Welcome to my website!
Here, you will find details of my Career and Life, Books, and Media & Public Appearances. I also make available a collection of my journalistic writings. Just below, you will find a new Moral Matters Column (uploaded each Friday) and a selection of my Saturday Essays from the Irish Daily Mail. At the bottom of this page, I have selected a quote from my writings in the hope that it will help you kick off your day on a contemplative, thought-provoking, but always life-affirming note.
February 21, 2018
In his darkest hour, Churchill proved he was a moral titan
I didn’t know what to expect as the lights dimmed in the cinema. My wife had already seen darkest Hour and was determined that I should also view it on the big screen. ‘You will love it,’ she said, knowing that its central protagonist has always been an enormous influence on my life. I was doubtful. How could anyone, least of all an actor like Gary Oldman, play someone as complex and charismatic as Winston Churchill? How could he capture the moral greatness of that flawed hero who resisted Hitler when others ran for cover? The film charts the tense events that led to Churchill’s premiership in 1940, his defiance in the face of seeming disaster and his refusal to countenance any accommodation with the Nazis. The fact that Gary Oldman has just won this year’s Bafta Leading Actor award tells its own story. In my view, he should also secure an Oscar for what was a spellbinding performance. There are many, not least in this country, who consider Winston Churchill a warmonger with a bloody legacy. The question for such people to answer is this: would it have been preferable to live under the Nazis? For without Churchill’s tenacity, his moral grit and courage, that is how we would have ended up. Oldman summed it up perfectly in his Bafta acceptance speech, when he said of Churchill: ‘He held the line of honour and freedom and integrity. For his nation and the world.’ Is there any contemporary politician of which such things could be said today? That is why I was thrilled when our eldest son asked if he could see the movie with me…Read more
December 23, 2017
Home is where the heart is when it comes to Christmas
They say it is the most magical time of the year, a season of wonder, joy and goodwill. And yet, what is left of Christmas when the commercial wheel stops spinning? What is left of this great feast after all the hustle and bustle, the frantic buying and selling? You know what I mean: the relentless queues, traffic chaos, the stress, anxiety and exhaustion. The shopping trolleys bulging with too much food, the panicky pursuit of presents that cost too much, and the niggling worry that you may have forgotten something. And then, when the big day arrives, you are too agitated and exhausted to enjoy it. It is certainly true that Christmas brings its own unique levels of anxiety. But this belies the fact that, beyond the commercial frenzy, Christmas still retains its capacity to bind people like no other event in the long calendar year. It still manages to draw us back to the homeland of the heart. The pressure and the panic will continue until last light on Christmas eve. Even then, the domestic preparations will still be in full swing. But this will be a different class of pressure: it will be work that delivers its own joyful reward. Night will fall, and the bells will toll. The shutters will come down on the commercial world and, for a brief time, we will all turn inwards. The Christmas lights that defy the winter gloom will guide us home. No matter how detached we have become from hearth and home, we all long to return – if only for a few days. Christmas gives us our reason to revisit those times and places from which our fondest memories were formed. It draws us back to family, friends and fireside. Our stressed-out society is characterised by constant commuting in the fast lane. We rush here, there and everywhere with ‘no direction home’. We are neither bound nor rooted to anything for too long. In returning home on Christmas eve, we experience what it means to belong…Read More