A worker in California installs a section of artificial lawn, a water-saving alternative to traditional lawns. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If we ever move back to Ireland, we will be able to run masterclasses in how to cut down on water bills

Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers bakery leaving Laganside Court in Belfast. Photograph: Stephen Kilkenny/PA Wire

As we are the first country in the world to hold a referendum on gay marriage, we have the opportunity to reframe the debate away (...)

The Commitments: ‘The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin’

Roddy Doyle’s trilogy is up for this year’s Dublin: One City, One Book initiative. That’s very clever all the same

If newsworthiness is that hard to define quality that makes a story worth telling, what was it about Elaine O’Hara that deemed her so much less newsworthy than other Irish women who have disappeared?

It’s chilling to realise a woman can go missing in Ireland without an outcry

A study carried out among a small group revealed that the average person makes a food-related decision 224 times a day. Considering we’re asleep for up to eight hours, that’s roughly once every five minutes.

If you sit by the window in a restaurant you’re 80 per cent more likely to order salad. Eat from a bigger plate and you’ll eat one(...)

Sharon Curley (Tina Kellegher) and Dessie Curley (Colm Meaney) in a scene from The Snapper.

Have you forgiven Miley his affair? Do you know the plural form(s) of the word ‘you’? Do you have a Bono story?

In the US, if parents want their children to learn about religion, they send them to Sunday school and pay for it privately. Photograph: Thinkstock

Why are Irish children spending 2½ hours a week learning about heaven when they could be learning about space?

Annie and Saoirse Power (both 9 months) from Kilkenny and Noah Connolly (14 months) from Waterford give lessons in feeding to Glanbia Ingredients Ireland chief executive Jim Bergin, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan yesterday. Photograph: Jason Clarke

Predictably, for Enda Kenny, Phil Hogan and Jim Bergin, their Dad-in-chief moment did not come yesterday

Scarlett Johansson’s initial reaction to Travolta’s ‘handsiness’ spoke volumes. Photograph: Mike Nelson/EPA

Unless you’re administering CPR, there’s really no need to get handsy with women you barely know

Home is . . . the sense of anticipation on Grafton Street before the shops open. Photograph: Getty Images

My notion of what home means roams around and fixates on disparate things

A doctor administers a measles vaccination. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Parents can believe what they want, but if it endangers the health of others, society must act

Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

The film of EL James’s bestseller, starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian and Anastasia, can be vaguely titillating(...)

Zooey Deschanel and Bradley Cooper: both speak with what is known as ‘vocal fry’

Vocal fry is that crackling, husky, drawly, perpetually bored, just-out-of-bed quality that is most pronounced at the end of sente(...)

With the help of readers, ‘The Irish Times’ is on the hunt for the best Irish pub outside Ireland. Which would you nominate, and w(...)

Benedict Cumberbatch: with regard to his use of the word ‘coloured’, surely we have to allow that intention matters.  And here he was fairly blameless. Photograph: Danny Moloshok/Files/Reuters

Benedict Cumberbatch’s inadvertent use of the historically loaded word ‘coloured’ deserved an apology, and one duly came. But wasn(...)

Karri Cormican mixes a cocktail at the Comstock Saloon in San Francisco. Photograph: Matthew Ryan Williams/The New York Times

Babysitters are hard to come by, probably because most teenagers don’t need the money. So when you find a good one, you tip well

Miley Cyrus: ‘I had kind of bad skin when I was younger and that was always my insecurity. I would get overwhelmed and try everything. If it had ‘acne’ on it, I’d be like, “Yup, I’m going to put that on my face”.’ Photograph: Michael Bruckner/Wire Image courtesy of Mac. Miley Cyrus is wearing Ashish

The fast-talking singer has robust views on insecurity, feminism and ‘Instagram fame’. Sinéad O’Connor needn’t have worried about (...)

Lactating breasts? We’re not quite ready to embrace those. Photograph: Norberto Duarte/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland is not an easy country in which to breastfeed, as mothers huddle in the middle of prudish rubberneckers on one side and th(...)

Note to self: your brothers are right about Phil Collins. Photograph: Luciano Viti/Getty Images

If I could have a word with her now, that angsty girl with the bad haircut and the good intentions, what would I tell her?

A photo with victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in late 2012. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

There are many things I love about living in the US, but my children having to do a drill ‘in case a crazy person ever breaks into(...)

By now, I was expecting to have it all figured out but there’s a yawning chasm where I was expecting all that wisdom to have ma(...)

