Monday, 30 April 2007


Shema Yisrael (or Sh'ma Yisroel or just Shema) (Hebrew: שמע ישראל; "Hear, [O] Israel") are the first two words of a section of the Torah (Hebrew Bible) that is used as a centrepiece of all morning and evening Jewish prayer services and closely echoes the monotheistic message of Judaism. It is considered the most important prayer in Judaism, and its twice-daily recitation is a mitzvah (religious commandment).
Its main content is loving the one God with all one's heart, soul and might, and the rewards that come with this.
The term "Shema" is used by extension to the whole part of the daily prayers that commences with Shema Yisrael and comprises Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–21, and Numbers 15:37–41.


Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

And these words, which I command thee this day,
shall be in thine heart:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

And thou shalt write them
upon the posts of thy house,
and on thy gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Here are the answers to
the nautical quiz I posed some weeks back :

1.Jules Vernes 2.Iris 3.Leon Uris 4.Mutiny
5.Monsarrat 6. Passage 7.Masefield 8.Whale
9.Sailor 10.Sargasso 11.Jaws 12.Hornblower

Sunday, 29 April 2007


This is my Front Porch Collection, or more precisely a collection of sun-yellowed,dog-eared volumes which nestle cosily on the window-sill in my front porch! There are presently 19 books in the august collection and I hope from time to time to bring you bits and pieces gleaned from their pages. To start the literary ball rolling I have chosen a poem from Selected Poems by T.S.Eliot, an anthology selected by the poet and first published in 1954. The short poem is taken from a longer work The Waste Land,one of Eliot's most regarded pieces.


Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,

Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell

And the profit and loss.

A current under sea

Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell

He passed the stages of his age and youth

Entering the whirlpool.

Gentile or Jew

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,

Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

Friday, 27 April 2007


The following was aired on Derek Mooneys radio programme recently..It's twee but cute !


Many people will walk in and out of your life,

but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.

To handle yourself, use your head;

to handle others, use your heart.

Anger is only one letter short of danger.

If someone betrays you once, it is his fault;

if he betrays you twice, it's your fault.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events;

small minds discuss people.

He who loses money, loses much;

he who loses a friend, loses much more;

he who loses faith, loses all.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature,

but beautiful old people are works of art.

Learn from the mistakes of others.

You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.

There is no beginning or end.

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is mystery.

Today is a gift, that's why they call it a present.

Writer unknown

Wednesday, 25 April 2007


This fine example of 'treehood' was captured during a walk in
the Peoples Park in Limerick this very afternoon


I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer


The earth may shake and rock a thousand stones
The stars might fall from bloody sulphurous skies -
Friends may one by one withdraw
But I will still be the apple of His redeeming eye.

Hell might cough its zombie dead to haunt me,
Earth might raise her proudest sons to taunt me _
Secret snares may wait to catch me
But I will still be resting in arms of tender love!

There's nothing in this aching orb,
Or in the realm beyond this space _
Nothing in heaven, earth or hell
That will blot out His radiant face.
Just one look - He saves me
Just one gaze - I'm satisfied !
Just His touch - He heals me
Perfect peace at the Masters side.

Gerard O'Shea

Friday, 20 April 2007


The Atheist and God

An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that the accident of evolution had created. "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!" he said to himself.
As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly charge toward him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing. He ran even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pumping frantically and he tried to run even faster.
He tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear, right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.
At that instant the atheist cried out "Oh my God!...." Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving.
As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky: "You deny my existence for all of these years; teach others I don't exist; and, even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"
The atheist looked directly into the light: "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps could you make the bear a Christian?"
"Very well," the voice said.
The light went out. The river ran again. And the sounds of the forest resumed.
And then the bear dropped its right paw ........ brought both paws together.... bowed its head and spoke: "Lord, thank You for this food which I am about to receive..."

Wednesday, 18 April 2007


The world was shocked during the week with the news of yet another campus shooting in America. At least 32 people were murdered by one Cho Seung-Hui, a 23 year old English major at Virginia Tech College, when he went on a shooting rampage at the college campus on Monday April 16th. The picture above shows some students mourning after the event.

