Creating a Wildflower Meadow in Galway city: August 29th

Meadows were once a defining feature of rural Ireland, bringing beauty, colour and a rich biodiversity to our countryside.  These hay fields were populated by a diverse range of wildflowers such as clover, buttercup, daisy, ragged robin, poppy, bird’s-foot trefoil and yarrow providing an important home for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.  However urbanisation, the use of chemical fertilisers and intensive monoculture farming in the modern era has eliminated much of these traditional grasslands leading to a collapse in the numbers of native non-woody plants and a corresponding decrease in the insect populations that fed off them as well as the rest of the interlinked organisms of an ecosystem such as birds and mammals.  

Surveys in Britain have shown that the country has lost over 97% of its meadow habitat since World War Two. Though no national statistics exists in Ireland, nevertheless a similar situation probably occurs here.  
Now the two Galway city-based branches of the Conservation Volunteers are coming together under the supervision of Padraic Keirns to develop an urban meadow in Terryland Forest Park. The project will involve first preparing the ground by cutting back the grass, before the sowing of yellow rattle which is known as the ‘meadow maker’ as it reduces grass growth as well as other native Irish wildflower species as devil's-bit scabious, crow garlic, ragged robin, oxeye daisy, primrose and poppy. 
Once the meadow matures next year, volunteers will annually mow the grass using the traditional hand scythes that will be provided by Michael Tiernan and the members of Cumann na bhFear (Ballinfoile Mór Men’s Shed).
Anyone interested in taking part in this important ecological project should assemble at 10am on Saturday August 29th at the Quincentennial Bridge entrance to Terryland Forest Park.
Further information can be obtained from Brendan Smith at

What Did the Irish ever do for India/Pakistan - Part 2

An Irishman's Guide to the History of the World
- India & Pakistan

In part one of What Did the Irish ever do for India/Pakistan, I wrote about the influence of Irish-founded schools on the political leadership of the countries of the Indian subcontinent; the prominent role of Irish women in the struggle for Indian independence; the co-operation between Irish and Indian nationalists and the fact that the Indian National Congress was on two occasions led by Irish people (a man and a woman).
The story continues below.

India’s “De Valera”
Subhas Chandra Bose (1897–1945) was one of the most renowned leaders of the Indian independence movement, president of the Indian Congress Party and Head of State of the Provisional Government of Free India during World War Two. According to Bose’s biography The Indian Struggle, he saw Ireland as the best example in the 20th century of a national struggle for independence and said that “there is so much in common between us that it is only natural that there should be a deep bond of affinity and comradeship between the Irish Nation and ours”.  He supported the Irish armed resistance against British rule during the War of Independence. He agreed too with the Irish republicans’ opposition to the subsequent Treaty with its partition of Ireland into two states and their opposition to dominion status within the British Empire. According to Anton Pelinka in his excellent book ‘Democracy – Indian Style’, Bose recognised that these two issues (partition and dominion status) presented a danger that the Indian Congress Party must avoid at all costs. He closely identified with Eamon De Valera, leader of the anti-Treaty Sinn Féin movement, who later became Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Irish Free State in 1932.  De Valera was his political role model. He met him three times. Bose visited Ireland in 1936 at the invitation of De Valera who treated him as if he was the official representative of India.  He met him again in 1938 when the Irish leader was in London to negotiate with the British government over partition, British naval ports in southern Ireland and economic issues. It was at that time that a British newspaper labelled Bose as “India’s De Valera”.
When Bose established an Indian Government in exile in 1943 in Japanese occupied Singapore to oust Britain from India, De Valera sent him a congratulatory note. 

