Bishop Pat Storey  Photo: Derry/Raphoe Diocese

Bishop Pat Storey Photo: Derry/Raphoe Diocese

Congratulations to the Right Reverend Pat Storey who was ordained in Dublin this afternoon as the first woman Bishop in Ireland and Britain. Patrick Comerford is a Canon at Christ Church Cathedral where the service took place and his regular blog describes the occasion in detail.

A memorable afternoon at the consecration of Bishop Pat Storey in Christ Church Cathedral

Peace and calm in Christ Church Cathedral Dublin at noon as the final touches were put to preparations Photograph: © Patrick Comerford, 2013

It was wonderful to be part of the momentous events in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this afternoon when the Most Reverend Patricia Storey was consecrated Bishop of Meath and Kildare. It was an afternoon that saw Church of Ireland liturgy – and cathedral music at its best, led by the Cathedral Choir.

The principal consecrating bishop was Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin, assisted by Bishop Paul Colton of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, and Bishop Ken Good of Derry and Raphoe. Most of the bishops of the Church of Ireland were present, apart from Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, who is on sabbatical leave in Swaziland, and Bishop Ferran Glenfield of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. Retired bishops of the Church of Ireland present included a former Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop Walton Empey, and Bishop Ken Clarke, Bishop Edward Darling, Bishop Samuel Poyntz and Bishop Roy Warke. Participants and guests line up in the cloister garth to welcome the new bishop Photograph: © Patrick Comerford, 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury was represented by Archdeacon Sheila Watson. Also present were by the Primus, Bishop David Chillingworth, and Bishop Mark Strange of Moray, Ross and Caithness, from the Scottish Episcopal Church; Archbishop Barry Morgan of the Church in Wales; and Bishop Karsten Nissen of the Church of Denmark.

Other Church leaders and ecumenical guests included the Revd Dr Heather Morris, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland; the Right Revd Dr Rob Craig, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin; Monsignor Dermot Farrell, present on behalf of the Bishop of Meath; Monsignor Hugh G Connolly, President of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth; Dr Gesa Thiessen of the Lutheran Church; Father Godfrey O’Donnell of the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Irish Council of Churches. Dr Ali Selim represented the Islamic Community.

The setting was Franz Schubert’s Mass in G, with organ voluntaries by Maurice Duruflé, and motets by Thomas Tallis and Anton Bruckner. The singling of the litany was led by the Revd Eugene Griffin, a Deacon-Intern in Taney Parish, Dublin.

The Scripture reading were read by the Revd Earl Storey, Bishop Storey’s husband, Mrs Deirdre Amor from Saint Augustine’s Parish, Derry, and the Revd Trevor Holmes, deacon-intern in the parish of Julianstown, Co Meath. My stall as the sixth canon in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin  Photograph: © Patrick Comerford, 2013

The cathedral chapter members sat in our stalls, and I was asked to assist with the administration of Holy Communion at the West End of the cathedral. Afterwards, there was a lavish reception in the State Apartments in Dublin Castle this evening, with an opportunity to linger awhile with friends old and new. Leaving the State Apartments in Dublin Castle this evening  Photograph: © Patrick Comerford, 2013

Reverend Nigel Parker preaching at the ordination of Bishop Storey  Photo:  © Church of Ireland

Reverend Nigel Parker preaching at the ordination of Bishop Storey Photo: © Church of Ireland

Sermon by the Reverend Nigel Parker at the Consecration of The Reverend Pat Storey as Bishop (from Church of Ireland News Release)  ‘Consecrate yourself to the Lord’  John 21. 1–17

Picture the scene:

Thursday evening – before Jesus was crucified. Jesus eats the last supper with the disciples; He says that one will betray and the rest deny Him; Simon Peter says, ‘everyone else, never me!’; Jesus says – ‘before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times’; they go out to Gethsemane with heavy hearts; Judas arrives with soldiers to arrest Jesus; the disciples flee; Jesus endures the mockery of a trial. In a courtyard, Peter warms himself by the fire and is challenged three times about being a disciple of Jesus, and each time he denies even knowing Him; the cock crows for the second time and Simon Peter weeps.

