The Rotary Club, Dublin
Founded 22nd February 1911
All the news that's fit to print
President: Alan Davidson
Hon. Sec.: Tony McCourt
Telephone 087 241 7185
Volume 27 Issue 03
27 July 2020
Today’s speaker is Derek Bell who will talk about retirement in our time.
Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Aug 3rd Bank Holiday
Aug 10th PP Paul Loughlin – The PhD Process
Aug 17th John Bruder. Best practice in construction, world-wide.
Aug 24th DG Conny Oversen.
Aug 31st Helen Perkins – Visiting 80 Rotary Clubs!
Rotary Rangers Walks
Jul 28th Phoenix Park .Led and history narrated by Tony Keegan.
Social distancing rules will apply. More details are available from PP Brian George.
Apologies & Invocation
Hon Secretary Tony McCourt presented apologies for non-attendance from PP Brian George, Patrick White, PP Paul Martin, PP Tony Keegan, PP Ken Hunt, David Harkin, PP Ethne Fitzgerald, Rana Al Damin and IPP Mariandy Lennon (who will be in and out depending on the treasured grandson she’s babysitting.)
The invocation was given by Mary O’Rafferty.
At last week’s virtual meeting there were 18 attendees and one visitor from India, Jay Shah, who was joining us from Galway. He is the youngest member of the Rotaract Club of Mumbai Worldwide.
Hon Secretary’s Announcements
Hon Sec Tony told us of Alice Leahy’s delight at being re-elected as an Honorary member of our club. He also informed us that Kenneth Carroll’s father John D. was looking forward to being discharged from St. Vincent’s Hospital the following day after suffering an internal haemorrhage. Ken Hunt is recovering well from his recent illness. Rotarians seem to be built to last. Randal Grey’s grandson Logan (see pic) has just undergone an operation for cancer and is now going to have specialist care in Germany. The GoFund campaign to help his parents with all their expenses quickly raised €10,000 and by now this had tripled to €30,000 (actually €34,000 as per the time of the last meeting, according to Frank Bannister after a quick google.)
Our Speaker : Li Yan
David Booth introduced his wife Li Yan to the meeting and thanked her for agreeing to tell us about being locked down in China at the beginning of the Corona 19 outbreak. David said that the Chinese were much more prepared to handle the virus than we were because they’d already seen what the SARS virus could do and how terrifyingly quickly it could spread if people were allowed to move around the country in large numbers. David said that after marrying Li Yan in Dublin they had planned to have a similar celebration with all the Chinese relatives and friends in Dalian but Sars had just broken out and all weddings were cancelled and a lot of inter-city transport was brought to a halt and the celebration couldn’t go ahead till the following year.
Li Yan said she went back to spend Chinese New Year with her family, landing in her city, Dalian, on China’s north east coast, on January 16th of this year. She had a lovely week with parents and relatives when the news broke that a virus had infected people in the city of Wuhan, about 1000 kilometers to the south. The virus was unknown but it was worrying. The government was not unduly concerned at the beginning and thought that it was under control. Then on New Year’s Day they realised that it was spreading very fast and this was at the time of the year when millions of Chinese are returning to spend New Year in their hometowns. And in a country 5000 kms long and 5000 kms wide the potential for disaster is very real. They immediately cancelled all New Year Celebrations and cancelled all travel. Wuhan wasn’t immediately locked down. Public transport ran for a couple more days but then the city went into complete lock-down and people were not even allowed to leave their homes. Food was home delivered and nobody could go out to the shops. They watched on TV as the city became deserted and trucks went around spraying disinfectant everywhere. ‘We weren’t sure if we were getting the full picture from the official news bulletins so most of us poured over the videos and posts that began to flood the social media, such as WeChat and Tick-Tock. China, as you may know, does not have Facebook, WhatsAp or Google. All over China people had to stay at home, with only one family member being let out at a time to shop. We were given a kind of traffic lights system on our mobile phones. If we were clear of the virus we got a green code and could go out. If we had even a slight temperature we got an orange code. And the red code was for people who had been near anyone who had the Covid 19 symptoms or had tested positive for the virus. If you went outside you were constantly being asked to show if you were green and your temperature was taken with a little ray gun anytime you tried to go into a building. I know Irish people are beginning to wear face masks much more now, but many people, including doctors, were telling us here that wearing facemasks was a nice idea but no way as important as hand washing and social distancing. The Asians don’t agree. For many years, anyone with a cold or flu wore a mask if they had to go outside. And in this pandemic EVERYONE in China wore a mask outside. It would have been unthinkable to go out without one.
