Memory building exercises: Snippets from sources of interest (including tv programmes; reading; lectures) 2001-2005

Mental Health snippets written 2003

The Stigmatisation factor to mental illness is particularly prevalent in the Armed Forces.





Anger is a natural response to abuse.

The tendency in society is to sympathise with the abuser rather than to confront the issue.

Women often tend not to release anger.  Note the relationship between love and anger.

Remember the title I told Sean Collins I was going to use for my book and all those years ago he thought it a really good one!!!!!

‘The day I traded in my personality’  * I never succeeded in writing this book but in 2017 I was called for National Screening BreastCheck and was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was during the treatment I wrote a book with the title “Fortune Favours the Brave” which is the Blake-Forster family crest on a signet ring which can be used as a stamp; a gift from my mother when I was about 12 years old.  The book is published: 

Back to 2003 and a personal note of reminiscience

Also:  Remember Aristotle:  ‘He who angers you conquers you’

Joe Garry (my ex husband of 14 years) never did.  Joe Donnelly my first boyfriend; one of my regrets is that I allowed other people yield greater influence and did a lot of harm to a person I loved at that time.  My father died when I was 18.  I was told by my cousin’s wife Anne that my father had accepted the relationship; but then he changed his mind as can so often happen when people become as deeply depressed as he was at the time of crisis in his life.

My selection of words in relation to mood disorder:

Disengage from Society

And  Engage again.   You become angry to the passivity of the prior state that facilitates control relationships and power issues.

Anger say where there is a frozen need that is not met in childhood can be carried through to adulthood e.g. a lack of parental love.

Children raised in isolation do not learn the social and emotional skills that are necessary to live healthy lives.

Intimacy concerns questions of trust.

‘There are no verdicts to childhood only consequences and the bright freight of memory’  Pat Conroy – The Prince of Tides                                                                

Forgive:  However, take your time to protect yourself.  Beware of pity.

Beware of inclination to protect or care for the perpetrator – care-taking role assumed by the child.

Carefully cultivate another personality type.  Masks can be either positive or negative.  Note:  Your choice of personal mask tells a great deal about your self image and the way you perceive the world.






  • Survivors need to be able to express the hopelessness that leads up to the intention to commit the act.  This means that survivors need to meet each other.
  • It is a good idea to make a contract with someone – Before I do anything I will talk to you……….
  • Terry Kellogg  – There are no secrets in families only denial.
  • Child abuse can exist in an adult relationship.  The survivor expressing this anger for the first time in his/her life can feel alive.  There will be tears, trembling and laughter.  It is difficult to unlearn misinformation we were taught as children.
  • It is a tremendous breakthrough when the male survivor can begin to talk about his feelings.  No one ever died from feelings but a life devoid of emotions is a form of living death.  Note that after yawning, one always feels better.  Embarrassed laughter, rapid talking, raging is all part of the healing process.  Trembling is concerned with letting go of fear.
  • Survivor:  Do you know what I mean?  This is a very significant question.
  • Masks are about not liking oneself as one perceives oneself


KILROY:  morning TV programme


Woman spoke about her Mum.  Her Mum’s first attempt resulted in her losing her legs.   As a child at that time, she FELT, numb and alone.  Then when she was still 5, her mother ‘Left’.  She still was extremely angry with her Mum.  The question Why?  was asked – the woman’s interpretation was that her mother was a depressive and an alcoholic, she had lost her baby.  However, to most of the audience and the woman, these were not taken account of.  The focus was the selfishness of her mother’s contrived  act on her children particularly.

Another woman had had an abortion and committed suicide

Another woman spoke of the profound affect her Mother’s suicide had on her 12 and 9-year-old daughters.

Most women would not use the word suicide or killed herself.  They talk about ‘going away’, ‘leaving’.  The stigma attached to the word is too condemnatory was the opinion – it still made the act sound criminal, which is no longer the case.  The Grandchild’s schoolwork has been badly affected.

What scared me was the level of Anger.  The total non-understanding of one woman who tried to explain the depression and despair involved.  It was non acceptable and harrowing, most had never told their husbands or in fact anyone.  The show was the beginning of admitting this major trauma in their lives.  They spoke of their pain.  Problems that spill over into the daughter’s relationships with men are that they ‘over-love’ and try to do anything to please them.  One woman who consistently blamed her mother had quite evidently reacted in such a way as to be intrusive on her children in effect smothering them.

There was woman whose mother spent considerable periods of time in bed depressed.  At 68 the mother drowned herself.  The daughter had visited that morning and was a little irked – now she is guilty.

Source:  Book  2001 but revised in 2003

Messages about Masculinity by Mike Lew:  Victims no Longer

Instead of opening ourselves to the virtually unlimited potential and flexibilities of which human beings are capable, we concentrate our energies on living up to an ideal.

Men have spent their lives trying to prove their masculinity.

These negative self-judgments are re-enforced every time we look outside ourselves for confirmation of our self worth.  Boys learn to repress their emotions in order to avoid the stigma of appearing weak and feminine.

TRUE anger is powerful.  It takes the form of righteous indignation in the face of abuse and other injustices.  This anger is not engaged in as frequently as theatrical anger.

When this anger arises – it is recognisable and occurs only after a significant stage of recovery.

Lecture – St. Patrick’s Hospital, (Jonathan Swift “Give Vision to the Visionless”

December 2001:  Suicide and Bereavement by Lecturer Mr Barry McHale.

A personal friend of the lecturer committed suicide.

Irish Association of Suicidologists – 1998

The equivalent of four 737 Boeings die each

year as a result of suicide

  • Imagine the public outcry if one Boeing crashes.
  • The 2000 IAS (Irish Association of Suicidology) Report refers to “THE SILENCE”
  • In a given period there were 127 deaths by road accident and 126 by suicide.  Considerable money is invested in trying to prevent road traffic accidents yet suicide prevention receives minimal attention.
  • Men to women:  Average 5 men to every woman but in Donegal the figure is as high as 8 men to every woman.
  • The issue:  Men do not talk at an emotional level either at home, to their family, to friends in the pub.


Those who talk about committing suicide will not – the fact is one third do.

(Barry’s friend was drinking with the group the night before – no indications existed).




  • Only the clinically depressed commit suicide.  The fact is that not all those who commit suicide meet the Diagnostic Clinical Criteria.
  • Hopelessness and Despair are major factors.  Cognitive therapy proves positive in this situation.
  • Four out of ten people who commit suicide engage in self-harm.  They can’t be stopped.
  • Personality disorders are more complicated.  They tend to manipulate and eventually lose supports and friends and are left without anyone.

In 1993 – the Department of Health stated that 1% of deaths were by suicide.  This has risen by 75% in the young men 15-24 age category.

All categories of mental illness carry a threat of suicide.

Presently, there is a TV programme titled ‘Young Boys don’t cry’ produced by RTE.  People either hate it or love it in the Reviews.

Foster Report – North of Ireland:  Findings –

  • 69% had communicated suicidal ideas
  • 72% had made contact in the previous four weeks with medical professionals
  • 59% had met with their GP within the 3 month period
  • 26% had contact with psychiatric services


The need is to find a solution factor.  The goal of the person who intends to commit suicide is a cessation of consciousness – it is here that the problem exists.  There is an unbearable pain, it is a mixture of fear and a sharp knife piercing through the very core of your being.  It is defined by some as a psychic pain.  (Personally I will never forget it – the numbness that followed for months).

The common stressor is ‘frustrated needs’

Commonalities of Suicide:

  • AGGRESSION (intelligence but not emotional).

Think of the family man at table, they actually are at a stage that they do not even having the emotional vocabulary – this is due to emotional dysfunctionality.

North of Ireland School Programme:

There is a movement away from the unacceptable approach and more of an acknowledgement of the anguish and unendurable pain involved.

