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Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Turtle Bunbury On Joe Biden’s Irish Roots June 21, 2016

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jo bidden


July 1902. Of all the delegates who attended the convention of the Ancient Order of Hibernian in Denver, Colorado, that summer, it was the blue-eyed, Havana-smoking Edward Frances Blewitt who caught the eye of The Denver Post correspondent.

Blewitt, whose father was born in Co. Mayo, had been president of the order’s formidable Pennsylvanian branch for a decade prior to his departure for Mexico in 1893. To the Denver Post, the 43-year-old civil engineer was ‘a typical son of Erin’ with the ‘humor of the Hibernian in his cooly meditative eye’.

By the close of the convention, Blewitt and his fellow Hibernians had offered their unqualified support to their fraternal brethren in Ireland, stating that should the Irish ever ‘take up arms against Great Britain’, they would support them every step of the way.

All this makes it rather fitting that Joe Biden should be arriving in Ireland for a six-day visit this week for the US Vice-President is Edward Blewitt’s great-grandson.

Indeed, by heritage, Mr Biden is about five-eighths Irish, with the families of Finnegan, Arthur, Blewitt, Boyle, Roche and Scanlon in his bloodline.

‘I am proud to be descended from Irish immigrants, from County Mayo and County Louth,’ he declared earlier this year. ‘Being Irish has shaped my entire life.’

The Blewitts were the most successful of his forebears. They hailed from Ballina, Co. Mayo, a town that happens to be twinned with Scranton, Mr Biden’s ‘very Irish’ hometown in Pennsylvania. His first named ancestor was Edward Blewitt, a brick-maker who supplied 27,000 bricks for the construction of Killala Cathedral in 1827. Edward also appears to have been one of the civil engineers who helped map Ireland for the Ordnance Survey during the 1830s.

Edward’s son Patrick F Blewitt was born in 1832; baptism records of Mayo’s Kilmoremoy Parish clocked him as “Patt Bluet” and pinned him as a resident of nearby Ardagh Parish. He set off to sea at an early age and, after serving his time as a cabin boy, he lived for a period in Chile. He later joined his parents and six siblings when they upped from Mayo and immigrated to America in 1851.

The elder Blewitt was among the settlers who laid out the streets of Scranton. As an engineer, he was also active in the Pennsylvanian coal industry from an early stage. Patrick duly joined his father and worked as a draughtsman, later serving as surveyor and engineer for various coal and railroad enterprises. In November 1857 he married Catherine ‘Kate’ Scanlon, who bore him thirteen children, of whom three sons and five daughters survived childhood. At about this time, he went to Iowa and opened up the state’s first coal mine at Mt. Pleasant.

The Bleweitts later moved to New Orleans but when the US Civil War broke out, they sagely headed south to Brazil. They returned to Scranton after the war and by 1869 Patrick was a Mine Inspector in two of the Pennsylvania’s biggest coal-mining counties, Lackawanna and Luzerne. He was almost certainly recruited to implement new safety procedures in the wake of a massive fire at the Avondale Colliery in Luzerne County which caused the death of 110 workers, mostly Irish.

Patrick’s report for 1872 shows how hideous it was to work in the Pennsylvanian coal mines. His district accounted for just over 10,500 ‘inside workers’ and nearly 4000 ‘outside’, a third of whom were boys, as well as over 2000 mules and horses. 67 miners were killed in 1872 alone, primarily from falls of coal, slate and rock, while a further 187 were injured. The deaths left 38 widows and 112 orphans. They had mined over 6.5 million tons of coal, which meant each death was worth 98,000 tons.

Coal mining in Pennsylvania was very much an Irish business in the 19th century. It was also one of the most hazardous and dirtiest jobs in the US, as every Irishman working the mines knew well. Not only were they working 60 hour weeks but they were being paid a fraction of what their Welsh or English counterparts received. Lackawanna was one of the most violent districts with untold numbers of unsolved murder and assault cases every year.

Not surprisingly the mines became a hotbed of discontent and they provided a fertile breeding ground for the Mollie Maguires, a secret society that emerged in the Pennsylvanian coalfields during the 1870s. By intimidation and violence, they sought to pressurize the state’s anthracite mining companies into improving the worker’s lot.

The Mollies also appear to have infiltrated the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), a conservative Irish Catholic fraternal organization founded to protect Catholic immigrants from discrimination and to work towards an independent Ireland. The AOH was in turn closely affiliated with both the Fenians and Clan na Gael.

However, the Mollies’ activities proved too much for the Catholic church and, by the 1870s, priests were refusing Catholic burial to suspected members. The crisis peaked in the late 1870s when 20 alleged Mollies were hanged – ten on the morning of 21 June 1877 – although their trials were later deemed unjust and the dead men were granted posthumous pardons.

By the time of Patrick’s death in 1911, aged 78, the veteran Irish mining and civil engineer was considered ‘one of the best known engineers in the United States and in South America’ while his ‘original maps of the anthracite regions [were] among the most accurate in existence.’ He had survived his wife Kate by ten years. The Irish link held fast in the next generation with three of their daughters marrying into the Hayden, Gallagher and Roche families.

Patrick’s son Edward Frances Blewitt was born in New Orleans in 1859 and educated at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania. He followed the family path to become a Civil Engineer and in 1883 he was appointed Scranton’s chief engineer, a post he held for a decade. During this time he served six years as president of Pennsylvania’s AOH. He subsequently went to the Mexican state of Jalisco where he was Chief Engineer on a $3 million project to build 138 miles of sewer and 90 miles of water piping for the drainage system and water works of Guadalajara.

Edward, who wrote poetry, was also head of the Hibernian Order in Mexico during his time there, not that that counted for much. ‘There are just 18 of us in all,’ he admitted in 1902, ‘but they’re Irish boys, and they stand together for all there is in the blood … As Hibernians down there, we’re for distinguishing our old country by helping each other do the best that’s in us.’

He was the Mexican delegate at the A.O.H. National Convention in Denver in 1902. Attendees declared that if ‘Oom Paul’ Kruger, the Boer leader in their war against the British, had turned up, he would have received a warmer reception than any man alive, except the Pope.

Edward’s Irish roots were never far away. He chaired Scranton’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1897. Nine years later he founded the Irish American Association (which became the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick of Lackawanna County in 1939). Recalling his father’s home turf, was also a member of the Mayo Men’s Benevolent, Social, Patriotic and Literary Association.

In 1907 he stood for the Democrats and became just the second Irish Catholic senator in Pennsylvanian history, retaining the seat until 1911.

He was popular with both coal miners and farmers, having championed much legislation in their respective favours. He also used his skills as a civil engineer to develop the state’s road system, as well as the construction of a canal from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Another of his legacies was a hospital in Scranton top counter the tuberculosis epidemic that was killing killed an average of 1000 Pennsylvanians a year.

Edward was married in Scranton, 1879, to Mary Ellen Stanton with whom he had four children before her death of typhoid fever aged 27. Geraldine Blewitt, their youngest child, was born in 1887 and married in about 1909 to Ambrose Joseph Finnegan.

The Finngeans were from Lordship Parish in the Cooley Peninsula of Co. Louth. The first to reach the US was Owen Finnegan, a shoemaker who sailed from Newry to New York in 1849. Coincidentally Barack Obama’s Irish ancestor, Joseph Kearney, was also a shoemaker. Owen and his wife Jane (nee Boyle) were the parents of James Finnegan, a blind fiddler who married Catherine Roche in 1866, shortly before they moved to Scranton.

Born in 1884 but orphaned by the age of ten, their son Ambrose was raised by his maternal uncle, Peter Roche, whose company manufactured signs and bulletin boards. He was a student at Santa Clara College, Californian, and happened to be in San Francisco when the earthquake struck. He returned to Scranton, married Geraldine Blewitt and found work as an advertising solicitor for a newspaper.

