Tag Archives: ireland

One More Thing to Love about the GAA

I read a really heartwarming piece in today’s Irish Times, by Damien Cullen, about the little things that make the GAA so special. **

It reminded me of one extra GAA thing that (as a parent of under 12s) I also love. Namely the massive feat of organisation, co-ordination and enjoyment that is……Cúl Camps.

A week of training, fun and games, at your local club, with full kit and fine school bag (hey thanks!) - sorry, gear bag –  thrown in. For half the price of most summer camps. Open to members and non, locals or not, age 6 to 12.

As the advertisement says ‘ Over 1, 000 camps in 32 counties’ this summer. Think about that number….

‘Ah sure they have the club structure and a sponsor’,  would be an easy, throwaway comment to make.  Now I am guesstimating here, but it also means;

An average 100 children per camp equals 100, 000 kids. And 100,000 kits. And 100,000 medals. Ordered, supplied and distributed around the 4 corners of Ireland.  Our local club, Newport, wouldn’t turn a child away last year and even ran out of kits.  They ended up with over 200 under 12s, all raring to go. My young lad actually didn’t get his kit shorts ’til the Tuesday, and shorts on the Thursday (not that he cared, flying about in his previous year’s gear).  But get them he did. I heard of trips made to clubs in Carlow and Kilkenny to fetch up extra kit. And not one child went short.  (A tale of dedication no doubt replicated in clubs everywhere).

What a magnificent sight – 2012 Cúl Camp, Newport, Co Tipperary.

At an average of  5 to 10 mentors/trainers per camp also, that’s 10,000 volunteers.  Who have their own jobs/families/summer holidays to attend to. But they’ll all be there. And just like last year, if extra children turn up, then extra mentors will be sourced also.

Then there’s  inter-county player visits to organise, a myriad of mini matches to play, and probably and a bottle of orange  and crisps for everyone when it’s all over.

It’s all such a joy to observe. The smallies dragging their hurleys behind them like ball n’chains, all swarming round the moving football like bees, or stopping for little chats in the middle of a match. And they’re all having fun and getting exercise and fresh air.

But make no mistake about it. These Cúl Camps, for the GAA’s youngest – and largest – membership are about so much more. They are learning about being on a team, about respect and commitment. They are forging friendships that, through the GAA, may well last a lifetime.  It is the invaluable groundwork for a future that can hopefully involve sport. I see it as investment in their teenage years, and beyond.

Because I see the teenagers as I drive up to our club of an evening. Sitting in groups on walls, hanging around outside the chipper, walking up and down the quiet village streets. Then I turn in the gates of the GAA club and see more teenagers – pucking a ball with any age kid that will puck one back, putting out water bottles and flags for the imminent match, or just hanging out with the girls from the camogie club.

I know, when the time comes, where I’ll want my teenage children to be.

So, whether it’s tearing yourself away from the fire to drive them to training, cheering them from the sidelines, drenched, or making more buns for the afters, it’s all an investment. And a very small one to make, compared to the massive investment of time, commitment and enthusiasm shown by the thousands of GAA volunteers in this little country, every week of the year.

So, GAA and Cúl Camps,  I salute you. (Via extreme bad planning we will very sadly miss this year’s local camp. Not a mistake we will be repeating).  See you next year.

** http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/some-random-things-that-make-the-gaa-special-1.1484364

RTE and Women (not) at the Races

Picture the following scene…

Galway race week. A TV presenter is conducting interviews between races. Here is one excerpt, with an on-course bookmaker;

So, do you find it an advantage being a young pretty girl, or do the punters take you seriously?’

Followed by ‘do you even like racing?

So – a ‘Reeling in the Years’ type clip from the 50s? Wrong.

Carried out by, say, John McCririck? Wrong again.

The above interaction took place TODAY (1st August 2013). Between, Maeve O’ Neill, bookmaker, and MAURA DERRANE, an RTE presenter.

Incredulous? I certainly was. And so was Maura in fact, with her gasping, breathy tones. Blown away she was, to discover a member of her own sex working on a racecourse.

