An Irish chieftain living in SA

2008-10-17 00:00

What is your connection with The Witness and to Pietermaritzburg?

Surely there is nothing better for the immigrant to KwaZulu-Natal to read? We came to live near Himeville just over six years ago.

Where were you born, where did you grow up and where were you educated?

I was born in Ireland. I grew up on a farm as an only child learning the ways of agriculture, equestrian matters and hunting, and reluctantly attended schools in England for 10 years. Eton [College] is the source of my literary learning. I was amazed to see what a good imitation Michaelhouse is of Eton and can only hope that in 600 years time it will serve this nation’s youth just as well. I followed up my education with four years in the Irish Guards and a year at the French National Stud.

How do you spend your days?

In the light of escalating food costs we “dig for Africa” and sell home-grown vegetables to a major supermarket chain.

Do you write letters to other newspapers? Why do you choose The Witness?

If something happening in Ireland or England merits comment I fire a line off to the Irish Times, the Kerryman or the Daily Telegraph. Farmer’s Weekly has been very good to me, awarding me “letter of the month” three times in five years. I choose The Witness on account of its diversity of reporting.

How do you receive your news about South African affairs and why do you follow it?

Mainly from The Witness and from the news on TV.

Do you have other passions or interests?

As an historically disadvantaged traditional Irish tribal leader, I have an Internet association with the McGillycuddy clan from all over the world.

What do you think is the value of letter writing? What inspires you to write letters?

A letter writer has the same desire as an artist and cartoonist — to get a message across. Value only arises when a “target” is hit. My message is that a head of state is possibly better devolved from direct involvement in the political arena. I believe that this may apply equally to Zimbabwe and South Africa.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing South Africa today?

The political merry-go-round is now in full rotation and an end is not in sight. I suggested to readers (Struggle into troubles) on September 3 that there may be much worse inflation news in the pipeline. In the same letter I suggested that those [politicians] whose promises had not materialised will find themselves out in the cold. The biggest challenges facing SA today are primary school education, crime, political integrity and trade.

What is your age and marital status and do you have children?

I am 68 and have been married for 44 years to a part-O’Connor Irish colleen. Our former children are grown up, minding their own businesses and keeping a loving, watchful eye on “the old fogies”.

What do you believe has been your best letter?

Suggesting (Look to the young people, The Witness, April 3) that the younger delegates at Polokwane might engage in a vision of lower inflation, food prices, municipal valuations, matric failure rates, murder incidents, charges of corruption and the level of the rand against the currencies of those countries to which SA exports most profitably, because profits create employment.

Do you get any feedback as a result of your letters?

A number of readers are expressive with their appreciation of the topics raised and that is good for morale.

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