Ambrose and Geraldine had a son, Ambrose, an air force pilot who was killed in the Pacific during World War Two, and a daughter Catherine Eugenia Finnegan, known as Jean. Born in 1917 Jean married Joseph Robinette Biden Sr. in 1941; their son Joe, the Vice President, was born in 1942 and was first elected to the US Senate in 1972.

All up, it is no mere coincidence that one of Joe Biden’s greatest historical heroes is Wolfe Tone.


Turtle Bunbury



‘Easter Dawn – The 1916 Rising’ (Mercier / Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) – the book is the basis for a lecture tour across Ireland & the USA throughout 2016 .

‘The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War’ (Gill & Macmillan) – short-listed for the Best Irish-published Book of the Year 2014.

‘Vanishing Ireland’ (Hachette) – short-listed for Best Irish Published Book of the Year 2013.

Turtle’s book are available from all good bookshops or from his aStore via Amazon.co.uk  or Amazon.com 

Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Nora Lucey about Survival Tactics March 24, 2016

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survival tac

Some survival tactics for working from home 

Your commute

It would be nice to lie on in bed knowing others are struggling to get to work via unreliable transport, traffic jams and inclement weather.  However, your client or boss will still ring you on the dot of 9 a.m.  Equally a lazy two minute commute from your bed to boxroom office in your cosy but unflattering onesie will see you caught out the day that all important client decides to call in to drop off a file mid-commute.   Arise!

The plus side, of course, is that you can schedule travel to business meetings out of rush hour.


There is absolutely no lonelier place than your home office when your laptop or other essential technology malfunctions.  Unless you’re working from home for your employer and can tap into the expertise of an IT colleague have a back-up plan and know that any malfunction will most definitely occur during the crucial final hours of a major project!


Yes, lingerie.  Setting up an office from home often means coffee with clients in your kitchen. Time to stop draping flimsy bits of lingerie to dry on the radiators…..unless, of course, showcasing same is essential to your business!

Have a supply of good quality coffee, tea (including popular herbal teas), fresh lemon for water drinkers and some chunky chocolate chip cookies or other treats for business visitors.  Your meetings in your home will still be business meetings so no TV in the background and keep to the agenda.  Avoid giving the impression that you have little else to be doing all day!


Ten half-drunk cups of cold coffee in various locations throughout your home by mid-afternoon are signs of procrastination. So is a sudden decision to clear out the attic!  Get thee off Facebook, Twitter and other social media and work!  Remember there is no greater motivation than that tender you’d love to win or those clients you need to invoice.


You’ll become the natural drop off point for various deliveries for neighbours – furniture, freshly neutered cats,  a half hour minding a small child sent home sick from school until mam arrives or being an alarm key holder.

The start day of your most intense project will coincide with a neighbour’s builder commencing their extension…..drilling and hammering for a month.

Small boys with ambitions to follow in the footsteps of Messi won’t understand that using your driveway entrance as a goalpost disrupts your thought process.  Bribe them today and they’ll be to back for more treats tomorrow!

Set boundaries early on to curtail the pals who drop in for a chat unannounced, the relative who thinks you can provide a taxi service to medical appointments, airport or train station and that one client who assumes because you work from home that they can call ad hoc day, night and weekend.


Working alone can be isolating and lonely.  If working for your employer arrange face to face meetings at the office with colleagues instead of always skyping or conference calling.  The water cooler factor will see you don’t miss out on the nuances of office life (ok, then, the gossip!).

If you’re self-employed, as I was once, it’s important to maximise opportunities to network. I joined my local Chamber of Commerce – a fantastic thing to do both socially and to sound off other business owners who may have solved the very struggle you’re going through at present.  Volunteering your expertise to a non-profit organisation or speaking at events or using your skillset to teach can all help with the human interaction we all need.  Likewise it may also be possible to hotdesk at a client’s office from time to time – a good way to tap into their corporate culture and pick up additional work purely by being visibly present.

Work overload

Juggling conflicting client needs requires good diplomacy and negotiation skills particularly if you operate solo.  Have a plan B for busy times and identify those to whom you can safely sub –contract secretarial and other work to free up your management time (ensure that you are not in breach of any client contract confidentiality clauses by sub-contracting).  Hire an Accountant and other professionals so you can concentrate on your core business.

Close the door

Have a natural ending to your business day.  Unless your business requires being on call (for example, as mine did when handling client publicity) switch off your laptop, put your mobile on silent and relax into your evening or weekend.  Not easy to do but stretching your work needlessly beyond a natural working day will serve no useful purpose unless it’s a time driven project requiring occasional burning of the midnight oil.

The upside?

Yes, you can, occasionally, work in the garden sun and get nicely bronzed while others suffer malfunctioning air condition systems in city offices during Summer!


Nora Lucey


Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Turtle Bunbury : DON PATRICIO O’CONNELL: THE DUBLINER WHO SAVED FC BARCELONA March 24, 2016

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FC Barca



In June 2015, Barca became the first European club in history to achieve the continental treble twice. With 11 straight La Liga win and a record run of 35 games unbeaten in all competitions, many are already predicting a repeat of last season’s treble.

In this article, Turtle Bunbury profiles a lesser known Irishman who played a pivotal role in keeping Barca alive during the Spanish Civil War.

At the height of the Spanish Civil War, FC Barcelona – or ‘Barça’, as the football team is known – found itself teetering on the brink of extinction as General Franco’s Fascist troops closed in on the Catalonian capital, determined to crush their Republican opponents. Several Barça’ players were serving in the Republican army and the club president had already been murdered by the Fascists.

Step forward Patrick O’Connell, Barça’s Dublin-born manager, or ‘Don Patricio’, as he was became known, who deftly escorted his team out of Spain on a grand tour of the USA and Mexico, thereby arguably saving both the players and the club from an otherwise swift demise.

Don Patricio was an exceptional individual. Not only was he the only Irishman to manage a major Spanish football team but he was also the first Irishman to serve as captain of Manchester United.

On 30 December 2015 O’Connell was inducted into Barcelona’s hall of fame when his portrait by Manchester-based artist Tony Denton was presented to the FC Barça Museum at the Camp Nou stadium.  High praise indeed from the world’s fourth richest football cub and yet, without O’Connell, FC Barça might not even exist.

Patrick O’Connell was born in Dublin in March 1887, the fifth of ten children. His father, also Patrick, was born in County Kilkenny in 1839. His mother Elizabeth hailed from County Meath and married O’Connell senior in 1875. The family initially lived in Westmeath, where Patrick’s three older sisters were born, but later moved to Dublin where the elder Patrick worked as a clerk at Boland’s Corn Mill in the Dublin Docklands.

The younger Patrick was probably born in Drumcondra, possibly on Mabel Street or in a house on Jones’s Terrace where the family were living at the time of the 1901 census. By then, the 14-year-old was working as a glass-fitter; three of his sisters were tailoresses.

In 1908 he married Ellen Treston, a carpenter’s daughter from nearby Bayview Avenue. She was pregnant on their wedding day and they would go on to have four children, the first of whom was born in Belfast.

At the time of his wedding, O’Connell was a foreman at Boland’s Mills, where his father worked, but football was rapidly becoming his raison d’être. Having started with the Strandville Juniors on Dublin’s North Strand he went on to play for Liffey Wanderers.

Shortly after his marriage, O’Connell was signed to Belfast Celtic but within a year he had crossed to England where he played for Sheffield Wednesday and then for Hull City.

He earned his first cap for Ireland in 1912 but they were hammered 1-6 by England at Dalymount Park in Dublin. Although he only won five more caps for Ireland, he captained the Irish team that won the British Home Nations Championship in April 1914.

The following month he was signed for Manchester United for a hefty £1,000. Six months later, he became the first Irishman to captain Man U. It was by no means a golden era for the club, which avoided relegation by a single goal. O’Connell was a defender but managed to score two goals during his 35 appearances for the club.

