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Archive for the ‘ Features ’ Category

Reinvent Your Eyes With Drama This Autumn

Cara Delevingne with this season's smokey eyes (Image: blacklockbeauty.com)

Cara Delevingne with this season’s smokey eyes (Image: blacklockbeauty.com)

Eyes are the windows of your soul. They convey thoughts, feelings and attitude. Eye contact is a component of non-verbal communication and maintaining efficient eye contact is an interpersonal skill vital for effective communication.

Sometimes people avoid looking directly at someone due to shyness and nervousness.
Your eyes might be in need of a mini make-over to boost your confidence and self-esteem.

From subtle glamorous eyes to statement dramatic eyes, the choice is yours. So how do you get the look? Continue reading

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“HATS, FLAGS And HEADBANDS?!”: Croke Park’s Casual Traders

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Derek Byrne: ”I’d be for the Dubs, d’you know what I mean?” (image: Robert Holmes)

 

The cry is as much a part of the GAA match experience as the rusty turnstile, the over-priced match programme and Mayo being spooked near the final hurdle. I decided to approach a “casual trader”, or “hawker”, as they’re universally known, and see what it’s like to be the one calling out that immortal phrase.

At first, Derek Byrne looks perplexed as to why anyone would want to ask him any questions other than, perhaps: “how much is that Monaghan flag?”. Nevertheless, he tolerates my presence with unfailing politeness, as himself and his sales assistant go about packing up. A job, I see, which involves the filing away of county colours with no little amount of military precision.

I begin with a variant of the “do you come here often?” line.

“30 years here”, he tells me.

What got him into it?

“I was unemployed and gave it a go and I’m still at it.”

Derek is from Pearse Street originally but lives in Ballybough and prefers the Dublin hurlers to the footballers. I admire his good taste. I ask him does he mind missing being at the football matches, in this era of Dublin success?

Not really, as it happens.

”I’d be for the Dubs, d’you know what I mean? But, I’d rather the hurling than the football.”

I had looked up the rates for casual trader licenses on the Dublin Council website and tentatively asked Derek if he has one. “Oh yeah, absolutely, I’m working right now. It’s €38 for Croke Park days.”

If you want to make a living as a casual trader it seems you have to put the hours in.

“You have to be pro-active now”, Derek tells me. “Years ago there was a handful of us doing it and now there’s hundreds out”. Derek says he’ll be out two hours before the first match of the day, every time. Seeing the array of goods he has on offer, I’m not surprised.

I ask him if he just does Croke Park and he scoffs and tells me he’ll be anywhere else hosting a big event, all year round. “The o2 (the new 3Arena) is €25 and I’ll be there every time”.

Casual traders selling hats, flags and headbands (with a nod to the enterprising ladies who sold 3 chocolate bars for a pound, out of a pram) have been around since the 1960’s. Before that, I’m told that it was customary for men to pin pennants featuring the stars of the day to the lapels of their suit jackets.

I ask the oldest person I have to hand, (my father, 60), what he remembers them selling: “Rosettes, paper hats and miniature dolls to wear on one’s chest”, he tells me.

“When it rained, the dye in the paper hats ran down your face”, leading, he says, to many a person in the stadium sitting or standing with what looked like a county colours face-painting job gone wrong.

I quickly see how the hats (cotton/cowboy), flags and headbands took over.

Whilst they need not diversify much, competition appears to have made the business even harder.

“You have your good days and your bad days”. Derek says,

Dubs matches, I enquire, must be the best days?

Derek is quick to reply: “No. You’d be surprised. Dubs in an All-Ireland final, maybe. But what you want is a team that doesn’t get to Croke Park often, a team that hasn’t been up here in years. They buy the most souvenirs.”

I chance my arm and ask him who his best ever customers were. For a moment, he stares off into the distance, a grin grows on his face, and, eventually, he replies: “Donegal, 1992”.

Yeah?

“Yeah. I went up on the Saturday, the day before the final and I cleaned up.”

That heart-warming story aside, he has nothing but scorn for the “drunk northerners” who booze all the way down on the coach and then interfere with his stall when they get off the bus.

“Messy f**kers”, he says.

To round off, I ask him will he be at the Limerick-Kilkenny Hurling semi-final the next day.

Almost before I finish the question he replies:

“Oh, rain, hail or snow. Rain, hail or snow.”

I was at that game myself and we had both rain and hail. Sure enough, there he was, plastic covers shielding his wares and extolling the virtues of a Limerick flag to a potential customer as I walked by.