C.S. Lewis: 

‘No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear’ (1961)

The fear is that of the future.  There is a vacuum.  Within the family fear permeates and is not recognised.

One identifiable feature particularly significant for me is the tendency is to move in and out of groups, even locations.  Alienation and solitude pull you from your very core to exclusion from society.  The pull factor is so strong.


‘The elephant in the room syndrome – and everyone just avoids him’

50% are sorrowful while the other 50% are angry.  All experienced guilt and shame.  Guilt comes from within the person.  Shame is about what the community or others think of you.  The lecturer Barry gave an example where the father had bought a rope and the son used the rope.  The father felt guilty for buying the rope.  The mother felt shame and fear of God.

Barry McHale – his methodology to deal with issues is to seek ‘books on the subject matter’ (I cannot stress the importance of reading; searching for answers; curiousity).  For him this assists his Faith and each book is like a rung on a ladder moving upwards towards an answer.

The professionals involved with the person concerned have human feelings  – is a factor that is often not considered.

Kubler Ross 1969

The Stages of Grief

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance (inner peace)

Associated Feelings

  • The sense of abandonment and the rage associated with it.
  • Why could it not have been me?
  • Depression is a reaction to a stressful situation.  Men particularly need support.


  1. Features of Suicide – Wertheimer 1999
  2. Nature of the death
  3. Events leading up to it
  4. The search for understanding
  5. Suicide and the Law
  6. Suicide and Religion
  7. Facing suicide as a family
  8. Facing the world
  9. Support services
  10. Facing the feelings
  11. Surviving bereavement

Egan:  (Police Training) aspect:

  • One coroner has refused to hold court.  He states too much pain is caused to the family.
  • Fr. Tony Byrne has been up to Derry.
  • We must acknowledge the lack of support services.
  • There is a search for understanding
  • Road traffic accidents:  Police although they may not concur state ‘Accident – Undetermined Death’.  They have a good idea from skid marks and other factors.


Am I going crazy?  I can identify so much with this?  If I am little too happy I don’t know whether I am going high and heading for a low……

The Family:

Changes certainly have occurred.

The services give more support to the family.  The previous lack of communication aspect has improved.  The children are involved in the necessary conversations.  The process of family secrets drives a wedge in the family.  There will be the child who normally will ‘chatter’ who will assume the caretaker role.

Facing up to the feelings is another important issue.  At first there will be shock.  This provides a cushion to enable the person(s) to cope.  There is guilt, shame, anger, responsibility, relief, depression, confusion and pre-occupation, acceptance.


Consider making a friend of your pain (I can confirm that this is all you can do when crawl out of the wreckage).

Ed Dunne  –  American Suicidology

  1. Know you can survive
  2. Struggle with why
  3. Suicidal thoughts are common

Recommends the Royal College of Psychiatrists Changing Minds video

Emotional Intelligence

Learning difficulties.  The Minister for Education (McGuinness) has decided to scrap the 11+

Project presently in existence in the North of Ireland titled ‘Under Pressure’.  It covers the age group 14 to 16.  Project in Ardnagelvin.

The syllabus involves Drama, Creative Writing.  Video diaries and daily diaries are compiled and monitored by staff of the University of Ulster.  The programme is concerned with teaching coping skills, self esteem development and engagement in fun exercises.  One common factor was the consensus that life is about risk and the fear associated with it.



The Police, Environment and Department of Health are the main government sources.

Education is key.  People interact with people.  The issue is that ‘Mood Matters’.  Bibliotherapy is worth engaging with › eng › services › list › mental-health-services › powero…

The Northern Ireland programme is well funded by the Government.  The Women’s Aid Group and others also make contributions.

Aware is the Driver

The IAS have issued guidelines for dealing with cases to the media.  There is a definite need to control information.

Teresa Millais in Youghal is the co-ordinator for all suicide bereavement groups.

Be Aware:

FEAR – PARALYTIC especially

AGORAPHOBIA:     This is a paralysing fear of leaving home.

As the tension rises, the anxiety mounts.  This produces the nervous tension  i.e. the negative coping strategy

Fear of Fear (in my case the fear of recurrence of depression) is very powerful.  Anxiety is of an emotional response.  If you conceal a fear you create more tension, this generates a being afraid situation which causes the adrenalin to flow.  Tension may precipitate an ambiguous breakdown.

Note:  Being afraid of fear can take control of one’s life.

PHOBIA:  This is the defence against anxiety (Remember: Tenia (Clinical Psychologist, Trinity College Dublin) when I said I  thought now I felt better that I should move on to dealing with my hair twiddling.  Her advice was to not do so; it is part of my way of dealing with anxiety)

STRESS:  Everyone suffers from stress but the body must be prepared.

ATTENDED MEETING AT ST PATRICK’S HOSPITAL: Notes compiled by Michelle Clarke.  Have included certain points from my own experience.

Barry McGale from the Northern Ireland task force on Suicide gave the lecture in St. Patrick’s hospital.

Revised:  15th January 2003 and again September 2019

Trinity Horizon Project  1996/1997

Funding received from Horizon Fund in EU. 

Participants:  Trinity College Dublin, Centre for Women Studies.  Dr Margret Fine-Davis; Dr Mary McCarthy

Aware: St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin 8, Professor McKeon

Department of Enterprise and Employment

Funded by the Horizon (Disabled) Programme of the European Union’s Human Resources Initiative

15 people engaged in this research project related to women with depression and their reintegration into society.  I was one of the first 15.


An estimated 200,000 people in Ireland suffer from depression and women are particularly affected.  Studies indicate that work affords protection against depression for women and it is with this in mind that the Trinity Horizon project was created.   Horizon, which is a European Union concept, is aimed at assisting marginalised groups back into the workforce.  The Trinity Horizon project is a training and research programme run by the Centre for Women’s Studies, Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with Aware, St Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin 8.   It  is funded by the Horizon (Disabled) Programme of the European Union’s Human Resources Initiative* which is administered in Ireland by the Department of Enterprise and Employment.  The support structures are provided by the National Rehabilitation Board.  The Trinity Horizon project is a proto-type and is the first programme in Ireland aimed at dealing with people who suffer  from depression and their re-integration into the workforce.

Fifteen participants were selected by interview.  The project  incorporated two three month training periods, the first term commenced in October 1996 and the second term commenced January 1997.  The course organisers ensured our exposure to a carefully planned curriculum which was broad enough to tap resources perhaps previously not identified.   Our curriculum included current affairs, creative writing, group therapy, 1 to 1 therapy every two weeks, computer training, personal development/assertiveness, drama, women and health, career planning and physical activity.  The aim is re-integration to the workforce and perhaps the third a final stage of the programme which entails meeting each Friday will enable us to focus on what we have gained from the directional aspect of the previous two phases and assist us in finding a direction into employment.

An interesting dimension to the programme, for me particularly, was our attendance at the Transnational Day held at Trinity College, Dublin on February 20th 1997.  Presentations were made by members of the Artemis network which comprises NOW, ADAPT, and Horizon.  Representatives from the Netherlands, Italy and Greece made presentations about the programmes they have organised in their respective countries aimed at women and their return to work.  The Trinity Horizon project has the added dimension of dealing with women who have suffered from depression.  Hogeschool van Amsterdam selected groups from higher educated unemployed women so their courses related to a specific agenda and it was nice to note their success rate and findings.   Some interesting results include:-

~ of the sample group, 81% of jobs were sourced from the non profit making  sector

~education provides a major source of employment

~91% of the jobs were temporary, whereas only 3% were permanent

~72% of the sample groups got part-time work v. 28% full-time work

~methods of sourcing employment were the networking system and traineeship.

~Only 3% of jobs were sourced through the traditional  advert/application system.

