Readers may have read recently about former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern being jostled by protesters to such an extent that his scheduled speaking engagement at NUI Galway had to be cancelled.

A friend and colleague of mine was due to interview Mr Ahern in front of the college audience and was caught up in a mayhem when the protesters pounced. Referring to the people in question as ‘the same gang of fools’ who attacked Minister Eamonn O Cuiv and his secretary at the college a few weeks ago, my friend says the ambush of Mr. Ahern was well planned and the extremely vicious intention was to trample him into the ground.

“The former Taoiseach is recovering from a broken leg and there were bloodthirsty roars of ‘Get his crutch’ from the mob as it was obvious they wanted to pummel him into the ground so that their cohorts could see it all for themselves on Indymedia”, he said.

He said Bertie was more concerned about the frightened and upset people around him than he was about himself but, all the same, the unedifying sight of a man who had led three governments in a row sitting shaken on a back stairs with his head bowed was not nice to see. Incidentally, my friend was at pains to point out that the protesters were in no way representative of Galway University’s 12,000 students. 

Allotments are back in vogue

In this time of recession, it appears that a growing number of people are seeking allotments from local authorities around the country. In most cases, demand for allotments now outweighs supply.

Up the road in Kilkenny, Councillor Sean Fitzpatrick told a meeting of the County Council he had a ready answer to the dilemma. Recalling that his father and uncle once farmed the fertile land that was now part of Saint Canice’s Hospital, he said the very best of potatoes, carrots and parsnips came out of those fields. He also pointed out that those lands were now inside the ring road and practically in the city centre. They would be ideal for allotments, he said, and there should be no problem satisfying demand.

Councillor Malcolm Noonan of the Green Party was thrilled at Councillor Fitzpatrick’s suggestion confiding that he, personally, had a list of 60 people who were seeking allotments. Councillors Paul Cuddihy and John Coonan were also very much in favour stressing that allotment holders would get plenty of exercise and well as good, naturally grown vegetables.

At the end of the discussion, it was unanimously agreed that the County Council would write to the HSE urging officials there to make the lands at Saint Canices’s available to the city’s would-be gardeners.

I wonder how long it will be before some politician in Waterford calls for allotments to be provided in the grounds of Saint Otteran’s Hospital! 

The cheapest lunch in Ireland?

Still on the subject of the recession and food, a Portlaoise restaurateur believes he will soon be offering the cheapest, three-course lunch in Ireland at €2.50!

The establishment in question is the award-winning Kingfisher Indian Restaurant which has been managed and owned by Khurshid Googee for the last 20 years.

Mr. Googee has already slashed his €10 three-course lunch by half to €5 but he says he is now seriously considering taking the price down even further to €2.50. He said he had noticed that many of his customers were not coming as often as before because they were cutting back on expenditure so he decided to help everybody out as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for all their custom over the years.

Some people had told him he was crazy, he confided, but extreme times called for extreme measures. Mr. Googee has cooked for many famous people including Bill and Hilary Clinton who were very complimentary about the fare he prepared for them. 

Waterford couple’s successful artistic venture

Giddy Studios is a new pottery painting studio in Rathfarnham, Dublin, with strong Waterford connections. It is run by Helena Dileen and came to national prominence last week when it featured on Ryan Tubridy’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ television show on RTE 1. A ‘couple’, Nikki and Keith, were match-made on the show and then went to Giddy Studios and Helena for their blind date.

Originally from Dungarvan, Helena is married to Alan Dileen, son of Tom and Anne Dileen who live just off the Dunmore Road. She gets a lot of school trips and retirement groups to her studios from Waterford and says it is wonderful to see how people of all ages and personalities take to pottery painting.

‘From a school tour perspective we bring art and pottery education to life in a gorgeous studio environment’, says Helena, who has a background in branding and design. She told The Munster Express that visitors leave her studios in great form having created a one-off piece that can never be repeated. “We explain everything that the group needs to do and show them the kiln where the pieces are fired overnight afterwards.”

Helena has also attracted more than a few celebrity visitors, one of whom was fellow Waterfordian, Doug Baxter, who is married to the famous film and television actor, Victoria Smurfit. Doug and his children enjoyed their visit so much that he returned later with his colleagues from ‘The Ocean Group’, of which he is chief executive officer, and used their visit as a ‘team building exercise’.

Giddy Studios is very close to exit 13 off the M50 and Dundrum Shopping Centre. Helena Dilleen can be contacted at 01-4240440 or 

How the collection money is divided!

Four Waterford-born priests, all of whom studied at Saint John’s College in Waterford, were chatting to each other at their annual reunion lunch in the Tower Hotel last week. The discussion turned to the present economic downturn and the fact that donations to the collection plate at Sunday Masses were also down considerably.

“Well”, said Father A, “I just pass the money on through the usual channels and, big or small, it’s up to Bishop Lee to decide what to do with it.”

Father B raised his eyebrows in surprise. “I never subscribed to that rule because we have to live too. I draw a circle on the floor of the sacristy after the last Mass every Sunday and throw the money up in the air. Then, whatever lands inside the circle I send to the Bishop and I keep the rest for myself and parish needs.”

Father C nodded in agreement. “That’s what I do as well, the only difference is that I keep the money inside the circle and only send Bishop Lee the money that lands outside the circle.”

All three priests turned to Father D as they all looked up to him and always considered him their natural leader. “Harummmph”, snorted Father D, “I’ve always put my trust in God Himself. I don’t bother with circles or any of that nonsense, I just throw all the money up in the air and what God wants he can keep and I hold on to the rest.