Black Lives Matter demonstration in New York, which took place in the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting at the hands of a Missouri police officer. Photograph: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

This year, feminism went mainstream, I saw climate change up close and was bemused from afar as Ireland went mad over water

Is Jamie Oliver the king of Christmas?

Jamie Oliver, Gwyneth Paltrow, our own adorable Donal Skehan: if you believe celebrities’ Instagram accounts, they all have Christ(...)

‘As long as my children can quote at least one line from ‘The Snapper’, their Irish heritage is intact.’

Here are nine words and phrases that only people from Ireland will understand. We’re great gas altogether

California Christmas: ‘We are beginning to build our own set of Christmas traditions in our new home, and importing as many of the old ones as we can’

I miss calling it ‘the Christmas’. My mother’s ham and cider sauce. The long, lazy joy of Stephen’s Day...

Angelina Jolie: could she be heading for the White House? Photograph: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Jennifer O’Connell: It’s one thing celebrity activists lecturing us about the things we should be concerned about, and quite anoth(...)

Bill Cosby’s alleged victims’ drunkenness should be irrelevant to the case

A woman’s taste for Jim Beam or Pinot Noir does not make her fair game

A bumpy ride: motherhood has become a loaded term. Photograph: Thinkstock

Motherhood has become a high-stakes endeavour, and it seems all of society has something to say about women’s child-rearing abilit(...)

Elsa from Frozen

To hell with gender stereotyping - let it go

One of Target’s mannequins

Target in the US uses child-size mannequins with breasts to sell tops for kids

Monica Lewinsky: making a case for the public to recast its opinion of her. Photograph: David Maialetti/AP Photo/Philadelphia Daily News

Jennifer O’Connell: Lewinsky was betrayed by many people, but her greatest betrayal was by a society that loves nothing more than (...)

 Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is seen projected on a video screen as she delivers a keynote address during the 2014 DreamForce conference  in San Francisco. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Everybody who’s anybody except Bono turned up for Marc Benioff’s Dreamforce ’14 technology conference

A worker in a hazardous-material (hazmat) suit at a block in Dallas, Texas, where a man diagnosed with Ebola was staying. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

Underneath the western media’s over-reaction is the troubling suggestion that the hardest-hit African nations have brought Ebola o(...)

Productivity drive?: egg-freezing is complex and uncomfortable, not an easy way to keep women at their desks. Photograph: LWA/Getty

No intelligent woman will freeze her eggs because her boss thinks it’s a good idea

will.i.am annouces the launch of i.amPULS at Dreamforce 2014  in San Francisco, California.

Pop star turns tech entrepreneur with the Puls cuff unveiled at the Dreamforce tech event

Anthony Elonis: convicted and sentenced to 44 months for making threats on Facebook

The task of distinguishing between an expression of artistic creativity and a real and frightening threat will soon occupy the min(...)

Silicon Valley 50: at the  event this week were (from left) president of ITLG John Hartnett; ITLG chairman Craig Barrett; Rob Leslie of Sedicii Innovations, receiving the ITLG/Irish Times Innovation Award; and John Stanton, president of Silicon Valley Global Partners. Photograph: Chris Ryan, Views of the World Silicon Valley 50:  (from left) president of ITLG John Hartnett, ITLG chairman Craig Barrett, Rob Leslie of Sedicii Innovations, receiving the ITLG/Irish Times Innovation Award, and John Stanton, president of Silicon Valley Global Partners. Photograph: Chris Ryan, Views of the World

Praise for Irish wit, optimism and tax breaks but education remains a worry

Off to her pot farm: Alaskan TV newsreader Charlo Greene quit her job on air

I don’t much want to be part of a society where people sit around at dinner parties doing bad Elmo impressions

British student Hannah Graham (right), who vanished recently after a night out, and Hunter S Thompson (left), who wrote about children living in a “kingdom of fear”.

Paranoid parenting isn’t about actual risk: it is about our need for control

A still from the Jameson ad

Dingy pubs, busty wenches and funerals – welcome to the Ireland of American ads

How many babies do you know who can walk?

Do you really need that sunflower-shaped bath or those baby knee-pads?

Women in Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan are entitled to time off when they have their period – but it’s less about liber(...)

There were grand plans for Smithfield but, due to bad planning and a lack of commercial or public investment, what evolved was a depressing, Stalinist space. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

If the success of its shared public spaces are the measure of a mature city, our capital has a long way to go

Even if you only dip into Facebook once in a while, or occasionally rely on Google Maps for navigation, you still leave a data trail glistening in your wake. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

If Socrates had had Facebook, he might have decided that the overexamined life was as problematic as the underexamined

A friend worked for a brief stint in a Dublin firm for a man he described as like ‘a cross between Fran from Love/Hate and David Brent’

Most of us have far worse anecdotes from the front line of gainful employment than the recent leaks from the office of Ségolène Ro(...)