Based on the foregoing perhaps our Group’s focus in a search for employment should incorporate a change of thought pattern and the criteria of the permanent pensionable employment position should be put aside in favour of a more flexible package.  Personally, I think there are many routes into employment and when people are recovering from ill-health, stress related occupation cannot be a consideration especially to start with.  Part-time voluntary work is a means of establishing a networking base which ultimately may create the opportunity to gain full-time, properly remunerated employment.  Moreover, one can gain skills/educational experience which in turn will help build one’s self-esteem further.  Following on from the Trinity Horizon project through our registration with the National Rehabilitation Board, we are fortunately eligible to pursue FAS programmes which include a 20 hour week working in community employment and this may be an avenue we should explore further in our aim to return to the workforce.

Mervyn Taylor, Minister for Equality and Law Reform, at the Opening of the Trinity Horizon Project referred to the uncertainty as to the success of the programme but reiterated the importance of the research aspect and its aim in facilitating groups who are affected by debilitating psychological disabilities and their re-entry into the workforce.  I hope that the findings of the Research team and their involvement with our group, derive the necessary information to ultimately create countrywide programmes which will be of benefit to women who suffer or have suffered from depression.

Michelle Clarke:     Participant.  We produced a sample of our work; some ple wrote poetry, others produced drawings.  I wrote this piece.

Revised November 22nd 2019

2017 diagnosed with breast cancer so I wrote book taking the patient’s perspective when the multi morbidities apply.  The journey from traumatic brain injury 1993 to the diagnosis of breast cancer in 2017.

Title:  Fortune Favours the Brave

By Michelle Marcella Clarke

Horizon 2020 continues to engage in research. › edf-strategic-framework-2017-2021


I transcribed this from television several months back.  It is interesting in terms of the the psychological methodology used for those who returned from the World War II.

Feelings/anxieties of people reviewed:

Professor Bergmann worked in psychological services.  His focus was a review of the inner soul ‘I am’.  The display of emotion is sometimes good e.g. distress.  Techniques applied – one being a study back into past by Freud.  He sought reasons through primitive irrational forces as distinct from the effects of war.   According to Bergmann’s account of World War II – an enormous role was played by the irrational.  The dream is deemed to be the road to the subconscious.

Interesting schemata: 

After World War II, Freud’s theories were used.  The objective was to defeat the subconscious.  Freud’s daughter’s field of study was concerned with repressing the savage barbarianism identified in the ordinary American.  49% of all soldiers in combat suffered mental break-down. This meant the introduction of psychoanalysis.  There is much more suffering shown than what appears.  World War II the Victory was about Triumph and Democracy.


The susceptibility to collapse by a person concerned them.  This meant that the irrationality was coreThe American approach was to avoid ‘an easily led’ population.  The irrationality needed to be changed.  The inner structure needed to be dealt with and the aim was by psychological analysis.

The world psycholanalytic movement was headed by Anna Freud.  Anna Freud was a rather forbidding person.  Her whole life was dedicated to psychoanalysis.  The focus was to get people to control their inner forces.  Anna Freud was concerned with freeing the anxieties.  They sought to control the inner drives.  They aimed to convert to conform to societal roles.  The objective was to make their ego strong (Homosexuality was about abnormal suppression).  The problem was that there were too few mental health workers to deal with numbers of people concerned.

Marriages were breaking up.  It was decided to use Anna Freud’s template.  They relied on psychotherapy as a method of enlarging the aim to change people.  Psychological centers were set up in towns.  They focused on the inner forces.  Counsellors were available for marriage guidance.  The template was to enhance the ego strength to control forces.  The techniques used were free association, free talk.  The concern was to master passions.  People uncrippled their own inner forces.  People began to question the reality factor.  They aim was to create model citizens.

Freud’s nephew Bernaise opted for a different route.  His new focus was the consumer.

Dickter from the Institution for Motivational Research:-

  • Why Behave
  •  Why Buy
  •  Why Respond

Introduction of retail therapy – the connection of products with emotional desires.

Dickter believed in Anna Freud’s findings but took it a stage further.  This was the beginning of the self-gratification cult, givers were out of fashion.  The aim was to improve self image, esteem and confidence by identification with the product.  Dickter believed this would benefit society.

The New Elite:            

Politicians, Social aspects, and Business.

The masses:  They required the creation of conditions for good conformist behaviour as consumers.  For the schemata utilized in the US, Anna Freud’s model family were the Berminghams.  The children were reared at her home mostly, with a rigid routine imposed.  These guinea pigs in later years went radically wrong, the brother becoming an alcoholic, the daughter leaving her husband and children to return to Anna Freud’s and committing suicide there.

Anna Freud became too anxious so the US Government turned to Edward Bernaise to gain control of the masses at the time of the Cold War.  In 1921, Bernaise invented the profession of public relations and worked for the US government.  He worked on the basis of managing manipulation and fear.   He believed that consent could be manufactured.  He held that the masses were not capable of being left to their own devices.  The Russians worked also on the basis of ‘brain washing’.  It was held by some that ‘psychiatrists’ should be in politics.

Experiments were sanctioned and utilized by certain Government Departments.  They thought that in the case of troublesome, non compliant members of society, that they could be reduced to a primitive vegetative state where they would not remember anything and that they could be re-patterned.  They used repetitive tapes with what they deemed suitable material aiming to alter their psychic states.  It failed to work.  The human being is extremely complex.

These psychologists and their theories attracted the Hollywood set.  Anna Freud acted as a psychologist to Grenson who was suffering from despair.  She was both a drinker and a drug-taker.  Freud set up a model family and tried to show her what a family is supposed to be.  It made no impact on Grenson’s destructive urges that dominated her life.  The concept was to enhance her ego.  The reality – it did not work – she committed suicide.

The question to be asked why was psychology so popular – for the people or the Institutions?


2003 Personal Reflection:

Always remember – ‘it* lurks like a thief in the night’.  17th possibly August I wrote in a diary:  ‘Please let the awful decade be over’.  This is possibly referring to Molly’s First Communion – it was 17th May, the day after Shane and Mella’s Wedding Anniversary.  It was a relentlessly hellish decade that nobody understands nor can.  I have just selected my subjects for my return to College.  Reminder to me:  Beware of being obsessive and stop thinking about what others think of you. Your concern is you.

* Blackdog/Depression

Question raised:  Do we want a culture of managerialism to be in control for our entire life?

Paddy Clarke:  My retaliation to being lost from family, the kit gloves scenario, the deep hurt and pain within:

The reason I have friends is that “we” have in common ‘a shared brokenness’.   This was how Paddy explained it.  Yes, there is real Fear of me by family.  You cannot change people who are in denial.  You must accept that.  It is the same as an alcoholic who is in denial about his drinking.  My comment:  this is why denial is in the Bible – it is about war/destruction.

Book that might be worth reading:  The Art of Possibility by Zander.

Finding something joyful to do.   Seek out the open spaces rather than expressing anger by ‘say hitting the wall’.

Need to clean out your mind, similar to what Merton says i.e. ‘Delete the incidentals’.  Avoid negative clichés and cynicism.  Key in an Orchestra is getting to the passionate side.  Note the relationship between people and music.

Zander’s policy within a class:  Every student starts out with an A grade.  The reality is you can tell the truth because they want the truth – it is the truth that improves them.

Zander’s wife and co-writer is a family therapist.  She is a very disciplined thinker.  They have the combination – Music and Therapy.

The book is published by Harvard business school.  Two kinds of Leader exist:

He recommends talking to a person in such a way that they can be the best within their capabilities – I believe totally in this.

Quote used:  ‘Enthusiasm is ‘Full of God’.  Deficits need to be acknowledged.  My personal experience is this – once I gained entry by chance to the special room for people with disabilities room in Trinity College Dublin – the understanding existed.

Anxiety does not produce effective people.  He considers the concept that certain children are gifted with genius or all are.  The difference being that some have anxieties, leading to breakdowns and this is what affects their performance.  The power within the child is what produces not the anxiety.

