From the Papers

Vale, Gaybo. You were the best

Gay Byrne died on November 4 after a long illness. As Dublin as they come, he was a past download.jpgpupil of Synge St CBS and proud of his origins. For someone involved in media all his working life, he was widely popular all over Ireland. He fronted the Late Late Show between 1962 and 1999, a position that allowed him to make enemies as well as friends, but people trusted him and knew him as fair and they trusted his take on matters of controversy. One of the most touching tributes came from fellow talk show host Graham Norton, ‘He allowed people to exist. People who hadn’t existed before.’

What The Numbers Say

In 2000, a poll in Northern Ireland asked the question, ‘Do you think of yourself as a Unionist or a Nationalist?’ 43% identified as unionist and 21% as nationalist, with 36% answering that they didn’t see themselves as either. The same question was asked in 2018. This time, the number identifying as unionist was down to 26%, the figure for nationalist was unchanged at 21%, but a whopping 50% said that they saw themselves as neither.


Graphic from

A recent poll conducted by the Tory peer, Lord Ashcroft, found for the first time in polling in the North, a majority indicating that they favored a united Ireland – 51% to 49%. A similar poll earlier had the tight numbers reversed in favor of remaining in the United Kingdom. Significantly, 60% of respondents, randomly selected from both communities, between the ages of 18 and 24, favored unification with the South – as did 55% of 25 to 44 year-olds. The only group voting for the status quo registered as 65 or older.

Story courtesy of


Making Money

Who would have thought it – RTE is now making money. Last year, its commercial division made a profit of €8.9m. Some of this came from sales of locally-made programs into overseas markets. There was also profit from GAAGO and from the sales of the RTE Guide, the largest-selling magazine in Ireland. download.png

Some of those programs were sold to organisations like Netflix, but others went to mainstream television stations. When can we expect the ABC or SBS or one of our Australian channels to buy some good gritty Dublin drama?


Replacement for Compulsory Irish

The farmstead of the grabber is hungry as a stone, / But the little homes of Kerry will give us half their own.

hqdefault.jpgThat was Sigerson Clifford talking about the reception given to travellers, whom he called, always with affection, tinkers. Since then we have learned to call them, first itinerants, now travellers. And there is currently a bill before the Dail to have traveller history as a core element in all primary and secondary curricula. It would become the only subject area specifically prescribed to be taught, ‘granting it a different status from all other subjects, including Irish, English and maths’, according to Minister for Education Joe McHugh.

You may be able to solve differential equations or discourse eloquently on the poetry of Heaney and Kavanagh or have a basic understanding of quantum theory, but if you do not know how the stories of the Carty and Connor and Coffey families – it is accepted that they are not Romany – you will not get a Leaving Certificate.


Comfort in Age – the Irish Answer

Retirement villages are a common feature of the housing mix in Australian cities, but they do not seem to have arrived in Ireland as yet. However, a new ‘aged care facility’ opening this month in Foxrock, on Dublin’s southside, seems to be moving in that direction.

It is not clear whether the ‘facility’ is similar to retirement villages as found in this country or comes closer to an upmarket nursing home. Its web page says,unnamed.jpg

It offers unrivalled, luxurious, elegant, non-clinical accommodation that is accompanied by 5 star services like spa treatments, turn-down service, daily paper delivery and a la carte dining.

Where it certainly differs from what is generally found in Australia is the cost, between €1315 and €1850 per week, or upwards of €90k a year. Some of this will be covered by the Health Service Executive (HSE), with the resident paying the remainder which can be deferred and then paid from assets including the family home.

Further information is on their website


Still in the Family

Guinness are now owned by Diageo; Jameson whiskey is part of Pernod Ricard. But Flahavan’s Progress Oatlets are still owned and produced by the Flahavan family of Kilmacthomas Co Waterford.

In 1999, some of the shareholders in the business decided to sell out and the company is now fully owned by the family. John Flahavan, the current head, is an enthusiastic walker in the nearby Comeraghs in his free time. One of his sons, James, a qualified engineer, left his job in banking to join him as did his daughter Annie, an accountant who formerly worked with KPMG. If someone came along with an offer for the business, John was quoted as saying that they would go for a meal and then say ‘go away and thank you very much.’8_2.jpg

Flahavans are sold in the UK, USA, Europe, Korea and Australia. So when you buy Guinness stout and Jameson whiskey in this country, the profits go to London or France, but if you buy Flahavan’s progress oatlets for your morning porridge, you are supporting an Irish family who have been in the business for more than 200 years.