It would be easy to dismiss this as just a silly comment. But it’s indicative of a greater malaise. Once upon a time, horseracing was a male preserve. But women as trainers, jockeys, bookies, stable staff, racecourse managers – they are no longer in short supply. Can we never get past this?! Unlike soccer, tennis etc with separate gender versions, men and women owners, trainers, jockeys etc all compete together – can we ever just drop the tokenism? Do Katy Walsh and Nina Carberry – to name but two – long to be simply recognised as the excellent, top of their game, sportspeople that they are?

At least Channel 4 offloaded aforementioned charm-school John McCririck in their recent reincarnation. With his annual ‘token woman’ interview of bookie Ellen Martin at Cheltenham, and constant referring to co presenter Tanya Stephenson as ‘the female’, he is not missed. In fact, Ch4’s current stable of male/female presenters is as balanced as it is knowledgeable.

Missing you already...

Missing you already…

But over here, RTE trundle to keep up. Tracy Piggott appears to be the token female. She thoroughly knows her stuff and has a relaxed, easy manner. (Sidebar: in a Paul O’ Connell interview once, a giddy Tracy admired his physique and actually asked to feel his muscles. Perhaps being accustomed to whippet jockeys she just got carried away…)

I digress. Apart from Tracy, RTE Racing only seem to draft in women for what we’ll call ‘the fashions’. Gráinne and Sile Seoige, Kathryn Thomas and today, Maura and her star turn. Apart from flitting around seeking out women to doorstep about their ‘outfits’, they will also interview celebs they trip across and, as we saw today, ‘token’ women. (Maura later interviewed rugby player Sean O’ Brien and gamely asked him ‘on behalf of all Irish women’ where he’d be socialising later tonight. Sigh….)

I don’t even necessarily blame these women – entirely – for this. All highly capable and talented in their own right – why the dumbing down? What is the brief they are given to do the job?

‘Racing knowledge isn’t necessary. Just look pretty, dress up, do the ‘fluff’ pieces’.

And if not as dire as that – then what is it exactly? Because the execution of it is frankly embarrassing.

'So, tell us about your hat'

‘So, tell us about your hat’

People who sit down to watch horseracing (me) don’t want to watch fashion. And anyone tuning in for fashion isn’t much bothered with the racing. Why always mix the two to such a huge degree? RTE not the only guilty party here. Why not just show one after the other.

And if talking women and RTE racing, we must mention Jennifer Walsh. Daughter of Ted, sister of Ruby (and also his agent). But she is curiously drafted in by RTE to ‘shepherd’ jockeys from the winners enclosure over to their post race interview. Sometimes she takes them by the arm as she chaperones. Sometimes she holds their helmet and crop as they weigh in. Why? Why? Why? Every jockey, everywhere else, seems to manage an interview unescorted. But not in RTE land. I am always just embarrassed for the girl.

But getting back to blame. RTE Racing still has a lot of hurdles to get over. And Maura Derrane? You are a successful, professional woman. Can you not recognise that in others? Your line of questioning today was like something from the Dark Ages. Hang your head in shame, girl!

Women in Print – some (vital) statistics?

Last week, this tweet from Noirín Hegarty (formerly editor of Sunday Tribune and Independent.ie) piqued my interest;

“ Nine pix of men on front of @irishtimes plus all male pix on review, mag and sports fronts. What a message to women after Dail/Seanad week!”

So – how are women in Irish newsprint being represented? Is there balance? Are those working there ‘leaning in’, meeting/breaking glass ceilings, needing gender quotas? All topics du jour…

Well, I bought copies of the Irish Times and Irish Independent two days ago, 24th July 2013. I (manually, non scientifically) analysed them to see what the gender balance was, regarding

  • Photos used
  • Article writers used

Below are the results. I am not comparing the two papers directly, merely choosing them as the two I read/buy most often.

