A Celebration Of The Life Of My Mother – Kathryn O’Reilly (August 3rd 1927 – August 1st 2012)

“… indispensable in every way.”

A special Mass for Mum will be held at St. Patrick’s Church, Monkstown, Co. Dublin at 10.30 am Monday 1st August 2016 (the day before what would have been her 89th birthday). The 1st August marks the fourth anniversary of her passing.

August 3rd 1927

A cursory look at the newspapers on this day reveals news all about what was going on up in the air:

In Germany two Junker pilots had flown a Junker W33 airplane for a new distance world record – taking 54 hours and 22 minutes.

Here at home on this the eleventh anniversary of Roger Casement’s execution at Dail Eireann (The Irish Parliament) was debating cracking down on the ‘insurgents’, who days earlier had assassinated Kevin O’Higgins, the Vice President.
-For us seated heated here today the mere fact Dail Eireann was even sitting in August is probably the most revealing part of this story!

An unremarkable day so far?
Well, not quite.
Up at the Goffs Bloodstock Sales in Ballsbridge a horsey friend approached bloodstock auctioneer James Byrne Senior to congratulate him.
James, acknowledging the good wishes with his usual aplomb, thought the man was referring to his recent sale of a fine looking filly (a young female horse too young to be called a mare).

“No James, I am not talking about a horse. Your wife has just given birth to a baby daughter!!

50 miles away in Kilcullen, Mary ‘Min’ Byrne was resting upstairs in Byrne’s Hotel (later famously known as ‘The Hideout’ Pub) having just given birth to our treasured Mother –


What appears to have been a rather run of the mill day was indeed very special.

Happy 85th Birthday Mum!

Taking on the onerous task of summarising the life of our dearest mother (your Aunt, your friend, my very best friend) here and now will not do justice to the charming, gracious, humourous, beautiful and very loving woman that is Kathryn.

My two brothers (William and Conor) and I know that everyone of you here today holds a very special memory of our mother – with plenty of humour attached.

So, to share the joy that is our mother Kathryn, after the (cremation) service at Mount Jerome, we sincerely wish to invite all our mother’s friends (Our Friends), and relatives here today to come up to our house in Tivoli Close. We have arranged for Cafe de Journal on The Crescent here in Monkstown to provide catering and you will also have a chance to view our mother’s magical garden!!

Regarding our mother Kathryn words come to mind which I expect will strike a chord, evoke a memory.

    • Mum’s husband, our father, Liam. Their engagement was announced on 12th July 1952, and they married six months later, on 15th January 1953, in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin.
“The bride wore a gown of oyster slipper satin, with an old Limerick lace veil and a  diamanté coronet..”

According to the Irish Times: “The bride wore a gown of oyster slipper satin, with an old Limerick lace veil and a diamanté coronet..”

The 15th January 1953 marriage of Mum and Dad in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin.

The 15th January 1953 marriage of Mum and Dad in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin.

    • Mum’s brothers Jim and Tom Byrne; her sister Maureen; her “adopted” brother Barney Byrne, who living in Hong Kong survived as a prisoner of war in Hong Kong and Japan.
    • Mum’s schools – Loreto Abbey Dalkey; Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) School Newtown Barry, Bunclody, Wexford; Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham. Captain of her school hockey team she was fondly referred to a “Legs Eleven”.
Newtown Barry 1st XI Hockey Team, 1943. Legs Eleven, Back Row 3rd from left.

Newtown Barry 1st XI Hockey Team, 1943. “Legs Eleven” stands back row 3rd from left.

    • Fashion– Spontaneously creative, having personally designed many of the striking dresses, blouses, and jackets that she wore with an almost effortless ease, there was always elegance and appeal in the way our mother presented herself. She had trained in “beauty and sales” in Harrods and worked as a fashion model in London (living in St. Mary’s Convent, Institute of the Blessed Virgin, Fitzjohns Avenue, Hempstead, and in Bath), and here in Dublin with Henry White. She also worked as a colour coordinator and fashion and design consultant for the nylon hosiery manufacturer Berkshire Knitting Mills in Newtownards, County Down, Reading Berkshire. Her proud horsey father, James, loved to quip to his daughter that she had “a fine pair of fetlocks” (horsey-speak for ankles)!
    • Fragrance – YSATIS de Givenchy.
    • Music – Mum studied Opera for many years. In 1946 two nineteen year old ladies were offered life changing opportunities to study singing in Rome. Mum’s brothers fretted over the amorous intentions of Italian men. The second lady went to Italy: My two brothers and I are absolutely delighted that Mum’s life-long friend Dr. Veronica (“Auntie Ronnie”) Dunne is here with us today.
    • Entertaining – Mum had a deep and genuine interest in everyone she met – people from all walks of life. She was one hell of a party organiser: Ambassadors, Taoisigh, or just our neighbours. I know you’ll have a smile when you recollect Kathryn’s talent for quickly putting complete strangers at ease whether in Knockbrack, Avoca Lodge, Tudor House or Moorefield.
    • Painting – Mum loved her painting, especially her classes with Alma (Brayden), Margaret (Margetsen), and Bernie (Lyons). It didn’t matter what the end product looked like (despite sometimes getting up at 3:00am to add a dab here and a touch-up there) – she loved colours and new ideas.
    • WritingMum loved the English language, in her free time writing with a modest yet thoughtful expression which – whether a letter to her dearly-loved children, or an opinion piece for a fashion or societal magazine – always portrayed her deep sense of humanity and compassion. In an article written for the journal of Irish Women’s Political Association titled The Gamines (Los Gaminos) of Bogotá‘ she asked: “And what of us safely ensconced in the faraway ‘developed’ worlds of Europe and America? What responsibility do our affluent societies bear for the prevalence and maltreatment of Bogotá’s disposable street children?” (Source / read more: http://wp.me/s15Yzr-2593)
    • Literature
    • Interior decorating –  Mum’s eye for fashion, intuitive sense of style and her ability to create/recreate were subject to a constant stream of compliments, regarding the way she designed our family home and how good her taste was when it came decorating and updating old furniture, undertakings which she loved.
    • Company director – Her father-in-law Dr. MW O’Reilly observing Mum’s capacity for “listening” appointed her to the Board of Directors in two of the many companies he established in Ireland.
    • Cooking – The Coffee Cakes, the Guinness Cake, and, of course, the Brown Bread. Mum derived enormous pleasure from her delicious cooking. I plan to spend a lot of time studying her all-embracing cookery book collection, which stretches back to the days of her grandmother.
    • Gardening – As you can see from the photo at the back of the Mass pamphlet, our mother, born under the sun sign of Leo, loved gardening (the garden was where she felt closest to God). She could reel off the Latin names of the flowers and shrubs which emblazoned her magical garden – and her Eden was always alive in a myriad of colours and chorus of chirping birds.
    • Travel – Honeymoon in Paris, Nice and Italy; UK, especially London, and Berkshire where her boys went to school; Mauritius (de Froberville and du Maurier families); Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela (British Ambassador John and Jenny Hickman, British Ambassador Jock and Molly Taylor) – [In Ecuador she was also a guest of elder statesman Galo Plaza Lasso (former President of Ecuador), and developed a deep interest in the many unknown tribes of the dense rain forests of  Oriente region of eastern Ecuador]; Florida and New York; The Hague, Bonn, and East Berlin (British AmbassadorJock and Molly Taylor); pate, cheese and wine Tour de France (Mum driving, Niall navigating); China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore (Niall).
    • Rugby – A forthright armchair supporter and at times severe critic of the Ireland and Leinster rugby teams, especially when seated in front of a glowing fire on a cold winter’s afternoon armed with a mug of Barry’s tea.
    • Family Nest– Her welcoming “Moorefield” (Our home) – her ‘red room’, books and the warm cozy fireplace, her time-honored glowing Christmas, replete with tradition, her love of antiques, Muffin I and II (the family dogs), her car…
    • Devotion – Mum’s absolute devotion to God and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
    • FamilyOur Mother’s primary love, her reason for being, was her family.
    • Husband – A devoted wife to our dear father Liam who passed away on Tuesday May 8th 1973.

