Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011.... The year of the ‘Twit’

Forewarning: This article is not about me!

The Chinese may have deemed 2011 the year of the rabbit, but for the rest of us it was undoubtedly the year of the ‘Twit’... pardon the pun, but it was also the year that the current darling of social media, Twitter invaded the celeb world yet again!

Once renowned for informing us what Britney Spears had for Breakfast and what Lindsay Lohan didn’t (I mean who’s even interested!), Twitter is now a forum which celebrities utilise to confirm that they indeed have questionable levels of intellect! I thought it would be fitting to share some of the best tweets of 2011 with the nation...

‘Just landed back in LA, so happy to hear the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. He was the face of terrorism and such....’
This tweet came from none other than brains herself, Miss Paris Hilton! The fact that she feels the need to state that bin Laden was the face of terrorism is one thing, but the face of terrorism and ‘such’... I only wish Paris would have elaborated by what she meant when you used the word ‘and such’...ah, the mind baffles!

 “OMG! President Obama talked about us on Leno last night!”
Kris Jenner revels in the fact that Obama knows who the Kardashians are! In fairness, every second reality TV show involves them, and every second magazine cover bares their face (botoxed as it is)! Sounds like world domination to me, eh Kris! I just wonder what it was Obama had to say about them – probably wanted to thank them for their outstanding contribution to the.... showbiz world?! Hardly, worthy of a Nobel prize but hey you know how to market each of your daughters Kris! Long live the Kardashian brand! And Obama – next time you mention them, please ban them from our TV screens!

 “Room service uuuuugh! I hate when I order fruit and I can taste the other food they cut with the same knife. Beef flavored pineapples”
My heart bleeds for you Kanye West!! Room service, what a hindrance! I rarely avail of the service for the same reason detailed above! When life’s little hardships involve the drawbacks of room service, you should really count your blessings! As for next time Kanye, just go and chop the damn pineapple yourself!  And to those he continues to order room service from in whatever 5 star hotel he rocks up at – please use the beef flavoured knife to cut the pineapples!

“Just when we thought we couldn’t feel any more blessed, it seems the universe has plans to give our daughter a sibling… #humbled”
Bet you’re not missing Dawson’s Creek anymore when you read tweets like the above! All the way from our beloved Dawson, James Van Der Beek – we understand you’re delighted at the impending birth of your second child, but really?! ‘The universe has plans to give our daughter a sibling’ – No James, yourself and your wife had plans to give your daughter a sibling! We were all aware as a 30 year old, you played a teenage character in Dawson’s Creek... but surely you’re not still that naive?!

 “Love is like a brick. You can build a house, or you can sink a dead body.”
When Lady Gaga provided us with her take on love, we were hardly surprised! With a name like Gaga she was bound to have an alternative take on what love means to her. Building a house whilst an unusual description of love is somewhat more acceptable than the alternative of ‘sinking a dead body’ – Gaga indeed! Maybe someone should enquire about the whereabouts of her ex-boyfriends – I heard a few of them went MIA after the relationship ended!

“Why do we have only 1 day for giving thanks? Is that why so many people feel unappreciated? Make this 1 of 365 days of Thanksgiving!”
Demi Moore was possibly hinting to Ashton about feeling underappreciated. In his defence though, kids can be rather ungrateful these days and aren’t as thankful as they once were! Side stepping this remark, is there a reason Demi still goes by the name @MrsKutcher? That union has well and truly ended! @Cougartown could be a possible replacement though, if she’s looking for ideas that is!
There are a few tweets however which are laden with comedic value!
‘Ohh oh… Lock up your sons.. Sinead O’Connor is on the loose again’
Hector is generally known for his quick humour, but we can sense an element of fear in this tweet! And so there should be! Fresh from her ‘drive through’ wedding in Vegas, a mere 16 days later and the wedding is off and according to Hector’s tweet Sinead O’Connor has resumed her man hunt! Men of Ireland…. Be afraid, be very afraid!
 “Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber adopted a dog. Not to be outdone, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie adopted Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber. "
Jimmy Fallon is quite the comedic genius posting a tweet like this! I just hope the likes of Paris Hilton and co. weren’t following him, as they’d probably have believed this to be true! Brad and Ange could succumb to Bieber fever after all – I’m sure they could do with adding to their brood!
It is important not to let the countless tweets by celebs overshadow the benefits associated with Twitter. It is the immediacy, brevity, reach and the social connections it offers, which have drawn in millions of users. These benefits result in social networking sites like Twitter doing a better job during emergencies than the traditional media outlets. The American Red Cross, for example, use Twitter to exchange minute to minute information about local disasters which include statistics and directions. It was even the medium which broke the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death (not the Paris Hilton tweet though!).
But alas, despite the many benefits, we are still bombarded with tweets from those celebrities, informing us of their glamorous lifestyles (sense the tone!). But let’s face if it doesn’t make the main evening news... you should be pretty sure, we’re not interested!!
Ashton Kutcher, please take note!!
The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 29 December 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My letter to Santa...

