The 1851 dietary challenge.

Five Deaf women are raising money to commemorate the lives of a group of teachers and servants who lie in an untended grave in Glasnevin… and in the most ‘gruel’-ling way you can imagine… Eating, for one week, the same Spartan and unappetising meals that their boarding-school counterparts did, 150 years ago!



St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls, Cabra, was established in 1846. After completing their education, some of its pupils, had no choice but to stay on at the school; some were orphans, or abandoned by their families, or had no other option but to stay on as staff members. When they died, the school buried them in common graves.

One group of 47 women who lived and worked in St Mary’s between 1931 and 1972 – teachers of the Deaf, servants, and pupils – are buried together in Glasnevin, Their plot is marked by a large cross, but without their names, and the plot is in a dilapidated condition, in stark contrast to the other common graves surrounding it.

Alvean Jones, one of the group of five fundraisers working with St Mary’s Deaf Heritage Group, says: “We wanted to restore the plot, with the erection of two headstones, one on either side of the central cross, and the names of each woman recorded, along with date of death. The existing cross will be cleaned and restored back to its former condition.

The grave had all been forgotten about by the ex-pupils of St Mary’s School. “We decided that these women would no longer be forgotten about, and the graves abandoned. So we are fundraising – by honouring the hard lives the pupils in the school lived.

We are following the original 1851 dietary schedule for the girls at the school. So between 22 and 28 May 2016, 5 of us will adhere to this dietary schedule – to the letter.”

The group are already two days into their challenge and are vlogging their progress to Ireland’s Deaf community, who are following their every gulp and grimace as they savour stirabout, binge on broth and wash everything down with plenty of milk. No processed food is allowed. The group have set up an online fundraising page at where already many donations are flooding in.

The group are hoping that as many people as possible follow their progress and contribute generously to the fund to enable the Deaf community to pay respect to the pioneering women educators who were grateful to receive this diet all those years ago.

Mysticvean’s up for the challenge.





Breakfast 8am-8:30am Bread and milk.


Luncheon 11am-11:30am Bread13217514_10153823196078992_3759104010710669382_o


Dinner: 2:30pm to 3pm Bread and broth13247834_10153823935803992_1656430690209093838_o


Supper 6:30-7pm Bread and Milk.

I had no choice but to switch to goat’s milk due to an adverse reaction to the dairy milk the day before.13235325_10153824240453992_6895778420887239995_o


Tuesday… it was my day to make a video diary… so I used a combination of photos and videos.



Stirabout and milk.

I soaked the oats overnight in water and had the porridge in the morning.

Stirabout is just the old fashioned word for porridge prepared in this way.




Luncheon 11am-11:30am Bread.13239486_10153825600618992_134324792311664526_n


Dinner 2:30pm-3pm Bread, meat and vegetable.

I started with the meal, and nearly forgot all about the bread. Yikes! Good job I remembered in time. 13227200_10153826225268992_2953213028070277098_n


Supper 6:30pm-7pm Bread and milk. (eaten at work)13260091_10153826285058992_8062457460943215362_n


Then I made a video diary summarising the whole day.


3 days done, 4 more to go.




Strawman arguments in the Marriage Equality Referendum debate

I see a lot of strawman arguments in the Marriage Equality referendum.

What are we talking about?

Voting YES or NO so that Marriage Equality is made available for all human beings, gay, straight or whatever.

Examples of strawman arguments…
“Against the bible.”
The referendum is talking about civil marriage, not religious marriage or wedding ceremonies. The bible is irrelevant in this case, and considering the fact that there are people from all backgrounds living in Ireland, and not just Irish Catholics/Protestants, this is a secular and inclusive thing we are asking people to consider, yes or no to civil marriage.

“Priests abusing boys.”
What has this got to do with two consenting adults of the same gender in love with each other wanting to get married?

“Children need a mother and a father.”
The referendum is not talking about what children need. The referendum is about whether or not to allow two consenting adults in love with each other wanting to get married, to do so.

“Think of the Children”
YES, think of the children. Children who have gay parents need the same kind of protection that other children enjoy. This is already dealt with, and not relevant to the referendum.

Be careful you are not engaging in the strawman fallacy.

Deliver Your Own Messages.

26 March 2009, 13:05

When I was a 1st year student at UCD, during Fresher’s Week (1990), I was talking to other first year students. There was a stand for the UCD LGB society. (Can’t remember the exact name of the society, but it’s the LGB society anyway.) They were giving out leaflets containing the 100 FAQs concerning ‘homosexuality’, but substituting ‘heterosexuality’ in its place.

Questions such as ‘What made you realise you were heterosexual’ and so on… made me laugh and I got the point immediately of the idiocy of the homophobic questions that members of the Gay community had to put up with. One of the group I was with took a leaflet, read it with a stern expression. (He was a mature student from New Zealand)
I thought nothing of it and went off to attend a lecture.

Later on, this student asked me if I would mind delivering an envelope to the LGB society. I was puzzled and asked him why did he not want to do it himself. He made some excuses, so I decided to give them the letter. (more fool me.)

There was no-one at the table, so I left the letter on the table and went about my business. Later on, when I returned, there was a row at the table with the letter in one man’s hand, and they looked so disgusted. I recognised the letter as being a copy of the handout, with handwritten answers.

The bollox wrote homophobic comments and answered the questions seriously, instead of seeing the point of the handout. I’m not proud for my part in this, I delivered such a horrible letter to them, causing hurt.

So… if you want me to deliver your messages I want to know:
1. Why can’t you deliver the message yourself?
2. If you have genuine reasons, what is the message?
3. Private and confidential? Find someone else.

What I Think…

17 November 2009, 14:40

I was exhorted by two key figures in my childhood NOT to let other people know what I’m thinking.