Vegemite, made from leftover brewer’s yeast, is part of the national diet

Do you know your bogans from your rorting, and your Vegemite from your Golden Gaytimes?

Arklu’s Pirate Queen doll

The canon of girl action heroes is dismal. Thanks heavens, then, for Donegal-based toy company Arklu’s dolls of pirate queens and (...)

Norrie, who identifies as a ‘spansexual’

Last week, the Australian high court ruled that the sex of Norrie May-Welby was ‘non-specific’

We are used to seeing newspaper photographs of a sad-looking Jennifer Aniston. When is the last time you opened the paper and saw a miserable-looking ‘childless George Clooney’. Photograph: Stefania D’Alessandro/Getty Images

What’s the point of this constant badgering women about their egg count?

Patrick Nulty: will scuttle off into that murky place in our consciousness reserved for public figures who once did something wrong, only no one can quite remember what. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

He may have been suffering from the Bart Simpson delusion: if no one saw you do it, it never happened

Ban bossy: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Photograph: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images

While we’re banning ‘bossy’, here’s a few more words I’d like to usher into oblivion

The question isn’t whether it is protein or carbohydrates that kill you first -- it is how we survived long enough to get here

Sarah Jessica Parker recently said in a magazine interview that women today “are pretty unfriendly to one another”. Photograph: Andrew H Walker/Getty

Happiness, equal pay, less guilt – and cut us a bit of slack every now and then

Ikea’s arrival in the State in July 2009 changed the way our homes look more decisively than the invention of wallpaper or plasma-screen televisions. Photograph: Eric Luke

We feel a disproportionate affection towards something we helped to create

Facebook: has it made social isolation worse? Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Who wants to be the solitary voice in a feed of holiday snaps and baby photos admitting that, actually, life’s not that great and (...)

Flood defence barrier on Waterford Quay. Photograph: Patrick Browne

You might pass a stretch of Viking wall, an 18th century townhouse and an old Quaker cemetery on your way to buy a pint of milk (...)

Schapelle Corby: to the Australian media, she is ‘our Amanda Knox’. Photograph: Bagus Othman/Reuters/Files

The ongoing preoccupation with Corby, who spent nine years in a Bali prison cell for drug smuggling, is rooted in snobbery, misog(...)

As members of the public, we have no right to cast judgment on Woody Allen, or anyone. That’s what courts are for. But our default position when a child cries ‘abuse’ should not be disbelief. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Versions of this story have been played out before, in every Irish community

A model has make-up applied backstage at the Burberry Prorsum autumn/winter 2014 collection in London. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

When we said we wanted equality, the chance to compare pore sizes wasn’t quite what we had in mind

Feel free to ignore this list and not do your own 20 things instead

‘My bumbling, embarrassed “a mummy and a daddy” explanation doesn’t cut it in the complex, uncertain and ever-changing world of family creation in the 21st century.’ Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Parents entering into arrangements such as surrogacy are doing so in a legal vacuum, in which everyone risks being exploited

The T-shirt that Urban Outfitters pulled from its shops: since when did someone else’s serious illness make for a witty fashion statement?

‘Twerk’ has been voted the most annoying phrase of 2013. But if the list had been compiled in Ireland, we suspect it might have be(...)

Language barrier: when Peter O’Toole died last week, an Australian news anchor said ‘I’m surprised to hear he
/
 is Irish
:
. He has such a great command of the English language.’ Photograph: Karl Grant/Camera Press

The caricatures of us as drinkers, pugilists and poets linger on – but what else does the rest of the world privately think of us?(...)

Photograph: Purestock/Getty Images

As families and friends get together over the holidays, here’s our guide to 10 hot-button topics to avoid if you don’t want a blo(...)

British prime minister David Cameron, Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and US president Barack Obama pose for a ‘selfie’ at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service today.

It’s hard to think of a more appropriate symbol of kind of society we've become

 Gwen Stefani (centre) meets Anna and Elsa from the new Disney film “Frozen,” at Disneyland park in November. Photograph: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disney Parks via Getty Images

Disney’s ‘Frozen’ and the girls’ toy GoldieBlox are really just clever marketing ploys by companies promising that they take gende(...)

