May 042011

After much deliberation and procrastination I’ve finally set the Ireland’s Wildlife Website free into the wilds of cyberspace.


It’s still very early days, and it’s a bit thin on content (I’m working on it… so please bear with me), but I think there’s a great foundation to build an online wildlife hub and resource for everyone who’s interested in Ireland’s wildlife, the places they live, and the people who work with the,

Take a look, and let me have your feedback, thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

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Apr 212009

BOO and HISS to UTV and Cork’s 96 & 103 FM!

West Cork Today... GONE!

West Cork Today... GONE

West Cork Today is a great Talk Radio show on Cork’s C103 that addresses the issues that are important to local communities, and provides a forum for discussion, interaction and debate. Walk into any kitchen in any household around West Cork on a weekday morning, and more often than not it’s the voice of David Young on the West Cork Today programme that rises from the wireless to greet you.

Or at least it was :-(. The popular show was inexplicably axed by C103/UTV a weeks ago.

All of this transpired while I was away on holiday. I came home to an e-mail from Mick Regan of asking West Cork bloggers to highlight the issue. I was stunned!

This came from Mick on 14/04

UTV/C103 did the dirty deed this morning and changed the schedule without any explanation to their audience!
West Cork gagged!

It’s a bit of a shock to the system when a stalwart of life in the community you call home is rudely stripped away. Ann Donnelly talks about it on her own blog, saying:

When I first moved to West Cork, there were two resources that were necessary to find out about what is going on in the area: The Southern Star weekly paper and West Cork Today, the local radio show that is on air mornings Monday to Friday. West Cork Today provides helpful and entertaining information ranging from the weekly Garda file to interviews with local experts and event organisers. I was actually a guest a couple of times as West Cork’s ‘web expert’.

I was also on talking to David a couple of times in my capacity as PRO with the Reenascreena Community Action Group — discussing issues with an unacceptable local water supply for residents and the proposed construction of a sludge reprocessing plant smack bang in the middle of our peaceful rural community. Both times the exposure we got on West Cork Today was instrumental in helping us get a better result for local residents.

The blurb from the C103 website describes the show thus:

If West Cork wants to be informed and entertained, then this is where people tune to; a show owned by its audience; and sought by interviewees. From backyard matters to bigger picture issues, the expectations are met daily. The show gives everyone their say and a fair hearing; from texter to Taoiseach, anyone can feature, and does. Eclectic and specialised, argumentative and compassionate; while Laura Hallissey produces, David Young presents a spontaneous show that is essential listening.

Essential listening indeed — only now it’s been unceremoniously silenced. (Note to C103 — when you  update your schedule, it might be an idea to update your website!) :-(

Ann Donnelly, who’s the webmaster of, has set up a “Petition for the Return of C103’s West Cork Today Programme” on behalf of the Skibbereen and Region Economic Network (SAREN). SAREN is asking the people of West Cork to have their voices heard again, and plan to submit the completed petition to UTV Media demanding the return of David Young and West Cork Today on C103. Please sign it and add your voice to the protest (NB. you don’t have to proceed with the “paypal donate” step at the end of the petition for your vote to register — simply ignore it).

If we make enough noise maybe they’ll consider bringing the show back… but even if not, we can at least make sure they’re aware of West Cork’s discontent! You can read more about the debacle on former Green Party candidate Quentin Gargan’s blog, over on Conor O’Neill’s blog, in the Southern Star and no doubt lots of other places online.

It may well be “West Cork Today: RIP” now — but with management decisions like that you have to question how long it will be before we’re all blogging C103’s demise!

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Feb 102009

Yay! This blog, and the SOHO Solo West Cork blog that I look after, have both made it to the Irish Blog Awards longlist.

I’m delighted… although a little curious that I’m in the “journalist” category. I’ve been accused of journalism (very) occasionally, but have never really considered myself a journalist, as such. I write about stuff that interests me… and I’m very lucky that sometimes people pay me ;-)… but you won’t find me actively hunting down the latest scoop, or unearthing some nefarious government scheme.

This post is very much a case of “Better Late than never”. I meant to post about it last week when the longlists were announced, but decided to migrate to a new operating system (I ditched Microsoft Windows Vista in favour of the Kubuntu variant of the Ubuntu Linux Distribution — but more on that in another post) which took more time than anticipated.

