Internet use

Interesting to read the internet use statistics (2017) mon the Central Statistics Office site.

Some of the spread is use not that surprising e.g. by location or by age group.  So, as would expect, greater use of the internet by younger groups, more use of the internet for leisure purposes e.g. social media by younger groups.  But interesting to see how the internet has penetrate all age groups as a source of information on goods and services.

The statistics seem to suggest that there are still 11% of households not making regular use of the internet.  And would be inclined to think this is putting that group of households at a serious disadvantage: in terms of accessing best prices, researching options and generally not having a valuable channel of communications open to them.

cloud storage 2015 to 2017

cloud storage

I am curious at the relatively low level of use of cloud storage by internet users.  Curious as to reasons for this – cost, privacy concerns, lack of knowledge of options available?  Would have expected that more people would be using cloud storage for photographs, video, music – whatever about storing documents.

individual e-skills

The most interesting information related to the comparison information on e- skills – looking to see what type of activity was being undertaken by different users.  In this we can clearly see that while older people have taken to using the internet (accessing information, booking travel, online banking) the use of various software applictions and tools is much more of a young person’s game e.g editing photos, videos.  That said the number of young people programming seems very low – with programming code undertaken by 13% of students.  I think if we aspire to playing a leading role in this global economy we should be seeing that 80% of students have some level of programming experience.  But this would require a new subject and resources in the secondary school curriculum and will not happen overnight.

Ancient Greece – part III

From Olympia continue the trip through Ancient Greece by driving on to Pylos on South West of the Peloponnese.  Planned to stay one night – ended up staying three.

Karlis city hotel – Pylos
Navarene Bay from castle at Pylos


Pylos looks our over the Bay of Navarene – famous from the capture of the Spartans by the Athenians during the Athenian/ Spartan wars.  But more recently famous as the scene of the naval battle between the Sultan (Turkey) and the British, Russian and French fllet in 1828 – leading shortly afterwards to the Independence of Greece.

Stayed in a centrally located hotel – Karalis City Hotel – with a view out over the harbour and the bay.

The Castle at Pylos (only 300m from the centre) is well worth a visit – and includes an excellent museum with great history of the naval battle of 1828.  Also

from the castle mseum

includes great range of artifacts recovered from various local sites.

Found Pylos a great place to stay – good local beaches, good restaurants, nice village and plenty to do.  And we experienced the only rain of our trip – all of five minutes.



From Pylos we drove to Nafplio – about a three and a half hour journey (50% motorway).  I had been to Nafplio in 1981 – and was looking forward to the return trip.  We actually based ourselves at a beach hotel about 15km outside Nafplio (at Tolo Beach).

Hotel itself was disappointing – but on the beach so no need to use the pool when the sea is directly outside your hotel.  Spent  a couple of evenings in Nafplio – lovely pedestrianised areas, great selection of restaurants and shops, street artists – with the magnificant castle in the background.

Nafplio was a perfect base for revisitng two of the highlights of my 1981 visit: the theatre at Epidaurus and Agamemnon’s palace at Mycenae.

Theatre at Epidaurus


The theatre at Epidaurus is famous for the outstanding acoustics – and we all certified this by having one person speak from the centre of the theatre and another listen from the top row.  Just to sit there for an hour in the late evening sunshine, looking out over the groves of trees.


Also took the opporuntiy to run on the track at Epidaurus.

Running in Epidaurus

Fun to meet with someone else also revisiting Epidaurus for the first time in 36 years.



There is something magical about Mycenae – about a 30 minute drive out from Nafplio (on the way you pass Tiryns – the former palace of Menelaus).

Lion’s Gate at Mycenae

We enter Mycenae via the Lion’s Gate and walk up through the site.

From Mycenae

The views from the top demonstrate the commanding position and location – looking out over the plain and down to the sea in the distance.

And the museum at Mycenae is well worth an hour or two before leaving for a swin back at Nafplio

All of these sites just remind me of the importance of Greece in the history of civilisation and Europe.  It is so important that we preserve these sites and encourage younger people to experience and enjoy them.

Older people

Respect and celebrate older people. Today is International Day of the Older Person.

Check out details on the UN page.

In Ireland we recognise that people are living to an older age – and we should celebrate this.  But we also often seem to see this as a problem – as a financial burden – that an increasing proportion of the population will be old and will require more support from a decreasing proportion of younger people.  I just think we have not thought this out.  It is good that people live longer.  Necessarily people will require support for longer – pensions will have to payout for longer, healthcare will need to be available to older people for longer.  But this is progress.  and the objective must be to promote indepdent living for people for as long as is possible.

