TITLE - The Phoenix Park
Leader - Dr.John McCullen

Tue, 19/01/2021

11:00 - 12:00  ZOOM meeting

With a degree in horticulture in 1970 and an M.Sc in landscape ecology, design and maintenance, John arrived at Phoenix Park in 1984, where he became the Chief Park Superintendant, a position from which he retired in recent years. The 1500-acre Park was the subject of his PhD at Trinity College in 2007, which evolved into a book called An Illustrated History of the Phoenix Park – landscape and management to 1880. The Park was established in 1662, when James Butler, duke of Ormond created it as a deer park for the use of aristocrats. The deer are still there – according to John they are the most studied deer in the world – twelve PhDs have been written on them! Much loved by the citizens of Dublin, it is said that the Phoenix Park is one of the largest enclosed parks in the world –bigger, apparently, than all the parks in London put together. The park contains a great variety of facilities, among them a maze and gardens, Farmleigh House, a Cricket Club (estd in 1830), a Polo Club, a Model Flying Club, the Zoo, Aras an Uachtarain, visitor centre at Ashdown Lodge, the US embassy, Chesterfield Avenue (the main thoroughfare) and all those beautiful gate-lodges on its perimeter

TITLE - Towards More Participatory Democracy: The Leaderless Revolution - Carne Ross
Leader - Current Affairs Group: Jim Carroll, Moderator

Tue, 26/01/2021

14:30 - 16:30  ZOOM meeting

Carne Ross, a former British diplomat (English), resigned from the foreign service on principle over the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A review of his book The Leaderless Revolution (2011) is on The Guardian online. He writes from a breadth of experience. His thesis is that better governance would require a more participatory democratic framework. While representative democratic institutions and political parties heed some media opinion, they have drifted a distance from considered public influence. He identifies an erosion of real time democratic control and accountability. Not the first to question representation through political parties, he looks beyond them towards models which could possibly offer more participatory decision-making, where the citizens affected decide responsibly together on issues of direct interest, e.g. local education/schools, healthcare, transport, community and social amenities, and so forth. His documentary on this issue, made in cooperation with the BBC, is available to view free here: https://www.carneross.com/index.php/2020/06/16/accidental-anarchist-now-free-online/ The exploration continues in our group discussion, facilitated by Jim Carroll.

Leader - Valerie Cox, Journalist, Activist, Author and Broadcaster

Tue, 02/02/2021

11:00 - 12:00  ZOOM meeting

In 2015 Valerie and her spouse travelled to the Greek island of Kos where the refugee crisis had just started. It was a human disaster. Hundreds of people arrived on the shores of Kos every night in flimsy rubber dinghies. They had lost everything in their flight from war and death and terrorism and were dependant for food, shelter and clothes on the volunteers who came from all over the world. For the past six years thousands of refugees have been arriving at the gates of Europe seeking shelter from war and persecution in their home countries which include Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Iraq. Some made it into Europe and settled well, others got to Europe but have spent years in refugee centres, unable to move on with their lives. In 2019 the European Commission said the migrant crisis had ended. But it didn’t! Today there are thousands of refugees stranded in appalling conditions in camps in Greece and Turkey. They are overcrowded, water and food are scarce and Europe has lost interest! And yes, the boats are still coming in smaller numbers. Valerie will concentrate on the story of those who are caught up in these camps, some of them since the crisis began and Europe’s response. Their future is blighted by bureaucracy, blindness and a token response from some of the richest people on earth, ourselves.

TITLE - MUSIC GROUP PROGRAMME : From Memphis to Monk; an Introduction to the Blues
Leader - Frank Gallagher

Tue, 09/02/2021

11:00 - 12:30  ZOOM meeting

The initial video presentation, to be followed by a Q & A, will last 45 minutes and it will be aimed at those who have little or no prior knowledge of blues music, and indeed at those who have no formal training in music. It will comprise about 40% talk and 60% musical performance by Frank Gallagher on acoustic guitar and on slide guitar, and it will feature Don Baker as a guest performer. The presentation will not of course be a comprehensive introduction to this music, but topics to be discussed will include a layman’s explanation of the blues musical form, the origins of blues music as an ethnic folk music, its development in the first half of the twentieth century, some of its distinctive features, and its influence on some other music in the twentieth century. Frank Gallagher has been playing blues and jazz in Ireland and in Europe since the nineteen seventies. He has also lectured and written about blues and jazz, both in Ireland and abroad. At present he is a member of a jazz quintet based in south Wicklow. Over the years he has performed blues music with the likes of Don Baker, Red Peters and Johnny Norris, to mention just a few. In the nineteen eighties he formed the Jitterbug Jug Band with Gerry Clarke. Since that time he has mainly performed blues as a solo artist or in small groups with Gerry Clarke. He is a co-founder and chairman for the past twenty years of The Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, Co Wicklow.

TITLE - My personal perspective on Conor Cruise O'Brien
Leader - John Biggar

Tue, 16/02/2021

11:00 - 12:00  ZOOM meeting

Conor Cruise O'Brien was one of the most controversial and influential Irishmen of his generation. He also happened to be John Biggar's uncle. John will give us a personal perspective on Conor, based on a relationship which spanned over four decades.

TITLE - Eileen Gray
Leader - Ruth Starr

Tue, 16/03/2021

11:00 - 12:00  ZOOM meeting

Ruth lectures in the history of Japanese art and architecture at Trinity College Dublin. Her current research interest is in looking at connections linking Japanese art and European art through the common thread of lacquerware, and particularly its influence on the Irish architect and furniture designer, Eileen Gray (1878-1976), whose work can be seen in the National Museum at Collins Barracks.

TITLE - The Radio Universe from Birr Castle
Leader - Dr. Peter Gallagher

Tue, 30/03/2021

11:00 - 12:00  ZOOM meeting

Professor Gallagher is the newly appointed Head of the Astronomy and Astrophysics section of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies and is the driving force behind the installation and operation of the new Radio Telescope at Birr Castle in Co. Offaly. Birr Castle is an appropriate location because an optical telescope was set up there in the 1840s and it remained the largest telescope in the world for over 70 years. The Radio telescope is the latest addition to a European wide network of such telescopes that are electronically linked so that the overall sensitivity and resolution are far larger than that of one of them alone. These characteristics make possible a wide range of research projects from studies of our sun to the nature of the early universe.

Print Date: 15 Jan 2021