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As a student at DIT, not only will you have the opportunity to explore fascinating subjects, you’ll also have an introduction to the workings of the real world. With career focused courses, “real world” teaching, real job opportunities and strong links with industry, DIT will give you the kind of insight few students get at college.

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DIT – It’s a step closer to the real world


Current Affairs


Ellen Curham


Christine Orford






Liam Godinho



Heather Thompson

Melissa Byrne & Heather Thompson



Ellen Curham

Eimear Rabbitt & Finbarr O’Sullivan


COURTING TROUBLE p 12 Melissa Byrne

WAR ZONE? Ellen Curham

Alicia Forde

p 28

Eimear Rabbitt

p 14


p 22

Camilla Egan


Christine Orford

p 16


CANCER KILLER p 18 Melissa Byrne

POLITICALLY CORRECT? Ellen Curham & Camilla Egan

p 32

Camilla Egan


p 19

Melissa Byrne


p 36

Finbarr O’Sullivan

DEBS THREADS p 38 Camilla Egan


p 40

Eimear Rabbitt

BLOGGING IT p 42 Camilla Egan

Photo: Christine Orford

Cover photo: Camilla Egan


Alicia Forde & Christine Orford


Eimear Rabbitt & Heather Thompson

THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER p 50 Heather Thompson

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p 51

Alicia Forde


Eimear Rabbitt


Christine Orford

p 52

p 55


p 56

LIVING THE DREAM p 58 Alicia Forde


Not present: Camilla Egan

Liam Godinho

Art: Jussi Lehtiniemi


Editor: Ellen Curham Production Editor: Heather Thompson Current Affairs Editor: Melissa Byrne Culture Editor: Eimear Rabbitt Sports Editor: Alicia Forde Sub Editors: Christine Orford, Liam Godinho Photo Editor: Camilla Egan

Hello and welcome to fml. This magazine is produced by fourth year journalism students at Dublin Institute of Technology. We did not originally intend to do a magazine for teenagers, but after some thought, we realised that there is not a lot of information out there for young people on issues directly affecting them. While the mainstream media talks about young people a lot, it doesn’t talk to them. A range of topics is covered in fml – some serious and some not so much – but we hope you find the articles interesting and somewhat informative. It has taken us months to produce, and it has eaten up time, resources, patience and, sometimes, little bits of our sanity. But we had loads of fun talking to all sorts of people about all sorts of topics. We have also had plenty of help along the way and would like to extend a special thanks to Michael Foley, Joe Breen, the School of Media at DIT, our generous advertisers and anybody else who has contributed to this magazine. We would also like to thank anybody who takes the time to read fml, and we hope you enjoy it. If you would like to contact us about anything in the magazine, send us an email at Happy reading!

Ellen and the fml team

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FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS Teenagers have more rights than you might think, even though it might not always seem like it. Ellen Curham investigates just how well protected children are in Ireland


s a person under 18, you are considered a child in the eyes of the law. But you should remember that being a child should not isolate you from the rest of the world, even if it seems older generations rule it.

Be treated as a child in the criminal justice system. If you are under 16 and commit an offence, you cannot be sentenced to an adult prison

Emily Logan. An ombudsman is a regulatory figure who investigates complaints made by individuals. Emily looks at complaints about the treatment of children, such as education issues or problems within the social care sector. She advises the Government on how to deal with these complaints and ensure they do not happen again. “At our office we provide an independent monitoring role. Part of the UN process would be an independent report from ourselves. at cycle takes five years, and it’s about to start again,” she explained. Emily has the UNCRC to help guide her judgments and actions. While children are automatically entitled to all rights, some in particular need to be paid close attention. “We have been focusing a lot on what are known as the Umbrella Principles of the UNCRC, articles concerning nondiscrimination, participation and best interest. ey are the three main areas that would cross all public administrations.”

Leave school at 16. Once you have completed the Junior Cert you are free to leave school. While this will limit further education options considerably, you cannot be forced to stay in school if it isn’t right for you

Legislation to protect children One of her priorities is incorporating these rights into law. While a human right is above the law, having it in writing or legislation means a court process to justify children’s rights is made easier and they will be implemented better in

UNCRC UNCRC Children are subject to a special set of rights requiring minimum entitlements to a decent quality of life, such as basic care, education, protection and

identity. ese rights, outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), should protect you and provide a platform to speak out about issues that matter to you. e UNCRC is the most widely recognised UN rights convention. e Ombudsman for Children One person who is campaigning for children’s rights is the Ombudsman for Children,

A S A C H I L D … You can:

Speak out. Guardians, authority figures and the media should consider your views

Report those who are abusing your rights. If you feel threatened, you can alert the relevant authorities

Choose your own religion.Your family can help you decide what faith, if any, is best to follow, but ultimately the decision is up to you Choose your own political stance. Like religion, your family might advise you on this, but it is your choice

Leave home at 16 but only with your parents’ or guardians’ consent. Living on your own is not easy, but if you feel it will improve the quality of your life, it is within your rights

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Above: Ombudsman Emily Logan who is in charge of children’s rights. Top: A drawing from Emily’s report on St. Patrick’s Institution


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child This convention is a set of rights that were drawn up in 1989 in order to protect the rights of children worldwide

When a country ratifies the UNCRC, it promises to not only protect, but also promote the rights outlined in the convention Ireland ratified the UNCRC in 1992

The rights outlined in the convention offer minimum protection. If a country’s own laws offer better protection, children are encouraged to use it

the future. According to Emily, this is an area that needs to be looked at. “ere are lots of things that need to be done, but the three key pillars that we look at are legislation, policy and practice. “Sometimes you will have an emergency piece of legislation like the Health Amendment Act or the Childcare Amendment Act, which covers children in the care of the State, and one of the questions there is whether children in care of the State need aftercare. “at legislation has been sitting there for months and has never actually made it through the Oireachtas. e way the legislature responds to children has been inconsistent.” Children C hildren uunder nder SState tate ccare are While we live in a developed country, there are still lots of cases of children’s rights not being adhered to. Last year, young people in Limerick were found rooting in bins just to find food. One child in 16 lives in poverty. Emily believes there is a group of particularly vulnerable children in our society that need looking after. Almost 6,000 children are currently living in social care. Article 9 in the UNCRC says that if parents can’t look after

Formal reports on how each country handles its rights of children are supposed to be submitted every few years. Ireland’s last one was due in 1999 but has still not been put forward

their children for some reason, they must be given the care they require by the State. “Last year, we did an investigation that looked at all 32 local health offices around the country. One thing we found is that they don’t have evidence-based budgeting. You might have one area in the country that has a huge caseload of children and then you go to another area and there are more social workers per population. e resources they have at the moment could be used more effectively,” said Emily.

Every country in the world has ratified the convention, except the USA and Somalia

Over 50 articles in the convention promote the interest, survival and well-being of under-18s For a full list visit

close St. Patrick’s Institution. We shouldn’t have children in prisons. “at doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be punished if they commit crimes. But it should be in an environment of care. If young people are to integrate back into society they need rehabilitative or therapeutic intervention,” Emily explained.

Children as criminals St Patrick’s Institution, a prison for males aged 16 to 21 based in Dublin, has received a lot of focus from Emily in recent months. Article 37 of the Convention explains that children should not be imprisoned with adults, as is the case in St. Patrick’s. In a report carried out by Emily's team, conditions were found to be unsuitable, and they are campaigning for it to be closed as a place of detention for children. Recently, a judge decided not to send a young person to St. Patrick’s based on the report. “I think our youth justice system requires significant change. First of all, we need to

Get informed Emily is also working on promoting children’s rights in Articles 4 and 17, where both the media and Government are encouraged to inform children. “We’ve started what we call a ‘visits programme’. e secondary school age group often come to the office in the morning and then go to the Dáil in the afternoon to see democracy in action.”

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Air your views Emily believes parents must be informed, too, as not every child can speak up for themselves. “Children with disabilities or children that may not be able to communicate may not have the capacity to represent themselves. Parents need to be aware of rights also,” she believes. And what about the children who can speak out? As part of a democratic society, minors are entitled to their say, as stated in Article 12 of the UNCRC. “A lot of schools around the country now have student councils. It’s great to see young people interested in what’s happening in their country. “Changing a culture with respect to children’s rights is a long-term project, and you need to do it in a way that encourages people rather than frightens them.”

LIVE AND LET DIET Ireland’s battle with obesity is just beginning. Christine Orford learns how teenagers can deal with being overweight and what our country is doing to combat the problem


Photo: Peter Orford

e've all seen programmes and films that talk about the dangers of becoming obese and what a strain it is – not only on our stomachs, but also on our physical, mental and even financial well-being. ere have been numerous government incentives promoting healthy eating and regular exercise. It's even illegal not to include nutritional content figures on the packaging of foods. Despite all this, there is a mountain of research to point out that we, as a nation, are getting fatter by the day. According to the most recent World Health Organisation (WHO) survey, 13 per cent of Irish people are now obese. e international average is 10 per cent. e WHO define being obese as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or over. BMI is based on dividing height by weight. is way of calculating obesity has been disputed in the past, with some people saying it does not allow for differences in build or muscles (which are heavier than normal tissue). However, most people agree that it is an easy rule of thumb to quickly calculate people's weight risk zones.

Obesity is not just a problem for a particular group of people. A UCD study has shown there is little evidence of links between being overweight or obese and economic backgrounds – rich or poor, the issue of obesity affects people of every walk of life. “e problem of obesity is a new

‘YOU DON'T NEED FIGURES TO TELL YOU THERE'S A WEIGHT ISSUE HERE TODAY. YOU CAN SEE IT ON BUSES, WITH PEOPLE'S TUMMIES FALLING OUT OVER THEIR JEANS’ phenomenon in Ireland,” said Anne Clarke, the Health Promotion and Research Manager of the Diabetes Federation of Ireland. “But you don't need figures to tell you there's a weight issue here today – you can see it on buses, with people's tummies falling out over their jeans,” she said. Anne told fml there are huge health risks attached to being obese and overweight during your teenage years. And they may not necessarily happen years in the future.

Have your cake and don’t eat it: cutting back on snacking is essential for weightloss

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“In Ireland, about 100 people under the age of 20 have type-2 diabetes. Obesity and lack of activity are the drivers for this type of diabetes, with about 80 per cent of people who have the disease being obese,” she said. She also pointed out that type-1 diabetes is a genetic condition and has nothing to do with lifestyle choices. “Most overweight young people grow up to become overweight adults, because it is then that you establish diet patterns. People in secondary school are at increased risk of becoming overweight because of diminished exercise when exams are coming up. Often at this time, people stop playing sports and don't take them back up again,” Anne said. However, she said that exams are no excuse to stop exercising and that people who play sports and exercise regularly end up studying more productively. “e best advice to people wanting to avoid obesity, or get thinner, is to eat three meals a day, cut back on snacking and stay active. Everyone should be doing something. In fact, people who play sports do better on average in exams and grow up to be better time managers, too,” revealed Anne. ere is no doubt that weight is a growing issue in Ireland, but it should be pointed out that the psychological issues attached to being overweight are as important as the physical ones. A Texas study outlined that people who are obese as children are more likely to drop out of school at a younger age and experience social isolation as well as bullying. It also highlighted the importance of talking, with people who discussed their eating habits with their parents being much less likely to try to lose weight in unhealthy ways such as extreme dieting or skipping meals. With our ever-increasing levels of obesity, Ireland seems to be following in our transatlantic neighbour's footsteps.



The year 2011 has been dominated by one story. The uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have gripped the world’s attention, inspiring people in every country. Liam Godinho explains how one man sparked a revolution that could change the face of the planet


t started with one man. A Tunisian fruit and vegetable seller's frustration at having his goods regularly confiscated by police was enough to spark a revolution throughout the Arab world. On 17 December, 2010, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi finally had enough. He went to the governor's office in the city of Sidi Bouzid to complain about his treatment by the police. When he refused to see him, Bouazizi set himself on fire outside a local government building. He died in hospital on 4 January, 2011. In the meantime, demonstrations in Sidi Bouzid against his treatment had quickly spread and developed into protests in several cities around the country, fuelled by high unemployment, corruption and lack of personal freedoms. Social networking websites and YouTube were used to expose heavy-handed tactics by police and to organise protests. After Bouazizi’s death, the protests engulfed the entire country, forcing President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali – who had visited Bouazizi in hospital to try to calm things down – to flee the country on 14 January after 23 years in power. is success has inspired people facing similar problems throughout the Middle East to rise up against their governments – some of whom had been in power for decades.

‘THE DRIVING FORCE OF THE UPRISINGS HAS SIMPLY BEEN THE FRUSTRATIONS OF MILLIONS OF ORDINARY PEOPLE’ What’s the signifi ficcance? Ask anyone who went through my school in the last 20-30 years about history and they'll tell you, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” and, more importantly, “In 1453, the Muslim Turks captured the Christian city of Constantinople.” Our history teacher saw these two dates as being two of the most important in history. ey were world-changing events. It was a punishable offence not to be able to recite those two phrases when asked. In 2011, we are witnessing another worldchanging event. Some of the coverage has understandably been diluted in Ireland by other news stories – including the General Election and the tragic Christchurch earthquake – as well as the length of time that the uprisings have been going. And they could go on for some time yet. ese uprisings have been described by some as the Middle East's 1989. But this

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has the potential to be even bigger than that. e collapse of the Soviet Union followed decades of tension between East and West, and there were many signs that it was crumbling throughout the 1980s. But nobody saw this coming. What is so extraordinary about these uprisings is that they seemed to develop out of absolutely nothing. e driving force of the uprisings has simply been the frustrations of millions of ordinary people. is has been an incredible demonstration of people power that has stunned and inspired people around the entire world. Even in the face of brutal responses from certain regimes, the people have generally stood firm and stood together. e events of 2011 may not have even been possible 20 years ago. One of the main reasons that they developed so quickly was due to the use of the internet and mobile phones to inform people of what was happening. Egypt shut down the internet and phone networks in a desperate bid to stop protests from being organised. e future of the affected areas will likely be clouded by uncertainty. New governments will be installed in some countries, while foreign powers intervene in others. What is certain is that these events represent a major shift in the Arab world as well as a shift in Western perceptions of the people there.

