Super Mario takes part in a St. Patrick's Day Parade in Connemara!

All along the route of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Moycullen, the Connemara Greenway Alliance group of walkers(including one man and his dog!) cyclists (& a unicyclist - Gabe!) and in buggies were clapped and cheered on by the watching crowds.

This was a manifestation of the huge support that this proposed walking and cycling green infrastructure has amongst the people of Connemara.
The Connemara Greenway is long overdue! In our seven years in existence, the Alliance has seen greenways across Ireland open up. So in the public consultation that happens this week in the University of Galway (Wednesday), Moycullen (Thursday) and Oughterard (Friday), we ask supporters of the Connemara Greenway to attend and make their feelings known.
And by the way, I really enjoyed dressing up as Super Mario for the parade once again! It is always nice to bring a bit of humour to a serious community campaign.
But on a political note, I made sure that Super Mario wore a Palestinian scarf. We must continue to keep pushing for a ceasefire in Gaza at all opportunities.

Remembering Mom & Dad on Mother’s Day.

Last Sunday was my dad’s anniversary, today is Mother’s Day. So it is a good time for me to remember and to say a prayer in thanks and appreciation to both my dearly departed and much missed parents. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha.

When my dad Paddy Smith and my mom Bridget Agnew got engaged, they had this photo taken as a memento to a very special time in their lives. Dad was 21 years old, Mom was 19 years old,
Mom was born in Monaghan, my Dad in Offaly. They both met in Dublin at a dance club on Parnell Square not far from Drumcondra where my mom’s family had a grocery shop beside Croke Park. My dad was a bus conductor with Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ).

Throughout their lives, they like so many of their era strived to be good people with good values, taught their children to respect others, to love God, to practice a strong Christian (though not servile) faith and to work hard in order to earn an honest wage but to always realise that money was not everything and there were more important things in life.
Dad exemplified these values. Likewise with Mom who was for much of her early adult life one of a rare breed, a business woman in an overwhelmingly male-dominated retail sector.
But the Ireland they were born into and grew up in was a different country than today. It was poor, patriarchal, socially repressive in many ways, its economy rural centric characterised by small subsistence family farming with our biggest export being our young people. Both my parents endured difficult teenage years and came from families that suffered for awhile as a consequence of years of revolutionary struggle and being on the losing side at the end of the Irish Civil War.
But it was not all doom and gloom in this Irish society. For it possessed a strong local community ethos; crime was almost non-existent; most products could be recycled, repaired and reused; raw materials were sourced locally; children immersed themselves in Nature almost daily; and young people regularly went to sports matches, played music, danced, fell in love and got married; and many families took annual holidays or enjoyed weekend excursions to seaside resorts.

I consider myself so fortunate as a child to have had wonderful family summer holidays enjoying the amusements, beaches and candy floss of the seaside tourist towns of Bundoran, Bangor and Tramore; experiencing exciting working holidays with the 'country' cousins in Carrickmacross and Cloghan amongst the pastures, hayfields and bogs; picnics in the countryside; helping on my dad's garden allotment and working daily behind the counter in the family shop. My parents always allowed me to earn my own pocket money and to spend it on DC, Marvel and Thunderbirds/Stingray comics (I was always a big science fiction fan!), Action Men and Airfix aeroplane models.
Whilst physical (corporeal) punishment was all too commonly practiced by adults against children in families and in schools in those days, I cannot ever remember being slapped or beaten by Mom or Dad for misbehaving even though I was a strong-willed often argumentative child not afraid to express opinions that were contrary to those of my parents.

On Mother’s Day, I pay homage to my mom for being a feisty inspirational woman who overcame the most severe difficulties as a young teenage girl to successfully run a small business and raise a family; to my maternal grandmother Mary Ward who as the only daughter in her family spent much of early adult years feeding, clothing and supporting her 7 brothers many of whom were often ‘on the run’ as IRA volunteers during the War of Independence and the Civil War; and to my maternal great-grandmother Eliza Eccles who spent over 2 years in Armagh Prison for resisting Anglo-Irish landlord oppression during the Land Wars.
I am proud that these women in my family’s lineage kept alive the feminist ideals of a Celtic Pagan and early Christian Ireland where women often held prominent leadership roles exemplified by the fact that our country is the only country in the world (the island of St. Lucia does not count as it was named by invaders not the indigenous peoples!) called after a female.
Beir bua!