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Ireland wins the Aga Khan Trophy at The Royal Dublin Society’s Horse Show !

10 Aug

Founded in 1731, the aim of the Royal Dublin Society(RDS) has always been to improve Ireland’s economic condition by promoting the development of Agriculture, Arts, Industry and Science. It is a magnificent amenity located in Ballsbridge,one of Dublin’s most salubrious districts, and comprising 40 acres of land.

Last Friday it staged the annual Aga Khan Nations Cup involving national teams from the US, GB, Germany, Italy, NL, Spain, Switzerland and Ireland. It’s always a great day but it’s even sweeter when Ireland wins! I hope the attached photo’s give you some idea of the great buzz and craic that’s to be had at this event.

photo0200_001blin.photo0197_001 (1)  photo0201_001 (1) photo0202_001

Pierce Brosnan certainly likes Dalkey!

6 Aug

A view of Killiney Bay and the Irish Sea from Sorrento Park.

Fyi, Niel Jordan ( Film Director: Michael Collins, Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, The Actors etc) lives in one of the terraced houses that can be seen behind Pierce. On a warm & sunny day (a rare thing) Niel can be seen plunging into the said same sea.

Pierce Brosnan – a great ambasssador to Ireland

29 Jul

Why do you want to be an Accountant?

28 May

This question was often asked of me while I attempted to get my first “serious” job. It was a difficult, philosophical question to answer. Looking back on those times, I wonder if the enquirer had asked it because he could not remember why he himself had chosen to become an accountant. Nearing retirement, the job interviewer hoped that this young, fresh-faced interviewee might retrospectively give meaning and justification to the previous thirty years of his working life. Unfortunately, there was no blinding flash of wisdom from the mouth of this babe accountant.

Shortly after I commenced this career path I knew that I would struggle to compete with many of my peers. They read SSAP’s (Statements of Standard Accounting Practice) with the same enthusiasm that I reserved for the sports pages. These guys clearly had a “passion”. For them, a spread sheet is not just a random collection of Arabic numerals on a page. It tells a story of life, of love, of struggle, of disappointment and shared sadness. It tells of the indomitable human spirit to try, try and try again until the final battle is won and the highest mountain is climbed. Numbers don’t go up and down. They leap and bound. They soar like Icarus but they also fall to earth with an almighty thud.

I can’t remember exactly how I answered the question as to why I wanted to be an accountant. I guess it was similar to how a beauty contestant might have done so. I hoped to make a significant contribution to society – to make the world a better place. Can this be done by the role of an accountant?

If you hold to your audit principles of truth and fairness

When all about you are losing theirs

If you can meet with debit and credit

And treat those two imposters just the same

Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it and – which is more

You’ll be an accountant, my son!  

What’s so funny?

8 Feb

I believe the answer to this question is “people” – human beings. People can often be at their funniest when they’re not trying to be funny at all. Most people believe they are unique. There’s some truth in that thought but others go much further and believe that they are the only sane person on the planet.

“All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.” Robert Owen (Welsh philosopher and philanthropist 1771-1858)

Some people think that the world revolves around only them. The British nation used to feel like that. Back then, in days gone by, they described mainland Europe as the “the continent”. On a dark and damp morning in the 1950’s the headline of the London Times proclaimed “Fog in channel – Continent cut off.”

Speaking of the continent, I am reminded of a witty one-liner about a place called Frinton-on-Sea. This is a resort on the east coast of England in the county of Essex. It is a quiet place, populated by retired geriatrics – the last resort? This part of the Essex coast is one of the nearest points to “the continent”. A few miles north of Frinton-on-Sea is the port of Harwich. It used to be a popular starting point for English holiday makers who were brave enough to travel to mainland Europe. The ferry’s advertising slogan was:-

“Harwich for the Continent! “

How exciting! Not to be outdone, a wag from Frinton extrapolated this slogan:-

“Harwich for the Continent!

Frinton-on-Sea for the incontinent!”

