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July 13th 2020

Frank Bannister

Today we have a 20 questions quiz!

Forthcoming Speakers and Events

Jul 20th Li Yan. China in the early days of Covid-19.

Jul 27th TBA

Aug 3rd Bank Holiday

Aug 10th PP Paul Loughlin – The PhD Process

Aug 17th Helen Perkins – Visiting 80 Rotary Clubs!

Aug 24th DG Conny Oversen.

Rotary Rangers Walks

Jul 14th Belmont Estate/ Little Sugar Loaf, Bray / Greystones border.

Jul 21st Lough Brays (2), in clockwise order, Upper Glencree Valley West.

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 Rana Al Damin, David Horkan, Gerry McLarnan and Patrick Whyte. The invocation was given by Mary O’Rafferty. Upcoming invocations will be by:

Jul 13th Jono Pim

Jul 20th Frank Bannister

Jul 27th David Booth


At last week’s virtual meeting there were 24 attendees (it may have been more, but the maximum at any one time was 24). We had no visitors.

President’s Announcements

President Mariandy said that refunds for the cancelled event in Vienna were being processed. In some cases, vouchers were being offered instead of cash.

Presidential Handover

The main even last week was the handover of the presidency from outgoing president Mariandy to incoming president Alan. In practice this had happened some days earlier in a suitably socially distanced ceremony in the grounds of the Sandymount Hotel. Given the somewhat constrained circumstances, the handover was done with some panache, though Alan had to don the chain of office himself rather than having it put on hm by Mariandy in the traditional manner.

Continuing the DIY approach, chains and insignia were transferred using a small table. Incoming PE Alexander took up his chain of office. There was also a ceremonial passing of the baton from outgoing Hon Secretary Tony Keegan to incoming Hon Secretary Tony McCourt and a presentation was made to Tony K for his outstanding six years of service in this role. In accordance with tradition, a presentation was also made to Mariandy’s husband Michael.

New President’s Address

President Alan then addressed the club saying, at the outset, that Mariandy had expressed some relief at laying down the burdens of office. He thanked both Mariandy and the outgoing team noting in particular the innovations that Mariandy had introduced during her year. He added that he hoped that the whisky presented to Michael would help ease the transition.

Alan said that the arrival of Covid-19 in Ireland and the subsequent lockdown in March had posed major challenges for the club. At the moment the future was unclear. It was not obvious when we would be able to return to something close to our old normal way of meeting and working. On Friday he was going to see the management in the Grand Canal Hotel to look at options and discuss the future. He wanted to say thank you to a lot of people, starting with past Hon Secretary Tony Keegan who had stepped into the role six years ago after Alan’s wife had died. Alan also wanted to thank PP Brian for bringing him into the club. A little-known fact was that Brian’s partner Helen and Alan’s late wife Hilary had been bridesmaids at each other’s weddings. Alan thanked Derek Byrne for his success in providing the club with a steady stream of speakers and for providing us with a masterclass in how to do this a couple of weeks ago. Derek has had to be replaced by no less than four people. He wanted to thank the members of Council. All of the committees were now in place. A particular shout out was for PP Ted Corcoran, now back on the committee after a rare absence. Alan noted the committee chairs (Delma Sweeny for Foundation, Kenneth Carroll for Community and Vocational, Brian O’Boyce for International, Rana AlDamin for New Generations and Alexander and Mariandy for Membership). He thanked our Hon. Treasurer Randal Gray and his deputy Tony Murray for looking after the money and Dermot Knight for organising our virtual meetings. Tony McCourt now has the formidable task of following his namesake, but having been in the military he will expect orders to be obeyed. Past Hon Secretary Tony then gently reminded Alan that PP Brian wished to propose a vote of thanks to PP Mariandy.

PP Brian first proposed a vote of thanks to Tony K whose dedication and commitment to the club over many years have been outstanding. This was passed unanimously by visual acclamation (as most microphones were muted). Turning to PP Mariandy, PP Brian said that president Alan has already commented on the number of innovations that she had introduced. These included new social events such as the Halloween party, social evenings in the Merrion Inn and the (alas postponed) masquerade ball, development of the evening meetings, interest groups, the club women’s lunch and the invocation. She had also brought in several new members. Now, to add to the innovations in her own life, she was a newly minted grandmother. Brian thanked Mariandy again for her excellent service to the club and wished her a happy retirement.

