The news in a nutshell, for J1 students and Marian Finucane

Sat, Sep 1, 2012, 01:00

EVERY YEAR, as the summer says farewell and we head into September, the airports are busy with people returning from foreign climes. And each of them wants to know, “What did I miss?” So here’s a selection of news stories from the past couple of months, a handy catch-up for people lucky enough to have got away for a chunk of the summer, whether they were holidaymakers, J1 students or Marian Finucane.

The Tall Ships Festival was greatQuays mobbed; families moving en masse; full-sailed wooden boats crowding the wharfs. Ordinarily this might have resulted only in the most foreboding and obvious recession metaphor in Irish history. Instead, last weekend was a triumph.

So much so that, with people encouraged to take public transport, Irish Rail celebrated the Tall Ships Festival by running a concurrent Short Trains Festival. In a stunningly accurate historical re-creation, families and their possessions were crammed aboard transport that had barely enough space to contain even half those numbers. The sound of distraught children and desperate parents cut through the heat of the carriages, creating heart-rending scenes that were incredibly faithful re-enactments of episodes of Irish history, as well as of every rush- hour Dart service of this summer.

We support the British nowThey kind of put a lot of credit in the bank during the Olympics, and have backed it up with the Paralymics, with each of our athletes given unequivocal and immense backing. This turns any small-minded, but traditional, sniping at their Team GB flag-waving to ashes in your mouth. (Thankfully it applies only to current athletes, so it’s still perfectly acceptable to sneer at Daley Thompson.)

The British were particularly supportive of our team at the ExCeL arena, where we further staked our claim to being, per capita, perhaps the best country in the whole world at punching people in the face.

Yes, that was the same Cian O’Connor who won bronze in London. It’s okay: we still don’t know how to feel about it either.

The Quinn family vs the courtsIt was one man versus a system he felt had a vendetta against him, backed by supporters who could be dissuaded by no amount of evidence. But before the Lance Armstrong case there was the Quinn saga.

The latest extreme sport involves running into a Cavan pub, shouting, “The Quinns deserve to be locked up, every last one of them!” and then seeing if you can get to another county before you’re caught. If that other county is Fermanagh, it’s an immediate forfeit. (By the way, if you hear someone describe Peter Darragh Quinn as being “on the run”, this is incorrect. The football match he’s at has just run a little longer than anticipated.)

Property tax is on the wayAlthough the Government has not officially said what form it will take, it is expected to be based on the market value of the property. Other potential approaches had included basing it on property size, site value and the amount of needless Ikea knick-knacks the householder had bought for it in the past 24 months and how many meatballs they ate while they were shopping for them.

Kilkenny lostAnd not in the All-Ireland final but in the Leinster final against hurling migrants Galway. Their hammering was so extraordinary that the national grid experienced a power surge as hundreds of thousands of viewers turned on their TVs during the game, then turned them off and on again, assuming there was a fault with the picture. The result meant that Kilkenny had to go through the back door, which turned out to be like inviting the Incredible Hulk to enter a building through a cat flap.

Maths made a comebackThe extra 25 points now added to the results of those who pass honours maths made a big difference to the entry points on many related college courses. It meant that if a student earned, for example, 495 points any halfwit could see those extra 25 points would give them a total of 510. Project Maths, meanwhile, was debated at length, not least for its innovative questions such as: “If a science course starts at 320 points but rises by 40 points a year, and an arts course starts at 425 but drops by 15 points a year, in what year will a future minister for education panic and rush through Project Letters?

The weather was record breakingOh, this was a summer of unforgettable weather. It was not unlike the kind of weather they’ve had in the Caribbean. The kind of weather they’ve had in the Caribbean this week, anyway.


shegarty@irishtimes.com

@shanehegarty

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