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Michael Davitt Museum, Straide, County Mayo, Ireland

posted May 1, 2019, 1:05 PM by Bernard O'Hara

Bernard O’Hara will give a lecture on ‘The Life of Michael Davitt’ to the Mayo Association, Dublin, in the Iveagh Hotel, Dublin, on Tuesday May 28, 2019. It is open to the public.
The Michael Davitt Museum at Straide, off the N58 from the N5 motorway at Bellavary, in County Mayo, is an attraction well worth a visit in the West of Ireland (michaeldavittmuseum.ie. The museum was opened in October 2000 to honour and remember its native son, ‘the father of the Land League’ and one of Ireland’s greatest patriots. It is now located in the specially-restored seventeenth-century church where he was christened in 1846. The restoration work was carried out by the Michael Davitt Association, an organisation founded by the local Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) in November 1972 under the leadership of Nancy Smyth to remember his achievements. The original museum collection, housed in a room in the local community centre, was opened on 23 May 1984 by Nobel and Lenin Peace Prize winner, Seán McBride.
Michael Davitt (1846-1906) was the founder, chief organiser and inspiring genius of the Land League, the biggest mass movement in modern Irish history. It created the conditions that led to land ownership transferring from the powerful landlord ascendancy class to occupying tenant-farmers by constitutional means, bringing about huge social changes in Ireland. Davitt’s sympathy and concern ranged from Irish tenant-farmers to agricultural labourers, the plight of the British and Irish working-classes, prison reform, social reform, the Boers in South Africa, to the Jews in Russia. A radical Liberal, he was a champion of the marginalised, oppressed and exploited world-wide. He sought an independent, democratic, egalitarian Irish Republic, but accepted that Home Rule was the only realistic political possibility from the middle of the 1880s. He was also a founding patron in 1884 of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), a nationalist Member of Parliament, a supporter of the labour movement who played a role in the establishment of the Irish Trade Union Congress in 1894 and in the formation of the British Labour Party in 1906. During an extraordinary life, Michael Davitt was a respected campaigning journalist and the author of six books and numerous articles to various publications in Ireland and other countries. Davitt supported land nationalisation as the solution to the Irish land agitation, but that had no public support. Davitt became a public intellectual with many interests, especially the development of education for the empowerment of individuals, families, society and the economy, with equal opportunities for both genders in an inter-denominational system. After his death on 30 May 1906 from septicaemia following a minor dental operation, he was buried ‘without any funeral demonstration’ (as he had requested in his will) in the cemetery beside the friary in his native Straide, County Mayo.
The museum has a short audio-visual presentation on Davitt’s life and contains an extensive collection of letters to and from him, portraits, documents, prison records, photographs, post cards, and personal items relating to him, many of which were kindly donated by his family. There are also copies of the books written by him and about him, land acts, as well as many banners, posters, decorated membership cards, mementoes from places he visited, a big collection of press cuttings including obituaries, and other memorabilia dealing with him and the Land League. It contains the fireplace from Land League Cottage, Ballybrack, County Dublin, where Davitt and his wife, Mary Jane, lived following their marriage in December 1886 to 1895. The Michael Davitt Museum is a must visit place for anyone interested in Irish history.
Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Jackie Clarke Library, Ballina, Ireland

