Relive the anorak years as Bertie Ahern launches Charlie Bird book – The Irish Times

Bertie Ahern was in a nostalgic mood on Thursday night when he launched Charlie Bird’s new book Time and Tide at a packed event at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel.

“I remember the happy days on the country lanes, or, as some might call it, being chased through the bloody country by Charlie Bird,” recalls the Bert, who might not have been so happy with Charlie’s niggling presence at the time. The pair of them, in different roles, covered the same beat for decades, he said. “And it’s terrible, when you watch Reeling in the Years and you see all the things that we’ve been involved in. Sometimes you should hide behind the couch – I mean, when you watch the haircuts, the clothes and the anoraks. And you think: Oh my God!

The crowd laughed, and then Bertie delivered the punchline.

“And that was just Charlie!”

The former chief correspondent of RTÉ, who suffers from motor neuron disease, wrote the book in collaboration with his close friend and former editor Ray Burke. Using a digital voicemail, he told the crowd that he had won the Lotto when he made his debut as an RTÉ journalist in 1980. And never in his wildest dreams would he imagined that the former taoiseach would launch “my latest book”.

Charlie and Bertie criss-crossed the country numerous times on hustings, with the reporter often arriving at events before the taoiseach, although exact times were often kept secret.

“He also told one of the most important stories of my life on one of those trips. It was on the track in 2007 that the premiere of primeurs was bound to happen one day,” Bertie said. got out of the car – i was in the car – we were driving around southeast and i was at the next stop and i called charlie to say i had become a grandfather with twins. “

The book recounts Charlie’s time in the news business and also traces his struggle with MND.

“I admire you so much Charlie,” Bertie told him. “Your style of journalism, your commitment to being there for every story… You are so appreciated by everyone. You know that. You’ve seen it this year. You’ve made a huge contribution to helping others.

“You were extraordinary in not going to bed. Today, in the most difficult times, your energy is unmatched and your truth remains uncompromising. You have been an outstanding journalist. Whatever happens from now on, rest assured that you will not be forgotten.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, but still, with Charlie and his family and friends packing the room, it was the most enjoyable, uplifting and blissful evening.

Take action to restore the reputation of Irish dancing

As the global Irish dancing community reels from Feis-fixing’s so-called “Céilígate” scandal, allegations of cheating in competitions have thrust Irish dancing into the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

The world championships are due to take place in Canada next year, and one of the dancers representing Ireland in Montreal in April is Caelainn McGrath, the 20-year-old daughter of Tipperary Independent TD Mattie.

Mattie McGrath was an All-Ireland Champion Dancer as a youngster, and her family is steeped in tradition. Caelainn’s dance teacher is her cousin Kathy McGrath Coleman, who runs a successful Irish dancing school in Newcastle, Co Tipperary.

Deputy McGrath thinks there is ‘no doubt’ there is ‘politics’ involved in judging certain events, and says the competition scene should not be tainted by alleged interference in the judging process.

“It’s been going on for years,” he told us, adding that his daughter has danced in many competitions “at home and abroad.”

She danced at Leinster House last month for Culture Night and managed to have her picture taken in the Dáil’s bedroom sitting in her father’s designated spot. She was also part of the Brú Ború Irish Dance Group in Cashel who danced for and with then Prince Charles and his wife Camilla when they visited Tipperary in March.

Mattie is extremely proud of her daughter, who qualified for the World Championships once before but the competition was canceled when Covid hit. He is not worried about the alleged political aspect of the judgment. “She’s a fighter like her father. She persevered and now she is going to the world championships, which is a great achievement.

He is a member of the Oireachtas arts and culture committee, which discussed the Céilígate controversy privately in a meeting on Wednesday. Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne joked: “I assume now, Mattie, you are going to return your All-Ireland medal.

Not a hope. “I told them I narrowly won at a time when we had no makeup, fake tans or mobile phones. There will be no medals coming back from Tipperary.

He won in 1974 as part of an eight-dancer team from Newcastle to Tipp. “I was just an innocent 16 year old. We just had black trousers and an amber shirt – our club colors and Kilkenny colors unfortunately. The girls just wore a plain black dress and an amber belt. There were no disguises back then, just Irish country culture.

They were a good team, winning all over the country, including the GAA’s Scór contest. Young Mattie noticed that the trophies were made in Italy, so he went to a county board meeting on a Sunday and tabled a motion calling on the GAA to use Irish-made trophies. His proposal went all the way to Congress and it was passed.

