Monday, May 31, 2010

Dennis Hopper - RIP

I heard with sadness about the death of actor Dennis Hopper from complications of prostate cancer. I wasn't a big fan, and can't really remember too many of his movies. I didn't realize he was in "Giant" and "Rebel Without a Cause" with James Dean - I must watch out for him when these show up again on the Sky Modern Greats channel. I did enjoy his roles in "Speed", "Waterworld", "Apocalypse Now", and "Blue Velvet". He was often cast as the bad guy, but never quite made it to the super-stardom that he might have reached. He did get two Oscar nomination (Hoosiers, 1986, and Easy Rider, 1969) - but didn't win. He has been in the news a lot lately over his bitter divorce - quite why a dying man would fight so much against his former wife probably says a lot about him.

For me, and many other people, Hopper will be remembered most for his role as Billy in iconic movie - Easy Rider (1969). There isn't a biker in the world who is not inspired by the picture of Hopper and Peter Fonda riding their Harley-Davidson Hydra Glides across the American desert - this is what most of us want to do. Of course we can't ride with no helmets, and while it looks cool to just have sun-glasses on - the grit from the road and insects would make for uncomfortable riding. Nor do we all have Captain America style Choppers. I did do the "riding through the desert" thing once in Scottsdale, Arizona - I definitely felt like an Easy Rider. I feel certain that if there is a heaven that Dennis Hopper is now in the Cool Section! I post the photo below (taken from ABC News website) in his honour...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Bike

On Friday I picked up a new bicycle from Ferris Wheels in Booterstown - it is a Giant Defy (picture right copied from the Giant website). I purchased it using the Cycle To Work scheme, which allows employees in an organization to buy a bike tax free. For every two euro I have to spend, I have to earn three - so I am saving approximately one third of the cost of the bike. I am paying for the bike by having the cost deducted from my salary over 12 months. This is a cool scheme - several of my colleagues at work have also availed of it. 

Despite being unable to figure out how to change down in the gears at first - I like the new bike already. It is really light and fast - my first trip home from work took five minute less than normal. I really disliked my old hybrid bike (also a Giant) from the moment I bought it. It was very low geared, heavy, and slow. I look forward to an environmentally friendly, healthy, and fast commute from now on (I'll still use the Harley though!).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Visit to Waterford IT

Today I visited Waterford Institute of Technology as the External Examiner for an honours degree programme delivered there. I can't give any details of the programme here, but I do wish to comment on being an External Examiner.

Most (if not all) Colleges use External Examiners (EE) - we have them for programmes in NCI. The role of the EE is to ensure that marking has been fair, learning outcomes have been met, and that the standards in an Institution are comparable with other Institutions. However, for me the best part is seeing how assessment is carried out in other Colleges. First, I'm always interested in the Administration of exams - this is something that is potentially easy to mess up, but I'm glad to say is managed well. For a College to hold so many exams in different modules for different subjects - plus hundreds of students, is a major logistical undertaking. As an EE I get to see, review, and approve exam papers written in subjects that I would not ordinarily teach. The structure of exams, the style of questions asked for different educational levels, the variety in assessment techniques - is a fascination that I feel more educators in third-level should be exposed to. Imagine a Faculty group reviewing a paper written by a expert in assessment from another College - I don't think that we do enough of this at our level, and it is definitely something we can learn from.

Reviewing student scripts is also fascinating. While I will reveal no details here - suffice it to say that there is not much difference between exams I set and correct myself, and those of other Colleges. Take away the cover sheet and College name, and the results could be almost the same, with the same issues arising.

The role of an EE is one I take seriously - whether is is me as an EE for another College, or EEs that visit NCI. A pity that only a sample of student work is reviewed - it is probable that an EE will miss out reviewing papers from some excellent students. It is one of the most satisfying aspects of our job to see students succeed in exams - marking and reviewing a paper with a high score is a good feeling. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Open Evenings at NCI

One of the nice parts of my job is that I get to meet prospective students at events such as NCI's Open Evenings for part-time courses. Each year we host several Open events in which people who are interested in courses come along and ask us about which course is right for them, what courses are about, and what jobs are likely at the end of a course. 

