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Vincent Carmody's listowel

Vincent Carmody's ListowelGerry O'Shea
In the bar area of the Kerry Hall in Yonkers there are portraits displayed of five well-known Kerry writers, and three of the five come from the town of Listowel or its hinterland: Maurice Walsh from Ballybunion, author of The Quiet Man, John Moriarty, poet and philosopher from Moyvane and, of course, John B Keane from the town itself.
The management of the bar would find it hard to explain why the marvelous Bryan McMahon is not on display or Brendan Kennelly from Ballylongford or George Fitzmaurice, a noted dramatist and short story writer in the 19th century or Fergal Keane of current BBC fame.
I have no idea why a small and - at first walk-through - an unimposing town accounts for so much exuberant artistic talent. And now we have local historian, Vincent Carmody, producing an excellent and intriguing communal history: Listowel: A Printer's Legacy. The title is further explained in the cover as The Story of Printing in North Kerry 18…
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The New Socialism in America

The New Socialism in AmericaGerry O'Shea
In his recent State of the Union message President Trump warned against those who were pushing socialism as the best approach to solving the problems the country faces. This message was highlighted by many others on the political Right who pointed to the mess in Venezuela as the contemporary example of the disasters accompanying the hated "S" word.
Yet in a 2017 study 44% of millennials, citizens in their 20's and 30's, favor a socialist approach to government with, rather surprisingly, just 42% opting for the present capitalist system in America. A more recent Gallup poll found that 57% of Democrats expressed a preference for the socialist system while the percentage identifying with that party favoring capitalism registered in the low 40's.
Even a few years ago, at the turn of the century, the numbers declaring for such radical policies would barely break single figures. What has changed in such a short period of time t…

Abortion - A Different Perspective

Abortion - A Different PerspectiveGerry O'Shea
The issue of abortion came up in a recent Friday night PBS News Hour program when David Brooks and Mark Shields were reviewing the events of the week. Shields began his comments on the subject by noting the ambivalence of most Americans about this emotive issue. He pointed out how studies show that while people recoil from approving abortion, they also favor maintaining the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that permits a woman to decide whether or not to end her pregnancy.
About 25% of American women have an abortion during their lives. Polls show that close to 60% of Americans favor maintaining the legal status quo, but that leaves more than 40% demanding the reversal of that controversial court decision.
Incidentally, despite repeated strong condemnation of abortion by the Catholic bishops, polling results reveallittle difference between their congregations and other Americans.
In an article last June in the prestigious National Catholic Reporte…

Review of McCarten Book on the Two Popes

Review of McCarten's Book on the Two PopesGerry O'Shea
Anthony McCarten, a distinguishednovelist and screenwriter from New Zealand, is best known for his celebration of the genius of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything , and for highlighting the crucial importance of Winston Churchill'seloquence indefeating the Nazis in The Darkest Hour. His latest work The Pope: Francis, Benedict and the Decision that Shook the Worldattempts to explain the ramifications of having two popes, one in his early 80's and the other ten years older, both active within the narrow confines of the Vatican.
These two men, Joseph Ratzinger or as he is now titled emeritus Pope Benedict andJorge Bergoglio , Pope Francis, represent two different approaches to the Roman version of Christianity. Ratzinger is a brilliant German theologian, a rather dour and introverted academic with little pastoral experience, while Bergoglio, comes across as a charismatic and fun-loving Argentinian whose idea of…

The Brexit Crisis

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Brexit in CrisisGerry O'Shea
In the 1992 Presidential election which pitted Bill Clinton against the sitting president George H.W. Bush, senior Clinton adviser, James Carville, famously advised his candidate to focus on dinner table issues with the pithy and oft-repeated political wisdom statement "it's the economy stupid."
That advice did not prevail with the British people who in 2016 voted in a referendum by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union. They disregarded the steady and substantial growth in their country's wealth, in their GDP, since they became part of the EU in 1973. Since joining, the median income for wage earners in Great Britain has increased by an impressive 79%; by comparison, using the same measure, the United States registered a modest improvement of 16%.Within the EU, over the last 45 years, the British economic growth rate slightly exceeded Germany and was well ahead of France.
There are three main trading blocs in the world in the 21st c…