Dear Santa,
Let me begin by expressing my apologies for the lack of contact over the past number of years, but in my defence letter writing is a dying art, it’s all about email these days!  Anyhow, it’s been yet another trying year for our little nation but despite that I’m pretty sure I’ve been good enough and so undoubtedly deserve the following:
A triple A credit rating reinstated to Ireland and each Eurozone member state the same.
A reversal in the hike in VAT, applying 23% to most non food items is unreasonable. 21% is just fine.
A complete overhaul of the public sector by an outsider, who has no previous government involvement – strip it back to what it needs to be, ensuring the right people with the right skill set are deployed to the right areas without excess baggage and overtime bills! The outsider should preferably hail from the private sector; possess the capability of tearing a dysfunctional public sector down, banishing the inefficiencies and creating a public sector fit for purpose!
A reversal of the increase in education fees outlined in Budget 2012 – quite frankly, the empty promises of the Labour party have been laid bare! Their promise not to raise third level registration fees was a mere election ploy, unfortunately it was not laden with veracity. Punishing the youth with a desire to educate themselves for other generation’s failures and faux pas’ – I for one can’t see the justice in that decision. The future of our country should be able to flourish in an egalitarian environment as opposed to exhausting all avenues to see if it is indeed possible to afford the registration fees for university tuition.
On the topic of an egalitarian environment – how about a few thousand jobs for the young graduates who are unfortunate to graduate at a time like this, and now must carry the burden of the economic crisis on their backs and spend their days, post honours degrees and Masters degrees, in a local shop, cafe or bar, in an attempt to make a basic standard of living whilst their true potential lies untapped and wasted.... Maybe you could have a word with Enda, and request he give a few cabinet seats to those young graduates worthy of them!
Instead of pausing the disability allowance measure as detailed in Budget 2012 undo all amendments proposed. Targeting the vulnerable youth who are faced with a struggle on a daily basis by cutting the allowance from €188 to €88 per week is quite simply callous.

Supply our poverty stricken nation with a proper summer please (i.e. 30 degrees of sunshine on a daily basis!) or leave the price of home heating oil unchanged - otherwise send me a hot water bottle! Regarding the imminent increase in petrol diesel and motor tax, can you instead of forcing me to trade in my banger, send me a bicycle - as I don't think crippling petrol prices and motor tax will suit me.
DIRT to rise from 27% to 30% will not serve as an incentive to spend – I mean where are young educated graduates expected to get the income to do so - for that reason, could you do me a favour and see that it is unchanged, as I’m almost certain most are saving for a boarding pass to leave this debt ridden country behind.
And finally, one last item, a competent government capable of piecing our broken economy back together!
Alas, if the above aren’t possible, I’ll settle for a surprise from you, but please be a dear and mention them to Enda and his merry elves!
Until next year,
The Forgotten Irish Graduate, December 2011
P.S. Please keep Brian Cowen, Bertie Ahern, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Fingleton, and all corrupt bankers and politicians alike on the naughty list this year and for the foreseeable future– god knows they do rightly deserve it!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Banishing those L Plates!!!

No I’m not talking about a weekend in Kilkenny.... this ain’t a hen party!

Instead this is a graduate’s attempt at learning how to drive!

Lesson 1: What side of the road do we drive on?

INSTRUCTOR: What side of the road do we drive on here?

ME: Eh... obviously the left hand side.

INSTRUCTOR: Good. So why are you driving on the right??

ME: Eh.... because my first driving experience was in a field where sides were unimportant? There are no line markings on the back roads of Cavan? Because I’m originally from France? Are you buying any of these excuses?

INSTRUCTOR: Not one.... just keep left and drive!

Lesson 2: Speed Limits are there to be obeyed!

Ah, the age old adage! We’ve all struggled with this one. Reigning the speed limit back in to 50km in built up areas is trying for most – but not for me! Building the speed up to 50km was my downfall. Although when my driving instructor kindly informed me that it is possible to fail your driving test for lack of progress, my foot was firmly on the accelerator!

Lesson 3: Mastering the art of driving!

When conducting the 3 point turn in a housing estate, it is not acceptable to use someone’s drive way (In my defence no one told me I couldn’t)!!

Rear view mirrors are not purely for vanity purposes!! (Can you blame a girl for wanting to look her best?)

It is important to overtake slow moving vehicles but NEVER overtake a hearse! (It could very nearly happen!)

There is NO reason to be staring out the front window of your car as a means of observation when reversing around a corner! (The back or side window is obvious answer to this one – just not as obvious to me!)

When overtaking a vehicle or cyclist on the LHS of the road, check the RHS mirror NOT THE LEFT there very well could be something overtaking you (you are going at 30km after all)!!!

And lastly when you ask your instructor what can happen if the steering wheel feels loose and he informs you that it means it will fall off in your lap... please sense the tone! It’s called humour – the steering wheel won’t be going anywhere soon!)

Lesson 4: Sound effects are unnecessary!

Your driving instructor does NOT want to be deafened during your lessons. So on all occasions whether there is an obstruction, you’ve ran a red light, you’re too close to that damn cyclist, or you’re in a yellow box and most definitely shouldn’t be..... refrain from SHRILLING!! It will not improve your driving, and it will certainly not increase your instructor’s desire to give you another lesson.....

Lesson 5: Bad rehearsal means a good show, right?

One final lesson before the test they say it’s a good idea, but when you’re entire knowledge of driving crumbles you aren’t so sure! Forgetting to use your mirrors, forgetting that stop signs mean you must come to a halt as opposed to cruising on, conking the car as you attempt a hill start, mounting the kerb during your reverse around the corner, and a near collision with a van on my route home (thank god for dual controls in the instructor’s car... otherwise there would definitely have been a dint in his car and my ego!) doesn’t exactly instil much confidence in you during your pre test lesson!! And when your instructor jokingly reminds you that a ‘Bad rehearsal means a good show, right?’ BELIEVE HIM!!


When the tester informs that you that his career means he is just as disliked as you (Cheers mate..I'm a banker after all), contents himself with looking out the window for the duration of the test, and seems relatively confident of your driving ability – you know what, it ain’t all that bad!