THE RISE AND OF THE IRISH After the long and prosperous Celtic Tiger, the Irish economy very suddenly changed for the worse. Melissa Byrne looks at how the recession might affect your future work and studies


reland’s booming Celtic Tiger economy came to a halt in 2008 when recession hit the country. e vast economic bubble burst, and the country’s Central Statistics Office declared Ireland to be the first Euro zone country to officially go into recession.

Listening to economists harp on about the reasons why the recession hit has become part of daily life as the country’s problems seem to increase. e controversial bank bailout focused the eyes and attention of the world on Ireland – a small island that could potentially ruin the value of the Euro.

However, arguments about the recession will continue for the foreseeable future as the newly elected Government settles in and constructs and implements its plan of action to place the country on the route to economic recovery. But what does the recession mean to you? “I worry that my dad might lose his job and not be able to get another one here,” confessed Alanna Halligan, a 16-year-old Dublin student. “It’s really hard on the whole family because he supports us all.”

Sep 2008: Ireland is the first Eurozone country to enter recession


April 2009: Emergency budget introduced

h Economy s i 200 r 8-2 eI Dec 2008: Anglo Irish Bank is hit with controversy over hidden loans

011 : Th e

Jan 2009: Anglo Irish Bank is nationalised

2010: Emigration from Ireland reaches highest point since the ‘80s

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FALL (AND FALL) ECONOMY One of the main effects of the recession on young people is the anxiety they suffer due to the problems the recession creates for their families. e future is another major concern weighing heavily not only on parents, but also on young people. “When I do go to college, I’m depending on getting a student grant, but with the cuts to the grant, I’m worried that I won’t get very much or even worse, that I’ll get nothing,” explained Keith Reville, a 17-

year-old student from Meath. Similarly, the minimum wage was cut by a Euro from €8.65 to €7.65 on 1 February. If young people are working their way through college in a part-time job, the sting of this cut will certainly be felt. “My main concern is that I will get through college and have no hope of finding a job in Ireland. Everyone wants to travel, but even if I want to emigrate, I’ll have to work before that and it would be nice to know I could come back eventually,”

March 2010: Ireland technically leaves recession

said Hazel Coyne, an 18-year-old Dublin student. In 2010, the Central Statistics Office revealed that Ireland had the highest net outward migration since the 1980s while the number of immigrants into Ireland fell sharply. e Government will have to get creative if it wants to stem the flow of graduates deserting Ireland in search of work elsewhere.

Feb 2011: Minimum wage lowered from €8.65 to €7.65

Nov 2010: Ireland requests economic help from the EFSF* and the IMF** Feb 2011: e General Election removes Fianna Fáil from most seats, creating a coalition government between Fine Gael and Labour

Ce lt ic

Tig er sto ps r Sep 2010: Government bailout oar for Anglo Irish Bank, Allied Irish ing Bank and Irish Nationwide *European Financial Stability Facility ** International Monetary Fund

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... Graph: Heather Thompson

Is someone you know being bullied? Bullying may be difficult to see, as it may happen when the person is on their own. People experiencing bullying may be afraid to tell anyone and try to hide what is going on.

Some indications that a person is being bullied are: •lack of motivation •vagueness (especially around certain topics) •unusual behaviour •seeing the person being hassled •physical injuries

Take care that you don't immediately assume that the problem is bullying. If you are certain that the person is being bullied you can: •Talk to them •Let them know you care •Include the person in your group •Stick up for them •Speak to someone about it



It is a problem that has been discussed for decades and is often disregarded simply as childish antics. But as Eimear Rabbitt finds out, the issue of bullying is not confined to the schoolyards

ullying is an ugly word – tormenting the weak, the defenceless, the vulnerable, the different, the new, the strange. It can occur at any age and in any environment. Most of us are bullied at some point or at least feel some of the emotions associated with bullying. As we grow up and struggle with our selfidentity, we may start to believe what other people tell us about ourselves. However, bullying is most common among children, teenagers and those considered to be of an impressionable age. rough physical violence or emotional abuse, the problem may persist. But we cannot forget that the root of bullying lies with the bully, not the victim. As we grow up, we begin to realise that those who attempt to make themselves feel good by making others feel bad are usually the ones who need the help. It is often overlooked as nothing more than classroom banter, but it can get a lot more serious than that. Following months of bullying at an American high school, Irish teenager Phoebe Prince died by suicide on January 14, 2010. is tragic story made waves on both sides of the Atlantic and brought international attention to the issue of bullying in schools. In the autumn of 2009, 15-year-old Phoebe moved from the seaside town of Fenore, Co. Clare to Massachusetts, where she enrolled in a local high school. Following her death, it was reported that Phoebe had been taunted for several months by at least two separate groups of students. On the day that Phoebe took her own life, a can had been thrown at the teen by a group of students in a passing car as she walked home from school. e reaction was extraordinary. In March 2010, a state anti-bullying task force was set up as a direct result of Phoebe’s death, leading to the enactment

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of stricter anti-bullying legislation in Massachusetts. e case received a great deal of media coverage and a criminal investigation was launched into the bullying that took place before Phoebe's death. is year, six teenagers, who have since been expelled from the school, will face trial on charges relating to their treatment of the Irish teenager. While the problem of bullying in schools is certainly not a new one, the ways and means of targeting a victim have increased with advances in technology. e bullying endured by Phoebe Prince continued after school hours via text messages and the internet. Even in the aftermath of her death, vulgar messages were posted on her Facebook page.

‘THE ADVANTAGE OF THE WEBSITE SERVICE IS THAT IT ALLOWS YOUNG PEOPLE TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS AND DOES NOT PREACH TO THEM’ Targeting someone through an internet service, mobile phone or other electronic device is known as cyber-bullying. It can involve sending threats, creating rumours or insulting someone via online communications. e most dangerous aspect of cyberbullying is the extent to which it can take over a person’s life. Unlike traditional bullying, there is no escaping a text message or email. e abuse can follow a person everywhere, at every moment of the day and can be broadcast to a potentially huge audience on the internet. As the bullying methods continue to develop, so, too, do the many services


Finbarr O Sullivan spoke to the manager of Childline about the services it offers

C Phoebe Prince, who died by suicide in January 2010.

on hand to offer support and guidance. In 2009, the Inspire Ireland Foundation launched a website,, aimed at providing young people with support and information online. Fenella Murphy is the research and evaluation officer with Inspire Ireland. “e website was set up in Australia 12 years ago with a view to addressing the problem of suicide by offering young people a safe, educated forum on which they can avail of information about mental health issues and where they can seek guidance and support,” she told fml. “We wanted to see if the programme was worthwhile, so we decided to implement it here. It has already been launched in the United States.” e advantage of the web-based service is that it allows young people to remain anonymous and does not preach to them. Instead, the idea behind the website is to provide a nonthreatening environment where young people can find information on a broad range of issues that may be affecting their mental health and wellbeing. “We are not a counselling service. Our main aim is to try and reach young people and essentially make them happier people,” Fenella explained. People who become members of the website can participate in blogs and conversations. e website is constantly updating its factsheets, which provide in-depth analysis on a variety of issues relating to mental health, such as bullying.

“Bullying is a huge issue and keeps coming up as a top five issue in our fact sheets,” said Fenella. “e most important thing to bear in mind regarding bullying is that it is not your fault. It started but you can do something to stop it, whether you are personally suffering or know of a friend or loved one who is finding it difficult to cope.” It is still early days for the website, which celebrated its first anniversary last November. But according to Fenella, it has received positive feedback and has been helping people to seek guidance with problems in their lives. “We just launched our first research study with the user profile survey. It is still too early to tell, but we have heard that our website has made a difference,” she said. e website also offers further support and referral information to young people who may be experiencing difficult and dark times. e following help lines are in operation in the Republic of Ireland: Childline

Phone: 1800 66 66 66 (free from landlines) Website:


Phone: 1850 60 90 90 The Samaritans also offer a 24:7 text support service 365 days a year for anyone in emotional distress.This service is available nationwide.To receive the service, simply send an SMS text message to 087 2 60 90 90.

Teen-line Ireland

Freephone: 1800 833 634

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hildline is a branch of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC). It offers support to children and teenagers who need someone to talk to about problems they may be trying to deal with in their own lives. Childline is the only support service that is focused solely on dealing with people under the age of 18. It receives around half a million calls a year, of which 250,000 develop into detailed conversations. In 2009, a total of 8,134 of the calls it received were related to what are known as psycho-social and mental health issues. Calls relating to these issues are broken down into several categories, such as boredom, eating disorders, fear and anxiety, phobias and obsessions as well as lack of confidence. Depression, self-harm and suicide all have separate categories. In 2009, Childline received 1,057 calls regarding depression, 296 in relation to self-harm and 1,228 relating to suicide. As well as answering phone calls, Childline receives messages through their website. In 2009, it received 1,179 messages that fell into the psycho-social and mental health categories. Of these, two-thirds related to depression, self-harm or suicide. Margie Roe is the national manager of Childline. She spoke to fml explaining the services it offers. “e most common one that everyone knows about is Childline phone service. Gradually, since 2005, we’ve been developing our online services. Children just log on to, and they can talk to us live. ey can also text the word TALK to 50101.” One of the advantages of Childline is its confidentiality, something Roe stresses. “We don’t have caller ID. We don’t trace calls. e email address is blocked if a child contacts us through the web. So all the IP addresses are blocked, and the text and phone numbers are blocked.” Roe explained that Childline puts the emphasis on the person calling and their problems. “e ethos of Childline is that we’re a child-centred service, and that means the focus is always on the young person. It’s about empowering young people, and we’re non-judgmental and nondirective. We don’t tell them off, we don’t tell them what to do.” Roe urges any teenager feeling down to look for help. “What I would say to young people is, we all get down from time to time, and that’s part of life. But if you’re feeling in any way down or you feel that you’re depressed, the most important thing is to talk to someone and get support. Even if you’re having a bad day, it’s good to talk to someone and it does help.”


Every day in Ireland, children face trial for crimes they have been accused of. Melissa Byrne examines the punishments that the court implements and the methods used to reduce youth crime in the country

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Four Courts, Dublin Photo: Esther MolinĂŠ


ntering the courthouse can be an intimidating experience. Whether you are an adult or under 18, an observer or on trial, innocent or guilty, the court is a place that demands respect and always receives it. A case in the courts can be either civil – dealing with the rights of private citizens concerning disputes between individuals or organisations where compensation might be awarded to a victim – or it can be criminal, which deals with prosecution for an act that has been classified as a crime. e Children Act 2001 directs the prosecution of people under the age of 18. is act outlines and defines everything that could present itself in a criminal case involving a young person and offers a range of alternative punishments for children who have offended. ree departments supervise the functioning of the act: the Department of Justice and Law Reform, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Health and Children. However, age is an important factor when it comes to sentencing. Children under 12 cannot be charged with a criminal offence, according to the amendments made to the 2001 Act. But there are of course exceptions, including the fact that children aged 10 and 11 can be charged with murder, manslaughter, rape or aggravated sexual assault. Proceedings against any child under 14 who is charged with a crime must have the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the person responsible for prosecutions in the name of the Irish people. In 2009, over 3,200 cases involving defendants under the age of 18 were brought to court. Out of these cases in the children’s court, 30 defendants were ordered to do community service and 277 children were fined for their offences. e cases of 164 defendants were withdrawn, and 133 defendants had to return to a higher court for trial. A further 272 children were sent to detention schools for their crimes. Detention schools are where offenders between 16 and 21 are sent instead of prison. Other cases involving children during 2009 included guardianship, adoption, custody, access and wards of court. Cases such as these are considered family law and are heard 'in camera'. is means the media can’t report on the cases. Programmes such as the Garda Youth Diversion Programme and

the Copping On programme have been established to teach young people the consequences of criminal behaviour. e Garda Youth Diversion Programme involves working with local communities to provide activities including sport, music and employment training for children outside school hours. e programme also runs in some primary and secondary schools in Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) classes. e Copping On programme is aimed at both school-leavers and secondary school students, for whom it provides resource packs and supervised prison visits. “Copping On offers a valuable framework for those working with young people to discuss a wide range of activities and behaviours that are all part of healthy adolescent development and risk-taking behaviour,” explained Deirdre Bigley, project manager of the

‘THE PROGRAMME IS BASED ON DEVELOPING THE COGITATIVE ABILITY OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHILE OFFERING A CHALLENGE TO RISKY BEHAVIOUR’ Copping On programme. “e programme is based on developing the reflective ability of young people while offering a challenge to risky behaviour. ese are skills that need to be developed in all young people as well as important challenges that help them grow into mature adults,” she said Unfortunately, while the programme is enjoying continued interest it has suffered due to the recession. “We have been hit with the same funding cutbacks as other government-funded projects are. But at present we are not overly concerned regarding our future. at being said, there is of course a lot more that we could do were the resources to be available to us,” Deirdre added. Both Copping On and the Garda programme are designed to deter children from criminal acts so that they won’t become one of the statistics entering a courtroom.

In the Children Act, 2001 ...

“adult” means any person of or over the age of 18 years “child” means a person under the age of 18 years

“criminal behaviour”, in relation to a child, means the act or omission constituting an offence alleged to have been committed by the child

“victim” means a person who through or by means of an offence committed by a child, suffers physical or emotional harm, or loss of or damage to property

“defendant” means a person against whom an action is brought — a person charged with a criminal offence fml 13

? E N O Z WAR There are conflicts happening all over the world, although many go unreported. How many people does it take to die before a war can be considered front-page news? Ellen Curham explains some of the conflicts going on right now



Belgium is currently experiencing a political crisis, and the country is without a government. This is due to non-violent conflicts between Dutch and French speakers.



