Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More from 1958 An Fiolar

The 1958 edition of An Fiolar is an interesting book about Cistercian College Roscrea (CCR). The copy I have (temporarily) belongs to my Dad and is missing the front cover and perhaps a few pages at the beginning. Many features and articles are in Irish, which I am sorry to confess, I can barely read and understand. Also, the Irish is printed in a Gaelic style font which makes it harder to read. 

There are some mentions of my family in the book: my Dad Joe, and my three grand-uncles (my grandmother Kathleen's brothers) - Tim, Charles (Charlie), and Patrick (Pat) Hurley. I remember Charlie and Pat very well, but I'm certain that I never met Tim who lived in Cardiff, Wales. 

Uncle Charlie was a priest - everyone in the family called him "The Mons" (Monsignor). I recall a photo of him meeting with Pope Paul VI on the mantle piece of my grandmother's house in Kimmage - it was the centre piece. I know he was Parish Priest in Ballybrack, South Co. Dublin (where he married my Mum and Dad in 1958), and that he ended his days as a priest in Harrington Street, just off the South Circular Road. Indeed, after he died, my late uncle Charlie and I went to his house and cleaned it out of some of the finest furniture before the Archbishop could get his hands on it. He died on 16th January 1985, and is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery (though I remember his funeral very well, I have not been able to find his grave since). The picture to the left is a photo taken from An Fiolar (p232) - in the book, the "Very Rev. Dr. Charles Hurley" (CCR 1908-'12) is described as P.P. Ballybrack, Co. Dublin, entered Clonliffe in 1913 and went to the Irish College, Rome, in 1917. He took his D.D. and was ordained on 28 February 1920. On returning from Rome he was appointed to Carlow the same year.

Later in the book, my grand-uncle Tim Hurley is also featured (p269). The citation in the book states: Timothy J. Hurley (1910-'14) is a medical practitioner in Cardiff, Wale, since 1924. In 1931 he married Rosa Patricia Keane of Co. Galway. He likes plenty of exercise with golf club, walking stick or spade.

On page 284 the citation for my Dad (no photo) states: Joseph O'Loughlin (1944-'48) is a farmer in Carnew, Co. Wicklow. He is county secretary of Macra na Feirme and devotes most of his free time to a noble cause - the promotion of rural organizations.

Finally, the only mention of my grand uncle Pat, is in the list of Alumni (p440) - 1916-'18 - Hurley, Patrick, Newmarket, Co. Cork

Fr. Alberic Murphy O.Cist.

Fr. Alberic (James) Murphy was a Cistercian monk in the Mount St Joseph Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary. I believe he is one of the Murphy's of Lisrobin (West Cork) and is most likely an uncle of my grandmother Kathleen Hurley (whose mother Bridget was a Murphy). Three of my Hurley grand-uncles (Charlie, Tim, and Pat) went to Cistercian College Roscrea (CCR) - more about Charlie and Tim Hurley in a later post. 

My Dad tells me that Jim Murphy was involved in the building of some of the Abbey in the late 1880's, and liked it so much that he joined the Monastery. He later studied in Rome and became a priest. I'm not sure what age he was when he joined the Monastery, but there is some evidence that he was 27 in 1901. The 1901 census returns for the Community in Mount St Joseph shows a 27 year old James Murphy from Co. Cork as a "Member of the Community". Ten years later the 1911 census shows as 36 year old James Murphy as a "Clergyman - Professor" at the top of the list of names in the returns (which also show my grand uncles Tim and Charlie as students of the College).

According to a special edition of the Cistercian College Roscrea An Fiolar, published in 1958, it was in 1905 when the abbot of the Monastery asked the then Brother Alberic to be the first Bursar and Dean of the College. The picture above is a scan from the book (p146). Another book marking the Centenary of the College Céad Blian Faoi Rath published in 2005 mentions Fr Alberic as having never preached or heard confession.

