Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tour Guide

Just spent a week working as a walking tour-guide for South West Walks Ireland. Only two on the walk. another never turned up even though they paid!

As you can see there is always a welcome for dog owners in Ireland. This is on Bear Island off the SW coast of Ireland, Co.Cork. And this is on the Beara Way, a signposted walking route!

ere we have the real MacCarthy's bar which is on the front cover of the book by the same name written by Pete McCarthy. This is in Castletownbere on the Beara Penninsular, Co.Cork

The result of all that publicity means the place is in every guide book going. A must place to visit. (Its pretty ordinary inside and sells the usual Irish offering of G.........ess & H.........n larger)

A rather wet day on our visit (17th June 2008)

And here is just about the most southwesterly village you can get in Europe - Allihies. This place was once a thriving mining town in the 1800's until eventually closing in the 1960's. Many of the miners were from Cornwall in the UK and English names are frequent here.

Walking 14km - 18km on foot each day is a good way to keep fit and often gets me to places I don't normally choose to walk. Being a tour guide is a great way to meet new faces, listen to how other people live and share your knowledge of Ireland. If there is a downside, then it's not particularly well paid, you don't 'clock-off' at 5pm and you may not particularly want to walk six days in a row but .... you get a wonderful hotel room and the same excellent food as your guests. All in all I'm not complaining.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Lisbon Treaty "no"

Well its done. 820,000 citizens of Ireland told the 400 million who live in the rest of Europe that they don't approve of the Treaty. Some democracy this is that allows so few to dictate to so many. Now it gets even better. There is no plan B, no one now knows what is going to happen both in Ireland or Europe. As I write our politicians are blaming each other and everyone else for the no vote. We are now being told the likely implications are not going to be pleasant. (Where were these people before the election I wonder?). An EU minister was on the radio saying that we need to find out why the Irish didn't vote yes and work from there. This will be difficult as people here voted no for reasons as diverse as not wanting compulsory enlistment into the armed forces or they didn't like the price of petrol. None of these things were in the treaty of course but it didn't stop the masses here from thinking they were.

Oh, and John McCarthy our neighbour voted no because the EU was responsible for one of his cows going down with an infection.

"Jaysus boy that EU lot have introduced soooo... much I'm sure it twas dem wot brought in dat voyrus that moy cow caught. It twas never loyk dis before dem europeans started".

Giving us the vote was like asking children to vote for more school and homework. Even better, only Irish citizens were supposed to vote. They got that wrong too and gave us voting cards!!! (We voted, thanks!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Lisbon Treaty

Tomorrow we, the citizens of Ireland are being asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' to the Treaty of Lisbon. We are the only country in the European Union who have to decide whether to ratify the treaty. If we vote no the treaty will not come into effect. It is causing much hot air both in the pubs and on on the airwaves as the citizens of this country decide which way to vote. There is as you would expect a large amount of contrary advice and misinformation. Somewhat suprising given that we've only had 12 years to read the full treaty. Except it appears that only three people in Ireland have actually read the whole 56 page document. (

I tried to read it when it arrived with the Sunday Times. I took one look at and decided it was beyond human comprehension and returned to do something more interesting. Just to give you an idea it goes something like this.

"Section 12, paragraph 8 as amended by section two sub paragraph 8b shall be amended to read, "Where subsection 8b is relevant then paragraph 2b shall be the relevant paragraph for all purposes except when Section 35, sub section 29f applies". And so on.

The Referendum Commission has however kindly given every citizen a helpful booklet outlining the changes in what it calls simple language. It runs to only 14 pages in English and 18 in Irish. I cannot bring myself to understand it even after trying. For example on page 11 it says that one of the changes is in competence and the treaty will give the EU joint competence with member states in a number of areas and these include energy and aspects of the environment and public health. Thats clear then isn't it?

Many people will vote no because they simply don't see why they should vote for something they don't understand and there are those who will vote yes because, "the EU has been good to us and we should trust our polititians". There are those who claim it will allow the EU to force us citizens of Ireland to eat rice or fight on Sundays if the EU goes to war over herring quotas. Some people think that we will have compulsory abortion if the person is born in wales and lives outside Italy. There are those who think that the EU will claim the moon the following week (sub section 24, para 9) and so on.

Me? I'll vote yes for the simple reason that the EU has so far been the only institution that has sprotecting the Irish from destroying their own environment over the last ten or fifteen years.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Driving in Ireland - an update

Last October the Minister for Transport postponed his decision to change the law on learner drivers driving unaccompanied. Next month he's going to try again. (See

This is another doomed attempt by the Minister to compel learner drivers in Ireland to have a qualified driver with them at all times. Why? Well to start with only 140,000 of the 400,000 unqualified drivers have applied to take their tests so it is unlikely that these drivers will have taken the test by then anyway. So what will happen? One of two things. The Minister will back down again to demands by the unqualified drivers, or the law will be introduced - but like so many laws here, it will not be enforced.

Unfortunately many Irish drivers just don't see the need to be qualified and complain that liviing in the countryside is impossible unless you drive and that it isn't always possible to get a qualified driver to accompany you. Yes I know every other country in the world manages this one, but not here. I was reading the Irish Times this Saturday and an article on this subject by Rosita Boland just goes to demonstrate the Irish desgregard for being qualified. One female, reported Rosita, had decided that she will just "Just dodge the Guards", but more appallingly was the attitude of one mother, who in her own words failed "big time" when she took her test but admitted to driving with her baby in the car. This woman should be locked up. Not for her own good but that of her baby. But then I shouldn't be surprised at this attitude as parents here can often be seen driving around with their little Rug-Rats jumping around in the front or back seats without seat belts. I've even seen babies only able to crawl laid on the back seat waiting to be thrown through the car windscreen when the next idiot crashes into them. The odd thing is that mum can often be seen wearing a belt. Assuming they know what it is for, they feel no need to extend the safety to their offspring.

We'll see what the Minister does next month. Don't hold your breath.