A tiny, one day snapshot is proof of nothing. I also don’t try to draw any conclusions. I just thought it might be an interesting exercise…

Irish Independent

Photos Used 24.07.13

Category                                                Men                           Women

News/Opinion/Comment                  48                              14

Social/Arts/Living                               13                              13

Business                                                   15                                8

Sport                                                         32                                2

Ads                                                            9                                  9

Writer photo                                        12                                5

Totals                                                     129                               51

Written content 24.07.2013

Gender                                              Men                             Women

Articles written by                                        66                                            47

Letters to Editor from                                   5                                              1

Irish Times

Photos Used 24.07.13

Category                                                     Men                      Women

News/Opinion/Comment                       31                                  19

Social/Arts/Living                                    4                                       9

Business                                                        10                                       1

Sport                                                              36                                       3

Ads                                                                     2                                       5

Writer photo                                              13                                        6

Totals                                                            96                                     43

Written content 24.07.2013

Gender                                            Men                         Women

Articles written by                                     64                                       29

Letters to Editor from                               15                                         4

Notes, Caveats, Disclaimers

  • I did this in front of the TV, so I can only promise 99.99% accuracy. After that, I’m blaming Vincent Browne…
  • ‘Men and Women’ photo categories include children and babies (one called George made a few appearances, given the date)
  • Photos of crowds – I only counted any person(s) named underneath ie who the photo was ostensibly about.
  • Where gender was unclear eg fancy dress, I didn’t include it
  • Article or letter writers are only counted where named ie lots of content is not credited, some letters are names with-held or initials only
  • I had all these stats presented in beautiful Bar Chart format in Word – frustratingly, I couldn’t get them to paste in here. Grrr!


Ok, I said I wouldn’t draw any. But the headlining facts are;

  • 225 photos of men, 94 of women
  • 130 articles written by men, 76 by women
  • 68 photos of men in sport, 5 of women.

Finally, although I didn’t subdivide the male/female written content by category, I couldn’t help noticing the following. Of 35 Sport articles credited, one was by a woman. Louise Taylor (Irish Times, soccer), take a bow.

I certainly did find it an interesting exercise. Thoughts, anyone?

Marion (and you and me) – Beautifully Normal

By accident rather than design, I managed to see no Wimbledon tennis this year. I knew Marion Bartoli only by name, and that she was the new Champion.

In the post-Inverdale furore (what a horrible little man), I researched Marion online. Google Images has a helpful – ahem – new feature that throws up the most popular searches associated with your own googled word. Thus I was supplied with a range of photos under the headings Marion Bartoli Fat/Hot/Sexy.

Indeed. At least there were two positive, popular searches verses one negative. She looked plenty of the latter two, and not the former at all.

But she is not tiny. She is Normal. And that is the sad, wearisome problem.

Western society’s obsession with the stereotypical model looks allows for very little deviation.

  • Size 6/8? Check.
  • Glowing tan? Check.
  • Long, lustrous straight hair? Check. Blonde preferably, or maybe brunette. Black hair is perhaps too hard to achieve without looking witchy. Red hair? Don’t even think about it.
  • And don’t forget the teeth. Nothing less than a mouth full of gleaming, straight china will do. Back in the day, hardly anyone had braces. Those who were prescribed them generally had serious prominence issues, and were probably the ‘Bugs Bunny’ of their cruel classmates. The rest of us still looked pretty Normal.

These days, come the 6th class check up , if not sooner, the Brace word will be invariably be mentioned. Is it medical advances or affluence that seems to have every second child in the country prescribed the orthodontist? Or is it the quest for the American import ‘perfect smile’.


Madonna – we like your teeth

Had a recent encounter with an Orthodontists waiting room myself. I stuck out like a sore thumb because

a) I wasn’t wearing a school uniform

b) I wasn’t accompanied by my mother

c) I wasn’t sulking.

The flow thru of teens was phenomenal. They really should just set up IN a large secondary school. No journey time, parking issues, ready made patient lists etc…

You have to admire the likes of Madonna (gap teeth), Kirsten Dunst (crooked) and Jim Carrey (large) for resisting the undoubted pressures and sticking with their smiles. Shane McGowan takes it to extremes, but he is nothing if not his own man.