Friday – Jesus is crucified, and Simon Peter is nowhere. Saturday (the Sabbath) – the same. Sunday – Jesus is risen. Alleluia! In the morning, He appears to Mary Magdalene in garden. In the evening, to the disciples, except Thomas, in a locked room in Jerusalem.
One week later, they are back in room with Thomas. Days roll by, silence. The eyes of the others are on Peter, looking for leadership! He is in inner turmoil: ‘How can I lead, I denied my friend! Does Jesus still want me? Would people still want to follow?’ He can’t take the pressure any longer. Simon Peter says: ‘I’m going out to fish.’ Six other disciples say: ‘We’ll go with you.’ It is important to note on this Feast of St Andrew that, to his credit, Andrew who is so often at his brother’s elbow, stands his ground and stays in Jerusalem while Simon Peter runs! Out of Jerusalem, back to Galilee, to his boat.

Picture a second scene:

First thing – one of the unnamed disciples was Church of Ireland – an accountant, because Jesus, risen from the dead, is sitting by a fire, with barbecued fish and bread ready for their breakfast and he stops to count the fish! Perhaps that was his gift – the gift of administration is very important – it verifies the miraculous catch of 153 large fish.

So here are seven disciples around a fire with the Son of God. There’s a boat on the edge of the water, net full of wriggling writhing fish beside them. For at least three of them (Simon Peter, James, John), a beach (perhaps this very beach) is highly significant. This may be the very place where Jesus said to them, ‘Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ (Mark 1. 17) The Lord has a wonderful way of taking us full circle.

In a similar way, after breakfast, Jesus talks to Simon Peter about the matter, which is foremost in Peter’s mind – denying Jesus three times. Jesus doesn’t reprimand him or warn him, Peter has cried enough tears, he is a penitent man.

Jesus, as always, has not come to condemn, but to save – to restore. So to redeem Peter’s threefold public denial of Jesus, even after his boasts of eternal faithfulness on that Thursday evening, Jesus asks Simon Peter three questions.

The core of each question is the same:
‘Simon son of John, do you love me?
And Simon Peter’s response is, in essence, the same each time:
‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you.’

Sometimes a word or phrase stands out.
‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’

Perhaps, Jesus was asking:
• Simon – do you love me more than you love these men? Am I, your God, first in your affection?
• Simon – you said you would never forsake me even if all others did. Do you love me more than these men love me?
• Simon – do you love me more than you love these fish?

Fish are everywhere in the story, at least 155 of them! 153 in the net when it came ashore, some on the barbecue. They’ve just eaten fish. Fish bones are all around them. Fish meant a great deal to Simon Peter – both a livelihood and a way of life. Was it a sense of uselessness that drove Peter out of Jerusalem and back to Galilee? A hunger for income, security, self–respect, standing in a community where he hadn’t totally disgraced himself?

Simon knew fish. How to catch them, gut them, sell them, cook them, eat them. Simon knew how to lead men on a boat to catch fish. He knew where fish were to be found. Except, of course, for this night, for they had caught nothing. Imagine Simon Peter’s mood:
‘I don’t believe it!’
‘Can’t lead men to catch men!’
‘Now can’t lead men to catch a single sardine!’

As they approach the shore, failure weighs heavy on Simon Peter’s shoulders. Then a man, somehow familiar, standing on the beach, calls out, seemingly with a wry smile on His face:
‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’

As soon as Peter realizes it is the Lord Jesus, he’s in the water heading towards Him – demonstrating the abandonment, which Jesus has always loved in Peter; the passion in his heart. All through the meal, the irony would not have been lost on Peter, that Jesus the carpenter was a better fisherman than he.

And then as he sits drying himself in front of the fire (the setting where he betrayed Jesus in the courtyard), with his belly full of cooked fish, surrounded by fish bones, a net full of fish beside them, Jesus asked him:
‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’


A French monk, Dominic Valome, had terminal cancer. He asked to be released from the monastery so he could go and live in a slum area of Paris. He rented a flat and took on a job as a night watchman. Every morning on his way back from work, he would sit on a park bench and talk to whoever came by. Often men would come to drink and leer at the girls walking past. He would listen to the story of their lives and sometimes their language was very choice and sometimes their stories were far from clean. But he never judged them, he just listened to them and shared his sweets with them.