In one of our numerous conversations about her formative years, before she married Liam, Mum told me both a medical student as well as a doctor friend proposed to her within the period of a week, and in her innocence, not wishing to upset them, said “yes” to the both of them. She didn’t even know they had being courting her. Of course, when her mother Min found out there was holy war!

    • Following the death of our father Liam, 39 years ago, Mum devoted herself to the sole purpose of ensuring the well-being of her children. Throughout this period she endured many hardships and impediments, but kept persisting through fear, confusion and loneliness, always placing her children first. Life was hard, but Mum was harder!

Right to her last breath – HER BOYS WERE HER LIFE!

Kathryn was simply a wonderful mother, true friend, and close confidante, indispensable in every way. She loved her community of dear friends from all walks of life, and it is this trait that brings us all here today to celebrate the life of our mother on her birthday.

Finally, William, Conor and I wish to extend our genuine and heartfelt appreciation to all the staff of the Blackrock Clinic, as well as two fantastic family friends – Kevin O’Donnell and Maura Fennell – and Father Maurice O’Moore (Chief Celebrant at Mum’s funeral mass) for all your devoted and steadfast support during these very sad days.

Mum, heaven was made for you!

May you rest in peace!”

Sources: A few words about our Mother as written and delivered by me at the Requiem Mass to Celebrate the Life of Kathryn O’Reilly, at St. Patrick’s Church, Monkstown Village, Saturday August 4th 2012, 10 am.

– Kathryn O’Reilly Curriculum Vitae as handwritten in the early 1980’s.

– Official announcement, removal and funeral arrangements: https://notices.irishtimes.com/18518475 , http://www.announcement.ie/18534229?s_source=digi_inde and http://www.rip.ie/death_notices_detail.asp?NoticeID=170127

– Pamphlet for Requiem Mass To Celebrate The Life Of Kathryn O’Reilly, St. Patrick’s Church Monkstown Village Saturday 4th August 2012 10am

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An Irish Thought For The Day

“If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can get going without pep pills,

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment

If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him,

If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without alcohol,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs…………..

…………….. Then You Are Probably The Family Dog Dog face

An Irish Thought for the Day - Muffin the family dog

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Tiananmen Square – China’s Woodstock? An 89er recalls

The Road Less Traveled: Niall's Musings

6.4 + 89 = 27 years to the day that changed my life. 

Traditional Chinese code of silence Traditional Chinese code of silence

When you’ve lived through an iconic event of history your life is transformed.

Words:Bravery, disgust, disbelief, betrayal, horror.

Smells: Innocence, idealism, cordite.

Sounds: Crackle, loudspeakers, sirens, pop, Bang, shouting.

Colours: Green, white, blue, orange, red, bruised Purple.

Feelings: Numbness, silence, despair, anger, fear, dismay –Why?

Sights:The scorching heat, the pickets, the helicopter, the blank stares of bus loads of apprehensive People’s Liberation Army soldiers surrounded by Beijing’s irate mothers and fathers, the water tankers, the chuandan (pamphlets), the handwritten messages on the school noticeboard, real tears, fleeing, panic, emptiness, dry tears, bloated bodies. How many more?

Tastes: Dry, salty and bitter.

Time: Central Beijing 3.45pm Saturday June 3, 1989, the first time I heard the traumatising sounds of teargas canisters exploding all around me…

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Accurate China Insight: Here’s proof that 2014 was a landmark year in Ireland – China Relations


The Green Wall of China

In terms of Ireland – China political and trade relations 2014 was a pivotal year. The following birds-eye view draws attention to the main breakthroughs as well as offering a hunch or two regarding how the kinship can be expected to develop into 2015.

Part 1: 2014 – The year that was

Part 2: 2015 – The year that will be

Open Sesame

– Export opportunities

– Strategic sourcing

– Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Accurate Group – China Market Makers

Part 1: 2014 -The year that was

Accurate China Insight China Investment Corporation 2014 a pivotal year in china ireland relations– The year had barely commenced when China Investment Corp (CIC) and The National Pension Reserve Fund announced an investment of US$100 million in The China Ireland Technology Growth Capital Fund which is turn will invest in fast-growing Irish start-up technology companies trying to expand into China.

– Another subtle telltale sign of the improving relationship was the Chinese Embassy in Dublin‘s anticipation of ” a need for increased facilities to carry out embassy, consular and state business“, as noted in the Irish Independent last February. It was around this time the Irish Government announced its intention to open a Consulate in Hong Kong.

– The first big dairy export deal of the year was won by Northern Ireland‘s Dale Farm – whey protein, a deal which effectively pushed its annual exports to China up to £20 million a year.

Chinese leasing company Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (JY Aviation) became the third Chinese aircraft leasing company to set up its European headquarters in Dublin..

WrightBus hits the streets of Hong Kong

WrightBus hits the streets of Hong Kong

– In March, Northern Ireland bus-maker Wrightbus of Ballymena won orders for more than 50 new buses in Hong Kong.

– While the photograph of President Higgins of Ireland being welcomed to China by President Xi Jinping in December 2014 represents the highest form of State engagement in diplomatic protocol, perhaps the most iconic image of the Ireland – China relationship in 2014 was the greening of China’s most important cultural icon, the Great Wall to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

– Meanwhile, the Bank of Ireland became the first bank in Ireland to offer business customers the facility to make payments in Chinese Yuan / RMB.