posted Apr 3, 2019, 4:41 PM by Bernard O'Hara

The Jackie Clarke Library in Ballina, County Mayo, in the west of Ireland, is one of the big attractions of the region. It was opened to the public on 15 June 2013, and contains an amazing accumulation of more than 100,000 items relating to Irish history over four centuries, especially the struggle for Irish freedom. It was assembled over a lifetime by one person, Ballina businessman and politician, Jackie Clarke (1927-2000), and gifted in perpetuity to Mayo County Council and the Irish State by his widow, Anne, in 2005. After his early education in Ballina and later in Blackrock College in Dublin, he established a very successful fish-processing business in his native town. Jackie Clarke served as a councillor on Ballina Town Council from 1957 to 1974 and held the office of cathaoirleach (chairperson) in 1960 and 1968. His passion became attending antiquarian and second-hand book sales in Ireland and abroad, purchasing Irish historical books, maps and documents. The collection is housed in the former Provincial Bank on Pearse Street. Now a listed building, it was designed by Thomas Newenham Deane in the 1880s, and acquired by Mayo County Council. It was completely renovated and refurbished to store and exhibit the Jackie Clarke Library.
The Jackie Clarke Library contains several unique, rare, and important items. It has an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation, a rare 1917 Proclamation issued by Cumann na mBan to remember the first anniversary of the Rising, and the largest collection of material relating to the 1916 Easter Rising stored outside Dublin, including manuscripts, photographs and personal items relating to all the leaders. It also includes the French revolutionary tricolour taken from Theobald Wolfe Tone’s hat by his captors at Lough Swilly, County Donegal, on 16 September 1798, as well as letters from Michael Collins, Douglas Hyde, Michael Davitt and O’Donovan Rossa. It also contains rare books, numerous maps, posters, political cartoons, legal documents, pamphlets, reports, letters, minute books, articles, hand-bills, and several photographs, as well as a big collection of newspapers. The collection contains an autograph book signed by members of the First Dáil in 1919 and the signatories of the Treaty in 1921. It also contains Jackie Clarke’s own scrapbooks and his press cuttings for over fifty years. The collection has been classified by theme, and interpreted in various ways to facilitate dissemination, including display cases, digital technology, and numerous wall panels. Only a fraction of the collection is on display, but there is a searchable user-friendly inventory available for visitors and researchers. Overall, it is the most important private collection of Irish historical material in public hands. This free library is open to the public.(www.clarkecollection.ie)
Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Jack Feeney- Irish-American

posted Mar 6, 2019, 4:33 PM by Bernard O'Hara

The leading Irish-American tenor of his era, John (Jack) Feeney (1903-1967), was born in Swinford, County Mayo, Ireland, on 9 August 1903 (a plaque marks the house on Main Street), the fourth of seven children born to Patrick and Mary. Patrick Feeney, a native from County Leitrim, arrived in Swinford to work for the Kelly family. After marrying their daughter, Mary, in 1892, she inherited the house on Main Street which became their home and the premises for their grocery business. Jack attended the local primary school ran by the Marist Brothers until the age of sixteen.
Like many young men and women of his generation, Jack then emigrated to England, where he joined ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’, working on roads and buildings, including the erection of Wembley Stadium. He was transferred by the company to Dublin, which enabled him to visit Mayo regularly, when he met his future wife, Maura Ruddy (1904-1990) from Ballina. However, he did not see his future in construction, and set sail in June 1928 for the USA. His dream was to receive tuition there for his promising tenor voice and become a professional singer, but his arrival on the eve of ‘the Great Depression’ made life difficult for many years. With his singing talent, he earned a living performing at weddings, socials, and various other functions, before carving out a very successful professional career for himself. He became very popular with the Irish in New York. In 1932, he married Maura, who had followed him to New York. By the 1940s, he was the leading Irish-American tenor of his generation. He recorded fifty 78 rpm records, performed in concerts and films, and became a popular radio presenter in New York.
His biggest hits were When it’s moonlight in Mayo and Galway Bay. An accomplished performer, he entertained full houses regularly in Carnegie Hall in New York with classical recitals, as well as in other leading venues around the United States. He had the honour of singing the Irish and American national anthems prior to the 1947 Kerry and Cavan All-Ireland final, played in the Polo Grounds in New York and broadcast live to Ireland. On visits to Ireland, Jack Feeney sang in the Dublin Theatre Royal, the Olympia, the Cork Opera House, Swinford, Ballina and other venues. He and his wife returned to Ballina in 1964, when she inherited the family business, Hugh Ruddy and Co., mineral water manufacturers. After a slight accident and suffering a heart attack, he died at Lough Talt, near Tobercurry, County Sligo, on 22 December 1967. To mark the centenary of his birth in 2003, a re-mastered selection of John Feeney’s recordings on CDs and a booklet on his life were launched by Harry Bradshaw of RTÉ. Jack Feeney is regarded by many as second only to the great John McCormack (1884-1945) as a tenor.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Inaugural Mayo History Conference