I think the recent development whereby state pension eligibility is being pushed back to 68 and eventually 70 is an example of a part thought out solution.  This will save the government money in the first instance.  But many of these people find themselves in employment contracts which see their employment ending at 65.  And many of these people are well capable of continuing to work past the age of 65.  But the economics have not actually been worked out.  It may be that people will not want to continue in full employment, that they may want to take on a less physically demanding role, that they may be willing to work at a different level in their current organisation.  But after a career with an organisation they have no entitlement to such arrangements – yet the government sees fits to defer their state pension.

The answers are not necessarily straightforward.  For the companies extended contracts may change their people cost ratio – with relatively expensive human resources being retained in an organisation and potentially ongoing commitments to continue to support pension contributions.

But it is International Day of the Older Person today – and when I read two Sunday newspapers I saw no discussion/ celebration of people living longer.  Let’s make this an Older PErson friendly world – since most of us have an objective of living healthily to an old age.



Population growth in Ireland

Interesting to read the latest release from CSO re net population growth in Ireland.

Population is now at 4.792m (as of April 2017) – having grown by ~50k in both 2017 and 2016.  And this growth is a combination of natural growth (births less deaths) and net immigration.

30 year growth

I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1987 – population was 3.546m.  30 years on the population has grown by 35% (approx. 1.25% per annum compounded).  If we continue at this rate for another 30 years we should reach a population of c. 6.5m.

Of course there are so many interesting analyses – movement by location, movement by nationality, movement by work status/ profession.

But would certainly be of the opinion that the country is more sustainable at increased levels of population – and that the 35% growth over the last 30 years has been very positive,


Being mortal – Atul Gawande

Just finished reading ‘Being Mortal’.  I guess in your 50s ‘being mortal’ seems to have some more immediate relevance than in your 20s!  Atul Gawande’s book is an excellent, thought provoking read.

Only learn through experience

Much of the book focuses on the options available as people get older or as their health deteriorates.  And for all of us it is difficult to anticipate how we may feel about these developments until we experience them on a personal level – most often firstly in context of relatives and friends and then, more directly, in person.

Gawande is a medic and a prolific writer.  And this is not the first of his books I have read.  He is keenly aware, as a doctor, of the approach taken by medics: analyse the symtoms and look to implement a fix.  But he shares his concerns about where this approach leads in the case of very ill or very old people.  He is not promoting euthanasia.  And he writes from a very personal perspective – patients he has looked after and his own father’s illness, treatments and death.

Quality of mortal life = independence?

Being Mortal asks questions about later life – how we all seek to maintain quality of life and how this requires the ability to think and act independently.  Right now as I write this I am contemplating whether I will watch a football match, watch the Open golf championship, go for a walk, go to the cinema, what I will cook for dinner, etc.  and all of these options are available to me (and I take this for granted).  But if illness means that I am dependent on others then I lose much of this independence and quality of life.  And in this context re reviews options around assisted living and nursing homes.  His comparison of living at home (supported by family), assisted living and nursing home living provides lots of food for thought.  And at this stage in my life I would have little appetite for the third option.  But statistically this seems where we are all headed.  So Being Mortal is suggesting we have not yet got this right.
The examples Gawande includes around complex, expensive, intrusive, limited benefit treatments provided to patients in the throes of advanced illnesses are challenging – for medics, family relatives of ill persons and the persons themselves – not to mind the insurers and health providers.  We are well familiar with the analyses of grater life expectancy, older populations, more instances of chronic illnesses, more options for treatment of same.  But they need to be understood in context of quality of life and independence.

I learned a lot about palliative care and its role through reading the detail of some of the examples in the book.  And its a much more broader science and engagement than I had appreciated.  I am not sure how well it is really understood.

All in all an excellent book – and good material for anyone.

Greystones to Bray or What can I do for you?

Yesterday morning (Sunday) I finally completed the Greystones to Bray cliff walk.  Drove to Greystones, parked there and walked back to Bray. Beautiful, cliff side walk -about 8km from centre of Greystones back up to the DART station in Bray.  Comfortable walk of approx. 90 minutes – no difficult climbs and lots of great views out to sea and up and down the East coast.