– H.E. Xu Jianguo was appointed Chinese ambassador to Ireland. Tellingly, his previous posting was as Chinese ambassador to New Zealand, the main conduit for dairy product imports into China (courtesy of a generous free trade agreement).

– However, the year wasn’t all about agriculture. Tencent, games industry giant and China’s largest and most used Internet service portal, chose Ireland’s Havok to deliver for its Iron Knight game dynamic battlefields, enhanced graphics, efficient character AI, more realistic animations and detailed destruction effects to offer players the most authentic fighting action possible. All-in-all, a huge milestone for Havok, the premier provider of interactive software and services for digital media creators in the games and entertainment industries.

Havok secured a landmark deal with Tencent

Havok secured a landmark deal with Tencent

– In May 30 Irish diary companies had products approved for export to China following stringent audits by Chinese authorities, a significant milestone for Ireland’s dairy industry.

– Also in May, then Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar leading a trade mission to China commented: “I think everyone accepts that sooner or later there will be direct flights between Ireland and China, most likely Dublin and Beijing...”

– …while a leading tourism survey in China observed that 62% of Chinese travellers were reasonably familiar with Ireland.

– Huawei Technologies, the leading Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services giant announced the establishment of a new R&D centre in Athlone.

Huawei opened an R&D centre in Athlone

Huawei opened an R&D centre in Athlone

– ChinaHR, the fast growing Asia-focused recruitment company owned by Leslie Buckley and Denis O’Brien, which employs 2,600 staff in 26 cities across China, was said to be mulling over plans to float in Hong Kong. There was also muted talk (but little substance) of a potential listing in Hong Kong by PCH International, which sells product development and supply chain management services – and is widely considered Ireland’s biggest exporter in China.

– On a serious note the Chinese sheep shearing team arrived in Ireland to compete for the first time in the World Sheep Shearing Championships. On a less serious note, Irish-American comedian Des Bishop wowed Chinese television audiences… in Chinese!

– H.E. Xu Jianguo, the new Chinese ambassador to Ireland, undertook a well-publicised pilgrimage to what Chinese officials consider to be Ireland’s Mecca – the Shannon Free Zone, following in the footsteps of Jiang Zemin’s 1980 trip to study the Shannon Free Zone model, which has since been adopted across China in the development of its hugely successful special economic zones.

– In June, Dublin Airport announced its intention to secure a direct air-link to China by mid-2016.

Accurate China Insight Unionpay 2014 a pivotal year in china ireland relations– June also saw a boost to Irish businesses as AIB Merchant Services enabled acceptance of the Chinese card UnionPay.

– During the same month a new visa to let Chinese tourists travel freely between Ireland and the UK was announced, a significant milestone for Irish tourism.

– Mr. Liu Yunshan, a leading member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, was the most senior Chinese official to visit Ireland in 2014. He was accompanied by four ministers in a delegation of fifty-one officials. Since 2011 nearly thirty Chinese Ministers or Vice-Ministers have visited Ireland. Clearly, the Chinese leadership considers a strengthening of the ties between the two nations to be of benefit for China.

– In October it was announced that China is to open a consulate in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

– On the education front, Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Education and Skills’s trade mission to China in late October was a fitting backdrop to a slew of positive news announcements:

– University College Dublin (UCD) opened an office in Beijing as Irish universities sought to step up their expansion into China. UCD estimated it has 1,000 alumni in China with over 100 based in Beijing.

– Trinity (TCD) announced a new Masters in Chinese Studies and the opening of the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, which it says “aim to advance Chinese scholarship and to promote Ireland as a leading knowledge centre for pan-Asian language studies and research”.

– University of Limerick (UL) also signed deals with four Chinese institutions.

– In November, as the year drew to a close, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney led a major trade mission of 37 companies to China. He also had plenty of positive news to announce:

– Kerrygold unveiled a new milk product for Chinese market, under the Chinese trade mark “Jin Kai Li”.

UCD, Irish company Richard Keenan & Co and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences joined forces to form the China-Ireland Dairy Science and Technology Centre with the goal of improving feeding efficiency, animal health and reduced environmental impact of dairy farming.

– Kerry Group launched a new Irish made infant nutrition product ‘Green Love’ for the China market. Produced at Kerry’s new €40 million facility in Charleville, Co. Cork. More importantly, 100 new jobs were created.

– Glanbia launched its Avonmore UHT milk brand in China.

Glanbia launches Avonmore UHT milk in China

Glanbia launched Avonmore UHT milk in China

Richard Keenan & Co entered into a franchise partnership with Shanghai Shengmu Livestock Company, a €7 million deal to accelerate sales of Richard Keenan‘s mixer wagons across the Chinese market.

A breakthrough year for Richard Keenan & Co

A breakthrough year for Richard Keenan & Co.

– Machinery company Samco, based in Adare, Co. Limerick, secured a purchase agreement with two companies based in Inner Mongolia, Northern China for their SAMCO maize planting machine and bio-degradable mulch film.

– Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), along with 12 Irish seafood companies, exhibiting to key buyers at the premier China Seafood Expo in Qingdao, highlighting boarfish in particular as a new viable product option.

Accurate China Insight Irish boarfish- 2014 a pivotal year in china ireland relations

– Irish mobile technology company Cubic Telecom signed a lucrative global agreement with China Unicom, to provide machine-to-machine (M2M) services to enterprise customers across mainland China and Hong Kong.

– Arthur Cox Listing Services acted as Listing Agent on the first Chinese transaction to list in Ireland, when China Petrochemical Corporation acted as guarantor for Sinopec Group Overseas Development (2013) Limited which listed its Dollar and Euro Senior Notes on the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE).

– Other notable deals for the island included: AB Pneumatics, a Lisburn Northern Ireland-based manufacturer of air springs for vehicle seating, won new business to supply £600,000 (€766,000) a year of equipment to Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) in Shanghai; Antrim-based Fastank won a deal to supply portable liquid storage systems for environmental clean-up operations at a major chemical plant in Shanghai; while BI Electrical, a specialist in electrical engineering services, has signed a £20 million (€25.5 million) China agreement with Keenshine in Shanghai.

– In December a team of Chinese veterinary inspectors visited Ireland to officially inspected Irish beef slaughtering and processing facilities. Irish beef producers are competing with Canadian and USA beef producers to gain China export approval. For Ireland to be the first EU member to have its beef approved for export to China would be major coup.

– The year ended on a high note with President Higgins of Ireland’s historic state visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, during which it was announced that President Xi Jinping of China had accepted an invitation to visit Ireland. (For additional insight into President Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit to China click the following url:  http://wp.me/p15Yzr-182)

President Xi Jinping of China welcomes President Higgins of Ireland to China

President Xi Jinping of China welcomed President Higgins of Ireland to China

Part 2: 2015 – The year that will be?

