In his extraordinary examination of landscape, history, texture and storytelling, Connemara: Listening to the Wind, Tim Robinson says that “right living in a place entails a neighbourly acquaintance with those who lived there in previous times”.
A couple of weeks ago, in Hancock, Michigan, a 57-year-old man was searching through the attic of his family home when he opened a box and a dusty copy of a book called Prince of Egypt fell out. He flicked to the back cover and discovered that it was a library book, 47 years overdue.
An imposter pretending to be Mary Harney on Questions and Answers made it ‘quite a laugh' and the RTÉ rugby panel can be fairly entertaining. But the best thing on television at the moment is an advertisement
Confront this: No, of course you shouldn't believe everything I say. Last week in this column, when I challenged, nay dismissed, Denis Staunton's assertion in the Irish Times that George Bush faced a “serious confrontation” with the Democrat-controlled US congress over his Iraq “surge” plan, you may well have felt I was off-base, a knee-jerk left-wing ideologue – especially as everything you've heard and read in the meantime takes the same “confrontation” line as Staunton.
On Thursday 2 January, the Irish Examiner described how “Somali troops” had captured the “last Islamic stronghold” in the country, and reported how “Somali prime minister Ali Mohamed Gadi” had declared that “the warlord era in Somalia is now over”.
Sometimes Joe Duffy catches the pulse of the Irish nation and lets it beat with rage. He did this for three days last week with Rosie's story (Liveline, Monday to Friday, 1.45-3pm, RTÉ Radio1). Like half of the Irish population, Rosie does not have private health insurance. She had gone to her GP in the summer of 2005 with stomach trouble and was referred to the public health system for a colonoscopy. Her symptoms deteriorated and despite the urgency of her situation she had to wait seven months for the colonoscopy, by which time she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
A month or two ago, some good friends advised me that I should go a bit easier on the Irish Times – or at least spread my mid-winter ire around better so other media outlets were more equitably subjected to my fits of bad temper.
God's science project: The resurgence of religion in the United States and the cultivation of the religious vote by George Bush has given rise to a “culture war” in American intellectual life, a battle between scientific rationalism and religious faith which is focused on the theory of evolution and its implications for the existence of God.
Bringing people to places they may not usually go is a good mechanism to inform and entertain. Diarmuid Ferriter does it each Sunday morning when he asks a hypothetical ‘what if' question to one or two expert panellists (What If, RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday 10.30am). What if the Abbey theatre had never been founded? What if Ireland did not join the EEC? If the pope's visit had happened later? If Ryanair had gone bust in 1991?
Ian Paisley jnr puts his big, hunky foot in it on Questions and Answers, but not as much as Tommie Gorman, whose obituary for David Ervine was a wee bit premature