Friday, December 31, 2021

Goodbye 2021

2021 was supposed to be my first full year of Retirement, but it turned out a bit different than expected. Covid 19 dominated the year for us all, and I got the opportunity to "do my bit" as a volunteer at both the Aviva and Citywest Mass Vaccination centres. While my main motive was to help out what I could, it also gave my something to do during periods of Lockdown and Restrictions. 

There were many positives during 2021 in addition to volunteering at the Aviva. The main one was that I got to see more of my Mum and Dad during the year. Despite the fear of catching Covid and being extremely restricted, they have kept up their spirits admirably. A great day for me is to visit them in Ballingate, cut sticks, drink tea, and enjoy a small drop of whiskey them. 

With my Mum and Dad.

Ballingate Bell

I had hoped to try writing a bit more. I did get the Ballingate Bell story published in both the Wicklow People and the Gorey Guardian newspapers. I had submitted it to the Doc-On-One documentary series, but it was not accepted. It was good fun researching this story with Fr Noel Brennan who is a Capuchin Missionary in Zambia. 

Family Tree

I spent a lot of time during the year researching and building my family tree. I have got as far back as my Great-great-great-great-grandfather David Coburn. I was also excited to find a cousin who had fought in the US Navy in the Second World War, but was then saddened to find that he died in the sinking of the USS Corvina submarine. I still have not found my great-grandfather James Burn's First World War record - but I'll keep trying. 

DNA Test

I did the Ancestry DNA test which threw up a few surprises. I found that an Uncle, who everyone in the family thought had died in the Blitz in London during WW2, survived the war and lived until 1985. I was connected to his daughter (my 1st cousin once removed) by the DNA test, and after contacting her I had great enjoyment in telling her about her Irish family that she knew nothing about. I'll not give names here to protect her identity.


I had of course hoped that I would have been around the world by now. I had only one trip outside of Ireland to Crete in September. It was great to get away, but we have abandoned plans for some winter sun early next year while Omicron is around. We are planning a trip to Vancouver in the Summer, but nothing else for the moment.


One hobby I took up was wood-working. I have made an Adirondack chair plus some coffee tables made from Ballingate oak. I am slowly building up my tools and skills and hope to keep this up for 2022 and experiment with different wood. Coffee tables like this make for great Christmas presents!


This is just the 51st blog post this year - way less than any other years since I started. I had had less to write about as not so much was happening. I do want to keep this Blog going, but I don't feel any pressure to post as I had in the past. In 2016 I posted every day, 315 more posts than this year. Hopefully in 2022 I can keep writing. The blog gets very few views, especially since I stopped re-posting to Linkedin where most of my views had come from. 

Goodbye 2021!

Monday, December 27, 2021

My Cousin Daniel Murphy and the USS Corvina #PurpleHeart

I never knew of any family connections with the Second World War, but today I discovered that a 1st cousin (2x removed) was one of 82 men killed on the USS Corvina submarine which was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 16 November 1943. Daniel Murphy Jr was the son of a Chicago police captain, Daniel Murphy Sr, who had emigrated to the US from Cork in 1900. Daniel Murphy Sr's sister Julia was my Great-grandmother. Daniel Murphy Jr is therefore a 1st cousin of my grand-father PJ O'Loughlin, and I am two removed from him.

Official Daniel Murphy Naval Photo.
Image source: On Eternal Patrol.

According to USS Corvina Wikipedia page, the Corvina was the only American submarine to have been sunk by a Japanese submarine during WWII. It was launched on 9 May 1943 in Groton, Connecticut and arrived in Pearl Harbour on 14 October. Her maiden patrol started on 4 November to patrol near the Truk Atoll in the middle of the Pacific, which was a major Japanese base during the war - she was never heard from again. Daniel Murphy's rank was Seaman, Second Class. He was awarded the purple heart as were the full crew, who were mostly young men like Daniel. He would be 99 years old today if he was still alive.

Monday, December 20, 2021

2021 YouTube Review #MyYearOnYouTube

YouTube provides annual data at the end of each year, though curiously their year ends on December 15th. So far this year my channel has had 2.65 million views. While I am delighted with this figure, it is down 10% on 2020. I had 8,200 new subscribers and a total watch time of 103,700 minutes Watch Time (equivalent to 72 days). My most watched video, with 232,753 views, is How To... Perform Simple Linear Regression by Hand...

My new material on Programming in R published earlier this year has not exactly set the world on fire, though interestingly it is videos related to statistics in R that are attracting the most views. However, it is now my 4th most popular playlist with 7% of all views in 2021. As the years pass by, many of my older videos are reducing a lot in number of views as they get dated.

The top five countries for views continue to be the United States (18%), India (17%), Philippines (12%), UK (6%), and Canada (4%). Ireland comes in at 23rd position and just 0.7% of total views. 2021 is the first year that I was not in a position to promote my videos top my own students!

As always, I am thrilled and humbled that so many people find my short videos useful. I love to get Likes and Comments - thanks to all for the 22.2K likes, 941 comments, and your support throughout the year!

Sunday, December 05, 2021

International Volunteer Day #VolunteerNow #IVD2021

International Volunteer Day (IVD) is celebrated on December 5th every year to recognise and promote the tireless work of volunteers across the globe. This year's theme, "Volunteer now for our common future", aims to inspire people to take action for people and the planet.

Image source:

Many people will feel that volunteer work should not be needed. For example, at the Aviva Mass Vaccination Centre during the summer, a small army of wonderful volunteers worked alongside Security, Administration, and Clinical teams. These were all paid teams (and rightly so!), but even in an operation costing millions of euro - volunteers were still needed. The fact is that without volunteers, lots of work would not be done at all leaving people in need without help.

Anyone can volunteer - there are usually lots of roles available to suit all skills. To sign up, go to the Volunteer Ireland website at: You will get to work with wonderful people and do your bit to help others.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Get Your Vaccine Booster #ForUsAll

Yesterday, I got my vaccine booster at the Shoreline Leisure Centre in Greystones - many thanks to the wonderful staff and volunteers for making everything easy. Unfortunealty, I was in the wrong queue for 50 minutes - anyone with an appointment (like I had) should have queued up separately. I was in the Walk-In queue. Perhaps they were short-staffed, but someone at the entrance to the car park to direct people to the proper queue would be useful. A big shout out to Terence who gave me my vaccine - he was also a vaccinator at the Aviva MVC throughout the summer.

Most people seemed to be in the 60-69 age group. Most of us would have received the Astra Zeneca vaccine early in the summer. I got the Pfizer vaccine booster yesterday. Apart from a sore arm where I got the needle, everything else was fine. I accept what the medical and scientific community say about the vaccine and willingly embrace it. I'd encourage others to accept the vaccine and do their bit to help eliminate this Covid-19 scourge. 

All Done at the Shoreline!