The Rotary Club, Dublin

Founded 22nd February 1911

The Dubliner

All the news that's fit to print

President: Mariandy Lennon

Hon. Sec.: Tony Keegan

Telephone 087 244 2818 

Volume 26 Issue 38

25 May 2020


Alan Harrison

Frank Bannister

David Booth

Delma Sweeney

Dermot Knight

The speaker for Monday 25th May is Willie Maxwell, Rotary Fingal on District Plans for Community/Vocational 2020/2021.

Last week President Mariandy chaired our 7th virtual meeting.  Delma Sweeney gave the invocation.


Forthcoming Speakers and Events           

1st June: Public Holiday – no meeting.


Rotary Rangers Walks

Rotary Rangers hill walks recommence as from June 9th next. These walks will be restricted to 20km from home. Travelling to the starting points will be confined to a maximum of two walkers per car. Brian George will be sending an email to all Rangers this week with details.


President Mariandy welcomed last week’s speaker President-Elect of Belfast Rotary, Ken Dixon.


Hon. Secretary Tony presented apologies from PP Tony Gannon, Brian Taylor, PP Ken Hunt, PP Randal Gray, Gerry McLarnon and David Horkan.

President’s Announcements

President Mariandy told us that she had attended the Virtual District Assembly, held last May 16, chaired by District Governor Coney Overson. There were about 166 attendees. An advantage of holding the Virtual Meeting was the presence of the International President Elect Holger Knaack from Germany, who addressed the assembly with inspiring and encouraging message, for Rotarians to act in service especially during this pandemic. He also stressed that there would certainly be many changes that Rotary will undergo in these coming months one of which is the usage of social media / platforms where we can hold virtual meetings. The Rotarians are encouraged to learn how to use this as even trainings will be designed and carried out through Video. conferencing.

She told us that we have had a reply from David Murray District Foundation Chairperson, notifying us that we have been awarded €1,500 for our Covid 19 Sandwich project. Our club is planning to come up with another Covid -related project involving children to apply for another district grant. Secretory Tony

had suggested that Mariandy talk to Caroline  Barnardo. When Mariandy talked to her she said that the children are the helpless victims of the pandemic so a project for children is a good idea.                                                                                                            


Last week’s speaker

P.E. Alan Davidson introduced this week’s speaker Ken Dixon. Ken said that he is a Fermanagh man who went to Portora Royal School, did Law at Queen’s University and also had a career as a sports journalist. He joined Rotary early on in his career, but left and re-joined in 2005 and is now the President Elect of Belfast.  The current President Karen Blair sent her regards to our club. The Belfast Rotary club will be inviting Dublin and Cork Rotary Clubs to Belfast in the coming year, continuing to develop the close relationship between these clubs.  They have an active website and had a number of new members earlier this year. Ken wondered if they would stay, given the impact of the pandemic.  Mary Peters is a member of their club.  Now 81 years, she has recently been made a Lady and a Knight of the Garter.  It is almost 50 years since her Olympic gold medal. The Belfast club support the Mary Peter’s Trust and have raised €2 million in support of young high-performance athletes.                                        

A Judge for 20 years, he aimed to hear 100 cases before lunch. As a young Magistrate he was in different courts throughout the province. He joked “Sitting in the Dock for the Day.” He remarked that many of the smaller courts are gone now.  He spent five years in Craigavon, where, despite three SuperSers, the court was very cold. Sectarianism in Portadown was hard to believe. Republicans protested their innocence. Loyalists pleaded guilty. Defendants addressed him as “Your Worship,” or “Your Royal Master,” or occasionally Your Royal Worship.”  He was always happy to allow humour in the proceedings. It was reported to him that when one defendant accused of drunken driving was asked to walk a line touch his nose and clench his teeth, he took out his teeth and said “Clench them yourself.”  There were many dangerous dog cases.  On one such case a woman asked if she could approach the bench to ask if her case could be dismissed.  When she was in front of him, she took out an urn which contained the dog’s ashes from her handbag.