The one certainty in the relationship is that in the run-up to President Xi Jinping‘s return trip to Ireland, which is more likely to happen in 2016 (although with the next Irish general election expected to take place no later than 3 April 2016, the Irish Government will be pushing for President Xi Jinping to make undertake his State Visit to Ireland during the latter part of 2015) the political, economic and cultural relationship can only grow stronger. The one vulnerability is the transient Chinese economy, which although experiencing an extended period of volatility is unlikely to go off the rails.

Open Sesame

So soon after the close of such a vibrant year in Ireland – China relations, any talk of China’s massive appetite for Ireland’s baby formula, beef, pork suddenly metamorphosing into becoming a major cash cow at this point, is greatly overstated.

Every country trading with China wants a piece of the action, and in the food and drink sector competition is set to grow in intensity. For instance, Chile recently started exporting live cattle to China, while Australia recently concluded a free trade agreement with China that will give its exporters preferential pricing similar to that already enjoyed by New Zealand exporters.

It is highly probable that 2015 will see Irish beef producers benefit from the strengthened political bond by having their produce approved for export to China. Moreover, the formal announcement of a direct air-link and a significant rise in the numbers of tourists visiting Ireland are also highly likely.

Export opportunities

Relative to the overall size of the China market, for Irish businesses in search of China market opportunities, we would also beat the drum for:

  • Agricultural Technology;
  • Cleantech;
  • Construction Products and Technology;
  • Engineering;
  • Food Technology and Ingredients;
  • Healthcare and Hygiene Solutions;
  • Industrial Components (OEM suppliers), Life Sciences, Medical Devices (class I and II);

While in the B2C space, where domestic consumption is creating opportunities for foreign brands to sell products in China, the sectors we would make a pitch for include:

  • Foods and functional foods sold through grocery retail, health stores and on-line.
  • OTC and other products, e.g. baby products, consumer medical devices and aids, cosmetics, etc. that are sold through pharmacies, parapharmacies, health stores and on-line;
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

In addition, we are of the opinion that the time is ripe for a significant FDI from China, and in this regard two words come to mind: ‘Open Sesame’

Driven out of necessity, Hangzhou-based E-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group – arguably the world’s largest online and mobile company – is actively plotting its expansion to become a truly global company. Investments in Europe and the USA beckon. In this regard, we would be inclined to think the December visit by President Higgins and Minister of Finance Michael Noonan to Alibaba‘s headquarters in Hangzhou would have been quite effective in putting the squeeze on Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman, Alibaba Group, in considering Ireland as a possible location for further European expansion, bearing in mind that Alibaba already has an office in London’s Canary Wharf. (For additional insight into President Higgins’s visit to Hangzhou click the following url: http://wp.me/p15Yzr-18c)

President Higgins of Ireland meets Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman of Alibaba Group, in Hangzhou

President Higgins of Ireland met with Mr. Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman of Alibaba Group, in Hangzhou

Strategic sourcing

Given the extensive publicity that usually accompanies a China market breakthrough for an Irish exporter, it is easy to overlook the fact that the Ireland – China trading relationship is two-way.

Long known for manufacturing cheap products, over the past few years rising labour and real estate costs, have forced Chinese manufacturers to move up the value stream. Concurrently, an unrelenting series of tainted product scandals have generated a multitude of exacting government decreed benchmark quality standards. The ensuing marked improvement in product and food safety standards represents an economic transformation that is already rekindling China’s export competitiveness. By its very nature, we foresee Irish businesses increasingly focusing on China for strategic sourcing options, which over the course of the year will gradually eat into Ireland’s trade surplus with China.

Accurate Group – China Market Makers

Ireland is a long way away and Chinese people like to see a presence here. The first advice that we give to Irish companies coming to China is that they need to commit to the market. They are not going to come in and make a quick buck.

– Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland” Source: Irish Times, 15th December, 2014

The only way to succeed in China is to be aware and prepared – and to be on the ground. With this vital rule of thumb in mind, in 2014 Accurate Group, which is based in Hangzhou and Shanghai, was directly involved in developing China trade worth up to €4 million for Ireland’s food and drink sectors.

– By Niall O’Reilly

Niall O’Reilly is the Managing Director of Accurate Group, China Market Makers, and Director for China, Irish Exporters Association, has been based in Hangzhou since 2007.


Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Market Makers

Website: For more ‘Accurate China Insights’ click  http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.php

Twitter: @AccurateChina – China: The Ireland Angle

China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Accurate Group, Dublin – O: +353-1 271-1830

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Accurate China Insight: President Higgins plants the legendary city of Hangzhou on Ireland’s map of China

Why President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit includes the dynamic metropolis of Hangzhou.

The most beautiful city in China

In the 13th century Marco Polo is said to have described Hangzhou, which is situated in east China along the Qiantang River, as “the city of heaven, the most magnificent in the world”.

While many of the world’s metropolises can also be portrayed as magnificent, Hangzhou, the largest city in Zhejiang province, and one of China’s seven ancient capitals, is beyond doubt one of China’s most eye-catching and affluent cities.

With a GDP per capita of over €12,200 and a population of 8.8 million people, Hangzhou is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

One of the most picturesque wonders of China, the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, comprising the tranquil West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides, has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands.

Grand canal, West Lake Cultural Square, Hangzhou

Grand Canal, West Lake Cultural Square, Hangzhou

Equally breath-taking is the Grand Canal, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June this year. Dating back to the 6th century and stretching 1,776 kilometres (1,104 miles) from the southern terminus of Hangzhou north to Beijing, the Grand Canal is the oldest and longest man-made waterway in the world, at least 10 times the length of the Suez Canal and 23 times that of the Panama Canal.

Another symbol of the city is the sight of one of China’s most spectacular natural phenomena, the roaring Qiantang River tidal bore, or Silver Dragon, the world’s largest tidal bore that rising to a height of as much 12 metres (40 feet) rolls upstream every September.

That Hangzhou is also the capital of China’s national drink, tea – its celebrated West Lake LongJing, or “Dragon Well”, green tea, consistently ranking first among China Top 10 leading teas – and home to one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, the stunning Lingyin Temple with a history stretching back 1,600 years, it is no wonder that Hangzhou’s tourism industry caters for upwards of 93.16 million visitors a year.

Beauty and business go hand in hand

On Friday 12th December, on his first state visit to China as a guest of President Xi Jinping, President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland will take a 45 minutes journey on the Shanghai–Hangzhou High-Speed Railway aboard the ‘Harmony’ train. Not only symbolic of China’s rapid technological advancement – the 202 kilometres (126 miles) long line, designed for commercial train service at 350 km/h (217 mph) was built in 20 months – the trip is an explicit induction to the vibrant city of Hangzhou with its strong culture of innovation.