Then came the day when someone asked him, ‘What’s your story?’ He told them and from that day there was no more swearing and no more dirty stories. They found him dead not long after that in his single–tap cold water flat. Do you know how many people came to his funeral? 7,000 people. All that it says on his tombstone is, ‘Dominic Valome, a witness to Jesus Christ’.

What had he done? He listened to people and shared his sweets with them. Somehow through that people had been touched by the love of God. After that they found his journal in his flat. The last entry in his journal read, ‘I can genuinely say I have no other interest other than the love of God’.


That is consecration:
• Our love for Him who first loved us
• Placing ourselves entirely at His disposal
• Declaring, ‘Whatever it takes!’

Whenever we truly love someone or something, we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices. In pursuit of a closer walk with Jesus, Dominic Valome consecrated himself and left the secure setting of the monastery and lived his final months among the poor in the slums of Paris. In the midst of his sacrifice, he was not disappointed.

Above all sacrifices, of course, stands the sacrifice of Jesus, the Word made flesh, who stepped out of heaven to live, suffer and die among us to bring us back to the Father who loves us so much that He willingly gave everything. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3.16) Today, as we gather for consecration, we follow in the glorious footsteps of our Master, who has unleashed heaven on earth, declaring, ‘My Father, not my will but yours be done’.

Consecration is so vital, because it is an invitation to the Holy Spirit to have His way. No wonder, as the People of Israel prepared to cross the River Jordan, Joshua told them, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’ (Joshua 3.5)

Those amazing things are not dependent on who we are, but on who God is!

Dwight L. Moody was a shoe salesman who felt the call of God to preach the gospel. Early one morning he and some friends gathered in a hay field for prayer, confession and consecration. A man called Henry Varley said, ‘The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through someone who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.’

Moody was deeply moved by those words. Later, as he listened to the great preacher Charles Spurgeon, Moody thought ‘I could be that person. Well by the Holy Spirit in him, he would be that person.’ And then suddenly, in the high gallery, he saw something he’d never realised before – it was not Mr Spurgeon, after all, who was doing that work: it was God. And if God could use Mr Spurgeon, why should he not use the rest of us, and why should we not just lay ourselves at the Master’s feet, and say to Him, ‘Send me! Use me!’

Through that one ordinary life God began to do the extraordinary. Moody became one of the greatest evangelists of modern times. He preached in services across Britain and America where many thousands came to Christ.

Pat – It has been our privilege over the years to see you respond to our Father’s love with love, trust and obedience:

• You have given yourself whole–heartedly to Him and His Church, serving His people as a deacon and priest – teaching the Scriptures and pastoring with that disarming directness, which is your hallmark, a directness, which speaks the truth in love, with a ready laugh and delightful sense of humour.

• You have demonstrated your love for the Father in your hard work, impeccable organisation and evangelistic heart, like that of the Apostle Andrew, which longs to see many come into the family of God, through the completed work of Jesus Christ.

• You have shown your care and thoughtfulness to many, not least your family, Earl, Carolyn and Luke, and to us, your friends.

So today, it is our privilege to pray for you, as the Lord Jesus calls you to a deeper life of sacrificial service as a bishop, calls you to consecrate yourself to Him, His Church and His Cause.

And not only you, all of us. Do you want to see the Lord move powerfully in your life, parish, diocese? Then consecrate yourself to the Lord!

Then expect to be challenged to leave the familiar, because we will find ourselves, like Simon Peter, as he looked into the face of man with eyes like fire, hearing the voice of the Master addressing us by name and asking, ‘Do you love me more than these?’

We may not, like Simon Peter, be sitting on a beach warming ourselves by a fire. For us, the question will be posed in surroundings familiar to us – our home, a church service, a coffee shop, our workplace, just as those surroundings were so familiar to Simon Peter. The setting is immaterial the reality is the same:

Do you love me more than:
• You love your family, country
• Your comfort / security
• Career / Reputation
• Ministry, denomination
• Money, house, holidays
• Old familiar ways

And so we should pray for one another, because we know that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, that we have this treasure in jars of clay. Simon Peter’s story of failure, forgiveness and restoration is so encouraging for us, because the Risen Lord Jesus deals with us in similar fashion. Again and again, He comes to us, His disciples, in awesome humility, and says: ‘Do you love me more than these?’

