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Killarney is away from the coast, about 90 km west of Cork.  We had decided to make this a base for a side trip along the Dingle Peninsular.   The hotel was modern, near the centre of town, convenient to pubs and shops, with a convenient car park. Killarney is famed for its parks and nearby lakes that have attracted tourists, holiday makers and ramblers to its hotels and grand houses since the time of Queen Victoria who spent time here. Among its notable buildings are St Mary's (Roman Catholic) Cathedral and the Franciscan Friary. 

There was a wedding on at the Cathedral that delayed us having a look inside and then we tried to be inconspicuous. Strangely it was one of only two Roman Catholic churches we visited as almost all the older churches are Church of Ireland (Protestant).  Not that there is a huge difference in the architecture.  In this case construction was delayed by the 'Great Famine' and subsequent economic collapse and it was only 'reordered' (their description) to this high standard in 1973.

As it was a 'cathedral wedding' it was quite elaborate, and thus no doubt expensive. The happy couple emerged under an arch formed of hurling sticks held aloft by their male friends, presumably members of local hurling teams. The bride was in white and although not as expensively dressed or bejewelled, she was perhaps just as lovely as Meghan Markle had been at her wedding a few months earlier.  But we agreed that in the Republic of Ireland elaborate weddings are not usually subsidised by diverting taxpayer resources from more urgent and less frivolous extravagances. 

Across the road from the Friary is the Courthouse and a bronze sculpture of two Irish Red Stags with antlers locked.  I imagined that this must be a sectarian metaphor but I was reading too much into it.  I looked it up online. It simply celebrates efforts to save these animals from extinction or perhaps from being shot by itinerant English aristocracy.  The Irish Times laments that the city was able to find seventy thousand Euros for this, implied frivolous extravagance, but couldn't afford to replace the temporary public toilets nearby.

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# Michael 2020-08-28 06:06
This article is brilliant. I've learnt a lot from reading about these travels
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At the end of February 2016 Wendy and I took a package deal to visit Bali.  These days almost everyone knows that Bali is a smallish island off the east tip of Java in the Southern Indonesian archipelago, just south of the equator.  Longitudinally it's just to the west of Perth, not a huge distance from Darwin.  The whole Island chain is highly actively volcanic with regular eruptions that quite frequently disrupt air traffic. Bali is well watered, volcanic, fertile and very warm year round, with seasons defined by the amount of rain.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The McKie Family








This is the story of the McKie family down a path through the gardens of the past that led to where I'm standing.  Other paths converged and merged as the McKies met and wed and bred.  Where possible I've glimpsed backwards up those paths as far as records would allow. 

The setting is Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England and my path winds through a time when the gardens there flowered with exotic blooms and their seeds and nectar changed the entire world.  This was the blossoming of the late industrial and early scientific revolution and it flowered most brilliantly in Newcastle.

I've been to trace a couple of lines of ancestry back six generations to around the turn of the 19th century. Six generations ago, around the turn of the century, lived sixty-four individuals who each contributed a little less 1.6% of their genome to me, half of them on my mother's side and half on my father's.  Yet I can't name half a dozen of them.  But I do know one was called McKie.  So, this is about his descendants; and the path they took; and some things a few of them contributed to Newcastle's fortunes; and who they met on the way.

In six generations, unless there is duplication due to copulating cousins, we all have 126 ancestors.  Over half of mine remain obscure to me but I know the majority had one thing in common, they lived in or around Newcastle upon Tyne.  Thus, they contributed to the prosperity, fertility and skill of that blossoming town during the century and a half when the garden there was at its most fecund. So, it's also a tale of one city.

My mother's family is the subject of a separate article on this website. 


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Opinions and Philosophy

Electric Cars revisited (again)


Electric vehicles like: trams; trains; and electric: cars; vans; and busses; all assist in achieving better air quality in our cities. Yet, to the extent that the energy they consume is derived from our oldest energy source, fire: the potential toxic emissions and greenhouse gasses simply enter the atmosphere somewhere else.

Back in 2005 I calculated that in Australia, due to our burning coal, oil and sometimes rural waste and garbage, to generate electricity, grid-charged all-electric electric cars had a higher carbon footprint than conventional cars.

In 2019, with a lot of water under the bridge; more renewables in the mix; and much improved batteries; I thought it was worth a revisit. I ran the numbers, using more real-world data, including those published by car companies themselves. Yet I got the same result: In Australia, grid-charged all-electric cars produce more greenhouse gasses than many conventional cars for the same distance travelled.

Now, in the wake of COP26, (November 2021), with even more water under the bridge, the promotion of electric cars is back on the political agenda.  Has anything changed?


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