Living with what we Don't Understand
“…the Lord our God is righteous in everything He does.” Daniel 9:14
I wish we all could have lived the rest of our lives without hearing of another tragic campus shooting. But, here we go again. I don't know anyone who isn't moved by the recent shootings at Virginia Tech University. Once again, we are struck with grief that so many lives were cut short in this senseless act of violence. Once again, we have felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy. And personally, my heart goes out to the victims and the families’ lives that will be forever changed by this event.
In times like this, my brain starts to short-circuit. Why do these tragic things happen to people? Where is God when these things happen? Honestly, I have to admit, I don’t understand.
Sure, theologians have explanations. Because of sin, we all deserve God’s wrath. Anything good we experience is due to God’s grace and mercy (I believe these things, by the way!). But, tragedies like the Virginia Tech shootings still don’t compute. I can’t get my brain around them. Some might see these issues as a roadblock to faith, because they can’t “believe” in a God who would allow such tragedies. I just heard one radio talk show host state that events like this are why he is an agnostic. But, do you know what I’ve discovered? It’s okay that we don’t always understand. Even though I don’t understand – and can be frustrated and angry at these tragedies – I still believe.
In fact, I think that part of a life of faith in God includes living with things we don’t understand. Take for example the Biblical account of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The Bible makes it clear that God “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh won’t let the Israelites leave Egypt. God, then holds Pharaoh responsible for his stubbornness and punishes him and all of Egypt as well. From a human perspective something seems wrong with the picture, but I still believe God is righteous – always doing what is right. In fact, God defines the meaning of what is “right.” He sees the big picture. I cannot. He understands completely. I do not. He is God. I am not.
Perhaps, you – like me – are making a list of things that you don’t understand, filing them away so you can ask God about them when you stand before Him one day. I don’t think God has a problem with this! When you encounter frustrations about life – and you find things you don’t understand – share them with God. He’s big enough to handle them. Then, resolve to believe that God, who is righteous, will always do the right thing. Live by faith, not by sight.

Jim Burns & Jim Liebelt

Monday, 16 April 2007


Francis Kilvert was the son of a Wiltshire clergyman and lived from 1865 to 1872 at Clyro, where he was the curate. His diary gives an unparalleled picture of the region around Clyro, the beauty of its scenery and the character of its people. As an impecunious young clergyman, he was accepted by the local gentry but he was also painfully aware of the sufferings of the ordinary labouring people. His practical sympathy and good manners, his willingness to meet people on their own ground won him the affection of his parishioners.

Tuesday,29 March 187o

Turned aside into the meadow to look at the great stone of Cross Ffordd. It is a long time since I stood beside it,and I had forgotten that the stone was so large. I suppose no one will ever know now what the grey silent mysterious witness means, or why it was set there. Perhaps it could tell some strange wild tales and many generations have flowed and ebbed round it. There is something very solemn about these great solitary stones which stand about the country,monuments of some one or something,but the memory has perished and the history is forgotten.

Home at 6, dressed for dinner. At 6.30 Charles with the mail phaeton and the two mares, grey and bay, dashed up to the door in grand style. I was ready and away we went to the Vicarage to pick up the Vicar who took the reins. At Peter's Pool we overtook and passed at a dashing pace the Clyro Court brougham with one horse wherein were the Squire and Mr Frank Guise the recorder of Hereford bound like ourselves for dinner at Oakfield. It was refreshing to see the Vicar's stylish equipage driven by himself with two servants behind, dashing past the small humble turn-out of the Squire, rather reversing the usual order of things.

Robert Francis Kilvert

Sunday, 15 April 2007


To celebrate the unseasonably beautiful weather we are presently enjoying,and to ascertain if there is anyone out there in Blogland actually reading this...Ive devised a simple quiz on literary associations with the sea. Below are the twelve questions, you can leave the answers in the comment section,with or without your name ! No prize I'm afraid unless someone wishes to sponsor one ! Any Ford manager types out there...a car to give away might increase this Blogs readership hugely ! To make it really easy youre given the number of letters and words in brackets,just like a crossword.

