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Author: David O'Mahony

History repeating

History repeating

The humanities seem to always be under attack somewhere, whether through swingeing staff cutbacks in the UK or most emphatically now with Governor DeSantis’s “war on education” to enforce conformity of thinking across Florida universities that would actually reduce diversity and undermine academic freedoms. It would be easy to simply state that both projects are driven by conservative authorities. It would be easy too to highlight that arts and humanities teach critical analytical and thinking skills that make for good…

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Column: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Column: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

As those who follow me on Twitter may know, for the past year or so I have set myself an annual reading challenge. This was originally an attempt to read 20 pages every day, but it sort of morphed into trying to read the equivalent of 20 pages a day over the course of a year, which works out at 7,300. Last year I managed to beat it, this year I’m slightly behind schedule. Such is life. That preamble out…

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Femicide special report pages

Femicide special report pages

These pages from 2016 were a different sort of layout package to what I normally do. We had a report in from Women’s Aid on the number of women who had died violently in Ireland, looking back over the previous 20 years of the Femicide Watch Project – 209 at that point, with 131 killed in their own homes. It was grim reading. Our editor at the time, Allan, asked me if I could look at doing something different with…

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Editing Roald Dahl’s books is wrong

Editing Roald Dahl’s books is wrong

To say the decision by Puffin Books to edit Roald Dahl’s books is perplexing to say the least. The intention is to make the language more inclusive, and to remove or replace more problematic words. As an intention this is actually meant well, but in practice it makes little sense. Some changes are baffling. Making the Oompa-Loompas gender neutral is one, because it’s completely unnecessary (how was their previous description problematic?). Now, let’s be clear: Language matters and inclusive language…

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Michael Verling – man overboard

Michael Verling – man overboard

It’s not often that your ancestor’s death graces the pages of a daily newspaper, but this is how the then Cork Examiner reported the death of my great great grandfather Michael Verling in October 1886. There was a terrible storm across Ireland and Britain which resulted in a number of fatalities at sea, including two crew members from the same shipping company which were combined into one story for the Examiner. For clarity, the relevant part for us here says:…

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O’Mahony and Verling children in Cork

O’Mahony and Verling children in Cork

Meet Maura O’Mahony, my grandaunt. She’s here with her brother, my grandfather Michael, outside their house in Tonyville, Cork, just up the street from where their mother Minnie Verling lived at the time of her marriage. Maura is about 4 or 5 here. My grandfather, who with the blazer, tie, and glasses looks well into his 20s, is actually about 17 or 18 we think. Maura was by all accounts his great favourite and he taught her to whistle, which…

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Starry nights

Starry nights

Wilderness Ireland tells us that on a clear night you can see over 4,000 twinkling stars, planets such as Venus or Jupiter and even meteor showers with the unaided eye. Such viewpoints are up to 40 times darker without the intrusion of city lights. But we must not take this celestial joy for granted, as scientists warn that by the time a child born today reaches adulthood, they will see fewer than half the stars visible to them today. These…

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Bloodbath in Brussels

Bloodbath in Brussels

It seems almost a lifetime ago, but in March 2016 Belgium was hit by bombings in Brussels Airport and on the metro. More than 35 people died, including three suicide bombers, while hundreds were injured. The trial only opened in December. We were going big on it. Europe was already on alert after the Paris attacks and the Bataclan theatre, and there was a definite sense of edginess. We knew Irish people had been in the area in Brussels, which…

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Bessborough

Bessborough

This is one of the most important projects I’ve worked on, probably ever, and it was certainly one where we couldn’t afford to get something wrong in tone or treatment. Bessborough was one of the most notorious mother and baby homes – where hundreds of children died over nearly 80 years, and where the resting places of 859 have never been found – and is in the Examiner’s heartland. This page was planned about a week in advance of the publication of a government commission into…

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