His wayward inclinations emerged in April 1915 when he was named as one of a number of players from Man United and Liverpool involved in a match fixing scandal. The players had met in a pub the day before a match between them laid a series of bets at odds of 8-1 that United would win 2-0. During the match, O’Connell rather gave the game away, as it were, when he stepped forward to take a penalty kick and shoved the ball ‘blatantly wide’ of the goal. As the truth slipped out, the scandal brought considerable shame to O’Connell but he escaped the life ban imposed upon seven fellow players and no criminal charges were brought.

He continued to play for Man United until 1919 and was also player-manager for Ashington AFC, a lower tier club from Northumberland. However, he was by now estranged from his wife Ellen and their four children. In 1922 he abandoned his family and sailed for the north coast of Spain where he had probably already secured his appointment as manager of the Racing de Santander football club.

Over the next seven years, he did much to boost the sport’s popularity in the area. In 1928 he led the club into La Liga, Spain’s new premier league, but perhaps his most memorable legacy was to teach his players the offside trap technique following the introduction of the offside rules to the game.

In 1929 ‘Don Patricio’ began a two-year stint managing Real Oviedo in northwest Spain. However, his first real taste of greatness came during his three years managing the small Seville club of Real Betis (then known as Betis Balompié) between 1932 and 1935. O’Connell not only helped these minnows to qualify for the Primera División – the first Andalusian to do so – but then steered them to win the entire La Liga championship in April 1935. It was to be their one and only title clincher to date.

The champion of Spanish football then returned to Ireland for a short holiday, quite possibly with his new bride Ellen O’Callaghan, from Middleton, Co. Cork. The handsome, flamenco-loving football manager had met her in Seville while she was working as a governess. Given that he was still wed to his first wife, this marriage made him a bigamist.

In the summer of 1935 he was appointed manager of Barcelona FC where he remained for the next five years. Several of his players joined the Republican forces when the Civil War broke out in July 1936 and the following month the club president Josep Sunyol was murdered by fascists.

When La Liga was suspended on account of the war, O’Connell was among those who established the alternative La Lliga Mediterrània (Mediterranean League), which Barça duly won. The Civil War was rapidly hotting up and the club was certainly in the firing line for Franco’s army. As O’Connell pondered his next steps, the club received an extraordinary invitation from Manuel Mas Soriano, a Mexican millionaire, who promised to inject the considerable sum of $15,000 into the coffers if Barça would go on tour in Mexico and the USA.

And so in 1937 O’Connell led his team across the Atlantic where they enjoyed a very successful eight-week tour of North America. However, when the time came to voyage home, twelve Barça players opted to remain in exile rather than return to Franco’s Spain. Only four players were with O’Connell when he returned to Barcelona. The situation must have reminded him of the famous Invasions Tour of 1888 when 20 out of 51 Irish athletes on a GAA-sponsored tour of the USA likewise decided not to go home.

Meanwhile, the club secretary wired Soriano’s $15,000 to a bank account in Paris lest Franco’s financiers laid claim to it. The war continued to ravage Spain; the Italian airforce bombed Barcelona, killing 3000 people and destroying, amongst many other buildings, the club’s offices.  There was no let up for the club’s misery when, following Franco’s victory, the regime banned all exiled sportsmen from Spain for the next six years.

All this may have prompted O’Connell’s departure from Barça and by 1942 he was managing Sevilla FC. He secured his new team second place in La Liga at the end of 1943 and third place the following year. He remained at Sevilla until 1945, memorably praising Seville itself as a city ‘where people live as if they were to die tonight’. And then, coming in a near complete circle, he returned to manage Racing de Santander once again from 1947 to 1949.

His latter years are a source of ambiguity. An unhappy reunion with one of his children from his first marriage appears to have compounded the breakup of his second marriage.  The 71-year-old was apparently penniless when he died of pneumonia on 27 February 1959. At the time of his death he was living with a younger brother near St. Pancras station in London.

He was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery on Kensal Green. However, in 2014, Martin O’Neill, Paul McGrath, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer, Jamie Carragher and a number of other footballing greats who united with GAA icons Paul Galvin and Brian Cody to raise funds to build a permanent memorial to mark his grave. His new portrait in Barca’s hallowed grounds will surely serve to further resurrect the memory of this once forgotten Irishman.

Patrick O’Connell’s life is the subject of ‘The Man Who Played Offside’, an RTE Documentary-in-One episode produced by Richard Fitzpatrick with Ronan Kelly. For more on the Patrick O’Connell Memorial Fund, see http://www.pocfund.com


Turtle Bunbury


‘Easter Dawn – The 1916 Rising’ (Mercier / Rowman & Littlefield) – launched 15 October 2015.

‘The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War’ (Gill & Macmillan) – short-listed for the Best Irish-published Book of the Year 2014.

‘Vanishing Ireland’ (Hachette) – short-listed for Best Irish Published Book of the Year 2013.

Turtle’s book are available from all good bookshops or from his aStore via Amazon.co.uk  or Amazon.com  Turtle’s historical blog is at www.facebook.com/Wistorical


Pour Yourself A Fresh Cup Of Whatever…Jim’s Top 7 Picks Volume 2 December 19, 2015

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A well worth weekly digest

Welcome To Onwords & Upwords

OK. This week you’re not gonna hear much about how my week went. It was pretty slow and the most significant thing I did was write my annual Christmas story, which I will be posting on the weekend. Mostly I just puttered around, stayed up late to watch football and basketball and rode my bike a lot because the weather here has been great.


Transcript Of My First Meeting As TheNew CEO Of LinkedIn by Itai Leshem.

 My Comment: I smiled all the way though this piece, Itai Leshem. Now if only we could arrange to have you magically transported into this position, there would be much joy in the LinkedIn Underground. Actually, there would be no LinkedIn Underground, because there would be no stratification and no hierarchy. Everybody would be an Influencer and their success would be based on their effort, which is only fair. And I think to…

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Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Nora Lucey is taking Marching Orders December 3, 2015

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Marching bands

Bring on the Marching Bands – getting publicity for your Christmas production

The Association of Irish Musical Societies once asked me to address their membership regarding putting bums on seats at their productions. There is always support within family and friend circles but reaching out to others needs more effort. As the pantomime and Christmas concert season approaches now is the time to think ahead for publicising your production. Where to start? Plan it!

Know your audience so you can plan publicity to attract them

How old are they? Where do they live and work? Are they retired? College students? Families? Work colleagues? Neighbours? Community organisations, Sports and Social clubs? Do you have a captive audience via school, work or your local GAA club? Are you running a charity event and, if so, who are their supporters? Think about all the people you already have on board and those you would like to attract to your event.


With volunteer planners and the right spokespeople you can secure some publicity but other promotional work may require a small budget i.e. for professional photography, advertising, printing of fliers and posters etc.,. Consider sponsorship for some of this.

Spokespeople/Writer/Social Media manager

Decide who your spokespeople (two) will be. Ensure they are prepared to be flexible in availability to facilitate any press requirements and are capable of doing live radio or tv interviews. Decide what elements to publicise and be careful your spokespeople are not contradicting each other.

Someone who can write a Press Release and other material should also be available.

Have two Social Media managers to plan Facebook, Twitter and other social network promotion.

If using Eventbrite to manage bookings etc. ensure you have personnel dedicated to this and monitor progress and bookings.

Press Release

Keep it to one page. Make sure it addresses the key media criteria of Who (who you/your organisation are), What (what you are doing), Why (why you are doing it, Christmas/charity etc.), Where (venue, venues), When (dates and times) and How (how much tickets are, how to book, how you are producing the event)


Have a professional take some photos you can have ready for press purposes. Try not to release the same photo to all publications. Be prepared to work with press photographers to make photocalls interesting and appropriate. Be flexible to work to media schedules.


If buying advertising in local publications buy in bulk and do a deal. See if the publication can provide graphic design and proofread carefully. Alternatively see if you have a graphic designer within your membership. Likewise any sponsor may assist with this.