Each of us will answer in different words. Two of my favourites are:

Apostle Paul – ‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.’ (Philippians 3.10–11)

C.T. Studd, former England cricket captain, who gave up fame and a glittering career to serve the Lord as a missionary in inland China, said: ‘If Jesus Christ be God, and He died for me, then nothing is too hard for me to do for Him!’

But perhaps the simple words of a former fisherman are the most poignant of all: ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’

‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’ (Joshua 3.5)


Christy & Martin Mallon, Killeeshil  Photo: © Kevin McSorley

Christy & Martin Mallon, Killeeshil Photo: © Kevin McSorley

A South Tyrone filmmaker has helped to uncover five treasure troves of the area’s hidden history, including the story of how the achievements of two Killeeshil inventors changed the global quarry industry. Over the summer, cameraman Kevin McSorley captured the activities of history buffs from Caledon Regeneration Partnership, Donaghmore Historical Society, Killeeshil and Clonaneese Historical Society, South Lough Neagh Historical Society and the William Carleton Society.

His film was funded by the European Union’s PEACE III programme for PEACE and reconciliation through the ‘Shared History, Shared Future’ project, administered by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council. It reveals the extraordinary story of how two men from Killeeshil, John Finlay and Sylvester Mallon, changed the course of the quarry engineering industry with inventions that are now used around the world. It also features a celebration of the legacy of literary genius William Carleton, born in the Clogher Valley, as well as the history of the Ulster Canal, and South Tyrone’s industrial heritage.

The film shows footage of Finlay and Mallon’s relatives describing the humble origins of both men, and how they were constantly dreaming up new inventions and enterprises on the backs of cigarette packets. The pair, who had great respect for each other, went on to set up factories and companies that employed large numbers of local people, and created the foundations for Tyrone’s world-class engineering industry. Nowadays, approximately 68 percent of the world’s mobile crushing machines is manufactured in the county.

The project was launched at Ranfurly House in February by the Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone. Dr Brian Lambkin, Director of The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, was the guest speaker. In June all five groups were represented at Caledon Courthouse during a visit by the Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to see the work of Caledon Regeneration Partnership. The five historical societies shared with each other an awareness of their own fields of expertise and used it towards a shared understanding of our history and future.

Caledon Regeneration Partnership, formed in 1996, is a not for profit company whose make-up was and continues to be four community representatives, four Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Councillors and three representatives from Caledon Estates Company. In 1997 the Partnership obtained funding from PEACE 1 for the development of a Comprehensive Development Plan for Caledon village. The group has helped to regenerate much of the village including many historically important at-risk buildings, such as Mill Street cottages and the beam engine house at the former mill. Caledon Regeneration Partnership is actively involved in community building initiatives.

Donaghmore Historical Society was formed by a small group of people in 1983 and since then its numbers have swollen. It refurbished what was the National School and is now the Heritage Centre. It built a replica of the Donaghmore High Cross, put Donaghmore Living History on the worldwide web and has, in conjunction with the Heritage Centre, amassed the largest archive of townlands research material in Ireland. Plans are being made to digitize the entire archive and bring townlands research into the 21st century at the touch of a button by providing access to data, using the DHS website.

Killeeshil and Clonaneese Historical Society encourages its membership to take ownership, research, interpret and be informed of the shared history of the area. It is rich in industrial heritage, including the development of machinery for quarry engineering.

South Lough Neagh Historical Society is based on the south shore of Lough Neagh. It is an academically- based society, drawing support from the wider community in their continued search to examine and record the historical and cultural footprint of this diverse area. The project examining the past, present and future of the old Ulster Canal has proved to be both illuminating and beneficial to all the members who participated and their findings are another marker in the history of this old waterway.

The William Carleton Society was re-formed in 2011 and is a cross-community, cross-border group dedicated to promoting the works of the well-known Irish author from County Tyrone and his life and times. It seeks to use his stories of faction-fighting and sectarianism in 19th century Ireland as the basis for talks and discussions on history and literature and the lessons for modern-day society. Since 1992 it has run an annual summer school in the Clogher area, with leading authors, poets and historians among the contributors.