Let’s move on…

“Oh, what a great gift we would have if we could only see ourselves as others see us.” Robert Burns (Scottish poet 1759-1796) said that. He knew, of course, that we cannot view ourselves with complete, detached objectivity and wouldn’t life be boring if we could? We would lose all the humour to be found in observing how people perceive their place in the world and how they prevent reality from interfering with that perception.

I am not suggesting that I want to laugh at people but rather with them. Pathos and empathy are essential ingredients of humour. Watching people skilfully reconcile their perception of self with the real world is like watching a tightrope walker or a trapeze artist.  We marvel at their ability to defy gravity, as we fear for their safety. We also laugh, nervously, from the relief of knowing that we are not a risk of harm from what we are watching.

Some people work hard to present themselves in the most favourable light. Is this selling or acting?

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

Take me, for example. Most people I know call me Danny but that wouldn’t be good enough for an author – so I became Daniel. It’s commonly acknowledged that your name sounds more intellectual if you stick a middle initial into it. So I have moved from plain old Danny Boy to Daniel M. Doyle – author, wit and raconteur.

In Ireland, where I live, our president is Michael D Higgins. He’s a Michael Daniel and I’m a Daniel Michael. So who knows? Today I am talking to you and tomorrow – maybe the presidency of Ireland? Am I losing the run of myself perchance?
Lots of people in Ireland like to answer a question with a question. For example:-

“Excuse me. Can you tell me where is the nearest Post Office?”

“Is it stamps you’re after?”

Some people might find this to be a funny reply but it is merely good selling. The respondent is looking for more information so that he can accurately determine the requirements of the inquirer. There might be a sweet shop around the corner which sells stamps – so the inquirer actually has no need to visit a Post Office at all.

What is logical to one person might seem perfectly illogical to another. For example, a visitor takes a taxi to a remote house in rural Ireland. Eventually the taxi turns off the road and proceeds along a narrow boreen. After a few miles the passenger says:-

“This boreen is very long?”

The driver replies, logically:-

“Well sir, if it was any shorter it wouldn’t reach.”

Humor must not only make us laugh – it must also make us cry. I don’t cry about sad things or the terrible misfortunes of others but I do get a bit bleary-eyed when I see the best of human nature displayed in people. When I see qualities such as unconditional generosity and bravery I know that these people are not aware of how great they are. As with the funny side of humor, they are just being themselves. The tears flow from the sensation of experiencing beauty – as in a painting or a piece of music. We are momentarily lifted out of our day-to-day lives and reminded that life can be wonderful!

Sometimes I get it wrong. I make an inappropriate or flippant comment about a subject which I should have left well alone. My standard technique to recover this situation is to quote from Lord Byron’s Don Juan:-

“And if I laugh at any mortal thing ‘tis that I may not weep.”

I have achieved mixed results from this manoeuvre.

Daniel M Doyle

(This piece first appeared in the December 2014/January 2015 edition of InD’tale Magazine)

Free speech is alive and well and living in Grogan’s bar (Dublin city)

23 Nov

London Irish Dublin English

Grogan’s Castle Lounge is located on South William Street. This is not a wide street but from its pavement grand stonework steps lead up to the magnificent eighteenth-century Powerscourt House. A few yards further down this street, on the other side of it, stands Grogan’s.

It was Saturday evening at around 6pm when I entered this fine establishment. This was twilight time – the crossover between the business of the day and the night. The space was shared by shoppers and regular drinkers. The shoppers were rewarding themselves after a hard day’s procurement. Many were single, professional-looking females aged between 35 and 65 years. These people were confident and not to be messed with. They sat, cross-legged, at small tables, with their backs to the wall and facing the bar. They drank gin and tonic or a glass of wine. A few eccentrics drank Guinness. Some smoked a cigarette. Others…

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The Shelbourne Hotel, Hitler’s brother and an East-Ender

28 Oct

‘Hello Dave. I’ve booked you into the Shelbourne Hotel on St. Stephen’s Green.  It’s the “in” place in Dublin right now and very historic. Give me a call when you’ve checked in and I’ll meet you in the Horseshoe Bar on the ground floor.’