No two of us are made the same. Do we have to aspire to look the same? Aspects of media, advertising, fashion etc certainly want us to.

I logged onto the ASOS clothing website lately. What a depressing exercise. Waspy models with 20inch waists and legs you’d see hanging out of a nest. Or there was the ‘curvy’ option, for sizes 20 to 26. Where is the Normal? Of course they sell all the sizes, but I want to imagine them on ME, not on a stick. Sizes 14-16 are the first to sell out in shops – for a reason.

What I also now love about Marion Bartoli is that she – refreshingly – proves as myth the idea that if you exercise like a maniac you’ll be thin as a whippet. Take that, all you celeb workout DVDs and ‘beach ready’ magazine pullouts. You’ll get in shape ok – your own Normal shape!


From the ASOS website – sigh…

As the brilliant Body Shop campaign said;

“There are over 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels, and only 8 who do.”

The rest of us? You, me, Marion etc? Are Normal looking. In all our curly haired/pale skinned/size 16/imperfect toothed ways. And still beautiful.

So let Normal Service resume. Without John Inverdale preferably…

Cruise Control in Oireland

So Tom Cruise, the megawatt star with the megawatt smile, was in town yesterday.

He had a new film to promote. So, the usual red carpet meet n’ greet outside the Savoy then….. But a Certificate of Irishness? Presented by the Deputy Prime Minister? And a Guinness photo op. Really?? The guy doesn’t need personal publicity. I smell a ‘Gathering’ notion……

I have no clue how these things work. Whose PR contacted who first? His, the Government’s, Diageo? Meetings, cosy chats about who, what, where, when – and how much?

Shure gazillions of people have Irish roots somewhere back the line, if you go far enough. American Presidents like to come here to explore their Irish heritage/schmooze the Irish votes back home. Or the Democrat ones at least. Amazing how Republican Presidents don’t have any Irish roots to mine. Apart from one who went down Ballyporeen way….

Will Ferrell, Beyonce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael Jackson, and plenty of others most likely, have traversed our highways n’ byways in recent times, unfettered by a politician or a pint getting shoved in their faces. In fact, back when Tom was over here filming Far and Away, himself and Nicole popped up in lots of counties and lots of peoples snaps, casually and quietly. What has changed?

Graham Norton interviewed Tom Cruise recently. No couch-sharing banter with the other guests for him. Apart from with his female co star, of course. She dutifully wittered on about how amazing it was to star alongside, indeed sit alongside the Cruise-meister. Over the course of the interview, Tom’s hair actually goes from curiously tossed to smooth to tossed several times. It suggests a high level of editing room chopping and pasting before being aired….

And now of course we have Cruise Control’s Late Late interview to look forward to. Prerecorded, closed set. Wild guess – no Scientology, ex wives, divorces or children on the discussion sheet. But all about the fillum, the fame and the Oirishness. A schmooze to Cruise from start to finish.

Do you recall Ryan’s Tubridy’s very first Late Late Show? He eviscerated one Brian Cowen, about his governing style, his socializing, his drinking. And what a prescient interview it turned out to be, come that infamous (Morning After) Morning Ireland interview. God be with those Tubridy days…

Ryan will be on a Mission Impossible. While Tom Cruises. In Control.

Maybe I’ll be Far and Away.

Money for Old Horses…

It’s hard to pick out which is the scariest aspect of the horsemeat scandal. Current levels of industry regulation and enforcement are certainly frightening. But what about back when there was even less?

Horse passports were only introduced in Ireland 2004.

Micro chipping only came in compulsorily in 2009.

Commercial horses (show jumpers, racehorses) have long carried ID papers, but what of regular types e.g. those in riding schools, or privately owned, or those animals say, at Ballinasloe/Smithfield horse fair?

In 1998, I owned a horse.