All five groups have contributed to a 100-page booklet, which was published on November at a reception at Ranfurly House in Dungannon on November 19th. The publication printed by Ecclesville Printing Services in Fintona was also funded through the PEACE III project and copies costing £5 will be available from the individual societies from next week. Arcella Films produced the hour-long DVD. For more information and any permission to publish the video pictures contact Kevin McSorley in Cabragh, Dungannon or email the societies. Copyright 2013.

The above article is based on a news release I wrote for the Shared History, Shared Future project and was published in the Tyrone Times on November 22nd.


Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

The beautiful Bugle Babes brought some Christmas sparkle to Antrim last night with a lively rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ and other festive music included in their mainly 1940s repertoire. The tea dance in the Old Courthouse finished around 10:15pm and the trio were on the road again back to Dublin at 4am today in order to make an appearance on TV3’s Ireland:AM show at 7am (repeated on 3e at 11am).

Old Courthouse Antrim Photo: © Michael Fisher

Old Courthouse Antrim Photo: © Michael Fisher

The former courthouse building has been restored to convert it into a small theatre on the first floor. The ground floor contains a tourist information office and a convenient café. The dressing room area downstairs used to contain the cells!

Derby Browne, founder of the Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Derby Browne, founder of the Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

Derby Browne is from Dublin and founded the Bugle Babes in 2007. Much of their show is based on the songs of the Andrews Sisters, whose songs entertained the GIs during the Second World War. She can be contacted through her website.

Eileen Coyle of The Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen Coyle of The Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

Soprano Eileen Coyle told me she comes from Finea in County Cavan. An area I associate with the late John Wilson TD, a former Tanaiste who was also my Latin teacher in school and who came from nearby Mullahoran. She has sung with the Lassus Scholars in Westminster Cathedral. The choral group from Dublin performs Renaissance music, very different from the sounds heard in Antrim last night!

Lou Van Laake of the Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Lou Van Laake of the Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

The third member of the ‘Babes’ is Lou Van Laake, originally from the Netherlands, who is now a well-known name on the Dublin cabaret circuit (aka Truly DiVine) and whose latest solo show is a tribute to Marlene Dietrich and was performed in Dublin recently. She says she hopes to repeat it in April.

The Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Bugles Babes’ appearance at the tea dance was part of the 4 Corners music festival run by Antrim Borough Council and presented by MADD Music. It runs until Monday 2nd December.

Christmas sparkle with the Bugle Babes in Antrim  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Christmas sparkle with the Bugle Babes in Antrim Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen Coyle of the Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen Coyle of the Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher


Antrim Tea Dance  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Antrim Tea Dance Photo: © Michael Fisher


The Bugle Babes entertaining on the RTÉ Big Music Week train Photo: RTÉ ten

The Bugle Babes entertaining on the RTÉ Big Music Week train Photo: RTÉ ten

The Bugle Babes have headed northwards for a SOLD OUT! event tonight in Antrim town. The tea dance at the Old Courthouse building in the Market Square features some of their Andrews Sisters vintage routine. My first experience of their delightful entertainment was during the RTÉ Big Music Week train journey from Dublin’s Connolly station to Carlow at the end of September.

The programme describes what patrons can look forward to:-

“As part of the 4 Corners Music Festival, the tea dance will go out for the evening in the company of the very beautiful and very talented Bugle Babes! Singing the Billboard hits from the Golden eras of Swing and Jive, the Bugle Babes are a 1940’s style close-harmony trio inspired by the Andrews Sisters and the Hollywood stars of stage and screen. Whether adorned in military costume, or soft satin dresses, the Bugle Babes style is pure Vintage from their Victory Rolls all the way down to the toes of their seamed stockings. Formed by Derby Browne in 2007, the Bugle Babes have performed all over Ireland from the National Concert Hall to the Cork Opera House and their television appearances include the Late Late Show and Ryan Tubridy. Put on your dancing shoes, add a touch of vintage glamour and join these gorgeous girls as they perform their repertoire of classic songs and contemporary pop hits with a twist all served up with lots of scintillating glamour, fun and nostalgia……”

The Bugle Babes in vintage mode Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen, Derby & Lou: The Bugle Babes in vintage mode in Carlow Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen Coyle from Co. Cavan began singing at an early age and studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She has been a member of several choirs including the Maynooth Choral Society, the Limerick Choral Union, and the Lassus Scholars. As a core member of the Lassus Scholars Eileen performs regularly all over Ireland, also travelling to Europe, and deputising for the Westminster Cathedral Choir in London. Her favourite composers include William Byrd and Orlando de Lassus. As a member of the jazz harmony group The Bugle Babes, Eileen has enjoyed much success, featuring on The Late Late Show, TV3’s Ireland AM, and on Sean Moncrieff’s show on Newstalk 106.