1. Author of '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' (5,5)

2. First name of author of 'The Sea,The Sea' (4)

3. Former marine who wrote 'Battle Cry' and 'Exodus' (4,4)

4. Such rebellion on the Bounty (6)

5. Nicholas ______, author of 'The Cruel Sea' (9)

6. 'Rites Of ______, William Golding novel (7)

7. Surname of poet who wrote 'Cargoes' (9)

8. Jonah was this creature's victim (5)

9. Sinbad, for example (6)

10. 'Wide______Sea', Jean Rhys novel (8)

11. Shark novel and film (4)

12. Captain Horatio______, C.S.Forester hero (10)

I'll put the answers up in a week or so

Saturday, 14 April 2007


This is one of Kavanaghs many poems about unrequited love, the object of the poets interests here seem to be the young and beautiful Hilda Moriarty(later O'Malley) from Dingle.One Christmas the story goes, Kavanagh managed to persuade the editor of the Irish Independent to send him to Dingle to write about the festive season from a rural perspective. Of course his real intent was to pursue Hilda during her vacation home,her father the local GP however did not consider an impoverished poet a suitable suitor for his very eligible daughter! One of Kavanaghs most popular works, Raglan Road also concerns this doomed affair..."Oh I loved too much, and by such and such - Is happiness thrown away..."

The bluebells are withered now ...

The bluebells are withered now under the beech trees
And I am there - the ghost of myself - alone
Trying to remember a truth I once had known
Poking among the weeds on bare knees
Praying, praying poetic incantation
To call back life to that once-green plantation.

A score of grey ungrowthy stumps stand up
Like an old graveyard in my mind: Dingle, Cooleen
A shadowed corner of Saint Stephen's Green
A noisy corner of the Country Shop
All chilly thoughts that bring no exaltation
No green leaf love to the beautiful plantation.

I dreamt it in my heart, it was not real
I should have known that love is but a season
Like spring. The flowers fade. Reason
Knows it cannot find its old ideal
And yet her breath still blows some undulation
Of leaf and flower to charm my dream plantation.

-Patrick Kavanagh


This piece was written by Rayne(above), a 19 year old from South Africa who had an excellent blog on Window space called 'I am understood - Driven by God'. Last August she set off for India to do missionary work for a year.

I just want to say...

When your head hurts, when its in your stomach..its breaking..its empty..its not beating DONT have to feel that way really really dont..i promise you that.. I think maybe everyone knows how much it hurts..I sure do..its hard to feel lonely and think noone cares, its hard to have someone hurt you deeply over and over again..but you kno theres a WAY...theres a WAY that will make you so happy..its like unexplainable...sometimes lifes confusing..its tough...but all temptation and desire to be someone youre not or completly give up goes away..and you mean it when you laugh and smile and do GOOD things..not like just clean your room or walk the dog..but like make someone else SMILE.or just make yourself feel grateful for life.... i wish everyone could know that feeling. I wish you could feel the way i feel now compared to the way i felt before..its incredible..yeah im still looking forward to tough times because they make you the person you are and you learn alot from tough times..but choose to be happy..choose to live your life with a soul purpose. you are wonderfully created by God to do marvelous works. Start living that way.. start living life to the extreme..make choices that will forever change your life and others lives in an awesome way!!! Gods there for you..hes not a million miles away..hes not an unreachable, mean, uncaring God..hes a loving father ready to help you out and make life so much better for you. All YOU have to do its SEEK HIM! :)
"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, I will bless you with a future filled with hope, a future filled with success not suffering" Jeremiah 29:11 (take time to read it)
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and couragious. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged; For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" Joshua 1:9
cmon laugh with me now :) :)


Friday, 13 April 2007


A Hero
The inscription on the seat reads:
"We will remember you always.
As sea touches sand,
Our Hero
Our Angel,placed back
Into Gods hands".
In Memory of Jonathan Herlihy
who gave his life on this beach on 3rdSept.2006.
so that others may live.