When they were released an hour later, clutching their charge sheets (“breaking and entering” and “possession of a dangerous weapon”, since you ask), they declared it the best morning of their lives. Photograph: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters

We are raising a generation of super-confident, cosseted monsters

Lily Allen: it is refreshing to see a mother and public figure reject the ‘snapped back’ schtick around celebrities and post-birth bodies. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Hurrah for Lily Allen and the video for her new single, a witty riposte to our ridiculous standards for women’s bodies

“Of all the surprises I’ve had since temporarily moving here, the greatest has been the almost evangelical dedication of many Australians to buying fresh, local produce when it is in season.”

Australia has won me over with its evangelical dedication to buying fresh, local produce when it is in season

Harbouring thoughts of home: Sydney harbour on New Year’s Eve

Almost 80,000 Irish people have moved to Australia since 2008. Has it lived up to their expectations? And will they come back?

Children can make parents unhappy at certain times in their lives.

Having children, successive studies have found, doesn’t make you any happier – and can actually make you less happy

Stories about babies being fed blended McDonald’s make the rest of us feel better – but the truth about obesity is much more compl(...)

This week’s arrests suggest that better education on fire hazards for schoolchildren should be part of any future bush-fire preven(...)

Malala Yousafzai: her story will still be just as resonant in two or three years, when she has had space to recover, to complete her education and the process of growing up. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP Photo

For all her intelligence, the girl who was shot by the Taliban is still just 16 and recovering from a life-threatening injury

The bra has always had a cultural significance that goes far beyond its purpose as, in the immortal words of Bette Midler, ‘an ove(...)

Samantha Lewthwaite is the latest example of the media’s desire to iconicise women accused of involvement in violent crime

Ireland has a history of moral panics about female sexuality, but we’re not the only ones in a tizz about child beauty pageants

This week, the author of a new study on emigration said it is “astonishing” that the rhetoric about emigration in Ireland has never changed. I might not have understood quite what he meant before I left, but I do now.

Emigration is an emotive term, burdened down by memories of food parcels, one-way tickets in steerage and long-lost uncles. But it(...)

We’ve all been there, sitting in an overheated conference room, halfway through your seventh consecutive meeting about some upcoming meeting, when it suddenly dawns on you that the whole thing is a giant Ponzi scheme. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Anthropologist believes ruling class ‘has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on its hands is a mort(...)

To those outside Australia, that nation’s first female prime minister is an iconic figure. To Australians, she seemed cold, shrill(...)

The Huffington Post’s aim to validate the identity of every new user is ambitious, and it may not succeed – but it is right to try(...)

Believing a sexual predator lurks behind every tree is neither healthy nor commendable

Taste of home: “The type of customers we appeal to are interested in food, traditional music and getting a pint of Guinness served to them by someone Irish, without a shamrock on the top,” says Patrick Gallagher of PJ Gallagher’s, in Sydney. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe

Australia’s Irish bars have been getting a bad rap. But on a recent crawl in Sydney, from the Cock’n’Bull, in Bondi Junction, to P(...)

Children need to be taught, as early as possible, about the consequences that can spiral from an anonymous, 140-character tweet

An upfront ad for a tampon delivery service shows that audiences aren't as prudish as they're imagined to be

Bar stools, unused Ikea furniture, Casio keyboards: Australia is a scavenger’s paradise

As I up sticks for Sydney, I am on a quest to unburden myself of the tyranny of stuff

Temple Bar

I broke a golden rule recently: do not set foot in Dublin’s ‘cultural quarter’ after 6pm

We want women to shirk prescribed gender stereotypes, but we’re much less keen on men doing it

Comedy stalwart: Lena Dunham (second  right) with Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke from her series Girls. Photograph: Chad Batka/New York Times

Only five of the 57 acts at next month’s Vodafone Comedy Festival, in Dublin, are women. Perhaps that’s because women are being fu(...)

Biological clock: since the furore over Baby Hunger, we have tried to build lives, careers and relationships, with a great big ‘35’ flashing in neon over our heads

It seems those dire warnings about the ‘fertility cliff’ we topple over at age 35 are based on 300-year-old data

British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson

The pictures of Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson were disturbing. But so too was the public rush to judgment

Mark Zuckerberg speaks during an event at Facebook headquarters in  April. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It took the rest of us the entire history of the human race to decide our social norms – and Mark Zuckerberg just a few hours to t(...)

Ciara Brennan, teacher; Marissa Carter, entrepreneur; Eilish Hardiman, chief executive of Tallaght Hospital; Siobhan Parkinson, author and former children’s laureate; Fiona Haughney, IT project manager; Caroline Erskine, communications consultant and journalist; Freda McGrane, retired from a career in administration

Marking 40 years since the abolition of the Civil service ‘marriage bar’, a week-long series examines Irish women’s working lives.(...)

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