Because of some of the ongoing building work in Greystones it was not absolutely apparent where best to access the cliff walk – but one of the very friendly locals quickly sorted this out for me.  The path itself was quite muddy and wet under foot – not an issue so long as you were wearing reasonable walking shoes or runners.  And the view back to Greystones from the cliff walk was excellent.

Have now been living on south side of Dublin for over 20 years – and hard to believe had never done this walk.  And with the option to drive one way, walk the other and then take the DART back to collect the car – it all works very well.

Very much looking forward to doing the round trip later in the year – on a sunny, clear day, rather than yesterday’s overcast, damp day.


And the only hitch: the DART from Bray to Greystones seems to only run once per hour in a Sunday (at this time of year).  And no one seems to be on hand at the station to tell you to take the Rosslare train (sometimes) – because it stops in Greystones and there is no DART for another hour.  But as the helpful assistant at the DART stations said ‘what do you want me to do?;  All I could say was ‘I don’t want you to do anything.’

If you have not yet done the walk – get out and enjoy it.  And when you get back to Greystones lots of options for a coffee or something more substantial.

Thank you to all my M2M sponsors

Just wanted to use this post to thank all my sponsors for this week’s Mizen to Malin cycle..  Looks like we will be blessed with great weather – wish we were out cycling this morning!

A particular thanks to all my colleagues at Hermitage Medical Clinic who held a special breakfast this morning and have been very generous in their sponsorship and encouragement.

And, as always, for anyone else out there who would like to be a sponsor: my sponsorship page

Looking forward to loading up the bike tonight, packing the sun cream and off to the sunny south west (Mizen Head) with my fellow 51 cyclists at 5.30am tomorrow.




Charity cycle: M2M: Mizen to Malin – Wed 1st June to Sunday 5th June

Resting in Arklow
M2M route for 2016

So, lots of training for M2M done since that spin in the rain on Christmas morning (when I still thought 25Km was a cycle).  And then the spins to Howth, to Rathnew, to the Sally Gap, to Arklow. Just three days now until we set out on our 690km venture from bottom of Ireland to top of Ireland (Mizen Head, Co. Cork to Malin Head, Co. Donegal), over 5 days (Wednesday 1st June to Sunday 5th June).

Our route

Looking forward to visiting Mizen, Killarney, Ennistymon, Ballina, Ballybofey and Malin – and lots of places in between.  And travelling with 51 fellow cyclists.

Breast Cancer Ireland

This cycle is in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland and Kilmacud Crokes Development Fund.  We expect to raise in excess of €100,000 to be split between both: that is a minimum of €50,000 for Breast Cancer Ireland. If you have not already supported us please contribute on-line by logging in to my M2M mycharity page – all contributions gratefully received.

Hoping to post each day from the road – perhaps with some gopro snippets.



The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

Several themes running through the book – Liesel and her foster parents, poverty in world war two Germany, terror visited on the Jewish population, tragedy of war for families as they lose loved ones, beauty of books and learning to read (as the book thief accumulates books).

Liesel, a young German girl, is fostered out to a couple living just outside Munich. Liesel quickly builds a relationship with the father (Hans) and, over a longer period of time, also with the mother (Rosa). War time Germany and they live on the breadline. Liesel also develops a number of close friendships with other children in the neighbourhood.

Hans Hubermann teaches Liesel to read and over the years she steals several books (Hubermann also buys her a couple of books) which form a background to the story. Football in the street is one of the social outlets – and excels as a footballer.

The ugly advance of Nazism is to the fore. The Hubermanns shelter a Jew (Max) – and Zuzak describes beautifully the prison like existence of Max living in the basement of the Hubermann house. One of the tenser scenes describes the local Nazis coming to inspect the basement for its potential use as an air raid shelter.

Dachau is nearby and marches of Jewish prisoners through the town become a regular event. And Max eventually having left the Huvbermanns (to spare them the threat), ends up in Dachau.

Hans Hubermann is an interesting character. He has resisted all invitations to join up with the Nazis – and falls out with his son. Eventually he is required to join the army and the war.

Liesel develops a close (platonic) relationship with local boy Rudi. They play football in the street, they rob fruit from orchards and generally become best of friends.

The book is narrated by Death – as he gathers up the souls. At times Death tells us what will happen – almost to underline the futility of much of what humans spend their times worrying about.

In many respects the book took me back to Anne Frank and her hidden existence in Amsterdam. I listened to the book (via – found it absorbing, well paced and, in general, I thought it provided a different and worthwhile perspective on war torn Germany (and the struggle of ordinary people). Would definitely be looking to read another Zuzak book.

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