An Irish Man Interprets the World

A Story of Everyday Heroes

A little north of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, you’ll find the small Postman’s Park. Nestled beneath an unassuming wooden shelter, there is a wall with a series of 54 tiles. Each one carries at least one name, every name the name of a hero who laid down life to save another. Surprisingly, many are the names of children.

This is the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a...

St Patrick, champion of Human Rights?

Ireland has only 0.064% of the world’s population. Yet it has international influence that far exceeds its size. Today, St Patrick’s celebrations involve over 150,000 people in New York City alone,[1] and around 34 million Americans consider themselves to have Irish heritage, over 7 times the population of Ireland itself.[2]

St Patrick’s early adulthood was one of greatly...

Why does an extra X chromosome make such a difference?

Sunday was International Women’s Day.  It adopted the strapline “Make it Happen”. It’s a clear statement that enough talking has been done – it’s time to ensure gender equality.   What is gender? When we’re born, whether we are male or female depends on whether we end up possessing a slightly different...

Hinamatsuri Stand

Happy Hina-matsuri!

Yesterday was Hina-matsuri, otherwise known as “the Doll’s Festival”, in Japan. Families construct seven-tiered stands onto which they place Hina-ningyo: dolls made especially for the festival. They carefully arrange figurines representing the old Emperor and Empress and the imperial household. The display...

Could you patent the sun? The Beginning of the End for Polio…

The 1952 polio epidemic killed 3,145 and paralysed 21,269 men, women and children in the US.  Two years later, on 23 February 1954, Virologist Jonas Salk brought a glimmer of hope to Pittsburgh.  On this day,  61 years ago, the first large-scale inoculations of children began today. Just over a year later, the vaccine was declared by the University of Michigan to be ‘safe and...

Happy Old New Year…

Today would have been the date St Patrick, Jonathan Swift and William Shakespeare celebrated as New Year’s Day. You and I might say it’s the 14th January, but according to the Julian calendar, today is 1st January.

For some...

Is this a distantly-related cousin?

Do we have the right to eradicate diseases?

180 years ago today, 7th January 1835, HMS Beagle dropped anchor on the Chonos Archipelago. Charles Darwin was on board. He would spend the next number of weeks conducting research. By November 1859, Darwin had published ‘On the Origin of Species’. His book transformed the study of the natural sciences.

Darwin’s central thesis argued that the...

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.”

– Mother Teresa

Carrying around the cure to AIDS?

Potential in your Pocket: Carrying around the cure to AIDS?

Today is World AIDS day. Whatever you do to count down to Christmas, spare a thought for countless HIV-positive individuals would give anything they owned to be cured in the next 24 days. AIDS is at present incurable, and severely weakens the immune system, making the victim open to a deadly cocktail of diseases and cancers that ordinarily the immune system prevents. Imagine...

Nativity Scene

The most wonderful time of the year?

Today is Advent Sunday, the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day – It marks the beginning of a season which many will associate with growing anticipation, even impatience, for the coming of Christmas. Nostalgic Christmas songs send shivers down our spines. Violet or blue colours adorn trees and churches, representing a Royal coming. In a culture and society where faith is...