A restart for Leo’s coaches

To say Leo Varadkar is thrilled with his new training shoes would be an understatement.

He first mentioned them in February at a meeting of the Oireachtas committee on business, trade and employment. Members were reviewing the ministry’s estimates for 2022 when the Tánaiste mentioned the circular economy and how more had begun to be learned about it.

“I immersed myself in it by renovating two pairs of skates that I was going to throw away. They are awesome. They look new despite being seven years old. In the past I would have thrown them away and bought a new pair, but had them refurbished by a small Irish company for around €60,” Leo said. “I was very impressed with that.”

We buy too many clothes abroad and then throw them away, he said. “Think of the number of Irish jobs that could be created by people repairing, reusing and renovating clothes, suits, shoes etc. This is only a small part of the circular economy, but there are great opportunities for job creation.

Seven months later, the Minister for Enterprise is past the apprenticeship stage. “I’m a big fan of the circular economy,” he said at a recent committee meeting.

“I tried to kiss her a little myself. I had my skates refurbished and redone a few months ago. It didn’t go so well for the leather shoes, but I had two sets of runners refurbished instead of buying a new pair. They came back — cost around $40 or $50 — and they’re like new. Anyone would think they were new and I would have just thrown them away before.

And he reiterated that there are many ways to reuse and recycle materials and create new jobs in the process.

For example, he was recently at the Milk Market in Limerick and the lady who runs a vintage shop there told him that little girls who are having their first communion are now looking for vintage dresses because they know fast fashion and don’t want them. .

So where did Leo get his sneakers rebooted?

“Sneaker surgery,” he tells us. “Relaced, carefully cleaned and then painted.”

Pleased with himself. It wears down a lot of those runners, though.

Silver cufflinks, an ashtray and a £310 bottle of whiskey were among the items donated by Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney over the past two years.

No dirty gifts here

Ken Foxe, journalist and data-sifter extraordinaire, regularly monitors government giveaways to bigwigs on our behalf.

And the returns of the past two years have come from Iveagh House, where they don’t tend to get lost too often, except on occasions such as winning a temporary seat on the UN Security Council.

According to the Foreign Office, the gifts are either from Ireland or of Irish interest and are purchased at “economically advantageous cost” while emphasizing high quality. “The nature of the donation is subject to particular care in order to ensure that it respects the culture and the relevant requirements of the recipient. The gift exchange provides a platform to promote Irish crafts and products internationally and helps to strengthen economic and cultural ties between the countries involved.

Silver cufflinks, an ashtray and a £310 bottle of whiskey were among the items donated by Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney over the past two years.

However, a £33.50 bog oak pen from Donegal was the department’s gift of choice. Thirty different visitors received one, including the President of Somalia, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Tonga.

Simon’s memories won’t break the bank. Over two years, he distributed a total of €2,150 in gifts to visiting dignitaries, foreign ministers and heads of state on official visits to Ireland and on his trips abroad.

Unfortunately, we don’t know what kind of trinkets and gee-gaws he received in return, as gifts only register if they’re worth more than €650 and he didn’t receive any.

Small teardrop bowls by ceramic artist Michele Hannan were also a popular choice with the €65 items featured nine times.

Belarusian politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya received an engraved vase from Jerpoint Glass, worth €55.

But Japan’s foreign minister did pretty well, carrying away a bottle of Midleton Dair Ghaelach whiskey from Midleton Distillery in Co Cork. It cost €310 at the Celtic Whiskey Shop and was the most expensive item on the list.

Brooches from goldsmiths Alwright & Marshall worth €50 each were presented to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the Iranian Foreign Minister, while the first lady of New Jersey received a new scarf. A very beautiful silk scarf by the artist Bernadette Madden, worth 35€.

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu received a Mullingar Pewter whiskey service (€49.20) accompanied by a Sceilg crystal ashtray (€15). He obviously likes to smoke a cigarette with his ball of malt.

The President of Moldova received a €35 Donegal scarf from the Kilkenny Group. Two sets of Newgrange designer cufflinks were purchased for €75 each and presented to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Governor of Hatay of Turkey.

Iveagh House points out that you can’t go and meet these important people with one arm as long as the other. “It is common international practice to exchange modest gifts between ministers and visiting dignitaries during ministerial visits and other high-level visits.”

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