So I’m rushing this out just before the shortlists are announced. Whatever happens I’m over the moon to have made the longlist… twice.

Oct 012008
Cimex lectularius, the common bedbug, from sli...

Image via Wikipedia

“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite”! It’s a phrase I heard all the time as a nipper. Mum used to routinely say it last thing at night as she tucked us up in bed – a light hearted and innocent reference to bygone days, when this tiny pest ran amok through households across the land.

Now, apparently, bedbugs are back with a vengeance. A report in the Irish Examiner last week revealed the pests are making something of a resurgence in Ireland, and indeed around the world. “Health fears as bedbug infestations rise 66%” screamed the headline in last Friday’s paper. Apparently entomology professor Michael F Potter says we’re currently in the middle of a “global epidemic”, and blames a whole host of criteria from a fertile second hand furniture market to increased travel and global warming for the rapid spread of these unwelcome guests.

The most common locations for outbreaks of the pests are hotels and hostels, where the bugs and their eggs are carried in and out on people’s clothing and luggage… moving from one place to another and setting up house in any likely looking piece of furniture.

Hospitals, too, can be prone to infestation. All admissions to a community hospital in Co. Kerry had to be suspended last week because of an outbreak of bedbugs. Some wards were closed and patients relocated in an attempt to eradicate the pests. Apparently it will take up to a fortnight for the hospital to become fully operational again.

I’m all for more wildlife – biodiversity is a wonderful thing… bring it on I say. But, by and large I tend to prefer that the flora and fauna stays outdoors where it belongs. Flies in the kitchen, mice under the floorboards and a thriving ecosystem of mites in my mattress are all things I can happily live without.

I quite often use the “sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” line when I’m tucking the girls in at night – a throwback to my own childhood. Tonight though I think I’ll give it a miss… just thinking about it is making my skin crawl!

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Jun 112008

Irish Ferries, The Oscar Wilde Are we mad? We must be mad!

Less than a year after our last road trip to the continent, which regular readers will remember ended in disaster (crumpled car, officious French police, hospital, an early flight home and protracted wrangling with insurance companies), we’re about to do it again. We’re going to France… and we’re taking the car!

After last year’s debacle we were all set to spend a wonderful summer at home in West Cork: celebrate the fact that that we live in an area lots of people choose for their holidays. But events have conspired against us. My sister-in-law is getting married… in France, and so we’re ferry bound once more.

The ferry is absolutely the best option with the kids. Flying was always difficult, but it’s an absolute nonsense these days… particularly with the lowfares airlines, which are all as bad as each other. Stealth charges and phantom taxes levied on a per passenger basis, minuscule baggage allowances (which attract more charges), unallocated seating and the unholy scrum that ensues at the gate, lacklustre on board service and arrival at an airport miles away from your destination are all bad enough at the best of times… but when you’re travelling with children, my advice is forget it.

The ferry, on the other hand, is a veritable joy. For a start you can pack what you like – and with a roof-box fitted to the car there’s plenty of space for everything you might need. That means you pack too much… but that’s okay, because nobody’s nit-picking over the weight of your luggage. There’s also no problem with legroom… there’s plenty of freedom for the kids to run around and play, and loads of activities and amenities to make the voyage a pleasant experience for all the family. The best thing about travelling by ferry is that the journey becomes as much a part of the holiday as the destination.

The girls are as excited about the spending a night on the boat as they are about the trip itself. Ordinary things like having your own cabin, sleeping in bunks, and having a shower are transformed into a great adventure by virtue of the fact that they’re aboard ship. Then of course there are meal times – eating in the on-board restaurants as the ship pitches, rolls and yaws is a novel experience, and they love going “outside” on deck, watching the sea birds and looking for dolphins.

It’s not all plain sailing though… there are downsides to travelling by sea. First there’s the weather. Calm seas are great, but rough crossings can be difficult. A bit of movement is fine… it just adds to the excitement, but seasick children (and parents for that matter) doesn’t get the holiday off to an auspicious start.