First Indian Restaurant & Shampoo Clinic in UK introduced by an Indian from Ireland
In 1810, Sake Dean Mahomed established the first Indian restaurant in British. It opened as the Hindoostanee Coffee House on George’s Street in London. In 1814 he and his wife set up the first commercial shampooing masseur bathhouse in England whose celebrity clientele included British royalty. It is interesting to note that the term shampoo is derived from a Hindi word meaning to soothe/press. Made from herb extracts, shampoo was used since ancient times in India to clean hair.
But whilst Dean Mahomed was born in Patna in India, he came to England from Ireland where he had married and held a position of high social status amongst the landowning colonial elite. He was only ten years of age in 1769 when his father, who worked with the British East India company, died. But he was taken under the guardianship of Godfrey Evan Baker, an Anglo-Irish Protestant officer. Thirteen years later Baker resigned his military commission and left India accompanied by the twenty three year old Dean Mahomed who became a manager on his estate in Cork. In 1786 he eloped with Jane Daly, a 16 year old girl from a local wealthy Protestant family. But he soon became a pillar of the local community and it was whilst he was in Cork that he published The Travels of Dean Mahomet, the first book in English to be written by an Asian.

Fictional Son of an Irish Soldier becomes an Imperial Icon of the Raj

Kim, one of the best loved English novel’s of the 20th century, written by Nobek-prize winner Rudyard Kipling features as its main character the orphaned son of an Irish sergeant in the British Army and his Irish wife who worked as a maid in the house of a British officer.  

The novel is called after its main protagonist and hero, whose full name is  Kimball O'Hara, a beggar boy who lives by his wits on the streets of Lahore.

Indian & Irish Literary Greats - The Connection
In 1913, Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. This achievement was helped by the fascination that William Butler Yeats, then Ireland’s greatest poet and an internationally recognized star of Western literature, had with Tagore’s manuscript collection of poems entitled Gitangali: Song Offerings, which he first read in 1912 shortly after the Indian writer had arrived in England.  Upon reading it, Yeat’s felt that Tagore was far superior to himself or to any other living writer, that the lyrics “display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my live [sic] long . . . a tradition, where poetry and religion are the same thing.”  He became the Indian writer’s most passionate supporter and wrote the introduction to Gitangali when it was published in March 1913. By November of that year Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize solely on this one anthology. Yeats recognised a strong cultural essence between his spiritual homeland of the rural West of Ireland and that of Tagore’s native Bengal as it was portrayed in his poetry. Both cultures held a strong affinity between nature and religion which appealed to him.
But Yeat’s interest in the religions, mysticism and mythologies of India go back much further, to 1885 when at the age of 21 he had invited Mohini Chatterji, a Bengali Brahman, to Dublin.

An Imperial Gaelic Army in India
“India was the great prize of a Gaelic-speaking army recruited by the East India Company exclusively in Ireland under Irish generals.”
So said Donegal born, former imperial administrator in India and Liberal MP C. J. O’Donnell in 1913.
There is much truth in this statement as it is recognised by historians that the Irish were the largest ethnic group in the British Army during the nineteenth century, probably forming between 40%-45% of the membership. It was probably a similar situation in the army of the East India Company before its duties were taken over by the British state after the Indian Mutiny of the 1850s.
In order to escape endemic poverty and for a love of foreign adventure many Irish Catholic peasantry and urban dwellers enlisted as infantry. The sons of the predominantly Anglo-Irish Protestant landowning elite of Ireland also served in the British military but as cavalry and officers, an aristocratic tradition that goes back to medieval times. Due to religious and racial discrimination, Irish Catholics were very rarely able to gain admittance to the upper echelons of the British military.
There is no doubt then that many Irish served as members of an army of occupation in India, brutally repressing rebellions by the indigenous peoples.  
John Nicholson
It is also the case that the majority of the Anglo-Irish officers during the Raj were proud imperialists who probably viewed both native Indians and the Catholic Irish as racially inferior beings whose destiny was to be ruled by the morally and intelligently superior English.
Amongst the Anglo-Irish who served in the British military and administration in India were Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington (Dublin); Sir John Cradock (Dublin) commander-in-chief of the Madras Army, who in 1806 enforced the removal of turbans, beards, bodypainting and jewelry from Indian soldiers which lead to a major uprising against British rule; Major-General Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie (Down), who co-commanded a British invasion of Nepal in 1814; Brigadier-General John Nicholson (Dublin) who during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 employed the terror practice of tying mutineers to the mouths of exploding cannons; Sir Michael Francis O'Dwyer (Tipperary), who as Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab in1919 sanctioned  General Dyer’s actions which became known as the Amritsar Massacre when an estimated 1000 non-violent protestors we killed.

