When one reads in a newspaper that ‘a source close to the Minister says’, this can be taken to mean that the Minister himself has been speaking to the correspondent ‘off the record’. Such background briefs are better known as ‘ministerial leaks’ and at time they are the cause of much annoyance to the Taoiseach (...

The first manned mission to land on the moon in July 1969 was controlled by a tiny computer. It had approximately 64Kbyte of memory, and was more basic than the electronics in modern toasters that have computer controlled stop/start/defrost buttons. Today electronic media of many kinds and full scale computerisation in all areas of life is...

One of the great disadvantages of achieving high office in Ireland it that it opens a person to all kinds of correspondents, cranks, beggars, and the merely confused. Jack Lynch’s files provide an example. In September 1971 his department received a letter from an Irish-American lady, addressed to “The Honorable John Byrnes, Prime...

In December 1977 the Irish Consulate in Chicago reported its anxiety about the effect of an article that had just appeared in the Chicago Tribune by maverick priest and academic Fr Andrew Greely. This was entitled ‘Ulster a Medieval Nightmare’. He called it “the last bastion of oppression and torture in Western Europe...

In the mid-1980s a constant source of anxiety were the reports of supposed foreign submarines off the coast of Ireland. Many fishing boats had encounters with some mysterious vessels that might be called USOs (unidentified submarine objects). They were stopped or pulled backwards till they cut their nets clear. There were several sinking. And...

That the events across Europe between 1912 and 1924 damaged the minds of a generation of European is widely accepted by historians. The “”shell shock” and “neurasthenia” suffered by those who fought on all sides is well documented. The troubles politics and social life of the 1920 and 1930s had its origins here. ...

“If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions,” wrote G.K. Chesterton in his 1908 creed Orthodoxy, continuing: “He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between...

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