Halloween - Another significant contribution to World Culture by the Irish & Celtic peoples!


Halloween's Pagan Celtic Roots
Today Halloween is joyously celebrated by children across many parts of the world. There is a popular misconception though that Halloween is a modern American invention. Not so. Like so many other things that have brought great happiness to humanity for millennia, its roots lay firmly in the culture of the Irish Celts!
(Photo- my son Dáire & 'friend'!)


Yet it has to be said that the Americans, in their child-friendly re-packaging of this ancient pagan festival, have destroyed many of the fine traditions that were once such an integral part of the festivities. For instance our Celtic custom of placing human skulls with candles at entrances to domestic dwellings in order to ward off evil spirits has been replaced by lights in hollowed-out pumpkins! Likewise the visits of children dressed up in ghoulish and macabre fancy dress going door-to-door looking for gifts of sweets and fruits is a poor substitute for the former visits of the ghosts of our ancestors who used to drop in once a year on October 31st for a nice meal with their living relatives (we would prepare a place for them at the dinner table).
It was said too that live captives were placed in wicker cages above huge bonfires and burnt alive (as portrayed in the classic British 1970s cult film “The Wicker Man”). But such horror stories were originally spun by those nasty Romans when they were at war with the Celts. So it was probably nothing more than malicious enemy propaganda. After all, what do you take us Celts for? Barbarians?!

As with so many other religious festivals, Halloween has become so commercialised by 'Americanised' popular culture that its pagan and religious aspects have long since being forgotten.
So here is the true story of 'Féile na Marbh' (Festival of the Dead'):

Christianisation of 'Samhain'
 Yet modern-day Americans were not the first people to re-brand the festival. In the middle ages the Catholic Church created the Christian festival of 'All Hallows Eve' or 'All Souls Day' when people were asked to remember and pray for their dead family members.
This event was superimposed onto the ancient pagan Celtic festival of 'Samhain' which marked the end of the summer season characterised by heat & light and the coming of the dark cold barren winter months.

Celtic Festivals
Typical of many agricultural societies, the Celts had four major annual festivals based on the cyclical differences experienced in the changing seasons of nature and their corresponding weather patterns. The other three were 'Imbolc' (spring) 'Bealtane' (summer), 'Lugnasa' (autumn). The latter was associated with harvest time.

Bon(e)Fires
Samhain was a time when food was hoarded as people prepared for the cold season when no plants grew. While many domestic animals such as cattle were brought indoors for the winter, others were slaughtered and most of their meat salted for storage whilst the remainder was cooked for the big feast. As with all Irish festivals, communal bonfires were lit as people gathered together at warm fires to socialise and to give thanks to the deities. Bones of the slaughtered animals were thrown into the fire as symbolic gifts to the gods, an action which give rise to the term ' bone fires' or 'bonfires'. Embers from this sacred fire were taken by local people to their households to light their own domestic fires.

Antecedents to the Pumpkin & 'Trick or Treat'
But Samhain was also a time when creatures from the supernatural world could enter into the world of mortals. 'Fairies' (Irish='Sidhe' as in ‘Banshee’/‘female fairy’) and the spirits of the dead would walk the earth. Many of these beings were benevolent and the spirits of dead ancestors; so families laid out extra food and set aside a table space for their ghostly visitors. This metaphorised into the custom of today's children dressing up as demons and witches & calling to the neighbours' houses to receive presents.
But there were spirits that came on the night of Samhain that were malevolent. Candles were placed in skulls at the entrance to dwellings as light was feared by these dark foreboding creatures. This protection against evil became transformed in modern times into the positioning of hollowed-out turnips and later pumpkins with carved out faces and internal candles at windows and doorways.
Centuries-old party games of trying to eat an apple lying in a basin of water ('bobbing') or dangling on a string tied to a ceiling ('snapping') are still popular festive past-times with Irish children.
The apple is probably the most common edible fruit in Ireland. It was also strongly associated with the spirit world and the fairies (sidhe). In the Arthurian legends, the mystical island of Avalon is where King Arthur obtains his magical sword Excalibur and where he is taken at the end of his life by the Lady of the Lake and her female fairy companions (banshee). Avalon comes from the Welsh word afal or Irish aball.