She was rising 16 years of age, had sustained a long term injury and needed to be retired from active work. I did not own or have access to any land to retire her on. Nor did I want to consider the ‘nuclear’ option, that others would.

So – in my innocence – I placed an advert offering her ‘free to good home’. I had no idea what response, if any, I would get. But wasn’t expecting what happened next.

A man rang, saying he was looking for an older horse, to run with yearlings, be a calming influence etc. I asked where he was based, could I come and view his lands and so on. I was happy enough, took his name and number, saying I would decide and call him back.


But via a totally chance conversation subsequently, I discovered that this man was a horse dealer. Bought, sold, traded. And sent for slaughter. Paid by weight, the heavier the animal, the more cash for him. No paperwork would change hands of course. There was none.


I should have copped it when instead of asking about her health and temperament, he was asking what height my horse was and if she was light boned i.e. how many kgs could he exchange on the scales, for cold, hard cash?

I did not ring him back.

But he was not done. He actually made THREE separate approaches to me in total, using different names and phone numbers. But wiser now, and using a few appropriate contacts, I sussed it out and did not respond. So he gave up.

I eventually did manage to find a ‘free to good home’ for my horse. And delivered her there myself.

There is, and has been, money in dead horses, for a long time. Whether we like it, or like to think about it, or not.

Back then I vaguely knew of only one horse abattoir in Ireland.

There is actually three now – (B&F Meats, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny , Ashgrove Meats, Newcastlewest in Limerick & Shannonside Foods, in Straffan, Co.Kildare).

Who knew?

I’m not suggesting that my horse or any other might have ended up in the food chain back then – although let’s face it, who honestly could say?

But when you consider how poorly the (albeit weak) system of regulation has worked lately, it is worth at least pondering what might possibly have gone on, back when there was just about no regulation at all.

‘If you build it, they will come..(cycling)’


So, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar wants to build a cycle lane from Galway to Dublin. A positive news story, with heaps of potential benefits, for our ailing economy and ailing (unfit/fat) population. Applause!


But this being Ireland, his proposal is of course met with howls of mockery, derision and begrudgery. Being incapable to the point of blindness of the seeing the big picture, (tourism, employment, health benefits) Irish people bang on about the country being broke, the existing roads needing fixing, it not being needed/wanted and so on.


And of course we can do begrudgery on a more local level too. A new cycle route recently opened between Nenagh, North Tipperary and the East Limerick suburbs. A 64 km round trip, on the now much quieter former N7 since the motorway finally opened. Cue more grumbling before and during the construction phase. Topped off by one opinion I read declaring it a ‘colossal waste of money’ if people didn’t use it.


I’ve been pondering how exactly you measure the worth of a cycle route before roundly declaring it a success/failure. What level of use is expected? Peloton size groups whizzing along? Traffic lights required for crowd control? Or how quickly do you decide – remember the pathway is there for years, maybe generations to come…


Well I live along this new route, and see the users pass by my window every day (or if I peer through the ditch at least). People like;


  • Cycling groups/clubs, who drive from near and far to park up at either end. I see their vans and bikes in car parks and outside shops and restaurants, as well as cruising swishly along the road.


  • National Youth Cycling, who used a section of the route recently for their One Day Championship. The hotel I saw them (and their families and supporters) all piling into afterwards are surely glad the pink path goes past their front door.


  • Paralympic hand-cyclist Mark Rohan, who regularly traversed the route this Spring on his way to magnificent double gold in London 2012.


But it’s not just athletes who are using it;


  • How shall we say – somewhat less fit men, of all shapes and sizes, on bikes of all shapes and sizes. Knees akimbo, scraping their way up hills, puffing their way along. Getting out there. And getting there.


  • Families; Daddy manfully up front, Mammy eyeing the brood from the back, variety of kids wobbling and wavering along in between. All taking in the air, the scenery, the quality time together.