This is the memorial seat on the beach of Owenahincha in West Cork,dedicated to the memory and heroic action of Jonathan Herlihy. On the 3rd of September,2006, Jonathan was strolling along the strand when he noticed two swimmers had gotten into difficulties. Along with another passer-by,Peter O'Keefe, Jonathan grabbed a lifebuoy and ran into the water to help them.Despite pleas from his mother and grandfather that the conditions in the water were too dangerous, Jonathan and Peter reached the distraught swimmers,and managed to convey them to safety.The valiant rescuers however were tragically swept back out to sea by a wave and drowned.Jonathan,aged only 23 was a student at U.C.C. and a keen sportsman.

On a recent trip to Owenahincha Mags and I sat on the beautiful marble seat erected by the Herlihy family and read the touching inscription recalling the fateful events of that September day. Sitting there surveying the panoramic vista of the golden beach stretching off into the distance and looking out onto the restless sea, we were touched by the gallant intervention of Jonathan which saved two lives from certain drowning,giving his own in the process.

I am reminded of Jesus words in John 15:13 "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends".Sometimes we become cynical about human nature,and yet here was a man who gave his life for total strangers ! Surely this reminds us of our higher destiny created in us by God himself,and hidden in the deep deep heart of our being.Flashes of our lost heritage recall for us the image in which the Creator originally shaped us,and the restoration of that relationship through the sacrifice of one man,Jesus on the cross!

As the waves dash against the sands of Owenahincha,and I reflect on the memorial there to Jonathan Herlihy's selfless act...I am reminded also of the depths of Christs suffering for us in restoring the possibility of connection once more with the Father. Though marred and scarred by our sins there is a tide that flows from Calvary which washes white as snow! May we all by the grace of God come to Him who gave His life for us, and loves us with an everlasting love.

Gerard O'Shea

Friday, 6 April 2007



We are enjoying beautiful weather at the start of this Easter weekend, so much so that I was prompted to air my trusty peddle steed for the first time this year. None the worse for wear from a winter of neglect ,after a little unctioning with oil and a few pumps of air into the sagging tyres it was in fine working order.Pleasantly surprised that I am still able to propel this machine with relative ease I set off for the shop. While gathering up a few items my nose was assailed by that irresistible smell of the fry,and I bought a sausage and rasher from the deli counter.I extended my homeward journey by diverting down to the wetlands at Westfields,looking resplendent in the bright April sunshine. From the picture above you might be able to make out a green plastic bag tied to the handlebars of the bike,inside is my cooked sausage and rasher! Full of the joys of Spring and fortified by the thought of my impending repast I continued on my merry way right on to Barringtons Pier. Here I left the bike against the wall while I took in the beautiful scene about me...the boats filled with earnest rowers gliding down the river...the sunshine sparkling on the water...a jet streaked blue sky...and the grass at my feet festooned with golden-cupped daffodils! Into this Edenic garden skipped a golden labrador, like me giddy with the glory of the day. He barked playfully and jumped about adding to the general gaiety of the moment.At last I dragged myself away from the pier with a sharp edge to my appetite from the great outdoors ! As I cycled past Villiers school I looked down to notice my little green bag with my fry vitals was gone! Now I don't have any proof but I think circumstantial evidence would suggest that the golden labrador might be in some way involved in their disappearance. I realise some of my readers may be horrified that I would succumb to the indulgence of meat on a Good Friday, and the disappearance of my bag may have been a divine intervention. I don't think I reflect I am convinced that this was not so much an act of God as an act of dog !

Gerard O'Shea


Regularly, my mother would sharpen an already sharp knife on the concrete floor,knocking sparks out of it as she did so. She would go out to the fowl-house and come back with an outraged,red,squawking cock. Wedging him between her thighs,she would pluck the throat feathers and then,cutting off his gloriously combed and wattled head,she would let the sometimes spasming,spattering rope of blood flow down into a bowl where it would settle into an accusation all the more dreadful because it was so serene.
Outside, on a little rise in the yard,I had often held the basin to the red throat-torrent from a pig we were killing,held it till her last gurgle,held it till her last unsquealing collapse into cuttable meat.
Into meat so quietly cuttable that this, too was a horror of accusation.
As accusation,the quiet was more frightful than the squeal.
What was it like,the silence of Iphigeneia after her last gurgle?
What was it like,the silence of Christ after his last gurgle?
How did the mountains survive such silence? How did the stars survive it?
One thing was sure. It is a tough universe we live in.
Or was it that the universe has decided to go blind and go deaf? Is that the only way it can cope with being what it is?
I couldn't say. Not then. Not for a long time after.
John Moriarty