Since 2006, there have been over 35,000 deaths as the Government clamps down on drug trafficking.


Locals stage continuous protests against UN Peacekeeping troops since the 2010 earthquake. COLOMBIA

A civil war started in 1964 between government and guerrilla armies. Thousands have died. PERU

Civil conflict has been happening in Peru for the last 50 years. Revolutionary peoples’ armies often target the Government.



Political corruption has been blamed for conflict in Cote d’Ivoire. This has caused outrage among citizens fighting for democracy. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Over five million people have died since the late 1990s in one of the most under-reported wars. Eight nations, rebel armies and the official DRC army were all involved in the war, which officially ended in 2003. However, the country has never recovered, and violent conflicts are still occurring in parts of the country.




There have been numerous clashes over land for the last few years in the South Darfur region. These took place between the official army and rebel peoples’ armies as well as between nomadic tribes. Thousands have died. SOMALIA

Strong rebel forces have been active in Somalia since the 1980s, leading to civil war. American, Ethiopian and UN troops have intervened, but much of the country is now living under the rebels who use violence to enforce Islamic Law. It is believed that at least 300,000 people have died in these conflicts causing some to call it genocide.

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Following revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, civil war beckons in Libya as the country leader refused to give in to protesters, demands to step down. RWANDA

Millions died in the genocide during the 1990s, and conflicts continue between the Rwandan military and the Hutu militia, offering little hope for political stability within the country.

When the State of Israel was formed in 1948, many Arabs were displaced from former Palestinian lands. There have been violent disputes between the Arab and Jewish communities over illegal settlements in Palestinian territories.


Fighting has been raging inYemen since 2004, when followers of the Shia Zaidiyyah sect (a denomination of Islam) tried to overthrow the Government and took over areas in the north. The military launched attacks on these rebels, causing violent outbreaks throughout the country.


The Basque region in northern Spain is a source of internal conflict, as some people there seek independence. A group called ETA has been accused of carrying out terrorist attacks on behalf of this cause but declared a ceasefire in 2010.


Much like Ireland, Greece has suffered heavily in the economic crisis. Last year many protests were held in Athens, and the country is in a state of financial and political unrest.


Internal conflicts between Turkey and a Kurdish minority began in 1984. However, Turkey is hoping for European Union membership and is concentrating on cultural diversity and human rights in order to secure it – although this is expected to take a number of years.


Following independence and Turkish invasion, the island is separated into two main geopolitical zones – the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. A ‘green line’ controlled by UN forces separates the two. RUSSIA

The Islamic region of Chechnya has been fighting for independence for several years and has its own armed forces. Human rights abuses are said to have taken place on both sides. GEORGIA

Relationships between Georgia and its former ruler Russia have always been tense. In 2008, a short war broke out between the two sides, and some clashes continue. There are also a number of breakaway regions fighting for independence.



A civil war began in Afghanistan in the late 1970s after the Communist party ousted the former Government. In the 1990s, most of the country lived under the rule of the Taliban, an armed group of Islamic rebels. After 9/11, the USA invaded and claimed the Taliban were terrorists. A new government has since been voted in, but violence remains part of everyday life. Hundreds of thousands are reported to have died. LAOS

After the Communist party took over in 1975, the country ended trade relations with many other states and is still economically isolated from the rest of the world. There has been fighting among rebel groups and the Communist Government. PHILIPPINES


The USA invaded Iraq in 2003, claiming to bring democracy to the country and end terrorism. Then ruler Saddam Hussein was eventually captured and executed after years of harsh rule. However, life under US occupation has seen political unrest even after a democratic government was elected. Figures of deaths vary, but many say that at least 100,000 have died since the invasion, with victims from both sides, including many civilians.


Many Taliban leaders have fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan and there is continuous violence between the official military and Islamic rebel groups in the search for these leaders. INDIA


Burma is under strict military rule and has been since the 1960s. Many pro-democracy demonstrators have been arrested and allegedly tortured. The most famous peaceful protester, Aung San Suu Kyi, was released last year after 15 years under house arrest.

In India, a group of extreme left rebels called Naxalites have been campaigning, sometimes violently, against the Government. In the group’s fight to transform India into a communist state, between 10 and 20 thousand people are reported to have died since the fighting began in 1967.

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The USA sent in troops to work with the Philippine Government in 2002 to clamp down on terrorist groups. Some have alleged this is unnecessary and contributing to violence. THAILAND

Border disputes between Cambodia and Thailand are ongoing since 2008 with rockets being fired from both sides. In Southern Thailand, ethnic groups are involved in sometimes violent conflicts against the ruling party.

CLUELESS ABOUT COURSES Choosing a future career path after leaving secondary school can be full of drama. However, as Alicia Forde explains, things don’t always have to be as hard as they seem


t is a scary prospect sitting down to fi filll out your CAO form. e mere idea of leaving your friends and familiar surroundings for the unknown can be quite intimidating. When you team that with starting something that you might be doing for the rest of your life, it sounds

CAODOs and DON’Ts DO fill out a CAO form before the first closing date even if you don’t have a final list of courses DO look at courses outside the CAO and maybe even outside Ireland DO fill out your form in order of preference DO ask for help and advice if needed DO fill out every space on your form DON’T fill out your form in order of points DON’T panic – it’ll all work out

terrifying. e good news is that once you get over the initial panic, there is nothing daunting about it. If you get stuck on anything, all you have to do is ask for help or advice. Parents, siblings, friends, teachers and career guidance counsellors are all there to bounce ideas off. e bad news is that the final decision is yours, and no one can, or should, tell you what degree to do. ere is always a flurry of panic in secondary schools at the beginning of February due to the CAO closing date. However, nobody should work themselves up over it because when you press that submit button it doesn’t mean that it’s final. e main objective for this closing date is to register for the CAO and get your name into the system. ere is a date for late applications, but it costs more. However, there is no need to apply late – even if you don’t know what course you want to study. ink about what courses you would like to do and put them down. But if you are uncertain about what you want to do, or want to change your mind after submitting your list, you can. Anything can happen to sway you from your original choices between February and July. Luckily, the CAO makes exceptions for this. ere are dates in

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February and March and then from May to July when you can change your mind. e best thing is it’s free, so you can do it as often as you like. ink logically about your course choices – don’t choose one college over another

‘NOBODY SHOULD WORK THEMSELVES UP OVER FILLING IN THE CAO FORM BECAUSE WHEN YOU PRESS THAT SUBMIT BUTTON IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT’S FINAL’ because it is closer to you and you would get an extra 20 minutes in bed in the morning; because your friends are going; or because it is what you think your parents want. Go to as many open days as possible and choose the right place for you. Remember this, too, when filling out your CAO, especially when numbering your choices. Always put your courses in order of choice and not in order of points. Come results day in August, you might surprise yourself with your points – or the points for your course may have changed and you

might not get what you want. If your dream is to study a course that has points in the high 500s and, judging by your mock results, you think you’re going to get somewhere in the 300s, put the high points option first. Otherwise you might not be able to do it, even if the points match. Likewise, if you’re a 600-points student and the course you want to do is 200 or 300, put your preferred course first. It may not seem logical to put a 500-point course below a 300-point one on your application, but if you want that course that’s the way your list should be. If this does not seem like the road you want to take, don’t forget about Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses. ere are PLC courses taught in schools, colleges and community education centres around the country. ere is a huge range of courses available, in areas such as business management,


beauty, plumbing and psychology. Most courses are full-time and are one or two years long. Unlike university or college courses, you do not apply to PLC courses using the CAO. Instead, you apply directly to the school that is offering the course. Often, there is an interview before you are accepted, something that doesn’t happen in most CAO courses. A PLC course is an ideal way to further your education and skills in a particular area, while also entering the working world earlier. Something that can be overlooked in the senior cycle of secondary school is the amount of consideration put into subject choices. You are told that you don’t need to know what you want to do until you fill in the CAO. In many cases, this is true. However, there are courses which require certain subjects that you might not have chosen at the beginning of fifth year. Or you might have chosen a subject when you were considering going in a certain direction, only to later change your mind and be left stuck with a subject you can’t

stand. is is just something for anyone in fourth year or below to bear in mind. When choosing a third-level course, the main thing to remember is to pick something you’ll be happy studying. It is difficult to maintain an interest in something that you only partially like. Remember, it is not the end of the world if you choose a course that you are sure you will enjoy and it doesn’t live up to your expectations. You have two options if this happens – either stick it out for the three or four years and spend your time trying to figure out the area you would like to go into and consider eventually doing a post-graduate degree, or drop out and try something new. e word ‘dropout’ carries negative connotations, but it does not mean that you have to be a permanent college dropout. It is not easy to make the decision to change courses or to tell your parents. But they should respect you more for realising your mistake and being adult enough to change. While choosing a course to further your education can be a daunting experience, the best thing to keep in mind is not to let the drama that surrounds this affect you. Nothing is set in stone. ere are many 60-something-year-olds in the world who will tell you they still do not know what they want to do with their lives. You can always go back to college and try something else.


A topic that doesn’t come up often is random selection. Random selection occurs when there are too many people with the same amount of points who want to do a certain course, so they are drawn for places randomly. This is something that students should be aware of, especially when wanting to do a course that is notorious for random selection, such as primary teaching. When you are aiming for a course like this, you must try to get as many points as possible – don’t just rely on getting close enough to the previous year’s points.


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80% of women are infected with HPV in their lifetime Over 90% of cases are cleared by the body’s immune system Between 1994 and 2008 20% of cancer in women aged 15-19 was cervical cancer Between 1994 and 2008 74% of cancer in women aged 20-24 was cervical cancer

Cervical cancer cells

Photo: Ed Uthman, MD

CANCER KILLER The new cervical cancer vaccination for teenagers has raised questions among parents and young girls alike, as Melissa Byrne finds out


ervical cancer is a silent killer. e disease often goes unnoticed because the symptoms don’t usually appear until the cancer has spread. Every day, it appears in media across the world. e cervical cancer vaccine became big news in 2008 in Ireland, when Mary Harney cancelled the programme to vaccinate young women. However, it was relaunched in 2010, following public outrage and a drop in the cost of the vaccine. is vaccine will now be offered to every young woman for free when they start secondary school aged 12 or 13. is vaccine protects women against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), an infection that can lead to cervical cancer. Most women and men will catch at least one form of HPV in their lifetime. But in most cases the virus will not develop. “I would advise young women to get the cervical cancer vaccine,” said Dr Brendan Clune, the medical director for the Dublin Institute of Technology health centres. “Not being sexually active is the best defence otherwise. “A lot of work has been done on this vaccine internationally. Many hundreds of thousands of people have been given the vaccine in Europe, and we are reassured that there is a high degree of safety for young women,” he added. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer affecting European women, preceded only by breast cancer. e main danger of cervical cancer lies in the silence of the disease. It usually doesn’t show any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. Cancer of the cervix arises because a virus gets into the cervix or the neck of the womb, transferred by sexual activity. “at’s why the vaccine is given at an early age, prior to a young woman being sexually active. e virus is harmless in the case of the vast majority of people. But for some reason, every year there are between 200 to 300 Irish women in which the virus progresses to cervical cancer,” said Dr Clune. However, there is controversy over whether women should get the vaccine after they have been sexually active. e vaccine will not protect women if they already have the virus in their system.

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All women are advised to have regular smear tests, which are the most effective methods of examining if a woman has precancerous or cancerous cells, because the vaccine does not protect against all strains of HPV. “When a woman is older, they should have a smear test to check if they have cervical cancer. at is done when a woman is 25 years of age and older. And even if women have had the vaccine, they should have a smear test as a second back-up to make sure they don’t have cervical cancer,” explains Dr Clune. e Health Service Executive (HSE) has

‘THE VIRUS DOESN’T HARM MALES AS MUCH AS IT HARMS FEMALES. BUT THE QUESTION ARISES SHOULD MEN BE VACCINATED SO THEY CAN’T INFECT FEMALES?’ approved the vaccine, but some parents and young women remain concerned about the current or future effects of the vaccination. is is clear from the stories that have appeared in the media about teenagers who have received the vaccine and believe they are suffering side effects. Another consideration for the HSE is whether males should be getting the vaccine too. “I suppose you’d certainly start with your female population. e virus doesn’t harm males as much as it harms females. erefore, there isn’t the same degree of urgency. But the question is, should men be vaccinated so they can’t infect females,” said Dr Clune. If men were given the vaccine as well as women there would be a dual advantage – men wouldn’t pass on HPV and they would be at less risk from other cancers. Ireland, the UK and Australia offer the vaccine free to female teenagers and have made the vaccine available for men if they choose to get it. However, as of yet there is no health scheme planned to give the vaccination to male teenagers for free.

POLITICALLY CORRECT? Who will be making our decisions ten years from now? Ellen Curham and Camilla Egan spoke to four young politicians about the issues that affect you


ith reshuffles, elections and general mayhem in the Dáil, sometimes it can be difficult to understand what is going on. For young people it can be even harder, especially since they are often ignored as they don't have a vote.

If you want to learn more about politics, a good place to start is the youth sectors of parties. Sometimes younger politicians have views that differ from their main parties’. Many of them are also the people who will be running for government in the years to come.

But this generation plays a huge role in society and will decide (and form) future governments.

Last November, fml organised a discussion between representatives from youth sectors of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and the Worker's Party. ese are just a few views to mull over. Remember, there are also alternative parties and independent politicians to consider.

How can you choose who's right to run this country when it's your time to vote?

Áine Mannion is 22, from Wicklow and represents the Worker's Party (WP). She studies in NUI Galway.

Eric Keane is 23, from Clare and represents Fine Gael (FG). He studied at the University of Limerick.

“I first got involved in politics because my parents were involved – they used to head into protests and I'd go with them. Originally, I didn't want to have anything to do with politics because that was my way of rebelling. But eventually, things just got me angry enough that I got involved. Firstly, I joined groups in school and eventually ended up joining the party.”