Serial relationship’s:  Men who can’t commit:

Basically this kind of man is in love with himself.  Narcissism applies and women form queues for his attention.  He will not accept the reality that he may be wrong.  The reality is about low self esteem.  Bed/Sex props up his ego.  Narcissists tend to be smooth and charming.  Note he will have derived a lot of experience (prey on victims – tied into control issues – Michelle’s comment).  The better choice is to opt for the candid.  The major predictor is their past.  The narcissist wants a trophy girlfriend.  Hence they are always looking around (and don’t I know……it took illness to make me take off the rose tinted glasses).  This can be a potentially dangerous liaison.

Courage to Heal book  in Michael and  David’s by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

Anger is a natural response to abuse.


‘He who angers you conquer’s you’

Anger is about where there is a frozen need that is not met in childhood and is carried through to adulthood e.g. a lack of parental love.  The fruit used to be kept in the dining room (curtains closed) in a silver dish – I was always wanting fruit yet afraid to ask.  I don’t think it was that I was ever refused but I was just afraid to ask.  Shane my brother who was 5 years younger exhibited no fear, so I asked him and he always received, no issue.

Children reared in isolation do not learn the social and emotional skills that are necessary to live healthy lives.  My head-injury was responsible for the development of my social skills, my overwork, perfection capability was stripped with immediate effect away from me when I fell off the horse, fractured my skull, in November 1993.

Intimacy concerns questions of trust.



(Untalked about emotion – one of the deadly sins)

Source:  Jealousy Theory Research and Clinical Strategies

by Greg White and Paul Mullen

We don’t place enough emphasis on this, once we reach adulthood.

It is a ‘narcissistic wound’.  It involves a threat to self-esteem.  La Rochafoucald sums it up as follows ‘There is more self than love in jealousy’.  It originates from insecurity and inferiority.  It is connected with a ‘fear of loss’.

The Jealous reaction is basically genetic ‘an inbred reaction of an atavistic nature’ that stems from the adreno-sympathetic systems.  Fear and anger are also based here.














A tiny booklet, published by the Pilgrimage Office

Title:  ‘Hope in the face of suicide’.



2001 Guidelines for survival

“The linear mind can miss its gift”




  • DON’T PRESUME TO ASSUME (Michael & David remind me)
  • Haven: Glencairn Abbey, Glencairn, Tallow, Co. Waterford.
  • Objective this year: Rest and Relaxation to regain some strength
  • Set boundaries (‘What I want counts’)  I cannot afford another depressive episode

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Citizen Journalism Ireland: Selection of articles 2002/2003/2004

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Citizen Journalism Ireland: Selection of articles 2002/2003/2004


February 2002

‘The reality changes with the first air-raid’.  It needs to be witnessed, felt, the sense of  smell must be evoked.  The Macho men all of a sudden are ‘scared men’.  The world becomes four-dimensional.  They are face to face with the immenence of death.

Key factor:  The sense of guiltYet another Paradox.  You live, another dies. 

War environment inflames the will to live. 

Home:  There is a change, it can become a will to live no longer.

The reality is that mental wounds are just the same as physical wounds.

Point made:  While combatants are on the war front, alcohol is about entertainment and abnormal practices are engaged in.  Combatants can ‘play around’ with dead bodies and fire hand grenades (must take this in context of their situation).  There are no sanctions as such.

The reaction of the Ministry of Defence to the problems that arose, was to reduce the medical budget.

Fact:  3 times the number of men who fought in Vietnam committed suicide.  This does not speak of those who are on the likes of Skid Row or known as down and outs.

In the UK, more combatants have now died from suicide than were killed in the Falklands war and the numbers are rising significantly.

The Stigmatisation factor to mental illness is particularly prevalent in the Armed Forces.

The question   WHY? MUST BE ASKED


Michelle Clarke 2002

Date: Friday, June 06, 2003 9:39 AM


Time is approaching, the Torch was lit and the journey to Ireland has begun.

This is the European Year of People with Disabilities – the objective is to challenge people to highlight the benefits of full integration for society as a whole.

Changing attitudes is one aspect but the breaking down of barriers and obstacles also needs attention.

The European Year of People with Disabilities (EYOD) is very much people driven.  A budget of Euro 12 million was provided but mostly distributed to national level.  At a national level, more local stakeholders will be involved and this will stimulate awareness.  It is hoped this new awareness will impact into policy objectives for equality for those with disabilities.

‘At the event opening in Athens, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Anna Diamantopoulou talked about ‘invisible citizens’……

One in four Europeans has a family member affected by a disability; only 4% have a colleague with a disability and only 2% know a disabled pupil at school.  Europeans with a disability are less likely to have a job or a business or have a complete tertiary education.  They are less likely to be ‘married’ (Social Agenda – European Commission Employment and Social Affairs April 2003 – free EU Office).

The EYPD has established a new framework.  A number of major companies have volunteered to establish action plans in favour of people with disabilities.  These include Hewlett Packard; Volkswagen; Sony; Manpower and others.  The recruitment company Adecco has committed to placing 7,000 people with disabilities on the EU labour market during 2003.  IBM has also made provision in line EYPD.

In Ireland, we need to remember that the Disabilities Bill has been delayed.  However, it is important to remember that legislation fights discrimination.

There will be lots of fun and excitement with the participants, their families and friends but there will also be opportunities to compare how different countries look at Special Needs and Disabilities provision.  I note in Spain, the University provides 3% of student places to people with disabilities.

Chinese Proverb:

‘The true miracle is not to fly in the air

Or to walk on the water


GOOD LUCK WITH THE OLYMPICS – ENJOY  (Michelle) NB  This is 2004

Accumulated pain; depression and suicide.
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics
Thursday, Nov 25 2004, 9:01pm

The last time Suicide was raised on this Citizen Journalism site in Ireland 27 people replied. Another article referred to the Father who felt such pain that he opted to
set fire to himself in a solicitors office. This is about pain and it is my hope that this
article written at a painful time in my life might initiate the word HOPE in the minds of
vulnerable, saddened, people.  ‘We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars’ – Oscar Wilde

The truth is that for some of us, while in the gutter, the stars can still be seen, but for
others who often may be deemed by others to lead a privileged life, a time in their life may occur when the dark, star-less gutter comprises their life.

Be it of their own making or not, and who is anyone to assume the position of judge? – they have reached that place where the dark mist seeps through their mind and thinking processes. The reality is as stark as a life or death route.

I have been there more than a few times and yearned for the blow that would give peace. I sought that inadvertent accident. I have stood watching the No. 10 bus, my mind focused on how wholly effective the method would be? There could be nothing worse than not attaining one’s objective.

Characteristics, in my opinion, can influence the ultimate decision. In my case, I regard empathy as a prominent factor. To empathise, is to basically stand in another’s shoes and it is this that proves each time the deciding factor. You see, from personal experience, the effect of suicide on those concerned, particularly the family and friends, and all who come in contact with the death by suicide, is both damaging and a life sentence.

The ‘Holy Spirit’ or whoever you choose can work in very mysterious ways:-

While I was living in England in the 1980’s, I was a commuter, by train daily, to the City, where I worked. It was a hard winter and there was a lot of snow and frost causing major delays and cancellations on the trains. One day as I stood waiting to board an overcrowded, last train out of Liverpool Street, the train driver felt kindly
toward me and invited me to join him in his part of the train. We chatted but interestingly the subject changed to suicide.

Before long I realised a perspective I never looked at. He angrily spoke of the selfishness of people who weekly threw themselves before the trains. He and his fellow train drivers had to deal emotionally, physically and otherwise with these harrowing events. This conversation, always remains with me albeit I know when things become
so bleak, this rationality scarcely applies. However, if at all possible try and keep a level
of empathy in mind.

My depressions have been violent and numerous yet every time I ‘resurrect out of the ashes’, I am caught in a near ecstasy of enthusiasm to ask why, seek further research and responses, to read more, to assist anyone as much as possible whom I feel may need help i.e. within the protection boundaries I must set for myself. Opportunities each time present themselves and it is these experiences that drive me on – I am constantly in
search of any answer.