The city has strong economic growth of 8%, a business-friendly and farsighted government, an abundance of research and development facilities, and proximity to business professionals throughout the Yangtze River Delta, all of which have contributed to Hangzhou’s recognition as both the capital of China’s online industry, and a celebrated hub of entrepreneurship.

A study published last August by Spear’s (in association with leading wealth consultancy company WealthInsight source: http://www.spearswms.com/news/new-data-reveals-where-the-worlds-billionaires-are-born-4345872#.VA0nMEi5_Mlhttp:// ) ranks Hangzhou 15th of the top 25 global cities “where billionaires are born”, the city being home to six billionaires, all of whom are self-made.

West Lake Sunset, Hangzhou

West Lake Sunset, Hangzhou

Nobody typifies the new breed of Chinese entrepreneurship in a global era more than former Hangzhou-born school teacher Jack Ma, now China’s wealthiest man, who as the Founder and Executive Chairman of Hangzhou-based E-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group – arguably the world’s largest online and mobile company – leads a group of companies that reached a market value of €188 billion in September 2014. More than at any other of his meetings with China’s political elite, it is likely that at his meeting with Mr. Ma, President Higgins, who will be accompanied by Ireland’s Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, will come to truly appreciate the intrepid, confident, innovative consumerist spirit that makes China an essential market for Irish goods and services exports.

China’s ‘Silicon Valley’, Hangzhou is the stronghold from where Mr. Ma and his colleagues direct the online revolution that is turning China’s retail industry on its head: On the 11th November 2014 Alibaba’s Tmall business-to-consumer platform, an increasingly important platform for foreign retailers to penetrate China, ‘Singles Day’ online retail event achieved sales of around €7.6 billion. They are also plotting Alibaba’s expansion to become a truly global company. Investments in Europe and the USA beckon.

Twenty-seven years ago, when Zong Qinghou, a native of Zhejiang province, was 42, he made his living selling soft drinks and ice cream to schoolchildren in Hangzhou. Today, according to Forbes, Mr. Zong, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hangzhou Wahaha, China’s leading beverage company that employs over 60,000 people and has over 64 manufacturing facilities, or  “China’s drinks king”, is reputed to have a personal fortune of €9 billion making him the sixth wealthiest person in China.

Consistently topping the World Bank’s list of Chinese cities with the best investment climate, and rated by Forbes as one of the top 10 cities on the mainland for doing business, at the end of 2013 there were more than 12,000 foreign direct investment companies operating in Hangzhou while foreign investment surpassed €4.2 billion. Moreover, the city’s total foreign trade volume was almost €50 billion.

80,000 free bicycles, 2,000 electric public buses and 500 electric taxis

Maintaining Hangzhou’s advantage as a great place to do business in constantly requires improving the living environment and quality of life of its residents and visitors, an obligation that does not come without its challenges.

No challenge is more taxing then tackling the ecological problems associated with administering China’s 10th most populated city, and one of the most visited tourist cities in the world, not to mention the country’s deteriorating air quality and ecological environment.

For instance, with well over two million private cars on its roads, making it the second worst traffic congested of any major city in China, Hangzhou’s Leadership has taken a serious attitude on combating the issues by adopting zero-emissions public transportation, namely electric buses and taxis. Last June, in one of the world’s largest all-electric fleets ever ordered, Hangzhou purchased 2,000 long-range, battery-electric transit buses and 1,000 long-range, pure-electric taxi cars from BYD, the Chinese automaker backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., whose buses have already hit the streets of London and California.

Anybody who believes that bike-sharing is a European transportation phenomenon should set foot in Hangzhou. Recently rated by USA Today as the world’s best public bicycle sharing system, comprising 80,000 free bicycles leased up to 400,000 times a day, Hangzhou Public Bicycle, which was only launched in 2008, is also likely the most extensively utilised bike-sharing scheme, anywhere.

Another ground-breaking project that is a testimony to the vibrancy of Hangzhou’s advancement is its subway system which opened in 2012, following five years of construction. By 2020, the city plans to five subway lines operating at a total length of 200 kilometres (124 miles).

Hangzhou, Silk Capital of China

Hangzhou, Silk Capital of China

Ireland and Hangzhou

For Irish exporters struggling to seize upon the lucrative sales opportunities to be had in what is now arguably the world’s largest economy, Hangzhou provides an ideal foretaste of the extraordinary growth in the purchasing power of China’s increasingly affluent middle classes.

The average price of a new home in Hangzhou is about €2,700 per square metre; with daily flights operated by KLM from Hangzhou to Amsterdam, Paris and London are high on the list of preferred destinations for Hangzhou’s high spending tourists; while Rolls Royce, Maserati, Aston Martin, and Gucci showrooms all report brisk business, doubtless boosted by the scores of millionaires recently created by Alibaba’s September IPO.

As individual prosperity rises, people are becoming increasingly conscious about their health and quality of life. For instance, local demand for imported high-quality food and beverages such as dairy and nutritional food products present significant opportunities for Irish suppliers, as do local government –backed projects actively encouraging fuel efficiency, cleaner water, and better sanitation. There are also considerable opportunities in Hangzhou for services-related exports in the tourism and education sectors. With regard to the latter, 36 tertiary colleges and universities with close to 450,000 students are located in Hangzhou, including China’s second best university, Zhejiang University, one of China’s leading medical schools, Zhejiang Medical University, and the renowned China Academy of Arts, the most influential fine arts academy in China.

The challenges for any Irish exporter entering what is still a relatively immature market are apparent. China’s rapid growth since its 1978 opening to the world has not meant greater transparency. Given that the available market information is generally unreliable or misleading, making sound business decisions can be difficult, while a simple misunderstanding of local business practices can harm efforts to develop solid business relationships. As such there is an inherent need for proximity to the customer base for Irish exporters.

The Irish Exporters Association and Accurate Group, an Ireland China market making consultancy have been on the ground in Hangzhou for close to seven years building strong relationships with key business and Hangzhou government decision-makers. Consequently, Hangzhou’s Leadership, including its Party Secretary and Mayor, has visited Ireland on a regular basis.

President Michael D Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit to this fabled city not only is a clear recognition of Hangzhou’s long and illustrious history, it is also a statement acknowledging the potential for extending the hand of trade and friendship between Ireland and Hangzhou, a new gateway for Irish business into China.

For more information about President Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit to China click on the following YouTube video-clip:

– By Niall O’Reilly

Source: http://accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=bpe1QYxRz6M=

Niall O’Reilly, Managing Director of Accurate Group, China Market Makers, and Director for China, Irish Exporters Association, has been based in Hangzhou since 2007.

