Tripping along the magical Blue Nile

Ken Sweeney’s In Search of the Blue Nile documentary a must-listen


Steeling myself for a bunch of mindless but necessary ironing, I put on something for the soul. A Facebook-flagged podcast on The Blue Nile. It’s called In Search Of The Blue Nile,  and  was made by  music journalist Ken Sweeney, who also narrates. I believe Ken lives just up the road from me, in Skerries.

It’s dark and dreary outside but my rainswept window becomes a time-bending portal to a brighter, higher world. The gently ruminative and rhapsodic world of The Blue Nile. Over the hillside beyond the sodden wasteland I am wandering in the whimsied mists of other days … ha, you see, that’s what it’s like, giving yourself up to the magic of The Blue Nile.  A diffident magic created  by three Glaswegians, of uncommon synths and sensibilities, who transformed that hardest of hard cities into Tinsel Town in the rain.  Paul Buchanan, Robert Bell and PJ Moore.

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Why is RTE’s flagship news so dull?

An Enda Kenny filibuster from hours ago is not news


Anchors away: Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ni Bheolain

Why are RTE’s flagship news bulletins so dull, predictable and safe? The same heads, the same tales … drawing the same reactions. Yawnarama!

I have my iPhone and my laptop, so I’m fairly up to speed on what’s happening. Surely Bryan Dobson and the team have something new, or value to add? Footage from Roy Keane’s press conference 13 hours ago scripted in that dramatic present tense just doesn’t cut it!

News: “Newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events”, says Google. So how does an Enda Kenny filibuster in the Dail, from six hours ago, qualify as newly received — or noteworthy — however breathless it might make poll corr Martina Fitzgerald?

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Litter and sewage spoil Rush beach stroll

Will the dog poo always be with us?


At play on the North Beach in Rush, Co Dublin. Just don’t mention the raw sewage being pumped straight out to sea nearby by Fingal Council

low swathe of diaphanous cloud is puffing across a clear denim-blue sky as down Kilbush Lane we go, Bella, my wiry black and white terrier mix, and I. We’re on our way to the North Beach in Rush, Co Dublin, for our early morning ramble.

There’s a north-easterly wind would cut through you though, and an old salt who has stepped out from a galvanised shed for a roll-up, welding mask pushed to the top of his shaven knobbly head, remarks, “It’s a bit blowy.”

“Tis a bit,” I reply in kind.

Blowy? The fur on Bella’s black face is parted and her ears are flat against her head, making her look like a startled hawk from the front.

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Aleppo and Syria a tragedy for us all

Weapons manufacturers must be called to account _aleppoThis is one of those ones where you stick your neck out and risk being denounced as a dunce, or a simpleton. I’m talking about Aleppo.

Most of us are looking on from our comparatively cosy TV lounges and wondering what the hell is going on. What kind of hell are we witnessing? Or are we even witnessing it? Every emotive hand-held camera testament to Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter is open to question. Every stock shot of every devastated city streetscape, every line of ragged bodies beamed out to the world is either history in the making or wicked propaganda, or some immeasurable mix of both.  Who is right? Who is wrong?  What do we do? What can we do? Confusion reigns and the destruction continues.

It’s all so confusing. All faction and counter-faction. Elements splitting and transmutating all the time, colliding and dividing to spark ever more deadly fissions and fall outs in ungovernable space.

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WAR declared on teenage terrors

(Inspired by my experiences as father of a teenage girl)

teenagers-warIt was the ticket and information caravan parked on the plaza for our town’s recent festival that gave me the idea: a one-stop shop for the frazzled parents of unmanageable young teenagers.

Welcome to our rather more discretely located Wild Angels Response (WAR) unit.

Maybe son number two is magnetically drawn to the naughty goings-on in the town’s shadier parts? No worries: we know where they — and he — are and we will have him home in no time. He will soon get over the shock. Call it tough love. He’ll understand. Sometime.

Your 13-year-old daughter slinking off to lock braces with that hair-gelled budding Lothario in the woods? Juliette and her Romeo will be parted before they’ve even met. Young love hurts, but not as much as low-voltage electricity.

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Walking Dublin city blues

(As Perceived Quarterly, Volume 1, Number 1, November 2016)


St Patrick’s Park, Dublin  … where the soft drift of mellow voices wafts over me.

Summer girls in summer dresses and young men rippling with confidence and expectation. They are the ones I mostly notice anyway on this rare sun-splashed day in Dublin city as I revisit old haunts and take in new delights. 

An unhurried man in my inconspicuous fifties, I am invisible to these youthful creatures as I stroll up the broad O’Connell Street boulevard. 

Looking across at the massive GPO, its six granite columns glinting in the sun, I am thinking of Patrick Pearse standing outside its smouldering doors in Easter 1916 proclaiming the Irish Republic. 

A hundred years of myth and legend have since weaved their emotive colour into history’s fabric and marked this country forever. Not something today’s strolling natives or camera-clicking tourists are likely pondering on for long. 

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Roll back those clouds and let the sunshine in

It’s just so good to bathe in the luminescence of being

sun-rays-coming-out-of-the-cloud-1Don’t you just love those moments when the dark clouds you took for granted roll back and your whole world lights up? It’s like someone, somewhere, has turned up the dimmer switch to the max and everything, everywhere, is brighter, clearer, kinder. Lead, kindly light, indeed.  

You were lying face up on your bed in your overcast room with your troubled eyes closed but fluttering. Pandering to the voices of doubt in your head, picking at your own faults and poking at all your failings. Dulled and disillusioned.

Your eyelids feel it first, the intense burst of light that transfigures the rectangular window frame. The burnished walls no longer enclose you  and the whole room is aglow. Mr Brightside is here — and he’s me!

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