Monday 24 February 2014

From King John

By William Shakespeare (1564—1616)

Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

Saturday 15 February 2014

Andy McGovern—Inspirational Man

RTE One's Nationwide programme, presented by Mary Kennedy on 12 Feb 2014, focused on examples where positive thinking and practice greatly benefit physical and mental health.

The first example was Brefnie Early who had got into a trough of deep depression due to his excessive weight and consequent disappointing social life. When he reached the nadir of his depressed state, and the dark thoughts that went with it, he was jolted into action. He engaged in a program of physical activity—mainly cycling—but also work in the gym. He got into good physical condition and his confidence was restored. He is now preparing to take part in a world cycle challenge for charity.

In Mayo, school children are being taught "Mindfulness". It is done by relaxing mind and body as a counter to stress and anxiety. The practice is highly praised by teachers and pupils alike.

I considered that the most inspirational story was that of Andy McGovern of Mohill, Co. Leitrim. He was visited in his home by RTE's North-West correspondent Eileen Magnier. Andy is now 81 years of age. At the age of 43 he was diagnosed as having motor neurone disease, and he having a business, a wife and six young children. The life span predicted for anyone with this ailment is 2-5 years. He felt very angry and a trip to Lourdes did not sooth his anger—but only made him more so. A second trip to Lourdes some years later completely changed his thinking. As he described it himself, he got "the gift of acceptance". He began to think positively. Even though he has now lost the use of his arms, he looks very happy and engages in social activities for senior citizens around his home area. He is an inspiration to anyone who is diagnosed with serious illness. He uses the the words of the poem If by Rudyard Kipling as his mantra:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Friday 14 February 2014


Valentine is the name of several saints. According to tradition, two of them—a priest and a bishop—were martyred near Rome on the same day, 14th of February (circa 490 and 270 AD), and their festival is observed on that day. The tradition of sending love items (Valentines) was probably derived from a Roman custom during the Lupercalia festival, held around the same date, when boys drew lots for the names of girls in honour of the Goddess Juno Februalis. In Britain the practice declined during the 19th century.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Abraham Lincoln

12 Feb 1809—15 April 1865

Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President of the USA, serving from 1861 until his death in 1865. His time in office was almost entirely taken up with the Civil War which he undertook against those Southern slave states which desired to secede from the Union. In 1862, by an act of martial law, Lincoln abolished slavery in all states over which the armies of the North had established jurisdiction. He insisted on a complete surrender of the South. Victory finally came on the 9th April 1865, but five days later he was shot in a Washington theatre by a fanatical actor, J.W. Booth, and died the next morning.

Lincoln was the son of a migratory Kentucky farmer. At the age 21, with only one year's formal education, he began working as a labourer in Illinois. This was followed by a partnership in a store in New Salem where he also worked as a postmaster. Lincoln worked as a lawyer in Springfield until his election to Congress as a Whig (1847-51). He was also a local leader in the newly formed Republican Party. Universally liked for his oratory, shrewdness, kindliness, humour, fortitude and devotion to his ideals, he was at times melancholy. In 1842 he married Mary Todd who died in 1882.

Monday 10 February 2014

The Hurler's Prayer

The following is contained in a much revered card sent to me by Kathleen Cheasty of Killure, Waterford following the sad passing of her beloved husband, Waterford hurling legend Tom Cheasty, on August 10th 2007. It came to my mind last week on reading a newspaper report on the funeral of young Carlow hurler, Jonny Byrne from Leighlinbridge who was taken from his family and community in such tragic circumstances.
Grant me, O Lord, a hurler's skill,
With strength of arm and speed of limb,
Unerring eye for the flying ball
And courage to match them what'er befall.
May my aim be steady, my stroke be true,
My actions manly, my misses few;
And no matter what way the game may go,
May I rest in friendship with every foe.
When the final whistle for me is blown,
And I stand at last at God's judgement throne,
May the Great Referee when He calls my name,
Say "you hurled like a man, you played the game". 
Seamus Redmond