This was published in the Aware magazine, St Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin 8 – 2001

August 2001 – during a very disturbed yet enlightening period in my life. I found this and
here I am November 2004 and content.

Legalised Brothels in Holland to Vintners Ireland and Vision
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics – Please Wednesday, Sep 8 2004, 4:05pm

This is most interesting.

Now that our Government are in swing and aiming for Social Awareness, people ought to put forward legalisation of brothels in Ireland.

Again I recommend the article in this weeks Economist magazine about the Sex business. The time has come to use initiative in Ireland and why not piggy back on the research of other countries.

I note with a degree of wonder the bleating of the Vintners association about the smoking ban; it appears that takings are down; and product prices are up.

Perhaps the time has come for pub owners to have some vision. Many pubs host crowds at ground level or empty spaces these days and vacant space upstairs; maybe some options need to be tapped.

I say no to kerb crawlers. I say yes to respect of all people concerned. I do not like passing women working on the street late at night when it is cold and dangerous for them. They supply a need. We need to take note.

If sex is legalised, maybe there would be less rape, crime, etc. If a person is a sex addict then let them pay accordingly without any inherent seediness. Public Health ought to be involved also.

Quotation selected from News Internationalist
Petra Kelly 1947-1992 German Green Politician

‘We need policies of eco-justice, and we need to realise the spiritual dimensions of our life, of our interconnected planet Earth, of each other!’

Suicide Prevention Day this Friday – Ponder on wisdom ‘Knowledge is no load’
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics Wednesday, Sep 8 2004, 11:36pm

The number of fatal car accidents recently alarms me. I don’t know why but personally I seem to link them with suicide and ask the question why RTA details are not more specific in detail (as in other countries). is an interesting website. The notification of World Suicide Prevention Day is September Friday 10th 2004. This coincides with the Aware Daisy days. Thursday; Friday; and Saturday – Bulbs for planting will be sold throughout the Island of Ireland. This years focus is Depression and Suicide Prevention.

The UN agency seeks to curb ‘the huge but largely preventable problem of suicide’. The figures reveal that almost 1 million people die every year as a consequence of suicide. This is more than from homicides and wars combined. This makes suicide a ‘tragic global public health problem’ according to the World Health Organisation.

The World Health Organisation stress the importance of EARLY IDENTIFICATION AND TREATMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS.

The news report outlines a large number of complex underlying causes including poverty, unemployment, loss of loved ones, arguments, relationship breakdowns; to name but a few.

They also state that having access to the means to suicide is both an important risk factor and determinant of suicide.

Stigma remains in Ireland. Aware, Mental Health Organisation, Mind and other organisations and people like the Samaritans are there with the listening ear.

Listen to Christy Moore’s Song; Don MacLean and Vincent; read the works of the complex writer Sylvia Plath who chose suicide because she could no longer cope with her life. You are not alone just stretch out the hand. Drink and drugs are not the answer, it is humanity and the ability to not experience loneliness in being alone. Life is a journey and there are many pilgrims out there to take your hand.

People hit momentary suicidal dips and make it through. To be a survivor of suicide haunts your life particularly if stigma surrounds it.

A quotation: News International


‘Perhaps that is what the 21st century has in store for us. The dismantling of the BIG. PERHAPS IT WILL BE CENTURY OF SMALL THINGS.

Indian Writer – Arundhati Roy
and Activist

Suicide – some strategies; there is hope in despair
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics –
Thursday, Dec 30 2004, 8:43pm

Christmas is over and the New Year approaches.

I am providing a few words of comfort from a book  by Marie Barrett, to people like me, who know what despair is about and those who have encountered the shock and pain of suicide.

The title: Hope in the face of Suicide by Marie Barrett. (This is a small booklet I purchased at the Veritas shop and that I often carry in my handbag on days when I need a raison d’etre)

‘Are you tired?
Are you lonely?
Are you troubled or afraid?
Have you someone to talk to?
Did you sleep last night?
Are you worried about today?

Marie Barrett assembled these lines – all I know is that I can empathise with each question and thankfully, these feelings relate to my past and I enjoyed this Christmas with my new friend Kevin.

Denial is a word we need to be more aware of. Denial can kill people, it cause others to refuse to embrace full recovery. There is the denial of trust, of truth, of love. There also is the denial of pain.  Denial seeps through families, companies, groups of people and can cause harm ….. in families where a suicide occurs, denial can be used to create the perfect picture but like a mirror that splinters so can be the outcome.

Perfection: This is a trait associated with success. We need to be careful in this regard…..I will take a few words from the booklet that may be of benefit.

‘Don’t burden your heart with perfection
Seek the balm ‘to be weak’
Listen. Listen to your thoughts, your feelings
Seek help
Look for help. It is waiting
Suicide, of oneself, of another, can be avoided
Seek out. Speak.

Pain is real. Pain is healing.
Both are needed
To deny this to is to deny truth of oneself’

I can identify so well with the perfection and know that when one learns to lower ones own levels of perfection, there is a freedom to be gained.  When alienation takes over; and the body begins to close into itself and the mind is dark and dour……try to hold on.

The Samaritans are there; Aware; Mental Health Association; Grow and others. The people are trained to listen and to be heard breaks through the despair.

I take finally a meditation from the book.

‘Let me sleep gently,
I cannot
I am still tired, God
Help me
I am trusting – a little
Help me find peace

Another suggestion:

Alcohol is a depressant. It lowers mood ultimately. The up is limited.

Gardai and claims that 90% encounter bullying.

Michelle  Clarke – Social Justice. 

Wednesday September 1st 2004, 8:41 pm       

Bullying – not just among children. People who bully ironically are often the people with low self-esteem. They project onto others those characteristics they share, but don’t like in themselves. Alas they seek the vulnerable targets. What is more interesting is that they may not even be aware, the reaction may be from their subconscious.

Bullying applies in schools, between children, between parents of children; in the Civil Service, in the Professions, and even Bertie Ahern refused to be bullied by Michael O’Leary per a recent headline in Irish newspapers. What can be done either at an individual level or otherwise? It’s September, children are back at school; employers and employees are back at work; politicians are back in the Dail and so are students are back at school or at university.

Ask some person like Tony Humphry’s to lecture people/children/facilitators for an hour and make them aware as why they engage in bullying. This can be backed up by some of the copious number of self-help books on the market. What has greatly helped me is the quotation from Nietzche ‘He who has the reason why, can deal with anyhow’

As a young secretary, I experienced the game plan of the bully. It was a set up situation to establish the power element of I am ‘the boss’ and you are ‘the secretary’. This is nearly 20 years ago now. I was saved by a wise Chartered Accountant in his 60’s who told me ‘Young lady’, if you don’t make a stand now, this will continue’. I took his advice and it worked very well in that place of employment where I remained for five years. I shed many tears when I left that company but then this is life and I had to join my husband in the UK because it was 1980’s Ireland and he could find no work here.

I became re-acquainted with Bullying and others seeking to be in control when I became humbled through ill-health. The only difference this time is that I had neither the health or ENERGY to engage in the ritual dance of the myriad of bullies who I met during that time……it was about vulnerability. Bullies seek out the weak. You submission in this situation is not voluntary, that stubborn streak of independence may not have left your core being but to survive you become ultimately becoming passive resistant. The Hope is that you get stronger over time and your health improves.

As I recover, I know that bullying exists. My way of dealing with it was and continues to be reading about it. A small book that I found excellent is John Powell’s (Jesuit Priest) ‘Why am I afraid to tell you who I am……written 1950’s but it has shown me how to set down boundaries. I have enlisted some coping strategies like believing that I have the right to choose not to use the phone and to not listen to people who tend to want to tell other people how to run their lives. I am not faulting the other human being but I am acknowledging my right to say no to the phone and to accepting a quality in their person that I do not like.