There is a lot of hope - I get to talk to people who want to improve their skills, who want to develop new careers, who want to get off the unemployment road onto a new road that leads to a job, and who want to achieve new heights. I do my best to encourage people to think carefully about what they like and what they really want to do - that's the most important thing. Committing to a course running part-time over 3-4 years is a huge commitment in time - not to mention money. Prospective students need to be fully aware of this. One guy who came in today was 65 years old, who was interested in post-graduate courses - he graduated 40 years ago!

Our School of Computing is launching a new MSc in Web Technologies - there was a good bit of interest in this. Surprisingly, the course that I dealt with most inquiries about was the B.A. in Management of Technology in Business. Further Open Evenings will be held over the summer - right up until we start the new semester. The dates are:
  • Wednesday, 9th June 2010
  • Tuesday, 29th June 2010
  • Wednesday, 21st July 2010
  • Wednesday, 4th August 2010
  • Thursday, 19th August 2010
  • Saturday, 21st August 2010
  • Wednesday, 15th September 2010

Why not come along and see if we have the course for you!

Monday, May 24, 2010

EdTech 2010 Review

Last Thursday and Friday I attended the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA) EdTech 2010 Conference in Athlone IT. I rode down on my Harley in 70 minutes and very much enjoyed the motorway which now extends all the way to Galway. Not since Britain and France in 2008 have I had such a long spin on a motorway. A cool way for me to start EdTech. I was very impressed by the organization of the Conference - congrats to Nuala H and the EdTech team for an excellent event. 

First up was the first Keynote presentation by James Clay of Gloucestershire College who both entertained and informed us about the Changing Culture of the use of technology in education. While he regularly referred to technology as "Oooo, shiny things", he got the Conference off to a great start with his mix of personal anecdotes and descriptions of his initiatives in Gloucestershire College. 

Next up was the first Parallel session when I presented - the title of my talk was Using YouTube Videos in Lectures. Everything worked well and the presentation ran smoothly. I think the best bit was when I showed some comments that have been posted to my YouTube channel. I had an excellent turn-out, no doubt boosted by a cancellation of one of the other three presentations - I was quietly pleased with how the presentation went. I have uploaded a copy of my slides to SlideShare - click below to see:

During the break that followed I attended the Exhibitors Hall and was very impressed by the technology on display. After the break I attended a talk by Ioana Ghergulescu (of NCI) on MoGAME: Motivation based Game Level Adaptation Mechanism, which proposes to combine motivation assessment and learner knowledge in order to personalize game difficulty level for learners. After this I attended a talk on Supporting Informal Learning by Anita Flanagan of Google. I continue to be amazed at what Google are doing and Anita showed us some wonderful tools for promoting informal learning within Google - watch out for more from Anita and her colleagues. Unfortunately the third of the three sessions I planned to attend was cancelled as the presenter had a puncture to deal with and could not make it.

The last session before lunch was a Pecha Kucha style presentation (20 slides, 20 secs each). I have mixed feelings about this style. It was very fast and some presenters (most notably Catherine Kane of Trinity) did a good job in keeping the "flow" going. However, I must admit that I was concentrating as much on the technique and the presenter's ability to deal with it, as with the content of the presentations. I'm glad I was able to persuade the organizers that my own presentation did not suit the PK model. Well done to all!

After lunch I attended a talk by Dave Madden (a good friend and former colleague in CBT Systems) who presented on the use of Multiple Intelligences. I never got all this MI stuff, but Dave gave an interesting talk on a model for MI. Still not sure if I understand what MI is about. The next talk was by Mary Dempsey of NUIG - she asked me to embed a video (not a YouTube one) for her into her presentation beforehand, which unfortunately did not work (sound was OK, but no picture - apologies Mary). This was an interesting talk on the successful use of Wiki technology as a teaching enhancement tool in the classroom.

The Conference proceedings for the day ended with a keynote address by Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT). Jane gave us an excellent exhibition on the use of Twitter as a collaborative tool in education. She has many of us tweeting responses to her questions, which she showed on screen. Excellent and inspiring stuff.

A key part of EdTech is the social element to the proceedings. We had dinner in The Olive Grove restaurant overlooking the Shannon river. It was great to catch up with ILTA at the dinner. I shot a (poor quality) short video with my iPhone of the dinner which can be viewed on here. A great evening was had by all - a pity about the rain that arrived later.

