The final straw to break up the United Kingdom?

There have been over 50 major battles between Scotland and England in the last thousand years, including the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, Bannockburn in 1314, Flodden in 1513, the much-lamented Culloden in 1746 and the Battle of the Braes in 1882, over the cruel Highland Clearances (when people were evicted to make way for…

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Harry shines a light on the importance of mothers

It would have been hard to avoid media coverage of Prince Harry’s all-too-revealing autobiography, Spare, out this week. Aside from the un-sparing details from his private life, there is serious official concern at his apparent boast that he killed 25 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. British security sources are dismayed that he may have made himself,…

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Ireland’s 50 years in the EU…

It is 50 years since Ireland joined the European Union – then called the European Economic Community, (EEC) and subsequently, just the European Community (EC). I remember it because I was reporting from Brussels at the time, and fireworks and parties were laid on for the accession of Ireland, Britain and Denmark. Key role But…

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Something cheering for the end of year

Many sad things happened in 2022 and there are many glum predictions for 2023, but there’s always something to be grateful for. And the re-opening of Dublin’s Leopardstown Races on St Stephen’s Day – first time since 2019 – cheered me up. Ecumenical agent I’m a great supporter of the horse as ecumenical agent: throughout…

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Is ‘A Christmas Carol’ Christian? Slightly!

Charles Dickens is sometimes described as having ‘invented’ our modern Christmas with his story A Christmas Carol. His compelling tale of the money –grubbing Ebenezer Scrooge – Dickens was a genius at his characters’ names – and his loathing for Christmas, pitted against the poor but loving family, the Cratchits, merrily celebrating the Saviour’s birth…

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The cold may draw us more together

“Is it true that people in Ireland may no longer have turf fires?” asked my cousin, who has lived in England for some years. Yes, I said, that was how things were going, ever since Eamon Ryan introduced the Solid Fuel Regulations Act in October this year. Peat, we are told, pollutes the atmosphere, and…

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A reprimand that had an impact…

I’m rather ashamed of an episode of my life that has recently come to mind, but I think it’s instructive. I was in my early twenties, and, in an effort to break into journalism, I was working as a secretary for The Guardian in London, previously called the Manchester Guardian. Society today has more sympathy…

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On holy pictures in classrooms

Under a new protocol, religious symbols across State-run primary and secondary schools in the Republic (see page x), must be reflective of the “entire community”. If I were a Catholic parent with a child at such a school, I’m sure I’d have no objection to a school mirroring the faith diversity of the local community.…

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