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Ireland in 1919

Ireland in 1919Gerry O'Shea
November 11th, 1918 is remembered as Armistice Day which effectively ended the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles was signed six months later in June 1919; it confirmed the victory of the Allies and a humiliating defeat for Germany.
The British perspective on The Great War, as it is called, gained widespread public support in Ireland in the early years of the fighting. Army recruiters were given the green light by the powerful Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) and indeed by the Catholic Church many of whose leaders felt that they were supporting their co-religionists in Belgium.
Following the upsurge in nationalist sentiment after the 1916 Rising, theappeal of a rejuvenated Sinn Fein gradually outstripped the IPP, which lost its popular leader, John Redmond, to a heart attack in March of 1918. The Republican appeal was especially strong with young people, who were greatly empowered by Westminster legislation which massively extended the franchise in I…
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Taxing the Wealthy

Taxing the WealthyGerry OShea
Capitalism has lost its appeal for many young people. In a recent poll, 51% of Americans aged from 18 to 29 stated that they feel more positive about socialism with just 45% affirming the capitalist system. This represents a hefty 12% decline in just two years.
What has caused this dramaticchange? A few statistics that indicate serious dissatisfaction with the status quo may give some indication of the issues involved. Since 1989 the working class share of total income in America has declined from 45% to 27%. Four out of ten citizens complain that they don't have the means to pay an emergency bill of just $400. Only 14% of private sector workers have access to paid family leave.
Meanwhile the rich have done very well. There are more millionaires and billionaires than ever before in the United States. The stock market is flying, benefiting mainly the richest 10% who own 80% of the shares. Sales of luxury boats and cars have never been more ebullient.
With …

The Amazing Peter Buttigieg

The Amazing Peter ButtigiegGerry O'Shea
A few months ago very few people outside of Indiana had heard of Peter Buttigieg and fewer still could pronounce his surname. That has changed because now he is recognized as a serious candidate for the Democratic nominationto contest the presidential election next year.
He describes himself wryly as "definitely the only left-handed Maltese-American, Episcopalian, gay, millennial, war veteran in the race." He could have added that at a mere 37 years he registers as the youngest candidate in the large Democratic field, just two years past the minimum legal requirement for serving in the White House.
Elected mayor of South Bend, Indiana, in 2012, he sees himself as a new kind of politician, inviting comparison with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, senior statesmen ahead in all the early polls for the Democratic nomination, but both in their late seventies, forty years older than the mayor.
Buttigieg graduated from Harvard and was selected …

Review of "We were Rich and we Didn't Know it" by Tom Phelan

We Were Rich and we Didn't Know it by Tom Phelan
Review by Gerry O'Shea
John Joe Phelan, the author's father, is the central character in this engaging memoir about growing up in a 52-acre farm in Mountmellick, County Laois in the Irish midlands in the 1940's and 1950's. He is the undisputed boss of the house, determined to provide for his wife and family, working seven days a week to eke out a living at a time when most farmers in Ireland were defined by subsistence.
Mr. Phelan, a dominating paterfamilias, struck oil when he married Annie Hayes from a neighboring family. Sheknew her place in the Phelan house, taking care of all domestic matters; a flock of Christmas turkeys allowed her some extra holiday money every year and was the extent of the contact she had with the farmyard.
Annie was always treated with love and respect by her impetuous husband, a rather angry and frustrated man, who on most occasions yielded to her moderating promptings when he tended to explo…

Fr. O'Leary and Clerical Celibacy

Fr. O'Leary and Clerical CelibacyGerry O'Shea
Fr. Daniel O'Leary was born in the village of RathmoreCounty Kerry, close to the Cork border, in 1937. He died in January of this year after a short battle with cancer.
Fr. Donal, as he was called by his friends, served as a parish priest in the Diocese of Leeds in England for the first thirty years of his ministry. After that he worked for two decades teaching theology in St. Mary's University College in London.
He authored a dozen books on spirituality and was well-known as a leader of parish and diocesanretreats. He was a regular columnist in the prestigious international Catholicnews weekly, The Tablet.
In his final column for that publication he stated that he wanted to be "free of fear and bitterness and full of love and desire as I step up for the final inspection." He goes on to argue in the major theme of his parting essay that forced clerical celibacy is "a kind of sin, an assault against nature and God…

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…