Fortune Telling at Halloween
Central to the Irish Halloween is the eating of a fruit bread known as 'Barmbrack' from the Gaelic term 'Báirín Breac' (speckled or spotted top). It is still a popular festive food today.
Various symbolic pieces were placed in the dough before it was baked such as a ring, a pea and a stick. When an item was found in the slice when it was being eaten, it told of the future that awaited the recipient. For instance, the 'ring' signified marriage within a year; a 'stick' represented a bad or violent marriage; the 'coin', wealth and a 'pea', a long wait before marriage.

Irish Export Halloween to North America
The Irish emigrants of the nineteenth century introduced Halloween and its rituals to America. Within a few decades, the festival was transformed into the fun and games event of today.

Significant Irish Contributions to World Culture:
No. 7642- 'Dracula'

Considering our national passion of asking the dead to resurrect themselves & drop into the house for a late night meal & party, it should come as no surprise that the world's most well known vampire Count Dracula was the creation of an Irishman, the novelist Bram Stoker in 1887.
His inspiration though was Carmilla, a book about a lesbian vampire created naturally enough(!) by another well known Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu.


Finally, the name Halloween comes from a mix old English and Irish with Hallows meaning holy and een from the the Irish 'ín' meaning little signifying the night before the big or main event of All Hallows Day which took place in the Christian calander on November 1st. Alternatively een could be a version of Eve as in Christmas Eve.

(Photos from Macnas Halloween youth parade in Ballinfoile, Galway City)

Michael D. ABÚ!!

What a Great Day for the True Community Values of the Irish People!
A Warrior that has fought many battles in the name of Justice, Liberty, Equality & Fraternity has today won an historic victory against the mass forces of greed and elitism.

Have a look at my articles below to know what Michael D Higgins represents to so many of us
Michael D Higgins - the Conscience of the Nation
What has Michael D Ever Done for Ireland and the Irish People?
Michael D Higgins: The Great Advocate of International HUman Rights in the History of Dáil Éireann

Michael D. Higgins - An Irish Legend!


In the last day of campaigning, Michael D. Higgins visited Galway university where he gave a rousing but dignified speech to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters that included myself.
He has served the people of Ireland and the world so well for over 40 yrs. The country will benefit from a progressive, humane, intelligent, erudite visionary who has worked at all levels of society and is brimming with energy.
Whoever designed the Celtic motiff poster that has accompanied the campaign should be awarded a medal. Truly stunning, the painting portrays Michael as an ancient Celtic chieftain accompanied by two Irish wolfhounds and surrounded by his people as they congregate on a hill overlooking a wooden stockaded fort. Beautiful!!!!

Click here for Michael D Higgins: Conscience of the Nation

Click here for a short video of Michael D's through the years

A Vote for Gallagher is a Vote for a Discredited Establishment that Robbed Our Country & Our Children's Futures


Cracking Presidential Debate on Frontline last night!
Martin McGuinness played a blinder exposing Sean Gallagher as representing the worse excesses of FF cronyism. Organising political party fundraisers with a €5,000 entry fee in return for an 'audience' with the Taioseach/Prime Minster of the country (are meeting with the leader of Ireland only available to the wealthy?), going to a wealthy business person's home to collect a monied envelope, receiving a huge director's loan (to avoid tax) & admitting he was an admirer of the unpatriotic tax exile Denis O'Brien who was condemning by a judicial review as having corrupted the Irish political system.
Combined with the fact that Gallagher was a member of the FF National Executive, refused to condemn the last government for their incompetency and a big property owner with a business customer base amongst big builders shows he was part of the FF-property speculator-financial elite that siphoned off our taxes over many decades to fund their rich lifestyles, who bankrupt the country, who destroyed so many of our livelihoods and whose 'old boys network' policies led to a mass emigration of our brightest and best.
He certainly was not an ordinary honest decent rank and file member of the party as he has tried to portray so many times. 
If he gets elected, it will be a victory for a discredited immoral 'me-fein' establishment.

A Vote for Gallagher is a vote for Those that Stole Our Hard-Earned Monies & Robbed Us & Our Children of a Future!