posted Feb 1, 2019, 3:33 PM by Bernard O'Hara

What is hoped will be the Inaugural Mayo History Conference is to be held in the Gateway Hotel, Swinford, County Mayo, Ireland, from 1 to 3 March this year, as part of the town's 250 plus celebrations. This bustling east Mayo town was established in the eighteenth century by the Brabazon family, who received land in the area under the Cromwellian Settlement of 1652-53. Swinford, which first appeared on documents from the second half of the eighteenth century, may have been named by the Brabazons after a village near one of their seats in Leicestershire in England, where the family originated. It could have been influenced by a local ford that had an association with a pig market. The Irish version of the placename, Béal Átha na Muice, ‘the ford-mouth of the pig’, did not appear on any document until 1838. Members of the Brabazon family will be attending the conference. It is planned that the Mayo History Conference will become an annual event in the county’s calendar and held in different locations over the years.
Friday evening, 1 March, is devoted to Swinford History with a DVD presentation by Breege Rowley, followed by a lecture by local historian, Michael Comer. The Mayo Conference will commence on Saturday morning at nine am with the main theme Mayo People's through the Ages, constant new arrivals and how they integrated with the native culture and altered it. The first lecture on ‘Archaeological and Historical Settlement in County Mayo’ will be given by Bernard O’Hara, author of Exploring Mayo, followed by ‘Irish Rock Art from Cork to Mayo’ by Finola Finlay and Robert Harris, Irish Rock Art researchers from County Cork. The second session deals with ‘Seventeenth Century Land Settlements in County Mayo’ by Dr John Cunningham, Queen’s University Belfast, and ‘The Brownes of Westport’ by Anne Chambers, historical biographer. The third session covers ‘Ulster Migration 1795/6 to County Mayo’ by Michael Brabazon, Mayo historian, followed by ‘The People's of Mayo Through the Ages-An Overview’ by Dr Nollaig Ó Muraíle, a leading Irish scholar and historian. The final session of the conference is a Hedge School Open Forum, chaired by Tommy Graham, editor of History Ireland. Booking and full particulars can be obtained from swinford250@swinford.ie (087-6412785 or 087-2424579)
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s latest book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Exploring Mayo is available an an eBook

posted Dec 8, 2018, 11:47 AM by Bernard O'Hara   [ updated Jan 22, 2019, 3:53 PM ]

Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application, which can read on just about any smartphone, tablet or computing device & also as an Apple iBook.
Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara provides a wonderful appreciation of the rich and varied heritage of County Mayo in the West of Ireland. The county has astonishing scenery, an unspoilt natural environment, where people have lived in harmony with their surroundings for over 6,000 years. The natural beauty of the green countryside, with its varied landscape, mountains, lakes and rivers, is a dream for lovers of nature. Each vista has its own delight and surprise. It is a paradise for outdoor pursuits on land and sea, as well as those that want to explore its landscape, archaeology, history, architecture, public art, wildlife, flora, and various other aspects of its heritage. This book, with over 150 beautiful illustrations and an excellent Ordnance Survey map, provides a great guide to that rich heritage. After an introduction to its topography, parishes and baronies, there are chapters dealing with its archaeological and historical heritage, as well as eight tours of the county, with an outline history of each town, museum, heritage centre, and placing various attractions in their historical context. In addition many famous daughters and sons like Mary Robinson, Grace O’Malley, Agnes Morrogh-Bernard (who founded Foxford Woollen Mills), Michael Davitt, Martin Sheridan, Enda Kenny and many more, are profiled.
Exploring Mayo has been described as “the go to book for information on County Mayo”. It has been described by Maureen Murphy, secretary of Killasser/Callow Heritage Society, as “wonderful”, “terrific” and “stunning”. James Laffey, editor of the Western People, has described it as: “an encyclopaedia of all things Mayo”. Peadar O’Dowd in the Galway City Tribune wrote: “modern maps, not to mention sat-navs, all pale into insignificance if you travel to Mayo with Bernard’s book beside you”. Paul Clements stated in the Irish Times: “Renowned for its mountainous scenery, lakes and rivers, Mayo is also rich in heritage sites, public art and architecture. These diverse strands of its outdoor life are brought together in a lavishly illustrated book, Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara. This essential guide should be kept handy in the car glove compartment”.
Professor Des MacHale, of University College Cork, stated: “Exploring Mayo is magnificent, a veritable tour de force, a fantastic achievement; it really deserves to be a bestseller”. John Joe Conwell wrote in the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society Journal: “Exploring Mayo is a superbly presented piece of work, clearly written, well designed and printed. It will serve as a useful and knowledgeable guide for locals and visitors alike while also attracting the attention of the county’s large world-wide diaspora who still retain a strong ‘sense of place’ and an enduring attachment to their native sod. Exploring Mayo is a must-read. In an era when so many journeys are guided by technology the book is a tremendous companion for those fortunate enough to travel through the splendidly diverse and interesting County of Mayo”.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Michael D Higgins Re-Elected President of Ireland