If you are lucky enough to attract a sponsor or sponsors look after them but equally don’t let them take over your event. Ensure you don’t have a conflict of interest with your sponsor and that their product or service is appropriate to your audience. Equally be transparent when engaging sponsors so they know if others are also involved. Gift some tickets to your sponsor/sponsors and encourage them to buy more for client entertainment. Have a letter of contract with your sponsor so both sides are clear on what is offered and what is expected. This helps avoid pitfalls along the way. Also think beyond the event and consider a sponsor may offer you some longevity and come on board for several events.

Pairing with a charity

Ensure the charity pairing fits well with your event and, as with the sponsors, have a letter of contract outlining expectations. Leverage the charity supporters to attract more people to your event.

Think your local event is not newsworthy?

News for publicity purposes is all about ANGLE. Be creative, innovative and truthful and seize opportunities to attract publicity. For example some news angles could include:

Culture and Ethnicity – Any Polish, Romanian, African or other nationalities bringing new talent to your production.

Celebrity – Celebrity to open/attend your first night. Renowned choreographer to work on your show. Note: always check if a celebrity is attending on a fee basis or if the appearance is free.

Romance – Real life love story behind the scenes of your society’s “West Side Story”.

Flash mobs – Marching Band? Sell the march AND the music. In a Paris supermarket once I went to walk into another aisle and was faced with a full marching band approaching!!! They were helping promote a winery brand and invited exiting customers to follow them to a local plaza for an impromptu concert to highlight that evening’s performance and offered a glass of vino from their sponsor.

Note: if planning a ‘flash mob’ or other public events do get all necessary permissions i.e. OPW site permissions, shopping centre management etc. and consider health and safety, security and garda clearance. Flash planning is not an option here!

Problem solving – “Drama Society seeks well behaved dog for next production”. “Band appeals for drum kit”

Unusual venues – new or unusual venues can attract people to attend events. It is a known event management

trick to use new nightclubs, heritage houses with limited annual openings and so on as people will be attracted to seeing the venue. Likewise staging an event in a venue not usually used for your type of event can attract, get creative!

Sponsorship search – Publicise your search. Think about what’s in it for a sponsor – if your audience are mainly college students a bank promoting student banking might be interested, alternatively your membership may appeal to a health insurance provider, local motor dealership or travel agency.

Audience participation events – try to attract Christmas party organisers, maybe stage your event around dinner tables. There is a restaurant beside the Opera House in Budapest where performers sing light opera as they wait tables. Elvis themed event? “Saturday Night Fever” production? Have a competition for the best dressed characters from the show. Local sponsors can provide prizes. Use performers in costume to publicise the competition.

How we do it – the long planning and organisation that goes into putting your band, choir, musical or theatrical production on the road can be a nice feature piece for tv or a national newspaper. From costume makers, to sponsor managers, to logistics, to musical training and practice, to deciding on what performance to run with, it’s all a learning curve and can show just how much work goes into it.

Charity – “Charity and concert band team up for fundraising event”, “Musical Society launch charity CD”

“X charity to benefit from Christmas Carol event”. Tie in with a petrol station, supermarket or sell at other impulse selling options.

Free launch performances – perform at a local shopping centre or outside the church on Sunday – and add in a charity bucket collection – to publicise your forthcoming event. You may also have connections to get into a large company staff canteen at lunchtime to give a taste of your performance and sell tickets.

Invite local journalists to opening night – Include the Editor, Social columnist and photo editor.

Other ideas to try:

Make it easy for people to buy tickets – local newsagents, Parish shop in church and via members.

Eventbrite can help with online bookings and gives a clear idea of how many people will attend.

Consider attendance logistics – can you build in a group and mini-bus deal with local Seniors and

other social clubs? Is car parking available? What bus and train routes? Start and finish times?

Incentivise – buy 6 tickets get one free, or Grandad/granny goes free to matinee.

Go for a big story or happening on first night – encourage word of mouth sales for following


Have a really attractive raffle prize – sponsored. Think big!

Finally, within a week of your event ending have a formal review of all aspects, get your thank you letters out and draw up learning points and plans for your next production. Enjoy the journey and factor in an end of show party – you’ll have earned it by then!


Nora Lucey FPRII Ireland



Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Turtle Bunbury On Easter @ Christmas December 3, 2015

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Easter Rise

EASTER DAWN – by Turtle Bunbury

There are now just 16 weekends to go before the commemorations of Easter 2016 reach fever pitch. Every pavement slab in Dublin City has long since been forensically analysed for any hint of a connection to the Rising. Despite the government’s attempts to make it go away, the 1916 Centenary is destined to be a massive event on the Irish calendar.

I initially baulked at the idea of writing a book on the Rising, knowing that our many fine bookshops would be straining at the seams to contain all the new tomes coming out on the subject. However, when I beheld the fine collection of photographs that Mercier Press had gathered, I was so quickly sucked in that ‘Easter Dawn’ became rather more than a book of captioned photographs.

I was at school in Scotland where the Easter Rising was a very small footnote on the World War One curriculum, but I became entranced by it as a teenager, reading Walter Macken novels and Max Caulfield’s account of it all.

The magnetism of the Rising is that it has all the ingredients of an epic spaghetti western. A band of poets and revolutionaries, men and women, posh folk and paupers, are bonded by a desire to shake off the shackles of empire.

They rise up and hold out for nearly a week against impossible odds before they are defeated by a combination of superior artillery fire, armoured cars and their own moral qualms in the face of excessive civilian deaths.

And then, when the Empire overreacts and executes the leaders, the people of Ireland finally come on side in a sort of messianic second coming.

It’s certainly an attractive saga upon which to frame the birth of a state.‘Easter Dawn’ tries to make sense of the events that inspired the Rising, as well as offering an insight into the personalities of its key players.

I’m fascinated, for instance, that so many of the Irish leaders were poets, writers, actors and musicians, that Joe Plunkett was reputedly an Algerian roller-skating champion; that Bulmer Hobson was a Quaker, that the President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood at the time of the Rising went on to co-found the McCullough Pigott musical shop on Suffolk Street, Dublin.

The book has an American twist because Mercier have partnered with an American publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, who sought a book that would help explain the Rising to an American audience. Indeed, I plan to visit the USA in the spring of 2016 to give a series of talks on the Rising in New York, Chicago and maybe some other cities

As such, ‘Easter Dawn’ considers the American, or more accurately American-Irish, influence, particularly in the lead up to the Rising, as exemplified by the funeral of the ‘unrepentant Fenian’ Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in 1915, arguably the most seminal moment for Irish nationalism prior to the Rising, following the shipment of his body from New York for burial in Glasnevin.

Many of the ringleaders had strong connections to the US – Tom Clarke was well known in New York, de Valera was half-American, the O’Rahilly was a household name in Philadelphia, Tom Kent spent half a decade in Boston.

The sponsors of the Rising were also strongly au fait with America. From their power bases in New York and Philadelphia, Kildare’s John Devoy and Dungannon’s Joe McGarrity ensured the republican Clan na Gael coffers were weighty enough to finance the rebellion.

The Volunteers would have been weapon-less without the assistance of well-to-do gun-runners like Erskine Childers, whose wife was from one of Boston’s preeminent families, and Mary Spring-Rice, whose first cousin was the British Ambassador to Washington. Sir Roger Casement and IRB Supreme Council member Pat MacCartan (father-in-law of the late Ronnie Drew) were likewise intimate with the Irish-American elite.

Aside from the American connection and the people stories, I was also drawn to write about the Rising because of my own family connections.

My father’s great-grandfather was ‘out’ in the Rising. Well, sort of. Given that his name was Baron Rathdonnell, you’ll appreciate that he wasn’t poking Mauser rifles out the GPO or Jacob’s Biscuit Factory.

He had arrived into Ballsbridge in his capacity as President of the Royal Dublin Society with a view to opening the Spring Show on Easter Tuesday. There was much excitement about an impending parade of North American mules and horses scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Astonishingly the Spring Show continued irrespective of the Rising but for many at the RDS that week, the most memorable event was the arrival of 2,000 untested soldiers and officers from the Sherwood Forresters into Ballsbridge as they marched north from Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown) en route to the city centre. With the hot sun beating down upon them, Rathdonnell and his team organised fresh lemonade to quench their thirst.

