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The House of Commons in Britain is known for it’s devilishly clever exchanges, memorable put-downs, devastating one-liners and monumental battles of intellect and logic.

We in Ireland have to put up with this*…

This is a dialogue in Dáil Éireann (the Irish Parliament) yesterday between John O’Donoghue and Michael Ring.

Where is the time-out corner when you need it?

Update: Here’s the Curry Chips take on it..

* Real Player required.

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Yesterday I went on a walk to Galteemore, the highest inland mountain in Ireland, just over 3,o00 ft high and the smallest of Ireland’s 14 munro’s.

Galteemore

Galteemore is part of the Galtee range in South Tipperary. The mountains stretch about 20km in an East-West direction – roughly-speaking from Cahir to Mitchelstown. The main Dublin-Cork road skirts around its southern and eastern flanks. The Galtee’s are part of the same mountain building event that formed the extensive ridge-valley system of South west Ireland. North of the Galtees the sandstone ridges begin to disappear and the flatter terrain of the Irish Midlands begins.

Overlooking the Glen of Aherlow

I found the walk to the top quite easy, not to say picturesque. The col between Galteemore and it’s smaller sibling, Galteebeag, shows signs of ancient “bog bursts”, or landslides, where entire sections of peat seem to have fallen into the corrie lake below, exposing the solid rock base.

Galteebeag

From the summit of Galteemore it is possible to see an amazing amount of southern Ireland: Waterford, Kilkenny, Cork, Tipperary, Limerick: possibly even Kerry, Clare and Carlow. Unfortunately I was unable to see anything at the summit as quite a dense fog closed in.

Summit of Galteemore

Mortality in Ireland

This table is derived from the Irish Life Tables 2001-2003. (CSO) Double-click on the image to get a full view.

It’s a logarithmic graph of your likelihood of dying at any particular age, from birth right up to the ripe old age of 105.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it fascinating. The women have us men well and truly beaten when it comes to their ability to survive. Right from the start, they seem to have a lower probability of kicking the bucket.

In addition, kids are least likely to die by an order of magnitude compared to young adults – it’s a testament to the importance of parents and guardians, I would think.

And then there’s this very subtle “bump” around the age of 25 in males. For some reason, a 31 year old man has a slightly lower probability of dying than a man ten years younger.

From age 35 in males (and age 31 in females), our probability of dying starts to increase at a faster and faster rate.

Lest anyone get too worried, we are mainly talking about very small numbers here (the above graph is logarithmic and therefore somewhat skewed). The following graph is the same, except this time it’s linear. It shows more clearly that your probability of dying in any particular year is tiny up to the age of about 80.

Mortality in Ireland2

Yesterday we went down to Cobh to see a huge ocean liner arrive into the port.

Navigator Arriving

The town of Cobh* has a fascinating maritime history. For decades, before the rise of air travel, it was the departure point for millions of Irish people as they set sail for the New World. It was the last port of call of the Titanic before its fateful crossing. It received the dead bodies from the Lusitania, when it was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale. And it is a later addition to the Republic of Ireland, a “treaty port” ceded to the State by Britain just before the onset of World War II. The headquarters of the Irish Navy is just across a narrow channel from Cobh, on the island of Haulbowline.

The Navigator of the Seas

The ship, the Navigator of the Seas, is one of the largest cruise ships in the world with a weight of 140,000 tonnes. It can carry over 3,000 passengers. In this case, the boat was on a short weekend trip from Southampton. The passengers must have been amazed when they were greeted by a large crowd of onlookers. It was a holiday weekend here, with a local festival happening in the town.

Goliath

My kids were well impressed. A floating hotel of this magnitude is an impressive sight, no matter what age you are.

Looking up

* Cobh is pronounced, and means, “Cove”: unusually, an “irishisation” of an English word. Most of our place names are anglicisations of Irish Words.

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