posted Nov 1, 2018, 4:22 PM by Bernard O'Hara

On October 27, 2018, Michael D Higgins was declared elected as President of Ireland for a second term of seven years. All political parties, except Sinn Féin, supported the outgoing president, because they accepted that he was very successful during his first term and that they had little or no chance of defeating him. Sinn Féin stated that they nominated a candidate to ensure that there was an election rather than a coronation. Four other candidates entered the race as independents following nominations for each by four County/Urban Councils as provided for in the Irish Constitution. However, no challenger was able to articulate a clear and coherent vision for their aspirations in office within the limitations of the Constitution. The election resulted in an emphatic 55.8 % vote for the outgoing president, winning every one of the 40 constituencies, with majorities in every age group according to an exit opinion poll. The second best candidate received 23.3% of the poll. The turnout was 43.9% of the electorate, the lowest for a presidential election, perhaps because many regarded the result as a foregone conclusion. Two lessons were learned from the election: that it is very difficult for a candidate to mount a good challenge unless supported by independent means or a political party, and that it may be too easy to secure a nomination through the county/urban council route.
Many people are curious about the letter D in the president’s name. When he went to college there were three Michael Higgins in his class, which caused a lot of confusion. They met one day and one decided that he was not going to change his name; the second decided to use the Irish version of his name, Micheál Ó hUiginn, and the future president agreed to use the initial of his second Christian name, D (for Daniel), after the first name, hence Michael D. The problem was solved. Michael D Higgins has a long record of public service since he first appeared on the national political stage in 1969, serving as a senator, a Dáil deputy, as minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht from 1993 to 1997, and twice as Mayor of Galway in 1982/83 and 1990/91, prior to his election as President of Ireland in 2011. During his first term of office, he made the first State visit by an Irish President to the United Kingdom in April 2014.
President Higgins is a renowned and passionate social democrat, a trenchant critic of neoliberalism before and after the 2008 economic recession, a public intellectual, and a big supporter of engaged citizenship, as well as human and social rights. He always supported fairness, equality, solidarity and inclusion in society. In his acceptance speech he said: “he wants to build a Republic of equality, where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully in society, and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect”. One of the big challenges for his second term is the centenary commemorations of many sensitive events that took place in Irish history from 1919 to 1923. This was a huge factor in his re-election following the success of the 1916 commemorations. Looking forward to this challenge in his acceptance speech, he said: “this task will require sensitive thought, reflection, and understanding – an ethics of memory and a narrative of hospitality, enabling different visions of shared events to be placed side by side, uncomfortable truths acknowledged”. He will relish that challenge.
Note: Bernard O’Hara’s most recent book is Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
Bernard O'Hara's latest book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Irish 2008 Banking Guarantee

