Category Archives: Love

‘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.

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“…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!

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“… 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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‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ by William Butler Yeats

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven by William Butler Yeats

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

                                                   William Butler Yeats

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Filed under Beauty, Dreamland, Love, Nature, Niallism, Poetry

‘How Do I Love Thee?’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

                                          Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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The Fireplace: The heart of the home

Outside yields to Winter’s evening grip.

To the right, a steaming mug of tea; to the left, the Sunday newspapers.

Behind me, the wall mirror, gold, spreading wide, reflecting the reflected, flickering shadows playing the end of the day.

In front of me, the Fireplace; a framed oil of shaded Capri on a hot summer’s day mounted above a mantelpiece counted with decorative jugs, and that plate.

Coals in the fire hug together keeping the flame aglow: deep-burning, unquenchable.

The spluttering logs near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart for breathing room

More shimmers of light on the old brass handled assortment of fender, poker, tongs, shovel and brush.

The curtains are drawn. An evening beside the radiant fireplace beckons. The all-calming quiet stillness of the flames: Mesmerised.

The simplicity of the fire-side chat: “Blow on the coal to keep it alive”.

Any one who knows what the worth of family affection is knows there is no greater happiness than spending evenings by the fireplace:  Snug.

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On what holds a life together

“He is simply a wonderful husband. We met in life at time we were both settled. We were grown up, we were settled, we knew the value of a companion, of a partner. Because of that, we have enjoyed this relationship in a really special way. It’s not like when you are still young, you are too demanding. No, no. We just accept each other as we are. And we enjoy every single day as if it is the last day. Because of that, it has been wonderful to have him as a husband..”

Graca Machel, 62, on her husband Nelson Mandela, 90 (June 26th 2008).

They were married ten years ago. Graca Machel was 27 years younger than Nelson Mandela.  The only woman in the world to have been first lady in two countries, her first husband Samora Machel was president of Mozambique when he died in a unexplained plane crash in 1986.

Nelson Mandela, along with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, Anwar Ibrahim, and Mum are my five all-time heroes.

Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graça Machel,

Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel

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People’s Daily 人民日报: Scientists discover that “Niall” is the most fertile Irish male

…………So there was I relaxing, minding my own business –actually melting would be a more precise description (a boiling 30 + degrees Celsius here) — drinking a mug of Barry’s tea (one of my little China foibles), Goggling “Genghis Khan”, when I accidentally typed my own name into the search….. and up pops this article from The People’s Daily (人民日报), the principal mouth piece of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, dated January 2006… My namesake Niall of the Nine Hostages, according to the People’s Daily was the Genghis Khan of Ireland….. Ireland’s most fertile man…… so now you know !

Read on…..

“DUBLIN: Scientists in Ireland may have found the country’s most fertile male, with more than 3 million men worldwide among his offspring.

The scientists, from Trinity College Dublin, have discovered that as many as one in 12 Irish men could be descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, a 5th-century (reigned 379–405) warlord who was head of the most powerful dynasty in ancient Ireland.

His genetic legacy is almost as impressive as Genghis Khan, the ancient emperor who conquered most of Asia in the 13th century and has nearly 16 million descendants, said Dan Bradley, who supervised the research.

“It’s another link between profligacy and power,” Bradley said. “We’re the first generation on the planet where if you are successful you don’t (always) have more children.”

The research was carried out by PhD student Laoise Moore, at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity. Moore, testing the Y chromosome which is passed on from fathers to sons, examined DNA samples from 800 males across Ireland.

The results which have been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics showed the highest concentration of related males in northwest Ireland, where one in five males had the same Y chromosome.

Bradley said the results reminded the team of a similar study in central Asia, where scientists claimed they found 8 per cent of men with the same Y chromosome. Subsequent studies found they shared the same chromosome as the dynasty linked to Genghis Khan.

Surnames reveal secrets

“It made us wonder if there could be some sort of Genghis Khan effect in Ireland and the best candidate for it was Niall,” Bradley said.