‘A bank you say, who are they? ‘Ave they got any money?’

‘All will be revealed Dave. See you there.’

Dave Basset was as one might have expected him to be. A London East-Ender, he was quick-witted and completely focussed on making money. If not employed in the City’s financial square mile, he would have been quite at home selling from a stall, half a mile down the road, in Whitechapel market.

The clock struck six as I entered the hotel’s fine reception. The large bar to the left was getting noisy. It was populated mainly by professional types in their 30’s. As this was a mid-week evening they were assembling to attend a business networking event which was designed to assist their upward mobility.  After a quick glance into the bar I turned sharply right towards the famous Horseshoe Bar. Here the clientele were older. The bar, being much smaller, was also quieter. About half of the occupants were residents of the hotel – having been told that they would not fully experience the Shelbourne if they didn’t have a drink in the Horseshoe. I found Dave sitting at the semi-circular bar with a pint of Smithwicks and a dainty bowl of peanuts in front of him. To his left were a brace of ladies in their seventies, beautifully presented in evening wear and bedecked with the best quality jewellery.

‘Hello Dave. I see you have made yourself at home. How was your flight?’

As we shook hands a Rolex watch glistened on his wrist, accompanied by a large and loose gold bracelet engraved with the initials DB.

‘Good, but my arms were really tired after it.’

I knew enough of Dave to be prepared to tolerate more of that wit during his stay.

‘How do you like the hotel? There’s a great buzz about it isn’t there?’

‘Yeah. There’s a lot of drinking going on all right but it could do with a lick of paint or sumfink. It’s really old looking.’

‘It’s historic Dave. It was built in 1824.’

‘Yeah, I was thinking about then.’

‘You should have a look at the Constitution Room while you are here. They have functions and dinners in it for around 20 people. It’s on the first floor. It has a beautiful bay window looking out on St. Stephen’s Green. It’s called the Constitution Room because, in 1922, under the chairmanship of Michael Collins, the Irish Constitution was drafted in that room.’

‘I didn’t know you lot had a constitution. What’s that for? We don’t have one and we’re getting on all right without it.’

‘You don’t need one, Dave, because you have a queen to lay down the law for you but we are a republic in Ireland, you see.’

‘Not really.’

In a sad attempt to connect with Dave, I did my Michael Caine impression.

‘Anyway, moving on, did you know, did you know that Adolf Hitler’s brother, Alois, worked here as a waiter in 1910 – not a lot of people know that.’

‘Adolf  ’itler! That f***er bombed my gran’s place in Befnal Green – bleed’n ’ell.’

It was time to move on from the introductory small talk and address the substantive issue at hand.

‘Dave, I’m very sorry to hear about the destruction of your grandmother’s abode but let me tell you about the opportunity which brings you here to Dublin.’

Dave’s shark-like attention immediately moved to the now. It was sad and inexcusable that his grandmother had been traumatised by the Luftwaffe, but that had been then and this was now.

‘So when do I get to meet the customer?’

‘Dave, you’re speaking to him.”

‘Sorry. There’s no deal unless I get to meet the bank and unless I get to sign a lease directly with them.’

‘Have you got the stuff I need?’ I asked.

‘Maybe. It depends on what the bank has to say. As I said, I am only interested in a deal if I get to sign a lease with the bank.’

‘Dave, you got your substantial arse over here because you knew this is a real opportunity. I know you want a lease agreement for the on-going relationship it would give you with the bank. However, a direct relationship won’t work on this occasion. You aren’t able to handle it because you are a financing company. You are not an IT company with a large balance sheet which is capable of handling this type of risk.’

The inevitable implosion of Dave’s employer was a number of years away but I felt that Dave, a street-wise geezer, was not unaware of this potential outcome. In the meantime, he would be given some reward for reducing the increasing pile of second-hand hardware which was accumulating in his employer’s warehouse. Thus the deal was done.