Responding, Mariandy reviewed the year that had passed. She felt that she had accomplished most of the goals that she had set herself. We had worked with the senior ladies, Paul Martin had been a splendid Santa in Tallaght hospital, we had a dance event, great speakers including the German and French ambassadors (the invitation to dinner with the German ambassador for the winners of the lottery on President’s night will still happen when circumstances permit). We had managed the transition on-line relatively seamlessly and we had contributed to two projects – Food for Heroes at the Mater and more recently food for families via Focus Ireland. She concluded by wishing Alan the best of luck for his year.

Alan then turned to the future. He had, he said, a list of 19 things that he had to do for District! He had a few done, but many awaited action. He had been in touch with DG Conny Oversen (for those who may not know, Conny is Danish, hence the name) and gently reminded her that it was the tradition that the new DG make his, or in this case her, first visit to the Dublin club. Tentatively this has been set for the 24th of August. He was hoping to inveigle the new Lord Mayor, Hazel Chu, as our guest speaker at the Christmas lunch on December 14th and he planned to invite incoming RI President Holger Knaack to speak to the club – something that the technology now made it possible do. One of the things he had been handed as president was a briefcase containing various items including a mallet and an unmarked medal. There was also a letter from Rotary International confirming that Dublin was the number one club outside the USA. The RI motto for this year was Rotary Opens Opportunities and Alan was open to new ideas and ways of implementing this in the coming year in our club in terms of service and people’s lives.

With regard to getting back together offline as it were, Alan himself is an asthma sufferer so he is not inclined to take risks with his own or other people’s health. However, we will continue to seek new members and he plans to reach out to the businesses that are just across the road from the Grand Canal Hotel. He also thinks that we need to continue to re-envision what we are trying to do and to achieve. Being president of the club is great honour and he will try to live up to his new status. Finally, he said that he would be in the GCH this Friday at 1.00 p.m. and invited anybody who could to join him for a socially distanced cup of coffee.

Hon Secretary’s Announcements

Hon Sec Tony said that Tony Keegan had been enormously helpful in mentoring him for his new responsibilities. He had a number of matters in hand already including a request for assistance with academic fees which he would be bringing to the upcoming Council meeting on Thursday. He had circulated an invitation to a District webinar on Covid-19.

Members Wishing to Speak

Roger Owens said that he and his wife planned to go to the RI Convention in Taipei (in Taiwan) and would be happy to help anybody who is also thinking about going to find their way around and to see the highlights of the city. In answer to several questions, Roger said that there were around 27 Rotary clubs in mainland China, but their status was in question as the government was suspicious of them. The first two clubs in China had been in Shanghai. He said that the government of China was deeply unhappy about the meeting in Taipei given that it considers Taiwan part of its territory. PP Ted chipped into to say that Taiwan was a great country with one of the most impressive high-speed train systems in the world. Of course, under the new government’s plan, we would soon have high speed trains from Dublin to Cork, Belfast and Limerick. Frank Bannister wondered if this meant that we could now hope to get from Dublin to Cork in three hours sometime soon?

Mariandy raised the possibility of a trip to Cambodia in conjunction with the Tours club. Possibly this could be combined with a trip to Taiwan which is about four hours flight away from Phnom Penh.

PP Bernadette said that she was making progress on her contribution to the 80 kilometre walk for Women’s Aid having clocked up 30 of her 80 in Leitrim the previous week. Anybody can join in this fund-raising event. All you need is some sponsorship and a notebook to keep a record of how far you have gone so far. Members are more than welcome to sponsor a walker if they do not want to participate themselves.

It was pointed out that the Rotary club de Tours is twinned with the Bonn club. Maybe we should consider twinning with the Bonn club as well?

David Booth raised the timing of the annual duck race. He felt that we needed a fixed date for this and proposed the second week in September. As it would be out of doors, the chance of any infection was (according to the experts) “vanishingly small”. Placing bets should be no problem once the relevant charity account is set up. There will be three ducks for €50 for those who want a flutter.

