Prometheus Unbound in Callan

I spied this mosaic on the wall of Callan Fire Station:

On closer inspection, it turns out to portray the bringer of fire himself, Prometheus:

Here is the website of the mosaicist, Collette O’Brien.

Here is a closer view:

I am interested how many other fire stations are decorated with the bringer of fire.


“What is Beauty?” considered in Dungloe courthouse

An interesting tale from the Donegal courts. A vet who set up a clinic in Bunbeg was denied certification by the veterinary authorities as the word “beauty” was in the clinic’s proposed name. Dungloe District Court evidently had jurisdiction:

The title of the practice is Animal Beauty and Care Clinic, but the VCI said the term beauty could be equated with some unacceptable cosmetic surgery taking place in the practice to modify an animal’s appearance, the court heard.

Mr Podiaru appealed the decision at Dungloe District Court against The Veterinary Council of Ireland, 53 Lansdowne Road, Dublin. His counsel Dean Regan said it was a case that centred on the definition of the word “beauty”.

Mr Regan said the VCI was suggesting that the word beauty meant trying to modify an animal’s appearance and was unethical. He said it was unreasonable to suggest that beauty was linked with some sort of mutilation of an animal.

Counsel for the VCI Hugh McDowell said that for the appeal to succeed it must be shown that the VCI erred in law or acted unreasonably.

President of the VCI Peadar O’Scannail told the court that “if ever a blade was taken to an animal to beautify it, that is a red line for the Veterinary Council”.

He said there were cases of dogs having their tails cut for cosmetic reasons and that was not allowed.

Mr O’Scannail said there was a danger that the public might draw an inference that something untoward was happening at the practice.

Obviously legal argument ensued to ensure nothing untoward would trouble the sensibilities of Gweedore folk:

Judge Paul Kelly read from some veterinary practices which provided for dog grooming. Among the services were “nail clipping” “paint on highlights” and “anal gland expressing”.

The judge wondered what was the difference between dog-grooming and beauty?

At one stage the Oxford Dictionary was produced, and the definition of beauty read out in court.

In a rather Solomon like decision, Judge Kelly found for Mr Polidaru but didn’t award costs as he could have engaged more with the VCI earlier. But that would have denied us the legal speculation on the nature of beauty outlined above.

Gizella Bodnár AKA “Airplane Gizi” RIP

Gizella Bodnár has died. No, I hadn’t heard of her either until I came across her via Wikipedia’s Recent Deaths page. Hungary’s “Queen of Thieves”, she also earned the name “Airplane Gizi’ due to her M.O. of making hadty getaways using domestic flights.

More on Gizella and the rather tragic backstory to her kleptomania :

The fourth of six children born to a railroad engineer father and a housewife mother, Gizella, or Gizi for short, started to steal small things while still a child. She attributed her kleptomania to meningitis which she survived at the age of six. Later she studied in Kassa, but when World War II broke out the stress of it brought her kleptomania to the fore again.

In the early 1950s, Malév, the national Hungarian airline, used to provide domestic flights between cities throughout Hungary. Bodnar’s clever ploy was to fly from Budapest to Miskolc, Debrecen, Szeged, Pécs, and Szombathely where she would break into houses and then fly back home to the capital on the evening flight; although she always denied ever having flown in a plane.

Hungary was not the only country in which she practiced her purloining ways. Among other watch loving capitals, she also committed regular break-ins in Amsterdam, London, and Paris. Part of her modus operandi was to knock on a neighbor’s door in the morning to borrow some condiments for cooking, which she would then return in the evening, thereby providing herself with an alibi for two distinct parts of the day.

During her long career, she was arrested twenty-one times between 1948 and 2006 and stood trial over 20 times. Ultimately, she was convicted to a total of 40 years in jail of which she served a total of 16 years and 7 months in prison.

She moved to the town of Komárom, where she was arrested in January 2009, at the age of 82, for breaking into a house. Late in her life, she was diagnosed with kleptomania: she admitted to liking “shiny things” and claimed that she mostly gave away all her loot to other people rather than selling it, a claim supported by the fact that at the time of her death she had no possessions to her name.

In this age of active ageing, it is heartening to find Gizella continued her criminal habits into her 90s:

In 2015, at the age of 89, incorrigible Gizella was arrested twice, once in June and again in September. In the latter instance, she was found in a cupboard, where she claimed she was hiding from the rain outside. She was arrested again in February 2016 in Sukoró, and again in August 2017 in Tatabánya.