His team then consulted with genealogical experts who provided them with a contemporary list of people with surnames that are genealogically linked to the last known relative of the “Ui Neill” dynasty, which literally means descendants of Niall.

The results showed the new group had the same chromosome as those in the original sample, proving a link between them and the Niall descendants.

“The frequency (of the Y chromosome) was significantly higher in that genealogical group than any other group we tested,” said Bradley, whose surname is also linked to the medieval warlord. Other modern surnames tracing their ancestry to Niall include Gallagher, Boyle, O’Donnell and O’Doherty.

For added proof, the scientists used special techniques to age the Y chromosome, according to how many mutations had occurred in the genetic material over time. The number of mutations was found to be in accordance with chromosomes that would date back to the last known living relative of Niall.

Niall reportedly had 12 sons, many of whom became powerful Irish kings themselves. But because he lived in the 5th century, there have been doubts the king who is said to have brought the country’s patron saint, Patrick, to Ireland even existed.

“Before I would have said that characters like Niall were almost mythological, like King Arthur, but this actually puts flesh on the bones,” Bradley said.

When international databases were checked, the chromosome also turned up in roughly 2 per cent of all male New Yorkers.”

Source: China Daily http://english.people.com.cn/200601/24/eng20060124_237825.html

“都柏林大学圣三一学院的科学家发现12个爱尔兰人中就有一个是“九个人质的尼尔”的子孙。尼尔是五世纪时的一名军阀,是古代爱尔兰最强大的王朝的首领。据监督这一研究的丹?布拉德利说,他的基因遗传  几乎与中国元太祖成吉思汗一样强大,一样给人留下深刻印象。成吉思汗留下了近1600万个子孙后代。布拉德利表示:“这是另一个放荡与权力联系在一起的例子。我们是在这个星球上取得成功又没有生育更多的孩子的第一代人。”

  这项研究是由圣三一学院的斯莫非特遗传学院的博士生拉奥伊斯?摩尔进行的,摩尔检测了爱尔兰各地800个男子的DNA样本,检测Y染色体,这种染色体只能由父亲传给儿子。摩尔的研究成果发表在美国的《人类遗传》杂志上,研究结果显示,有联系的男子最集中的地区是在爱尔兰西北部地区,那里每5个男子就有一个有着共同的染色体。

  布拉德利说,这一研究使人想起了在中亚的一个类似研究小组的成果,科学家在中亚地区发现8%的男子有着同样的Y染色体,后来的研究发现,他们都与成吉思汗有着一样的染色体,从而证明他们都是这个蒙古王的子孙后代。布拉德利说:“这让我们想到在爱尔兰是不是有着成吉思汗一样的影响,而最佳的人选当属尼尔。”

  爱尔兰的这个研究小组于是向遗传专家咨询,这些专家给他们提供了同代人的姓氏名单,这些姓氏都与“UiNeill”王朝有关,从理论上说,名单上的人都是尼尔留下的子孙后代。

  研究结果显示,新的群体与遗传专家提供的名单上的人有着相同的染色体,从而证明现在的人与他们有关,也是尼尔的后代。布拉德利的姓也与中世纪的尼尔有联系,他说:“在这个宗谱中,Y染色体的联系频率比其他任何我们研究的宗谱的联系要高得多。”除了布拉德利这个姓外,其他与尼尔有联系的爱尔兰现代人的姓包括加拉格尔、波义耳、奥丹尼尔和奥多赫蒂。

  为了找到更多的证据,科学家利用特别的技术测量Y染色体的时代,记录基因材料在这段时间里发生了多少突变。结果发现,突变的数量与已知的尼尔最近一位子孙的突变数量是一样的,他们的染色体相同。