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Market Makers

Website: For more ‘Accurate China Insights’ click  http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.php

Twitter: @AccurateChina – China: The Ireland Angle

China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Accurate Group, Dublin – O: +353-1 271-1830

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Accurate China Insight: State Visit to the People’s Republic of China – President Michael D. Higgins of ireland

The State Visit, the highest form of engagement, in diplomatic protocol, that one country can have with another, will be the 3rd overseas State Visit since the President of Ireland took office and is recognition of the warm relationship Ireland enjoys with the People’s Republic of China encompassing all aspects of the exchanges between Ireland and China in culture, education, trade and investment.

The President’s programme in China, which officially commences in Beijing on Sunday 7th December, will include State ceremonies, cultural, educational and business events, such as an Irish Cultural Performance in Beijing‘s Forbidden City Concert Hall, and Enterprise Ireland / IDA Ireland business and Embassy of Ireland Irish community receptions. A state dinner in his honour, hosted by the President Xi Jinping and Madame Ping will be held on Tuesday 19th December. On Thursday, 11th December, the Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai will host a reception for the Irish community, while on Friday 12th the President will visit the third city involved in the State Visit, Hangzhou. In Hangzhou, President Higgins will visit Alibaba, and have a meeting with Mr. Jack Ma its founder and Executive Chairman. Staying overnight in Hangzhou – perhaps at the West Lake State Guest House where Nixon and Mao signed the historic “3 Joint Communiques” in 1972– on Saturday he will visit the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, which dates back to 328AD, take a Bronze Dragon Boat trip on Hangzhou’s spectacular West Lake, followed by a visit to a Longjing Tea Plantation before returning to Shanghai by bullet train. President Higgins will return to Ireland on Monday, 15th of December.

The importance of high-level diplomatic visits between the Ireland and China, which are helping to widen and deepen bilateral relations, cannot be overstated, and in our opinion a substantial trade spin-off can be expected to follow this major State Visit. Real potential exists for further enhancing the relationship between Ireland and China in Ireland’s niche industry sectors such as energy and green technologies, food and agriculture, financial services and aviation leasing, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, educational services, and tourism.

During his momentous visit to China President Higgins can be expected to emphasise the importance of trade links, and, more importantly from a Chinese perspective, growing mutual trust, while encouraging even greater economic co-operation between China and Ireland.

State Visit to China President of Ireland Michael D Higgins to meet President of China Xi Jinping

While there is considerable optimism in Ireland’s agri-food sector about Ireland having the potential to resolve problems of food security in China, New Zealand’s and, most recently, Australia’s free trade agreements with China serve to highlight the daunting task Ireland dairy and meat producers face gaining traction in such an intensely competitive market. As Mark Twain observed “To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement”. However, one point President Higgins is very good at is talking up Ireland and he will have separate official meetings at the Great Hall of the People with President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister, Mr Li Keqiang and the Chairman of the National People’s Congress, Mr Zhang Dejiang, the three most powerful people in China.

Why is China so interested in Ireland?

As noted in an earlier Accurate China Insight http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=2Mic2J2sUyQ=

“both countries enjoy an excellent political, business and cultural relationship, much to the envy of Ireland’s European partners”.

Firstly, China’s political leaders are clearly impressed by Ireland’s ongoing economic renewal brought about by the country’s strict adherence to fulfilling its commitments as an international Monetary Fund (IMF) country programme country, as recognized by the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the European Commission. From an export dependency perspective, China has a vested interest in the European Union’s rapid return to growth and in this context Ireland is a shining beacon of light.

Secondly, such positive awareness dovetails with the ‘Irish Model’ that has proved so successful in the development of China’s own special economic zones areas. In Chinese political circles, whether we realise it or not, Ireland has made an important contribution to China’s economic development. In 1980, a visit by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, then Senior Vice Minister of State Imports and Exports Administration, to the ‘Shannon Free Zone’ (the world’s first free trade zone) paved the way for Chinese companies to import goods into a special economic zone, manufacture or reconfigure the goods, and then export them without intervention of the customs authorities. The resulting export-led growth has delivered an economy that has experienced the fastest expansion in GDP per capita of any major economy in human history. In recent times after years of economic expansion China’s economic growth rate has being losing speed, in part due to a decline in demand for its exports from key markets. To stall the slowdown new economic prototypes are being assessed such as the fledgling Shanghai Free-Trade Zone that bears characteristics that can be traced back to the ‘Shannon-Free Zone’. The February 2012 visit to the Shannon Development Zone by President Xi Jinping, then Vice President of China, was no mere happenstance.

Thirdly, Ireland currently enjoys a unique position in Europe between two of China’s traditional rivals, the USA and the UK, which for China represents a “soft power” relationship it is determined to make the most of over the long-term.

Fourthly, in addition that Ireland is the only English speaking country in the Euro zone enjoying tariff and border free trade across the European Union makes for a useful entry point into the European market of 500 millions. However, from this perspective Ireland has yet to notch up any significant Chinese investments, a point that President Higgins will no doubt be highlighting during his meetings with China’s political elites.

During the second week of December Ireland will take centre stage in China like never before.

Source: http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=uInfgiAwMQU=

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Market Makers

Website: For more ‘Accurate China Insights’ click  http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.php

Twitter: @AccurateChina – China: The Ireland Angle

China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Accurate Group, Dublin – O: +353-1 271-1830

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Accurate China Insight: Is Head of State President Michael D Higgins of Ireland embarking on a State Visit to China in December?

President Michael D Higgins of Ireland looks set to embark on a State Visit to China in December, which will cover the cites of Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.

Thirty-five years since Ireland and China formalised diplomatic relations with one and other, Ireland is a country genuinely admired by China’s Communist Party leadership and business elites.

It is safe to say that both countries enjoy an excellent political, business and cultural relationship, much to the envy of Ireland’s European partners. The current state of Ireland’s relationship with China, a priority trade market for Ireland and the world’s second largest economy, can be best reflected in the frequent exchanges of high-level visits between our two countries.

Underpinning ever closer relations, although no official announcement is likely until the end of November, the President of Ireland Micheal D. Higgins looks set to embark on an historic State Visit to China in early December 2014 as the guest of President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, whom he previously welcomed to Ireland in 2012, when Xi Jinping was still Vice President of China.

If the visit goes ahead as expected, it will be the first State Visit to China by a President of Ireland since June 2010 when the incumbent President of Ireland Mary McAleese embarked on an official visit to China.

As highlighted recently by the several significant business deals secured for the Ireland’s food and financial services sectors, the deeper Irish-Chinese relationship is bringing profit to both countries and a follow up State Visit to Ireland by President Xi Jinping can now be expected to occur over the next 18 months.

