An Irish Man Interprets the World

A Petition to Change the World…

The WHO and the promise to eliminate leprosy…

In May 1991, the member states of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the governing body of the WHO (World Health Organisation), promised to ‘eliminate leprosy as a public health problem’ by the year 2000. The 1991 resolution was, in effect, a promise by WHO to the...

Storytelling and Same-sex Marriage

The persuasive Irish have perfected their use of stories. They use the power of language to carefully craft detailed images and metaphors, to evoke emotion, or make a point, where non-fiction would struggle. Our poets, authors and songwriters have been perfecting that craft for centuries.

In Ireland, such storytelling is a great national tradition. To quote Lara Flynn...

What is going on in this picture?

Can you make sense of this picture? It is April Fool’s Day, but the above image is taken naturally, and has had no computer-generated alteration…

Three questions:

What about the pool? It looks like this artist worked with a sculpted pool. Perhaps he created it, or perhaps he worked with something already there… Yet water surely isn’t naturally...

If Jesus had an iPhone on Palm Sunday…

What would the Social Media universe have looked like if the people watching Jesus riding into Jerusalem were busy on their phones? Well, if anyone ever goes back in a time machine and gives Jesus’ disciples iPhones, maybe these sort of things are what you would see…

 

It all started when Jesus, en route to Jerusalem, tweeted two disciples an odd...

Ireland and the three thousand of Gallipoli…  

Above: The 10th Irish division, composed of volunteers from across Ireland, which fought at Gallipoli

  Ireland has been officially neutral in terms of international conflict for around 8 decades, since the 1930s.

Yet it has not been immune from the turmoil of the 20th century, which saw the advent of the largest and most...

GDP vs. Gross Domestic Happiness?

When did you last see a headline celebrating a growth in GDP as a major success for a country? A falling GDP is part of what it means to be in ‘recession’ – that dreaded word that has haunted Western economies for the past few years. If a recession is severe enough (if GDP falls more than 10%), it becomes labelled the even more ominous term, ‘depression’. This brings back...

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 can even include lampstands, models of...

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...

Can politics really bring about change? The story of Barbados…

Today is Errol Barrow’s birthday. It’s a public holiday in Barbados. It’s a reminder that effective political change can come without violence, terrorism or war. It’s also a reminder that political inertia and bureaucracy can be overcome. It’s a reminder that, used properly and effectively, democracy works.

Born in Barbados in 1920,...

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 Orthodox...

Children of Cape Town

Celebrating Kaapse Klopse…

On 2nd January every year, the streets of Cape Town, South Africa, are filled with ecstatic crowds. It’s the Kaapse Klopse (‘Cape Clubs’) carnival, a time of joyful music, bright costumes, and unified community.

Kaapse Klopse has its roots in the regrettable days of slavery. Until the 1830s, slavery was common in South African society. Like us, the slaves...

Ground-breaking research

World Soil Day: Ground-breaking Research

How are you celebrating “World Soil Day”? I suspect that, for most reading this blog, it wasn’t high on your agenda.

There is a global community of 60,000 scientists who dedicate their lives to the study of soil. They’re constantly questioning what the rest of us take for granted. For most of us, soil is simply the thing in which “stuff”...

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

– Mother Teresa

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...