In this age of active ageing, it is heartening to find Gizella continued her criminal habits into her 90s:

In 2015, at the age of 89, incorrigible Gizella was arrested twice, once in June and again in September. In the latter instance, she was found in a cupboard, where she claimed she was hiding from the rain outside. She was arrested again in February 2016 in Sukoró, and again in August 2017 in Tatabánya.

What is greater – to give your life for Irish freedom or to write comic songs about the Tipp team?

The Nationalist is running a poll to find out Tipperary’s All Time Great. Among the likes of Charles Kickham, Adi Roche and Dan Breen we have The Two Johnnies, a contemporary comedic duo. While their rib-tickling prowess is undoubted their presence seems incongrous, especially as the paper is using a knockout format to decide who will emerge as Tipp’s All Time Great. Thus rather entertaining juxtapositions like this:

Stone lettering from Nelson’s Pillar – exiled from O’Connell Street to Kilkenny

Stone lettering from Nelson’s Pillar – exiled from O’Connell Street to Kilkenny

Recently I came across Butler House, the former dower house of Kilkenny Castle. In its topiaried gardens I came across this:

Not sure how legible that is. I recall Nelson’s Head being exhibited in the Dublin Civic Museum so I am not quite sure if the remains were really so “unwanted” as all that.

Here are of the lettering:

Ian Parker in The New Yorker on Dan Mallory’s life of deception

There’s an enthralling piece in the Feb 11th New Yorker on the suspense novelist Dan Mallory who has published as A J Finn. Turns out he chose a pseudonym for a reason:

In 2016, midway through the auction for “The Woman in the Window,” the author’s real name was revealed to bidders. At that point, most publishing houses dropped out. This move reflected an industry-wide unease with Mallory that never became public, and that did not stand in the way of his enrichment: William Morrow, Mallory’s employer at the time, kept bidding, and bought his book

The whole article is worth reading. There is something highly disturbing about Mallory’s repeated claims to either have cancer himself or that his mother died of it. Parker quotes various nauseatingly jokey emails and self-dramatising articles. For instance:

While there, he published a dispatch, in the Duke student publication TowerView, describing an encounter with a would-be mugger, who asked him, “Want me to shoot your motherfucking mouth off?” Mallory responded with witty aplomb, and the mugger, cowed, scuttled “down some anonymous alley to reflect on why it is Bad To Threaten Other People, especially pushy Americans who doubt he has a gun.”

I get a strong whiff of Never Happened from this. Mallory’s evident tendency to never let the truth get in the way of a good story has nearly been caught out before:

In an interview last January, on “Thrill Seekers,” an online radio show, the writer Alex Dolan asked Mallory about the novel’s Harlem setting. Mallory said that, when describing Anna’s house, he had kept in mind the uptown home of a family friend, with whom he had stayed when he interned in New York. After a rare hesitation, Mallory shared an anecdote: he said that he’d once accidentally locked himself in the house’s ground-floor bathroom. When he was eventually rescued, by his host, he had been trapped “for twenty-two hours and ten minutes.”

“Wow!” Dolan said.

Mallory said, “So perhaps that contributed to my fascination with agoraphobia.”

Dolan asked, “You had the discipline to, say, not kick the door down?”

Mallory, committed to twenty-two hours and ten minutes, said that he had torn a brass towel ring off the wall, straightened it into a pipe, “and sort of hacked away at the area right above the doorknob.” He continued, “I did eventually bore my way through it, but by that point my fingers were bloody, I was screaming obscenities. This is the point—of course—at which the father of the house walked in!” After Dolan asked him if he’d resorted to eating toothpaste, Mallory steered the conversation to Hitchcock.

Parker considers how Mallory’s lying and exaggerations became notorious:

In subsequent interviews, Mallory does not seem to have brought up this bathroom again. But the exchange gives a glimpse of the temptations and risks of hyperbole: how, under even slight pressure, an exaggeration can become further exaggerated. For a speaker more invested in advantage than in accuracy, such fabulation could be exhilarating—and might even lead to the dispatch, by disease, of a family member. I was recently told about two former publishing colleagues of Mallory’s who called him after he didn’t show up for a meeting. Mallory said that he was at home, taking care of someone’s dog. The meeting continued, as a conference call. Mallory now and then shouted, “No! Get down!” After hanging up, the two colleagues looked at each other. “There’s no dog, right?” “No.”

The examples I’ve quoted are relatively benign. Other of his self dramatics have a sinister air.

As Parker points out, Mallory’s use of cancer and mental illness as self justifying rhetorical props misrepresents the reality of these conditions:

What is most objectionable about Mallory is his use of suffering and reported suffering for instrumental purposes. Culturally we increasingly valorise and glorify victimhood, giving certain approved classes of victim a moral authority. It should be no surprise this provides an incentive for bad faith manipulation.