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February 22nd 2021

Alan Harrison

Our speaker today is Terry Nolan - Tom Crean, Antarctica Explorer with Shackleton

Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Feb 23rd World Rotary Day Purple4polio Tea Party 4pm-5pm This online fun event by Rotary GB&I is open to all. So help celebrate Rotary’s Birthday. See Link in H/Sec Tony’s email of 8th February.
Mar 1st Business Meeting
Mar 8th Ola Garawany - From the land of the Pharaohs to the Emerald Isle.
Mar 22nd Tony Fox, Fish Ireland - A review
Mar 29th Delma Sweeney - The Rotary Foundation - Transforming the World.
Apr 5th Easter Monday. No meeting.
Apr 12th TBA.
Apr 19th Gerry P Cahill, Presenter 103.2 Dublin City FM.
Apr 26th James Innes - Bitten by the Black Dog

President Alan was in the Chair at our meeting last Monday.

It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the passing, all too early, in Eastbourne, UK of our former member Major Stuart Dicker (1956 – 2021) who died on 1st February last. After service in the UK, Stuart ran the Salvation Army Dublin Adult Homeless Services and Dublin City Corps. He represented The Salvation Army on the Dublin Churches Together and was the Army’s representative on the European Ecumenical Board. He moved from Dublin to Eastbourne some two years ago and retired last year.

Thought for the Day
The thought for the Day last Monday was given by Rotarian Derek Byrne and presented by President Alan on his behalf as Derek was suffering from a power outage at home last Monday lunchtime. Derek was able to share with us that his son Ross and daughter-in-law Maxine were celebrating the arrival of their first child. This good news reminded Derek that despite the very difficult times all families are facing at the moment due to the pandemic, there is hope for the future and his hope is that his grandchild and all children born at this time will be able to grow to be healthy and to contribute to the wellbeing of the communities in which they live.

Visitors and Apologies
Last week we had 23 Members in attendance. Apologies were received from Mary O’Rafferty,
PE Alexander Kopf (who later joined the meeting), Roger Owens, IPP Mariandy Lennon and PP Paul Martin. We had one guest last week: Korahiza Macari.

Rotary Rangers Schedule

Rotary Rangers outings are cancelled until further notice.

Hon Secretary’s Announcements
• Hon Secretary Tony said that Rana gave a report to him on the collection of 30 laptops this morning from a corporate donor and of their delivery and hand over by PE Alexander and herself to the Principal of Scoil Chaitriona DEIS School, Baggot St, Dublin 2. Rana noted that the laptops looked brand new. The School is hugely appreciative of this donation.

President’s Announcements
• President Alan’s Auction is deferred to the end of March to allow for better preparation.
• We are reminded and encourage all to register for the Annual District Conference on the 6th March. You must register in advance and Alan encouraged as many as possible to do so.
• The Bikes for Africa campaign is still alive and details will follow.

Members Wishing to Speak
Rotarian Veronica Kusnovska spoke about the talk that we had heard the previous week from John Ryan on the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Veronica reminded those present that we have at least two members of the club who are from the former Yugoslavia. Veronica was born in Macedonia, lived in Belgrade and Slovenia and in Sarajevo. Veronica and our other member from the former Yugoslavia, namely Rosella Milosevich, suggested they might speak on another day to the club about the former Yugoslavia from the point of view of people who grew up and lived there during the recent troubled times. Veronica drew comparison with Ireland and also where she has just been living Catalonia in Spain. She felt that this will, in keeping with Rotary’s aims, help towards a better understanding.

Past President Derek Griffith expressed thanks to all members who had purchased Rugglestone marmalade, as prepared by his wife Bernie and himself. The stock sold out very quickly. It resulted in the raising of €1150 which has been donated entirely to the Peter McVerry Trust.

Last Week’s Speaker
PP Tom O’Neill presented his friend Hugh Loughlin who has worked in the area of telecommunications, finance, energy, particularly wind energy, with a focus on Japan from the 1980s. Tom said that Hugh had also been involved in the introduction of Irish music and food to Japan. More recently Hugh has worked with the giant Mitsubishi Corporation on their wind energy program.

Hugh Loughlin then thanked the club for inviting him to speak and said that he was a risk, as he could speak for a very long time on his favoured topic Japan with which he had a connection since 1980s. When he first travelled to Japan, the trip from Ireland took 21 hours. This has now been reduced to between 11/12 hours. He started out in business on his own in the late 1970s and sought contracts with Japanese suppliers. He was operating from home, and was concerned when representatives from his Japanese suppliers called to see him that they would not be very impressed, but it did not concern them and one of them has since been a long-term friend.

In Japan, a former president of JVC asked Hugh to introduce the singer Mary Black and the musician Phil Coulter to Japanese audiences. There were a number of hitches along the way, but Hugh has succeeded in introducing both Irish music and Irish food to Japan.

From the early 1990s, through Japan, Hugh began a project to assemble wind turbines in Ireland and although unsuccessful in the Republic, he eventually was able to contract the work to Belfast firm Harland and Wolfe. He convinced Eddie O’Connor of Mainstream Renewable Power to take an interest and this led to connections for his companies to US Landbanks. Power in Japan has traditionally been generated by nuclear reactors, but there have been many accidents, not all reported, and there is much public resistance to nuclear power. Hugh believes that hydrogen will be the next major fuel resource (it was to have lit the Olympic flame in Tokyo).