I remember seeing his simply marked grave in the cemetery beside the Abbey while I was in school in CCR - my jaded memory thinks the cross on his grave states that he died in the 1940's. As the first Bursar and Dean of the College I'm sure he would have had many stories to tell about the founding of the College - I'm certain that he would have been a very interesting person to have met.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sandymount Strand Revisited

While out for a walk this morning I decided to go out across Sandymount strand as far as I could, as the tide was out. While out in the middle of the strand, I was reminded of the last time I was this far out - 21st April, 1986. It was a peaceful place with nobody around - I had it almost to myself. I decided to whip out my iPhone and record my thoughts about returning to the scene of my closest brush with death so far. I published the video to YouTube while still on the strand. The newspaper clipping is copied from one of my early posts on this blog.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First time I have been mistaken for an old person!

Yesterday was the last day for the Age Action Getting Started with Computers programme in Ballybough Community Centre. I was a tutor on this programme for the last four (of six) weeks - I finished up a similar course in Rathmines last week. Getting Started is a training programme for older people to encourage and help them to use computers and the internet. Classes are run by volunteer tutors with small groups of learners, in local, non formal learning settings. It has been a very enjoyable experience for me, despite the fact that six two-hour classes is very little time to teach more than the basics of using a computer.

Nevertheless, my students were able to surf the web, and send & receive emails by the end of the course. They loved trying out booking flights, buying books, checking out eBay, as well as looking at the 1901/1911 census, and newspapers. All overcame a certain fear of using computers and are keen to continue - some have even bought computers, or have easy access to a family computer.

As part of yesterday's class, we were visited by a group of students from the Discover University programme being run by the National College of Ireland. They were taking part in a problem-based learning project - their problem was to figure out a way to get more young people to volunteer for programmes such as AgeAction's Getting Started course. They had camera and videos and also interviewed some of the older students - they also interviewed the tutors, me too! Everybody on the course enjoyed the visit by the students.

I got a good laugh when one of the Discover University students (I'd say he was about 16 years old) approached me for an interview. He had just finished interviewing Ronnie who I was tutoring. I assumed he wanted to interview a tutor - imagine my surprise when he started asking questions such as "How did I find out about the course and why I wanted to learn about computers". He thought I was one of the Getting Started students! As I am probably 35 years older than him, it must have appeared to him that I am an old man.

Now where did I put the Grecian 2000?

Friday, June 25, 2010

CAO surge as adults seek place in college

John Walshe (Education Editor of The Irish Independent) writes in today's paper about an increase in the number of over 23's seeking places in third-level. He reports that a record 14,606 mature applicants have sought places through the CAO out of a total of 77,126 applications to date. Walshe also reports that this increase in places comes at a time when the colleges are under severe financial pressures and have to reduce their staff numbers by 6pc over a two-year period. (In a side comment he expects this reduction in staff to be complete by the end of December). The article cites Dundalk IT as a popular place for mature students.

In the National College of Ireland we had great success in attracting mature learners returning to full-time education this past year - we had a significant increase in the numbers on computing courses. While many students have done well in their first year, some others have had a tough time re-adjusting to full-time education. Starting studies all over again sounds easy, but it's not. However, with our excellent learning support staff - the vast majority will pull though to go into their second year.

Mature students add a lot to a class. In semester II of the academic year just finished, I had a first year class that had a mix of students in the late teens and early twenties - to one guy who is older than me. The mature students are very good at attending classes, and paying attention. I find it a pleasure to have them in my class. I often think that it would be good for school leavers to work for a few years before going to College - I feel that they would get more out of it compared to going straight into College from school.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Business School swaps Google Apps for Microsoft Live@edu

Computer World reports today that a French Business School is swapping Google Apps for Microsoft Live@edu - this is another step in the direction of Cloud Computing in education. Live@edu offers hosted e-mail service, which includes calendar and contact management, instant messaging, video conferencing and 10GB of storage space. Staff and students will also use Microsoft Office 2010 and have access to Sharepoint Online. Interestingly, the applications will run in Microsoft's European data centers - and not in the School itself.

I think that this is something that we in Education are going to see more of.