Ken told us that when he was seven years of age, he contacted polio and was out of school for a year. This led to his interest in badminton. In the early 1970’s he interviewed George Hamilton and first reported on badminton in 1976.  He was granted leave from Bench by Lord McKay of Clashfern to become a sports journalist and went on to commentate on a dozen sports including sailing.

Dermot Knight thanked Ken for a most enjoyable talk.                                                                           

Members Questions and Comments

Mary O’Rafferty endorsed Ken’s wish to continue to strengthen the relationship between our club and the Belfast Rotary club. She asked if he found his job on the bench stressful and how he managed this stress.  Ken responded by saying that he knew that there is an appeal court and that people could take this route if they wished to challenge his judgement.  In general, he enjoyed his work with the exception ofa few cases relating to the Troubles.                                                                                                  In response to a question from Ted about Brexit and the European Court, he said that if the EU does not concede in negotiations on the European Court, it seems like we will have a hard Brexit.                                                  Jonathan commented that the water in the Dodder is very low, which would make the planned, but cancelled Duck Race at this time of year difficult.                                                                                                                            Secretary Tony welcomed Brian Taylor back to our meeting.  Hon. Member Stuart Dicker told us that he is leaving Ireland on 17th June.  On 23rd May he and his wife will be celebrating their 40th anniversary. Sec Tony announced that Veronica is leaving the club.  We will have 54 members when Veronica leaves. At Mariandy’s request Dermot Knight played a video of the song, “We’ll Meet Again”.  


Ice Diving, the third and final episode

by Mark Doyle

Olig cured one painful issue…a new hood designed for ultra-cold-water diving. My hood

had vents so that air could escape. A close-fitting mask sat under the edge of the hood, so that when clearing any water that got into your

mask air could be pushed into the hood. The vents allowed for more water to circulate, perpetuating the cold water head ache. A hood with no vents solved the problem. I was also getting more used to my mitts. Imagine very thick gloves, 7mm thick, with just three finger covers, thumb, index finger and last one for the remaining three fingers.  These gloves made regulator swapping a huge challenge.  As you swam away and down from your minai, turning on your torch was a magical experience. While visibility could be limited, the water was just so still… you could feel the tide move around as it turned… and if you were near a shoreline, the ice creaking as it crashed against rocks.

Lunch on the ice was nearly as big a feast as dinner back at the ranch. Everything we eat was freshly produced, cooked, baked and made by a great team of chefs and brought out on the ice. Lots of it. Local soups, red cabbage, baked chicken, ribs, burgers and as much, or rather as many raw garlic cloves as you wanted. All washed down by gallons of hot tea or coffee. Russian black tea was probably better with equal amounts of sugar.

On one of my trips to the toilet I slipped on the ice, and in an ungraceful manner launched myself to land inelegantly down my left side. The bruising lasted some weeks. Pam was the first (only) person to see these in all their glory. In addition, my lovely dry thermal underwear lost a lot of its benefits for the next dive because the sun had been shinning causing the ice to melt with water pooling on the surface drenching me through.

In the distance a seal had broken through one of the old minais and was rolling around basking in the sun.  We were in his home town. On my last dive I was finning back to towards a beautifully lit triangle. The sun’s rays were diffused by the ice as the water lapped against the edges of my only way out. I had done it!  I had ticked the box and I had enjoyed it.

In Ireland the St. Patrick’s Day parade was been cancelled, schools were closing.  The USA was stopping flights and here we were, a group of us in the Arctic circle, planning our next and last dives under the ice. At some stage I was congratulated and I become a qualified ice diver.   On my return home I received my PADI ice diving speciality certificate. Motto is lose one Paddy get another PADI.

I have promised Pam that I won’t do it again for another 64 years.  Mind you that was before our world changed, perhaps forever.


Zamda Ireland

The following account is based on interviews with club members Donald Gordon and Pat Fanning.

In 2011 Rotary Club Dublin was involved in the development of schools, nursing facilities and a dam in the Luhumba project but found difficulty in the control of funding. As a result, our club sought another charity with similar long-term goals and with a strong connection to our club.

