Monday, August 28, 2017

Dr Frank Jeal RIP

Dr Frank Jeal.
Image source:
There are few University Lecturers that inspired me as much as the late Dr Frank Jeal from the Zoology Department in Trinity College who sadly died today. He was a very accessible lecturer and I first met him in 2nd year in Trinity when he lectured in Zoology - he made dinosaurs hugely interesting long before the likes of Jurassic Park. He was a significant part of my decision to specialise in Zoology in 3rd and 4th year, he helped and encouraged me all the way to a PhD. I am certain I would not be who I am without his advice, support, friendship, and vast knowledge. He also encouraged me to become the Chairman of the Zoological Society in 1981 - he was always a great supporter of Zoo Soc!

Frank was of course also well-known in the pubs and bars in central Dublin - he was a legend amongst trad musicians in the pub scene. I last met him in O'Neills of Pearse Street just a couple of years ago, and had the pleasure of having a pint with him. While I was both an undergraduate and postgraduate at Trinity in the 1980s I spent many a great evening (far too many for a student!) in his company singing and hearing him play the accordion. Field trips to Portaferry and to Clare were legendary - many students went for the craic as much as for learning.

Frank knew many songs, many of them such as "Glorious Ale" and "The Old Dun Cow", were very funny and appropriate in a pub environment. I found one video on-line of him in full flow with his accordion in O'Donoghues pub in 2013 posted by Niall MacDonagh. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Surrounded by Mayo and Kerry people in Croke Park #GAA

So this year's All-Ireland football final will be a repeat of last year: Dublin vs Mayo. Dublin looked awesome today as they swept aside a disappointing Tyrone. I attended the Mayo vs Kerry match yesterday, Mayo were brilliant. Have they enough to beat the Dubs? I think not.

Gaelic football honours belong to just a few counties now - Dublin, Kerry, and Mayo are so dominant that most of the other 29 counties can forget about getting their hands on the Sam Maguire cup. The GAA is for everyone - when I'm stopped in Croke Park wearing my Wicklow jersey I tell people to look at their tickets - it says "All-Ireland"!

The Connaught Telegraph has a series of fan photos on their Facebook page, and today there I am in my Wicklow jersey (bottom left) - everywhere you see happy Mayo and Kerry people standing up and cheering their team - I'm sitting down! I'm surrounded by GAA fans who know that every year they will have something to cheer in the middle and late summer - most counties don't have this.

One thing is for sure - no team/county keeps on going forever. This weekend we saw two greats walking off Croke Park for possibly the last time: Kieran Donaghy of Kerry, and Seán Cavanagh of Tyrone - thank you both for many fabulous days in Croker. Time for the young lads to come through!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

PowerPoint Tips, Tricks, and Hacks from 29 Experts via @elearningart

I was pleased to be invited to contribute to a new eLearning resource created by Bryan Jones in California. eLearning Art is a web site that provides resources for the eLearning industry claiming to have the "largest library of eLearning assets on the web". It is a great resource for anyone interested in creating eLearning content.

One section shows 29 PowerPoint tips from "experts" - my tip is #17.

17. Use the notes panel for detailed printed notes

I’m a College Lecturer and use PowerPoint for Lecture notes. 
Many students want detailed lecture notes, but get bored quickly reading mountains of text on a slide.
So I use the “Notes Pages” panel for detail while keeping the slides simple – I urge students to read the notes which may contain more information than given in a lecture. 
If printing out the slides, it is essential to use “Notes Pages” print layout option.
PowerPoint Presentation Tip from Eugene O'Loughlin: Use the notes panel for detailed printed notes

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Kerry 2-14, Mayo 2-14 #GAA #Wow #ILoveFootball

Ready for the match.
Sometimes football can take your breath away - today in front of 66,195 GAA fans, Mayo and Kerry served up a brilliant exciting match in the rain which ended in a draw. It was 9/1 for a draw on Paddy Power before the match, but I didn't fancy it (instead I went for a Mayo/Tyrone semi-final double #fail). A cold wet day did not reduce the excitement, though it did produce lots of turnovers and slipping. Four goals superbly taken were the highlights, with Andy Moran of Mayo putting in a man of the match performance. What a pity Aidan O'Shea of Mayo was delegated to man mark Kieran Donaghy - for me, this did not work and resulted in O'Shea being far less influential than usual.

The replay is next Saturday and I think Roma and I will go along again - if it is half as exciting as this match it will be worth going to. We are regular visitors to Croke Park and both love the day out. I even wore some Mayo colours for the match, though I still had my Wicklow jersey on. Before the game we supported Our Lady's Children's Hospital and got an opportunity to take a photo of Roma with the Sam Maguire cup - will the Mayo lads get their hands on this for the first time in 66 years before the season ends?

What Mayo people want the most!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wells House and Gardens #Gem #Wexford

Having been born and raised in the Southeast of Ireland, and coming here for holidays almost every year, I thought I had seen all tourist attractions on Co Wexford. This week I went to Wells House and Gardens near Ballyedmond and I highly recommend it for a visit - until recently I never knew it existed. It has been open to the public since 2012 and the owners are gradually opening up more of the house every year. I took the tour of the house and found it a fascinating insight as to how families lived in the 19th century (rich families that is!). The grounds are small, but there is a delightful short walk through a forest which features carvings of animals from a fallen redwood tree. There were plenty of visitors so it is proving a popular attraction - I'll certainly be back.