I have not followed the debate about Cloud Computing very closely. However, I do know that many organizations have reservations about security of data in the Cloud. The Gartner Group recently reported that there are seven security risks associated with Cloud Computing:
  1. Privileged user access
  2. Regulatory compliance
  3. Data location
  4. Data segregation
  5. Recovery
  6. Investigative support
  7. Long-term viability
Consider item #3 - when you use the Cloud, you probably won't know exactly where your data is hosted. In fact, you might not even know what country it will be stored in. Gartner recommends that you should raise these issues with vendors before selecting a cloud vendor.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Road Trip to Cork

I traveled to Cork yesterday afternoon to attend the NCI Open Evening in the Imperial Hotel on the South Mall. We did not have a successful evening as very few people turned up to inquire about our courses - I was very disappointed at travelling so far for so little.

However, I did get to ride my Harley-Davidson down the Motorway that is now completed from Dublin all the way to Cork. It was a super afternoon, and I took just two hours and five minutes to complete the trip, slowing down only at the two Tolls, and for the last few miles to conserve petrol as I had to switch to the reserve tank at Watergrasshill near Cork City. Indeed - the lack of a Service Station on this route makes for a tight trip - the 160 miles it as the limit of the capacity of my petrol tank - especially if riding hard. I averaged 75mph on the way down (excluding the toll stops), so decided to be a bit slower coming back (70mph) - which made for less petrol being used.

The road was surprising quiet for mid-afternoon - I expected it to be quiet on the way home (I left Cork at 8.00pm). I couldn't help thinking that this was an awful lot of road for so little traffic. I had the road to myself on a lot of occasions. Was a Motorway all the way to Cork really needed? A dual-carriageway would have been just as effective - and a lot cheaper. Anyway - it is there now, so I won't recommend that it be dug up - long may it continue to link Dublin and Cork.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

1901 and 1911 Census

The digitization of the 1901 and 1911 census return forms by the National Archives has generated much interest in in people's families and ancestors. I have had good fun looking in to my own family history, and I know some of my wider family read this blog, so I thought I'd summarize what I have found so far.

I have found three of my four grandparents - my Mum's mother Kathleen Cullen has eluded me so far, but I will find her if she was recorded on census night. The three that I have found are the O'Loughlin's and Hurley's on my Dad's side, and the Burns (Byrne's) on my Mum's side.

My grandfather PJ O'Loughlin was born in 1904 so he features only on the 1911 census. He is listed as "Pattie Loughlin" here with his father, "Joseph Loughlin",, his aunt "Mary Loughlin", and a servant "Eugene Loughlin". They lived in Barnacurra near Newmarket in West Cork. According to my Dad the "O" was lost at a Christening when someone got so drunk that the name O'Loughlin was entered incorrectly on the birth certificate! My great grandfather "Joseph Loughlin" is also listed on the 1901 census here - he lived in Tooreenclassagh (also near Newmarket), and is listed on his own.

The Hurley family were easy enough to find. My grandmother Kathleen Hurley features in the 1911 census here, as living in Church Street, Newmarket. For the 1901 census, she was not yet born, but her family are listed here. It's not clear that they were living in the same house - the 1901 record shows "Residents of a house 74 in Newmarket (Newmarket, Cork)", while the 1911 record shows "Residents of a house 2 in Church Street (Newmarket, Cork)".

Burns (Byrne)
I finally tracked the "Burns" family down in the 1911 census. My Mum's maiden name is Byrne - all her family use this spelling of their name. However, just last weekend she told me a story about her Dad (Patrick) having difficulty getting a passport in 1956 when he was emigrating to Canada. There was no trace of a "Byrne" birth certificate, but it was found under the name "Burns" instead. Having had no luck looking for my Mum's family under the name "Byrne", I quickly tried the "Burns" spelling and found her father here (see also graphic to the right) in the 1911 census straight-away. Patrick (Paddy) Burns is listed as a 5-year old - the only other member of this family that I remember is Uncle Jimmy who is listed as a 1-year old. The family are recorded as living in "Ballyquirk (Lorrha West, Tipperary)". Both my great-grandparents, James and Margaret, are listed as "Cannot read".