  • Heck, it even tempted me to jog on it a few times. Sometimes I wonder what the cyclists might think of this. But then I reckon exercisers of a feather, etc. Am even pondering the notion of a two wheeled purchase…


Cynics could of course argue that all these people were exercising somewhere else before this route was built. And maybe they were. But perhaps they were not…


So, let’s see then. This cycle route is bringing people and business to towns and villages in its environs. It is improving the health and well being of its users. It might, therefore, keep people out of hospitals in the future. It may even save lives.


Now who could put a price on all that?

When Crime comes Home


‘Home Sweet Home’

‘A Man’s Home is his Castle’

‘There’s no Place like Home’

‘Home is Where the Heart is’

Home: the place you come back to at the end of a day, for familiarity, security, safety, for everything you hold dear.

But in the space of three days in Ireland recently, for these three people, home became instead, the most dire antithisis of all it should have held for them.

Eugene Gillespie (67) most likely answered the door of his Sligo home to one or more would be burglers. Such was their anxiety to render him helpless, they broke his jaw and bound his hands to the point of cutting off the circulation. Eugene lay unconscious and dying on the hall floor of his home for up to 48 hours before being discovered on 21st September. He died in hospital the next day .


Anna Finnegan (26) was living in a Dublin suburb with her two very young children. She had recently asked her brother to come and stay with them. Her ex partner, against whom she had just secured a barring order, managed to gain entry to her home on 21st September . He repeatedly stabbed her and her brother, who had come to her defence. Then, as their two children slept upstairs, he bundled her from her home into his car, where he subsequently dumped her at the A & E doors of the nearest hospital. Anna subsequently died.

Ciara Pugsley (15) did not die in her own home. She took her own life in a forest near her home in Leitrim on the 19th of September. But crime, which led to her death, did visit her home. Ciara was bullied, on social networking sites, to the point that she could not take any more. In the childhood of my era, bullying happened in the classroom, the yard, or on the journey to or from school. But as was so wisely pointed out on a radio discussion last week, once you got home the bullying stopped. You could close the door and leave it behind, for that day at very least.

But the cyber-bully is a 24/7, all pervasive and most stealthy operator. Just about every teenager has a mobile phone and a Facebook account. And therein lies the invisible yet very clear pathway to be evilly  jibed at, insulted, threatened at will. Even in the refuge of your bedroom, even at 3am – just because your phone is your alarm clock call.

Three days, three crimes, three people not coming home.


The Simpsons as role models – who knew?!

So – how’s your HD TVgetting on? Signed up for Saorview yet? Got Sky multi-room?

For a technophobe like me, who also lives ‘down the country’ in Ireland, there is a plethora of choices currently doing the rounds.

For the record, I have a Sky-Box, but also an aerial for the Irish channels on the ‘old’ telly. This way someone can watch the ‘foreign’ channels, while elsewhere in the house the ‘RTEs’ are on. I call it the Irish solution to Sky Multi Room.

We should be more like them – no, really…

So there I was, pondering the cost of replacing the pensioner TV for a Saorview-ready one, opting to buy a Saorview box or looking at other SKY options. I mentioned it – ok moaned about it – over on the Twitter. A few people debated what to do back and forth, then I got this reply, from @PatQuirke;

‘or you could opt for family viewing, like the olden days’

Well – you could have knocked me down with the RTE Guide. So obvious, yet almost quaint and dare I say it, alien to modern day living? I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t even considered it.

It’s not that we don’t all sit down in this house and watch stuff together. But how often do you sidle off to catch your favourite drama or soap because the kids are in the middle of Cartoon Time? Or slide in a DVD for them while you retreat to The Sunday Game? Or how about ‘feigned accompaniment’ ie actually sitting in front of the tv with your children, but then reading/texting/tweeting/surfing on your device of choice. Guilty as charged – anyone else?