“There's no politics in my family bar Fianna Fáil – my grandfather was one of the first members. But after I started reading, I started getting active in my local community groups and eventually decided to join Fine Gael because they represented what I saw to be the best for me and my country.”

Daithí Byrne is 20, from Navan and represents Sinn Féin (SF). He studies at DCU.

“I've been an active Republican since the age of 15. I joined my local Sinn Féin cumann in Navan in 2006. I was at an event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the hunger strikes. I was especially motivated to get involved because of a belief in a 32-county Republic. The hunger strikers went to prison and died at a very young age for that cause.”

Declan Harmon is 22, from Dublin and represents Fianna Fáil (FF). He studies at Trinity College Dublin.

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“I got involved in politics through community groups in my local area, particularly our local GAA club and voluntary community centre. My interest grew through interacting with different politicians in the area who were fighting for resources in the area. I then got involved in local campaigns with Fianna Fáil candidates in my area.”

NO DOUGH e current minimum wage has been dropped from €8.65 per hour to €7.65. Some argue this will increase employment, but many young people who work part-time jobs feel this will hurt them. “Even though it’s the Government and the banker's fault, the ordinary people who are on minimum wage, like students, will end up suffering because of it,” claimed Áine (WP). Daithí (SF) agreed: “ere’s a myth out there that the average person needs to be punished for that, but we don't buy it,” he said. “We would like to see thinking outside the box. We need internships and schemes to employ people so they don’t have to go abroad,” said Eric (FG). However, Declan (FF) believed cuts were necessary. “I can understand the logic of the argument the opposition are putting forward. Obviously, nobody likes to see wage cuts, but we have to become more competitive as an economy so we can attract jobs and more investment here.”

BRAIN DRAIN While the running of third level education is expensive, raising capitation fees will deny many young people the opportunity to get a university education. Eric (FG) opposed the raising of college fees. “If a young person is considering going to university in the next couple of years, there will be a financial pressure on their parents, who will have to pay out about €6,000-€7000 every year for them. Many people just won’t be able to afford this.We need a system that allows you to pay your college fees after education, when you have a job and can pay that money back to them.” Daithí (SF) also felt that fees should not go up because grants will not cover it. “Even though the grant is a big help, it does not cover everything. e bottom line is that a lot of people won't be able to afford to go to college.” “People’s parents are facing cutbacks, and many are unemployed or facing the possibility of unemployment. For most people, parents can’t pay their way in college. is is going to stop a lot of people having the opportunity to study,” explained Áine (WP). On the other hand, Declan (FF) stated that third level funding needs to come from somewhere. “Nobody wants to charge people to go to college. It will have a huge impact on young people and their families, there’s no doubt about that. But education is expensive. If you’re not going to have this €2,000 fee, who’s going to pay for it? Nothing is free.”

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Older generations often think teenagers don’t care about politics. Would lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 see more political involvement among young Irish people? “A lot of the decisions being taken now will affect us right into the future. It will affect the society we live in, the taxes we pay, so I think it’s right young people should have a voice in that,” said Declan (FF). Everybody else agreed. “We think more power should be brought into the Local Authorities. If you could see that your vote actually makes a difference in your local area, more young people would become more interested in politics,” Áine (WP) added. “People are quite well informed at that age. Young people shouldn’t be judged as apathetic before they have a chance to express themselves,” explained Daithí (SF). “Every pensioner goes out to vote. Every young person should, too. It’s not all about pensions, it’s about the next 20, 30, 40 years. If you love your country and want to change it for the better, that’s what politics is about. It doesn’t matter what name you go under,” said Eric (FG).

THE RIGHT MENTALITY It has been claimed that mental health services for young Irish people are inadequate and funding cuts will only make the situation worse. Does Ireland need to do more to tackle misconceptions about mental illness? is was another topic that all parties agreed on. “I know we're in bad economic times, but the problem with mental health isn’t the funding; it’s the priority the Government has given it. e buildings that house mental hospitals are terrible. I visited one which was very, very old and it was a former prison,” said Eric (FG). “Since about 2005, Ógra Sinn Féin has been really active on the issue of mental health. We’ve focused campaigns and material on it. We also organise free suicide prevention courses, which anyone can get involved in,” explained Daithí (SF). “It isn’t just an issue about the health system; it’s an issue about the attitudes towards mental health in our society. It’s not just an issue that needs to be dealt with in the health sector. ere’s a role here for education, community services and the voluntary sector. With the help of these people, we can help deal with these issues early on,” said Declan (FF). “e suicide rate in young people has gone up 25 per cent in the last year. It’s not unreasonable to suggest this has something to do with our economic situation. People aren’t able to see a bright future for themselves, their family or their country at large,” said Áine (WP).

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History: Maps of World Seung-Bin Cho

This does what it says on the tin – this is a catalogue of dozens, if not hundreds, of nicely rendered maps from the 4th to the 20th century. It loads a little slowly on older models, which is hardly surprising. Nerdy, but fun – the most interesting period is the political mess of the Middle Ages. Available for iPhone and iPad.

This is one of the better German dictionaries around. It's a little bare compared to SpanishDict, but what it lacks in fun it makes up for in entries – there are 500,000. Needs no wifi. The developers are German (which means the interface is too) but all their dictionaries (and there are dozens, from French to Turkish) include English. For iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

German Dictionary GmbH

Cramberry Lateral Communications Simple but effective flash card app that allows you to make your own or save and study from a database of other peoples' cards online. It logs how well you remember each card, and the developers claim it shows them at intervals calculated for “maximum retention”. It's clear and nicely laid out. You can also study from the site, and the system will sync any device so your progress isn't lost. Available for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch – the much-demanded Android version is still in the pipeline. For an Android version, Flash Card Machine is similar and boasts a bigger database and fancier cards, but is slightly prone to crashing.

This is an app based on the Pomodoro Technique, a glossy name for a fairly straightforward study method. The idea is that you set a stopwatch, work or study full-tilt for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break and give yourself a longer break after four sets. Let's be clear: this is a stopwatch shaped like a tomato. And yet, somehow, it works – maybe the cheerful colours (the tomato slowly turns from red to green as you near break time) or the encouraging way it lists all the blocks you've ever done takes the sting out of actually sitting down and getting some work done. The main con is that there's no way to pause a Pomodoro and stopping one will make an uncomfortably stern “Are you SURE?” message pop up. Available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch – Pomodroido for Android is similar.

Pomodoro Lite rapidrabbit

SpanishDict Curiosity Media

One of the best Spanish dictionary apps out there, with a huge word database (over 100,000 entries), word of the day, vocabulary tests and key phrases. It doesn't need a wifi connection, lets you store your most important words as favourites and is big enough to suit beginners to near-fluent speakers – there's a decent quantity of phrases and slang included. For iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android.

French Gender (Free) Erasmos Inc This is one of those apps that does one very specific thing, but does it well. Simple and nicely laid out (though the pink and blue colour scheme is loud), it lets you test your memory for the gender of French words, and lists and explains the patterns and exceptions. Specialised, but if it's something you find you have trouble with, there's nothing better. iPhone, iPad and iPod touch – only the developers' simpler apps are available for Android.


Prove to inquiring minds that it's not all Angry Birds with you. These (more or less) educational apps are tried and tested by Camilla Egan – and most importantly, they’re free.

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‘JUST GET OUT AND DO IT’ Street art in Ireland often means names scribbled on the side of a wall or inappropriate doodles on desks. Great graffiti art comes from New York, London, Paris, but not Dublin, right? Nah, you just have to find it. The Nom Nom Collective told Heather Thompson about doin’ it for the fun of it

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“Untitled” by Jine

Nom Nom Collective

e are Splinky, Loki Demonseed, I Love Lamp, and Jine from Ireland, Lints from Denmark, Askim from Brazil and D$ from France. We came together out of a mutual respect for each other’s work and on a personal basis. We are all friends first and foremost and share a similar outlook on life.

I Love Lamp

We were painting together for a number of years before we put a name on our little group of weirdoes. We had no preconceived notion of e Nom developing into anything — we were simply making a Facebook page where all of our work could be seen together in one place. ere are no obligations from the artists to represent or showcase our name within their work or to promote the name the way one might see within the traditional restrictions of the graffiti world.

We see ourselves as just a bunch of friends who sit around watching zombie movies together. at is the greatest advantage of the collective.

We have all been actively involved in some sort of art since we were young children and as we became teenagers, our interests moved toward graffiti. Eventually, we started experimenting with other materials and mediums in our work and evolving beyond the traditional rules and mediums of graffiti. Others saw it as street art, we just seen it as broadening our horizons.

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If the Irish graffiti and street art scene was an American high school movie, e Nom Nom Collective would be the weird goth kids that none of the cool kids wanted to eat lunch with.

1. Get over your fear. 2. Just get out and do it. 3. Be vigilant, because in most cases it is illegal. 4. Be respectful of the space/environment where you plan on putting your work. Don’t do it on people’s homes, places of worship and, most importantly, don’t go near historical buildings or monuments.

5. Start off by getting permission to practise somewhere, maybe in a garden or a shed. 6. Practise, practise, practise until you’re competent and confident enough in your work to show the world what you can do.

In the scene, everyone learns through trial and error, lots of practice and usually without any guidance as most of the artists are very secretive, especially when it comes to techniques, materials and revealing their true identities. In terms of stencil making, we all had to start somewhere. e best way to do that is to start simple and small using something like a cereal box. Use a sharp Stanley knife, and try not to cut your fingers off. Remember to think out your ideas carefully and, ultimately, be original. In most cases, Banksy has already done it, so do lots of research and look at other artists’ work. Be inspired – don't reproduce.

“Octogirl (Hamster)” by Loki Demonseed

Conor Harrington would be the main guy to check out as he is the most internationally successful person to have come out of the Irish graffiti/street art scene. To learn more about the artists in the Irish scene we recommend having a look at a new book by Rua Meegan and Lauren Teeling called “A Visual Feast: Irish Street Art.” It encompasses most of the Irish street artists like Xpir, Canvaz and a few members of the Nom Nom Collective.

e Nom Nom Collective do not endorse the participation in any illegal stunts or activities

Do not try any of these recommendations at home Stay in school


No animals were harmed during the course of this interview

Commissioned work by Lints

e Nom Nom Collective are online at

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Photo: Felix van de Gein

MY BIG FAT GYPSY TRUTH The Travelling community is one of the most marginalised minority groups in Ireland. How do they deal with difficulties and discrimination? Ellen Curham talks to some teenagers in the community to find out more


iolent, trashy, over-the-top and criminals are some of the stereotypes that come to mind for many of us when thinking about Travellers. While their culture is undeniably different to the settled community, are they what the media makes them out to be? Television programmes such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and e Truth About Travellers have given us an insight into the Travelling community, but does it represent it as a whole? fml met with two young travellers, Katie*, 18, and Stephanie*, 15, who told us about their lives in the secretive community. Like many teenagers in the Travelling community, Katie left school when she was 16.

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding: Fact or fiction?

“I regret leaving school because I’m just sitting at home all day now, so I’m encouraging Stephanie [her cousin] to stay in school and finish. If I had stayed in school I’d be in college now,” she said. Stephanie would like to study art, but finds the social side of secondary school difficult. “I don’t really like school. I don’t mix in school. e girls in my school are very posh. ey throw dirty looks. ey know I’m a Traveller. I just sit on my own. From first year to fifth year I’ve never had a conversation with a settled girl,” she explained. “I’d like to go to college, but I don’t think it will be any different there,” continued Stephanie. “I think I’ll still be on my own.”

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is isn’t an unusual situation considering Travellers are one of the most discriminated against ethnic groups in Ireland, according to a report by the Travelling Community Task Force and the UN Commission on Human Rights. Both reports claim that the community suffers

“widespread discrimination.” Although staying in school is unusual in her culture, Stephanie doesn’t feel pressure from her family to leave. “ey joke and call me ‘school girl’,” she said laughing. Friends and family also used to joke about Katie when she was still in school: “I used to be embarrassed when we had to wait at the bus stop going home from school in our uniform. We used to see Travellers in the traffic, and they used to beep the horn. It was really embarrassing, especially if a boy saw you in the uniform. ey make the height of fun of you,” she said. When asked about My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, both girls burst out laughing. e show has extremely high ratings, proving the settled community is extremely curious about the lives of our Travelling neighbours. Some participants on the programme are minor celebrities. Some even appearing on talk shows to tell people about their lives. “It’s not like that back here. e wedding dresses would be a bit like in the programme, but over here they’re smaller. But we don’t have the helicopters or anything like that. at’d be just daydreaming,” said Katie. “Yeah,” agreed Stephanie, “We’re in the middle of a recession!” However, one part of the show that shocked many viewers happens at Irish Traveller weddings all the time, explained the girls. ‘Grabbing’ occurs when a young Traveller man sets his sights on a girl who he fancies. He then pulls her outside, sometimes violently, so they can be alone for a while. Both girls have experienced this at weddings but shrugged it off. “It doesn’t mean anything to us. We don’t feel taken advantage of or anything. You just laugh. at’s the way we’re brought up,” said Katie. “ “It happens all the time, even at funerals. Any time you’re looking well really. It doesn’t really bother me. Some boys aren’t like that, though. ey’ll talk to you and they’re really nice,” said

Stephanie. Another aspect of the programme that reflects Traveller culture in Ireland is violence. “ere’s a lot more violence at weddings over here. ey can get very rough. But in everyday life there is probably less than they make out,” said Katie. “e bare knuckle boxing, that doesn’t go on over here. ere are violent fights but it’s not as bad,” she explained. “Exactly,” agreed Stepanie. “You don’t






fight until you drop. You just stop and walk away, shake hands, and it’s done.” And what about the revealing outfits worn at weddings? “We do want to look nice, and we do like to make an entrance. Boys only go for you if you stand out,” said Katie. “We do wear short dresses and high shoes and we curl our hair, but we don’t go out in our bras or anything.” “I think it’s scandalous the way some girls go to weddings. Some girls go too naked altogether,” laughed Stephanie. Both girls are similar ages to many of the brides on My Big Big Fat Fat Gypsy GypsyWedding Weddi . Do they see themselves settling down soon? “I was asked to get married before. I said no but if I’d said yes it would have been grand. But for now I want to stay in school and I want to go further. I don’t want to be married and have children by next year. I wouldn’t mind doing it at 20.