The availability of these census records is fascinating. In one of my recent AgeAction Getting Started classes for over 55's, where most of my students are in their 60's and 70's - all were amazed at finding relatives and neighbours on streets where they grew up. It's hard to justify the cost of completing this project in times when there are spending cutbacks on schools and hospitals - but I consider it money well spent. The National Archives is experiencing a huge amount of traffic to their resource - long may it continue.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Launch: Critical Design and Effective Tools for E-Learning in Higher Education: Theory into Practice

Today I attended the launch of the book Critical Design and Effective Tools for E-Learning in Higher Education: Theory into Practice. It is edited by Roisin Donnelly, Jen Harvey, and Kevin O'Rourke of the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), and is published by IGI Global. The book is a collection of stories that provide those who work in higher education a source of both information and inspiration. The stories are told by some 40 professionals from all across the English-speaking world, detailing their theoretical and practical perspectives on the impact technology has had and will have on the learning experiences of higher education graduates (from IGI Global Description page).

The book features 21 chapters, and I have written chapter 9. My chapter is entitled iClassroom – Opportunities for Touch Screen Hand-held Technologies in Learning and Teaching. The chapter is mostly about the use of iPods, iTouchs, and iPhones in education. The Abstract of the chapter is as follows:

Hand-held technologies such as Apple’s iPod/iTouch/iPhone devices are now capable of being used for educational purposes as well as for entertainment. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the issues, content authoring, usage, workload, and pedagogical consequences of creating an iClassroom for mobile learning based on these devices. Use of podcasts and vodcasts by students, and their rate of success are varied as shown by studies reviewed from the literature and carried out by the author for this chapter. Several strategies for reducing workload at an individual and institutional level are proposed for adoption by educators. Key recommendations from this chapter are an increased emphasis on evaluation, usage of models for developing content, and an inclusion of iPod/iTouch/iPhone devices as part of an overall architecture for m-Learning.

I was delighted that both my initial proposal and final draft were accepted, though the timing was unfortunate in that I had to write and edit this chapter while I was also writing my first book. I am also conscious that the chapter will date very quickly - for example, the iPad has been released since the chapter was completed.

The book launch, held in The Courtyard in DIT Aungier Street, was a bit odd in that printed copies of the book are not yet available. So instead, the eBook version was formally launched by Professor Brian Norton of DIT, who used a Sony eBook Reader to do the honours. It was a bit like "Hamlet without the Prince" in that the main part of the excitement of a book launch is getting your hands on a copy of the book.

The book's web page on the IGI Global site is still short on detail, and I still don't know what many of the other chapters are about. I'll post more detail at a later date when I actually get my hands on a copy of the book.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

World Cup Memories - 2002, and 2006

Ireland made it to the 2002 World Cup finals, but there was only one show in town - Roy Keane and the Saipan incident. Nothing divided the country like this since the Civil War - you were either for or against Roy on this. Keane was sent home for this rant against manager Mick McCarthy:

Mick, you're a liar... you're a fucking wanker. I didn't rate you as a player, I don't rate you as a manager, and I don't rate you as a person. You're a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.


When the finals got underway we could concentrate on football, even though the Keane story dominated the media here. Our first game was against Cameroon - we were in Westport for my late mother-in-law, Mary Rose Bourke's 70th birthday party. Early the next morning Matt Holland's goal finally banished Keane to the inside pages. A late draw against Germany and an easy win over Saudi Arabia set us up for a Last 16 match with Spain which we lost on penalties. It was good while it lasted, but disappointing to go out like this.

Other memories include: lots of surprise results, Ronaldo's rediculous haircut, fantastic Korean support, golden goals, Senegal's surprise win over France, Beckham's penalty winner against Argentina, Turkey's impressive advance to the semi-finals, and watching the final in Dublin airport with the final whistle going as I was the last person to board the plane.

The most recent World Cup finals in Germany in 2006 showed a return to the old order with the traditional powers of football getting a return to form. All four semi-finalists were European (Germany, Italy, France, and Portugal), but there were few goals in the final stages. Penalty shoot-outs also featured strongly - with the Swiss, Argentines, England, and the French in the final losing out.