I left the bar to answer a call of nature. On my return Dave looked perplexed.

‘That bloke over there is a bit iffy – do you know him? While you were having a jimmy riddle he was giving me some grief.’

‘What happened?’ I asked Donal, in a deadpan voice.

‘He asked me where I was from and I said I was from the mainland. I was trying to be friendly. I didn’t want to be too specific so I just said the mainland. You know, I thought I’d better not give him a few bars of Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner.’

‘Dave, “mainland” is not a term one uses over here.  Now show me the person who had a go at you.’

I had noticed that the volume in the bar had increased since I had first entered. Then I discovered why. Only a few feet away, Eion Granby was holding court.

It was time to go, but I thought I might smooth things over with Eion before I left.

‘Eion, I’m sorry about my friend’s references to the mainland. He doesn’t understand the set up here.’

Eion’s attempt at a cockney accent was met with exaggerated guffaws of laughter from his entourage, while from me came surprise, sadness and disappointment.

“Blimey, ’ere’s anuver one of those bleedin’ foreigners!”

It had been made clear to me that I had further work to do in convincing the Dubliners of my Irishness.

(This is an abbreviated extract from the book “London Irish Dublin English”. For more information please check out my website: danielmdoyle.com.)

English to Irish during the course of three rugby matches and four years

28 Aug

 

My metamorphosis from English man to Irish man took place between the ages of 10 and 14. In the early 1960s, my father brought me to my first England v Ireland rugby match in London. I was then supporting England but I didn’t mind if Ireland won because I did not want my father to be unhappy. It was a magnificent experience, one which has left an indelible impression on me. Our seats, which were just in front of the touchline, were positioned a couple of feet below the level of the pitch; as a result,  whenever play came near, the players seemed like giants, except for the English right wing. He was much smaller than his team colleagues.

Ireland, playing right to left, took the kick-off to start the second half of the match. The objective was to boot the ball high into the sky and land it a little more than 10 yards into the opposition’s half of the pitch. The high trajectory of the kick was designed to give the Irish pack time to get to the expected landing point before the ball hit the ground. If executed correctly, the move would result in an almighty collision between to the two opposing packs. On this occasion, either due to misjudgement or by design, the ball’s flight was slightly lower and longer than normal. Consequently, it sailed just above the grasp of the tall English forwards and into the arms of the right wing – so far so good for England. However, the Irish pack, being skilled in trigonometry, quickly calculated that the ball would not be caught by the English pack. Therefore it  reprogrammed its route across the pitch so as to avoid an unnecessary collision and proceeded directly to the point at which the ball would come to earth.

The English right wing probably compensated for his slight build by fast running, but on this occasion speed could not save him. At the moment he caught the ball, he was hit by an Irish combine harvester. It surgically removed the ball from his grasp, gobbled him up and deposited his mangled remains on the freshly cut grass, like a bale of hay.

I watched this spectacle surrounded by hordes of middle-aged Irish rugby fans. The memory of their warm personalities, coupled with the smell of whiskey and tobacco that they exuded, would stay with me forever. When I attended the next England v Ireland match in Twickenham two years later, I wasn’t entirely sure whether I felt English or Irish, and by the time the third match came around, my metamorphosis to Irishman was complete.

(Edited abstract from the book – London Irish Dublin English – for more information please refer to my website:- danielmdoyle.com)

Free speech is alive and well and living in Grogan’s bar (Dublin city)

20 Aug

Grogan’s Castle Lounge is located on South William Street. This is not a wide street but from its pavement grand stonework steps lead up to the magnificent eighteenth-century Powerscourt House. A few yards further down this street, on the other side of it, stands Grogan’s.

It was Saturday evening at around 6pm when I entered this fine establishment. This was twilight time – the crossover between the business of the day and the night. The space was shared by shoppers and regular drinkers. The shoppers were rewarding themselves after a hard day’s procurement. Many were single, professional-looking females aged between 35 and 65 years. These people were confident and not to be messed with. They sat, cross-legged, at small tables, with their backs to the wall and facing the bar. They drank gin and tonic or a glass of wine. A few eccentrics drank Guinness. Some smoked a cigarette. Others read The Irish Times or a book. Branded shopping bags rested neatly against their legs for both security and economy of space. The regulars sat or stood at the bar. They were old and young, intellectual and artisan, a very mixed bag. The inner sanctum comprised a loose group of eight to ten individuals, mostly male, located at the far end of the back, inner bar. They could all have been members of the Dubliners band – shaggy beards, woolly jumpers, some flat caps, a few thick, black-rimmed glasses and a couple smoking pipes. They were either finishing off a Saturday afternoon session or starting out on an evening routine. These two powerful groups, the regulars and the shoppers, seemed to co-exist very comfortably, with an air of mutual respect.

I edged my way to the bar and managed to purloin a small part of it on which to put my elbow. The shoppers had taken all the seats by the wall. There were a couple of larger tables by the window but these were taken by students and tourists who were determined to maintain exclusive possession of their valuable space. Paintings hung on the wall behind the row of seated single ladies. Each had a price tag attached to it. When a painting was sold it was replaced by another. During the summer season many tourists probably woke the next morning wondering why they had made such a purchase.

My attention was drawn to a young man who looked just like Bono. Short in stature with brushed-back hair and black wraparound sunglasses, he was clearly working hard to look cool. He passed by and went through to the inner bar. Only a minute had passed when he returned with a bunch of newspapers under his arm. The publication was The Socialist Worker. He walked around the bar repeatedly saying: ‘Buy The Socialist Worker – smash the boss class.’ No sales were made. He had just about completed his lap when he came to a small table at which two male drinkers sat. They looked like experienced session musicians, with lean, worn faces, aged 45 to 50 years, casually dressed in jeans and check lumberjack shirts. One had a long, white-haired ponytail reaching to the base of his back.  After the Bono lookalike had repeated his clarion call to arms, they both looked up at him. After three seconds silence, the guy with the ponytail spoke in a loud, clear theatrical Dublin accent:

‘There was a time (pause) when people in this pub (pause) did not need to be told (pause) how to think!’

His clear, firm voice had momentarily silenced the bar. All had heard his pronouncement. It was followed by a gentle murmur of approval and then the general conversational hum was reset to normal volume. Everybody went back to their own business.

I believe that moments like these are fantastic. They stay with me forever. It is as though I have been momentarily transported to an O’Casey scene from Juno and the Paycock or The Plough and the Stars. There are very good literary pub crawls arranged for Dublin tourists but, if you hang around the right pubs for long enough you could witness live, original material performed spontaneously! This is delivered in the best spoken English in the world – Dublin English – the rich, poetic and descriptive structure of the Irish language laid down in English.

(An edited abstract from the book – London Irish Dublin English)

Reality TV with Dick and Mary

10 Aug

Reality TV, these days, seems to involve paying people who cannot act, and who are quite boring, to live out their dull lives on our television screens. It was not always thus.

After settling in Dublin, back in the 1980’s, most Sunday evenings I would head off to the local pub at around 9.30pm. This timing was about an hour after the broadcast of a very popular weekly television soap which had consistently enthralled the nation for years. The main storyline for months had revolved around the marital difficulties of Dick and Mary.

Dick had been less than faithful and had been found out. Week after week, he made episodic and increasingly desperate attempts to repair matters. Every Sunday evening, when I arrived in the pub, there was the actor who played Dick holding court at the bar, a pint of Guinness in his hand. I had to resist the urge to walk straight up to him and say:

‘Dick, Dick, Dick drink is not the answer. Now leave your pint on the counter and go straight home to Mary. She’s very upset you know – only this evening she was on the phone to her mother in floods of tears!’

But I never did.

(Edited abstract from the book – London Irish Dublin English)