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at’s a bit old for a Traveller, but it’s what I’d like,” said Stephanie. Katie agreed, “I’m 18 now and usually half of my culture would be married by now. My cousin is 17 and she’s married. But I don’t want that, I want to take time for myself and enjoy going to all the weddings I want as a single girl. If I meet the right person and it goes well, then yeah I’d settle down, but not just yet.” And like most single teenagers their age, the girls enjoy spending time with friends, but they don’t go out drinking on the weekends, like many in the settled community do. “We’re not allowed to go out late at night. Other girls are allowed to go out to discos. I wouldn’t even ask my mammy. I just know there are certain things I’m not allowed to do,” said Katie. “Other girls can do whatever they want. If we start drinking, we get a bad reputation. All the settled girls drink every weekend and nobody says anything. If we did that, it’d be front page of the paper,” Stephanie said. “We don’t hang out with boys on our own. You have to be a virgin when you get married and you have to be known to be a virgin. If you hang out with a boy on your own people will start rumous. People talk. And then your reputation is ruined. And that’s all that matters to us – reputation and family,” she continued. e girls are unsure of how to fight the stigma with which their culture is associated, but want people to know that all Travellers aren’t the same. “e settled community is afraid of Travellers. ey think all Travellers are the same. But we’re quiet Travellers,” said Stephanie. ere are other Travellers out there; fighting is just like breathing to them. at’s not us but we can’t do anything to stop the settled community believing that. ey’re just going to believe what they hear and read.” *not real names


Photos: Phoenix Rising


Band geeks have never been so cool. Eimear Rabbitt explores what it’s like to be a member of a modern day marching band when she meets Tallaght’s own Phoenix Rising


efore cult fi fillms like American Pie hit our screens, going to ‘band camp’ was considered geeky or for outsiders – those who were always chosen last in P.E. class. But real life marching bands disprove this stereotype. Since its establishment in 1983, Tallaght's Phoenix Rising Marching Band has provided a place for youngsters looking to develop their unusual musical interests while enjoying some typical teenage fun. With a string of prestigious titles under their belt and a long list of foreign places on their travel list, the band members are proof that geeky and cool can sometimes go hand in hand. When I enter the room in the Local Practice Hall, four of the female members are hard at work, waving and brandishing colourful flags to the melodic beat of Matt Cardle's ‘When We Collide’. I soon learn that this flag waving is in fact the intricate

art of the colour guard. e marching band specialises in wood, wind and brass instruments, such as trumpets, clarinets, drums and trombones. Fifth year student Amy is a 17-year-old girl with a difference. While her friends were learning to play the guitar or joining sports teams, Amy was fine tuning the difficult task of trumpet playing and has

‘HE PUSHED US TOO HARD. WE HAD LONG HOURS OF PRACTICE DURING THE SUMMER AND NO ONE WAS ENJOYING IT ANYMORE’ never looked back. “I do it because I love music,” Amy explains. “I have been in the

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band for nine years now, and I have been playing the trumpet since I was very young. It is good craic, and I have made so many friends from being a member of the band.” Despite their initial reservations, Amy’s friends were soon won over by her unusual musical talent. “When you have been a part of something for so long, your friends understand that you must be good or really interested in it. Once they saw me performing, they changed their minds.” “I used to get slagged every day over it,” admits 15-year-old drums specialist Calvin. “But you just learn not to take any notice. I am really into music, anything and everything, so that’s the most important thing.” e band has not been shy of controversy over the years and is currently rebuilding and re-strengthening following a turbulent period. “Some of the members left because of the pressure being put on us by our former conductor,” admits Amy. “He pushed us too hard. We had long hours of practice during the summer, and no one was enjoying it any more.”

“You get sucked in,” 14-year-old Katy tells me. “It becomes like your own family. We all just want to see it rebuilt.” e band appears to be in good hands now under the dedicated leadership of band director Niamh Kinsella. At just 20 years of age, Niamh has risen steadily through the ranks of the Phoenix Rising band and is now conductor, juggling band life with a full-time degree in music and geography at NUI Maynooth. A member of the band since a very early age, Niamh took on the role of teaching junior classes at 15 before being promoted to the position of field commander and an official member of staff aged 17. “It is hard work and it can be very stressful and time consuming, but it is also extremely rewarding.” e band’s high expectation of success has been rewarded over the years and high achievement in all-Ireland competitions as well as appearances at the world and European championships has brought them to more places than any other club would be likely so see. Besides regular trips across the length and breadth of the country, the band has also visited many other countries, such as Belgium, Italy, France, Spain, England and Canada. “It is hilarious when we go away,” says Amy. “e best trip away was Midsomer Norton in England. We dressed up as pirates and we had great fun. e band always put on day trips so there are always things for us to do,” says Calvin. “We went to Disneyland when we were in France, which was amazing.”

red and mentions a few scenarios that shall not be repeated for the sake of fml readers. e band members are used to camping down in far from luxurious quarters, which include school halls. e room or hall is usually split into one section for the girls and another for the boys. Are the rules strictly adhered to? “If we don’t want to sleep, we try to cross over,” reveals Calvin, “But Niamh never lets us.” “Yeah right!” chime the other girls. “We never pay attention to that sort of thing.” anks to eye-opening films such as American Pie, many modern references to ‘band camp’ suggest that there may be more to these gatherings than the coming together of music-loving teenagers. Calvin turns an even deeper shade of red when this topic of conversation arises before admitting that he has enjoyed encounters with several female band members. Hook-ups and heartbreak are common features of marching band life it seems. “ere have been people going out with each other in the band,” Amy tells fml. “It gets really awkward then when they all break up and hate each other.” Amy herself met her ex-boyfriend through band

as he is a member of a fellow marching band and according to the teens, fraternizing with the enemy is a common occurrence. e trips and meeting and mixing with other bands is definitely the best part, according to Katy. “As much as there is rivalry between the different bands, at the end of the day everyone is still friends and some of us stay in contact with people we meet from other bands. I act differently in the band than I would at home around my other friends.” “We are used to sleeping beside each other and seeing each other in all different moods, so I feel more comfortable and more relaxed around everyone,” she said. At the end of the day however, it is all about the music. “Music is my passion,” Niamh tells me, and her young prodigies are quick to agree. “You get very attached to the music,” says Amy. “When you are playing it every day and listening to it on YouTube, it begins to feel like your own. I still love the Pirates of the Caribbean music from the show that we did. It got to the stage that I was listening to it to go to sleep at night.”

‘AT THE END OF THE DAY, EVERYONE IS STILL FRIENDS AND SOME OF US STAY IN CONTACT WITH PEOPLE WE MEET FROM OTHER BANDS. I ACT DIFFERENTLY IN THE BAND THAN I WOULD AT HOME AROUND MY OTHER FRIENDS’ “We have to get serious just before a competition and during it,” says Calvin, “But it is always good craic after and we get up to some crazy things, silly things that you would never do with your own friends.” When asked to elaborate on these socalled ‘crazy’ antics, Calvin turned slightly

Members of the Phoenix Rising colour guard get ready for a competition

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SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW The Irish gay rights movement may have come a long way since homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993, but gay people are still forced to deal with discrimination every day. Christine Orford hears some of the issues faced by LGBT teens in Ireland Sexuality is all around us – it’s in music videos, where scantily clad women gyrate to the latest rap gem; it's on billboards with oiled-up topless men advertising aftershave; and it's on all of our minds, at least sometimes. But it can be a difficult subject to talk about out loud and come to terms with – especially if you're gay, bi, or even just confused about the whole thing. BeLonG To is an organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. ey hold group meetings where young people can come to talk to their peers or the group leaders about anything from problems they could be having to their favourite programme. e Sunday BeLongG To meetings are held in a Georgian house on Capel Street. It is bright and warm, if a little cramped for the size of the group. In a way, the building is like the Irish gay rights movement – rich in history, proud, but under construction, with quite a way to go before it's perfect. e group is very diverse with everyone sporting a different style and talking about their interests – ranging from X-Factor to cardiac surgery. But everyone also has a story to tell. Although nobody's experience is the exact same as anyone else's, there are threads that connect them all. “Being gay isn’t such a big deal,” says John*. “I came out in school when I was 15, and I was the first one. Everyone thought it was such big news, even though I didn't. But afterwards, people treated me a little bit differently. They thought they could get away with slagging me and stuff. “I grew up with discrimination and bullying. I've had a pretty hard life because of my sexuality, but I look back and think, 'You know what, they're the ones with the real problem.' Because what coward hides behind a group to go beat up somebody? The guy who beat me up was a low-life piece of scum.” But he would never do what so many young people these days are doing and emigrate. Instead, he wants to stay to fight for his rights to be recognised in his native country. “We're missing so many rights from our lives. That's why it's so frustrating when people say that we've chosen to be this way, because this is how we were born,” explains John. “Sometimes it feels like you're deemed as half-human by society and by the State. If you're told you're wrong by a religion or by a government, you could end up thinking you're a wrong person, and that's so dangerous for people's mental health.”

“I've known I was gay since I was nine,” explains Robert*, “but I only came out last year. When I told my parents, my dad was fine with it, but my mum started laughing and saying, 'This can't be true, this can't be true.' Although she knows now, we never talk about it. I'm trying to give her time to accept it. “When I came out in school, I came out to my friends first and then everyone else found out. For the first week, no one really believed it, so it was okay. But after that it changed. People would kick, slag or punch me. It got to the point where I was pretending to be sick because I was afraid of going through the doors of my school, so I had to leave,” he reveals. “But in a way, I'm happy it happened, because in my new school I made the best friends of my life. I finally have a social life, and I feel free to be who I am. I came out the first day because I wanted to start fresh. There are 300 people in the year, and everyone knows my name. And three people in my year told me they came out because of me,” Robert says proudly. “Even though I'm not happy the bad stuff happened to me, now the good stuff is happening – it’s a bit like yin and yang.”

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Róisín* hasn't told her parents she's gay. “Both my parents are a bit anti-gay. They're not homophobic; they're just not that comfortable with gay people. I don't know what their reaction would be. I'm afraid they would see me as different, just because I love women,” she says. “I can see that it would be scary for a mother and father to find out that their child is gay. My parents expect me to grow up, meet a lovely man, have a house and have little grandchildren for them. But that's not going to happen. I can't change who I am, and I'll never be like that. But I can understand why they'd be concerned,” Róisín explains. “I've told my sister. She seems okay with it, but whenever I talk about a girl that I like, she seems almost upset. It's like she doesn't want me to be that way, but she knows I am. “My friends were surprised that I was gay because I'm not very stereotypical. But there were no bad reactions; they were all okay with it.”

Seán's* father is from a religious and cultural background where homosexuality is not tolerated, however his mother comes from an agnostic, liberal background. This made him choose to come out to his mother but not his father. “When my mother found out, she told my sisters because they're really close. Then I personally came out to one of my brothers, because he's really openminded. But I haven't told my other brother because he doesn't live here. I imagine if I told him he'd react badly at first, but he's pretty open-minded so I think he'd deal with it,” Seán says. “I don't feel sad that my dad doesn't know I'm gay. I've always known certain people won't accept it, so I've just learned to deal with that. “I'm out to some people at school. There are two gay guys at school, but everyone knows them as 'the gay guys' and I don't want that. I don't want that to define me.”


Mark* explains that when he was about 14, he published that he was gay on a social networking site. After his parents found out about it, they banned him from going online for months. They also were unsure of him coming to BeLonG To but in the end let him go. “I thought it would be better to learn about the gay community in a safe environment like this, and not to have to go out to some bar to talk to my peers.” Although it hasn't been too easy, he doesn't wish his life to be different. “In a way, the hardship you go through when you're gay is a good thing. It helps make you the person that you are. If you never have someone go against you, you never really think about who you are.”

Karen* is not sure if she is bisexual or lesbian, but she thinks it is easier for girls to be bisexual rather than gay. “One of my friends actually wanted me to be bi instead of a lesbian, so I could still go out and meet guys with her at discos and stuff. She couldn't believe it, she just told me, 'You're not lesbian.' At the time she said it to me, I was sure I was a lesbian.” But one thing she is sure of is that she'd like to have children. “I'd have 10 if I could! But I'd never adopt or get sperm from someone I didn't know. If I was a lesbian, I'd have a baby with someone I knew or else not have children at all.”