This we found through Pat Fanning, who was Principal at St. Joseph’s primary school, Fairview, a Christian Bother’s School.  He was invited to Zambia by the Christian Brothers to visit the sites of various building projects they were undertaking there.  At that time, in 2011, the charity Kara had a school and hospice in the impoverished town of Kabwe, founded in 2003 by Mary Chidgey, an Irish nurse employed by the charity Kara. She set up a hospice in a house donated by an Indian businessman. Mary also offered a visiting medical service to surrounding bush communities with her mobile clinic using her old land Rover.  In addition to her medical interventions she also built a Sables drop-in centre.  

Kabwe is Zambia’s second largest city. Unlike Lusaka, the capital, it is an old mining town (Broken Hill) with little employment opportunities.  They have over 85% unemployment, and like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, Kabwe is suffering from the plight caused by HIV/AIDS. In our interview for this article, Donald said that, following the copper mining companies’ withdrawal, Kabwe is one of the most polluted places on earth. After Kara had disengaged from Zambia. Mary returned to Ireland. Two months after she left the Sables drop-in centre/school and hospice had deteriorated rapidly. Pat said that when he visited, he saw, “young boys living in sewer pipes and down alleyways, we just wanted to get them out of there.”  So, he set about establishing a school for these orphaned and vulnerable children. Mary Chidgey handed over the Sables project to Pat and he created the charity, Zamda Ireland, with his wife, teachers and friends.

A teacher in Pat Fanning’s school, Owen Hegarty, volunteered to work for the project.  He hired a Social Worker and they gathered upward of 60 children who were homeless, fed, clothed and educated them and offered shelter to between 15/25 children. Our club made a connection with this charity through Mary Chidgey. Zamda Ireland was attractive because all funds raised went straight to the project.  In 2013 Donald and Paul Martin visited the project in Kabwe.  At that time the school had an eviction notice because a priest, who owned the land, wanted to sell it to the government. Donald and Paul looked at other possible sites, one of which was owned by the Salesians.  They returned to ask the club to raise funds to build a primary school and shelter for boys who were homeless, on a site leased from the Salesians for 15 years at €1 per year. Pat Fanning is currently negotiating a further 15-year lease with the Salesians.

Between 2013 and 2019 our club has raised approx. €130k/140k mainly through the annual barbecue and auction, hosted by our member the late John Goor and his family, through anonymous donations, our Trust Fund and a District Grant. Members of our club also sponsor a child at €25 per month. Rotary Club, Dublin has been the largest benefactor to the Sables schools. Another means of income comes from Irish Transition Year students visiting Sables and working in self-sustaining projects such as wells for safe drinking water, chicken runs and piggeries.

The Sables primary school now has a preschool, a primary school with five buildings in total, housing 2/3 classrooms, a dining room, offices and shelter for children. Donald visited the school again in 2016 to check out the prospect for a secondary school.  Our club supported this development financially and a secondary school is now in construction over four phases, the Salesians paying for two and Zamda Ireland paying for two of these. An agreement has been made that the Salesians will take over and manage the schools in the long-term. The second stage of the secondary school is nearing completion and in two years they will have a secondary school providing for schooling to the Zambian education equivalent of Leaving Certificate. These classrooms need to be fitted out with facilities.

The Zambian government shut down schools in response to the Covid 19 pandemic so the Sables school is closed. The shelter remains open housing between 15 and 25 children. The gardener continues to work in their substantial garden, producing food for the boys who stay in the shelter and enough to give food parcels to those who call to the gate.

The project has become embedded in the community over the years, with the teachers paid by the Zambian government, Zambian cooks, security and gardener. The local policeman teaches judo.  Sables provides vocational training for students, for example, tailoring using manual sewing machines, a cookery school and metalwork. Initially all the students were boys and now the ratio between those attending the school is 52% girls and 48% boys. The residential centre is for boys only. Education is valued in Zambia and Pat has seen  success already from the work they have done, such as a female graduate taking first year medicine and another graduate taking teacher training.

Pat has recently written a letter to our club notifying us that clothes and items useful to the school from Ireland are being gathered in a container.  Those with items to send should contact him.



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