On Friday, the day kicked off with Elliott Masie delivering the third keynote - first via recorded video, and secondly by Skype video phone. Elliott as fascinating as he talked about video and learning. Interesting ideas about video dissertations and having teachers look at themselves on video to improve their own performance. Elliott is also a natural at presenting - he was sitting in his office in New York at 6.00am talking to us via Skype.

Next up for me was a presentation by Rose Baker of Penn State - this was also delivered remotely as Rose was a victim of the Icelandic ash cloud. Her talk was an interesting mix of scaffolding to support learning which is provided in "chunks". Despite technical problems, I really enjoyed her talk.

Twitter played an interesting role in the Conference. Apart from the use by Jane Hart, there was a lot of tweet traffic throughout each presentation - it seemed natural to tweet while listening to a presentation at the same time. I used my iPhone and TweetDeck, which allowed me to keep up-to-date with comments from the many fellow twits at the conference - a great way to share the experience.

Overall, EdTech is a special conference for me that I love going to. Congratulations to ILTA for putting on a well run event.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Happiness grows after 50" - Great!

The Los Angeles Times reported last Monday that "Stress and worry ebb, happiness grows after 50" following a study by American researchers (see Abstract of study here). The study, conducted in a survey of 355,344 Americans aged from 18 to 84, showed that after about 50, stress levels took a deep plunge, and a general Well Being index increased "after the age of 50 years".

Now that I am 50, I pay attention to these facts. The above was also reported on RTÉ Radio 1 News this morning - so I began the day with a slight spring in my step. At least it is easier to listen to than those new ads featuring Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Olivia O'Leary about being "veterans" as they are over 50! (Don't mention the "lust for life" ads either!)

The study also shows that anger "burned hottest at 18-21", stayed high until the 40s, and then declined. At age 18-21 I was a student in Trinity, but didn't really get angry about much. I do recall storming the Dining Hall during Commons (with Jim O'C and about 20 others) and drank some of the Guinness that was traditionally served with dinner. I think it was over the suspension/expulsion of Joe Duffy (of RTÉ fame), but I'm not sure - it probably felt important at the time. I also remember in 1981 (when I was 21) that I signed a book of condolence outside the GPO for the Hunger Striker Thomas McElwee (the ninth of the ten hunger strikers to die - he died on 8th August) - I was angry about that.

I don't know that now that I have turned 50 if my life will be less stressed. I thank God for the many blessings that I have and the fact that my life is relatively unstressed. Sure - I do have worries like everyone else, but they pale into insignificance when compared to others. I know many who have health difficulties, great financial burdens, family problems, job insecurity - and I know that my own situation could change in a flash.

However, being 50, I do think that I could handle stress a bit better. I'm not quite in the "I've seen it all before" category, but this is the second Recession I have been through. I have also been through three redundancy situations (I survived the first two, but took voluntary redundancy in the third). I don't "lose the rag" if I hit a bad shot in golf, and I don't need to overtake every car on the road (my family tell me that I think I don't need to overtake any car on the road!). Almost everyday that I commute to and from work I silently tell other people on the road to "chillax", and that other people's trivial bad road habits are nothing to get worked up over. Remember - you don't own that space on the road in front of you.

As the demographic of Ireland's (and the world's) population is getting older - expect to see more of these lifestyle surveys. A new study, "The Irish LongituDinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)" is being carried out by Trinity College (in collaboration with other Institutions). This new study "explores the health, lifestyles and financial situation of 8,000 to 10,000 people as they grow older, and observes how their circumstances change over a 10 year period" of the over 50s. I hope they pick me!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


iPhone Apps can sometimes be a lot of fun, and have at least some educational value. MEanderthal is an example of an App that doesn't do much - it is an App that "transforms" you into Homo neanderthalensis or Homo heidelbergensis. It is created by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as part of their "What does it mean to be human?" educational initiative. MEanderthal is the Smithonian's first-ever mobile App.

I took the first photo above with my iPhone of myself using the MEanderthal App. It has a easy to use interface that allows you to "fit" your face using a template to rotate and re-size. The App then morphs your photo into the two photos that you see here to give you an idea of what you might look like as a pre-historic man (lady versions also available). In the end I look like I stayed out in the pre-historic sun too much with sunglasses on!