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

Colossians 1:19-20

Thursday, 5 April 2007


I finally got around to going to the White House poetry session last evening which featured John W. Sexton as the guest poet.I had previously heard John at a poetry event for schools at the Belltable a year or two ago and was somewhat familiar with his work.He reads his poems in a very engaging dramatic style which grabs the ear and draws the listener in to the heart of the poem.This poem The Storm certainly stopped me in my tracks last night,presenting the old familiar story of Jesus calming the storm in a fresh and insightful light.The poem is taken from Johns collection The Prince’s Brief Career,an entire volume of writing(poems and prose) dedicated to the life of Jesus Christ.


Although they had said
He was a carpenter,
I could tell by his talk
That he knew all about water.
With words he could turn
The agitated crushing sea
Into a motionless solid beam
Of undressed timber ;
Or with words again, conjure,
From the winding grain of wood
The uneasy movement of a river.

There had been that time,
Very early on,
When he had come in our boat,
And we were overtaken
By a storm.
The waves beat about the craft,
until we thought we were gone,
And all the while
he was asleep in the stern.
One of us had awoken him
and angrily said,
“Do you care if we drown?”
and he had stood up
in the middle of the boat,
and unfurling his robes
like a sail,
gave an enormous shout.
And he screamed and screamed
until nothing existed
but the noise
coming from his mouth;
and the boat seemed to turn
not to the tumult of the storm,
but on the axle of his throat.
and when he finally stopped,
it was as if the wind and rain
had been sucked into his gullet,
for the lake and sky were subdued.
And he turned around, and smiled,
and said,”Brothers,you lack faith.”
Then he lay down once more
with his head on the pillow,
and fell asleep.
And soon he was as still
as the dark waters
that surrounded us.

Up until then the sea
had been my master.
But now I had a new master,
his wet head resting unconcerned,
as we drifted on.

John W. Sexton

Monday, 2 April 2007


Ode To The Glass of Red

The worlds a better place

When viewed through Nash's Red

The day is much much brighter

When you get up out of bed.

I dont wear rose tinted specs,

Or pop pills to make me high-

Just a glass of that cordial,

Always keeps me satisfied.

The world can be a hard place,

And grind you to the ground-

But a sip of Nash's elixir

Will soon bring you around.

The tinkling of that mineral,

As it pours into the glass

Is the sweetest sound in Ireland,

And a round you'll never pass.

Gerard O'Shea

Sunday, 1 April 2007


I bought the above picture at the Villiers Square sale of work yesterday. As both my aunt Bridie and uncle Frank live there, it was nice to spend the afternoon at Villiers surrounded by an Aladdins cave of bric-a-brac. The picture depicts Jesus in a prayerful pose, and so I felt the piece below would be apt...

Words and Deeds

A Prayer

Where, where have I
Been until now so lost
In my mind?
Have I forgotten you?
My lips still speak
0f your love
But my heart is silent.
O God, silence these
Words with your
Word, torment my heart
Until, heart-shaken
By desire, I sing
Of that love that
Dies by words alone, but
Lives by deeds.

- Paul Murray -



This abbey is stability cut in stone
Down the verdurous avenue
And in beneath the hugging arch.

In the monastic courtyard
You are held tight
By silent forces
Drifting in the very air.

Locked in this contemplative cell
With only the din of thought
And pumping heart to aggrevate –
Alone with the worries of the day
Though aware of presence
And divine assistance.

A place where one might easily
Lower a paralytic on a bed
Down before the great physician.

This place of quiet retreat
But not surrender,
A time to yield
But not give in
A solitude of space
Where the soul delights
At the awful grandeur
Of Gods unfathomable mind.

Gerard O'Shea