While looking around the house grounds and grandeur, I couldn't help thinking about the opulence of the place with wood panels carved from Italian oak, and fine furniture from England. The gardens and driveway are beautiful - but this would have all been done on the back of local labour. Were they paid adequately? What were their working conditions like? Was it enough to survive? Our tour guide told us that the owners were popular locally and that the house was not burned down during various rebellions because of this. The owners of the house (Doynes) will always be remembered - their portraits hang in the main hall. The people who built and maintained the house are long gone and are unknown - I'd love to know more about them.

Mogue's Walk.
My new bear friend.

Well's House and Garden.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Package Wasting by @Amazon

Image source: Amazon.
Today I had a recent purchase of a Frostfire Universal Soft Car Roof Bars delivered - they look great and I can't wait to use them. They are a simple idea to let occasional users of roof bars carry stuff on the car roof - I intend to use for a canoe. The are excellent value at £19.99, and can be easily taken off and stored in the car. Postage was £7.06 (about €7.75) - again excellent value.


...what wastage by Amazon! The Frostfire measures 60 cm long and 12 cm wide, but was delivered in a giant box. You can see below that most of the box was filled with air-filled plastic bubble wrap - this was almost 7 metres long! While I had great fun bursting all the bubbles, and then putting the lot into the recycle bins, I wondered why on earth a box this size was used? Surely £7.06 could not have covered the cost of this (and delivery by DHL)? The Frostfire is not in the least fragile, so does not need any protection. Perhaps this was the only box available and had to be used? While I am more than happy with the product, I am not happy to be part responsible for such waste. Amazon need to be better at this.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Remembering the 1950s

Yesterday my cousin Susan, who is from Canada and was visiting Ireland for the first time, and I went on a short tour of north central Dublin to visit where her Mum was born, lived, and left in 1958 to emigrate to Canada. Susan's late mother Catherine Byrne is my Mum's sister - she was known as "Patsy" while she lived in Ireland. I don't recall ever meeting her, she died in 1979. We posed for photos out the last house in Ireland where the Byrne's lived. Susan told me that her Mum worked in the GPO at the stamp counter - so we re-traced her (likely) steps to work from Temple Cottages, through Dominick Street, Parnell Street, Moore Street, Henry Street, and O'Connell Street. An interesting experience - especially for Susan. 

Ireland is a completely different place now compared to 1958 - most of the buildings Patsy would have walked past on the way to work will have been demolished and replaced. While Temple Cottages remains the same, it is unlikely Patsy would recognise much of Dublin if she were here now. 

Outside 22 Temple Cottages in Dublin.
Susan inside the GPO.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Grave of Great-Great Grandparents

James & Catherine McCann's
daughter Anne.
Recently, when writing about the spreading of my cousin Ryan Byrne's ashes on the graves of his great-great-grandparents Richard and Julia Cullen in Gorey, Co Wexford - I noted that this cemetery has an on-line list (see At the cemetery itself it has a map of these graves so I decided to check if my McCann great-great grandparents' graves could be found. It turns out that the grave is very close to my Cullen Great-great grandparents. There are three people in the grave, in addition to James and Catherine (née Walsh), the grave contains their son William. Incidentally - the late actor Donal McCann is related to this family (and me).

I'd love to know what James and Catherine McCann looked like - I do have a photo of their daughter Anne (my Mum remembers her granny very well). They lived in Kilnahue outside Gorey - the name "Killanean", which is on their headstone, is regarded as a typo by the map details below.

Captured from the cemetery list.

in loving memory of 
William eldest son of 
James & Catherine McCann 
of Killanean 
who departed this life 2nd June 
1902 aged 32 years 
The above Catherine McCann 
died 2nd May 1908 aged 64 years 
James McCann husband of
Catherine McCann
died 26th January 1927

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

"Who gives a flying f@@@ about your holidays?"

This blog attracts very few comments - most that are made are spam, but one today one caught my eye. "Anonymous" wrote ""Who gives a flying f@@@ about your holidays?" as a comment on my Day of Rain post. Fair point - any reader of this blog is entitled to their opinion. A few thoughts on this:

What is a Blog?
This is my personal web page. The word "blog" is short for "web log" which was originally set up as a type of on-line diary/log. As I write this post I have noted that the "Day of Rain" post has been accessed 39 times (according to Blogger Stats) - this number is typical of most of my posts. Very few people read this blog, but I do not write for others - it is a personal diary. I don't actually care if anyone reads it, even less about their opinion. Of course I am conscious that some family, friends, and work colleagues do read some of my posts, so I am aware that I have a small audience. I publish personal comments and experiences, and while at work I write a lot about educational matters.

Who cares about anything?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other social media sites are full of "look at me" posts. Blogger is just another one of many ways to post about any kind of activity. I am no different than anyone else in doing this - I guess "Anonymous" objects to a lot of people and their personal posts.

Freedom of Speech/Writing
Can anyone write what they like in a personal blog?  Well I do, and will not be put off by anonymous comments. As long as it does not offend or discriminate - I'll keep doing so. Writing about and posting photos of experiences while on holiday is an innocent activity and should not offend anyone.

Self Censorship
Why read something you don't give a "flying f@@@" about? Surely there is a lot of other web pages that you could spend your time more productively? If you don't want to read my posts, do not type "" into your browser.