An extreme example of bullying – an indication of how pervasive it is.

When I lived in Zimbabwe, I either heard or read about this. The New Government in the 1980’s was left with the remnants of the British civilservice. Naturally, there was a change over in staff and of course the new staff had an acquired status position in line with their promotion and based on what they identified from
the past administration because the system did not work the same way. Sometimes to get say one’s tax sorted out – you had to employ a few relatives from the rural areas to get tax due back. Power / control – we are talking about being human and susceptible and often at its worst when one is vulnerable.

I read/heard of one case of a white woman probably for the first time having to deal with the new system attending a civil service office. She like the rest had to queue. The black Zimbabweans had spent their lives queueing. However, each time she reached the desk – the African woman dismissed her and kept telling her to go to the back of the queue. Eventually – the answer came. You are white, you have done this to us all our lives. Now you see what it is like. This I would call redressing the power balance and is understandable. However, the key point is that people learn. The learning is key. This is where the learning starts and behaviour change is the aim.

Bullying is more a characteristic/trait/coping mechanism and it is acknowledged that if you confront bullies – they retreat. The characteristic is often born out of their owninsecurity. What is important is that this characteristic can be changed.


To confront the person who is the bully may be as simple as saying to them –

That is your projection. This disempowers the bully who fires words like arrows aimed to hurt.

In Ireland much has been reported about An Gardai Siochana (claims that 90% encounter bullying) within the ranks and beyond. Bullying became so entrenched that criminal practices occurred and it became necessary to hold a tribunal of inquiry known as the The Morris Tribunal findings ought to remain stark in the minds of policy makers and Government. The

Morris Tribunal may cost inordinate sums but it is up to we the people in Ireland to take an individual responsibility to ensure ethics and social justice and be aware that bullying is morally wrong.

A Gandhi quote:

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,

deserve your love and affection.

This dimension of health merits keen attention in the health boards, teaching, the Gardai, the politicians’ personal commitment levels and effective leadership of their bureaucratic mass. Some lessons in human skills and the concept of equality and ability of people to change their attitudes need focus and personal undertaking.

Compassion seems to have fallen from grace in the society of today – To show compassion is not marketable and is often misread as a sigh of being weak or vulnerable. Compassion helps you to seek the explanation which encourages the ‘take responsibility awareness’ route which needs to start in the schools NOW AND WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT. In the UK – they have started at classroom level and explanation.

Michelle quotes Nietzche

                                ‘He who has the reason why can deal with any how’

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Citizen Journalism Ireland: Retrospect from August 2019 to July 19th 2013. Priory Hall: A man commits suicide.

Correction:  Mellon built Priory Hall?  Where did you source this fact. I think the developer is well known and not Mellon. Regards Brian

On 20 Jul 2013 18:09, “Michelle Clarke” <> wrote:

Priory Hall: A man commits suicide,

let’s get real now we are dealing with human being abandonment

by Comyn – Urban abandonments and dereliction  Fri Jul 19, 2013 16:36

Ghost estates destroy in particular our rural countryside emphasising how easy it is for properties to become derelict and become hazardous to people both physically, socially and most importantly impacting on their mental health. Where are all the promises to act “now” demolish the buildings and infrastructure and revert to agricultural land or play amenities. These developments provide opportunities to retrain some of the unemployed on these failed building sites and let people move forward.

Priory Hall is an absolute disgrace. Fault can be determined by the courts over time but the fact that the apartment complex requires certain standards of compliance to legislation is not sufficient excuse to leave people who are owners and many more on rent allowance in jeopardy and hardship year after year. Mellon the contractor (not of Priory Hall) is reported in the past to have gathered a contingent of people to go to Africa to build houses in the township for the locals. It is said that each volunteer raised up to 4,000 euros and gave of their time. Reports are happy homes for people without hope who saw a destiny of wrought iron townships being replaced with suitable homes.

Why not a similar initiative for Priory Hall and add to this the apartment block that went on fire last week which probably has displaced residents. If only an organiser could be appointed and again this could be used as a training project for people who are presently unemployed. Maybe our Mr Tax Exiles could be enterprising and create a fund for these poor vulnerable owners and renters of what once were their dream properties. Action is required urgently and especially as the plight of a young man, a father, who has chosen to die by suicide is reported in yesterday’s newspaper. The blame does not rest with Priory Hall and the shananigans of the builders, the architects, the Dublin City Council but we can rest assured the fiasco had some impact. This man leaves a partner (without access to their home, be it a mortgage, or by rent allowance) and two small children age 8 and 2. The hidden stress culminates in a massive human cost when suicide becomes the only way out for a person.

The human cost is destroying the dream of home ownership and many people are suffering while others who are older and who have their homes bought pre-Celtic Tiger or who have their mortgages paid off. Today in the Irish Indepedent there is a letter by a person who can be contacted via the Editor. This is pressure. It begs the question is she one of the new coterie of people with mortgages in arrears who face eviction? When you read the letter it is hard to envisage what it must be like to live on the margins just because the banks went into overdrive and marketed and sold properties recklessly. In the UK banking misconduct is being introduced into legislation.

The person writes asking for ‘Clarity’
The question: ‘How much can a banking institution charge a person paying a mortgage?’

2007 Peak period. The person pays £342,000 (note stamp duty would paid on this amount) and that house is presently worth £140,000. Serious negative equity applies but the State has its stamp duty and the LPT also. The mortgage as a proportion of income was 56% 2.5 yrs ago – making it difficult enough to sustain but now it is 81% of income.

The person asks and so many more must now ask WHY?
Charges added on by Budgets aimed at fixing the massive budget deficit of £1 billion per month because of the wild west banking and reckless misconduct of bankers, developers, solicitors (does anyone ever ask about Michael Lynn and all the people he represented – news is he is in Brazil so no extradition warrant can apply) and all those politicians who compromised themselves in changing agricultural land to housing designation making those farmers on the outskirts of Dublin and other cities very wealthy people. What our country received was a hideous urban sprawl with tragedies behind too many doorways.

The writer of the letter states that the charges referred to are: USC, pension-related deductions and consecutive rises in the mortgage rates to date. This person is down 600 euros per month based on the pay cuts and mortgage increases. Those hidden charges now need to be outed. We know the banks are crucifying those with deposits with charges and inadequate interest on deposits but we don’t hear about the charges that apply to the ‘delinquent borrowers’. We need to know because when you are in financial difficulties an apathy often descends and you are there to be preyed upon by the lenders.

The person then asks if ‘a banking institution cannot simply keep increasing a mortgage interest rate to the point where previously a fully paid mortgage becomes unsustainable’.

Sadly they can. Interest rates are on the rise in the US and we rely on the ECB to hold rates at their current level. However, if you are in arrears, you need to be aware of all the hidden charges that apply. For example, now if you fail to pay your mortgage in a given month, and you have no overdraft and you go into the red, does this mean you pay charges now in place (£25 in certain banks). Add to this all the other what ifs!

Repossessions are on the way. Watch out for names of Private Equity groups called Blackstone and the changing face of property ownership to rental. Google them and you will find out that the banks need to watch out as Blackstone now the largest holder of properties in the US will determine markets going forward. They have arrived in Ireland and they are buying at massive discounts. Treat this as a need to know and ask if our Banks are really doing their homework to protect home ownership in Ireland.


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Citizen Journalism Ireland: Year 2010, August 20th. Mental Health: The Stigma; the inadequate provision of primary care.

August 25th 2019“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is what George Santayana said and I have referred to this quotation so many times over the years that I  have now decided to review issues such a mental health, primary care, suicide, children with mental health.  What is frightening is that so much was said yet nothing was heeded because mental health services are still appalling.  Public health is inadequate and people with addiction problems so often complicated by mental health are ignored by those who take precedence in our society.  You will see below the people that this email was sent to at that time in 2010.  It is worth noting that if we had a proper Justice system we would not have the need for so many charities.