Irish Regiment’s Mutiny praised by Indian Nationalists
The Connaught Rangers (formerly the 88th foot) was one of the most famous regiments of the British Empire. Its regimental headquarters was at Renmore in Galway city.
In 1920 the regiment was stationed in the Punjab. Angered by reports of atrocities being committed by British forces on the civilian population in Ireland, C Company of the 1st Battalion at Wellington Barracks in Jullundur (Jalandhar) on June 28th decided to protest by refusing to obey orders.  The commanding officer was informed that the men would not return to their duties until all British soldiers had left Ireland. 400 soldiers became involved and an Irish republican tricolour flag of green, white and orange, stitched together from cloth purchased in local bazaars, was run up the flag post in place of the Union Jack.  The mutiny was peaceful. Messengers were sent to two other Ranger companies based at Solan and Jutogh. At the former barracks, two mutineers were shot trying to take control of the armoury. 
The mutiny ultimately failed. Fourteen of the mutineers were sentenced to death by firing squad, but the only soldier whose capital sentence was carried out was Private James Joseph Daly from county Westmeath.
One of the leaders of the mutiny Joseph Hawes stated that they as members of an occupying foreign army were doing in India what the British military were doing in Ireland (Professor Tom Bartlett). Indian nationalists at the time viewed the mutiny as a show of solidarity and common cause in the struggle against imperialism. Professor Michael Silvestri mentioned that the “Fateh newspaper of Delhi praised the mutineers’ actions as an adoption of Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of civil disobedience and an illustration of ‘how patriotic people can preserve their honour, defy the orders of the Government, and defeat its unjust aims”.  

Last Viceroy of India assassinated by IRA
Lord Louis Mountbatten served as the last British Viceroy of India (1947) and the first Governor General of the independent Dominion of India (1947-'48). 
 After the death of his wife Lady Edwina in 1960, Lord Mountbatten spent his summers staying at this family's estate of  Classiebawn Castle at Mullaghmore in county Sligo in the Irish republic. 
On August 27th 1979 whilst he was out fishing off the coast of Mullaghmore, his boat was blown up by the Provisional IRA. He and three others onboard died from the blast. 

Destruction of a multi-cultural & multi-religious Middle East by ISIS

Kurdish female fighters defending Kobane against ISIS
The killing machine known as Islamic State continues its campaign of terror against the peoples of the world, this time targeting Kurdish and Turkish youth gathering together in Suruc to plan out the rebuilding of Kobane, a Syrian town that had been destroyed by the same religious fundamentalist movement a few months previously. 

IS practice a violent form of religion that uses ethnic cleansing, rape, slavery, crucification and beheadings to brutally carve out and supposedly reestablish a mono-religious theocracy that is a fantasy and never existed in history. The Middle East was always a mix of religions, ethnicity and ideologies in spite of the mad ravings of these sadistic misogynist psychopaths.

Sunni, Shia, Christian, Jew, Yazidi, Druze, and atheist must once again live side by side in the Levant and Iraq.
But this will never happen if governments of the region continue to condone rather than confront this cancer. Typical of this attitude is the Turkish government failure to hold a day of mourning for the victims of this massacre which occurred on its own soil (it did so for the recent dead of the anti-democratic sectarian Saudi king!). In fact they have helped the rise of ISIS as it shelled and slaughtered Syrian Kurds in full view of the Turkish army positioned on its border with Syria.

N6 Road Route is the death knell for Developing a Sustainable Transport Infrastructure for Galway city

A few months ago I wrote an article, that with later additions by other visionary community activists, became the first public announcement from a new NGO formed to help reverse an outdated car-centric philosophy that wants to build a new roadway that will only exacerbate the transport problems of Galway city and which goes against the trust of modern progressive urban planning.
The article appeared in the Galway City Tribune newspaper.
Hopefully once the campaign season starts in September, I can get active on this issue as due to a heavy work schedule in Ireland, Germany and South Africa, as well as family committments, I have had to take a step back.
Dear Editor,
A number of well known community and environmental activists in Galway city are coming together to form a new alliance to promote a ‘Future Cities’ concept based on a green ethos, smart technologies, a sustainable transport hierarchy and is neighbourhood centric which they say is the “antithesis of  the outdated policies of  the proposed N6 routes and the original bypass route”.