Hugh related that he is a regular visitor to Japan which has the third largest economy in the world and has 126 million people. The Japanese would admit that they are not the most creative. Hugh believes that Irish people would have many openings in this area. Ireland should pay more attention to Japan. It is an island nation. Recent rugby football connection with Ireland has helped greatly. And a Japanese academic has made a link between antient Japanese and Irish writing or hieroglyphics via writings discovered in Egypt. Japan consists of four main islands Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. There are approximately 4000 smaller islands. Tokyo is located on Honshu and has approximately 35 million people. Japan is 3000 miles from North to South.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher invited the Mitsubishi Corporation to set up a base in the UK under favourable terms. However, now with Brexit, Mitsubishi and the many Japanese companies that followed it to set up in Britain are angry at the departure from the European Union. This was evidenced by the untypical reaction of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on meeting former British Prime Minister Theresa May following the Brexit vote.

Hugh believes that the potential of Ireland is in the development of off-shore wind turbines on our West coast, by converting the product to hydrogen and exporting it. This would be from the West coast of Ireland and could be shipped to various destinations including Japan via the Panama Canal. The Japanese have shown that it is viable to ship hydrogen and this would be a great benefit to Ireland’s West coast where we could retain ownership of the wind farms, unlike what has happened on the East coast of Ireland, where most are in private ownership.

Hugh is also in favour of extending Irish business relationships with Japan, rather than China. His experience is that the Japanese, though more reserved, are likely to remain good business partners once the initial introductory phase has been worked through in a proper manner. Also, Japan is a gateway to Asia. Our pharma products are very popular in Japan. We should encourage Japanese investment in wind farms, following on successful investments in primary healthcare in Ireland. Hugh believes that our government needs to do a lot more work directly with Japanese government and Japanese corporations. In particular he cited the good examples of the work done by former Ministers Mary O’Rourke and Mary Harney.

Following his talk Hugh Loughlin invited questions. As is tradition, PP Ted Corcoran was quick out of the blocks. Ted asked Hugh to explain hydrogen versus wind power. Hugh explained that our grid situation in Ireland is very poor. Unfortunately, this means that although there is opportunity for wind power on Ireland’s West coast, the grid cannot transfer this efficiently to the centres of population, mostly located on the East side of the country. So, the answer is to convert wind to hydrogen and then ship to the EU and further afield, in the same way as the Japanese are currently doing from wind farms in Australia to Japan. The technology to enable this to happen is improving all the time.

Rotarian Frank Bannister then asked Hugh to compare hydrogen versus batteries. Hugh said that he would favour batteries. However Japan has mastered the art of converting wind to hydrogen and if this is the case, then there must be something in it and it should be applied to our own West coast. Frank then pointed out that this would be most useful to those countries that do not have indigenous sources of power. Frank recommended reading the book “In Praise of Hard Industries” written by Irish journalist and author Eamonn Fingleton and published in 1999. It is about the economic impact of fewer manufacturing jobs in the US.

Rotarian David Horkan said it was his privilege to propose a vote of thanks to Hugh Loughlin. David said the nearest he has been to Japan is acting in the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera “Mikado”, other than that his desire to visit Japan has only been strengthened by hearing the account from Hugh. In passing on the vote of thanks, President Alan Davidson (a Scotsman) most unusually praised Japanese whiskey, but then explained that it is likely that it was originally based on the efforts of a Japanese student who studied production of whiskey in Scotland.
The origin of the Muckross stream was somewhere south-east of the Mageogh Home, Cowper Avenue, Rathmines. Meandering west of Sandford School at the back of Hollybank Avenue it crossed Sandford Road, passing eastward into St. Mary’s Dominican Convent, Muckross Park School grounds. Having made its way under six houses on Coldblow Lane, now Belmont Avenue and near St. Mary’s School on the south side, coursing by the fire-brigade station, Donnybrook Road, this small stream flowed to the north end of Bective rugby football grounds, formerly the site of the notorious Donnybrook Fair where it flowed to outfall in the river Dodder, opposite Simmonscourt House.
Donnybrook Fair was established by Royal Charter in 1204 as a way of raising funds for the building and upkeep of Dublin city’s walls and was the most important fair in Ireland. The two to three-week renowned fair was held annually on 26th August, five days after the sister fair at St. Lawrence, Palmerstown, in the west of the city. Much business was carried out on the fairground during the day. The sale of horses was brisk. The city needed thousands of animals on an annual basis. When night fell, however, the ground became a scene of much drunkenness and debauchery. The fair was famed for fighting, dancing, drollery, whiskey drinking, shillelaghs and skull-cracking. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘Donnybrook’ as ‘scene of uproar and disorder; a riotous or uproarious meeting, a heated argument’. Donnybrook fair, which was held for more than six hundred years, came to epitomise the gaiety of the Irish peasantry and their alleged fiery temperament which made them as ready to whack a head with a shillelagh as step out for a jig. There was a cacophonous medley of fiddling, bagpiping, singing and shouting and the confused din “rendered the place a veritable pandemonium”. Traffic to and from the fair was a continuous cloud of dust the whole way from town. This low-lying fairground was subject to the Dodder and Muckross stream flooding but this did not upset the inebriated revellers. Some slept on the site, too drunk to go home. The fair was regarded by all decent classes as a gigantic nuisance and a disgrace which was no longer to be tolerated and in 1855 it was brought to an end after a strong campaign.
Wikipedia tells us that Donnybrook has given its name to an Irish jig, an upscale supermarket chain, a broadsheet ballad, and is a slang term for a brawl or riot.
Adapted from “The Rivers of Dublin” (1991) by CL Sweeney, (father of Rotarian Delma Sweeney). Republished in 2017 by the Irish Academic Press.

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