where the folks are fun
And the.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2019



With apologies to Osman Hamdi Bey's 1907 
"The Tortoise Trainer"

Tuesday, January 22, 2019