What has Michael D Higgins Ever Done for Ireland & the Irish People?


Helping to Liberate Irish Women from Servitude and Discrimination
In the early 1970s, women were treated in Ireland as second-class citizens by the state and as the servants to men by the Catholic Church.
Married women were barred from working in the Civil Service; divorce and the sale of contraceptives were illegal; women got paid less than men for doing the same job; children’s allowances were paid only to fathers; barring orders did not exist to protect wives from violent husbands; wives could not legally refuse to have sex with their partners; women had no legal rights to a share of the family home.
For young women in education and work, there were even problems trying to obtain bank loans. Unlike their male counterparts, the banks were hesitant about providing loans to female students as it was felt that soon after leaving college, they would get married and lose the ability to repay by becoming house-bound wives with no independent incomes.
Michael D Higgins was at the forefront of all the major campaigns to secure equality for women. He was one of the very few members of the Oireachtas that stood by these issues of women’s rights from the 1970s onwards. As with Noel Brown a few decades previously, he earned the wrath of conservative and religious mainstream society at the time, condemned as someone that wanted to under the family values. This was particularly evident in the Divorce referendum campaign of 1985. Yet he never backed down in spite of the verbal and written tirades hurled at him. 

Condoms for All
At the height of the Aids epidemic in1992, I was part of a nationwide campaign known as CondomSense that wanted to liberalise the sale of condoms. We saw such contraceptives as offering greater protection for women from unwanted pregnancies and STDs. At this time, these pieces of rubber could only be purchased with a doctor’s prescription from a pharmacy for ‘bona fides’ family purposes. I was the only publican in Galway city that decided to openly defy this law by installing condom vending machines. I was prosecuted by the state and a jail sentence hung over me as I was brought through the courts system. However by the summer, the government caved in and introduced a Health Amendment Act that allowed the sale of condoms outside of pharmacies and without a prescription (though not in vending machines).
Yet again, Michael D Higgins was the only Galway TD that stood with us. 


Children’s Rights: Ending Illegitimacy
In 1984, Michael D Higgins and Mary Robinson put forward the bill that removed the label of 'illegitimacy' from children of unmarried parents.    
He was helping to put into law the committment given by the Irish rebels in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic of 1916 in "cherishing all of the children of the nation equally" 


Towards a Cleaner Safe Environment
In 2000, I was one of the leaders of a large scale community movement known as Galway for a Safe Environment(GSE) that wanted to introduce a pro-recycling waste collection system and to stop the installation of a municipal waste incinerator. Over 22,000 people supported the campaign which was successful in stopping the incinerator being built and in having Galway city become the first local authority in Ireland to implement a domestic bin collection system based on recycling and composting.
Once more, Michael D was the only Galway member of the Oireachtas that stood with us from the beginning. Though others such as Fine Gael’s Pauric McCormack did later come on board.

Defender of Biodiversity
As Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael D signed on behalf of the Irish government in 1997 the EU Habitats Directive that requires member states to maintain or restore favourable conservation status for certain habitats and species.
Monvea Bog, Co. Galway
Of particular importance were the Irish bogs which account for 10% of the world’s total. This Habitat Directive was and is vital to protect the small number of bogs that are classified as Natural Heritage Areas. Peatlands possess unique biodiversity as well as being important areas for flood prevention, water quality and as critical storage areas for carbon, up to 57,402 tonnes of carbon per year (EPA BOGLAND project).
Michael D became one of the few Irish government ministers ever to enact legislation to protect endangered wildlife and their habitats and to reverse the millennia old destruction and exploitation by mankind of the planet’s natural heritage.
Today we have private turf-cutters condemning Michael D for what he did in 1997. They have little respect for the long-term consequences of their actions to life on Earth. As co owner (i.e. guardian) of a bog and as a son of man whose family lived and worked on the great Bog of Allen for generations, I wholeheartedly congratulate Michael D for his actions.
The Fianna Fáil government in 1999 allowed people affected by the ban to have 10 year period of grace. Sadly continued turf cutting was and is not compatible with the conservation of these sites and rare intact raised bog has decreased in area by over 35% in the last decade.  The major cause of the loss and degradation of this priority habitat type is domestic peat cutting. 
 Eco-Tourism, Inverin Bog. Co. Galway