Among these parched souls was Frederick Dietrichsen, a barrister from Nottingham, who was married to a Mitchell from the Dublin family of wine merchants. Like most Forresters, he had assumed their troopship was bound for France until it veered towards Dun Laoghaire.

Shortly after the ship docked, Dietrichsen was briefly and joyfully reunited with his two small daughters who were in Blackrock, waving flags on the pavement, when the Foresters marched through. The girls had been sent to Dublin for safety following growing fears of German zeppelin raids in England. When he saw his daughters, Dietrichsen dropped out of the column and flung his arms around them before resuming his place with his men.

Most of the Foresters who drank lemonade at the RDS that morning were miners, farmers and factory workers. They had signed up to fight Germans, little imagining they would be dispatched to tackle a rebellion in Ireland.

Lemonade down the hatch, the Forresters advanced up Northumberland Road and straight into a crossfire ambush at Mount Street Bridge, ingeniously laid by men from de Valera’s battalion. Stubborn and successive attempts to charge the Volunteers’ positions proved utterly suicidal, leaving four Forrester officers and 216 soldiers dead or maimed, marking almost half the total British military losses during the entire Rising.

Captain F. C. Dietrichsen was among the first to die.

The RDS’s cattle stalls were destined to be reused that Sunday night when, following their surrender at Boland’s Mill, de Valera and the 3rd Battalion were marched into the RDS for their first two nights in captivity.

My family had other connections. Lady Rathdonnell’s sister had an apartment on St. Stephen’s Green that two members of the Irish Citizen Army used as a reconnaissance base during Easter week. The Rathdonnells also presumably knew Abraham Watchorn, a young soldier with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who grew up on their estate in Carlow and who was fated to die of gunshot wounds near Dublin Castle on Easter Wednesday.

A hundred years on, the events and consequences of that week can still bring tempers to boiling point in nano-seconds.

I’m never quite sure where I stand on the subject. My ancestors were probably wholly opposed to everything the Rising stood for, especially given that its ultimate outcome was to relieve them of the last traces of the political power they had held since the collapse of James II’s army at the Boyne.

And yet I would have disagreed with those same ancestors on many fronts. Moreover, since boyhood I have had an instinctive tendency to clench a fist in support of what the rebels were trying to achieve.

Perspective is everything. A couple of years ago I walked through the graveyards of the Western Front and heard the story of the 570 men from the 16th (Irish) Division who were gassed in their trench at Hulluch on 27 April, the fourth day of the Rising.

Or consider the British surrender of the fortress of Kut Al Amara in Mesopotamia, which took place on the very same day Pearse surrendered in Dublin. Of the 2,700 British and 6,500 Indian soldiers taken prisoner by the Ottoman Turks that day, approximately 40 per cent died from disease, exposure, fatigue, mistreatment and starvation before the end of the war.

At least 485 people were killed during the Easter Rising, the majority of them civilians hit by snipers, machine gun or indirect artillery fire. At least forty of the slain were children aged sixteen or under.

And yet it is surely a sign of a strong society that, 100 years on, we know the names of just about every one of those luckless souls who died. It is hard to imagine that those dying in their droves in the troubled zones of the modern age will be so well remembered a century from now. Perhaps that is something we should reflect upon amid all the pageantry and ruminations of the centenary commemorations.

During the Rising, Frederick Wrench, a former Vice-President of the RDS, managed to slip out of Ballsbridge and climb to the top of Killiney Hill from where, aided by a pair of binoculars, he could see the GPO being ‘shelled with wonderful accuracy’. Many years later, reflecting upon the Irish drive for independence, Wrench’s son Evelyn remarked: ‘I could see “the other fellow’s standpoint” so wholeheartedly that sometimes I find that I am almost taking sides against myself. It is an uncomfortable state of affairs!’

I know precisely what he means.

Turtle Bunbury, ‘Easter Dawn – The 1916 Rising’ (Mercier Press, 2015).

Turtle Bunbury


‘Easter Dawn – The 1916 Rising’ (Mercier / Rowman & Littlefield) – coming in October 2015.


‘The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War’ (Gill & Macmillan) – short-listed for the Best Irish-published Book of the Year 2014.


‘Vanishing Ireland’ (Hachette) – short-listed for Best Irish Published Book of the Year 2013.

Turtle’s book are available from all good bookshops or from his aStore via Amazon.co.uk  or Amazon.com  Turtle’s historical blog is at www.facebook.com/Wistorical


Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Brendan Palmer On Bee Seen October 22, 2015

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A City Boy on farming 17: To Bee or not to Bee and the survival of mankind

I have always thought of bees as one of those things that could trigger a human catastrophe if they disappeared, up there on a scale of destruction with the loss of the Amazon Rain Forest or the various warm sea currents around the globe. The concept being that certain things we take for granted could disappear and start an irreversible chain reaction that would make the planet uninhabitable for humans.

The recently published All Ireland Pollinator report prompted me to investigate the importance of bees to our agriculture and our existence in general

The first results of the investigation produced the following quote attributed to Einstein

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

A pretty stark prediction by someone as eminent as Einstein (I will return to this later) is a serious call to action especially when the facts suggest that we are on the slippery slope to pollinator extinction. So, with The Sword of Damocles in the air further research on the current position of pollinators was needed.

Globally bee keepers are reporting a decline of between 30% and 50% in the honeybee population. In Ireland it is estimated that 30% of bee species face extinction including three species specific to Ireland. The EU Commission report on 2000 species of bees shows that 9% are threatened with extinction.

So what’s causing the decline? The main and most obvious cause is due to habitat loss of hedgerows and wild meadows as a result of intensification in farming and the increase in the use of pesticides. There is also the issue of intensive farming of the honeybee as the main commercial pollinator of choice. It is the farmed honeybee that is most under attack from pesticides and colony diseases. Another cause of loss of habitat is urban development and climate change

So, is Einstein’s prediction correct, when the bees go, we have four years left? Well, first off, Einstein never said any such thing. This looks like a classic case of a useful quote’s being invented and put into the mouth of a famous person to add credence. (pic is photo shopped). There is some justification for using this kind of comment going back as far a Darwin, who mentioned the importance of the connection between bees and man. Since then some version of the importance of bees to our continued existence has been regularly quoted and obviously expanded until the quote arbitrarily attributed to Einstein eventually evolved.

Interestingly the first version of the exact quote comes from Ireland when, in 1966 “The Irish Beekeeper” printed a remark attributed to Einstein that gave a time limit for mankind quoting Abeilles et fleurs.

“Professor Einstein, the learned scientist, once calculated that if all bees disappeared off the earth, four years later all humans would also have disappeared. Abeilles et fleurs, June, 1965.” (full story from an investigation by “Quote Investigator” )

The most authoritative study I could find on the subject concluded that primary food production, and especially our staple foods, is independent of insect pollination. Sixty percent of global food production comes from crops that do not depend on animal pollination, although our diet would be dramatically impacted upon as 35% of crops depend on pollinators.

Thirty five percent is still a significant number and bees and other pollinating insects play an essential role in our ecosystems. The annual worldwide economic value of bees’ pollination work has been estimated around € 265 billion. So from a purely economic point of view we need the bees.

While our imminent extinction following the loss of bees is not a reality, we do need to make some changes to protect the 35% of our food chain that is dependent on pollinators and particularly bees.

Apart from our food, the psychological impact on humans if flowers disappeared might be a bigger problem than the loss of certain foodstuffs. Who has not enjoyed the pleasure of a summer afternoon in a garden awash with colour from flowers and the lazy hum of bees as they gather nectar in the warm, heavy sunshine?