  据称,尼尔有12个儿子,这些儿子中大部分又成为爱尔兰强大的国王。但由于他生活在5世纪,所以是否有国王存在还有疑问,据说当时的爱尔兰王把这个国家的守护神帕特里克带到了爱尔兰。布拉德利说:“以前我会说这些人与尼尔有关几乎是个神话,就像亚瑟王一样,但这的确是有科学根据的。

Niall Nine Hostages Ireland Genghis Khan Mongolia

King Niall of the Nine Hostages, Ireland’s greatest lover with 3 million descendants, the Irish Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan Mongolia Niall of the Nine Hostages Ireland

Genghis Khan, the world’s greatest lover with 16 million descendants, Mongolia’s King Niall of the Nine Hostages

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Protected: 我和Niall: 我还清楚地记得他第一次吻我。

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The spoken word: English

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”.
Sir Winston Leonard Spenser Churchill,  British politician (1874 – 1965)
The Spoken word: "..we make a life by what we give”

The Spoken word: “..we make a life by what we give”

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Words matter: Mentally retarded or human gift? Looking back at the 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai

Growing up in 1970s and early 1980s Ireland I remember the labels “mentally retarded”, “mongolian”, “mongol” and “mongoloid” being used in casual conversations when referring to people with intellectual disabilities, or Down Syndrome. I plead guilty to pronouncing such stereotypes. By condoning or even saying such humiliating remarks, unknowingly I was in effect robbing people with intellectual disabilities of their individuality and dignity.

Such degrading descriptions of people with intellectual disabilities have been cultivated over many years:

  • P.M. Duncan noted in 1866 a girl “with a small round head, Chinese looking eyes, projecting a large tongue who only knew a few words” in ‘A manual for the classification, training and education of the feeble-minded, imbecile and idiotic. London: Longmans, Green & Co.
  • John Langdon H. Down (1828-1896), an Edinburgh physician, published in 1866 the first clinical description of individuals with Down Syndrome that bears his name in the landmark paper, ‘Observations on ethnic classifications of idiots’.
  • Benjamin Spock suggests in ‘Baby and Child Care (1946)’ that babies born mongoloid should immediately be institutionalized based on the premise that “If (the infant) merely exists at a level that is hardly human, it is much better for the other children and the parents to have him cared for elsewhere“.
  • The theologian Joseph Fletcher attempting to comfort a bereaved parent, concludes in 1968 that there is “no reason to feel guilty about putting a Down syndrome baby away, whether it’s ‘put away’ in the sense of hidden in a sanitarium or in a more responsible lethal sense. It is sad, yes. Dreadful. But it carries no guilt. True guilt arises only from an offense against a person, and a Down’s is not a person.

Words matter!

Imbecile, idiotic, hardly human, retarded, not a person..?  No way!

Why the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games contestant will never match the spirit, resolve and strength of mind of the Shanghai 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games athlete?

Held in Shanghai from October 2nd to October 11th, my colleague and I attended the Games as volunteers hoping to be of some assistance to the 151 member Irish team, their euphoric family members and the 200 volunteers who had fund-raised over €1,000,000 for Special Olympics Ireland.

Looking back on that week I can honestly express it as one of the most heartening, and touching experiences of my life.

Vivid memories:

  • … The ‘Team Ireland’ hotel, the Equatorial. If I hadn’t of known about the Special Olympics I would be forgiven for thinking I had by chance walked into the Shanghai leg of the world’s most famous rock group on tour. The atmosphere in the lobby was electric, noisy and very cheery. And who was making all the clatter? The families of the Irish athletes. Hundreds of family members and volunteers had flown in from all over Ireland, Australia, New Zealand to support their Ruth Gribbon and Pauline Rush in Bocce, James in the Basketball, and Sarah in the Athletics.
  •   … The spectacular Opening Ceremony wasn’t just about huge fireworks displays, and appearances by celebrities Jackie Chan, Colm Farrell, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as Shanghai, with the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games less than twelve months away, sought to display its organisational prowess. The true symbolism of the night was the picture beamed to almost every household in China of President Hu Jintao hugging and playing with Down Syndrome children. 
  • … The scenes of jubilation after Ireland’s basketball team at 4 points versus India’s 18 slam dunked to go to 7…. It was as if they’d just scored the winning point in the world cup final. Spine chilling and poignant indeed…. Such jubilation… Yep, that’s what sport is all about. They were having fun no matter what the score was.
  • … The barefooted 1,500 metres athlete #9, running in the yellow colours of Tanzania, who literally danced around the outside lane of Shanghai’s Olympic Stadium and then stopped to wait for his fellow competitors to catch up with him. When he finally crossed the line in first he just kept running, enjoying himself immensely as stewards and minders tried to catch up with him…
  •  …“I know I can”. First or last it didn’t matter, all the athletes finished walking or running around this 400 metres Olympics track. Their single-minded focusr on crossing the finish line, and competitive it was. Team Ireland’s Sarah, #4 in the women’s 1,500 metre walk, briskly walked around the track as if she was going for a breath of air with her dog such was her look of she enjoyment. Not one of the athletes dropped out.  It was a sight to behold, never to be forgotten.
  • … Making friends: A Danish athlete swapping badge pins with her Irish athlete counterpart, spur-of-the-moment stuff. This was their stage and they were thoroughly enjoying it.
  • … The devotion and enthusiasm of each Chinese volunteer assigned to an athlete as a minder. The clearly genuine amity between the two for me really captured the power of the Special Olympics spirit. Despite the enormous challenge of convincing China’s populace at large that the intellectually disabled are able to lead a happy life and contribute to society these volunteers in my mind have really shown the way.

And so much more…..

For anyone who has never been to one of these momentous events, it is worth the time and effort to appreciate the extent of human potential and to recognise that each unique human gift has a place in society.

Words matter!

Witnessing the social and cultural transformation of the underserved and often marginalised intellectually disabled as I did at the Games in Shanghai certainly made me feel ashamed, very ashamed.

Imbecile, idiotic, hardly human, retarded, not a person..?  No way!

Appreciating the value and importance of including people with intellectual disabilities into all aspects of life, I look forward to the next Special Olympics World Summer Games, which will be held in Athens in 2011.

[Note: The previous 11th Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Dublin, Ireland, in 2003 was mired in controversy even before the Opening Ceremony following the Irish Government’s banning of the Team Hong Kong’s participation due to worries about SARS. An outraged Niall O’Reilly decides to write two letters highlighting the Irish Government irrational and hypocritical decision…. To read more click: https://nialljoreilly.com/2007/09/21/special-olympics-world-summer-games-shanghai-october-2-11-2007/ ]

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China – Under The Hood: A Chinese man has married himself…

… to express his “dissatisfaction with reality”.

Liu Ye, 39, from Zhuhai City, married a life-sized foam cut-out of himself wearing a woman’s bridal dress.

“There are many reasons for marrying myself, but mainly to express my dissatisfaction with reality,” he said.

“This marriage makes me whole again. My definition of marriage is different from others.”

The ceremony was held at a traditional courtyard packed with more than 100 guests.  The ‘couple’ were led out by a bridesmaid and a groomsman and bowed to ancestors and senior guests for blessings.

Liu says he is not gay, but admits he’s “maybe a bit narcissistic”, reported the New Express Newspaper. (Source: http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=59867)

China Under The Hood -  A Chinese man Liu Ye has married himself 001

The picture of the happy couple features one board looking housewife.. Wonder what the bridesmaids looked like? Equally plain no doubt.

Liu Ye is probably is one of those people you hear interviewed on the nightly news being described by his neighbours as “very quiet, keeps to himself”. Or perhaps this a clever manoeuvre by local democracy dissidents trying to attract publicity.

Geez, it’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it?

China Under The Hood -  A Chinese man Liu Ye has married himself 002

Weird marriages update: In 2010 a Korean man married a pillow (Source: http://metro.co.uk/2010/03/09/man-marries-pillow-154906/)

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