The group comprises veteran local community, environmental, cycling, educational and resident activists. According to Brendan Smith one of the members of ‘Future Cities’, “Across the developed world, cities are constructing new transport infrastructures prioritising public transport, cycling and walking. Copenhagen, Seattle, London, Melbourne, New York, Seville and Berlin are humanising their urban environments by introducing woodlands, gardens, recreational parks and a city-wide 24/7 cycling, walking and public bus or train systems.  Old inner city areas that were once soulless concrete jungles of offices denuded of the sounds of families and residents  are springing back to life as living vibrant communities. Whereas for Galway city, transport officialdom is proposing to build motorways that will decimate third level colleges, neighbourhoods, sports fields, key wildlife habitats, farmlands and in the process only exacerbate the transport problems leading to further urban sprawl and a city where the car takes priority over more environmentally people-based modes.
The Galway City Transport Project has nothing to do with solving our urban transport crisis but rather is based on promoting an uneconomical motorway connecting Connemara to east Galway that current data clearly shows represents only 10% of the present city traffic flow. As we were conned in the past by the official by-line that roundabouts facilitate pedestrian flow, so we are being sold yet another untruth with the proposal that a further car-based motorway will be the answer to our present chaos.

If Galway city is to have a sustainable future, the authorities should immediately bin a policy based on a discredited private car based transportation model that represents a failed 20th century system. Instead we should use the €750 millions that we are told is available to construct a hierarchical transport model based on prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users as was stated in the Galway City Development Strategy 2002-2012 but unfortunately never implemented.
Prioritizing private cars and motorways ignores the reality of the inevitable fossil fuel crisis as these energy sources dry up, ignores our international obligations to lower greenhouse gas emissions, poisons our air with toxins, covers much needed parks and woodlands with tarmac and concrete, and dramatically increases the noise levels that collectively impact negatively on the health of neighbourhoods and of the individual citizen.
Within our third level colleges and local industry we have the engineering and science expertise to use for instance smart technologies to help create a Living City that would attract inward investment, improve people’s quality of life, expand green zones and provide us with a template for other urban centres to emulate.

3 Athenry Castles Trail Revisited: A Magical Mystery Tour through east Galway

Michael Keaney with the cycling group in front of Castle Ellen
The recent Three AthenryCastles looped heritage cycle tour as part of Galway Bike Week 2015 was truly a magical mystery tour across the bogs and botharíns of east Galway. Some of the participating cyclists knew the route and individual castles and villages that we were going to be travelling too. But this time each of us at each stopoff encountered something different, something exciting and at times even exotic. 
The Emerald Isle Express at Ceannt Station, Galway
From our arrival at Galway’s Ceannt Station where we gazed in awe at the classical Emerald Isle Express steam engine and luxurious rail carriages with its international clientele that was straight out of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express; to the food fair market with its mix of food, beverageg and crafts stalls that preceded by a guided tour of the hugely impressive medieval castle with its battlements, keep and towers in historic Athenry; then on the road pass small fields, bogs and the village of Newcastle before we came to view the carnivorous Venus Flytrap plants  and frogs of Monivea Bog; then down into the underground vaults of the aristocratic ffrench family castellated mausoleum with Russian, Maltese and Anglo-Irish coat-of-arms that lays deep in a forest to look at the lead coffins still decked with a wreath of flowers that was placed there in 1938. 
Coffin of Kathleen ffrench, ffrench Mausoleum
Then it was a journey through the woods to look at owl boxes positioned high in the trees by Norman Clune and his friends from the Monivea Wildlife group. In the McGann hostelry of the nearby colonial plantation village, we were served up a fine country spread of sandwiches and teas. 
MacGann's pub in quaint village of Monivea
After being thoroughly refreshed and energised, we cycled on through a picturesque landscape of traditional stone walls and fields populated with sheep and cattle to the Georgian splendour of Castle Ellen to be greeted by the ebullient Gaelic lord of the manor himself Michael Keaney. Every time we visit his historic demesne we encounter some new treasure. This time Michael brought us into a 19th century garden ‘folly’, comprising a maze of arches and pathways. 
Alexandre Herman in Arch's Bar, Athenry
Our final stop was the new Arch Bar in Athenry which has been transformed into a fine trendy crafts beer and dining establishment. 
Cycling group in front of Athenry Castle
We look forward with anticipation to our next journey on this trail!
Athenry Food Market
Botharín in Tiaquin