They may be right.

If I let people know what I am really thinking they start to retreat.

But then again… do I care? Not particularly.

If I Were A Drink…

24 October 2009, 09:59

If I were a drink, here is the recipe…
Get a nicely shaped glass, at room temperature. You’ll understand when you see the recipe… 5 drops of realism and optimism, (Ratio 3/2), a bit of hope, a dollop of charity, a wee drop of the old fighting spirit, and a generous serving of Adam’s Ale, topped by frozen cubes of warmth and happiness. Frozen? To help the drinker understand that warmth only comes with time. Instant warmth is false warmth.

When the beverage is imbibed, the person is ready to face the world, with what I call the after effects of drinking “PERSPECTIVE”. That’s the name of my drink.

Dangerous People

21 May 2012, 14:21

“There are some very dangerous people in this ward, so please pay attention, as you are a new face to these people.”

Anxious to do my new job properly, I made a mental note to pay attention to Dr Soames, the psychiatrist in charge, as he showed me the ropes. I half listened to him ramble on as I tried to remember what we discussed at the interview, about the delicate balance between boundaries, and open lines of communication we had to have with the people here.

“… One word about the man walking up towards us in the corridor. He is extremely dangerous, watch out for him. You see, he is one of these people who cannot talk, but is likely to strike out at any minute.”

Curious, I looked to see who Dr Soames was talking about. Ah, I recognised him, David, one of the guys at the Deaf Club where I attended my sign classes about twenty years ago. He smiled when he saw me. I was amazed he still recognised me. He raised in arm in greeting. Just as I was about to greet him back, Dr Soames interjected.

“You see, he ALWAYS does that! Every day without fail. We have been discussing ways and means to get him to stop that.”

“He was just saying hello.”

Cultural Differences

18 July 2012, 12:49

One of the workers, let us call him Mohammed Ahmed, had a problem with his gadget, and I helped him solve the problem. End of matter, or so I thought. He was grateful and asked me if I would be his “friend”. What exactly do people mean when they ask this question? It depends on the person. My Egyptian friends told me that it’s usually best to say yes to everyone who asks this question. If they want to go further, you can stop them. Easy enough. Just be firm but respectful. They will get the point eventually. No point antagonizing people, is there? Anyway, I digress. When I returned to Luxor to visit fellow volunteers a month later, Mohammed Ahmed was really happy to meet me.

Late one night, we were having a written conversation when he asked me if I had a boyfriend. When I said I was happily single, he pointed out that as he’s single, and I’m single, we could get together. I declined, naturally. The next thing – “I’m tired, you can go to bed with me” Without a pause. I just wrote “If you’re tired, go to bed yourself, goodnight, I’m staying with my friends.”

Later on it transpired that Mohammed Ahmed was not single, but a married man with 5 children by 3 different women!

The next day, he visited us and tried to have it out with us by brandishing a piece of paper with the damning piece of information about him being married. My friends reminded him that he was the one telling lies, and why was he reading private conversations anyway? I’m afraid I was a bit hard on him, saying that I don’t like liars, and that saying sorry doesn’t make it right. Apparently he got really upset at that. (The others could hear it in his voice.)

A few weeks later I received a present of a piece of clothing from him, and a text message saying “I love you.” This, after all the hard words?!! Oh dear… I thanked him, but never contacted him since. He must have got the message.

Polygamy is legal in Eqypt and if a married man approaches you with forming a relationship in mind, it’s perfectly above board. So don’t take umbrage at that. If Mohammed Ahmed had indeed told me the truth about being married, I would have explained that due to cultural differences, it is impossible for me to have a relationship with him, end of story. He probably knew this and resorted to telling lies. However, telling lies is unacceptable in ANY culture.

Having said all that, all is not doom and gloom. I have great fun with my colleagues talking about wives and husbands. Men saying things to me like “You’re my old wife, I’m getting another wife, ok with you?” and “How’s my wife?” Seven marriage proposals later, I have come to this conclusion… it’s best to get into the spirit of things and be Egyptian in your approach to life. If you think you’re being treated in a way that Egyptian women wouldn’t accept, speak up! Otherwise, lighten up.

He Won’t Wake Up! (Based On An Incident Which Took Place In May 2013 In England)

27 June 2013, 22:13

“Oh dear, he won’t wake up! What are we going to do?”

“Let me try again. JAAAASON! JASON! WAKE UP!”

No response.

“Oh dear, well, we’ll have to admit him to the wards. Bring him down to the Admissions dept.”

After wheeling the unconscious Jason down to the Admissions, next to the A+E, they decided to try again.


Red in the face from the exertion from screaming in order to rouse Jason who was most certainly not dead, the nurse noticed an elderly man hobbling his way to them from the seats.

“That’s my son, Jason Brown. Is there a problem?”

“We can’t seem to rouse him!”

“Erm, you know that he’s deaf, don’t you? That should be in the files.”

“yes, that’s the problem, we don’t know how to wake him up.”

“Are you for real? here, get out of the way.”

He shook Jason awake, who was shocked to find himself where he was.

The Doorway

08 September 2013, 20:56

Solange was with her son walking around.

Solange had to go somewhere to check out a place for her son, so she went there, clambering over the rooftops for part of the way, and climbing through (quite comfortably) a doorway.

She then went alone to inspect this place, to see if it was ok. It seemed ok, so after fixing a thing or two, she clambered through the rooftops back to her son, who was waiting patiently.

When they went to the place she selected, he clambered through the doorway. She looked away for one sec, then glanced back to follow him.

The doorway was a mere gap in the wall now, a half foot wide and a foot tall. Through this little window, she could see her son happily jumping from one roof to the other before entering the place selected for him.

She couldn’t get to him anymore.