Giving Respect and Recognition to the Irish Language,
Arts and Culture
When Michael D Higgins became the first minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht in 1993, the state finally recognised arts as a fundamental part of the life of a citizen, and gave it a status similar to the right to education, to work, to health, to justice and to housing.
Michael D did not just get a seat at the cabinet table in 1993. He demanded and secured the establishment of a new state office that finally gave due respect to something that was recognised outside the country and in ancient Ireland as being synonymous with the Irish people- a love of music, literature and art in all its forms but was until his ministry often viewed as a luxury and something for the privileged few.
By setting up a nationwide network of arts centres, galleries, libraries and theatres, he returned the arts to the common people and made it part of the fabric of so many communities across Ireland. 
A Community Arts Halloween parade in Ballinfoile, Galway city


As Minister, he expanded the Irish film industry from a small sector generating 11million pounds into an internationally recognised industry that was worth 186 million by the time he left office.
Michael D is of course a renowned artist in his own right. In September 1990, Salmon Publishing launched his first book of poetry. Entitled ‘The Betrayal’, I am proud to say that I was its official sponsor and listed as such on the inside cover.


Stimulating an Irish Language Revival
Michael D established TG4, Ireland’s first Irish language television station thereby reinvigorating our native tongue and giving work and pride to so many people that wish to use Gaelic in their everyday lives.


Rediscovering Ireland’s Inland Waterways
Over the course of the 20th century,  Irish canals became increasingly ignored by the state as rail, road and air took over as the main arteries of transportation. Our canals and inland waterways fell into disuse, were abandoned and largely forgotten. A major achievement whilst he was Minster was to reverse this trend and allow Ireland’s inland waterways to become major opportunities for sustainable national and local tourism. He began connecting the waterways with the result that Ireland today has over 1000 kilometres of navigable waterways, providing employment and tourism in localities across the country.
 
Encouraging Youthful Creativity &  Imagination

Michael D has always being more than just a career politician. He is multi-faceted in nature and has taken on many roles throughout his life- factory worker, lecturer, poet, socialist, humanitarian, journalist…
But all of these different elements have been united by a common egalitarian vision of the world. His talks and writings express a humanistic vision of life.
He ended political censorship by the state when he abolished Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act that denied Sinn Féin and other political parties the right to be interviewed and to be heard in the media.


Whilst a radical student leader at UCG, I was enthralled by his lectures that questioned the injustices of the world past and present and held out a vision of a better tomorrow. He supported our student union campaigns to make ‘Education a Right not A Privilege’ and to question social injustices in all its form whether it was in apartheid South Africa, Catholic Ireland, US-backed dictatorships or in Stalinist Eastern Europe. He encouraged these issues to be raised within the university halls and walls. During the 1980s, he brought progressive politics into mainstream youth culture by writing an incisive regular column in the weekly Hot Press magazine, the staple diet for rock music enthusiasts.
He has a deep affinity with creativity and imagination in science and engineering as much as in the arts.

Over the last decade I have dedicated a lot of my time endeavouring to ensure that technology can benefit all sectors of society. Michael D consistently supported this social inclusion approach and would always make himself available to attend and officiate at events that I was organising related to neighbourhoods, asylum seekers, older peoples, open data and so much more. 
Michael D. Higgins in 2007 at the launch of the community website by the residents of the Eglinton Asylum Seekers Accommodation Centre, Salthil Galway city

Vote Michael D. Higgins for President of Ireland

'Opening Up Government Data' Conference in Galway


The institute where I work- the Digital Enterprise Research Institute is hosting a major eGovernment conference on November 8th entitled Opening Up Government Data.
This very important citizens empowering event is being held as part of Irish Open Data Week with the aim of highlighting  the benefits of Open Data to public authorities, businesses, community organisations and individual citizens through a conference based on open, facilitated discussions and hands-on sessions.

Attendees will include officials from many local authorities across Ireland as well as representatives from the political, academic, community, media, corporate and small business sectors.