This is a cool tool to get people thinking about pre-historic man, and adds a personal touch. I'll bet that this is a popular too (if available) for kids touring the Smithsonian (which I did in November 1995). Kids may well learn more if they can imagine what they would look like themselves 1,000s of years ago.

I'm sure there are plenty of other opportunities for similar easy-to-use Apps - I'll keep an eye out. Long live innovation such as this in Education.

Free from the Apple App Store.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Robin Hood Movie - Brilliant!

Roma and I went to see the new Robin Hood movie in the Savoy Cinema on O'Connell Street. I love watching movies on the big screen - cinema #1 has fantastic sound and vision. While the cinema was, I'd say, about 90% empty, it is still the best place to watch a movie like this. The movie has an 12A cert, but is not suitable for 12 year olds in my opinion - I had heard on a radio review that some scenes were cut to avoid a 15 cert in the US. It's not a family movie.

The movie is 144 minutes long - but it absolutely flies by. The official trailer below gets it right as a taster of the action...

The action scenes are brilliant and very real (not much CGI was used). It is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Russell Crowe - it is impossible not to make comparisons with Gladiator. This type of role is very suited to Crowe, who is excellent in the lead role. Cate Blanchett is also excellent as the Lady Marion, though there is not much magic between her and Crowe on the screen (perhaps some of this "magic" was removed to achieve the 12A cert?). Her arrival on the beach late on in the movie was a bit too far fetched for me.

The story is not familiar to fans of previous Robin Hood TV programmes and films, and is set before Hood became an outlaw. The story is, however, still an old fashioned good vs bad story - with a little bit of a political "dig" at Richard the Lionheart as Robin condemns the massacre by Richard of over 2,000 Muslim prisoners in 1191 (which did happen - see here for an eye-witness account).

All in all - a really enjoyable movie. Roma loved it too!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review - "Longitude" by Dava Sobel

I picked up Dava Sobel's book "Longitude" at the Age Action book sale held in the Atrium of NCI this week for €1. This must be one of the best €1 I have ever spent - it is an excellent book which I read in just two sittings. The book is short (175 pages) - and I was already familiar with the story of John Harrison and his efforts to win the Board of Longitude prize for solving the biggest problem on the 18th century - how to determine longitude at sea. See a summary in the article John Harrison and the Longitude problem on the British National Maritime Museum website. The story of John Harrison was also made into a two part film starring Jeremy Irons and the wonderful Michael Gambon as Harrison - this film is based on Sobel's book.

Sobel does a wonderful job of describing the problem of determining Longitude at sea. She describes the numerous efforts of many inventors to claim the £20,000 prize for a "Practicable and Useful" way to help navigators at sea figure out where they are. Harrison's rivalry with the Rev Maskelyne, and his difficulties with getting his time-pieces approved by the Board of Longitude are lovingly described by Sobel, who is clearly in awe of Harrison. It is well written and extremely easy to read - as she notes in the "Sources" section at the end - the book "is intended as a popular account, not a scholarly study".

Throughout the book I felt that I would have liked to have seen some diagrams of the insides of the H-1 to H-5 clocks and watches, and to better understand what some of the parts looked like. For example, it is only now (after finishing the book) that I found out what an "escapement" is - see a description in Wikipedia. I was constantly looking back at the (small) photographs inside the front cover as a reference point. As Sobel writes on her website "Roughly one-quarter of the many letters I received after the publication of Longitude complained that the book contained no pictures, maps or diagrams". This lead her to produce "The Illustrated Longitude" with William J.H. Andrewes. I must watch out for this.

This is a wonderful true story that anybody with even a passing interest in history and science will enjoy. Recommended.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Age Action - Getting Started with Computers

Today was my first day as a volunteer for Age Action in their Getting Started Computer Training course. This is a six week programme for the over 55s to encourage and help them to use computers and the Internet. All classes are run by volunteer tutors with small groups of learners, in local, non-formal learning settings. Our class today was held in the Rathmines-Pembroke Citzens Information Centre. This is a training centre with plenty of computers and good modern facilities, behind Slattery's Pub - it must be at least 25 years since I set foot in this pub.