In my province we had only 30 or 40 cases of the virus. We stopped all social contact
and waited at home until food was delivered to each housing estate. It was then sorted and boxed by local volunteers and we were called when our box was ready and we went down to pick it up at a special counter. It was a tremendous community effort. We all felt that the government had done the right thing by shutting down the nation, but it was incredible to see everything at a standstill and then slowly coming back to life. It became easier for two people to go out together and we could go back to the parks and mountains. Public transport restarted but only one third as full as before the lockdown. I finally got back to Ireland on a flight that was only 25% full and I had five seats to myself, everyone masked and nervous. Most people were afraid to take any food or drinks from the flight attendants.
Then just as I came back to Ireland the virus hit and I thought the Irish government were absolutely right to close down all the schools and send the children – and my husband – home. I just didn’t understand why people here didn’t want to wear masks when they were shopping or on public transport. Now in Tralee where I’m living these days you see almost everyone wearing a mask in shops. What took them so long? The government here has done a really good job. There is always the risk of a second wave. We have seen a little second wave in Beijing and another in Shinjian in the west of China but I think the extreme measures taken in China kept the death rate comparatively low.
Frank Bannister was under the impression that the Chinese had become a very good at following rules and instructions in the 1990s and that being negative or questioning those in authority was discouraged. This had probably made them much more collective than the Americans who are obsessed with individual freedom, and this accounts for China’s success in slowing the spread of the virus in China. Li Yan agreed that the Chinese obeyed the government, not just because they were told to but because they trusted the government and were fearful of the potential death toll if the virus got out of control. You would see no one out without a face mask and people waited for the temperatures to be taken. I once ran to the chemist just a few minutes before it closed at 6 pm and was told that I had a temperature. I told them I had been running so as not to be late. They let me cool down and soon my temperature was back to normal and I was allowed inside.’
Frank also asked if Li Yan had heard the reports that the Corona virus was one that had been harvested 300 kms from Wuhan and was being kept in a laboratory in Wuhan for research when it got out. Li Yan had no knowledge of that, though she had heard that it could have come out of a laboratory accidently.
Ted Corcoran asked the question no one else dared ask, and why not? What is the Chinese government doing, locking up a million Uighur people in camps? Li Yan says there different stories circulating but the Chinese news reports that the Uighur people are people with a very low standard of living, poor at coping with modern life and not having much cultural understanding of what it means to be Chinese. She agreed that there were huge schools for them in China where they were learning skills they could use in getting jobs, operating machinery, textile work, cooking, life skills and learning to speak Mandarin. The aim was to raise their standard of living and give them a better life. (There you go Ted, now you know – Ed.)
Tom O’Neill asked if many Chinese travel outside China? Did LI Yan know approximately how many had passports? Was it about 7% like the Americans? Frank came in to save Li Yan on this one and said he’d just googled the answer and the google answer was 7% of the Chinese population have passports and a surprising 42% of Americans. It’s a kind of urban myth that hardly anyone in America has a passport.
Roger Owens gave the vote of thanks and thanked Li Yan for sharing her insights. Wasn’t this the Year of the Rat for Chinese people? And wasn’t it also the Year of the Rat 12 years ago when Lehman Brothers collapsed the world economy. Hopefully next year will bring a luckier animal. China, he said, is a very complex country and for western eyes we like to try and simplify it. That’s neither fair nor just. He lived in China for 30 years and remains very impressed. He thinks the low level of trust in the government when he first arrived has been replaced by enormous trust these days. He is particularly impressed with the downloading of mobile phone apps which make the tracing of the spread of the virus so much easier and more effective. He felt Li Yan was very well spoken, and that’s a considerable achievement in a language that is not her first language. President Alan said he was most impressed and thanked Li Yan on our behalf.
Alexander asked our Indian visitor, Mr.Jay Shah, to say a few words. Jay says he is the youngest chartered member in the world of an international club, Mumbai Worldwide, which has members from Australia, the U.S.A. and Ireland. He is currently doing his MSc in International Management at N.U.Galway. He has been with Rotary for 6 years and looks forward to seeing us regularly. President Alan said he would be most welcome. Mary O’Rafferty said while it was lovely that he was able to join us virtually she looks forward to the day when we can actually meet and maybe he could give us some guidance in the way his club works. Roger asked how many Rotary clubs there were in Mumbai. Jay knew that one! 102 Rotary clubs and 118 Rotaract clubs, all with a minimum of 25 members.
Ted asked what kind of charity work they get involved in. Jay said there is no central fund which his club can access. What they spend, they have to raise by their own efforts. One thing you quickly notice when you go to India is that medical care is on a much lower level than in European countries and the most basic level of that is clean water and sanitation. Much of their emphasis at the moment is in providing and maintaining toilets for communities that have insufficient.
