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"The Liffey Swim (1923) - Yeats

"The Liffey Swim (1923) - Yeats

Back from Dublin at the weekend, where I ran a workshop for one of the MBA intakes to focus them on writing their big Stage Two assignment, the Integrated Management Project. It was a pleasure to be there and see our Irish partner, the Irish Management Institute (IMI), which is housed in a concrete and glass building that one suspects was recognisably of its time when built and which may well be considered a great example of that school of architecture in the future, but which hasn’t quite weathered its environment yet. Like Henley in the UK, the IMI is a free-standing and independent venture in talks with a university (Cork) for merger.

On the way back to the UK I had some time on a lovely September afternoon to walk around the city centre. With the second vote on the Lisbon Treaty coming up in a couple of weeks, there was hardly a lamppost in the town that did not have at least one or two posters campaigning “No” or “Yes”. It appeared to me that the yes vote was slightly more dominant, and this appears to be the opinion of those I spoke to as well. The initial no was delivered on the back of some slick and impassioned campaigning by Libertas (now more or less absent from the debate) and a coalition of “fundamentalist Catholic” (a term to send shivers down the spine) groups.  The latter are still vocal but the argument seems to have swung another way following the economic collapse of the Celtic Tiger. The other thing that everyone there is talking about is NAMA (National Asset Management Agency), which is the Irish Government’s plan to deal with the credit crunch in property by buying up the portfolios of the major Irish Banks. The controversy revolves, of course, around the price of this since no-one wants to compensate the banks and developers for the speculative property boom that Ireland went through.

On the way through the city centre I picked up a copy of Meda Ryans’ book “the day Michael Collins was shot”, which details the week or so around the ambush and which has quite a lot of testimony from Emmet Dalton. Then, as I was crossing the Liffey on O’Connell bridge I was in time to see the  200 or so swimmers in the 90th annual Liffey swim make their way against the tide to the finish line. Quite a crowd of onlookers formed to see them go by and a couple of German tourists asked me “how long is the swim?” Since one of  our MBA programme members that I had done the workshop with that morning works in the Dublin Fire Brigade, and was one of the organisers of the day (providing the decontamination showers at the end) I was able to tell them that is was over 2km. “Ah, not so long” was the reply, at which I felt the ancestral need to defend the grandness of the task. “It is against the tide,” I added, staring him down until and forcing a grudging semblance of being impressed onto his face.

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