Truly DiVine (Lou) has been singing her heart away since she discovered her voice at age 13. In her teens, this Dutch lady covered tunes from the musicals and the latest hits in pop and rock. She moved into the world of jazz and blues when she arrived in Dublin in 2004. She played gigs with a variety of musicians for five years and since 2009 has broadened her world to include the burlesque and cabaret scene. She is part of the Bugle Babes, a 40s- style harmony group based on the Andrew Sisters; she regularly performs with rockabilly band The Pavement Kings; her latest show is a Marlene Dietrich tribute, ‘Dietrich’s Angels’.

When not performing with the Bugle Babes, Derby Browne specialises in French café music: the life of Edith Piaf (Pigalle), Jacques Brel, Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour and the style of guinguette and bal-musette. 

The Bugle Babes in Carlow  Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Bugle Babes in Carlow Photo: © Michael Fisher


President Kennedy arrives for Vienna Summit June 3rd 1961 © White House Photographs: JFK Library & Museum

President Kennedy arrives for Vienna Summit June 3rd 1961 © White House Photographs: JFK Library & Museum

Much has been written about the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy of the United States in Dallas, Texas, fifty years ago on November 22nd 1963. My father contributed this letter to the Irish Times in response to an interesting article by Dennis Staunton in a special supplement marking the anniversary.

‘Sir, – Denis Staunton’s interesting article (JFK, 50 Years after Dallas supplement, November 22nd) on JFK’s presidency rightly credits his “patience, caution and willingness to compromise with his Soviet counterpart Nikita Khrushchev” as helping to avert a nuclear war over the Cuban crisis in 1962.

It would, however, be wrong to give Kennedy all the credit for saving the world from nuclear war 50 years ago. His diplomatic skills were hard-learned. Only six months in office and still a novice in international politics, the US president faced the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, in a summit meeting in Vienna.

President Kennedy meets Nikita Khruschev in Vienna 1961 Photo: © US Dept of State, JFK Library & Museum

President Kennedy meets Nikita Khruschev in Vienna 1961 Photo: © US Dept of State, JFK Library & Museum

The summit’s main issues were the Soviet threats to close off Berlin to the Western powers and to locate nuclear weapons in Cuba, only 90 miles from Florida. Deadlock on both matters culminated in the world’s two most powerful leaders threatening nuclear war, Kennedy warning of “a long, hard winter” and Khrushchev adamant that “If the US wants war, that’s its problem”.

Pierre Salinger Photo: US Congress / Wikimedia Commons

Pierre Salinger Photo: US Congress / Wikimedia Commons

As the Irish Press’s London editor, I was covering the meeting and succeeded in getting an exclusive interview with the White House press secretary, Pierre Salinger. His version of the meeting was that Khrushchev gave Kennedy a frightening picture of the likely consequences of a nuclear war, with the major American cities being flattened like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a picture that the gung-ho US military top dogs had hidden from him .

That evening Kennedy told the New York Times top reporter, James “Scotty” Weston, that “he (Khrushchev) beat the hell out of me . . . the worst thing of my life”. It was Kennedy’s real introduction to diplomacy. – Yours, etc

DESMOND FISHER, Roebuck, Dublin 14′.


Members of the group at Cavan County Museum  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Members of the group at Cavan County Museum Photo: © Michael Fisher

Visit to Cavan County Museum, Ballyjamesduff, by members of the ‘Shared History, Shared Future’ project from South Tyrone. Members of the William Carleton Society joined the other groups on this study trip from Dungannon via Broomfield (coffee break at An Eaglais), the Boyne Valley and Navan to County Cavan. An evening meal was organised at the Lavey Inn.

Coffee Break at An Eaglais, Broomfield Co.Monaghan

Coffee Break at An Eaglais, Broomfield Co.Monaghan