Follow the writer at @RobHolmes1982

Some Fights Are Right: Obama’s IS Strategy

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Barack Obama has received criticism for his recent expansion of strikes against IS to include Syria. On the far left are those who object outright to liberal intervention, while on the right of the spectrum Senator Rand Paul labelled him a ‘neo-con’. However despite his perceived hesitancy, Obama’s strategy looks set to hit a sweet spot between reckless and cautious that is grounded in sound principles and is the best reasonable response to the current threat posed by IS.

IS are the closest the 21st century has to the Nazi’s- fundamentally motivated, exceptionally violent and on a quest that is their downfall before it has even begun. Their so called caliphate has no precedent in history. Killing Shia as easily as they behead innocent westerners or massacre Yazidi Iraqis, the group’s strategy is founded on brutality, with no room for any form of tolerance or compromise, to the point where they have drawn condemnation from Al-Qaeda. Mass murder of civilians and trafficking of women for as sex slaves are par for the course with IS . This incarnation of radical Islam is now the richest terrorist organization in history.  It has also shown itself to be a master of cinematic and striking (and ironically western style) media campaigns in a way that Al-Qaeda never was, making it the most hot brand of radical Islam. The stunning videos are a draw for young radicals of fighting age as well as rich benefactors who may be sympathetic to their cause, and is possibly the greatest threat posed by IS. However despite capturing swathes of Iraqi and Syrian cities (and open desert), the groups has united even larger swathes of the world against it through its actions. General consensus already exists. This includes almost every parliament and head of state in the world, as well as mainstream Muslim groups in western countries (see the “Not in my name” campaign if you feel like blaming regular Muslims). Continue reading

A Weekend Of Dodder Walking

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I was out walking along the River Dodder on two separate occasions last weekend, enjoying the lovely sunny weather. At times, it was just like summer; on reflection, it was probably better. On Saturday I took part in the Dodder Heritage Walk, organised the Dodder Action Group, joining forces with the Dodder Let’s Walk and Talk group. I wasn’t counting heads, but according to Dodder Action’s Facebook page, around a hundred people turned out to support the event. Architectural historian Rob Goodbody led the Heritage Walk with Tim Clabon from the Irish Wildlife Trust, strolling from Rathfarnham Bridge down towards the Packhorse Bridge in Miltown.

Most days find me walking either along or near the Dodder but there is still much that I don’t know about the river’s life and history. Thanks to Tim Clabon, I now know the name of the pink flowering plant proliferating along the riverbank as well as learning something about identifying otter hangouts. The flower by the way is a Himalayan Balsam and is actually an invasive species, although a very pretty one. Tim explained about otter slides, where otters gained access to the water and showed us one. You have to be up very early to catch your otter, and probably very quiet too so we didn’t stand much chance of seeing one on Saturday afternoon. It would however be worth getting up early to spot one, now that I have some idea of where to look. Continue reading

Scotland’s Independence Referendum Heats Up Ahead Of Polling Day

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Getting off the train at Glasgow’s Queen Street station and stepping out into George Square, it’s hard not to get swept up in the feverish excitement that is gripping the city. Yes badges seem to adorn almost every passer by. A giant banner reads ‘Bristol Greens: England says vote Yes for a fairer society.’ A band plays an open show on Buchanan Street, with saltires and Yes billboards lining the makeshift stage.

This is in stark contrast to Edinburgh, just yesterday (Saturday), when the Orange Order marched ‘to save the union’, in their biggest showing in Scotland in over fifty years. The controversial march – many on the Better Together side were well aware of the counter-productivity of a march by a group largely eschewed by most branches of Scottish civil society – was reported on positively by The Guardian as ‘a visceral show of strength for the union’ that passed by ‘largely without incident’. Continue reading

Without Limits

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Nicolas Maduro

La Casona

Calle 1, Caracas 1071,

Venezuela

 

Nicolas,

Firstly, apologies for writing this letter in English, but my Spanish is limited. I was intrigued recently to read of your innovative idea for combating opportunists taking advantage of the subsidy your government gives to Venezuelan producers, (by purchasing vast quantities of foodstuffs from the Venezuelan supermarkets ‘apparently up to 40% of all foodstuffs produced’, and smuggling them over the border into Colombia, and then selling them at a more favourably rate than the local produce) by introducing a mandatory fingerprinting system in all Venezuelan supermarkets. Continue reading

Five Tips For Maintaining Excellent Skincare

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Beautiful skin is a timeless, classic trend. Magazines manifest the art of beauty by showcasing model’s with idyllic skin. Hectic social life, stressful work-load and unpredictable weather can take it’s toll on your skin. Diminish autumn blues by being attentive to your skin- care needs.

Here’s the must have secret tips for flawless skin. Continue reading

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