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*not real names


Art: Jussi Lehtiniemi


Ever wondered about an invasion of space Nazis? Neither have we. But as Camilla Egan found out, the Iron Sky team think a little differently and have used the internet in novel ways to create a futuristic movie with a 1940s twist

ron Sky is an unusual production. First, it’s about Nazis from the moon. Second, it probably couldn’t have existed without the internet. Set in 2018, the film follows an American moon landing. Earth is in for a nasty surprise – Nazis sent there in 1945 to set up the Schwarze Sonne base have decided that the time is ripe to return and form the Fourth Reich. Based in Finland and filmed in Australia and Germany, and partially supported by traditional groups such as the Finnish Film Foundation, the production has made up the rest of its funds in an unusual way – online collaboration. An international community of people interested in the project have funded it through direct investment (called “War Bonds” by the team) or through buying merchandise. In return, they are more involved in the production than investors would be in traditional films. The film team’s campaign has usedYouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and even Spotify to spread word. They also set up the website, as a platform for more people to develop and distribute independent films. I spoke to director Timo Vuorensola and the media team about this unique film. How would you describe Iron Sky? Timo Vuorensola: Iron Sky is a dark science fiction dieselpunk satire about Nazis from the Dark Side of the Moon. What inspired the project? The passion with which people fall in love with conspiracy theories – and films like Star Wars, StarTrek, Alien, Blade Runner, Boys from Brazil, as well as Russian and German and American WWII propaganda, David Bowie, Miyazaki [Japanese manga artist], blind nationalism, the United States of America... How do you think filming in this manner compares to more conventional production? Collaborative filmmaking is quite new but not completely unheard of. The idea is to allow the fans and supporters to

have direct contact with the production in the manner that’s most convenient for them. The main difference is that instead of doing the film behind closed doors, we're more transparent and closer to the viewers, so it’s a more personal project for the audience. What particular challenges have you faced in the production so far? Everything is a challenge, obviously, but the biggest problems have been creating a script and funding the film. The script can go so many ways, so it’s been mainly trying to find the best story and characters and the best balance and focus. And funding... Oh boy, working on a science fiction film from Finland, that's not an easy piece to fund. We don’t exactly have a big sci-fi film industry, so it has taken some time to

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prove we have an idea of what we’re doing. How much do your investors shape the filming? Just as much as we want them to. We listen to the investors, we actually encourage them to help us out wherever we have problems, sharing ideas and expertise, but eventually the call on what ends up in the film is our own. And ultimately mine, being the director. Do you think this style of producing could be the future of independent film-making? If you mean collaborating with the audience, absolutely. Social media is here to stay, and those who find ways to use it for their benefit will prevail.

Photo: Mika Orasmaa

How did you get involved with this production? Jarmo Puskala (Community Manager): I had been working with Timo on his previous film, Star Wreck. I pitched the concept of making a movie about Nazis on the moon to him, and that’s how the Iron Sky project was born. Pekka Ollula (Head of Social Media): I got involved with Iron Sky when I was attending film school in 2007. I attended the Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival) and met the director Timo Vuorensola there. Two months later, I found myself in Cannes working with him. Have you ever been involved in anything like this before? Jarmo: I was very much involved in Star Wreck, which was basically a zerobudget film. Iron Sky is my first production with an actual budget. Tero Kaukomaa (Producer ): Nothing like this, especially when it comes to the fan community and all the activity we have online. Pekka: I’ve done lots of this and that in my life and that’s been very helpful with Iron Sky, but anything like this? No. But then, who has? How did you attract the first investors? Tero: We have a big following online, so when we gave out some information about the possibilities, there were several inquiries. Jarmo: Having a high-concept pitch has helped us to get noticed, as well as the publicity we got from Star Wreck. Pekka: A lot of people had been

following us, and when we opened the door to fan investors, there were already a lot of people who knew us and were interested. How many investors do you have now? Tero: We have about 100 investors, plus a couple of thousand other individuals contributing in other ways, like buying merchandise or accessing our Iron Sky Sneak Peek (


Are most of your investors and fans originally fans of the Star Wreck films? Jarmo: Many are, but of the people I’ve talked to, I’d say less than 50 per cent have heard of us through Star Wreck and the rest have found Iron Sky. Pekka: Most of the investors are basically people who are interested to see what in direction the movie business is developing. Have you been surprised by any support in particular? Jarmo: I have to admit, the reception in Germany has been better than I expected. A lot of people seem to think it’s about time to make fun of the Nazis. There is no better way to fight something than through humour. Pekka: For me the most surprising thing is how global we are. Usually, you notice big clusters here and there. But with Iron Sky, we have become free of time-zones.

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Did you have a plan of action in terms of publicity from the start, or has it evolved over time? Jarmo: We went public with the film in the very early stages of pre-production, so it would have been impossible to plan out the whole publicity campaign – even the online landscape has changed completely during the time we have been in production. The beginning was about finding what works and what doesn’t and learning from that. Then we created a plan that we have been following for the last couple of years. The internet evolves so fast that our plans need to evolve with it. Pekka: Everything we do has been based on a certain idea from the very beginning – open communication. Does involvement in Iron Sky offer investors something unique? Tero: On top of the actual investment, we offer a lot of activities related to the production, all the way through the project. Our investors had the chance to visit our set during the shoot, have been in contact with our director and given their input on certain challenges and there are other interesting perks in store for them. So yes, the investors get an unprecedented chance to get involved in making a movie. Pekka: Like I said, the fan investors are interested to see where the film business and the future of cinema are going. With Iron Sky they are able to experience this change from very close and also have a chance to give it a little push in the direction they would like it to go.

ETA: 2012


Everyone has a unique view on religon and spirituality. Melissa Byrne talks to three teenagers about their beliefs and asks if they think religion has a positive or negative influence on the world


e are surrounded by religion. It is on TV, radio and in newspapers. Children encounter it in many schools. We have days off school and work for religious feast-days. Our biggest festival is for a saint, St Patrick, and Aer Lingus names all its planes after saints – St Columba, St Ida and St Flannan to mention a few. We pass churches, mosques, grottos and statues in public places. We even exclaim, “OMG!” or “Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” Whether you are part of a faith or don’t believe in any religion, you will have an opinion on the subject and a reason for thinking as you do. Certain influences on our lives, such as family and friends, will encourage us to consider their views on the issue and can help us to construct our own beliefs. By the time we enter secondary school, most of us have an idea about what we think of religion, and we might spend the rest of our lives developing this idea.

But where does our own personal attitude toward religion stem from? Why exactly do we believe what we believe? And is religion a positive or negative thing to have in the world? Muslim: “My parents are both Muslim, so it became the only religion I knew all about growing up as a child,” says Sally*, a 16-year-old fourth year student. Sally grew up in Ireland in County Meath and explains that in primary school, religion mostly involved some prayers, songs and colouring with the main emphasis on being kind to people. “I think that learning about all religions in secondary does make a big difference and helps in understanding the many religions,” Sally explains. However, she insists that despite being taught about the practices, traditions and beliefs of other religions in secondary school, she would “never consider changing religion.” Choosing to follow all the traditions and rules of Islam can be difficult, even for those who have been members of the faith all their lives and take their religious convictions very seriously. “It affects some of the choices and decisions that I need to make in my everyday life; in the way I act in society and the general things that I do, like the way that I dress and the fact that I

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won’t drink any alcohol,” says Sally. But Sally admits that, at times, being a strict Muslim can be hard work. “Yes, it is sometimes difficult, but I just learn to deal with it. During Ramadan when I’m in school I try to block out any temptations from the people around me.” Ramadan is one of the toughest times for Sally, when she cannot eat or drink from dawn until sunset. This is designed to teach followers spirituality, patience and humility. However, the upside of being in Ireland for Ramadan is the weather – it is always cool so you don’t have to worry about being too hot and desperately needing a drink. When people don’t understand Islam they often have a pre-conceived idea that parents of the faith force the religion on their child and are always very firm. Sally disagrees with this perception, “I would consider them to be strict with the social part of it – clubbing and drinking aren’t allowed. But with everything else, they’re not very strict.” Regardless of the social difficulties Sally faces, she is unyielding in both her faith and her belief in the importance of religion in a person’s life. “I believe it is a very positive thing. Without peoples’ beliefs and faith, the world would be an unbearable place to live. I believe that any kind of faith or belief gives a sense of security and comfort.” Catholic: “I think in Ireland most people are automatically Catholic. I’m Catholic


because my parents are and they’re Catholic because their parents were. It’s a tradition that we just go with,” says Ciara*, a 16-year-old fifth year student. However, while Ciara does go to Mass every Sunday, she explains, “I’m not very strict about my religion. I go to Mass with my parents but when I move out for college, I know that I won’t go to Mass myself. They don’t force me but I don’t think I would actually get up and go to Mass on my own.” In her school in Westmeath, Ciara took religion as a Junior Cert subject and, while it was an option for the Leaving Cert, she chose not to take it. “People assume that it’s an easy subject for the Junior Cert, that it’s like CSPE but it really isn’t. It’s hard.” The school sets aside class time for a non-examination religion-type course for fifth year and Leaving Cert students where the class discusses topics such as abortion, mental health, alcohol and drugs. These classes aren’t just an excuse to watch films and chat, they provide an opportunity to exchange different

viewpoints and ideas. Ciara believes that although she doesn’t adhere rigorously to all the practices and beliefs of Catholicism, she will always have it in her life, perhaps in a subtle, unobtrusive way. “Religion can be negative and positive. It creates a lot of trouble, we just have to look at Northern Ireland to see that, but it can be positive as well. It’s comforting to think that we’re not alone. It gives people hope,” she says. Non-believer: “I guess I’m like a lot of people. God is such a big idea that it’s hard to believe,” says Harry*. The 17-year-old fifth year student from Dublin explains that while he wouldn’t label himself an outright atheist, he is a skeptic. His beliefs, or non-beliefs, are more in line with agnosticism – that you can neither prove nor disprove God’s existence but approach the question of religion with doubt. “I was christened and I had my Communion and Confirmation in school like most do but none of that really means anything to me. They were special days with my family but that’s it. I didn’t find God


during those occasions.” In spite of receiving these three Catholic sacraments, Harry does not consider himself Catholic. However, his parents are quite religious. They go to Mass regularly and while Harry used to go with them, he no longer attends. “I stopped going when I got to secondary. I just decided that I didn’t want to go anymore because I don’t believe what the priest is saying.” Harry shaped his own beliefs. Despite having practising Catholic parents, he didn’t absorb their faith and instead uses their commitment to Catholicism to question what he thinks about religion and God. He doesn’t have any religion classes in school and explains that the classes probably wouldn’t change his view. They might help him understand more about other world religions but he would remain doubtful about the truth of any religion. “I have a lot to argue against religion but even with everything negative I can say about it, I can’t say for definite if there is no God. ere’s always that possibility,” Harry says. “But you hear everything that has gone on in the Catholic Church in Ireland and the problems religion has caused around the world and you have to wonder if things would be easier without it?” *Not real names.

Erlandse Photo: Kim

im Photo: K


n Erlandse

Photo : (Crea Olly Farre ll tive C o mm ons


tine ody Valen ns My Blo o ic k c ro f Dublin Butcher, o u? Bilinda o y e b is Could th

Think becoming a rock star is a pipe-dream? Think again. Finbarr O’Sullivan finds out how you can get a diploma and some time in the spotlight


allyfermot College of Further Education may not be one of the best known colleges in Ireland, but it does offer a unique course. e Higher National Diploma in Contemporary Music Performance (Rock School) is a course aimed at budding young musicians who are looking to improve their musical techniques and learn more about the music industry. is two-year course contains modules from songwriting to music business. e students are given full access to recording studios, video recording and music editing equipment.

Matt Kelleghan is the course coordinator of the Rock School. Kelleghan was a

member of 80’s band Moving Hearts, along with former Planxty members Christy Moore and Dónal Lunny. e group, who mixed folk, rock and

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traditional music styles, toured the world. ey split in the late ‘80s and reformed in 2007. Kelleghan told fml: “ere are 16 modules over two years. It’s a performance course but there’s business and technology aspects too. e whole thing has been put together by musicians to make young, professional musicians. “It’s been going for over 21 years,” says Kelleghan. “It started off as a pilot project and then it developed into a national diploma. It grew and grew and in the last few years we re-wrote the whole syllabus and put this national diploma

Photo: Finbarr O’Sullivan

together,” he said. On the entry requirements, Kelleghan explained, “It’s not like you wake up and say ‘I’m going to do this’ and come on to the course. You’ve got to be somewhat talented. Your skills have to be of a level that can be competent enough to stay at the skill level that other students are coming in at, so we don’t take beginners into certain instrument classes. ere’s no point, it would just hold everybody back.” Performance is a key part of the course and students are given many opportunities to perform in public. e Rock School students are organising a series of gigs in Dublin at the end of March. “ey are playing in e Village every Wednesday between 30 March and 13 April. But they organise it themselves. ey booked the venue and are getting the posters designed. ey’ll even end up collecting money on the night and performing,” he said. “We are very much original. We push the students to write and compose their

own music. e students do play covers of songs, but when our bands perform, it’s all original,” explained Kellaghan. Although name might make you think of Jack Black’s film, School of Rock, Kelleghan explains that all tastes are catered for. “e students come along with their own music. We’ve got soul, we’ve got funk, we’ve got whatever comes along,” said Kellaghan. “It’s up to the students to bring what they have and then we can mix them all up.”

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“I can take 48 students in first year. If you get a collection of drummers, songwriters, bass, guitar and keyboard players and songwriters, all coming from different paths in life, you’re going to have a melting pot of different kinds of sounds,” he said. “With our modules, we try to cover all the bases for young musicians who come in and want to make a career out of music. I think a very positive aspect is that you’re committing yourself for two years with other young musicians like yourself,” Kelleghan said. So what do the students have to say about the course? David Fagan is a Trim

native currently in his first year. Speaking about the course, he said, “It’s everything I expected. I started off doing a degree in Dundalk last year in music and it was too formal and structured for me, there was no creativity in it. If you are passionate about music, this is the place to be.” Another student, Gavin Byrne added: “It is what you put into it. If you go in and you don't do anything, you'll get nothing out of it. If you go in there all guns blazing, with a really good attitude, you can get a good band together.” Fellow student Darragh Tate said, “is is one of the only contemporary performance courses you can do in the country. If you go to do music in college, then you're going to do classical stuff or trad but this is more professional, which is a good thing I think. And they have some good names working here as well.”

Bring a touch of class to your debs outfit by taking inspiration from way back when. Trawl vintage shops for one-off pieces and incorporate the high street for a modern twist.