Things to remember the 2006 finals for: a man who slept in front of the TV in the hotel in Westport to get a good seat for the Ireland vs Cameroon match, crowds in parks watching on big screens, flamboyant football from the Germans!, Wayne Rooney sent off, Zindane's head butt on Materazzi in the final, new countries in the finals for the first time: (Ghana, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Ivory Coast, and Angola), and superb defending from Italy captain Fabio Carnavarro. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ronnie Lee Gardner executed by firing squad in Utah - Telegraph

Up to a few minutes ago I had never heard of Ronnie Lee Gardner, but I noticed a lot of news items on Google news that his execution had just taken place. Gardner was convicted of the killing of a lawyer (ironically - this lawyer was against the death penalty) in a court house shoot-out. Not much doubt about his guilt, and there were no pleas for mercy on the grounds of wrongful conviction.

I suppose what makes me write about this (and ignore the many other executions that take place in the world) are three things:
  1. The suddenness of getting this news on Google without even searching for it - it was even on Twitter (see this article in The Vancouver Sun)
  2. Realizing that as I write this the guy has been dead less than an hour
  3. The fact that he had been on Death Row for 25 years before being executed 

In the past I have been a supporter of the death penalty - I am not proud of this now. Western Europe has long since abandoned the death penalty and it has not been used in Ireland since 20th April 1954 (Michael Manning hanged for murder). The is no appetite for it here now. 

Point 3 above is the hardest one to understand - in Ireland, a life sentence for murder can mean serving as little as 15 years in jail (sometimes even less). Few serve as long as 25 years. In Utah, you get a life sentence and then they execute you. While this message is very clear and easy for even the dumbest criminal to understand, it clearly has made little impact on the crime and murder rate in Salt Lake City (where the execution above took place) which is rated as "safer than 2% of the cities in the US" by NeighborhoodScout.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup Memories - 1990, 1994, and 1998

At last - Ireland had qualified for the World Cup finals. With much anticipation, we all looked forward to the matches and there was great excitement and colour all over the country, with flags and banners everywhere. Nobody thought Ireland would be serious contenders, but we were in a group with England, Holland and Egypt - and as there were 24 teams in the finals, there was a possibility that three teams might qualify from our group (which happened).

The opening 1-1 draw with England (who went on to the semi-final) meant that we were in with a chance of qualifying. However, the boring 0-0 draw with Egypt reduced the chances unless we could get a result against Holland. Thanks to van Breukelen for dropping the ball for Niall Quinn's goal, and the Gullit/McCarthy agreement to settle for a draw shortly afterwards - we made it though to the next round. An unbelievably boring 0-0 draw with Romania (who should have won) meant a penalty shoot-out, with Packie Bonner and David O'Leary becoming legends to send Ireland through to the quarter finals. Toto Schillaci ended Ireland's World Cup - but it was a wonderful time to be Irish.

My main memories of Italia 90 were the celebrations in O'Connell Street after the win over Romania, the controversy over Eamon Dunphy, Big Jack, Dearg Doom, Packie's save, O'Leary's winner, a poor final with Maradona in tears at the end, England's agony at loosing to Germany in a penalty shoot-out, and of course Gazza's tears.

In 1994, Ireland once again qualified and opened up with a stunning win over (eventual finalists) Italy. Things went downhill after that with an eventual meek exit at the hands of the Dutch. Not much for the Irish to remember, but it was an eventful tournament nonetheless.

Things to remember: Ray Houghton's goal vs Italy, Baggio's pony-tail, Baggio's miss in the penalty shoot out in the final, a boring 0-0 draw in the final, Roy Keane emerging as a quality player, Maradona testing positive for drugs - probably drawing suspicion upon himself by running at TV camera after scoring against Greece,  an incredible free-kick goal from Hristo Stoichov of Bulgaria, and a Brazil win again for the first time since 1970.

France 1998 did not feature the Irish, even thought there were now 32 teams in the finals. The group stages were for me, not much of a thrill, but the competition opened up in the knockout stages. By them. Roma, the girls, and I were on holiday in Minorca. While we were having a lovely holiday, I tried my best to balance footie and family. On the day Argentina played England in the first round of the knockout stages, we were in Mahon for dinner. Everywhere I looked - TVs were playing the match. But just like in 1986, I put family first - and skipped the match. However, on our return to our apartment I noticed that the game was still on and that extra time must be being played. Once again I was "allowed" to go watch the footie, and I headed to the bar to watch most of the extra time. I had missed Michael Owen's spcetacular goal, and David Beckham's sending off. Lots of England fans in the pub really made for an excellent atmosphere - though this may have been something to do with me arriving stone-cold sober into a bar late at night.

Things to remember: What happened to Ronaldo for the final, the Marseillaise, Zidane's two goals, celebrations on the Champs Elysees, a drunken Dundalk man shouting "Belgrano" at the end of the Argentina vs England match, fantastic England fans cheering their team in the pub, some of the same  England fans crying in the pub later, lots of penalty shoot-outs, and of course - peroxide blonds from Romania.

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup Memories - 1982, and 1986

In the 1980's, the World Cup finals were held in Spain and Mexico. Once again Ireland did not participate, but we did come close to qualifying in 1982, only losing out on goal difference to France. Northern Ireland did qualify for the finals in both 1982 and 1986.

In 1982, the finals in Spain really set the world alight - I have many memories from this tournament. There was a huge win for Algeria over West Germany, but this was followed by one of the worst games ever when Austria and Germany contrived to eliminate Algeria by allowing the Germans to win 1-0. Brazil were fantastic in the early stages - Socrates especially standing out for me, but they lost out to a Paolo Rossi hat-trick in the quarter-finals. The finals were also famous for Harald Schumacher's (of Germany) "tackle" on Patrick Battiston of France, and Jimmy Magee's description of Horst Hrubush - "The man they call the Monster"! Northern Ireland had a famous win over Spain. But it was Italy who stole the how (despite drawing all three of their group matches) by winning the final 3-1 against the Germans, and at the same time creating probably the greatest goal celebration of them all from Marco Tardelli...

In 1986, there was only one topic of conversation - Diego Maradona. If ever one man won the World Cup single handedly, then this was it. Maradona dominated the competition, and provided us with two of the most famous moments in football - the "Hand of God" goal, and his incredible winner against England. The English had got off to a low start, but thanks to Gary "Crisps" Lineker, they reached the quarter-final only to lose to Maradona and ten other Argentines (England should have played Mrs T.).

But the biggest memory for me during the 1986 World Cup was the day France beat Brazil in the quarter-finals. This game was played less than three months before Roma and I got married. We went to Kilkenny city for the day (a most romantic day if I may say so). We stopped in Langton's Pub for dinner - but guess what - the match was on TV. Nevertheless, we sat in the restaurant part of the pub and did not watch the game - this was in the days before TV sets saturated pubs. I could see a TV in the distance, but not close enough to see what was happening. I did manage on the way back from the loo to see Zico miss a penalty for Brazil. The game ended in a penalty shoot-out and I couldn't contain myself - I had to see the shoot-out. By now Roma must have known I was addicted to football, and "allowed" me to see France win on penalties. An unforgettable day - and not just for football (Roma - you know what I mean!).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

World Cup Memories - 1970, 1974, and 1978

Every World Cup Finals has events that stick in the memory. During the 1970's, the World Cup was held in Mexico, (West) Germany, and Argentina. Here are some of my memories from these tournaments:

1970 - I was only 10 years old when the finals took place. I was just about aware that a big football event was taking place. By this age I was a fan of Manchester United (or Georgie Best to be precise), and was beginning my life-long addition to football. In Carnew National School, all the boys were starting to talk about football, but our house was not a sports watching one and I got to see very little. My main memories are seeing England lose to West Germany in the quarter final - with goalkeeper Peter "The Cat" Bonetti giving the Germans a helping hand. I also remember getting a book World Football at your feet - what to watch and who to follow - this was a preview of the Mexico World Cup and I recall reading it over and over.

By 1974, I was addicted to football. The finals were in West Germany and I have much clearer, and many more, memories. Things that I recall are "Total Football" from the Dutch, the magic of Johan Cruyff, Zaire, long hair (especially the Argentinians), constant blowing of horns during the games, and two penalties in the final. West Germany also lost (1-0) to East Germany in the group stages, but took revenge 15 years later by re-unifying Germany after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. West Germany won the Cup, but it was Holland who won the hearts of everyone by playing superb stuff throughout.

