December 25, 2005

Global Cashel

Global Cashel

LIFE FEELS MORE GLOBAL in the Irish town of Cashel nowadays. I walk past three Chinese restaurants and one Indian takeaway when dropping off my rental DVDs. The best paninis in town are made by a Latvian. All the finishing on our new house was done by a Polish crew. Cashel feels like a town on full employment. New estates keep springing up, fueled by low interest rates and pocket money kept abundant by low inflation. Seen through a wide angle lens, everything is in place for Ireland to create generational wealth. Some of that wealth will come through hard work done by foreign employees in Ireland. In fact, 40% of the 90,000 new jobs created in 2005 in Ireland were filled by foreign employees. I can thank them for the Won Ton soup, Nan bread and fresh hot sandwiches I enjoy in the comfort of the new home they helped built for us.

Picture of green wall below the Rock of Cashel shot by Nokia 9500 out the window of the new house.

Posted by Bernie Goldbach on December 25, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 07, 2005

Full bus to Poland

IN A SIGN of multiculturalism, a 42 passenger bus operated by JJ Kavanagh departs Ireland every Saturday carring a full load to Poland.

Posted by Bernie Goldbach on October 7, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 14, 2005

Evil implements

EVERYONE NEEDS TO spend a day in court, if only to learn more about the implements considered to be evil in the eyes of the State. Ireland looks unfavourably upon those who carry crowbars, baseball bats and claw hammers (especially to Traveler's weddings).

Many jurisdictions around my hometown in the States have statutes against possession of "burglar's tools," or devices that could conceivably facilitate forcible entry into a locked house or motor vehicle, such as the New York State Penal Law 140.35, New Jersey's 2C:5-5b.


Posted by Bernie Goldbach on September 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

September 06, 2005

Knowledge Transfer

YOU CAN LEARN important things by reading the classified advertisements and learn doubly important things about creative media by reading the Media Guardian on Mondays. The most interesting tidbit from the current edition concerns an advertisment covering one-third of a page for creative agents to join the Knowledge Transfer and Business Development Department of The University College for the Creative Arts in Rochester, Kent.

The University College spells out one by-product of education that would benefit all of southeastern Ireland if a partnership formed between competing third level institutions: it would offer strengths in education and research across distinct yet complementary disciplines. The Kent colleges have pooled resources and now "work closely with key partners and practitioners to make an important contribution to the development of the creative industries sector through local and wider activity". If only such a dynamic was at work in southeastern Ireland.


Posted by Bernie Goldbach on September 6, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 02, 2005

Kilkenny Voice

JOHN'S GATE in Kilkenny was on my map for three things when I lived down the road. I rented my first Irish lawn mower there. I drank my first Scotch whiskey there. And I bought my first Kilkenny People there. Now the place where my rental mower once sat houses the offices of the Kilkenny Voice, a 96-page newspaper selling for EUR 1.65 in parts of southeast Ireland.

It competes head-first with the rival Kilkenny People and it has some heavy hitters including guest columns from Kilkenny hurling legends DJ Carey and Eddie Keher.

John Sheils, former managing editor of the Sunday World is behind the project. Other shareholders include Jim Rhatigan, editor, Seán Hurley, former editor of the Kilkenny People and David Haugh, former senior executive with WPP plc, one of the largest communications and marketing groups in the world.

The Kilkenny People long enjoyed robust sales, suggesting the local area can actually sustain two newspapers. We will know whether that is true by Christmas.


Posted by Bernie Goldbach on September 2, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)

August 28, 2005

With a signal comes the ads

BY ACCIDENT, I discovered I could pull in a signal from RTE if I winched the TV upstairs to the easternmost corner of the house. In Ballyclerihan, anyone could hear me shriek as my spindly internal antenna brought RTE into view. The first thing I saw was an advertisement for the "Late Late SHow" which is produced by the state-sponsored national broadcaster. I pay around $175 annually in a licence fee (why not call it a tax?) to watch my TV even if I don't watch RTE. So it interested me to discover the 2005-06 edition of "Late Late" is sponsored by Renault, meanining hundreds of minutes of advertising embedded in a late-night show that's paid already by licence fees.

I wish there was a decoder that came with your licence fee. That way I could turn out state-subsidised signals and be satisfied with free-to-air shows from the BBC and beyond.

Posted by Bernie Goldbach on August 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 26, 2005

Open Note for Mary Hanafin

WE HAVE WORKED with the Hanafin family members because they live around these parts. Some of them read these pages so we hope they take to cousin Mary Hanafin this message: It is past the time to change and modernise the Leaving Certificate curriculum. Our thoughts mirror those of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Our concern comes face-to-face when we welcome new students to the BSc in Computing at Tipperary Institute. We have to remedy significant deficiencies in first year students because of their decrepit background in technology subjects. The fix was recommended to Mary Hanafin's Department of Education more than a year ago but nothing has won departmental approval. The delay is a poor reflection of the department's concerns.

Moreoever, the delay reflects the a skewed funding priority. Funds always stream to the pockets of well-paid advisors and well-compensated travel expenses for civil servants. Simply changing the schedule of compensation for those two categories would free up money for lab equipment and teacher training. Perhaps the Minister of Finance has the backbone to cap mileage expenses for government reimbursement at the 1.4 litre level and day-long subsistence payments to EUR 30 while earmarking the saving for technology in education. There might be some howling but not from taxpayers, parents of schoolchildren or third level technology lecturers.


Posted by Bernie Goldbach on August 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 21, 2005

Most noticeble Kilkenny Feature

AFTER A WEEK of roaming around the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the most noticeable thing that distinguishes 2005 from other years is the sound of eastern European accents all throughout the city. I heard more Polish and Russian than Irish or French. That's largely because Ireland has become a country of net immigration. While 18,500 Irish people emigrated last year, 50,100 non-nationals arrived. In Kilkenny, you can see the work permits in the car registration plates. Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish cars have found all my favourite parking spaces in Kilkenny, which means their drivers have become regulars on the streets and in the pubs. You would know as much by listening to the languages used on the pavements.


Posted by Bernie Goldbach on August 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Changing Irish Families

ONE OF THE BIGGEST changes in Ireland since I moved here 10 years ago lies in the Irish family. The changes were already afoot before my arrival but I was working with an Irish stereotype--the precious nuclear Irish family. Within a year of rolling off the boat in Rosslare I had witnessed a divorce, wife beating, and heard what later was prosecuted as incest. Things have changed in Ireland since 50 years ago--the time my family last visited the Republic.

Fifty years ago, a large proportion of Irish people were born and died at home. Today, about five in every 1000 births occur at home, compared to one in three in the early 50s. Pre-school children played at home, not in creches. Fifty years ago, about two in every three people died at home. Now 80% pass away while in hospital or nursing homes.

Things have changed because society has evolved. But I can well remember the family values that were nurtured under my boyhood roof and I wonder if the State holds them in as high esteem as I do.

Finola Kennedy -- "State moves into our homes" in The Sunday Business Post, August 21, 2005.

Posted by Bernie Goldbach on August 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 17, 2005

Finding your way out of Dublin

IT IS HARD to figure out how to drive out of centre city Dublin and towards the Kilkenny Arts Festival or the Rock of Cashel. That was my experience as a left-hand driver 10 years ago and it's much the same today. Now a survey carried out by the Fine Gael political party reveals that 50% of visitors have reported problems finding their way around Ireland. Blame it on signage. But there's a method worth trying if you're caught in a confusing tangle of streets, lights and roundabouts--follow regional license plates towards your destinaion.

This is not a sure-fire aolution but when I follow cars registered as WW (Wicklow) or WX (Wexford) from Dublin AIrport, I normally find myself on the N11 heading south. And when I exit a car park in Dublin city and attach myself to a TS-registered (South Tipperary) car, I'm usually at the Red Cow roundabout within 30 minutes. Your mileage may vary and even if they steer you wrong, it's kinda exciting to let the locals drive for you. NOTE: These tips work best on Sundays when following cars with mud caked below knee-level.

Eugene Moloney -- "All roads lead to Dublin" in the Irish Independent, 17 August 2005.

Posted by Bernie Goldbach on August 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)