The meeting ended with a collage of photographs taken by various members of club activities throughout the year taken and run by Dermot.

Community and Vocational Plan for the Year

The account of the Vocational and Community plan given in last week’s Dubliner was unfortunately incomplete. Below is a full summary of the plan.

Kenneth Carroll presented the plan for Community and Vocational. The plan incorporates both continuing projects as well as a couple of exciting new projects. The focus of the committee is on outreach to people and communities who are in need of support.

The first of the innovative ideas is Ask Rotary, a Web based project to enable people looking for non-financial help (e.g. advice or mentoring) to connect with members who have the skills to assist them. The idea is to harness the considerable collective talents of the membership. A key part of this initiative will be to address issues and problems in the community as determined by the community, not by the club. They will also be reaching out to new volunteers. The plan to do this has five phases, planning, design, pilot, amendment/adjustment and live operation. An objective is that this last stage will be increasingly automated. A pdf with more details about Ask Rotary and how it will work has been circulated to members.

A second innovation is Prisoner Outreach. There are two avenues through which this will be done. The first is via the Probation Service, a service that has community at its heart and that already has strong ties with many groups from the Garda to various charities and statutory bodies. The second is the Irish Association for Social Integration Opportunities (IASIO) whose mission includes responding to crime through, inter alia, the delivery of services and support to people at risk. Kenneth set out nine ways in which Rotary could engage with the work of these organisations ranging from offering employment though developing job preparation skills and helping with work experience to putting company logos on the IASIO website. We already have strong links to both services through committee members who are involved in their work.

One important continuing project is the Remembrance Tree in Dundrum Shopping Centre which will be run as usual this year. The committee is open to and on the lookout for other potential projects throughout the year should any member have a suitable idea.

Flying Home

When Covid-19 hit Ireland, Kevin McAnallan and his wife were in their winter home in Cyprus. If they could not get back to Ireland, they were looking at a long and extremely hot summer in Paphos. However, last week they made it home to Dublin. Here is Kevin’s account of the experience.

We’re now back in Dublin and in a fourteen-day self-isolation at home. We were in Cyprus when the government declared a lockdown and our return flight was cancelled. After rescheduling to July 3rd, we waited nervously hoping that the flight would happen. Right up until the departure day we were unsure as to whether we would be able to travel as both governments were sending out mixed messages. Finally, we received a notice that we would indeed be able to fly on the 3rd. The Ryanair flight originated in Cyprus (they have three planes and crews based in Paphos) and was scheduled to depart at 13.20.

We arrived at the airport where we parked our Cyprus car and donned our face masks - type KN95s -which give a good secure coverage of mouth and nose. We arrived two hours before departure as we had been advised to do, but there were few passengers and the highly organised check-in was hassle free. We then proceeded through security which was also smooth and well disciplined. In Paphos, passport control largely uses automated machines that involve little or no personal interaction with other people. Again, this was a smooth and easy process. We spent the remaining time in the coffee area where social distancing was well organised.

There were approximately twenty people on the flight so boarding was easy and again well-disciplined and passengers were well dispersed throughout the aircraft. We took off as scheduled and were advised by the crew that masks must be worn throughout the flight. A food and drinks service was available with payment by contactless credit card only. Movement on the aircraft was only by permission including any physical exercise or toilet visits. As this was a five-hour flight, time was divided between reading and napping, but the trip was incident free and we actually arrived thirty minutes ahead of schedule.

Deplaning in Dublin was well controlled as was passport control where we submitted the declaration on our residence for the next fourteen days. Our check-in baggage had arrived by the time we got to the baggage hall. There were several flights arriving in Dublin at the time, but with the reduced footfall, it felt like arriving on a flight in the 1970s. We found the taxi immediately with no need to queue and arrived home just before 18.00 almost nine hours since first donning the face mask. The most anxiety inducing part of the journey was the taxi trip from the airport to our home, as the driver was very casual compared with the airport and aircraft staff and one became aware that previous users of the taxi as well as the driver himself could be a risk.

Wearing the face mask for nine hours is fairly unpleasant and I consider us lucky as we were wearing a good quality firmly structured mask recommended by a pharmacy friend.

In summary the experience was better than expected and we were impressed with the airport and aircraft compliance routines.

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