You begin to realise when you’re instructor informed you that despite being hell bent on driving on the RHS of the road, you are much better than you think.... he may not have been lying! Your fate lies in a series of mirror, signal, and manoeuvres, reactions to hazards, a hill start, a reverse around a corner and a three point turn. A mere 40 minutes to prove that like the car you’re driving, that you too are road worthy!!

‘There are things you need to work on, but for now, you’ve reached the level of competency.’

Yes, despite all of the above, on December 1st I managed somehow to pass my driving test and banish those L plates.

Bad rehearsal mean’s a good show? There must be some truth in that saying after all!!

On a final note, please notify all other drivers, that I have now been deemed road worthy! If you don’t, fear not, as I’m pretty sure AA will give me a shout out for one of my hazardous moves in the near future!

Until I dint the rear of your car.... or knock your wing mirror off,

The Forgotten Irish Graduate December 1st 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Media Intrusion.... not now please! RIP Gary Speed

Answers? Those answers are solely for the Speed family, and I truly hope they find them.

Media intrusion at the time of bereavement is unnecessary. Cameras, camcorders, and gossip mongers alike let this one lie – no twisted rumors from tabloids claiming to have the inside scoop on this one please. For today, the nation is mourning the loss of an incredibly talented professional footballer and manager, and more importantly, two young boys and their mum are mourning the loss of a father and husband.

All youngsters (and elders alike) hold their soccer club in high esteem and furthermore idolize certain professional footballers. The outpouring of tributes to Gary Speed since the announcement of his untimely death on Sunday is evidence of that. It is therefore for good reason we don’t attempt to tarnish a name once idolized.

With a professional football career kick starting at the age of 19, making his debut with Leeds United, a transfer to Everton in 1996, and a subsequent one to Newcastle in 1998 and two further transfers to Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United in 2004 and 2008 respectively. An international career playing for the Wales side with 85 caps and appointed an MBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours – Speed had a career to be envious of. He retired from football but last year he stepped into the management position with Sheffield United, yet 3 months later was appointed manager of Wales. He was the Renaissance man as far as Welsh football is concerned – seeing Wales move from a world ranking of 117 to 45, signals that the future of Welsh football was indeed going to be a bright one under his leadership. He was a true professional with talent both on and off the pitch in abundance. With a CV like this, Gary Speed was and will remain a man to be idolized.

For now, to the media intent on penning rumours surrounding his death – don’t; they are not for this medium, they deserve to remain in the hands of his family. Instead channel this tragic story as a means to promote awareness of suicide and mental health issues to ensure other sporting stars amateur and professional alike are not susceptible to the same fate, for we lose too many to this taboo and undiscussed fate, don’t let Gary be another statistic - this is an issue we need to address in modern society.

To an outstanding talent, and the man behind the renaissance of Welsh football, as Mae West once said 'I like a man who’s good, but not too good – for the good die young' and Gary Speed was one of the good ones! Rest in Peace, the sporting world will not be the same without you.

The Forgotten Irish Graduate 29 November 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

A little eye opener... for the nation's fat cats!

Arriving back from Delhi, India to headlines of a collapsing Eurozone, an officially bankrupt Sean Quinn and an imminent budget yesterday, dare I say it; are we as a nation really that bad off?

Sure the Celtic Tiger engulfed us all in a world of greed, and sure we may be downgrading from the 6 bed to the 3 bed house, and sure we may be trading in the beamer for a banger, but having spent two weeks in New Delhi the definition of the so called ‘tough time’ we are now faced with during this economic crisis for me has utterly changed. Approximately 14 million people live in Delhi, the vast number of people I witnessed during my stay were sprawled across the roadside, living in slums, trawling through garbage for food, and begging for money. I felt ashamed of the vulgar lifestyle we have enjoyed for so long in Ireland – maybe we can’t venture out every weekend for a three course meal, and secure a VIP entrance into Dublin’s finest nightclubs as frequent as we once did, but most can afford a life which can fulfil all our basic needs and may I ask, what else matters? When amputees approach you in traffic, when young kids without parents nearby scamper through the unsafe traffic of Delhi in a bid to halt cars for food and a couple of rupees, and when you pass frail people lying on the roadside unsure if they are alive or dead, you begin to count your blessings!

With a Masters in Finance I’m fully aware of the term ‘recession’ – and the severity of the current Eurozone crisis, but I am also human, and recently awakened to the fact that we live a rather self centred life of oblivion. So next time you moan that you can’t afford the latest Gucci handbag or Apple’s latest gadget – spare a thought for those less fortunate; in truth we are better off than we think! And for those of you with enough cash (still!) – fly to Delhi if only for the weekend and see for yourself!

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, November 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Kinds of everything remind me of..... A presidential campaign??!

Only in Ireland!

Seven candidates vying for the nation’s vote in the imminent presidential election and the media (Not Martin Mc Guinness) intent on causing as much carnage and ruination to the names of each candidate. Never has a presidential campaign been so bloody.

Was I one of the few who had wrongly hoped for a campaign where at least one candidate could offer a glimmer of hope for the country and an ounce of inspiration? It appears so! (Ah, naivety – a trait many young graduates are susceptible to!)
No matter how often I tune into their live debates, and plod through the newspapers columns they have become a temporary fixture in, and sift through the numerous leaflets that fill my letterbox, have I reached a decision?

In a desperate bid to make an informative decision, a review of each candidate may aid in the decision making process (i.e. a most definite process of elimination!).

Dana Rosemary Scallon
A Eurovision sensation (Bearing in mind Jedward are too!!), a former presidential candidate (14 years ago – yet she still needs to bring a copy of the constitution to most live debates... if it doesn’t go in once Dana.....), and a campaign which has been marred by ‘vile allegations’ were levelled against a family member, and a car which suffered a tyre blowout which was an attempt to injure or murder herself or her family (The possibility of driving a flat tyre springs to mind?). Whilst funding the campaign was a struggle, the shortage of countrywide campaign posters were compensated for by a plethora of attempts at remaining in the headlines. During one of the presidential debates, when asked by Ryan Tubridy if she would refuse to sign any bill threatening Bunreacht na hÉireann she responded ‘You bet your boots I would’. A fitting time to allude to the fact that the President doesn’t have such a veto power, and may only refer a Bill to the Council of State for its consideration. Subsequent to this statement, when featured on Newstalk’s the ‘The Right Hook’, Dana made it clear to all that she was not anti-Europe. ‘I am not anti Europe. I have always said that Europe, the concept of Europe is good. We want to be in Europe’. Could someone maybe mention to Dana that we are ALREADY in Europe when they spot her on the campaign trail??

Conclusion: Like her tyre, Dana’s campaign has been a complete blowout (and when you don’t get enough votes, please don’t ask the Gardaí to investigate this one!).

Mary Davis
Special Olympics or Special K? The red attire donned by Mary Davis in her presidential campaign posters has undoubtedly confused the nation. Whilst no one should ever deter her contributions to Special Olympics Ireland, the media (and indeed the nation) instead deterred the poster campaign which afforded itself a debate of its own surrounding ‘airbrushing’. Another issue for contention was the fact that Denis O’Brien had contributed €2,500 to her campaign (obviously a fan of Special K!). A campaign which boasted the maxim ‘Pride at home. Respect abroad’ – a feeble attempt to possibly inspire the nation no doubt or to increase the Special K sales at home and abroad, we’re still unsure!

Conclusion: Reminded us if the anti-wrinkle cream doesn’t work, airbrushing most definitely will!

Gay Mitchell
Who now? A voice which was dwarfed and trampled on during the course of this debate, and furthermore a voice which whines for airtime – on the real issues, the real issues he’s raised, suicide being the one example he prefers to remind us of. Quite frankly Mitchell is both boring and forgettable, neither a trait befitting that of a future president. A little hot headed when frustrated, as evident from his response to Pat Kenny during Monday night’s Frontline debate "I don’t think people are getting an opportunity to hear what the presidency is about . . . what is the relevance of that question? [concerning suitability of Denis O’Brien to sit on Council of State] . . . ask us about the presidency" (Otherwise interpreted as – ‘Pat, I’ve learned my script for tonight’s debate – and I want to stick to it, I can’t think on my feet!’).

Conclusion: If his name wasn’t on the ballot paper, not many would notice! Enough said!

Martin McGuiness
As a former member of the IRA there is reason to disclose the skeletons in Mr McGuiness’ closet. Would he admit that as former member of the IRA he once had a blood on his hands? When questioned if those who were killed were ‘murder victims’, McGuinness of this said whilst he ‘regrets’ that the deaths happened, he neither agrees nor disagrees that these deaths should be coined ‘murders’. Despite wanting to focus on his efforts made towards ‘peace and reconciliation’ – he seems intent on damaging Sean Gallagher’s campaign in any way possible. Also willing to sacrifice a substantial portion of his salary as president and to utilise the surplus by employing several young people – why do I not believe this?!

Conclusion: Guilty of attempting to ‘murder’ Sean Gallagher’s presidential campaign!

David Norris
Trinity’s eccentric academic. The initial front runner, but was forced to drop out of the race following the emergence of his past, the writing of a letters to defend the name of his former partner, who was in trial for the rape of a minor. But despite this, the public (or in my opinion the media!) did everything to get him back in the race, and that they did. He re-entered the campaign to be ridiculed further by the media. Another major scoop - Whilst a senator in the Seanad it appears that Norris at the same time was claiming disability allowance for a period of 16 years. It appears along the way Norris lost his way; his extremely opinionated nature would merely serve to hamper his own campaign.

Conclusion: The headed paper from in the Aras will remain safe (for now!)!! Here, here!!

And so the campaign narrows.... The two horse race!

Sean Gallagher
Ireland’s Dragon, entrepreneur, and the one candidate with youth on his side, possibility for a new and modernised Europe? One small problem – his links with Fianna Fail! Surely the Irish nation had learned from past mistakes! Whilst the cool headed Gallagher breezed through the campaign initially he took the lead from Michael D. Sailing through debates and the campaign trail with an open minded and level minded temperament. As his popularity rose in the polls – out came the claws (courtesy of the other candidates!). The final debate on RTE’s Frontline signalled his demise. Sinn Fein had done their homework and were happy to cause as much carnage as is possible. It surfaced that Gallagher had greater involvement with the Fianna Fail party than he’d led us to believe. As the collection of ‘brown envelopes’ emerged, and his association with FF fundraisers, we could only watch the debate and squirm for Gallagher. The classic (FF) faux pas – lies!! An entangled web of lies – It seems Gallagher couldn’t be certain whether or not he collected 5000€ in a brown envelop from a certain businessman for FF. This was the final blow for Gallagher and a hay day for the media! No one wants a liar in the Aras – admission of his links with FF and the fact that he had become disillusioned by their antics in the past few years would have rectified this one!

Conclusion: Honesty is the best policy.... unless of course FF and brown envelopes are involved!!

Michael D Higgins
He has everything on side bar his age! A campaigner, poet and politician. Michael D has undoubtedly the top CV of the line up – Mayor of Galway, President of the European Council of Culture Ministers, and as the country’s first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, established TG4, and has been at the forefront of campaigns for progressive change on equal pay for women, access to contraception, divorce, the rights of people with disabilities and a plethora of other issues, and was also awarded the first Sean McBride International Peace Prize by the Zurich based International Peace Bureau in recognition of his international human rights work. Coupled with a glowing CV and a hunger to be president at the ripe old age of 77, he has a charismatic and infectious personality – adding some comedic value to many of the presidential debates whilst tackling issues of significance. He hasn’t set a foot wrong during the campaign, and is the best orator in the line up.

Conclusion: Michael D will be the last one standing – even if it is on a box!

In summation, as far as a process of elimination goes – Michael D will surely be on the Aras very soon, partly because of his career to date, but partly because no one better put their name forward for the 2011 presidential campaign (there are other’s out there!).

I was reminded recently that ‘setbacks pave the way for comebacks’. One can merely hope for a speedy seven years, and one hell of a comeback to be made by the subsequent president.

‘Setbacks do pave the way for comebacks’ and the outcome of the 2011 presidential campaign in my eyes will signal another setback for Ireland. But alas, I’m waiting for the comeback kid..... Unless Michael D can of course prove me wrong (and you know what, for the sake of the country I hope he does!).

P.S. Dana, I know they say 3rd time lucky - but I doubt 2018 will be your year either!!

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 25 October 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Favourite Thing...

At the risk of sounding a little self involved, my favourite thing are my legs, not because they resemble the perfect pins of Heidi Klum (good job, saves me another insurance premium!), nor do they offer the speed Tommy Bowe’s do when he sprints to the try line. Instead they have quite simply taken me from the back roads of Cavan to the rooftop of Africa.

In June 2010, I donned my hiking boots, and headed to Tanzania, to take on the world’s tallest freestanding mountain. Taking the Rongai Route I trekked through rainforests, lunar deserts, glaciers and to the crater of a dormant volcano over a period of seven days. Spent 16 hours of one day on my feet in a bid to reach the infamous signpost well placed on Uhuru Peak at 5,895 metres. Resultant of which was an exhilarating feeling which left me feeling on top of the world, and rightly so, I almost was; for my legs, weary as they may have been, had taken me to the world’s fourth highest point.

In May 2011, whilst the majority of the province were in Cardiff, witnessing a triumphant Leinster bring back the Heineken Cup, I was climbing up the rafters of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (don’t worry I didn’t turn up at the wrong arena!) there was method to my madness! I instead had challenged myself to abseil down the Aviva Stadium courtesy of Dublin Dares You.

So why my legs? They make me stand tall in times of weakness, enable me to unwind in times of stress by carrying me that extra mile when out running, and most importantly, guarantee a fun filled night out when I hit the dance floor in killer heels with my mates (You bet we too move like Jagger!).

I’m no Dean Karnazes, Bear Grylls, or Ginger Rodgers... but it is the times we strip ourselves of all material possessions that we truly see what matters to us in life. When asked what my favourite thing in life was I immediately turned to my laptop and iphone; possessions that can virtually take me anywhere I want to go, but was reminded that it is when my two legs take me anywhere in this world, it is only then the experience truly is extraordinary.

In the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder ‘I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all’... even if I did turn to my iphone to tweet that ‘I’d just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro’!

As published in the 21 October 2011 edition of U Magazine.

- The Forgotten Irish Graduate, October 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

4/5 ain't bad for the Aussies... but what a win for the Irish!!

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

A journalist once likened the performance of Irish Rugby Captain Brian O’Driscoll to the Vince Lombardi quote. Today I ask is this quote still applicable to the entire Irish squad?

I’m no George Hook (not that I want to be.... after all who would?) but having witnessed a deflated Irish squad in their pre world cup games, I wasn’t quite sure what they were chasing!!

Their first game against the US A was hardly worthy of headlines either, but a week later, in a week where Australia were confidently eyeing up their opponent, the Irish rugby squad reminded us why we love the sport so much.

I can’t offer a review of the intricacies of Saturday morning’s game, as I once asked a rugby enthusiast what happens in a scrum, to which the response was ‘It’s dark place down there.... I couldn’t possibly say'! So instead, today I shall offer a review on the momentum, pace and energy that instilled a sense of pride in the nation.

Australia emerged in New Zealand prepared for a win, having met Ireland on four occasions and secured a victory on each occasion, why wouldn’t they be? Back home, thousands of supporters emerged from their beds for a 9.30am start (an hour of the morning we don’t see all that often on Saturdays) not overly optimistic! At the off chance of sounding a little negative, I’ll kick start this on a positive note, David Pocock, aka the fearsome Aussie back row, was out and was instead replaced with Ben McCalman, who until today had never played at seven in an international.

It was a collapsed scrum which saw the Aussie’s put the first 3 points on the scoreboard, with a kick from O’Connor. Despite a missed first opportunity, Sexton evened the scoreboard, after the Irish squad forced another Aussie penalty. The Irish squad we all know and love appeared to have resurfaced, fourteen phases of quality play, results in Sexton landing a drop goal 19 minutes in. Offside against Sean O’Brien ensured the Aussies level the game.

After a couple more scrums, the referee having enough of the Aussies collapsing the scrum, a missed opportunity by Sexton to put Ireland in the lead, some fantastic performances from Ferris, Heaslip and Healy we are level at half time. Ireland 6 – 6 Australia.

As play resumed we saw the Aussie counter attack rip the Irish defence open, but O’Driscoll and O’Brien ensured this was short lived, at the breakdown Australia were offside, resultant of which was a kick from Sexton and we regained our lead once more.

O’Gara replaced D’arcy, and Murray, Reddan. Continued superb efforts on the field ensured another kick for Sexton which unfortunately hit the post, and Ireland scrambled to get the rebound. It is then the passion behind these players is evident , they have a purpose, they are here to right the wrongs of their four previous games against the Aussies.

O’Brien and Ferris force another Australian error on the ground, resultant of which is a scrum for Ireland. Three collapsed scrums and a penalty for Ireland is secured. It is O’Gara who stepped forward, and his experience and professional stand to him, Ireland 12, Australia 6. With ten minutes remaining, Ireland win another penalty, and O’Gara doesn’t disappoint, Ireland 15 – 6 Australia.

A pressurised environment, see an Australian scrum 10 metres from the Irish line, Genia is stopped a metre from the line, another Australian scrum is awarded five metres from the line. A quickly taken Aussie penalty is intercepted by the exceptional Tommy Bowe, who sprints for the line, but is stopped five metres short.
With one minute remaining, a try from Murray is disallowed. Ireland subsequently win a final penalty and the game is over. Final score Ireland 15 – 6 Australia.
Oh how the sweet smell of success engulfs the Irish crowd in Auckland and the Irish supporters glued to their tellies at home. This is what rugby is all about...
A fantastic win! The sheer class, drive and determination displayed by the Irish squad was exceptional. What an epic performance!!!!

Captain Brian O’Driscoll later thanks the crowds, and one can merely note his immense talent on that field tonight, but it should also be noted, that every member of that Irish squad were outstanding.

They may not have been chasing perfection in the warm up games nor in their Rugby World Cup opener against the USA.... but whatever they were chasing tonight, ensured they most definitely caught excellence! Well done lads!!

Saturday 17th September
The Forgotten Irish Graduate

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Film Reviews: One Day and Friends with Benefits

"Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well.Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance" - One Day

Review of the Film: One Day...

I can review a poor attempt at an English accent courtesy of Anne Hathaway, her hideous glasses, or how a rather young Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess), like a fine wine, gets better looking with age... . alternatively, if you chose to see past this, here within lies a wonderful story.

A story of friendship, growing up, regrets, disillusionment and how cruel life can truly be.

I don’t believe in fairytales... and if you haven’t read the novel, don’t be disillusioned by the trailer, for One Day is no fairytale.

Graduation day, for young graduates, symbolizes new beginnings, and for most is the dawning of the rest of your life. It is on this day that the unlikely pair, the shy nerdy Emma Morley and the self confident ‘big man on campus’ (we all know one!) Dexter Mayhew embark upon a friendship after spending the night together.

The movie captures One Day every year, July 15th, from 1989 onwards.... some years they spend together, others apart. Two very different people, two very different lives, two stories that would one day (pardon the pun!) merge together.

The evolution from an ambitious young graduate to a bestselling novelist was by no means easy for Emma, spending her first few years as a graduate in London working in a Tex Mex restaurant, before becoming romantically involved with a fellow waiter (an aspiring Comedian....who failed to possess any comedic gene whatsoever, with the exception of his appearance!), embarking on a teaching career, all whilst living in a dingy flat. She fulfils her dream of becoming a bestselling novelist and moves to Paris, where she meets a jazz musician.

Dexter, with a name like that, we can sense he had a rather privileged upbringing. His affluent background affords him a life of travel following graduation, subsequent to which he lands a gig as a TV Presenter, and enjoys all the perks his five minutes of fame offer; the girls, the booze, the plush apartment. Like most, he loses himself along the way and Emma doesn’t shy away from pointing it out.

‘I love you Dexter. I just don’t like you anymore’

Emma walks away from him and it isn’t until a mutual college friends’ wedding that their paths cross again where Dexter’s fiancé is expecting a child.
Yet one failed marriage later, Dexter and Emma finally confront their relationship in Paris after all those years (Losing count at this stage...)! But just when you think they’ve gotten their happily ever after, the random cruelty that is life interrupts their future plans...... leaving a void in the lives of one of our main characters.

It’s not academy award worthy, it’s not a box office smash, and it certainly is not a fairytale...for after all, who truly gets their happily ever after?! Nonetheless, I recommend you see it!

My reasoning... Well it serves as a simple reminder that life from the moment we graduate is ours... it may not necessarily be what we’d planned, and realistically we probably won’t change the world as our professors once said we would, it’s an eye opener to the struggles life can throw in your direction, a gentle reminder of how cruel life can sometimes be, but it also reminds you -

‘Better by far to be good and courageous and bold and to make difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance’.

86400 seconds, 1440 minutes, 24 hours.... July 15th... no matter how you quantify it.... it was just One Day!

‘Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today, I’ll always remember that’.

Now to review the film: Friends with Benefits

Unlike One Day, Friends with Benefits is a fairytale... well, a guy’s fairytale!!

No hidden message, no thought provoking plot, no depth, quite simply, no brain required for 1hr 44 mins.... just Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis and a self explanatory title....and well, that's it! Enjoy!!

13 September 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Apple a day.....

I didn’t graduate from Standford University in 2005 – but I did graduate from Smurfit School of Business, where a very wise professor mentioned to me that Steve Jobs’ commencement speech which he delivered to the Graduation Class of 2005 was worth a listen. I was intrigued.

To me, Steve Jobs was the genius behind Apple, globally renowned entrepreneur, the creator of the ‘i’ universe we now all reside in.

It merely took a 20 minute speech to learn that there was so much more than meets the ‘i’ (pardon the pun!) when it comes to Steve Jobs. He is a great orator with a wonderful story, three wonderful stories actually, and three stories I feel should be shared.

1. Connecting the dots

Jobs was a college dropout. But dropping out of Reed College turned out to be one of the best decisions he made. Had he not dropped out of his college course, he would never have dropped in on a calligraphy class and in turn, the MAC would never have had the multiple typefaces it offered. It’s a simple tale, with a potent message - as Jobs explains ‘you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever’.

2. Love and loss

‘You’ve got to find what you love’ – Luckily for Jobs he found it early in life, and at the age of 20 he founded Apple with Woznaik. Jobs was subsequently fired from his own company (not quite the love story we’d all envisaged!). Yet Jobs wasn’t deterred, he still loved what he did. In the five years after his ousting from Apple, he courageously started a company called NeXT and another called Pixar and married his wife, Laurence. In a twist of fate, Apple bought NeXT and Jobs returned to the helm of Apple once more.

Whilst many others would bury their head in the ground, Jobs didn’t, his reasoning –
‘Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.’

3. Death

A morbid topic for a commencement speech, not so. It’s a refreshingly honest viewpoint on death.

‘Of you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right’.

This quotation had a profound impact on Jobs’ life. Each morning, he admits to looking in the mirror and asking himself ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ If the answer to this was no for too many days in a row, he knew he needed to change something. This analogy of life aids with the big choices he makes in his life. Remembering that you are going to die, Jobs says, is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you’ve something to lose.

Jobs opens up about his brush with death, a diagnosis in 2004 relating to a tumour on his pancreas. He was told it was incurable – and to expect to live no longer than 3-6 months. The diagnosis was inaccurate and the form of pancreatic cancer Jobs had was curable.

He reveals his insight into death ‘the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it’. Describing death as the single best invention of Life, as it is life’s change agent, it purpose being to clear out the old to make way for the new.
It is then Jobs truly focuses on the graduates, and tells them that they are the new, but that someday they will become the old and be cleared away. Why the need for such a dramatic statement?

Jobs wants young graduates to realise that their time is limited. He doesn’t want others to waste it living someone else’s life. He continues...‘Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.’

The three wonderful stories had a profound impact on me. I too am a young, ambitious graduate – merely attempting to connect the dots, searching for what she loves, and knowing for too many days in a row that I’m not doing what I’d want to do with my life if today was my last day. I’m not giving up though, I will strive to find it.
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computers to most, but to me he is so much more – it is the person behind the title, the story of how he gained the title, lost it and regained it once more, his personal struggles, and his philosophies on life which leave me enthralled.

Hearing the news of his resignation last week, saddened me deeply, with further rumours circulating around his deteriorating health cited as his reason for doing so.

Jobs signed off the commencement speech with the words ‘Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish’ – a message he has always wished for himself. So Steve, as you resign I wish that for you, I hope you will continue to inspire, encourage and motivate the young graduates of today with your excellence.

‘Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish Steve!’

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, September 2011

Hello Dublin! Hello Ireland!

“Hello Dublin! Hello Ireland! My name is ‘Barack, I mean Enda Kenny’ ”.... no doubt an upcoming event will warrant the use of an Obama speech in the near future by our beloved Taoiseach.

Set the scene – Ireland 2011- one (of many) frustrated graduates whose education may as well be deemed redundant in the current economic climate. The dole queue vs. the boarding pass vs. a job (they are out there) but one which fails to utilise the time, energy and money invested in your education, ‘a world class education’ according to American President, Barack Obama. The education I received was never the problem Barack! The level of education would have ensured I was well placed in the working world 5 years ago – An honours degree and a first class honours masters from a prestigious Irish business school would have undoubtedly been a guaranteed ticket into employment, and more importantly, your dream job!

What’s my problem?
It infuriates me that it takes the American President a mere 23 minutes, during the course of his speech at College Green to inspire the younger generation, the future of the country.

It infuriates me that our own Taoiseach felt that it was fitting to utilise Obama’s words, from his infamous election speech, and not his own to inspire the nation.
It infuriates me that Enda Kenny delivered that speech like he was commentating a local GAA football match.

It infuriates me that with a mass audience present and television viewership tuned in, after 76 days in office; this truly was your national and international platform to influence the young generation, the future of this country, and the future leaders of the country. Did you offer any solace to the unemployed young graduates, the bright futures of whom have been darkened by actions of former politicians, former leaders, and poor decisions. This was your moment Enda!

On such a podium, you failed to reach out a younger generation, a generation of highly educated graduates. Another wasted opportunity Enda!
Step forward the charismatic Obama – the potency of the words used, the fluidity of speech, as much as he embraced his Irish roots Obama wasn’t attempting to recreate any GAA commentary!!

Enda I only hope you were listening...

'We remember, in the words made famous by one of your greatest poets that “in dreams begins responsibility.... And today, Ireland’s youth, and those who’ve come back to build a new Ireland, are now among the best-educated, most entrepreneurial in the world. And I see those young people here today. And I know that Ireland will succeed.’

Obama, I sure am glad you’ve more faith in the youth of today than our own Taoiseach!

‘And, Ireland, if anyone ever says otherwise, if anybody ever tells you that your problems are too big, or your challenges are too great... Remember that whatever hardships the winter may bring, springtime is always just around the corner. And if they keep on arguing with you, just respond with a simple creed: Is féidir linn. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Is féidir linn’.

Young graduates are the bright future our country needs, we are the future leaders of the country, and we will inspire future generations with our ability to rebuild the broken Irish economy. We are not the generation who so corruptly demolished the banking sector. Instead we are the generation who want to make a difference; we want the opportunity to right the wrongs of the pot-bellied bankers and politicians who spent their evenings lining the pockets of publicans and restaurateurs when the economy flourished. Graduates are credited for their ambitions, drive and determination – yet we remain in an environment in which all ambition is stifled by a government which fails to offer us any reasonable solution. I can without a doubt say that the graduates of today have a wealth of integrity compared to those who so cunningly wronged us in the first place.

Unlike Obama, who heralded ‘Yes we can’ the rhetoric of the Irish Government and the overpaid, bonus clad bankers pales in comparison; their attempts are instead uninspiring and pitiful! The ability of the graduate has been overlooked. It is apparent that the Government do not believe that we can aid the economic recovery by drawing on our expertise. Graduates want an input into remoulding the banking sector and Irish politics to ensure neither are riddled with corruptness in the future.

Enda Kenny – if you’re reading this (you’ve permission to recycle my words at any future addresses by the way!) and if you too ache for ‘a brighter future, even in bitter times’, I urge you to please give the young graduates the chance they deserve, because quite simply, if you do - Is féidir linn!!

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, May 2011

I’m a Graduate.... Get me out of here!!

“The light of starry dreams can only be seen once we escape the blinding cities of disbelief.”

So said Shawn Purvis – and I too ache to see the light of starry dreams yet remain in a city which is smothered in disbelief! Dublin- A far cry from the graduate haven it once was!

In the early noughties, Dublin offered graduates a plethora of opportunities; multinationals, international and national banks enriched graduate development and offered a wealth of prospects. What a turnaround. A couple of years later, graduates are presented with few such opportunities, despite having an education on par with, if not superior to, past graduates. The bleak realism facing recent graduates and future graduates is that in the past two years unemployment has almost trebled. Even in the midst of the recession, in March 2008, the Central Statistics Office revealed that a mere 25,400 graduates were unemployed– 2 years later, March 2010, the number of graduates who remain unemployed soared to 68,600. Most definitely figures to signal alarm bells with any government that cares for the future of their country – but not the Irish government, they appear content to let the educational background and skill-set nurtured in our college years go to waste! Another salient fact reveals that Irish Graduate unemployment has risen 22 times faster than the Eurozone average – another pressing issue for the Government to tackle... maybe that will be on the agenda after they decipher who will jet off, on all-expenses-paid trips, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2011, courtesy of the tax payer – deemed a trip to keep the credibility of the Irish intact – instead all departmental ministers could engage in a drunken interview to grab 457 headlines across the globe like our beloved Taoiseach did–juxtaposing a budgetary cut, whilst reinforcing the national ethos of drink, that will now forever cloud Irish politics!

I started my college experience in 2005 when all still appeared well in our economy; the Celtic Tiger roared on; and ‘credit crunch’, ‘economic crisis’, ‘subprime mortgage crisis’, ‘property bubble’ and ‘recession’ were yet to enter the dictionary of my generation! Despite starting my undergrad when times were relatively good, on passing my finals, the economic climate had undoubtedly changed, so continuing my education seemed like the optimal decision. Armed with an undergrad in Commerce, a Masters in Finance I decided to make my debut into the graduate field, securing a place on a one time hailed ‘prestigious’ graduate programme – and in my naive view, the ticket to shape the industry I wished to specialise in, Finance. Surely a recent graduate with creative ideas on how to piece this economy back together would be welcomed? Not so! Gone were the glamorous roles once offered by graduate programmes, instead an environment in which all graduates firmly took a back seat and watched from the sidelines encircled us, as those who created this mess attempted to piece the broken banking sector back together!

It wasn’t the current graduates who so corruptly demolished the banking sector- so why punish us? We are merely seeking a graduate opportunity, a job, an opportunity to make a difference, an opportunity to right the wrongs of the pot-bellied bankers who spent their evenings lining the pockets of publicans and restaurateurs when the economy ‘flourished’.

Instead we are subjected to daily headlines which uncover the underhandedness and the heinous crimes of bankers, whilst recent graduates, who are the future of the country, remain trapped in jobs which do not require the utilisation of the educational skill-set gained during their college years, and that merely accounts for the lucky few graduates with jobs, whilst others form a line at the local dole office!

Graduates are credited for their ambitions, drive and determination – yet we remain in an environment in which all ambition is stifled by a government which fails to offer us any reasonable solution. I can without a doubt say that the graduates of today have a wealth of integrity compared to those who so cunningly wronged us in the first place.
So who can a graduate turn to during such a severe recession?
Unlike Martin Luther King, who had ‘a dream’ and Obama, who heralded ‘Yes we can’ the rhetoric of the Irish Government and the overpaid, bonus clad bankers pales in comparison to these prominent figures, their attempts are instead uninspiring and pitiful! No words can offer solace or inspiration, nor are they laden with any potency – the Irish government has failed us again! The ability of the graduate has been overlooked. It is apparent that the Government do not believe that we can aid the economic recovery by drawing on our expertise. Likewise – as a graduate, I do not believe in the government and its ability to solely safe our country without graduate input.

Yes, I have dreams – and yes, they may me starry eyed dreams, but they are dreams and ambitions which I want to realise. I, as a graduate, want an input into remoulding the banking sector and Irish politics to ensure neither are riddled with corruptness in the future – but alas, this is clearly not the time, nor do they want a graduate’s contribution! Quite frankly – I am fed up! It saddens me greatly, that as a graduate, I can’t realise the occupation I’ve longed to pursue in the country I’ve been educated, my native land.

Dublin, for me, is no longer the place to realise my starry dreams; it is now time to look elsewhere and escape the ‘blinding city of disbelief’....I’m a graduate... get me out of here!

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, November 2010