Venus Flytrap, Monivea Bog

ffrench's Mausoleum, Monivea

Sculpture of Robert Percy ffrench, ffrench's Mausoleum
German Stain Glass windoww, ffrench's Mausoleum
Victorian era Folly (paths and arches), Castle Ellen
Details of our previous Three Athenry Castles Heritage Cycle Tour in August 2014 are here

My views on Greece: EU Actions Undermine Democracy and National Sovereignty

1.     It was corrupt Greek politicians of the two main parties (New Democracy and Pasok) and their oligarch friends that destroyed Greece. Once the country joined the Euro, international banks loaned Greek governments huge amounts of monies which was used to fuel their political hold on power, secure building contracts for their developer friends as well as to personally enrich themselves. A country whose people were traditionally thrifty changed overnight as they experienced the world of credit.
2.     The politicians falsified the national budgetary figures to secure Greek’s entry to the Euro in 2001.
3.     Political misuse of state monies to enrich politicians and their cronies, governmental failure to put in place a proper tax collection system and their misuse of the first Euro bailout loan to pay off international debtor loans rather than invest in the country has meant that the Greek people are permanently in debt for generations to come unless a comprehensive write down is put in place. 
4.  The wealthy Greeks more than any other social class have paid little in taxes.
5.     No prominent member of this corrupt elite has ended up in jail.
6.     It is now the ordinary Greek people that are paying for the elite’s extravagant lifestyles, yachts and grandiose building programmes.
7.     For last seven years, Greeks have been forced to live through a policy of austerity to experience draconian cuts in hospitals, education and other public services
8.      Unemployment is at 60% for the under 25 year olds with little unemployment assistance available.
9.     For those that have jobs, wages are low.
10. Hunger and scavenging for food is a fact of life for increasing numbers of Greeks.
11. With such an austerity programme forced on the nation by their creditors, the ability for people to contribute towards paying off the national debt is almost zero. Throughout history visionary politicians such as Roosevelt in the US and Atlee in GB and economists such as Chopra and his employers the IMF have recognised this economic fact. Austerity in such cases leads to more austerity and more indebtedness.
12. Further cuts are unimaginable for ordinary Greeks.  Extra VAT will only impact negatively on the tourism trade for instance.
13. Selling off national resources to pay for the mad expenditure of a small rich elite is immoral and is undemocratic. National resources should be in the ownership of a sovereign state and its citizens.
14. The international bankers who are assisting Greece going into debt and the venture capitalists who are waiting on the sidelines to purchase the country’s public assets at knockdown prices conspired with others to bankrupt and humiliate the country.
15. Alexis Tsipras is the first Greek prime minister in modern times that has been honest with the electorate and kept by his party’s election promises. Hence Syriza’s huge win in the referendum on the bailout.
16. In spite of the European establishment manipulation of the media  (to give the impression even up until the day of the vote that the YES campaigners were in the lead) and the dark messages from the financial and political big-guns that a NO vote would mean exit from the EU, nearly two thirds of Greeks supported Syriza.
17. What Syriza want is to secure a significant write down in the debt amount, a sustainable repayment structure and therefore a chance for the economy to recover so unemployment can be lowered, wages rises, businesses to grow. In other words, to give hope and a future for the Greek people.  
18. The Federal Republic of Germany secured a write-off of over 50% of debt at an international conference held in London during 1953. With anger towards Germany still strong after the Nazi destruction of much of the continent from World War Two, many countries were not happy to offer such a generous debt relief. But the Americans persuaded its European allies, including Greece, to relinquish debt repayments and reparations in order to build a stable and prosperous Western Europe.
19. The EU leaders and the banks have ignored the democratic wishes of the Greek people, have set out to blackmail and humiliate them for their vote in the referendum and have organised a very EU coup by forcing the resignation of the country’s popular finance minister Yanis Varoufakis,  by splitting the Syriza party and by increasing the severity of the bailout conditions.
20. The EU leaders may feel that they have won a battle against Syriza. But in fact by their actions, they have undermined democracy, destroyed the sovereignty of a nation and privatised public assets to benefit a small international elite.
21. I for one will be putting my money where my words are and will be holidaying in Greece later this month.