DEBS THREADS Dress: Wild Child Originals €20 per kilo Bow tie: Wild Child Originals Shrug: Stylist’s own Shoes: Model’s own

Dress: Wild Child Originals

Top hat: Lucy’s Lounge, €45 Jacket: Lucy’s Lounge, €35 Shirt: Dunnes Stores Trousers: Dunnes Stores

As before

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Waistcoat: Wild Child Originals Dress:Wild Child Originals Shawl: Stylist’s own Bracelet: Stylist’s own

Waistcoat: Wild Child Originals Dress: Stylist’s own Necklace: Stylist’s own Wedges: New Look

As before

Models: Niamh Kinsella & Gearoid McDonald Stylists: Ellen Curham, Eimear Rabbitte and Jenny Whelan Photographer: Camilla Egan With thanks to Wild Child and Lucy’s Lounge fml 39


The Irish language is boring in school, there is no use for it anymore and it is not fun. All of these theories have been bandied about but, as Eimear Rabbitt discovers, Irish can be used in daily life and it is still very much alive


ast summer I spent three months living and working in the United States. While there, I met some wonderful people and made some great memories. However, while the Irish accent both intrigued and delighted our American friends, some of them were dumbfounded to discover that we have our own native language. I was shocked. How can a language that is so important to us, fail to register with the wider world? But do we really cherish it, or care about it at all? It has been described as a dying language and of little use in daily life. However, 80,000 people reportedly still speak Irish daily in the country and there are those who choose to live their lives through Irish and are dedicated to its promotion. Brenda Ní Ghairbhí has been working with Conradh na Gaeilge for over three years and has been reaping the benefits of having Irish in her life ever since. Since IRISH IS NOW its establishment RECOGNISED AS AN in 1893, Conradh na Gaeilge has OFFICIAL LANGUAGE been working to OF THE EU promote the language and today there are 200 branches. “My message to young people is to take up Irish,” said Brenda. “e use of the language is getting stronger and stronger and the age of people using Irish today is getting younger. I believe that it is very valuable, as having Irish will help significantly with job prospects and there are Irish language jobs available in Europe,” she told fml. “At the moment, people don’t have the qualifications to work as translators or linguists in the European Union,” said Brenda. “Because of the Official Languages Act 2003, state bodies and public bodies are now widening and improving the services they are making available through Irish. So it is more effective to employ somebody with a good understanding of Irish.” Many people associate Irish with school and boring poetry, but organisations such as Conradh na Gaeilge have been working to demonstrate that Irish can be used in all aspects of life. People can conduct their business through Irish and they can also listen to music through Irish.

Danny O’Reilly (The Coronas) and Aodhán Ó Deá (Conradh na Gaeilge) Ireland’s only all-Irish chart-station, Rí-Rá, plays all the latest music from the charts and broadcasts through Irish. e station began broadcasting on the internet in 2008 and goes live each year in March. Listeners can tune in to Raidio Rí Rá all year round at and the station has also added a free iPhone app. Sine Nic Ailí, presenter with Raidió Rí-Rá explained, “e use of new technology, such as the availability of Irish on your iPhone or Nokia phones is important to show Irish is a modern language and is not just spoken by old men in the Gaeltacht.” e aim of the station is to provide music and news that young people want to hear and the station has sought the help of many well-known names to prove that the language can be “sexy”. Last year, Irish-speaking celebrities such as Leinster rugby star Luke Fitzgerald and Coronas’ front man Danny O’Reilly offered their services to help promote the station and to entice the youth of today. “Competitions like Radió Rí-Rá’s Cath na mbannaí help up-and-coming bands get their sound on the nation’s airwaves and build up a fantastic fan base across the country. When bands are starting out, this is the kind of radio exposure that really helps – I should know!” said Meteor Award winner Danny Raidió Rí Rá presenters get ready for this year’s live shows O’Reilly.

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A major criticism of the Irish language today is the way in which it is being taught and promoted in school, particularly at second level. An outdated curriculum has been blamed for so many young people leaving school with a limited knowledge of Irish despite 14 years of learning the language. Demand for change in the Leaving Certificate Irish course has seen an emphasis in spoken Irish, with oral exams being set to carry more marks. But this could be set to change with the new Government now in power. On 14th February, hundreds of students came together to show their opposition to the proposal in the form of a silent protest outside the Dáil. Protesters put red tape across their mouths and brandished posters. e group then marched the short to distance to Fine Gael party office headquarters on Merrion Square where supporters made their presence felt with chants such as ‘Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.’ Although Gaeilge-speaking teens fear the damage that would be done to the language if it were removed as a core Leaving Cert subject, they do believe reform of the Irish Leaving Cert curriculum is needed in English-speaking schools. “e standard of Irish in schools is not good and it is not well taught,” said 16-year-old Coláiste Ioságán student Aoife O’Malley. “My friends in English-speaking schools don’t like going to Irish class because they feel like it is forced upon them and they have to just learn everything off by heart.” “I didn’t like Irish in primary school because it wasn't taught well but it is so well taught at Coláiste Iosagan,” says Anna, 16. “I'm really proud to say that I have done my Junior Cert through Irish and I can do my Leaving Cert through Irish. It's such a good feeling when you go abroad and you can speak Irish.” Her friend and classmate Aoife agrees. “Myself and Anna were speaking Irish at the hairdressers today,” laughs Aoife, “And they didn't have a clue what we were saying.” Colásite Eoin You can get the student Diarmuid following through Irish: Raoighall, 17, is extremely proud of the language and • An Irish passport believes that it is • Driving license something that we must continue to • Age card promote and • Rules of the road protect. “It is one of • Driving test the oldest languages in the world and • Motor tax part of our culture • Tax back form so we need to protect it. I was shocked when I realised that people who go to English schools don't have a great opinion of Irish. e teachers who teach Irish are very passionate; it's the course that is the problem. ere is no challenge or interest created by the way it is taught in schools. “ Fine Gael and their leader Enda Kenny believes allowing children the opportunity to choose or decline to study Irish is the best policy for retaining and increasing passion towards the language. However, other reforms, based on international practice, have been proposed and it is felt that they would radically improve the development of Irish in the country’s schools.

Óisín Ó Dálaigh (top) and Luc O’Cinnseala (above) at the student march (below) ese proposals include: • Increasing the time those training to be primary school teachers are required to spend in the Gaeltacht, speaking and living through Irish. • Adding another subject taught through Irish, such as drama, for all primary school children. • Developing two separate examination papers through Irish, meaning that only those taking higher level would be required to study Irish literature.

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There is more to the internet than porn, Facebook and cute YouTube videos of cats. Camilla Egan looks at what bloggers have to offer the online world


he blogosphere, hideous word as it is, is a natural habitat for teenage writers – estimates put as many as half of bloggers at between the ages of 13 and 19. But what pitfalls are there? And could your blog really make you a living? Fashion is probably the most popular subject for teenage girls and a considerable number of boys. Fashion website Lookbook is full to its minimalist rafters with slender teen fashion gurus, most of them with a blog and hailing from Scandinavia. Sweden is the spiritual home of the fashion blogger, flawless Scandinavian English putting them in prime position to net a bilingual readership. You can be sure that at least half of the trends that spread through their blogs will appear on our shores sooner or later. Perhaps the most celebrated teen fashion blogger is Tavi Gevinson (e Style Rookie), pint-sized darling of Vogue, the New Yorker and a host of other high-profile magazines at a selfpossessed 14 years of age. She’s been blogging since she was 11. She is given front row seats at fashion weeks around the world and has inspired a line for Rodarte. It seems a legitimate career in the fashion world beckons. Cookery is another area where young bloggers have carved out a niche for themselves. American blog Honey and Jam's lush photography and warm style have won author Hannah numerous followers, and along

with other young writers she formed e Kitchen Generation, a group website for recipes and food photography tips. So what's the secret? Most of the best blogs bring together a good turn of phrase, beautiful photography and an original angle, but there's no hard and fast rule of alchemy. Bear in mind too that it’s not all friendly comments and freebies. Frictions come with opening up to a huge audience – some people may put you on a pedestal whether you like it or not, and others will enjoy knocking you off it. Swedish fashion blogger Shelly M divided opinion last year when a South American mother claimed her daughter had been encouraged in her anorexia by the way Shelly's clothes emphasise her super-slim frame – a dark blip in an otherwise light and sunny blog. Lifestyle writer Gala Darling has also had a lot of grief over her claims that her lavish New York lifestyle is supported entirely by her rather sugary blog – detractors claim it's simply not possible. Advertising can also raise hackles. Too many ads per page can irritate, but product placement – the impression that you're only using stuff that was sent to you by sponsors rather than things that you genuinely like – can alienate even more people. at said, advertising is the likeliest way to make some pocket money. Remember, though – ultimately, your blog should please you first.

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Who: Tahti Syrjala Age: 19 From: I live in Munster but I'm Finnish-American. My family moved here when I was younger. What: Pretty simple, I stick with basics and what I know and planned to blog about in the first place. Since: Over a year ago, August '09. It’s hard to believe! Why: Boredom, mainly! I was inspired to do so by the other fashion blogs I read, too. Perseverance: All the lovely feedback I get from my readers is pretty motivational. Number of readers: As of right now, I have 3,292 followers combined from Bloglovin' and Blogspot. Bests: I post gluten-free recipes because I'm a coeliac the best things have been having people contact me thanking me for this, or just getting to know people who are similar. I was diagnosed when I was 12 and there was very little known about it. It's great to see so much more knowledge and more people diagnosed out there. I love posting recipes Photo:Tahti Syrjala because I find it really positive. Worsts: Rude anonymous comments, but I'm lucky to have mainly had positives. Advertising: I think it's fine – I haven't made any money off it though, so maybe it's just my pipedream! Do you think it's possible to make a living out of blogging? For myself I personally don't think so, but I believe for others it's possible.

fashion, makeup, cookery

Who: Mark Walsh. My middle name is Anthony. My first ‘girlfriend’ back in primary school said her middle name was Cleopatra, so I thought we were meant to be. Age: 20. Downhill from here. From: Lucan, Dublin. What: A collection of funny stories, witty musings, angry rants. My mother has described it as, “Get off that f**king laptop and help me bring in the plates.” Since: July 2007. Why: The very first few posts were just me giving out about things like bad grammar. I thought I was brilliant. I wasn’t.

Who: Louise Jones Age: 17 From: Essex What: A jumble of words spilled from the mind of a hormonal teenage girl. Since when: November 2009 Why: It was a way of getting all my thoughts down. It's like a diary so I know I'll look back in years to come and laugh at myself and remember. It was around that time that I started thinking about wanting to become a journalist, or writer in general. Perseverance: I made myself laugh and once people started replying saying they laughed, too, or making other general comments, the buzz was amazing and spurred me on. Number of readers: I have 123 followers on my blog but most of my readers are from Twitter. There are 1,395 of them. Bests: The best aspect is getting responses from different people, knowing you've made them laugh, or cry, or think, or whatever. Just

Perseverance: Soon it became a log of my online ‘business’ activity, which was just me making a couple of websites and selling them on. I cringe when I think about those posts now. Soon I stopped the boring posts and continued with my more entertaining material and began to find my voice and style. I’d seen so many people tell the world they were starting a blog. Then within a month it was all over and they’d never post again. I was determined not to be one of those people. Number of readers: As I write this, 130 fans on the Facebook page and 120 RSS subscribers and just under 3,000 hits per month. Bests: Positive feedback. Feels really great to hear someone say they love

my blog. People seem to relate to a lot of my posts. It’s had a couple of award nominations too, which is nice. And last, but not least, the bitches, obviously. Everyone knows bitches love blogs. Worsts: I once got some pretty threatening comments and emails from someone. Never found out who it was or why they had such an intense dislike for me, but there you go. Otherwise, no. I only post when I have time, so it’s never a burden or anything. Advertising: Fine in small doses, like an overly-talkative but ultimately nice friend. Do you think anyone can make a living out of blogging? I guess with print media seemingly in decline, it’s possible that bloggers will benefit from this and start earning more from advertising. I certainly won’t be holding my breath, though. Unless you fancy paying me to see how long I can hold my breath for?

humour, thoughts knowing your writing has been a part of their life for a few minutes. Worsts: The sudden change from being a little-known blog to one potentially known by the whole country was quite stressful (Louise won Channel 4’s Best Young Blogger award in 2010). Some of my posts are controversial and while some agree with my opinion, I can get some nasty comments as well. I'm all up for different opinions but some comments really put you down. But I think with every comment like that, it just thickens your skin.You just have to learn that not everyone is going to like you. Sometimes the pressure to blog is overwhelming, too.You feel you have a reputation to keep. But then again you have to learn that it's your own blog – you control it and if you got the readers before then it should stay that way. Advertising: To be honest, I don't think it matters at all. Obviously if you're writing posts on products, keep

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them limited because the readers want you, not the products. The adverts surrounding a blog shouldn't be an irritation at all. If anything it proves the blog is worthy of adverts. Do you think anyone can make a living out of blogging? Yes I do. There's one blog I know that the writer relies on entirely for income, and it's BRILLIANT ( I think blogging can be a job – it's no different than writing for a website or newspaper online. I know I'm only 17, but blogging has literally changed my life. All the money I've ever earned has come from it.


GAGA Photo: Christine Orford

Is it possible to get an interview with a super-star, equipped with only a Luas ticket, a dictaphone and a student card? Alicia Forde and Christine Orford find out


ranssexual? Sex addict? Fictional character? Whatever you think of Lady Gaga, there is no denying she is a global phenomenon and it seems like nothing can stop this Monster in her tracks. We thought this Bad Romantic would be an important addition to fml magazine, so we decided we would stop at nothing to bring you an exclusive interview with the paparazziplagued star. Our first plan was the legitimate path of going through Gaga’s record company. We called Universal. Realising how ridiculous our request was, we decided not to ask about it until we got through to someone we could really plead our case to. But after much question dodging, we eventually had to come clean to the secretary. ere was a long shocked silence and then, “Em… I’ll see what I can do… Send me an email about it…” So we did. She sent us an email back saying she’d forwarded it on to Lady Gaga’s press people. We never heard back. Gaga 1 – fml 0 Next, we found out who the support

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band were (Semi Precious Weapons), thinking that if we befriended them we could get in with Gaga. Alicia emailed their management and asked for an interview. Within 24 hours we got an enthusiastic reply and the interview was confirmed. Gaga 1 – fml 1 On Tuesday, we made our way to the Gibson Hotel where the band was staying. We waited for them in a quiet bar and soon spotted a man dressed in tartan and safety pins and thought, “He must be in the band.” He was. e entire band was wearing Sex Pistols-esque clothes, except Justin (lead singer), who was wearing an eclectic mix of clothes that could probably be found at the end of season sale in Topshop. e guys couldn’t have been nicer. It was obvious that Justin was the front man. He took control of the interview from the minute he breezed into the room saying, “Let’s get this shit done.”