What about honey and all the wonderful benefits it bestows on our daily existence? Bees are the only insect that produces food eaten by man and honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

So, we know we have a problem, it may not be as big as some of the scaremongering types would like us to believe but it is a problem that needs addressing. Of course one of the most important things about fixing problems is knowing that we have one in the first place. Now that we know, what are we going to do about it?

The actions set out in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan are certainly a good place to start. Their main recommendations are:

Plant patches of urban areas with wildflowers. Incorporate pollinator friendly plants into gardens. Allow lawn weeds to flower. Incorporate wildflower strips within cropped fields. Allow field margins to grow wild Incorporate clovers into grass-dominated swards. Incorporate artificial solitary bee nests into urban gardens

Farmers can help by taking on board the replanting of biodiversity friendly hedgerows and wild flower strips between fields. There is a major question about the effect of the pesticides used in intensive farming on pollinators and while there is some argument about this, there certainly seems to be some cause and effect so farmers need to consider embracing more ecological management systems for crop management.

The BurrenLIFE programme is a good example of farming methods in harmony with the environment,Government and local authorities can help by establishing bee friendly habitats along roadways and other public areas.

Individual householders can help by considering bee friendly initiatives for our gardens. Some good suggestions in “Greenside up”

There are a huge amount of articles to read on the relationship between humans and bees. I liked this one by Eimear Chaomhánach a lot   “The Bee, its Keeper and Produce, in Irish and other Folk Traditions”

Bees have been around for millions of years, by all accounts they are a very resilient life form so I don’t think we are in any immediate danger of destroying them completely and we certainly are not facing a four years to extinction scenario for the human race but perhaps recognising and addressing the problems our bee partners are having will lead us to a more sustainable way of managing our interaction with our mother, Earth.


Brendan Palmer MBA. BA Law. MCIWM



Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Patricia Ryall On When It Gets Tough October 22, 2015

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Managing difficult people 

Most managers report that managing difficult employees is one of the more testing parts of their job. However if managed well, problems can be nipped in the bud before they impact others in the team and organisation.


Don’t act too soon. Bad behaviour stems from all kinds of things. Sometimes the cause may be insecurity and lack of trust, e.g. a new boss comes in or there’s change in the organization or process. In this case there are subtle things you can do to first build trust and make it possible for them to open up to you about what’s really bothering them.

  • Give them the opportunity to tell you about their work successes. This helps them to see you as someone genuinely interested in them and their career
  • Try asking them for help on something in your domain.
  • Try finding a project where you and that person can work on something together

This may be enough to resolve smaller issues. However if the problem remains or escalates you need to intervene quickly in a more significant way. Do your research separating facts from office gossip/ rumour, develop a plan of action e.g. when and where to confront the staff member or do you need others e.g. a HR representative, in the meeting. You are then ready to confront the employee.


Meeting face to face

  • Keep the situation and place as neutral as possible and away from others i.e. a quiet coffee shop or hotel, and calmly address the issue.  Dynamics are different away from the office.
  • Address them calmly, stay engaged, and listen closely. You may frame the conversation as an opportunity for you to get to know each other better, and to remind them that your goal is to help and support them.
  •  Keep it non-confrontational; demonstrate your interest in them e.g. Ask them what they like about their work. Ask how things are going for them, and how they feel about their career… It’s also a good opportunity for you to tell them more about yourself too.
  •  Emphasize how passionate you are about the work your company is doing, and how important your team is to that work. Explain a bit about your role in relationship to them: you’re there to help them and empower them. If you or the employee is new, let them know that trust will build the longer you work together.
  • Once you have some level of trust established you then need to ask the employee if he is aware of any ongoing issues re his behaviour/attitude. Let them know you want to hear from them, because you want to make things better. Try to draw out the reasons behind the behaviour as you talk with the difficult employee, actively listen to what they say. Stay calm and stay positive, but remain impartial and non-judgmental. Ask open questions that can’t be answered in one or two words. Don’t interrupt. Don’t assume the inappropriate behaviour is caused by negative intent. It may be from fear, confusion, lack of motivation, personal problems, etc.
  •  In some cases, at this point simply listening can save the day.  You may hear about a real problem that’s not the employee’s fault that you can solve; the tough employee may start acting very differently once he or she feels heard; you may discover legitimate issues he or she has that need to be address. Occasionally, the difficult employee has no idea that his behaviour is a problem or that others react negatively to his actions. This is because most people tend to put up with the annoying behaviour and “go along to get along.”  .


  • Deal with the behaviour, not the person. Your goal is to develop a solution, not to “win”. Focus on the inappropriate behaviour; don’t attack the person
  • Remain calm. Summarize back to them what they just said, “so what I understand you are saying is”, so they know you are actually listening to them
  • Use “I” statements like “I need everybody on the team here on time so we can meet our goals” rather than “you” statements like “you are always late”.
  • Give the other person a chance to develop a solution to the problem. They are more likely to “own” the solution if they are at least partially responsible for developing it.
  • If the employee remains “unaware,” the manager needs to describe the unacceptable behaviour. The employee might interrupt to disagree or deny the existence of any issues. Nevertheless, the manager needs to continue by giving clear examples of the unwanted behaviour.
  • The manager also needs to allow the employee to respond to the allegations. If the difficult employee refuses to believe that the allegations exist despite the evidence, the most the manager can hope for is an intellectual acceptance of the possibility that a problem exists.


Changing Behaviours

    • Offer resources. Once the employee begins to understand that these negative behaviours are real and experienced by you and/or others in the organization, the manager or someone from human resources can offer resources e.g.  Depending on the person Coaching and or Training may be appropriate  to support the difficult employee in displaying more acceptable behaviour/attitudes
    • The employee needs time and practice in “trying on” new, more suitable behaviours. HR and/or the manager need to provide specific feedback to this employee on the success or failure of his efforts in minimizing the negative actions and implementing ones that are more positive.
  • Sometimes a one-time confrontations will go smoothly, or at least rapidly, to a conclusion. Other times it will require several sessions to resolve the problem. Minor problems, like being late for work, may be resolved with a simple chat. An office bully, who has used that behaviour successfully since elementary school, may need more than one confrontation before a solution can be reached. Be patient. Don’t always expect instant results. Aim for continuous improvement rather than trying to achieve instant success.

  • Finally…
  • Document. Whenever you’re having significant problems with an employee, write down the key points; this is very important.  Dozens of times I’ve had managers tell me that they couldn’t let a difficult employee go because they had no record of his or her bad behaviour. And all too often this lack of documentation arises out of misplaced hopefulness; that they didn’t want to be ‘too negative’ about the employee (As if it would all magically go away if they didn’t write it down).  Good managers know that documentation isn’t negative – it’s prudent.  Remember, if you’re able to solve the problem, you can just breathe a sigh of relief and put your documentation in the back of the drawer
  • Be consistent. If you say you’re not OK with a behaviour, don’t sometimes be OK with it.  Employees look to see what you do more than what you say.  If, for instance, you tell employees that it’s critical they submit a certain report by a certain time, and then you’re sometimes upset and sometimes not upset when they don’t do it…the less-good employees generally won’t do it. Pick your shots – only set standards you’re actually willing to hold to – and then hold to them. Repeat as necessary
  • Learn when to keep trying and when to refer the employee to others for more specialized help.
  • Make sure you aren’t part of the problem! It will be much more difficult to remain calm and impartial in confronting the difficult behaviour if you are partly responsible. If that’s the case, be sure you acknowledge your role in it, at least to yourself. Often, when an employee is difficult we stop paying attention to what’s actually going on. We’re irritated, it seems hopeless, and we’ve already decided what we think about the employee – so we just turn our attention to other things, out of a combination of avoidance and self-protection.
  • Manage yourself /self-talk.   This can be a stressful time so, make sure your self-talk is neither unhelpfully positive nor unhelpfully negative.  Thinking to yourself, “This woman’s an idiot and will never change,” isn’t useful, nor is thinking, “Everything will turn out fine, there’s no problem.” Good managers take a witness stance, making sure that what they say to themselves about the situation is as accurate as possible. For example, “His behaviour is creating real problems for the team. I’m doing what I can to support him to change.  If he does, great, and if he doesn’t, I’ll do what I’ve said I’ll do.”
  • Don’t get held hostage, spending a disproportionate amount of time, thought and emotional energy on difficult staff. Difficult employees are that way simply because it is a behaviour that has worked for them in the past.  There are two possibilities; they may not know any other behaviour or they may choose this behaviour when they think it will be most effective. You will be successful in dealing with difficult employees only to the extent that you can make these undesirable behaviours no longer effective for them. In many ways, it’s like dealing with children.
  • Set consequences if things don’t change. If things still aren’t improving at this point, good managers get specific.  They say some version of, “I still believe you can turn this around.  Here’s what turning it around would look like.  If I don’t see that behaviour by x date, here’s what will happen” (e.g., “you’ll be let go,” or “you’ll be put on warning,” or “you won’t be eligible for a promotion” – some substantive negative consequence.)
  • Work through the company’s processes but know when you are at the end