Note: In Ireland the ordinary taxpayers ended up paying for the extravaganza of our wealthy incompetent corrupt politicians. We were never given a say in this decision by the last government. I abhor the fact that my taxes and that of my children are used to pay off  the loans/purchases of the corrupt Denis O’Brien and co that has allowed him and others to purchases NAMA companies at knockdown prices. Syriza is trying to stop this injustice happening in Greece. 

The Athenry Castles Heritage Looped Cycle Trail.

A delightful journey of discovery through a beautiful hidden landscape
of east Galway.
August Country Fair Day, Monivea
Tour Times/Dates: 9.30am, Sunday June 21st
Duration: circa. 7hrs

Start location and route: Athenry Castle, continue onto Monivea Bog, to Monivea village, then onto Castle Ellen and finish up at Athenry Castle. 
Organiser: Cumann na bhFear (Men's Shed, Ballinfoile).
Contact: Brendan Smith, 
The event is being organised in assocation with Galway Bike Festival and the national Bike Week.
With its largely unspoilt landscape of small farms, hedgerows, stone walls, lakes, bogs, rivers, castles, Gerogian mansions, network of botharíns and villages, east Galway is a largely unknown landscape waiting to be discovered by walkers and cyclists. 

The aim of this pioneering heritage tour is to open up a new heritage route that will allow visitors to experience these wonderful timeless features and environment by way of a leisurely cycle through a representative section of east Galway that could  act as a catalyst in the development of  a network of Greenways.

The circa 30km looped cycle tour will start at Athenry where we will have a guided tour of the Castle (above) followed by a visit to the stalls  of the Bia (Irish - food) Lover Food Festival. After our hunger for food and local history of the town is satisfied we travel onto the Monivea Road before turning right approximately a mile outside Athenry in the direction of Graigabbey
The participants will then cycle through the farmlands and bogs of Bengarra, (above) on into the village of Newcastle, along a botharín through the Monivea Bog with its fascinating flora and fauna; to the Monivea demesne with its collection of historical sites that was for centuries the home of the renowned Anglo-Norman fFrench family, one of the famous merchant tribes of Galway. 

fFrench Mausoleum
This will be followed by a stopover in the quaint plantation village of Monivea. 

From there the tour will continue onto Castle Ellen (above) for a picnic on the lawns of the famed Georgian mansion that was formerly the residency of the Anglo-Irish Lambert family. After a guided tour of the demesne by Its owner Michael Keaney, participants will cycle onto towards the town of Athenry to finish up at Athenry Castle. 
Abaondoned farm, Currantarmuid

Monivea Wood

Save the Bees - Join us in planting Native Wildflowers for Operation Bláthanna

Many of Ireland’s native wildflowers face extinction due to pollution, invasive species, urbanization, loss of habitat and intensive commercial farming. The use of pesticides and herbicides in farming in order to increase specific crop yields has meant that wildflowers and pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies are being poisoned. Hence flora and fauna species are declining alarmingly and a countryside that was once populated with flowers representing all the colours of the rainbows, that throbbed to the sounds of a wide of variety bees and birds is sadly becoming a thing of the past.
Please help us reverse this trend and save Ireland’s indigenous flowers and associated pollinating insects and bats. Under the expert tutelage of Padraic Keirns, Conservation Volunteers Galway and Conservation Volunteers Terryland Forest Park are once again teaming up to organise another major re-flowering of the forest of Terryland. So we ask you to please join us at 10am on this Saturday to plant over one thousand wildflowers such as sanicle, bluebell, wild rose and honeysuckle.