posted Oct 2, 2018, 4:14 PM by Bernard O'Hara

September 29, 2018, was the tenth anniversary of the Irish banking guarantee, the most controversial decision in modern Irish economic history. That night the Government guaranteed the deposits and most of the debts in six Irish financial institutions, a total of €440 billion, which led to the socialisation of their huge losses and later required €64 billion of State capital to keep them in existence. The extent of the losses was not appreciated at the time as senior bankers claimed that they had liquidity problems only. One bank, Anglo Irish, was on the verge of collapse, which could have led to immediate contagion for the other banks. The then Fianna Fáil/Green Government was in an unenviable position that night with huge decisions to be made before the markets opened the following morning. Allowing a bank to fail could have brought down the system, and the European Central Bank wanted to have all bondholders protected. It is now accepted that the guarantee was too wide.
The seeds of the crisis were sown long before September 2008. No decision that night could have prevented the economic recession and the pain that followed; it was then a case of damage limitation only. From 2002 to 2007, there was rapid growth in the Irish economy, stimulated by huge lending to the construction sector and big consumer spending. The behaviour was facilitated by cheap credit as a result of membership of the euro-zone, by reckless bank lending and poor regulation. The economic situation was exacerbated by increasing Government expenditure, financed by unsustainable property-based taxation revenue and big consumer spending. Economic growth came to an abrupt halt in September 2008 following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the USA, which led to a global banking and credit crisis. The situation in Ireland was made worse by the collapse of the Irish housing and personal credit bubbles. This led to property, banking, fiscal, financial and unemployment crises in Ireland. The economic collapse resulted in a deep recession, with negative growth, a huge reduction in State revenue, a big increase in unemployment, increased taxation, increased payments in welfare, a large fiscal deficit and high emigration. There were two huge problems to be addressed, losses in the banks and a big fiscal deficit. The country had to receive a bailout from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (‘the troika’) in November 2010. This led to further austerity, with further pay reductions, new taxation measures, and high emigration. A Fine Gael/Labour Government was elected in February 2011. It followed the economic plan of its predecessor with some small changes in relation to retrenchment, because it had little choice as the economic plan was being monitored by the ‘the troika’, which was providing the required funding. After three years of painful retrenchment, to bridge the big fiscal deficit and capitalise the banks, Ireland exited the bailout programme on December 15, 2013. The economic upturn, facilitated by improved competitiveness, was reflected in a reduction in the fiscal deficit and increased employment, with unemployment reduced from over 15% in 2011 to 8.8 % in February 2016. This economic growth has continued to 2018, with employment at an all-time high of over 2.2 million, an unemployment rate 5.4 %, the fiscal deficit almost eliminated, and improvement in many social services. However, the national debt is now €207 billion, but about €27 billion is expected to be recovered from the banks. This still leaves a big future burden from the 2008 recession, no fiscal surplus, and increasing public spending, with threats like Brexit and economic wars on the horizon.
The achievement of new demanding macro-economic targets came at a huge cost to citizens, such as a reduction in many services, increased taxation, unemployment and high emigration, with many unable to meet their mortgages and other repayments. The construction sector collapsed after 2008, which has led to the current shortage of houses and high rental costs. There are still thousands in negative equity, with about 116,000 mortgages re-structured, and over 28,000 in arrears for over two years. Many home and other loans have been sold to ‘vulture funds’. The retail sector was badly damaged by the recession, cannibalisation by large chain stores and by rapid growth in online sales. Austerity measures from the 2008 recession led to considerable pain, with the reverberations still being felt.
Note: Bernard O’Hara’s most recent book is Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
Bernard O'Hara's latest book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Women’s Role in the Irish Constitution

posted Sep 11, 2018, 5:58 PM by Bernard O'Hara


Constance Markievicz
The Irish Government has decided to postpone a proposed referendum to delete a provision in its Constitution which many see as recognising a woman’s role in society only in the home. Article 41.2 of the Irish Constitution (1937) states:

In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved. The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.
This provision was controversial in 1937 and many then challenged its inclusion. However, it reflected the strong influence of Catholic social teaching at the time, in recognising the role of women in the home, but it did not exclude them from other roles. While there was always some criticism of the provision from 1937, no great demand emerged for its deletion. It is now seen as outdated and way of step with changes in modern Ireland. The Government had decided to hold a referendum in October 2018 on the provision, no doubt influenced by the centenary of the election of Constance Markievicz (1868-1927) as the first woman member of the House of Commons in December 1918.
In 2013, the Constitutional Convention (a group of citizens brought together to consider various aspects of the Irish Constitution) recommended that this provision should recognise carers, but that it be made gender-neutral. The convention clearly wanted the role of carers and caring in society to be recognised in the Constitution. Originally, the Government had decided to have a referendum on deleting the provision, but the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality asked for time so that the wider issues raised by the Constitutional Committee are carefully considered. These include supports for facilitating women and men in making agreed choices in respect of childcare, other caring needs, and paid work. Despite the constitutional provision, many dedicated to working in the home feel that their role does not receive the recognition it deserves compared with those who work inside and outside the home. It is accepted that the roles of both women and men in the home are vital for society. The Government has now allowed time for this discussion to take place. While all these issues are very important, perhaps they are for legislation rather than inclusion in the Constitution, because the Government would have concerns about the cost implications of a range of constitutional rights. However, the days of Irish women having their roles as homemakers enshrined in the Constitution are numbered. It is now expected that the proposed referendum will be held to coincide with the European and local elections in 2019.
Note: Bernard O’Hara’s most recent book is Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
Bernard O'Hara's latest book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Pope Francis to visit Knock Shrine during his Irish trip

posted Jul 8, 2018, 5:38 PM by Bernard O'Hara


The gable of the Church of the Apparition
at Knock Shrine in County Mayo, Ireland(Knock Shrine)
Pope Francis is to visit Knock Shrine in County Mayo on Sunday August 26, 2018, as part of his Irish trip and recite the rosary and the Angelus there at the gable of the Church of the Apparition before going to Dublin for the closing ceremony of the World Meeting of Families. Our Lady's Shrine, Knock, a national and international place of pilgrimage, is an oasis of tranquillity and deep spirituality where many who come to see, remain to pray and find healing, reconciliation and peace. It welcomes people of all faiths and none. The centenary of the Knock apparition of 1879 was the inspiration for the first ever papal visit to Ireland. On 30 September 1979, His Holiness Pope (now Saint) John Paul II came as a pilgrim to Knock Shrine, which he termed ‘the goal of his Irish journey’. There was great joy for many when it was announced that Pope Francis is to follow in his footsteps. Knock is ready. The Church of the Apparition, the Basilica, and some facilities at Knock recently underwent a multi-million renovation due to the prescience and leadership of the parish priest and rector of the national shrine, Fr Richard Gibbons.
Knock was the scene of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph and St John, the Evangelist, together with an altar, a cross and a lamb surrounded by angels, on August 21, 1879. The apparition was witnessed initially by Mary McLoughlin and Mary Beirne and then by at least thirteen other local people aged from six to sixty-eight. (Those fifteen later gave witness-statements to a church inquiry). The local parish priest, Archdeacon Bartholomew Cavanagh, did not witness the apparition, but he became convinced of its authenticity by those who did. Two Commissions of Inquiry, in 1879 and 1936, found that the testimony of the witnesses as a whole was credible and trustworthy.
The focal point of the Shrine is the Gable of the Apparition, on the south wall of the Church of St John the Baptist, the old parish church. The Gable is now the location of the Shrine Oratory, and some original stones from the Gable are encased in the outside wall. A large sculpture of the apparition by Lorenzo Ferri can be seen there.
The new church in Knock was dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Ireland on July 18, 1976. Designed by Louis and Brian Brennan and Dáithí Hanly, the circular church became the largest in Ireland with accommodation for up to 20,000. The surrounding ambulatory has 32 pillars, each made of stone from every county in Ireland. This church has five chapels radiating out from the sanctuary, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, St John the Evangelist, Our Lady of Knock, St Joseph and St Columbanus respectively. There are four windows in the radiating walls replicating a medieval Christian site from each of four provinces of Ireland. Along the entrances there are beautiful painted glass scenes with biblical quotations. The new church was officially raised to the status of a Basilica by Pope John Paul II on 30 September 1979, and is known since then as the Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.
An amazing mosaic, measuring 14 metres square which illustrates the apparition scene of 1879, superbly capturing the baffled witnesses, was unveiled on the wall behind the sanctuary in Knock Basilica on Sunday February 28, 2016, by the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Reverend Michael Neary. Designed by Dublin artist and illustrator, P. J. Lynch, the mosaic was created by the Travisanutto family in Spilimbergo, near Venice in Italy. This artistic masterpiece, thanks to a generous benefactor, Joe O’Toole of Supervalu Tuam, was part of a complete refurbishment of the Basilica for its fortieth anniversary in 2016.
Note: Bernard O’Hara’s most recent book is Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie
Bernard O'Hara's latest book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Ireland votes for the legalisation of Abortion