Alan brought the meeting to a close by saying what a pleasure it was that we had heard from the two largest populations in the world. If anyone was free to join him for a coffee al fresco at the Grand Canal Dock Hotel the following Friday he would be there from 1 p.m.
More About Us – Tony Keegan
Past President Tony Keegan was born in Dublin in 1943 and was reared in the south Dublin suburb of Terenure. He attended Clareville National School and Synge Street C.B.S. The first job that he remembers, as a six year old, was being paid for sticking hundreds of stamps on envelopes as part of a Mail Order food business run by his uncle and aimed at English people still subject to rationing. This led seamlessly to an interest in collecting foreign and Irish stamps that continues to this day. From 1956 he has specialised in Irish First Day Covers of which he now has over eight hundred. He also is a proud possessor of a 1d Penny Black. His father died when he was seven in 1950.
After school he was employed for some years in the Quality Control Laboratory of the Irish Glass Bottle Company in Ringsend. In the late 1960s he went to work for his step father who had a G.A.A. magazine and this led to him being in turn appointed Editor of ‘Commercial Transport’ magazine and ‘Construction’ the official organ of the Construction Industry Federation.
In the late 1960s he enrolled for evening classes in U.C.D and was conferred with a B.A. degree in English, Economics and History in 1971.
In 1964 he married his first wife and they had six children. In 1966 they moved to Harbour Road Dalkey where they remained until the mid 1990s. In 1983 he founded his own publishing company publishing among other magazines ‘Industry’, ‘European Industry’ and an Automobile Association magazine.
He was one of the founder members of the Progressive Democrat political party in the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown constituency serving as Chairman 1987-1989 and Director of Elections for Geraldine Kennedy alongside Mark Doyle as Agent in 1989.
In that year also Mark invited him to become a member of the Rotary Club, Dublin and he served as President in Rotary’s Centenary year in 2004/2005 and as Hon. Secretary to eight Presidents.
1995 was not a good year for Tony. In February of that year his wife of 30 years left him without any warning. He was now looking after three teenage children on his own. The family had moved to Rathfern House overlooking Greystones the previous year. In November of that year his eighteen year old daughter Mary was killed while waiting for a bus outside their home. His fourteen year old daughter Miriam was injured but recovered.
In 1996 he was lucky enough to meet his current wife Deirdre and they married in 2010.
In May 2000 while in New York attending the conferring of his eldest son in Columbia University he and Deirdre had dinner in the Windows on the World restaurant on the 108th floor of the North Tower in the Twin Towers complex. Less than four months later it was gone.
With his friend the late Alan King Tony began hill walking in the Wicklow Hills under the guidance of Peter McManus and Finbar Ambrose. During the last twenty years walking with the Rotary Rangers he has climbed every peak in the Wicklow from every side. Along with other members he climbed the highest mountain in Ireland Carrantouhil (3,414 feet) in 2008.
Apart from philately his other passion is books and particularly those dealing with history and biography. At the invitation of the members of the Rotary Club, Dublin he wrote ‘First in Service the History of the Rotary Club, Dublin No.1 Club Europe’ and this was published to coincide with the Club’s Centenary in 2011.
Today he lives in Greystones, has twelve Grandchildren ranging in ages from twenty eight years to five months and is enjoying his retirement from Hon. Sect. duties and catching up on his reading and writing.
A Year with the Bees by your Editor, Alan Harrison
The beekeeper's year usually commences in Spring with the arrival of our reviving warm weather around March or April which encourages the honey bees to poke their little heads out from the hive where they have rested over winter, surviving on honey stocks from the previous summer.
The kindly beekeeper knows that greediness does not pay. Removing all honey stock from the hive in the autumn will result in reduced bee numbers the following Spring and possible total loss of the colony of worker bees and their queen due to hunger and inability to forage for food in the colder winter months.
However numbers in the average hive do reduce by natural methods - the worker bee (all female by the way) lives for only three or four weeks in the summer months, working herself to death in the interests of the colony. The queen, the only fertile female, will lay thousands of eggs per week in the summer months in the cells provided by the kindly beekeeper to her for this purpose. These are located in prepared wax sheets which the worker bees draw out to form hexaganol cells, all exactly the same.
There are separate wax sheets for the collection of honey for the beekeeper and his/her family, and this is an area from which the queen, who is slightly larger than the worker bee, is excluded by way of a wire mesh, inserted into the hive by the beekeeper. The queen will mate outside the hive, at locations some distance from the hive where other queens and drones ( the male bees from the nearby hives ) meet up for that purpose. It is unlikely that a queen will mate with a drone from her own hive.
There are only several hundred drones in any hive and they have only one function in their short lives. At the end of the season all drones are unceremoniously dumped out of the hive by the worker bees and die of cold.