Pat’s comment also sent me straight back to the couch of my own childhood;

  • My Dad roaring with laughter at Tom & Gerry. He’d still enjoy it I reckon.
  • Sitting in watching Saturday Sport because it was pouring outside. Dad’s initial choice again maybe, but it’s where my passion for horse-racing began.
  • All gathering round for the latest instalments of ‘Roots’ or ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ or ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. Hugely enjoyable and much more educational than I would have realised at the time. Although I’m not sure what I learnt from ‘The Thorn Birds’ apart from the town in Louth being pronounced ‘ Drog-eeda’.
  • Trying to beat your siblings shouting out answers to ‘Quicksilver’ or ‘Where in the World’. Similarly, but with a lot less actual shouting out, to ‘Mastermind’.
  • Being plonked in front of a film ( ‘Noooo! not black n’white!’) and loving classics like ‘A Night to Remember’, ‘Lassie Come Home’ and also ‘The Boy with Green Hair’ – yes…
  • And cheering madly for your favourites on ‘It’s a Knockout’ or ‘Superstars’ (birthplace of the Pat Spillane tan).

I say this not just to fondly reminisce (or show my age). But this tv time was a special and important part of family life and of growing up. How do I know this? Because I remember it. Vividly. Memories are made of this etc.

These days there’s so much more channel choice, any manner of electronic games, and also more after-school activities. But when it does come to tv, how about making a better effort to study the schedules and make some conscious family-viewing choices?

It’s time to make like The Simpsons and head for the couch. Doh!

The Spelling Bee (in my Bonnet)

I posted this photo on Twitter recently, taken outside a local shopping centre.


Judging by the amount of RTs and mentions it generated, (still circulating 3 days after I posted it) I think it irritated a lot of people as much as it did me.


There are lots of reasons why people can’t or don’t spell correctly. Learning difficulties, dyslexia, carelessness. Teenagers preferring txt spk. (I think I would surely faint correcting the horror show that is 2nd level exam papers). But that is all ok, to a greater or lesser degree.

While all and any incorrect spelling still annoys me, it is professional misspelling i.e. in business that I find an unforgivable crime.

Take Easons, above, as an example. They sell stationery. They sell school books. They sell dictionaries, for Heaven’s sake. But they don’t see fit to ensure that their signage is spelt correctly. Someone else tweeted that they saw this same mistake in another branch and mentioned it to the manager. The response?

‘ Thank you, but we have no plans to change it’

This, remember, from a company who also sponsored a National Spelling Bee for children recently. The mind boggles.

I was in the very salubrious foyer of a new hotel recently. The wall behind the reception desk was a vast marble and glass affair with the words of some grand poem or saying etched across it. The effect was impressive. Except, right behind the level of the receptionist’s head was inscribed


I immediately wondered if it was ever noticed by the proprietors. Did they weigh up the – no doubt – substantial cost of fixing it? Did they say ‘ah sure it’ll do’. Or did they even care. To me, nothing screams ‘we are unprofessional’ more than bad spelling/grammar. The sentiment in this very wonderful statement regarding punctuation could equally apply to spelling;

“An apostrophe is the difference between a business that knows its shit and a business that knows it’s shit”

(who wrote that anyway?! I could just hug them.)

Stationery/stationary is very high on my list of criminal misspellings. Also way up the league table are;

Lose – to misplace/not win vs. Loose – not tight . If I see it written as ‘they were very sorry to loose the game’ one more time I think I’ll loose the head…

Separate. Example ‘even though the couple decided not to separate, they still opted for separate beds at home’ i.e. the word ‘seperate’ does not exist. But it appears all the time. Including in this Sunday newspaper.


Also featured on a giant AIB billboard ad I saw once. Maybe they separated from their ad agency after that super-sized blooper.

Not that I am beyond a spelling mistake myself of course. I do spellcheck and re-read everything before sending, even texts and tweets (she’s got it bad, I hear you say). But some words trip me up, notably

Across – quite likely to spell it ‘accross’ because I somehow mix it up with the spelling of Address.

Specially/especially – Can never, ever remember which is used when and can’t even tell you now the difference between them. So shoot me!

But seriously. You have Spellcheck at your disposal. You have proofreaders (Me! Me!). You have ad agencies. There is no excuse – none – for incorrect spelling in business.

And of course if you find any bad spelling in this blogpost, do let me no…