Rendezvous: 10am at gate entrance to Terryland Forest Park near Currys in Galway Retail Park, Headford Road.

Do Smart Technologies Represent the Future for Galway?

A new Spanish model for Smart Cities
Considering the public debate at present on developing a sustainable transport infrastructure, overcoming the enormous quantity of water lost due to faulty piping, grasping the potential of Open Data and sensor technology, a series of scientific talks and discussions happening next Tuesday night should be of interest and of benefit to people living in Galway. Entitled The Future is Smart the event will take place at 7pm on Tuesday May 19th in the Busker Brownes pub as part of Pint of Science, a new way of delivering science issues in a fun, engaging and approachable manner to an audience that will contain members of the general public as well as third level students and staff..
The Future is Smart line up comprises:
  • Dr Adegboyega Ojo, Insight NUI Galway – SMART Cities
  • Niall O'Brolchain, Insight NUI Galway – SMART Tourists
  • Wassim Derguech, Insight NUI Galway – SMART Water
  • Dr Rachel Quinlan, School of Mathematics, NUI Galway – SMART Sums
Duration of each talk: 10-15mins. Brendan Smith (me!) will act as the MC for the evening.

After the talks, the speakers will join a panel with three specially invited guests (Catherine Cronin
Academic Co-ordinator of online IT programmes at Information Technology NUI Galway; Dr. Chris Coughlan  Senior Manager in charge of Global Cloud Services Innovation Centre at Hewlett Packard Galway & Dr. Michael Madden head of Information Technology NUIG) to answer questions and start debating issues that the audience will bring forward.

The aim of The Future is Smart is to engage the general public in a discussion on how these new technologies will impact on our future and make ordinary people aware  that this type of world-changing research is actually taking place right here in Galway.
For the NUIG researchers  it will allow them the opportunity to present &/or discuss their research work in front of a lay audience, which is something that doesn't happen often enough. 

The event is free but ticketed to a max of 100 persons. The tickets are available on So please support a new method to bring scientific research to the general public by booking your place as soon as possible and encourage others to do likewise.

Saor Alba & a Pyrrhic Victory for the Tories?

Congrats to the Scottish National Party (SNP) for their great historical victory yesterday. They are a movement whose origins in part are due to the inspiration that Scots got in the early part of the last century from the Irish struggle for nationhood and independence from an imperial Britain.

Yesterday was a watershed in British politics, an important milestone in the shaping of the United Kingdom similar to the 1945 General Election which brought the Labour Party to power and to 1918 when Sinn Féin consigned the once dominant Irish Parliamentary Party to the history bin and led a few years later to the establishment of an Irish free state.

This week Labour was annihilated in its heartland by a rising nationalism due in large part to its betrayal of its socialist principles, its support for the hugely expensive Trident nuclear weapon programme and its arrogance towards the Scottish people that it took for granted over so many years.

The three principal founders (Hardie, Anderson & MacDonald)  of the British Labour Party were all Scottish and it has been the largest party in Scotland since the late 1950s. Until yesterday.

The Conservative Party may have won the 2015 UK general election but it could be a Pyrrhic victory. Mainland Britain now has a geographical political fault line separating Scotland from the rest of the island. The Tories are primarily a party  of England; it has only one Westminster seat in Scotland out of 59 seats, with SNP on the other hand holding an overwhelming 56.

The nationalists will now campaign for the maximum powers possible for the Hollyrood parliament under the increased powers of devolution promised at last referendums. Furthermore, the UK referendum on membership of the EU that will take place within the next two years may lead to the majority of the population of England voting to leave whilst the Scots may  decide the opposite. What happens then?

Now for an enjoyable read of What did the Irish ever do for Scotland?, click here