Hopefully community activists and NGOs attend in large numbers

Michael D Higgins: Greatest Advocate of International Human Rights in the History of Dáil Éireann



More than any public representative in the history of the Oireachtas, Michael D Higgins has campaigned tirelessly at home and abroad against the oppression of peoples, in defense of human rights and in securing justice for all.
It is notable that whilst generations of Irish parliamentarians unashamedly kept their mouths shut on human rights abuses perpetuated by successive United States governments and their allies, Michael D has had the courage of his convictions to not allow himself to be coerced into silence. He did not distinguish between torture and coercion committed by the USA, China, Soviet Union or any other regime. Whenever the opportunity arose to defend the downtrodden and stand up to the powerful, he did so.
In recognition of this consistent, effective and proud record,  he became the first recipient of the Seán MacBride Peace Prize awarded by the International Peace Bureau in Helsinki in 1992. 

Solidarity with Oppressed Peoples Everywhere
His international causes including highlighting abuses in countries such as Western Sahara, Chile, IraqTurkeyEast Timor and Somalia, some of which he visited and some of which he was expelled from.

In particular, he has been since the 1970s an outspoken critic of the brutal armed occupation and creeping colonisation being perpetrated by the Israelis in Palestine.


He was an early supporter of the Anti-Apartheid movement as it sought to end the racial oppression of blacks in Southern Africa and introduce democracy.  
On February 11th 1990, I along with dozens of other peace activists was lucky enough to be with him in a packed Atlanta Hotel on Dominick Street Galway city, as we watched the release of Nelson Mandela from prison unfold live on television. Michael D and the rest of us were part of the international people power movement that finally succeeded in forcing Western governments to end their unswerving support of the racist South African government.
UCG Reunion 2008: Remembering the Anti-Apartheid Campaign

He was never afraid to take on the so-called defenders of the ‘Free World’ as they poured weaponry and military advisors into Chile and Nicaragua in order to overthrow democratically elected governments who were endeavouring to end the economic stranglehold of the nations natural resources held by a tiny elite and multinational corporations.
He visited Nicaragua and El Salvador in the early 1980s as tens of thousands were being slaughtered by US armed paramilitary gangs and authoritarian regimes. His endeavours at the time were praised by Irish Catholic missionaries who had lived in the region and by Bishop Eamon Casey of Galway
In 1984 he was one of only 4 TDs to join the huge public protests against US President Ronald Reagan’s visit to Ireland.  Michael D was with other graduates that included myself outside UCG in Galway when we burned our degrees to coincide with Reagan being awarded a Honorary Doctorate of Law by the university authorities, even though he had just previously broken international law by mining the ports of a sovereign state- Nicaragua.
In the last decade Michael has been the leading parliamentary campaigner against the illegal invasion of Iraq by US coalition forces, against the illegal detention camp at the US military base in Guantanamo Cuba, against the CIA rendition flights including their use of Shannon Airport and against the militarisation of the Salthill Airshow.
Michael D Higgins participating in the Galway Alliance Against War demonstrations held to condemn the presence of military planes at the Salthill Airshow from air forces that participated in the illegal Iraq war

Check out also my blog article Michael D. Higgins: Conscience of the Nation

Michael D. Higgins: Conscience of the Nation


In a period of public disillusionment with a governing system that has been exposed as too often serving vested interests, that sold off our country’s assets and the labour of generations not yet born to pay foreign moneylenders for the gambling debts of bankers, property speculators and their political lackeys, it is refreshing to know that there are still politicians whose actions and deeds mark them off as servants of the people rather than abusers of public office. None more so than Michael D Higgins whose career spanning six decades has been about implementing the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic “…that guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens…to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation…cherishing all the children of the nation equally…”.