1978 provided a spectacular competition in Argentina. Hair was still long (Argentinians again). My main memories are: confetti at every game, Mario Kempes getting loads of goals, Archie Gemmell's master goal for Scotland against Holland, Peru hipping six goals against Argentina to knock the Brazilians out, long range shooting by everyone - especially by Brandts and Haan for Holland in the semi-final against Italy. Argentina won the final - the Dutch again losing out. This tournament also signaled the arrival of Argentine footballers Ardiles and Villa into English football - Match of the Day has never been the same since!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup starts today and I'm looking forward to a festival of football during which I intend to watch as many games as possible. However, I'll miss many of the 12.30 and 15.00 kick-offs as it is still two weeks before I go on holiday. I hope to catch most of the knockout stages while on holiday in Greece (excuse to go to the pub while the girls are shopping!).

I have been watching the World Cup since 1970 - the match I remember most was the England vs West Germany quarter-final when I watched in disbelief as England threw away a 2-0 lead. I missed the final as the O'Loughlin family were brought to (I think) a Church event - all the time I was wondering who was winning. Little did I know that one of the greatest games ever was being played, and featured this super goal by Carlos Alberto!

I have placed some bets with Paddy Power:

Group Winners (accumulator):
A - France
B - Argentina
C - England
D - Germany
E - Netherlands
F - Italy
G - Brazil
H - Spain

Top Scorer:
Lionel Messi



No surprises there - but if I get it right it's a tidy sum for me! I do also think that England will do well (provided Rooney stays fit and doesn't get suspended), but if all goes as seeded, they will meet Brazil in the semi-final. End of World Cup for Fabio's boys!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

National Geographic International Reader Panel

The National Geographic Society recently invited me (and I'm sure millions of others) to join their International Reader Panel. The panel will be used to help NGS "marketing and advertising departments develop National Geographic magazine in ways you will find useful and interesting".  I'm interested in being part of panels - usually it mostly means filling out surveys. As a Lecturer who encourages many students to complete research projects, I am always interested in how the "professionals" write their surveys - I might (and usually do) get some ideas.

I have been reading the National Geographic since the 1960s. My Mum's long time American friend (Mary B-M) has been sending her the NG since we were kids - I have been a subscriber since 1997. I love this publication and read it regularly. I prefer human interest and history articles - despite being a qualified Zoologist I am not really that interested in articles like "Curious Congo Chimps" (Feb 2010 edition). The NG is cheap and I think I will keep subscribing to it forever. It was in the NG that I first read about Ernest Shackleton's incredible adventures in the Antarctic.

Always - the NGS photos are the best feature for me, I'd love to be able to take shoot some of the incredible shots that they publish every month. They do a "Best of Photo of the Day" - below is one from today that shows the Arc de Triomphe in Paris (image is a link to the NGS site, not a copy).

Monday, June 07, 2010

1901 Census On-line

The National Archives has released the digitized version of the 1901 Census. At my Age Action class last Friday, one of my two students spent almost all his time looking up his parents and grandparents - he was fascinated to see his grandfather's signature on the 1911 census return form. 

First for me to search in the 1901 census were my paternal great-grandparents - Thomas and Bridget Hurley. They were easy to find as I also had their details for the 1911 Census - they lived in Newmarket, Co Cork. My Grandmother, Kathleen Hurley, was born in 1903 and is of course not listed in the 1901 census. My grand uncles Charlie, Tim, and Pat, as well as my grand aunt Hannah (Sr Bridget) are listed - a section of the return is shown to the right.

I have not found my other paternal great grandparents - Joseph O'Loughlin and his family. They are listed in the 1911 census as living in Barnacurra, but not so in the 1901 version. I need to do a bit more searching. I have had no luck at all tracking down my maternal grandparents and great grandparents in either the 1901 or 1911 census.

Friday, June 04, 2010

My YouTube Channel - 100,000 views

Now here's something for me to celebrate - my YouTube Channel has just passed the 100,000 views mark! Of course this is very modest in the context of YouTube, but for me it is something special. That so many people have accessed my videos and hopefully found them useful, is very satisfying. Elliott Masie told us at the EdTech 2010 Conference that "How To" videos are the most popular video type in YouTube.