While the goals is always to reach a mutually acceptable solution that resolves the difficult employees inappropriate behaviour and keeps your team at full strength, sometimes that is not possible. When you reach an impasse and the employee is not willing to change his or her behaviour then you need to begin terminations procedures in accordance with your company’s policies. In any case, the manager needs to follow company guidelines in recognizing the unacceptable behaviour, providing direct feedback, providing input to try to turn it around and ultimately taking action in a timely manner.



Patricia Ryall, Executive, Intercultural Coach and Trainer

Twitter:  PatriciaRyall1

Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Nora Lucey On Stepping Out September 11, 2015

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Doorstep communications for your business

Whether your business is located on a busy shopping street, a city suburb, industrial estate or elsewhere you’ll need to think about your profile in the local community.

Start with a communications audit

Look at the audiences your company currently interacts with and decide which of these you need to address more effectively and also factor in others with whom you have no current interaction but need to attract. Typical audiences you might want to address would include existing and potential clients, competitors, staff/potential staff, suppliers, media, professional organisations, neighbouring businesses, service providers etc.

How do you currently communicate? Should you ditch current communications or just enhance these efforts a little? Is a total revamp required? Are you losing business? If so, why? How are client complaints dealt with? What is your shop front like? Are your premises well maintained? Do you have a website, newsletter, business fliers? Do clients recommend you to others? Are your staff good ambassadors for your business? Are calls and callers to your office efficiently dealt with? Do you go the extra mile with clients in terms of communications, tip offs and ad hoc phone calls? Do you use local suppliers? Do you pay them on time? Do you engage with your business neighbours? Are you involved in local business organisations?

Plan your communications

Define your budget and objectives. Put your plan on paper. Build it into your strategic business plan. Even a small budget cleverly used can bring results.

Sell your expertise and that of your colleagues.

Write for business journals – both within and outside your own profession. Offer to write a column for the local newspaper or provide an ‘ask the expert’ slot for local radio. Rotary Clubs, the Irish Countrywomen’s Association and the local Chamber of Commerce are worth joining. Get involved in local enterprise organisations. Have a website and keep it up to date. Introduce a blog and keep it lively and informative. Invite interaction from clients, maybe occasionally feature one of them. Have competitions, a spin off newsletter and publicise your memberships and professional news also. Make clients feel part of your business. If you can’t write contract this out (to me preferably!).

Consider sponsorship

Community sponsorships vary and you need to be selective and choose wisely in terms of the return you want. Having a plan will mean your communications are consistent, planned and executed with your business needs addressed. Options you can consider include:

Sponsor a workshops for clients and potential clients. Aim to sell your expertise by providing them with some knowledge. I met my accountant when I was doing a Start Your Own Business course – she took a module simply titled “what your accountant will need from you”. An effective means of attracting new business.

Get your logo/name onto a local sports team’s kit. You will get to attend events and mix with supporters, coaches, etc.   You might also get to present medals and get ongoing publicity.

Consider local arts groups. Local musical societies, bands, choirs and drama groups can have a large volume of members with a network of family, neighbours, schools, workplaces and community reach. Be prepared to offer continuity of sponsorship rather than a one off if possible. The added bonus is the ability to tag on some client entertainment on opening night if this is a good fit.

Charity begins on your doorstep. Are some of your staff involved in charities? Can you support them with corporate sponsorship? Can you offer your expertise on a charity or not-for-profit board? Can you tie in your business activity with pro bono work i.e. an annual audit, fit out of office, letting charity staff participate in your staff training programmes?

Education can provide opportunities. Consider an annual bursary or award for Best Student or graduate results in your area of business or a scholarship in tandem with a local not-for-profit. Providing a local primary school with reflective armbands for pupils with your company logo on them can provide a nice photo opportunity if managed properly. Do, however, have a back up supply in your office for further requests and involve local community Gardai and Safety Authorities.

A word of caution before you sponsor

Contract all sponsorship activity. Be clear that what you want is what you are getting. Be aware that publicity is not guaranteed. Projects involving multiple sponsors may not deliver for you. If considering a sponsorship which has become available due to the withdrawal of a previous sponsor check with the original sponsor as to their reasons for pulling out.

Set out clearly what you require from the sponsorship and if it’s of significant monetary value disburse your payments in stages and review progress in terms of return along the way.


Use media effectively. Monitor local media and know what interests them. Don’t be shy about announcing your firm’s achievements be it creating employment, attracting of a significant new client, an award, sponsorship of the local camogie team, opening of your new office etc.,. If you don’t do doorstep communications you can bet your competitors will!


About Nora Lucey

Nora Lucey, FPRII, started winning writing competitions at the age of 12 subsequently publishing feature articles on a contributory basis in the Evening Press amongst others.  Her writing skills led her into a career in public relations both as Group PR Manager with Irish Life and as a PR consultant working mainly with financial services, Government, small business and charity clients. Latterly she has worked in house within the public service and now wishes to resurrect her writing both in corporate journalism and in a personal feature/blog writing capacity.  Nora can be contacted at nora.lucey@gmail.com.

Blogger In Residence @ Irish Executives Network Turtle Bunbury On A Long Way From Tipperary September 11, 2015

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In the depths of the Second World War, Major General Emmet Dalton, former comrade in arms of Michael Collins and decorated hero of the battle of the Somme, made his way into the Ritz Hotel in blitz-weary London. Therein he met Lord Milton, heir to the Earl of Fitzwilliam, who introduced him to a tall man with bright red hair called Brendan Bracken. As someone with a keen eye on military intelligence, Dalton knew that Bracken was one of Winston Churchill’s most constant supporters, as well as Minister for Information in the wartime cabinet.

However, he also knew another aspect about Bracken’s past that few others were aware of.

‘Brendan and I know one another of old,’ he remarked as they shook hands. ‘We were schoolmates in Dublin.’

If he expected Bracken to pump his hand with warm recognition, he was to be disappointed. Bracken feigned not to know what Dalton was talking about.

As a cold shadow struck the group, Dalton took stock of the situation.

‘If you don’t remember me, Brendan, I bloody well remember you and those corduroy trousers which you wore, day in, day out, until you stank to high heaven. The smell is not out of my nostrils yet.’

Dalton’s account of meeting Bracken is among many anecdotes in Charles Lysaght’s definitive biography, ‘Brendan Bracken’, published in 1979, which tells the unlikely story of the Catholic Irish tearaway who rose to become London’s answer to Josef Goebbels at the height of the war. As Lysaght puts it, he was ‘the most significant native Irishman in English political life since Edmund Burke.’

Nearly 70 years after his death, Bracken was back in the headlines in the summer of 2015 following the sale of the Financial Times, one of his flagship newspapers, to Japanese media firm Nikkei for £844 million.

Everything about Bracken’s ascension to the upper ranks of the British Empire was unlikely.

