‘Compassion… is best understood as a verb, it’s something that we do’

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In terms of our pursuit of happiness and fulfilment, could we be looking for all the right things in all the wrong places? If there was a fail-safe method to manifest inner peace, outer prosperity and every good thing in between, then there would be no need for a multi-billion dollar self-help industry that promises us everything under the sun …

Olivia O'Leary on the Song of Amergin‘It’s a poem that sounds a deep echo with any of us born on this island.’

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Sometimes a song is enough. A song and a place. I was 14, in a proper Gaeltacht for the first time. Baile na Sceilige. Ballinskelligs in County Kerry. Inlander as I am, used to the gentle river valleys of home, I was stunned by the epic beauty of this place. But I was still resisting the actual Irish classes until the teacher taught us a local song. It …

Olivia O'Leary on Cyclists‘It’s time we called in the law and fought for our footpaths.’

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Every Easter Monday in recent years, O’Connell Street in Dublin has been closed off to traffic. And it’s been splendid. For once, we can enjoy the great girth of that fine street and all the music and open-air historical events available from the river up to Parnell Square without the tyranny of traffic. The street becomes a plaza. A great meeting place. Rather than being divided …

Olivia O'Leary on Trump‘Trump could win again…we may be fooling ourselves if we think he won’t.’

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He could win again, you know. I woke up this morning realising that Trump could win again. And that we may be fooling ourselves if we think he won’t. And I wasn’t thinking particularly about the summit with North Korea but just about the odds. And they were the same odds that indicated that he would win in the first place in 2016. I had a great …

The Olivia O'Leary column‘Is it possible that the abortion issue might be the one that breaks the tribal lines in the North?’

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Nobody knows more than the fella in the pub. The combined knowledge of a dozen university departments are as nothing when compared with the profound wisdom of the fella in the pub. The same fella knew more about having babies, about classical music, about politics than any of us who might claim some expertise in the area. Indeed, my husband, wandering in …

Olivia O'Leary on CervicalCheck‘If authorities thought that silence might protect trust in the system, they now know it did the exact opposite.’

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Secrets. This is a country full of secrets. And because we haven’t faced up to them, they’re always there, ready to trip us up, like a minefield that hasn’t been cleared. There’s a saying psychologists use: “Secrets are the rocks on which we perish”. The truth of that struck me this weekend reading Rosita Boland’s extraordinary interview in The Irish Times with a man who …

Olivia O’Leary“Rugby offers one of the few occasions for people on all parts of this island to declare publicly and passionately their common allegiance.”  

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Olivia O’Leary used to dislike Ireland’s Call. Not anymore. These days, she finds the sight and sound of the Irish rugby team and supporters all singing Phil Coulter’s song together moves her beyond words. She follows rugby, she says, for the national anthems. And, hearing the Welsh in full flight singing Land of My Fathers, you’d have to agree that …

Olivia O'Leary on Pope Francis‘You can’t say that you love women if you exclude them.’

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Dear Francis, Before your very welcome visit here in August, I thought you might like to know what it was like in 1979. Just before Pope John Paul II came, Irish Times editor Douglas Gageby called us all into his office. “Now listen up, ye gang of lefties, women’s libbers and cynics”, he said. “This visit is historic. And this newspaper will cover it …