posted Jun 11, 2018, 3:30 PM by Bernard O'Hara

Ireland made international headlines following the result of a referendum on Friday May 25, 2018, when it decided to remove the prohibition of abortion from the Constitution, and to make provision for its regulation by legislation. The heads of a Bill to implement a yes vote was published before the referendum. This marked a huge change in Irish social attitudes over the last thirty-five years, following constitutional changes for divorce in 1995, marriage equality or same-sex marriage in 2015, and now abortion.
In the controversial 1973 Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision in the United States, a constitutional right to abortion services was deemed to exist in their Constitution based on a right to privacy. As a result, a campaign was started to include a provision against abortion in the Irish Constitution. Due to intense rivalry between the two main political parties during the early 1980s, a commitment was made to put the issue to a referendum. In the 1983 referendum voters approved by 67% to 33 % to insert the Eight Amendment in the Constitution, which acknowledged ‘the right to life of the unborn with due regard to the equal right of the mother’. The decision has been controversial ever since with legal actions and some constitutional amendments, like rights to information and to travel in 1992. In the X case in 1992, the Supreme Court held that a thirteen year-old girl, who had been raped, could be allowed an abortion in the State as there was a risk to her life from suicide. The Life During Pregnancy Act of 2013 states that terminations can be provided when there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, including suicide. This provision stays in place until the new legislation is enacted. Support for major reform came from a Citizens’ Assembly in 2016-17 and from an all-party Parliamentary Committee in 2017, which provided political cover for a referendum. In the May 2018 referendum, it was decided to remove the constitutional ban on abortion on a vote of 66.4 %to 33.6 %, with a turnout of 64 per cent of the electorate. The yes vote was carried in 39 of the 40 constituencies (all except Donegal), and according to exit polls by women and men, rural and urban, in all age groups and social classes. While it was a significant majority, there is also a third of the electorate strongly pro-life.
There are many reasons for the decision. While access to abortion was prohibited in Ireland, it was very easy to cross the Irish Sea and avail of the service in England. There were thousands who made that journey and gave Irish addresses, while many more gave English addresses when staying with relatives. Consequently, there were a huge number of women and families with such experiences, and many had their minds made up long before the referendum was called. Personal stories of the experience were very influential during the campaign. The issue of hard cases was also a big issue, as was the death of Savita Halappanaver in 2012 after a request for a termination was refused. For many, it was a woman’s right to choose, with no regard for the life of the unborn. One of the consequences of the strong moral climate over many years was the appalling treatment of women who gave birth outside marriage, while the men involved largely escaped culpability, all of which left a bitter legacy that has yet to be exorcised. While all the churches supported the right to life for the unborn, they had little influence on the outcome with so many other factors to the fore.
Note: Bernard O’Hara’s most recent book is Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

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