“When the bus pulled up at departures, I out-sprinted another panicked looking passenger (she was (a) female and (b) from Holland, so however late she thought she was, it wasn’t as late as me) to the door, before descending the steps at the speed of Arjen Robben falling in a penalty area.”  Photograph: Kate Geraghty

An Irishman’s Diary on two different approaches to air travel

“As for the street’s depiction on local maps as a separate entity, protruding from the avenue at an angle, the best guess is that it was the work of a hurried clerk somewhere, who was faced with the undeniable reality of a place called Allée Samuel Beckett, but nowhere to match it.”

An Irishman’s Diary about Samuel Beckett’s Paris

 On July 4th, ‘Le Monde’ had to publish a correction to the effect that the “former prime minister of Ireland, Brian Cowen” was not, and had never been, a member of the British comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Photograph: Alan Betson

An Irishman’s Diary about back-pedalling

“The church’s accidental respectability among atheists, thanks to the gnomon, gave it an argument against worse treatment during the Revolution, when religion fell from favour. Even so, it still suffered much damage. The main altar was destroyed, most objects of value stolen, and the crypt vandalised.  Of potentially mobile treasures, only the pipe organ – one of the world’s greatest – survived, thanks to a quick-witted church employee who put fake seals on the loft door.”

An Irishman’s Diary about science, religion, and the Church of Saint-Sulpice

“I pity anyone trying to ignore the World Cup in Paris. Even walking along the streets, attempting to mind your own business, you cannot but follow what’s happening just from the crowd noises in bars and cafes.”  Photograph:  Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

An Irishman’s Diary about the sounds of football-mad Paris

“John Naylor is today remembered on the memorial wall at Loos, where his name is listed with thousands of other war dead. He is presumed buried somewhere near the battlefield, the exact location of the grave now unknown. Until two years ago, the whereabouts Margaret Naylor’s grave was a mystery too, at least to some of her family.”

An Irishman’s Diary about John and Margaret Naylor

“Even so, I thought naively, this was an Irish bar. It might not have the status of an embassy, exactly. But surely in an Irish bar, an All-Ireland quarter final must always trump a meaningless English rugby friendly?” Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An Irishman’s Diary about watching GAA abroad

I’ll never forget the dawn of that great day. It was like the Normandy landings, as a never-before-seen force of seven tractors and trailers, driven by uncles and friends, departed our yard. I don’t remember us calling the Belmullet weather station the night before to get a forecast for the operation. But apart from that, nothing had been left to chance.   Photograph: Eric Luke

An Irishman’s Diary about a mission to save the harvest

“Maybe the decade of centenaries will shed new light on the process by which the gunboat Helga was handed over to a young Free State to become the Muirchú, or “Sea Dog”, and henceforth defend the integrity of the territorial waters. It was surely a dark joke by our departing overlords.”

An Irishman’s Diary about Ireland’s first naval patrol vessel

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