Amended:  August 20th 2010.  August 25th, 2019.  What has changed?

Mental Health: The Stigma. The inadequate primary care provision. The lack of beds for those in need. Children who have mental health issues. Suicide and the loss to suicide. As Prof. Malone said…the loss is two: firstly the dead person but secondly the loss to the bereaved.

Does anyone think there is a total mismatch in reporting by the media?  You listen to RTE news and watch the TV and read the newspapers and all that is portrayed is the negative impact of our health system; the myriad of inadequacies.

Today’s Irish times covers mental health and its need for priority. It is now 5 years since the supposed Blueprint from Government to MODERNISE mental health services and in the meantime the supposed property landbank i.e. including the properties of St. Itas, St. Brendan’s etc. has devalued by near 100% and that is if the properties are even marketable.

All we seem to hear about these days are Awards that our hospitals receive and yes those Centres of Excellence. Well the community hospital in Dublin 4 is no recipient of such awards. It is a crying disgrace and yet it is in the same locality as the Mental Health Commission; the Health Research Board; Science Foundation Ireland and other bodies supposedly engaged with improving the standard of mental health provision in our country.

Malcolm R. Garland MD, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, Royal College of Surgeons writes to the Irish Times Editor today: The title is re-inventing ‘asylum’ buildings. His first line mentions the Mental Health Commission’s statutory powers to order the closures of St. Brendan’s, St. Ita’s and St. Senans and he refers to the inhumane conditions people are contained within in these hospitals. However he asks the poignant question? ‘Are we throwing out the baby with the bath water’. I say yes because we have no community services for the people we release from these inhumane hospitals at a community level. We have wasted time, money, potential, resources just neglecting our most vulnerable members in society – yes those diagnosed with a mental illness, those who at times need periods in hospital to regain a balance in their existence, are hounded further by Society.

This is of significance to me today. I was in a public hospital a decade ago because I needed a haven. I was in a ward and all I really recall was the friendship of an elderly former teacher. I had been in hospital for months and the day I was leaving Eleanor, distressed gave me a hug as I said good bye and gave her and the others in my ward a bar of chocolate. To this day I stand ashamed but I did what I could. She told me what she planned to do. I listened and I even pleaded with her not to hurt her family, her children. I told the nurses who continually take notes i.e. (avoid contact and engage in functional administration) and I left the hospital and that day so did Eleanor. She did as she told me and her body was found in the Boyne river.

I came out to family and friends and a degree of understanding but what about others? What about when your family tires of your bipolar or dystonia episodes. Mr. Garland is right to ask in today’s Irish Times where are the replacement acute units for people with mental health problems (add to this people who have addictions, phobias, social anxiety, young people who give up school due to anxiety problems). Mr. Garland may have a good point about the locations of these hospitals and their link to nature.  ‘Is a small cramped admission unit with little or no access to outside space the best place to recover one’s mental health? Can we transform it into a place of Vibrancy, Dignity and Recovery?  Discrimination and stigma says no. The funds were supposed to have been ring-fenced but the evidence suggests otherwise!

Yet I had occasion to go to Harold’s Cross Hospital on several occasions this week. Here is a facility that is a Centre of Excellence. There is a large building with bold print stating Education and Research on the Grounds (a source of inspiration for a person with a life time diagnosis).

The standards are beyond belief. Each Ward after another is spotless. There is a rest room with views to the grounds. The literature abounds about Arthritis and how best to engage in palliative care, physiotherapy, counseling etc. There is an Oratory.  The staff are approachable and pleasant. But then this is not a stigmatised illness. There is HOPE.

I applaud the standards but what really concerned me was the lack of patients. If one was doing a cost benefit analysis one would reckon that spatial to person had an underlying profit factor for the Architects, Engineers, Developers etc.

When I called at the weekend. My friend was gone but then so was everyone in the ward and the other wards; they were parceled out nicely for the weekends and all that remained were the staff. My friend was transferred to the main building to a room and again he had staff surrounding him but no patients.

To all in Government: It is time to look at quality and space utilisation revolving around the potential and actual care of people. I read the web page for the consultant based at St. Vincents and I note that there is a waiting list in excess of 5,000. What is the problem? Is this about private care in a public hospital or what is it?

Mental health is vital and it is extremely important to have community services in place and acute units when the need demands. We call for a referendum for children but in the meantime we are leaving children open to vice, suicide, being murdered etc.

Add to this the conditions in the Central Mental Hospital……where is the hope?


Quotation from a man eminent in his field of research in decades gone by:
Michael J. Kelleher was a clinical director with the Southern Health Board, consultant psychiatrist and the founder of the Suicide Research Foundation in Cork.  He was a member of the Department of Health National Task Force on Suicide…..he had extensive experience in working and lecturing abroad….He is not to be forgotten.  (Book:  Suicide and the Irish 1996).

About tipping the balance…the real cost of anxiety!
‘Anxiety is a sense of dread and apprehension about the future.  It is associated with a loss of confidence and a loss of assertiveness.  Although, if a person is threatened, he may respond with a vehemence and anger that surprises even himself.  There may be a fear of going out, as well as a fear of being alone.  Added to this there is a gnawing fear that the suicide will be imitated – by oneself, as sometimes happens; or by children or siblings, as is more frequently the case.  Depression and Anxiety are often mixedAnger and a need to apportion blame are common experiences.  Recourse to alcohol or medicinal drugs (in particular the benzodiazepines, which are commonly prescribed for both anxiety and sleep) is a further hazard.

The individual’s future emotional and psychological health will be determined by how he or she responds to these unforeseen stresses.  It is important to emphasize that it is natural to feel pain.
In a sense emotional pain helps to cleanse our minds, at least initially (page 73)

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via MASHONALAND IRISH ASSOCIATION, HARARE, ZIMBABWE, St Patrick’s Day 1993 by Michelle Clarke

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Article by Eugene Garrihy: Judge Michael Comyn submitted to Clare Journal 2010

Thank you Eugene for this most interesting piece about my Grandfather, who I never met but have access to much information in the archives about him.  You met with me and Kevin many years ago now but thankfully the computer has kept this file and I now am uploading it to WordPress.  Time passes on and in 2017 I was diagnosed with breast cancer so I decided to write a book about illness over a period of 25+ years.

Michelle Marcella Clarke



Judge Michael Comyn.



My father Jack Garrihy who was born on 11th November 1920, passed away on February 25th 2007, aged 86 years.  In 1932 he was fishing The Aille River at Toomullin in Doolin, when an “important looking man” approached him and introduced himself as Michael Comyn.  He told Jack that he was opening a Phosphate mine in the area and asked Jack for local information on the immediate area.  Jack spoke with him for some time and had fond memories of that meeting. Jack offered him a couple of trout and Michael gave him two shillings and six pence in return.  Jack got to know him in later life and the following is a brief summary of Michael Comyn’s life.

Judge Comyn as he would become known was a Clare man who little has been written about from a North Clare perspective.  He is buried at Bishops Quarter Cemetery very close to where he was born in this beautiful part of North Clare.

Michael Comyn was born in Ballyvaughan in 1870.  He was 10 years old when his family were evicted from their home in Ballyvaughan.  His nephew James Comyn in his book “Their Friends at Court” recalls some of Michael’s stories of when he lived in Ballyvaughan.  Michael remembered sheep being washed in the sea.  They were thrown in one by one at the old pier at Clareville and allowed to swim ashore.  The reason for this was to clean the wool before sheering and sale.  He remembers crossing the bay to Galway with wool for sale at the markets.  He remembers at certain spring tides when the bladder weed was exposed, men and women went out to cut the seaweed and used it to fertilise the over cropped and exhausted fields.  He recalled that in the winter and summer of 1879 the final troubles developed for the Comyn family.  The crops were poor, the season bad, the sheep died in their hundreds and distress came to the valley around Ballyvaughan.  As mentioned eviction followed and he recalled in one day 800 people left Ballyvaughan by ship for free emigration to Australia. Michael and his family were lucky to have an outside farm about 15 miles away and Michael got a place in the National School in Ruan where the headmaster there was Mr Hugh Brady.