There were just six learners there today - this will increase to eight next week. There were four volunteers, so as this was my first day I had just one learner to look after - a 74 year old man called Paddy who had very little experience with computers. In no time at all we were looking up Google, RTÉ News, AIB Bank, Mayo GAA, and horse racing web sites. Paddy picked this all up very quickly. I very much enjoyed the two-hour session - and hopefully Paddy did too. We'll go in to more detail next week.

I've never really volunteered for anything before - I guess it is about time I did something. Most of the Getting Started courses are held during the day - this is not convenient for work, I am hoping for the odd one in the evening the next time I'm asked to do a course.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Roscrea Review No. 92

News of my book launch last February has made it onto the hallowed pages of the Roscrea Review - the Newsletter of the Cistercian College Roscrea Past Pupils Union. Many thanks to editor Pat Hanratty for including the article and also the references to my Dad Joe, brothers Joe and Brian, and grand uncles Tim and Charlie Hurley (click on image to the right to read article). I'm delighted at this recognition - a fellow 1977 classmate (Dr Eamon Maher) was in the previous edition of the Roscrea Review when he was pictured with An Taoiseach Brian Cowen (also a 1977 classmate) for his own book launch. Mark Ryan of Accenture (to the right in the photo), performed my launch and I thought it would be a nice idea to send the photo to Pat H for consideration for the Review.

Even though it is now almost 33 years since I left the Roscrea school, I still enjoy reading the Review. I always watch out for news of Pastmen, and of news from the College. There are always lots of photos of dinners and events - I'm on page 24 of the current edition as well in a less flattering pose after a few glasses of wine. I always think it a bit odd that I still retain an attachment for a school where I spent only five years as a boarder (1972-1977) - I do enjoy meeting up with the lads from my class. Thanks to social networking I've probably been more in touch for the last 2-3 years than in the previous 30.

Many thanks again to my colleague Emma Fry from the NCI Photography panel for above and all the other excellent photos.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Book Review - The Vatican Pimpernel

I have just finished reading Brian Fleming's book The Vatican Pimpernel. This is the story of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty's activities in Rome during the second world war - the book credits him with being involved in getting over 6,500 people (POWs, Jews, and Italians) to safety. It is a remarkable story of courage, devotion, faith, deception and intrigue. Monsignor O'Flaherty used his status in the Vatican to hide people from the authorities in houses and churches throughout Rome. With the cooperation of the British and rich donors he was able pay for security, accommodation, and other things like false papers. A truly remarkable man - he was awarded a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) and the US Medal of Freedom after the war.

Image Source: Collins Press.
The book has the potential to be a thriller describing how O'Flaherty beat the Germans as the Allies slowly advanced on Rome. But it is not intended as a thriller - in 1983, his story was made into a film The Scarlet and the Black starring Gregory Peck. While Fleming does a good job in describing events, there is also much speculation and doubt about exactly what happened as O'Flaherty did not keep notes, nor did he talk much about his participation after the war. Indeed there is even speculation that he was a Nazi mole - see a copy of an article in The Times written by Richard Owen on 3rd July 2000 here. The book is written like a documentary and is very easy and enjoyable to read.

Ever since the 1983 movie came out my Dad has told me that we are related to the Monsignor. So in my Family Tree I decided to trace this link (with the help of my third cousin Catherine Culloty) and found that he is my second cousin twice removed. In other words his mother (Margaret Murphy from Lisrobin, West Cork) and my great grandmother, Julia (Murphy) O'Loughlin, were first cousins. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010

OpenCoffee Club Dublin

I attended the OpenCoffee Club morning at NCI today - a chance to network with colleagues and business people over some free coffee, tea, and pastries. I was also asked to shoot some short video clips for the Club. I had my iPhone for this and used the QIK App to upload direct to the web. The videos can be seen here. QIK is a neat new tool that allows you to shoot video when is automatically uploaded to your QIK page. Here is my "pan" video of the event:

The event was also the first time I got my hands on an iPad. It is really a very cool piece of kit, and attracted a lot of attention.

We also had an interesting short presentation from a couple guys from Griffith College who have a new start-up called - early days for them yet, but good luck for the future.

Overall, a very enjoyable event - congrats to the NCI folks who organized it. Professionals as always!

Monday, May 03, 2010

EdTech 2010

I just noticed this evening that I have had a paper accepted for EdTech 2010 in Athlone Institute of Technology! Wow! 

