Why stag parties are the new conscription

A friend got engaged over Easter, ruining what had otherwise been a perfectly enjoyable break.

Munching on chocolate eggs, I nervously anticipated the inevitable moment when an email will arrive with the two words that strike terror into the hearts of all men: stag party.

Nothing illustrates the difference between men and women like their approach to congratulating friends on impending nuptials.

Hen parties gather at nail salons, where they have their fingertips decorated as they sip cava. They then move to a restaurant, where they swap treasured memories of the bride and take turns to speak about how much they love each other.

Stag parties gather in Dublin airport, where they struggle through pints at 6am. They then move to northern England, where they attempt to murder their close friend.

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Retail therapy is torture for men my age

On my list of favourite therapies to experience, ‘retail’ features comfortably below ‘electro-shock’.

Men tend to regard shopping as something that reluctantly must be done once a year. Like a prostate exam, only less enjoyable.

This is changing. There is a generational shift. Men in their 20s have embraced fashion. This new breed has a training camp at the foothills of the Dublin mountains. It is known locally as Dundrum Town Centre and I visited there last weekend.

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Can Shane Ross deliver the Olympics to Ireland? Of course…with a few adjustments

Summer is grinding towards its inevitable autumnal end and still nobody has thought to stage a World Cup, European Championships or Olympics. For shame. We should set up a tribunal, or at least an Oireachtas committee, to investigate. You can have your Wimbledons, Irish Opens and endless series of Lions’ friendly matches, but nothing beats the Big Three. A summer without one is like a summer without a Seanad debate on aggressive seagulls. It leaves us feeling cheated and empty inside.

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Cities are for people, not cars

Two Mondays ago, as I rummaged in the kitchen for something that could be passed off as dinner, a man lost his life 100 yards from my front door. He was crossing the road on foot when a vehicle struck him. I do not know the precise details of how his life came to end. The fact that man and vehicle collided at a pedestrian crossing suggests that one of them broke a light but I don’t know which.

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Music festivals: at what age can we stop pretending this is fun?

All over Ireland, thousands of people are facing into months of anxiety and trauma.

These are people for whom summer is marred by feelings of regret, despair and self-loathing. They are society’s hidden victims: people in their 30s and 40s who have accidentally bought tickets to music festivals.

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Let’s not pretend the 1916 Rising was about water charges or smashing the patriarchy

Which moment of the 1916 Rising will you most celebrate: the bit when The O’Rahilly charged down Moore Street shouting about Irish Water, or the bit when Padraig Pearse used his last breath to berate the British for the lack of gender balance on the firing squad?

As we get closer to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the list of causes the Rising leaders stood for will steadily grow.

We got a taster of this last year when it was claimed that the passing of same-sex marriage would be a fitting way to pay tribute to the Rising. The passing of the referendum was a hugely important moment in Irish social history but it does seem questionable to claim it as the legacy of former Ancient Order of Hibernians member Sean MacDermott.

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Paris to Malawi – can the world grasp its moment of hope?

We drove for two hours from the nearest town, canoed down a crocodile-infested river and took the last few kilometres of bumpy dirt track by motorbike to reach the village.

This was the Chikwawa district of southern Malawi; the remotest part of a remote land, a place where you stand on a hill and see nothing but barren, dusty landscape for miles.

News from the other side of the world still travels slowly in places like Chikwawa and so it was the following morning, powered by patchy wifi back in the town, that we learnt of Paris. The Malawians we told reacted as we had: a stunned silence and a look of horror, sadness and utter bewilderment.

We had come to Malawi with Paris in mind. From November 30th to December 11th the French capital hosts the UN Climate Summit. Malawi is a country with a lot riding on that summit and in the villages of Chikwawa we wanted to see just how high the stakes are.

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The sport that dare not speak its name: The curious history of the League of Ireland

This weekend sees the resumption of one of Ireland’s most curious seasonal events. Across the country people will gather at various locations to scream and shout at institutions whose foundations pre-date the State.

If the kick-off of the 2015 League of Ireland season isn’t in your diary, you are far from alone. In a country where hurling and Gaelic football are the mammy and daddy of sport and rugby is the over-achieving favourite son, domestic football is the estranged cousin who turns up drunk to family occasions, starts a fight and then falls down the stairs with their trousers around their ankles.

Continue reading “The sport that dare not speak its name: The curious history of the League of Ireland”

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