Then there’s the fact that you end up on the north coast of France, which can mean a long drive on the wrong side of unfamiliar roads before you reach your ultimate destination. But then again, you are in your own car, the children have lots of familiar things to keep them occupied, and regular stops along the way can turn a tedious road-trip into an enjoyable part of the holiday.

There’s so much to like about France outside the big cities… especially the connection they have with food. Stopping en-route to eat in small rural restaurants is affordable, enjoyable and the quality is generally outstanding. The kids are really looking forward to the holiday… and so am I, despite a little trepidation in the wake of last year’s experience.

Feb 072008

Published as an opinion piece in The Evening Echo on the 06/02/2008

Take a human being and scratch away at the thin veneer of civility, and before long you’ll reveal the true nature of the beast beneath. For all our trappings of a sophisticated society, culture and civilization, at our very core we’re driven by a much more basic set of rules. The instinct to secure the resources we need to survive; to protect ourselves, our families and the members of our particular “tribe”.

Every now and then you’ll notice our thinly veiled tribal roots bubbling to the surface. It happened last week, when former Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell, secured a temporary injunction to prevent a State inquiry into clerical abuse from accessing Church documents. This was in spite of a promise by current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, to allow the inquiry “open access” to church files.

To the layperson this turn of events is incomprehensible. It flies in the face of reason, but then the urge to protect members of one’s “tribe” is a base human instinct that can sometimes by-pass reason, common sense and even common decency.

Continue reading »

Jan 302008

Apologies to anyone who tried to subscribe to this blog’s feed recently. I changed my FeedBurner account a while back to use the MyBrand feature, which means the feed for the blog retains the domain. Something got screwed up in the process, and I only noticed that it wasn’t working properly last night.

It’s all sorted now though, so if you’ve been having any trouble subscribing to the feed, or if you were subscribed and noticed problems, please re-subscribe. Everything should be working normally now.

Again apologies for any inconvenience.



Nov 132007

"Working it" column published in the Career Moves section of The Evening Echo on 12/11/2007

A couple of months ago I wrote a column about a report that showed how Irish workers are dissatisfied with their paid holiday entitlement – and how other nations in Europe have much more generous levels of statutory leave. But despite that apparent dissatisfaction, a surprising 20% of Irish workers don’t even take the meagre holidays they already have.

While browsing the recruitment web sites recently I came across a report from May by They’d surveyed 500 workers, and found that 1 in 5 did not take their full holiday entitlement in any given year.

Come on people…. Why on earth wouldn’t you take time off that you’re a) entitled to and b) paid for?

Many claimed they were simply too busy at work to take the time off – which is of course nonsense. I don’t care who you are, work will carry on perfectly well without you for a couple of weeks. Trust me, you’re not indispensable. If you were hit by a bus tomorrow (perish the thought) your company might, if you are really popular, send a get-well card to the hospital. Then they’d get on with business as usual. If they can do without you in a medical emergency, they can do without you for a two week holiday!

Continue reading »

Sep 212007

Apparently up to 100,000 households and workplaces across the country could be harbouring dangerously high levels of the radioactive gas radon, according to experts from the Irish Radiological Protection Institute.

A report in The Independent says that the offices of The Corkman newspaper in Mallow were found to have more than 60 times the acceptable level of this colourless, odourless, tasteless gas which occurs naturally from the decay of radioactive material in rocks and soils.

The institute said levels found would be equivalent to receiving 39 chest X-rays every day, or nearly 10,000 in a year.

Cork office has highest radon levels ever found in Ireland – National News, Frontpage –

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Sep 202007

The “Working It” column banished from last week’s Evening Echo has been granted a reprieve, and will now run in next Monday’s paper. While I’d like to believe that my logical arguments for including the piece is what swung it, deep down I think they were swayed more by the fact they were going to have to pay me for it even if they didn’t use it….

Anyway, whatever the reason it’s good news. It’s a worthwhile piece, and of course it means I don’t have to write another one this week… yipee!

I’m also starting a new “My Career Moves” piece from 01 October, which will be an interview piece featuring a different professional every week. The article will examine their career to date, the choices they’ve made and their outlook for the future. If you’d like to feature (free publicity in The Evening Echo — which, according to their advertising stats, reaches some 127,000 people in Cork, Limerick and surrounding areas) — simply get in touch and I’ll send you out a questionnaire once I finish putting it together.

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