His life has been a never-ending campaign against poverty and oppression and against the powerful elites of church and state both here and abroad who stood in the way of securing equality, justice and due recognition for women, children, gays, artists, minorities and the disabled. He has served as the conscience of the nation on so many occasions and on so many issues, sometimes giving voice to the voiceless, reminding us all, time and time again, of the core values and responsibilities that underpin citizenship, democracy and natural justice. Often this struggle has been a lonely one even within his own political party.
Over the years he has encountered many political setbacks and much personal vilification. But such obstacles never daunted him and today he burns with the same passion, intellect and idealism that he has always possessed. In the last Dáil, he was one of only eighteen TDs that voted against the catastrophic bank bailout.
Michael D sits amongst the pantheon of heroic government ministers that include Frank Aiken, Noel Browne, Seán Lemass and Donough O’Malley whose visionary actions have brought long-lasting benefits to the country. As the first Minster for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, he established TG4, re-invigorated the Irish film industry, gave legal protection to wildlife habitats, ended political censorship in public broadcasting and established a countrywide network of public museums, arts venues and theatres.
A lot of the fundamental rights that we take for granted today in areas such as divorce, access to contraceptives, female equality, status of children and the disabled were only won within the last few decades after long and hard fought campaigns by activists that always included Michael D. Sadly he was too often the lone member of the Oireachtas within their midst. 

Maria O'Malley with Michael D with an Anti-Apartheid poster from the late 1970s at a NUIG Reunion party

He portrays those traits of the Irish that have over the centuries earned us admiration across the world. Our respect for arts, culture, nature, folklore, heritage, sport, hard work, creativity, compassion, egalitarianism, spirituality and community is known in schools, theatres, concert arenas, churches, parliaments, village halls and stadia from Seoul to Berlin; our struggle for nationhood and republican principles has inspired generations of the downtrodden in the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia; our traditional non-alignment stance has made us trusted by small nations and a popular choice as UN peacekeepers in areas of conflict. 

Michael D’s whole life personifies this positive image of Ireland. If he became president, he would help undo the harm caused at home and abroad by those few but prominent Irish who forgot their roots, were often anti-patriotic tax exiles and epitomised an arrogance and greed that damaged the nation. Michael’s campaign trips overseas were always in solidarity with those communities in need and not junkets or golf outings as was the case with some of his fellow parliamentarians.  His presidency would rekindle our national spirit, making us proud to be Irish, and being able once again to offer something of worth to the wider global community.

Check out also my blog article: Michael D. Higgins: Greatest Advocate of Human Rights in the History of Dáil Éireann

Michael D. Higgins: Conscience of the Nation



In a period of public disillusionment with a governing system that has been exposed as too often serving vested interests, that sold off our country’s assets and the labour of generations not yet born to pay foreign moneylenders for the gambling debts of bankers, property speculators and their political lackeys, it is refreshing to know that there are still politicians whose actions and deeds mark them off as servants of the people rather than abusers of public office. None more so than Michael D Higgins whose career spanning six decades has been about implementing the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic “…that guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens…to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation…cherishing all the children of the nation equally…”.

His life has been a never-ending campaign against poverty and oppression and against the powerful elites of church and state both here and abroad who stood in the way of securing equality, justice and due recognition for women, children, gays, artists, minorities and the disabled. He has served as the conscience of the nation on so many occasions and on so many issues, sometimes giving voice to the voiceless, reminding us all, time and time again, of the core values and responsibilities that underpin citizenship, democracy and natural justice. Often this struggle has been a lonely one even within his own political party.
Over the years he has encountered many political setbacks and much personal vilification. But such obstacles never daunted him and today he burns with the same passion, intellect and idealism that he has always possessed. In the last Dáil, he was one of only eighteen TDs that voted against the catastrophic bank bailout.
Michael D sits amongst the pantheon of heroic government ministers that include Frank Aiken, Noel Browne, Seán Lemass and Donough O’Malley whose visionary actions have brought long-lasting benefits to the country. As the first Minster for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, he established TG4, re-invigorated the Irish film industry, gave legal protection to wildlife habitats, ended political censorship in public broadcasting and established a countrywide network of public museums, arts venues and theatres.
A lot of the fundamental rights that we take for granted today in areas such as divorce, access to contraceptives, female equality, status of children and the disabled were only won within the last few decades after long and hard fought campaigns by activists that always included Michael D. Sadly he was too often the lone member of the Oireachtas within their midst. 