Mr Brady had a reputation as a teacher who prepared students for careers in the civil service in Ireland and Britain. During his school years Michael also worked on the farm and he recalled cutting and harvesting turf for winter fuel.  When he was nineteen he sat examinations for the Civil Service and was one of 10 from hundreds of applicants called to Power Distillery in Dublin for a six week course of introduction and Instruction.  A career in Custom and Excise followed.  His first post was to Lancaster where his task was relieving officer from stations from Barrow-in-Furness to Preston.  On one occasion a seizure of goods was required because of arrears in duty.  Michael refused to seize the goods because he said it was like the act of a “Sheriffs Officer”.  “What you ask me to do is regarded in my country as work for a different class of men, I will not do it”.  He was summoned to Lancaster but was met by an understanding senior collector who said to Michael “It is clear that this service is not suited to you”.  I will give you the opportunity to seek another career either in London or Dublin.  Michael chose Dublin.

Michael became a student at Kings Inns and managed to fit in Law lectures with work at the Distillery.  In his last year at Kings Inns he was posted to Yorkshire and missed out on lectures which prevented him sitting his final exams.  He studied the regulations and found that winning a Victoria prize would cure the defect and that he duly did.   He also found that there was an honours examination which would, if achieved, excuse him two whole terms and that he took also and succeeded.

Now a barrister he joined the Munster circuit, took a couple of cases and found himself retained for the next four sessions of the Munster circuit.  In his book “Their Friends at Court”, Mr James Comyn (Michael’s nephew) recalls many cases in which Michael was involved and in which he won the respect of the general public and the legal fraternity alike.

He had an interest in politics and became active in the few years before the 1916 rising and during the civil war that followed. He wrote “In a war of Independence the guiding principles are fidelity and honour – in civil war you can expect treachery and deceit” In 1909 he became involved in the N.W. Manchester elections and got to know Winston Churchill and his mother Lady Randolph of which he was greatly impressed.

In politics his sympathy and help went to those who took part in the 1916 rising and their successor and ultimately to Mr de Valera and his party.  During the troubles as Senior Council he was kept busy defending men charged before the Military courts.

He successfully defended many charged before the Military courts but the case that stands out is how he managed to defend 42 Irish men under the sentence of death. A solicitor in Mitchelstown, Co.Cork, Mr James G. Skinner was defending 42 men under the sentence of death and asked Michael and his brother James to do something “Do anything but do something” he said “ Invent something if necessary”.  It was in April 1921, 42 civilians were arrested near Mitchelstown and on May 3rd 1921 were charged with being improperly in possession of arms and ammunition and sentenced to death.

Michael brought a writ on the basis that the court was illegal and had no jurisdiction to try the men.  On July 28th 1921, 10 weeks from the original trial in Cork the case was being decided at the House of Lords in London.  On learning of the case, King George was moved to personally interfere and ensure that the sentences of death were not carried out.  In the end none of the 42 men died and when the treaty came shortly afterwards the men were freed.

Well known Ennistymon man, Michael John Glynn of ‘The Clare Champion’ procured this song of litigation following agrarian unrest in Ennistymon and illustrates the high regard in which Michael Comyn KC was held by people throughout Co Clare.

Twas on a black December day

The hills of Clare were far away

And hirelings ready to betray

A gallant Irish boy.

Judge Dodd was robed in scarlet gown
And G. McSweeney for the crown,
While Michael Comyn won renown,
For his defence that day.

The case was called, the jury packed,
McSweeney read the Whiteboy Act,
The peeler swore it was a fact
That Arkins knocked the wall.

Then Comyn dressed the peeler down,
“Take care” says Dodd “You’ll lose the gown
At Munster Bar and Dublin Town
You have with honour worn.”

To this the Counsel gave no heed,
He was a man of noble breed
It warmed the heart to hear him plead
With eloquence sublime.

The jury it was badly packed
And seeing the peelers spreely hacked
Could not agree about the fact
That Arkins knocked the wall.

But Sweeney knows that rebel Cork
Has still twelve men to do his work
A jury bloody as the Turk
Young Arkins will condemn.

Then spoke the judge in accents low
“To penal servitude you go,
For I’m the judge and you the foe
Of England and the King.

“You’re doomed for seven long years to dwell
A captive lone in convict cell,
Unless your comrades names you tell
And yield them up to me.”

But Arkins was of brave men born,
From love and kindred basely torn
Cast on that judge a look of scorn
And proved himself a man.

And while his memory lives in Clare,
No cruel judge will ever dare
To ask her manly sons to wear,
The emblem of a spy.


Of the 1916 leaders, Michael knew the Pearse Brothers and their sister Margaret.  Thomas Clarke, leader of the Rising, Eamon de Valera and Mrs Brugha widow of Cathal Brugha.  The day of Bloody Sunday when 14 British soldiers were shot dead, Michael was defending a young farmer named O’Rourke at Marlborough Barracks in Dublin on a charge of murdering a British Soldier in an ambush in Co. Limerick.  The farmer was cleared of the charge but had to be hidden away because of the risk of being assassinated by friends of the dead soldier.

Michael Comyn was much taken by the Brehon laws of Ireland.  Ironically one of the Brehon schools was located where Tooclae Church now stands in Doolin (Doolin Parish Church) beside the Aille River.  Michael Comyn became a Senator and vice Chairman of The Senate after the 1933 election and remained there until he became a Judge.

During this time he became increasingly involved in his mining activities in North Clare in Doolin and Noughaval near Kilfenora.  He had discovered the potential of these mines earlier and had obtained freehold ownership over some of the sites and mining rights over others.  He starting mining in North Clare and by 1939 was employing 50-60 people, and had a wage bill of approx 600.00 pounds per week.  When the second world war broke out and phosphate supplies from North Africa were affected, the government decided to increase phosphate production at the North Clare mines and except for a small area, took over Judge Comyn’s mining operation. The government increased production by open cast and underground tunneling (at the peak of production the Doolin phosphate mines employed upwards of 400 men) which was a major financial boost to Doolin and the North Clare area.

Judge Comyn later protested at his mining facilities being taken over by central government and not being fully compensated.  Later in life when he had retired as a Judge he took a case against the government for loss of earnings due to their takeover of his mines.  His senior Council was Mr Sean Mc Bride, Brendan East was also part of the legal team.  Three thousand pounds was paid into court but was refused by him.  The case developed into one of the longest ever fought in the Irish courts.  He won the case and was awarded approx Twenty thousand pounds with interest.  It is said in legal circles that “A Lawyer who acts for himself has a fool as a client”.  Michael Comyn proved that maxim wrong.  However in turn that State recovered most of the award by investigating his tax returns vis-a-vis figures used to substantiate the claim for losses during the action against the State.

Judge Michael Comyn built his final home outside Lisdoonvarna. Much of the material used to build the house was sourced from period houses of note.  In turn the new house at Lisdoonvarna was in some cases designed to facilitate components such as windows, doors, stairs etc.s ourced from these houses. One example is the Grand Staircase which was sourced from Lady Gregory home at Coole Park outside Gort, Co.Galway.  I am told this stairs is still in use at Gregans Castle Hotel near Ballyvaughan.  Michael moved into the house before it was completed and never got the opportunity to finish his last project

He died in that house in 1952, at the age of 82 and the house was later demolished.  He is buried at Bishops Quarter outside Ballyvaughan, in his native County Clare.

A Clareman deeply involved in saving the lives of many Irish men in a remarkable career spanning over seventy years.

Eugene Garrihy


November 2010


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