“The EU, Irish Defence Forces, and Contemporary Security”, Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2022.Jonathan Carroll, Mark Williams & Matthew O’Neill. (Editors) Jonathan Carroll, Mark Williams, and Matthew O’Neill are co-editors of this new edited volume on the Irish Defence Forces entitled “The EU, Irish Defence Forces, and Contemporary Security.” It shall be published by Palgrave Macmillan in... Continue Reading →
Reproduced here with the kind permission of the Editor of An Cosantóir, this is my article which featured in Special Commemorative Edition on the occasion of the Naval Service 75th Anniversary. They were the ships onboard which a generation of sailors came of age, and they lead the way for others to follow. Built in... Continue Reading →
Reproduced here with the kind permission of the Editor of An Cosantóir, this is my article which featured in Special Commemorative Edition on the occasion of the Naval Service 75th Anniversary. The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Naval Service is a milestone in the long and rich history of service. No celebration could... Continue Reading →
Twelve feet above the deck,The smell can make you gag,Five hundred salt water soaked,Unwashed humans in forty degrees, Make a few bad jokes to cover up your shame,That your stomach churned at scabies riddled teenager,Sunglasses will hide guilty eyes,To mask your revulsion, Overcompensate later by giving an extra ration,To a brown-eyed child,Draped from shoulder to... Continue Reading →
“It is important that we remember what brings us together – what interest we have in common. It is quite simply the common bond of past service in Ireland in her armed forces. We are old comrades in arms wishing to maintain and strengthen old associations and traditions.” Lieutenant General Michael Joe Costello
On the day in summer when the old man warms his bones,Stretching idle legs on Sean Walsh park benches,Mimicking the patient heron balanced in the water,First one and then the other, pop, ease and crack,The light will be thrown off at an angle, just right. Soft tones glow, wrap warm around the moment,Drawing a long... Continue Reading →
On the 21st day of September, on the international day of peace, conflicts rage across the planet, people die from twenty cent Czech bullets, five Yuan Chinese machetes, two hundred Ruble Belorussian boots, six hundred Dollar vigilante assault rifles, as well as one hundred and seventy thousand dollar bombs, a response to headlines screaming terror,... Continue Reading →
Nomad. Dancing in the shade of a warship, miles from anywhere, a weary little nomad, alighting to take refuge on the dark grey timber, worn out and staggering, Rest, be at peace, staring fascinated, remembering in the haze of this beautiful dusk, past summers spent at home, Lying in the rough grass, lost in the... Continue Reading →
Ever Present Danger. The smoke is acrid, thick and hot. It forms an oppressive layer above the lurid yellow helmets of the firefighting team. Heat radiates from the burning fire in the corner of the cabin in front of them. The noise of the water as it bounces of the deckhead and deck is deafening, the steel structure reverberates and the team leaders shouts out his commands through the life persevering facemask of his breathing apparatus. All commands have a purpose, each given with an intensity befitting the seriousness of the situation; while each response is repeated quickly and verbatim, once the command has been executed the team leader is informed immediately. There is no place for an individual here; only by working as a team will these five sailors fight their way through hatches and down ladders, deeper into the burning vessel they press on, negotiating the total darkness to find the seat of the fire. Their shipmates’ lives depend upon it.
A Changed World.
In 1919, the war to end all wars was over. The 19th of January saw the start of peace negotiations in Paris, which would culminate in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June. This momentous year saw the drafting of the covenant of the League of Nations, the surrender and scuttling of the German high seas fleet in Scapa Flow. It also on the 21st of January saw the first Dáil sit in the Mansion House in Dublin, where they declared Irish Independence in fulfilment of the goals of the grand heroic failure of the 1916 Easter Rising. Also on that fateful day in Soloheadbeg, volunteers of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade under the command of Seán Treacy and Dan Breen, ambushed and shot two constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The first two dead men of an estimated 1,400 deaths between 1919 and 1921. While most of the fighting occurred on land across Ireland, the sea had a major role to play in both the Rising and the War of Independence.
Lonely Edge of Europe.
Ireland holds a geostrategic maritime position on the lonely edge of Europe, facing out into the North Atlantic where the European and North American sea lanes veritably bustle with all manner of shipping. At the turn of the century, Ireland's seas and maritime domain where under the firm control of the British Empire and the might of the Royal Navy. The ports and deep sheltered harbours of Cork, Berehaven and Lough Swilly, protected by massive forts and coastal artillery batteries, had played their part in centuries of British domination of the high seas and from these ports where shipped troops to fight in Britain's many wars. Many a period of rebelliousness across Ireland was subdued by forces shipped from these Naval installations, helping to underpin the British presence in Ireland as the dark clouds of war gathered on the European horizon. Those clouds burst in August 1914.
Valletta.Sun burns down on city streets,bringing in the light, beauty,in the shadows, mystery,lost in ancient rows of homes and steps,cracked flagstones balanced one upon the other,or rooted into living rock,tight alleyways frame views of a wave tossed harbour,an artist might go blind from the wonders,or mad from the ceaseless wind.
In 1999 I drove over Tibnin Bridge in the sweltering heat,as the UN bus rose a trail of dust,billowing up behind us,the laughter onboard almost distracted me from my task,the careful watch of the road signs,my finger following the road snaking through South Lebanon,on a trip from Tyre up into the hills.
I was only a baby when you died here,but not much later my older brothers went to serve in that land,which was soaked with your blood,I heard your story while I was still so very young,in the weeks before the first of them left for the Lebanon,they spoke in hushed tones in the kitchen,but I heard from my games in the hall outside.