E not A

September 17, 2010

The Morning Ireland interview this week with An Taoiseach made headlines all over the world, for all the wrong reasons.

I don’t want to get into the rights and wrongs of what he did or said or, indeed, what anyone tweeted.

The commentary online was immediate and interesting but it also led me to various agonised moments, silently screaming ‘arggghhh’ at the screen.

Spelling matters, to me anyway.

I would like to point out that his name is Cowen, not Cowan. Cowen.


This day in 1997

August 25, 2010

On this day in 1997, my Nana died in Loughlinstown Hospital. I still miss her a lot, for the record.

On this day in 1997, I was offered a place in college. It was my first choice, for the record.

I like to think she would have appreciated the bittersweet juxtaposition.

She lived with us, my father’s mother, until she was ninety years of age, roughly two years before she died. She was a constant presence in my life until I was eighteen and my memories of growing up are full of memories of her.

There was the time she wrapped the packages for a game of pass the parcel at my birthday party and she only put on one layer of gift wrap – we stopped the game so my mum could re-wrap all the parcels.

Every day, while she was able, she went to the park to meet her friends, people she first met when she moved to Rathfarnham aged almost seventy-five.

There were many Sunday mornings that she made a pot of tea and buttered slices of bread before she walked upstairs to wake my sister and I to go to mass and us dragging our heels and giggling over the silliest things.

Coming home from school, outside the house on the footpath, you could hear the TV blaring – Thelma and Derek presenting Live at Three, her watching intently, dog-eared prayerbook in her hands.

There were days she was reading to me and she fell asleep in the chair and I, mercilessly, childishly, shook her back to wakefulness.

I miss you, Nana.


Commas and capitals and apostrophes, oh my

July 28, 2010

I’m a stickler for grammar and spelling, despite the advent of the digital age. My text messages are usually made up of full sentences and feature punctuation and phrases. I’d use paragraphs if I could.

I’ve been thinking lately about my favourite infractions, the ones that make me dig my fingernails into the palms of my hands, and I shortlisted these five.

1. Endless sentences that go on for quite a long time and as well as rambling and repeating themselves seem averse to ever using a phrase or even a comma and the thoughts of splitting into two or more sentences is just to much to bear and dear God will it ever end?

2. How difficult is it to remember to use a capital when writing about yourself in the first person – i’m really irked by this one and i think it’s getting more common so i despair.

3. In the same vein, please think about a capital letter for proper nouns, words like Kilkenny and Mary don’t look right when they are cast as kilkenny or mary.

4. CAPITAL LETTERS ALL OVER THE PLACE. Stopping and STARTING FOR no apparent REASON. None At All.

5. Its particularly aggravating when someone goes to the trouble of writing a sentence, an email, a report and can’t be bothered to put the apostrophe in it’s correct place. Added to that, the good old greengrocer’s apostrophe deserves a mention. I particularly like it when a company commissions a sign for their shop front and the errant apostrophe is dancing there for ever more: Paddys Potato’s Place indeed.


His mother the longest

June 18, 2010


His & Hers opens in cinemas today. It’s a fantastic documentary by director Ken Wardrop, a day in the life of Irish women, told sequentially from youngest to oldest. Seventy women from the midlands talk about the men in their life, starting with little girls and moving all the way to older women, as they discuss their fathers, boyfriends, husbands, sons.

I saw His & Hers at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival this year, where it won the Audience Award. It’s also scooped the Feature Award at the Galway Film Fleadh, an IFTA for Best Feature Documentary and the Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival 2010.

The tagline is an old Irish proverb:

“A man loves his girlfriend the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.”

I’d like to dispute the veracity of this statement, but it would be pointless, wouldn’t it?

In any case, if you have a chance to see His & Hers, go. It’s refreshing, uplifting and real. And the final evocative shot is inspired.