It was April 10th last (55 days ago) that I wrote about reaching the 75,000 mark - that's an average of 454 views per day since then. Most of my viewers are male and in the 45-54 age group (funnily enough - the same as me). YouTube Insight reveals a lot of interesting information about who is accessing what from where. While my video about creating a Pareto chart is still the most popular, the one about embedding a YouTube video into PowerPoint is gaining in popularity. The "Problem-Solving" techniques section is now beginning to pick up viewers. I hope to add a few more over the next couple of weeks before the holidays. I'm also planning to re-record the "How To..." videos for Office 2010 after the summer break (when we switch to Windows 7 and Office 2010 in the College).

Many thanks to all my viewers - these numbers encourage me to keep this up and create even more videos.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Fast-Roping 101

From The Daily Dish blog - how not to assault an Aid Convoy...

My own thoughts on what happened on the Mavi Marmara on its way to Palestine: First - Israel completely over-reacts as usual to shoot first and ask questions later. I'm certain that they did not set out to kill all those people, but they are more than prepared to shoot anyone who gets in their way. This was a reckless and botched operation that even their expert spin doctors can't camouflage under the cloak of terrorism. Prime Minister Netanyahu is in the News saying "This wasn't a love boat, this was a hate boat" - what an idiot. You just increased recruitment into Hamas. Secondly - what were those people on the ship thinking - don't they know you shouldn't fuck with the Israelis? Since when do knives and clubs beat machine guns and grenades? Did they expect the Israelis to just sit back and say "Welcome to Gaza, park your ship wherever you want to"? Have they ever watched the News? Israelis will invade you if you fire a rocket at them. The leaders of this flotilla bear some responsibility for what happened - even if it was just naivety.

An Irish boat, the MV Rachel Corrie, is on its way to Gaza as I write. They should withdraw, or go to an Israeli port. The point about the blockade has been made, Israel is a pariah among nations today, no more lives should be wasted by provoking Israel into another confrontation. Stop now.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

University heads told courses and jobs at risk in funding cut - The Irish Times - Wed, Jun 02, 2010

I read today in an article by The Irish Times Education Correspondent Seán Flynn, that there are more difficult times are ahead for Irish Universities, with "unprecedented cuts which could force them to cut staff and cancel courses". HEA boss Tom Boland is getting tough and has called on the Universities to take  “whatever action is needed” in the coming year. What happens at University level will surely affect the ITs and other third-level colleges such as NCI. 

There is no doubt that there are hard times ahead - and all this in the context of an increasing number of students wanting to go to College. The same article above quotes that "CAO applications are at record levels as some 70 per cent of students proceed towards college". The number of part-time students (the largest number of NCI students) is expected to grow by 10,000 (or 30%) students by 2013.

Reducing staff and courses while at the same time educating a growing number of students just doesn't make sense, or does it? We could of course fit more students into each class - I've never yet had a class in which every seat was filled. Some loss-making courses with only a few students probably should be cancelled in these tough times where we all have to get full value for every euro spent on education. Every extra student costs each college money, yet it is hard to see how less money can provide the same, or better, standard of education. Each college will have to cut costs drastically - most of the costs in third-level are salaries, so it is hard to see cuts being enforced without job losses, and/or changes in work practices.

What I fear most about third-level education in Ireland is that opportunity for younger graduates/postgraduates to get on the academic ladder will be minimal or non-existent. This happened to me during the last recession in the late 1980s when after gradating with a PhD, I could not even get an interview for an academic post because of the huge competition from my fellow graduates for positions. New, young people are the life-blood of education - I dread to think that a generation of people graduating with PhDs in the next few years will have to seek positions outside of Education. There is the added issue of the current crop of educators getting older. New people have new ideas, make better use of technology, and are the most enthusiastic researchers.

I'm not an strategist, an economist, or a politician - I don't have the answers to the question "How do we educate more students with less resources". I'm happy to "do my bit" and keep delivering my classes to my students in the best way I know how. All our colleges have to to look inward and see where we can eliminate waste and provide a better education for our students. We now know that we can't turn to Government to bail us out - they are more broke than we are!

We (third-level educators) are heading for a tough time - I hope we are ready for it.