Joseph Kevin Bracken, his father, was a fiery, physical force Fenian from Templemore, Co. Tipperary. Known as JK, the elder Bracken was a stonemason and sculptor who was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood after a visit to the USA. He was also one of the seven co-founders of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Thurles in 1884 and later became a key supporter of Charles Stewart Parnell.

However, as a monumental sculptor, JK’s principal client was the Catholic Church and so, in the interests of commerce, he found himself obliged to support the priests in their denunciation of his fellow nationalists. Such kow-towing went down poorly and he narrowly avoided being murdered by his former allies.

In 1902, following a run-in with Templemore’s landlord Sir John Carden, JK relocated his family to Ardvullen House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick. However, he succumbed to cancer in 1904, leaving six children by two wives.

Born on 15 February 1901, Brendan was JK’s second son by his second wife Hannah Ryan, the ‘hot-tempered’ but apolitical daughter of a prosperous farmer-baker from Borrisoleigh.

In 1908, four years after JK’s death, Hannah moved to Dublin with her four small children, as well as two increasingly hostile stepdaughters. They initially lived on Iona Drive, Glasnevin, then moved to North Circular Road, from where young Brendan walked to St. Patrick’s National School, Drumcondra.

In 1910 he transferred to O’Connell School, the Christian Brothers School on North Richmond Street. The school had an intense nationalist ethos and among Bracken’s many schoolmates were the aforementioned Emmet Dalton and future Taoiseach Sean Lemass but nationalism was not on the agenda for the carrot-topped mischief-maker from Tipperary.

Bracken’s teachers conceded that he had ‘brains to burn’ but his outrageous conduct and incorrigible scruffiness was to drive them and his mother to the brink. He was an absolute menace to the Glasnevin neighbourhood, chopping down trees, popping hoses through open windows and turning the water on, catapulting pebbles at the window of the parish priest’s house. At his stepsisters wedding in 1913, he pinched the celebrant priests hat and ran away.

Pranks aside, he was an enterprising boy. When neighbours went on holidays, the 13-year-old offered to keep an eye on their bikes for a fee. Once they had gone, he rented out the bikes to others. His stepsisters also paid him to assist with their nocturnal breakouts from their home.

The young Bracken spent most of his earnings on newspapers, which he read voraciously. He produced his own version of a newspaper in his copybook and then charged people for the privilege of reading it. He also stood outside church and sold a news-sheet to his neighbouring parishioners who were thrilled and startled in equal parts to see the content comprised of gossip all about themselves. Mrs Bracken, the source of many tales, was mortified.

Brendan was also head of ‘Bracken’s Gang’, an unruly group who were constantly fighting the Manor Street Gang. After one such scuffle, an opponent nearly drowned in the Royal Canal and the Dublin Metropolitan Police gave Mrs Bracken a warning.

Exasperated, she sent her son to board with the Jesuits of Mungret College near Limerick, where he was soon ranked as ‘quite the cheekiest boy’ to attend the school. He made few friends although one teacher said he could have ‘charmed the birds off the trees’. He subsequently ran away and stayed in a series of hotels in Foynes and Rathkeale, under a false name, before finding work at a newspaper office in Limerick where he acquired a briefcase and a bowler hat.

Bracken could evidently not be tamed. His mother, who always kept an emotional distance from him, was now alarmed by reports that the boy was becoming increasingly interested in Republicanism. She arranged for him to go to Victoria, Australia, to live with her cousin Tom Laffan, a priest.

He arrived in 1916 and remained in Australia for four years, during which time he wandered far and read extensively, particularly when a gracious Brigidine nun let him roam in her extensive library.

It was in Australia that he began to invent stories about his past, claiming, for instance, that he had studied at Clongowes.

In the latter half of 1919 he returned to Ireland and found his mother, remarried, living at Dollardstown near Navan, Co. Meath. Sadly he was not hailed as the prodigal son but instead became embroiled in a bitter family row.

Bracken about-turned and moved to England where he very deliberately began the process of blanking out every aspect of Irish nationalism and Catholicism from his past. He found work as a teacher in Liverpool where his Australian accent must have come in useful, given that anti-Irish feelings were running rife with the War of Independence in full-flow.

He made enough money to enrol himself as a pupil at Sedbergh, a boarding school in Cumbria, where he claimed to be a 15-year-old Australian (he was 19) who had been orphaned when his parents died in a bush fire. Although his headmaster strongly suspected a grand fib, he was permitted to stay on and continued to study literature and history with aplomb, emerging as a perfect example of a British public school boy, albeit with an Australian twang.

His Irish past was all but forgotten as he advanced into the world of newspapers, becoming an editor for the London publishers Eyre and Spottiswoode.

He made his mark by commissioning articles from politicians such as Mussolini and Churchill whom he first met in 1923. The two became great friends but even Churchill claimed to know little of Bracken’s origins, once describing him as ‘a brilliant young Australian of quite exceptional powers and vitality’. Bracken was one of the few people who could shake Churchill out of his periodic fits of depression, the ‘black dog’ as he called it. Strange and unfounded rumours would circulate that Bracken was Churchill’s illegitimate son.

In 1929 Bracken was elected Conservative MP for the London constituency of North Paddington.

Stanley Baldwin, the party leader, described him as Churchill’s ‘faithful chela’, the Hindustani word for disciple. Bracken was certainly a key figure in helping Churchill survive his years in the political wilderness but he was also a powerful figure in his own right. In 1928 he headed up a group who helped Eyre and Spottiswoode to acquire control of the Financial News, forerunner of the Financial Times, as well as the Banker, the Investors’ Chronicle, and 50 % of The Economist. He also founded History Today.

Arguably the seminal moment in Bracken’s career came when he masterminded Churchill’s succession as Prime Minister in 1940. Having ascertained that the Labour party would back him, he convinced Churchill not to support Lord Halifax, his only rival for the leadership.

Bracken helped Churchill move into 10, Downing Street, for which he was rewarded with a position on the Privy Council, or inner circle. When concern was expressed at his lack of ministerial experience, Churchill wrote to the king: ‘He has sometimes been almost my sole supporter in the years when I have been striving to get this country properly defended.’

Bracken went on to serve as an exceptional and pragmatic Minister of Information from 1941 to 1945. A spin-doctor par excellance, he also held his own against Churchill when need be, opposing the Prime Minister’s attempts to curtail freedom of the press. He also pointedly condemned de Valera and ‘those lousy neutrals’, maintaining that people of Irish stock living overseas were heartily ashamed of Eire’s wartime attitude.

After a brief spell as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1945, he was ousted along with Churchill in the post-war election. He devoted his remaining years to criticizing the dismantling of the Empire.

In early 1952 he was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Bracken, of Christchurch in the County of Southampton. He never used the title or sat in the House of Lords.

Bracken never married. He had some brief but fruitless courtships with society women. He was probably homosexual although Lysaght maintains there is no conclusive evidence for this.

The chain-smoker died from throat cancer on 8th August 1958. He was 57 years old, unmarried and without children. The viscountcy died with him. ‘Poor, dear Brendan’, wept Churchill.

Despite his Catholic upbringing and the efforts of a nephew who was a Cistercian monk, he refused the last rites. ‘The blackshirts of God are after me’, he told a friend, but they would have no success. He decreed that his ashes should be scattered on Romney Marsh. On his deathbed he asked his chauffeur to burn all his personal papers. As such, much about the man remains a mystery. And that is precisely what he wanted.

With manifold thanks to Charles Lysaght.


Turtle Bunbury


‘Easter Dawn – The 1916 Rising’ (Mercier / Rowman & Littlefield) – coming in October 2015.

‘The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War’ (Gill & Macmillan) – short-listed for the Best Irish-published Book of the Year 2014.

‘Vanishing Ireland’ (Hachette) – short-listed for Best Irish Published Book of the Year 2013.

Turtle’s book are available from all good bookshops or from his aStore via Amazon.co.uk  or Amazon.com  Oldfort,      www.facebook.com/turtle.bunbury Turtle’s historical blog is at www.facebook.com/Wistorical