EdTech is the annual conference of the Irish Learning Technologies Association and is a Conference that I have been attending in Ireland for several years - last year it was held in my own College NCI. My paper is about using YouTube in lectures. I plan to illustrate my own use of YouTube in class, show how YouTube can be inserted into PowerPoint, and show results of student evaluation from a survey I conducted of one of my first year classes. 

EdTech is a fantastic community of people in Ireland who are dedicated to the promotion of Technology in education. I will post here about the Conference - watch this space!

Follow EdTech 2010 on Twitter - @ILTAtweets.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Gerry Ryan - EOM 5083

Sad news yesterday about the sudden death of RTÉ broadcaster Gerry Ryan at the young age of 53 (Jeez - that's close to my own age!). I heard the news at work, and then noticed that Twitter was alive with comment and shock. The death was the main item on RTÉ news and there was genuine shock and love for Gerry from everyone who spoke about and paid tribute to him. I even watched part of the Late Late Show which was about him. There's no doubt that he would be loving all the attention.

I sometimes tuned into to his radio show. As I don't listen to the radio at work, I rarely heard his morning programme. On a day off, or if cycling to work I would quite often switch from RTÉ Radio 1 to 2FM - he did a better review of the papers. While I sometimes found the items on his show trivial and boring, more often than not I kept listening as he could make a story out of almost anything. He was funny, loud, rude, kind, and intelligent - I wish I could have had more time to hear him on the radio. For a lot of people he was part of their everyday lives, and he will be sadly missed.

I never met Gerry Ryan, but our paths did cross back in August 1984 when he was a late show DJ on 2FM, and I was a postgraduate student in Trinity. I lived in a house on Sherrard Street Upper where we only had a radio for entertainment - I listened to his show all the time. One evening he had a competition in association with USIT. He described a fictitious fantastic car, and he wanted the listeners to figure out the registration number of the car from the title or artist of 6 songs he was about to play. The six songs:
  1. Chuck E's in Love - Ricky Lee Jones
  2. Oh Yeah! - Roxy Music
  3. Pop Muzik - M
  4. 50 Ways to Leave your Lover - Paul Simon
  5. Eight Days a Week - The Beatles
  6. Knock Three Times on the Ceiling - Tony Orlando

I figured out the answer as EOM 5083. I wasn't sure how to handle the "Oh" in the Roxy Music song, so went with just "O". I also wasn't sure whether it was 50 or 60 ways to leave your lover, so I checked this out in a record shop in the City Centre the next day. No text or email in those days, so I sent my entry on a post card to his show. A few days later I got a telegram - the only time I ever got one. It was a message to call Willie O'Reilly - at the time I did not know who he was, but I soon figured out that he was the producer of Gerry Ryan's evening show. I resolve to call him the next day, as it was evening when I picked up the telegram. That evening I listened to the Show and Gerry announced the result of the competition - "EOM 5083". I was correct! He then said he had a hat and he went through the charade of rattling paper and drawing an answer from the hat. The first one out was not me - why had I got the telegram? However, the answer called out had one letter wrong, so Gerry "reached " into the hat an "drew" out another entry. This time it was me - I had won the competition! The prize was flights for two to Paris courtesy of USIT. I remember letting out a mighty "Yippee!".

The next day I called the number for Willie O'Reilly (from a telephone box in Phibsborough) and I got to speak to Gerry (not on air). He asked how I heard that I had won and I simply said that "I heard it on the Gerry Ryan Show". He liked that and asked if I would do an ad. He told me that the competition was to run for four weeks with four winners (I was the first), but that the response to the first one was poor. So I was recorded saying "I heard it on the Gerry Ryan Show" on an ad which ran for a week, but I never heard it (others who knew me did). 

Roma and I went on our first trip abroad in September 1984 to Paris as a result. We had a great time (though we had very little money to spend). This was before we got engaged (a year later), and our week together was the first time we spent a holiday with each other - I knew she was the girl for me. The third picture to the left on my blog topstrip above was taken just a few months beforehand. For your role in helping me fall in love, I thank you Gerry. I did send you a postcard from Paris - I still like to think that you read it out on your show while we were away. I remember writing on the card that I was having a great time in Paris, but that I missed the Gerry Ryan Show!

Ar dheis Dé a raibh a anam.