Live on the Ray D'Arcy Show!

I really enjoyed being interviewed on RTE's Ray D'Arcy Show by the great man himself about the Computer & Communications Museum that I curate.

I have to say in all sincerity that I was struck by not only the professionalism but also the friendliness, humour and down-to-earth nature of Ray and his assistant Niamh.

Photo shows Ray using a 1980 Sony Walkman and me holding a 1980s Motorola mobile phone (aka the 'Brick') whose inventor Martin Cooper was inspired to create this fantastic hand-held piece of communications technology by the 'Communicator' device ("Beam me up Scotty" says Captain Kirk!) from the 1960s children's science fiction television programme Star Trek. Thankfully as a diehard Trekkie fan since my childhood, I am so happy that this series is still with us!

I am glad to report that this great technology heritage facility, that was co-founded by myself and my dearly departed friend Chris Coughlan whom I miss so much, and which has been available for school, university, digital maker, community, heritage and business group visits since 2012, is now open to the general public from 2pm to 4pm every Saturday.
Well worth a visit!

I also enjoyed an interview earlier this week on the same subject with Pat Coyne on Connemara Radio- local community radio at its best.

Supported by the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics (previously DERI) at the University of Galway since its inception, the museum is now managed by an independent board of wonderful experienced techies under the chairpersonship of Philip Cloherty whose members are Frank McCurry, Liam Ferrie, Pat Moran, Alanna Kelly and Tom Frawley.

My Friends, President Michael D. and Sabina Higgins

In a marquee filled with 500+ fantastic caring people from across Ireland that have done great things for Irish society, I was very surprised and embarrassed to be mentioned by President Michael D. Higgins in his speech last Sunday at the Garden Party in Áras an Uachtaráin held to celebrate Irish Heritage.

The event marked the 75th anniversary of An Taisce with the President also acknowledging the work of my good friend and Galway heritage stalwart Derrick Hambleton.
It was a unique experience to sit beside him (with his aide-de -camp on my other side!) and, along with my dear wife Cepta and my other dear friend Duncan Stewart at the table, to witness the President's friendliness, patience and compassion towards the numerous guests who came up to him over the course of the evening wanting to speak, share ideas and have their picture taken with him. The fantastic live entertainment (dance and music) on offer reflected too his indigenous and cosmopolitan interests and causes with Irish (incl Lisa O’Neill and Shaskeen), African and Cuban musicians performing on stage.

I have spent more decades than I care to remember working on many projects related to heritage, education, community, social inclusion, human rights and environmentalism. But getting mentioned for my work, I felt completely reinvigorated and have promised myself that in the months and hopefully years still left to me, I will strive even harder to do more.
For, as our time in the bigger picture of things is short, we should in my humble opinion make a personal commitment to give more back to the planet that gave us life than we take from it during our lifetimes. So for me, as well as prioritising educational technology projects both in Ireland and in Africa as well as on heritage, I want to devote more efforts in tackling the man-made catastrophic Climate and Biodiversity Crises through the Terryland Forest Park and in the highly ambitious Galway National Park City initiative.
Michael D. is patron of the Galway National Park City(GNPC) initiative which has, in spite of the short-sighted decision of the majority of Galway City councillors and senior executive not to integrate it into the Galway City Development Plan in a time of unprecedented Climate and Biodiversity Crises, achieved a number of crucial successes in protecting and promoting natural heritage through local intersectoral collaborations such as the Outdoor Classrooms, the Climate Youth Assemblies, and the seminars on international experiences of promoting green and blue sustainable development. I have now got an even bigger 'spring in my step' to do more through even more innovative partnership projects for the GNPC and the forest park.

Michael D has transformed the office of Presidency and built on the great work of his predecessors Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson. He has thrown open the gates and doors of what was once the official residency of the representative of the British monarch visited only by the colonial elite and wealthy classes, to the people of Ireland from all sectors especially those grassroots volunteers involved in local communities, environmentalism, sports, arts, health, human rights, heritage and the socially disadvantaged. 4000 people attended the eight garden parties held this summer in Áras an Uachtaráin.
He has brought the Presidency to a new level by speaking out forcibly and honestly on the crucial issues that impact on Ireland and the world such as the Irish housing crises, migration, democracy, neutrality and the interlinked Climate and Biodiversity crises. He is in so many ways served as the ‘Conscience of the Nation’.

I have known Michael D and Sabina since I arrived as an idealistic young teenage student to Galway. Both of them form a great team that have never shied away from getting actively involved and taking leading roles on human rights issues in spite of the personal abuse and harassment that they too often encountered. I campaigned and protested with them on the streets and elsewhere on many issues including against the IRFU over the visit of the Springbok rugby team from apartheid South Africa, the conferring of a honorary law degree by my university to President Ronald Reagan when he was breaking international law by bombing the ports of Nicaragua, against the Iraq War led by Bush and Blair which directly led to the deaths and ethnic cleansing of millions of innocent people and the near annihilation of ancient cultures such as the Yazidis and Assyrian Christians, for Palestinian statehood and an end to the ongoing illegal occupation and colonisation of their lands, for gay rights, women’s rights, students’ rights, workers’ rights…… The list is long!

When we in Galway first campaigned in early 1996 for the development of what was then called the Terryland River Valley park that we wanted to include woods, river walks, meadows and a city farm, it was Michael D as the first Minister appointed for the Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, that gave us the morale boosting public backing that we needed.
His legacy as Minister is strong. For instance, he lifted the broadcasting ban on Sinn Féin, was instrumental in transforming the Irish film industry, established TG4 (Irish-language television), and he enacted key legislation to protect endangered wildlife and their habitats in Ireland and to reverse the millennia old destruction and exploitation of our natural heritage.

In my own small way I did what I could when I could to support Michael D. For instance in 1990 (I was wealthier then!), I co-sponsored along with the Arts Council his first book of poetry ('The Betrayal').

Everywhere I travel for my work in the Middle East, Africa, mainland Europe and the Americas, I encounter people who praise our president for his humanity and progressive stance.

I myself agree with him and Sabina on nearly everything. We have some small political differences but that is not unusual as I have never met anyone that agrees with me 100% and more than likely never will!
Compare him to other presidents and political leaders of recent times, such as Putin, Trump, Netanyahu, Erdogan, Duarte, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei and Bolsonaro who sow the seeds of division and hate.

I am proud to call President Michael D and Sabina my close friends.