Maria O'Malley with Michael D with an Anti-Apartheid poster from the late 1970s at a NUIG Reunion party

He portrays those traits of the Irish that have over the centuries earned us admiration across the world. Our respect for arts, culture, nature, folklore, heritage, sport, hard work, creativity, compassion, egalitarianism, spirituality and community is known in schools, theatres, concert arenas, churches, parliaments, village halls and stadia from Seoul to Berlin; our struggle for nationhood and republican principles has inspired generations of the downtrodden in the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia; our traditional non-alignment stance has made us trusted by small nations and a popular choice as UN peacekeepers in areas of conflict. 

Michael D’s whole life personifies this positive image of Ireland. If he became president, he would help undo the harm caused at home and abroad by those few but prominent Irish who forgot their roots, were often anti-patriotic tax exiles and epitomised an arrogance and greed that damaged the nation. Michael’s campaign trips overseas were always in solidarity with those communities in need and not junkets or golf outings as was the case with some of his fellow parliamentarians.  His presidency would rekindle our national spirit, making us proud to be Irish, and being able once again to offer something of worth to the wider global community.

Steve Job: The Man that Brought Technology to the Masses and Defined a Generation


Steve Jobs. who died last week at the young age of 56, was one of the most inspirational, innovative and entrepreneurial geniuses of the last century, who popularised and revolutionised communications technology in a way that so few others have dared to do.
A child of the counterculture of 1960s California, he was never ever afraid to take on the status quo, to pull down walls of conservative scientific thought and throughout his life he challenged convention time and time again. His lifework was about combining art and creativity with science and engineering.
His products emancipated technology placing powerful computing technologies onto the people's kitchen/office table during the late 1970s with the launch of the desktop Apple 11 and into people's hands with iTunes and iPods from the early 2000s onwards.
The master of gadgets, his products were powerful, aesthetic, radical and colourful, that captured the public imagination on so many occasions.

For me, his philosophy is best exemplified in Apple's American television commercial (directed by Ripley Scott) entitled 1984 that launched the Apple Macintosh personal computer onto an unsuspecting world as a commercial broadcast during a break in American's football Super Bowl final. Based on George Orwell's novel, the theme was about individual expression overcoming the power of authoritarianism.   Click on image above for a view of this fantastic video.

Into the Future
With every new product released by Apple, from the Apple 11 to the iPad, he pushed the boundaries of change forward. It was, as one commentator said on the day of Steve's death,  as if he disappeared into a Time Machine to journey into the future, and always came back with something new and exciting for all of us to enjoy. 


Steve Jobs along with his colleague Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates of Microsoft were part of small group of young innovators who were instrumental in creating the Age of the Microcomputer in 1977, the first two with a computer known as Apple 11 and the latter with the inclusion of MBasic on the Commodore Pet. They did so much to take the computer out of the laboratory and corporation headquarters and into the home and small office. 1977 was the same year that the owner of the world’s largest minicomputer company stated that he saw no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home!
So many products from Apple defined a generation – Apple 11 (Visicalc – world’s first electronic spreadsheet); the Lisa/Macintosh (world’s first  popular computer to use the graphic icon, windows and mouse interface), the iMac (world’s first computer to be marketed as a window into the Internet rather than a stand-alone isolated desktop), MacPublisher (world's first desktop publishing system) (the iPod/iTunes (personal downloadable portable music), iPhone, iPad……

His time with Pixar represented a milestone in  cinematic industry with the launch of Toy Story the first ever feature film to be made entirely with CGI (Computer Generated Imagery).

Apple in Ireland 

 I have a personal affinity with Apple. 
The company established their first overseas manufacturing facility in Ireland in 1981. From this plant in Cork, they exported computers across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. 30 years on, Apple is still there.
My first permanent job after leaving university was to set up and manage a computer store. I was quite successful and by selling so many Apple 11s became  Apple’s first ever Salesman of the Year for Ireland (the award was an all expenses trip for two to Morocco!).  I installed the Apple 11 into circa 500 schools across the West of Ireland, which represented the first introduction for teachers and students to this new technology that was about to change the world forever.
A few years later I helped in the introduction of the Lisa and Macintosh into Ireland.
Part of the Apple exhibit at the National Computer and Communications Musuem in DERI, NUI Galway

Steve has been a hero and inspiration to me and millions of others for decades.  His legacy is powerful and beneficial.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam