Monthly Archives: January 2012
I don’t do breaking news on this blog, as this is my escape from the day job. However, I’m making an exception today because of a powerful statement that I have received from Donal and Liz Jevens.
Cadet David Jevens from Davidstown, Glynn, Co Wexford, and Captain Derek Furniss (32), from Dublin, died when their PC-9M aircraft crashed while on a military training exercise on October 12, 2009, in Co Galway.
The accident happened just a day before David’s 22nd birthday. One of the brightest and best in the 27th Air Corps Cadet Class he was due to receive his wings in December 2009.
The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) carried out an investigation into the tragic accident, but the publication of this report has been delayed by an “interested party”, ultimately requiring an intervention from Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, which led to the report finally being released this morning.
The sole purpose of the investigation is the prevention of aviation accidents and incidents – not to apportion blame or liability.
Donal Jevens and his wife Liz have known the facts of the accident since a meeting with the AAIU in August 2010, but were prevented from discussing them (with anyone, even close family members) before the report was published – something which has proved a heavy burden for them.
“We want it to be known what happened our son. We find it very, very difficult that we can’t defend his honour,” Donal had told me previously. They can now defend the honour of the young Cadet and hopefully it will bring their family some small measure of solace.
You can read the AAIU report for yourself here. It is a quite technical 85-page report detailing all the circumstances surrounding the accident. I will have an extensive news report based on its findings in tomorrow’s Wexford People newspaper.
The statement from Donal and Elizabeth Jevens is below the photo of the couple at their son’s funeral.
The statement is about the death of their son and the effect it has had on his loved ones – compounded by the effect of the delay of the publication of the report. Ultimately, it’s a statement about David himself and his parents’ great love for him.
On October 13, 1987, David Jevens began life’s journey, a journey which ended tragically and abruptly on October 12, 2009.
We, his parents, have to face the almost impossible reality of not growing old with our first born child and that all the possibilities and dreams, that any parent would have for their son, will not be realised.
His brother, Christopher, and sister, Sarah, have lost a lifetime with their big brother, their mentor, their friend and their idol.
David’s girlfriend, Niamh, has lost a future of hopes, dreams and joy with David.
All David’s relations and friends have lost his friendship, his companionship and his caring and outgoing nature.
David should not be gone from us, he had his life to live, he had his dreams, aspirations and future to look forward to. All these were so cruelly taken away from him. For this reason, we just don’t feel sorrow and loss for ourselves, we feel it so much for our David.
The loss of our son David in such circumstances is a big enough cross for us to carry, but for the past 17 months, Liz and I have carried a far bigger burden.
We alone have had to live with the exact circumstances of David’s death without being able to share it with anyone.
Getting up in the morning to carry this burden is something that no parent should have to endure. In the past 12 months we have been faced with totally unnecessary delays in the process of the safety investigation.
This was the result of many attempts to frustrate the process, alter the facts and deny our son a hearing of the inevitable truth. This is something that should never be allowed to happen again.
It is our family’s sincere hope that lessons are learned from this report. We hope that changes are made so that something like this will never be repeated, so that no other parents have to endure the suffering of the loss of a son or daughter under such avoidable circumstances.
David achieved all his goals in life while showing humility and caring for others. He was an extremely proud and dedicated member of the Irish Defence Forces and the Irish Air Corps, he wore his uniform with immense pride.
It was more than just a career to him it was a true vocation. He was a dedicated, willing and committed servant of this country.
Cadet David Jevens will forever be enshrined in our memories, the memories of his many friends and his colleagues in the Defence Forces for all the right reasons.
Not a single moment goes by that he is not in our thoughts. At his grave a candle burns day and night, this is not just his memory, but for our pride in him and our love of him.
Anyone who knew David would have known that he would do the same for any of us given the circumstances.
The Air Corps motto “Forfaire agus Tairiseact” translates as “vigilant and loyal”, no greater or simpler words could encapsulate Cadet David Jevens’ character.
Someone once said "it takes a genius to live a simple life" and I totally agree with that.
In this world of "dramatic distraction" and information overload it is too easy to become overwhelmed, lose focus and be swept away from the things that matter most.
Here are 16 tips that I have learnt from other leaders, blogs and books, and have been trying to apply in my life to de-clutter, un-complicate and become more intentional about how I spend my time...
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
This post is all about sharing ideas. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, as, probably, do you.
But how much of that is quality time?
If we take the magnificent and most quotable Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement as our guide, I’d say I spend a lot of my time online reading about or discussing events and people, whether that’s Waterstone’s removing their apostrophe (terrible) or Liverpool’s Stewart Downing (He cost £20 million and still hasn’t a single goal or assist this season, but he does have one arrest – also terrible).
And then there’s Facebook, the great black hole of “average” and “small”, which can easily swallow you up. I find Twitter a tad more enlightened!
But, I do spend quite a bit of my online time with ideas too, whether that’s reading about or discussing them (I just checked my Twitter account to verify my claim and I have also been sharing a lot of ideas I’ve been reading about lately on there!).
There are some fantastic resources online and I intend to share some that I have come across and use with you in the weeks and months ahead.
I’m going to start with one of the biggest and best: Ted.
Now Ted is so successful that many of you will have heard of it and some of you will frequent it. But, if you don’t stop in every now and again or you’ve never heard of it then you’re missing out!
I would urge everyone to bookmark it. Create a new folder called “Ideas” and starting filling it up with great sites focused on ideas (I’ll help you out there).
Ted, in its own words, is about “ideas worth spreading”. It’s completely free and provides “riveting talks by remarkable people”. This is another claim I can happily verify. Some evidence here: they are short videos, please give at least a couple of them a go:
rory_sutherland_life_lessons_from_an_ad_man.html (included especially for all you PR/marketing/Advertising types!)
I have watched a lot of Ted Talks at this stage and the great thing about them – apart from being hugely interesting, educational and entertaining – is that they are relatively short (the vast majority are 18 minutes or under, some are only a few minutes) and they are very accessible.
It’s not a site designed for academics, it’s a site designed for everyone. Perhaps the best thing about Ted is that learning about all those ideas can help get your own creative juices flowing and give you the kickstart you need to start coming up with some great ideas of your own.
If you watch the videos they will certainly give you a new perspective on many issues and even change your thinking, if you’re open to it.
It’s a word I don’t use often, but many of the Ted Talks are simply inspirational. At worst, they are merely engaging and interesting. So it’s not much of a risk watching one!
Ted started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment and Design. To say it’s broadened its remit since then would be putting it mildly! Business, Science, Culture, Arts, Entertainment… there are many broad themes containing talks and ideas of all kinds.
Helpfully, there’s also a Best of the Web section featuring those great videos out there that didn’t come through Ted. Like this one with Steve Jobs:
What really got me excited about Ted (again) today was reading about Ted 2012 “Full Spectrum”. It sounds like a dodgy action movie sequel starring a middle-aged Irish man, but it’s not.
You see Ted is “in the midst of a dramatic reinvention of the ancient art of the spoken word”.
How so? Well “Full Spectrum” refers to the “rich use of multiple technologies, formats and approaches for the most powerful possible impact on an audience”.
So, finally, I challenge you to try Ted for 30 days!
So I started blogging last summer and I had no idea that WordPress sends you a helpful end of year summary.
It’s a review of the numbers that all bloggers keep an eye on in the “Site Stats” section, such as the number of views a post gets, where your “traffic” is coming from (my top referral sites were Facebook and Twitter) and the search terms that lead people to you.
That last one, the search terms, never ceases to amaze me. Sure lots of people search for “Conor Cullen” (I know, I’m surprised too!) and a lot more don’t bother with their browser’s address bar for this site and instead stick the URL (conorcullen.com) into Google.
I thank you all for visiting, reading and sharing!
Then there are the more slightly curious search terms. Take the two photos above. They appeared in this post about my love of photography and the popular iPhone app Instagram, which I had lots of fun with last summer.
The first is a photograph I took of a poster for the film “Hanna”, starring Saoirse Ronan, which was stuck on a phone box in Ranelagh. The second photo I captured in Seville. I thought it made a striking image, but I cautioned against taking photos of people’s underwear in most circumstances!
The combination of “Saoirse Ronan” and “underwear” has subsequently become one of the most frequent search terms that has led (and still leads) people to that post and this blog. I can only imagine their disappointment!
I noticed this trend shortly after the post went up on July 21 and it was confirmed by my “2011 in blogging” report from WordPress.
You’d be amazed how people arrive here though. Some of today’s search terms that have brought people here are: “people who had rickets”, “people walking unusually” and “weird bar counter”.
Search terms more obviously related to my posts that brought people here today were “Eoin Colfer history of Hook Lighthouse” and “why does animal cruelty continue”.
Other search terms that have caused me to raise an eyebrow since I started blogging have generally been carefully crafted by my friend and colleague Peter Henry to strike a fine balance of insulted/amused on this end!
I posted a total of 29 times in 2011 , from June, when I started blogging, to December. The only month I missed was September and that was due to a long holiday here.
I blogged about a lot of different things last year, from local festivals to the London riots, but my most popular post – by some distance – was 10 Things I Like About Dublin Bikes, which I posted back in August.
Here’s second, third, fourth and fifth in the popularity (number of views) stakes. My “busiest day” was August 11, when traffic peaked thanks to combination of the posts about Dublin Bikes and the London Riots.
Unsurprisingly, most of my readers came from Ireland, followed by the United States and United Kingdom. I’m doing okay in Australia, but have a lot of work to do before I “break” Asia and South America!
I hope to keep blogging on a regular basis in 2012. It’s not easy to find the time and often the inspiration, but it’s an enjoyable thing to do and I’d urge anyone who is thinking about it to give it a go.
I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who “follows” this blog and those who check in regularly or irregularly to see what I’m up to. Comments and feedback are always welcome. Thanks for reading!
Finally, to anyone who came here looking for Saoirse Ronan’s underwear, I’m truly sorry.
“I’m nearly a week into my second hundred years now,” Jane Fortune told me with a grin as I wished her a happy birthday at her home in north Wexford this morning.
Time doesn’t stand still for any of us – even when we reach the ripe old age of 100 it seems.
Jane, of Parkannsley, Ballygarrett, has had no less than four birthday parties already. The cards, of which there have been hundreds so far, continue to pour through the letterbox every day.
There was a letter of congratulations from President of Ireland Michael D Higgins too. This is a momentous occasion in almost everyone’s eyes, everyone that is except Jane.
“’I never liked a fuss and I never liked being in a crowd,” said Jane, though she admitted to enjoying her birthday parties, particularly the big family gathering in Sean Og’s of Kilmuckridge last weekend. where guests included her great great grandchildren.
Jane was the youngest of seven children born to Richard Quinsey and Ellen Bolger and is the last surviving member of that family. She has been predeceased by her husband Michael, who died in 1959, and four of her seven children.
I’ll have a full, feature-length interview with Jane in next week’s Wexford People, New Ross Standard, Enniscorthy Guardian and Gorey Guardian if you’d like to learn a little about her life and times.
It was very interesting – and a lot of fun – to meet her today, along with her grandchildren Michael, a well-known artist, and Bernadette.
I told Jane that when someone who is 100-years-old is interviewed everyone always wants to know what their “secret” is.
‘”Plenty of hunger, hardship and hard work,’” she quickly replied.
I’m letting you know just in case any of you thought adding porridge or broccoli to your diet was going to do it!
Jane possesses great wit, warmth and a remarkable memory. She still has an active social life and keeps busy in general. There’s a knitting project she keeps meaning to get back to once she gets new wool.
I’ll share one story from earlier on that will give you some idea of the this remarkable lady’s spirit.
When I arrived at her home (a traditional, two-up, two-down cottage that she shares with seven cats) accompanied by Michael she wasn’t worried about 100th birthday parties or interviews, she was mainly wondering where her rake was.
Michael had borrowed it and forgotten to return it again, but, on the back-foot, he told her she couldn’t have been in that much of a hurry for it.
‘”I want to clean up all the leaves and bits outside,” she told him. A keen gardener, Jane also grows her own vegetables in the garden behind her home, from potatoes to onions and plenty in between, including the Wexford favourite: strawberries.
Jane, noting how things have moved on, recalled a time when she would have to cut the ‘”meadow’”, the large green area behind her home, with a clippers. It would take a number of visits – before and after a hard day’s work – before it would be completely done.
Michael, even though he knew better, then asked his grandmother – with more than a hint of mischief – if she reckoned she could still clip the hedge outside her home.
‘”I could,’” she assured him. “And I could clip that old hair too,’” she added swiftly, sizing up the black locks reaching for his shoulder with a twinkle in her eye.
I’ve walked a lot of beaches, but I’ve never come across anything like this before!
And unfortunately I still haven’t. These images were captured by Kilrane resident Kevin MacCormick (or Mac as he’s better known) ‘s he enjoyed a stroll on Ballyteige Burrow in south Wexford last week.
Kevin, a member of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, is no stranger to unusual sea-related sights, but this one had him baffled when he first spotted it.
“I saw it from a distance as I walking down the beach. I didn’t know what it was as I approached it, it was almost like a Christmas decoration from the ocean!” said Mac.
When he got up close for a proper inspection he realised that it was a large piece of washed-up wood covered in goose barnacles. I can only imagine his reaction!
“We rarely see them, I think the only time we do come across them is when they wash up after a storm. I had seen them many years ago, but there was only a very small amount of them – nothing like this,’ said Mac.
He said he was aware that goose barnacles are a delicacy in many countries, but he wasn’t tempted to indulge!
- William Wordsworth
I have been itching to get back out with the camera lately, but time hasn’t been on my side. That remains the case, but luckily you don’t have to go very far around here to find places that are great for photography.
It takes me less than 10 minutes to get to Tintern Abbey, the one-time stomping ground of the Cistercians.Tintern Abbey was founded by William Marshal after he promised God, in the midst of a shipwreck, that if he survived he would found a monastery wherever he washed up. That happened to be Bannow Bay and The Earl of Pembroke made good on his promise.
If you’re interested in the history there’s lots of information online, just don’t get it confused with its Welsh namesake!
The two – and the link between them – are mentioned in a brief summary of the Wexford abbey’s history here. I chose this post to link to because it comes with an excellent bonus, the extract from the William Wordsworth poem, “Tintern Abbey”, which I included at the top of this post. Here’s the full poem:
I was mainly there for photography purposes today and unfortunately it was very overcast, but I still enjoyed a walk around the grounds, taking in the mill, the cemetery and generally following in the footsteps of the Cistercians.
The other reason I was keen to go to Tintern Abbey, other than photography and proximity, was that I hadn’t seen the work carried out on the Colclough Walled Garden yet. For those not from these parts, the name Colclough is pronounced “Coakley” – or at least it is nowadays!
This 2.6 acre walled garden, with a stream running through it, will not contain anything – from fruit tress to flowers – that it wouldn’t have in the early 1800s. It truly is a labour of love for those involved and it’s wonderful to see such a faithful restoration project shaping up so well.
Elaine Furlong wrote a good piece on it for the New Ross Standard that gives an insight into the project, its goals and its volunteer ethos.
Barbara Kelly and Alan Ryan were hard at work there when we arrived for a look around and Barbara kindly told us about the project and their progress to date, all of which you can read about here or by following them on Facebook.
Here’s a few shots from the garden: