Letters December – January 2014

On the provenance of Kevin Kiely

Dear Editor:

Some of your contributors merit a brief – and very useful – biographical note. Others do not. For this reader at least, the most glaring omission in the November issue was the lack of any provenance of the writer of the bilious article ‘The I.T. Gang’. While I have read and enjoyed the output of many of the award-winning authors mentioned in the piece, John Banville, Colm Tóibín, Roy Foster, Roddy Doyle et al, the name Kevin Kiely is unknown to me. Perhaps he too has been garlanded with literary honours, an Impac or Man Booker, an American National Book Award? Sadly word of these literary distinctions has yet to reach here.
Yours faithfully

Terry Kelleher
St Remy de Provence, France

Ed’s note: Dr Kevin Kiely is a former literary editor of Books Ireland; Fulbright scholar; Professor of Irish Literature, University of Idaho (2008-2009); biographer of Francis Stuart; poet, novelist, critic and playwright.  He was awarded the Patrick Kavanagh poetry fellowship in 2006. Village generally takes a dismissively egalitarian stance on garlands.

On Village’s Parks Special

Dear Editor:

Reading your Parks Special (Nov Village), I agreed with the section relating to staff: most Local Authorities have a core of professional staff – architects, engineers and planners, but only a limited number employ professional parks staff.
However, in respect of Dublin its still amazing to think that a small number of highly motivated professional staff achieve so much with so little and in the process have left a legacy of immense recreational value for the present and the future in outstanding parks, including Marlay, Corkagh, Tymon North, Malahide Castle, Newbridge Demesne and Ardgillan.
As to Ciaran Cuffe’s suggested steps for better parks, I think the author of the article and I see elements of the landscape in a different way. You need to know what you are looking for to be able to find it.
For example, many years ago while walking for the first time through Alpine meadows in the Spanish Pyrenees, I asked what do Gentians look like. Our guide, a famous British horticulturist, said look under your feet, you have been walking on them for the past hour but not knowing, did not see them. Suddenly my eyes were opened and I saw them everywhere.
I see wild flower meadows in the Tolka Valley, at Robswall Park in Malahide, at Malahide Castle, and have enjoyed participating in the Bio-blitz at St Anne’s park.
One of my favourite urban parks for viewing nature in all its forms be it wild flowers, majestic native trees, birds, animals, bats and an amazing variety of habitats must be the Phoenix Park .
Others use the Park for active recreation be it formal sports, play facilities at the Visitor Centre, or just to run or walk.
Long may it survive in this form and be known as one of the premier world parks, a rare jewel to be treasured.
Rare breeds of cattle are used to graze vegetation at Robswalls, and in St Catherine’s. In fact it has been my experience that innovative land-management techniques are part of every day life in Irish parks.
Extensive usage is made of native tree species in planting schemes. However, diversity is important as you never know what aggressive pathogen is about to pounce – look at the demise of the elm.
What grows in the hostile environment of a roadside margin rather than survives is often a difficult choice.
From my experience play – be it formal or informal – is encouraged, the problem being in the Irish context that we seem all to ready to make claims.
Perhaps a bit more parental responsibility might be desirable.
The role of trees and woodland in terms of biodiversity, carbon sequestration and enjoyment needs to be reinforced.
Hopefully the legislation in relation to tree preservation will be updated, and possibly the right of appeal to An Bord Pleanála reintroduced.
Yours faithfully

Peter W Cuthbert
Landscape consultant and former senior executive parks superintendent for Fingal County Council

On our kind direct provision system

Dear Editor:

Frank Connolly’s use of a case-history to illustrate the “inhumane” direct provision system (Village, Nov  2014) was quite extraordinary.
“Ramesh”, he told us, came to Ireland in January 2010, applied for asylum and got refugee status that same year.
Refugee status gives you the same entitlements as any Irish citizen. On getting it, you leave direct provision. You are not thrown out overnight, but given some time to make new arrangements.
But Connolly tells us that “Ramesh” has “recently”, i.e. four years later, left direct provision.
Given his fragile mental state, after torture in Sri Lanka, we must assume that he was allowed to stay for four years out of kindness and consideration for his vulnerability.
Yet Connolly uses this kindness and consideration as a stick with which to beat the direct provision system. How very logical.
Yours faithfully

Áine Ní Chonaill, PRO
Immigration Control Platform
PO Box 6469
Dublin 2