Irish trade with China is close to €9 billion a year, with a strong trade surplus in Ireland’s favour, with Irish business increasingly viewing China as a key market for Irish exports.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins to meet President of China Xi Jinping in December 2014

At the invitation of President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins is expected to embark on a State Visit to China in December 2014

Source: http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=2Mic2J2sUyQ=

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Market Makers

Website:For more ‘Accurate China Insights’ click http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.php

Twitter: @AccurateChina – China: The Ireland Angle

China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Accurate Group, Dublin – O: +353-1 271-1830

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Looming – Martial Law in Hong Kong? Extremely canny leadership is a must for Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution movement

Ominous People's Daily editorial of 1st October 2014 concerning "... Hong Kong's prosperity and stability..."

Ominous People’s Daily editorial of 1st October 2014 concerning “… Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability…”

Today’s very hard-line editorial in the Chinese Communist Party propaganda mouthpiece, the People’s Daily (http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2014-10/01/nw.D110000renmrb_20141001_5-04.htm?_ga=1.54034152.1995103149.1412169452) on this 65th China National Day reminds me that the Zhongnanhai (central headquarters for the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council (Central government)) script for dealing with Hong Kong’s “radicals”, “reactionaries”, “extremists” and “sinister elements” (a.k.a. counter-revolutionaries) was written in June 1989 by former Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping, whose ideas are currently the focus of a Party inspired nationwide renaissance.

The editorial’s threat that those who continue to participate in the protests should expect dire consequences has the same ominous undertone as a People’s Daily editorial released in the run up to the Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing, the latter being widely regarded as having prompted the ensuing slaughter. (http://wp.me/p15Yzr-r)

Certainly China’s new Paramount Leader Xi Jinping’s line of attack – an approach unreservedly endorsed by Hong Kong’s ever more authoritarian, government – will be “no contact, no negotiation, no compromise”, all the while pouring scorn on Hong Kong‘s ‘Occupy Central’ and ‘Scholarism’ protest movements, blaming American and UK “black hands” for stirring up trouble, and making use of pro-Beijing media and agent provocateurs to drive a wedge between the protesters and Hongkongers inconvenienced by the knock-on effect.

Adopting an attitude that the protests will die a natural death was precisely the same pigheaded mindset embraced by Chinese Premier Li Peng and the Chinese leadership back in 1989. When the leadership realised that the Tiananmen Square protest movement was actually growing they knew that the very heart of the Chinese Communist Party was under threat like never before… Martial law was subsequently introduced on 19th May 1989. The rest is history (a history that has been completely air-brushed away in China).

Embedded: Hong Kong's Yellow Umbrella Movement occupying Connaught Road Central

Embedded: Hong Kong’s Yellow Umbrella Movement occupying Connaught Road Central

Dealing with an opponent like the Chinese Communist Party will require very shrewd leadership.

While Hong Kong‘s political landscape will never be the same again, the Chinese Communist Party, as plainly demonstrated by its hardnosed actions in Beijing in June 1989 and in the outer regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, is not for turning.

As June 1989 showed China’s leadership would not give a second thought to spending years in international isolation so long as the Party’s complete domination of the state levers of power continues. Nothing else matters.

Meanwhile, Beijing has at least 6,000 well-trained People’s Liberation Army troops stationed in various barracks around Hong Kong, a useful deployment if over the next few weeks and months the Hong Kong Police Force proves incapable of quelling umbrella revolution protesters, with an increased possibility of the “turmoil” (another favourite word of China’s omnipotent propaganda machine likely to be tossed into the fray in the days and weeks ahead) spreading over the border into mainland China.

Unfortunately for Beijing’s rulers, Hong Kong’s free press, independent judiciary and generally unimpeded education system have given rise to a new breed of unwavering Chinese activists who, brought up to think independently and critically, are determined not only to zealously defend Hong Kong’s basic freedoms of speech, press, assembly, religion  – as guaranteed in the Basic Law and related international conventions – but also, confronted with economic marginalisation and assimilation with mainland China, to fight for their own economic survival.

This is just the beginning of the struggle to defend Hong Kong’s distinctiveness, otherwise ‘Asia’s World City’ is in danger of becoming just like any other city in China.

Ich bin ein hongkonger.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building in Central, Hong Kong, the heart of the Umbrella Revolution

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The passing of Auntie Mor

Maureen Reihill (21st August 1919 - 26th September 2014)

Maureen Reihill (nee Byrne)                (21 August 1919 – 26 September 2014)

From ‘A Kilcullen Diary’

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The passing of Maureen Reihill (Byrne)

It is with a personal sadness that the Diary records the death of Maureen (Mor) Reihill, née Byrne, of Ballsbridge, Dublin, and originally from Kilcullen, on the evening of 26 September, 2014. She was 97.

She is survived by her daughter Orla, and was predeceased by her son Shane and her husband Jim. Mor was the daughter of the late James J Byrne Snr and his wife Mary, and the last surviving sibling of Jim Byrne, Tom Byrne, and Kath O’Reilly.

Maureen’s remains will repose at her home on Monday 29 September, between 2-8pm. Her funeral mass will be celebrated at 10am on Tuesday 30 September in the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Merrion Row, Dublin. Her burial will take place afterwards in New Abbey Cemetery, Kilcullen, Co Kildare, at 12 noon.

May she rest in peace.

Source: Brian Byrne http://kilcullenbridge.blogspot.ie/

A moment in time that conjures up sadness and reflection.

My mother Kathryn(“Kath”)’s (http://wp.me/p15Yzr-k7) dearly beloved eldest sister, Auntie Mor’s passing on Friday marked the end of aByrnes of Kilcullen” generation, whose precocious talents brought so much conviviality, escapade, involvement, commitment, and true wit to the lives of so many many people, a legacy which, I for one can confirm, continues to percolate through the genes of their children and grandchildren.

I am very happy that Auntie Mor, a true devoted and loyal daughter of Ireland – who loved singing, baking (some of my fondest memories🙂 ), her many friends and her two precious children, Shane (http://wp.me/p15Yzr-4) and Orla – will be returning home to her final resting place in Kilcullen.

Rest In Peace Auntie Maureen.

Maureen Reihill

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Filed under Byrne, Family History, Kath Byrne, Kilcullen, Obituary, Shane Reihill

‘The Ballad of East and West’ , by Rudyard Kipling

The Ballad of East and West , by Rudyard Kipling

“Oh, East is East and West is West,and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

– Rudyard Kipling (1889)

The first line is frequently used to suggest that two different types of people or things cannot exist side by side or find commonalities, it being beyond doubt that geographic points of the compass will never meet. However, ironically, the significance of Kipling’s poem is that two when intelligent and principled men from diverse cultures meet they can appreciate and respect each other, since where they come from, the accidents of their birth, their nationality, race, or family, are inconsequential. In this context Kipling regarding Asians and the European as one and the same.

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‘The White Birds’, by William Butler Yeats

Written by, William Butler Yeats, Ireland’s greatest poet, ‘The White Birds’, is an expression of concurrent intertwined feelings when loving someone so much colludes with the crushing despair of unrequited love, when your beloved does not love you back: A sense of loss over something you will never have, being one of the worst feelings ever.

William Butler Yeats wishes that he and his beloved, Irish nationalist Maud Gonne MacBride, with whom he was infatuated, could take flight from their circumstances and be together. This wish is portrayed in the representation of the two of them changed into white birds floating on the sea-foam. He urges his beloved not to muse over mundane and forlorn images of this world – the fading meteor, the rose and lily, depicting the politics of Irish nationalist resistance – and restates his longing to be apart from the world with her, as two white birds together

Tir na nOg in Irish folklore is an imaginary land where persons live as long as fairies by the “Danaan Shore”

I would that we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea!

We tire of the flame of the meteor, before it can fade and flee;

And the flame of the blue star of twilight, hung low on the rim of the sky,

Has awaked in our hearts, my beloved, a sadness that may not die.


“…on the foam of the sea…”  (Painting by Kathyrn O’Reilly 2006)

A weariness comes from those dreamers, dew-dabbled, the lily and rose;

Ah, dream not of them, my beloved, the flame of the meteor that goes,

Or the flame of the blue star that lingers hung low in the fall of the dew:

For I would we were changed to white birds on the wandering foam: I and you!

IMG_2061 (2)

“… haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore…”

I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore,

Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow come near us no more;

Soon far from the rose and the lily and fret of the flames would we be,

Were we only white birds, my beloved, buoyed out on the foam of the sea!

William Butler Yeats (1892).

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China – Under The Hood: China’s Unbearable Air Traffic Congestion and Flight Delays

Flight delay, delay, delay….The glamour of air travel is gone.

In China was it ever thus?

Unquestionably one can consider Laozi (a.k.a ‘ Lao Tzu), the ancient Chinese poet and philosopher who died in 531 BC, truly perceptive when he remarked:

“Yī wèi cōngmíng de lǚxíng zhě méiyǒu gùdìng de jì huà, érqiě bù yīdìng fēi yào dàodá mùdì de [一位聪明的旅行者没有固定的计画,而且不一定非要到达目的地]”, which roughly translates as

“A clever traveller has no fixed plans, and does not necessarily have to reach their purpose.”

For it seems this wise sage back in ‘BC’ times was privy to the staggering state of affairs that would by and large ensue by the end of 2015 when China will have built close to 220 fully operational airports (up from 175 airports in 2011) handling over 870 million passengers and serviced by 46 domestic airlines (exclusive of foreign airlines), with a fleet of just over 2,000 planes (to be expanded to 4,200 aircraft in 2020) vying for limited space overhead.  Add to this mélange the fact that China doesn’t have enough airspace (the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) controls all airspace, only allocating 20% of airspace to civil aviation), and China’s inclement weather (for example, if there is a thunderstorm impinging on a flight route between two cities, the flight will likely be delayed since it can’t divert through controlled airspace), and it is no wonder flight delays snarl China’s clogged and struggling civil aviation transportation system.

With the People’s Liberation Army Air Force blaming chronic air traffic congestion and flight delays on poor airline management and scheduling performance, “having no fixed plans” at least for the day of passage, as in “cancel all other appointments”, is sage advice indeed. China’s airlines have the world’s worst record for flight delays.”

And so to some of the tell-tale signs that all is not well regarding timely aircraft departure from Chinese airports as experienced by myself over the past 12 months almost 100% of the time.

1. The informative announcement

China - Under The Hood -  The Joys Of Flying In China - delay delay delay

Actually there is usually no information reflecting the cause of the flight delay problem, except to adopt the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) spin that the fault lies with the airline. It is not uncommon for passengers to have to wait for hours at the boarding gate without any information about how long the delay might last, while ground staff weary of being on the receiving of verbal and physical abuse usually scarper.

2. Queuing to board the aircraft?

China - Under The Hood -  The Joys Of Flying In China - Time to board - queuing for food 2

At last we’re off🙂 Alas, wishful thinking… A queue for food handouts😦

3. Hand-luggage?

China - Under The Hood -  The Joys Of Flying In China - Time to board - queuing for food 3

…not quite… looks like this delay is more than a case of the pilot leaving his passport at home. Noting that the first line of defence in offsetting the bubbling rage of irritated Chinese passengers is to attempt to gratify their appetites, this airline came well prepared!

 4. Food Service

China - Under The Hood -  The Joys Of Flying In China Serving meal before the plane moves

After the mad rush to get to the airport, dealing with queues at check-in, security inspection, and boarding, hungry stomachs pang just that bit more at the sight of the commencement of the on-board food service. Unless, as in this case, the aircraft hasn’t budged from its stand. Not a great omen!😦  In China passengers can wait for hours inside a plane without any information from an equally clueless flight crew.

 5. In-flight Films

China - Under The Hood -  The Joys Of Flying In China Staring at the runway - no movement

As last the aircraft is on the move, taxiing towards the runway. Slowly it dawns on us that we are no longer moving, instead being treated to a live 80 minute silent film about the concrete surface just below the plane’s belly.. Mind-numbing in-flight entertainment akin to watching paint dry.

6. Angry Passengers

China - Under The Hood -  The Joys Of Flying In China -ready to take off and a demand for explanation why the plane is delayed

Air passengers in China are noted for adopting extreme measures to vent their anger and demand an explanation over why the plane is delayed. This really furious customer sprang up just as the plane was turning toward the runway ready for take-off!

7. The Hard Landing

China - Under The Hood -  The Joys Of Flying In China hard landing

Hard landing: Thump! Bounce! Bounce! Bounce! Swerve! Brake! “What the hell was…..?” as we bleary-eyed travellers are instantaneously brought to our senses. Seems the guys up in the cockpit are also worn out. At last, and at least, we’ve finally arrived at our destination. Now just get me off this aircraft!

The joys of flying in China, soon to get worse. “A clever traveler has no fixed plans, and does not necessarily have to reach their purpose.”

Read the somewhat related blog ‘China – Under The Hood: “Bu Hao Yisi” – The animated joys of everyday living in China’ https://nialljoreilly.com/2008/12/20/bu-hao-yisi-mei-banfa-mei-wenti-and-chinese-language-expressions-and-everyday-living/

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Filed under 2014, China, Indifference, tolerance, Travel