We covered a variety of topics, from their musical influences (ranging from rock to Jay-Z) to the importance of sexual health (“Use protection; you don't want to get ding measles.”). Even when the conversation moved on to serious issues, they always kept it light. Justin’s advice on surviving secondary school was, “It’s never a good idea to wear a girl's gym uniform when you're trying to survive junior high.” We asked the lads if they could dish the dirt on their Poker Faced friend. But all Cole (the bassist) could come up with was, “She’s actually cooler than you would think she is.” Justin revealed that, to her friends, “her loyalty is blind.” And they added that her favourite drink is Jameson whiskey.

‘SHE DEDICATED, “BOYS, BOYS, BOYS” TO THE GAY COMMUNITY. THIS GAVE US THE IDEA THAT SHE MIGHT GO TO ONE OF THE BIG GAY BARS IN TOWN FOR HER WRAP PARTY’ We asked in vain if they could give our number to Gaga, leading to a rather awkward exit with the band down the escalators of the hotel into a waiting throng of fans armed with camera phones. Something told us we were now all over Facebook. Gaga 2 – fml 1 However, we left the interview armed with two complimentary tickets for that night’s show. Gaga 2 – fml fml 22

At the concert, we sat in the lower tier of the seating section and could see the crowd of dedicated ‘Little Monsters’ excitedly anticipating their Mother’s arrival. ere was a little girl sitting next to us, no older than five. Semi Precious Weapons came on stage, mostly in the clothes they were wearing during our interview. But Justin had changed into glittery platforms and wore a backwards silk suit jacket. “We are Semi. Precious. Weapons. And we're from motherf**king New York City!” e little girl beside us repeated, “Motherf**king New York.” ey continued to fire expletives at the crowd, such as “We want to get you wet and excited for Lady Gaga,” and, “Let me hear you scream, you sluts!” (At which point the little girl screamed.) ey ended the set by offering sexual favours to anyone who purchased their merchandise. Just before Lady Gaga came on stage, Louis Walsh entered with a group of about eight people around him and when the concert was over he ran backstage to meet the Lady. Gaga 2 – fml 2 – Louis Walsh 1 e show was like a giant, extravagant pop pantomime. But we spent the entire thing trying to look for hints about what she might be up to during her week in Dublin. She dedicated, ‘Boys, Boys, Boys’ to the gay community and told a few stories expressing her support of homosexuality and the freedom to express yourself. is gave us the idea that she might go to one of the gay bars in town for her wrap party. She also dedicated a song to Jameson whiskey, leading us to believe she might visit the distillery, too. Unfortunately, she went

on Tuesday night, so we missed our chance to follow her there. Gaga 3 – fml fml 2 (because she gave a great concert, yet failed to make eye contact with us.) We learned that Gaga was staying in the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge. So we went to see what we could see. We sat at a table looking onto the front doors of the hotel and the receptionist’s and concierge’s desks. However, we saw no suspicious activity for the first hour or so. en we noticed a few women gathering around the foyer. One looked strikingly similar to Laurieann Gibson, Lady Gaga's choreographer. And then another woman joined her who looked really like the other person in her Facebook profile pic, which we had seen through our internet stalking. And then Christine overheard them talking about Lady Gaga. After a quick pep talk, Christine went and asked straight out if they worked with Lady Gaga. ey denied. She didn't believe them. But eventually she left them alone, feeling deeply embarrassed. Gaga 4 – fml 2 We asked the receptionist to pass on a letter we wrote to Lady Gaga outlining our intentions to interview her. We told her we knew Lady Gaga was staying there. She said, “We have no one under that name staying here.” We said, if she saw her, please just pass on the letter. She repeated her denial. en we suggested if she happened to drop by for dinner, then perhaps she could pass it on. When it became clear we wouldn't leave until she took the letter, she reluctantly agreed. On her way to the DART, Christine saw some people waiting outside. ey didn't

Left: Semi Precious Weapons

Right: Christine and Alicia with their free tickets!

e Orford


Photo: Heather


Photo: Christin


Photo: Alessio Bazzichi

Photo: Alessio Bazzichi

look like the average Four Seasons clientèle (old and rich) so she assumed they must be waiting for Gaga. ey were. Although all four were going to the concert, they didn't seem to be big Gaga fans. ey seemed more interested in meeting her because she's famous. ey were like professional celebrity stalkers. Two of the girls even travelled down from Sligo for it. We combined our resources, swapping numbers in case we got any news about Gaga's whereabouts over the next few days. Christine also gave them letters asking Gaga for an interview, just in case they found her and we didn't. Later, we found out that while we were at her hotel, Gaga was at the cinema. Gaga 5 – fml 2 Both groups of stalkers texted over the next few days, asking if we had any information. However, the Sligo group failed to inform us when Lady Gaga sent down cups of hot chocolate. We only found out about it by seeing them enjoying their reward on the Daily Mail website. Gutted! Gaga 5 – fml 2 – Stalkers 1

e next day was Lady Gaga's day off. No such luck for us. We went into town with the biggest Gaga fan we know, our friend Luc, who earlier in the day asked the audience of his Raidió na Life show to text in any information they had about her whereabouts. Nobody replied. Gaga 6 – fml 2 We went to Brown omas to see if we could find any clues that she would be in the shop later. We found nothing. But we did see Louis Walsh sitting in the café. Christine attempted to take a sneaky picture of him. He did not look impressed. It was the second time we saw Louis and we began to think he was stalking us... Gaga 6 – fml 3 (for having our own celebrity stalker) – Louis Walsh 0 (loses a point for letting us take a sneaky photo.) As a last-ditch attempt, Christine and super-fan Luc decided to hit the tiles in search of Gaga's after-party on her last night in Dublin. We knew she went to the Jameson Distillery on Tuesday night, so she was unlikely to go there again. Our biggest hunch was the Grafton Lounge, because her

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back-up dancers had already been there twice. When we got there, it became clear she wasn't there. All we found were some girls who had been to the concert. A little closer to Gaga, but not enough. We went to gay bar the George, because she is a gay icon and a big supporter of LGBT rights. But it was also Gaga-free. After a bit of a dance, we finally gave up. Gaga 7 – fml 3 At the end of a long, sleep-deprived, feetbattering week, Stephanie Germanotta proved too elusive for the stealthy hacks of fml magazine. e silver lining was that we found out Louis Walsh is ridiculously easy to find. Too easy, in fact. FINAL SCORES: GAGA 7 fml 3 STALKERS 1 LOUIS WALSH 0


Eimear Rabbitt and Heather Thompson look at the nasty side of Edward and Bella’s relationship and discover that their situation shows many signs of domestic abuse, common in both the natural and supernatural world


t is something that all girls have dreamed of at some stage in their lives – to find a Prince Charming and to feel a love so extraordinary it is as if nothing else in the world matters. is image of the perfect love continues to evolve in books and movies and is very apparent in Twilight. It is an epic romance that spans four books, five movies, and a mountain of merchandise. e romance between Edward and Bella has become a mainstream pop culture reference – just say their names and even your dad will know who you’re talking about. is story of two people meant to be together, despite the dangers, is pure romantic fantasy, with some wonderfully passionate pages about kissing which, in many novels, is breezed over in favour of more steamy scenes. On paper, Bella makes a great case as modern-day role model and a champion of the ordinary teenager. She doesn’t have to dress provocatively or wear loads of make-up to be adored. She loves her beat-up truck, is unfailingly loyal to her family and entertains herself by reading her favourite classic novels. But instead of capitalising on the breaking of this centuries-old stereotype and cementing Bella Swan as a new-age heroine, the writer wraps the character up in her love for Edward to a stifling extent. Coupled with the image of the extremely beautiful and emotionally in-tune Edward Cullen, they seem like the perfect pair. How many of us have thought while ploughing through the Twilight books, “Why can’t I have a

relationship like this?” If examined closer however, the Edward-Bella relationship is not so perfect. Elements of both characters’ behaviour have been flagged as danger signs for an unhealthy relationship. Bella admits that it is as if she has existed solely for this purpose – to be with Edward. She does not see any other great point to her existence and disregards her prior human life as a dress rehearsal for what she would become as an immortal. Bella, though very opinionated, passively accepts Edward’s sometimes unstable behaviour without question. When he admits to watching her sleep at night, Bella accepts his stalking as normal. She barely voices any objections when Edward takes the engine out of her truck to keep her from seeing someone he doesn’t like. Edward makes a lot of decisions for Bella which she can’t object to, such as where she goes and when she does things.


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The American-based National Domestic Hotline has outlined some signs of an abusive relationship. We’ve selected the ones here which we think are seen throughout the Twilight series. Do you recognise Edward or Jacob’s behaviour here? Or have you seen this in your own life? Does your partner... * Look at you or act in ways that scare you? * Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go? * Make all of the decisions? * Act like the abuse is no big deal, it's your fault, or even deny doing it? * Threaten to commit suicide? * Threaten to kill you?

Has your partner... * Tried to isolate you from family or friends? * Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.)? * Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place? * Scared you by driving recklessly? * Forced you to leave your home? * Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention? * Accused you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships?

Blood and romance: Not quite the perfect boyfriend? Bella has the potential to be a great heroine but is, more often than not, just a damsel in distress. Supernatural vampires aside, the series is really a metaphor for the relationship between a controlling, obsessive man and his self-doubting, co-dependent girlfriend. Bella is not unlike any other young woman in love. She cannot or will not live without Edward and she allows her own insecurities to grow as a result. Although Edward’s behaviour is never physically violent towards Bella and he appears to act in her best interests, some of his actions exhibit warning signs of obsessive behaviour that can spiral out of control. e truth is that he can be “too into you” and that if it feels wrong, it probably is. Domestic abuse can take on many forms and sometimes it’s so subtle that it’s hard to recognise and even harder to challenge. Not all abuse is physical – emotional abuse can also be used to gain power over

someone. Women are most often the was just so into her.” victims but men can be abused by their Women’s Aid has launched a new girlfriends and wives as well. website,, which includes a e Women’s Aid 2in2u campaign is ‘relationship health check quiz’ and the designed to expose the hidden reality for organisation is hoping that it will provide many young women experiencing abuse, young women with insight about what are control and violence at the hands of their healthy and unhealthy behaviours in partners. e campaign highlights how a relationships. controlling boyfriend’s attention can be “We hope that young women who are overwhelming at the early stages of a anxious or worried about any aspect of relationship. e group is trying to break their relationship will contact the the stereotype that exists in society that Women’s Aid freephone helpline (1800 abuse only occurs in older and more 341 900) or talk to someone they trust,” established relationships. said Margaret. Director of Women’s Aid Margaret “Dating abuse can happen to any young Martin said, “Again and again, we hear woman and it is important to start talking from women living with domestic about what are healthy and unhealthy violence that the signs that her partner was behaviours in relationships,” she told fml. possessive and controlling were Finished with the Twilight series? Longing for there from the start. something for fill the gap? Or looking for But to her and those around her, it something different? Try these: appeared like he


The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce The Silver Kiss and Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block


We all want to feel good about ourselves. But what challenges face teens and their body confidence? Heather Thompson examines the issue of body image in modern society


Mo Ph del: oto Ve : U lve nk t D no ’a w n mo u


eauty is a funny old word. Who defines what is beautiful? Even works of art which are conventionally known to be beautiful, such as the Mona Lisa, could also be described as boring by some people. But there is such a thing as a beauty “standard” which is hard to avoid noticing. No matter whether you follow fashion or not, everyone is influenced by it. And the idea of “perfect beauty” is especially potent for young women still finding their identity. ere are people who benefit from women being insecure about their looks. Just at the ‘THE IDEA OF time when girls’ bodies are changing rapidly “PERFECT BEAUTY” into womens’ bodies, advertisers jump in to IS ESPECIALLY promote the ideal beauty as something prePOTENT FOR GIRLS pubescent – with flawless and hair-free skin. STILL EVOLVING Women who want to change something about THEIR IDENTITY’ themselves are most likely to buy diet aids, not to mention clothes, make-up and a whole world of hair products. e cosmetics industry makes huge amounts of money reinforcing these beauty standards – in the United States alone, the beauty industry is worth over €40 billion. But the diet industry is possibly the biggest winner. Dieting is a particularly dodgy subject for teens. According to, What if a person looks thin they are is an alternative actually probably underweight. In the model? fashion industry there is a grey area between anorexia and normal In contrast to Claudia Schiffer and other weight which seems to encourage the idea that being “a little supermodels, alt models can be pretty appealing bit” underweight is okay. as strong icons for unusual and striking beauty. But Dieting can stunt growth, whereas healthy balanced eating are they really all that alternative to the norm? will work in harmony with your own metabolism to put A quick glance at the models on the covers of tattoo or you at your natural body weight and height. goth mags turns up a lot of women who still fit within the Suzanne Horgan from the Eating Disorder Resource boundaries of what’s considered “acceptable”: pretty, Centre of Ireland says that although “it is easy to blame the symmetrical faces; a waist which is smaller than the hips; media for the rise in eating disorders, I believe that images lots of “sexy” makeup. Even “alternative” models, like from the beauty industry trigger negative body image in Velvet D’Amour (above), fit these standards. already vulnerable people and as a result of this, the person It’s really hard to come to any sort of satisfying can go on to develop an eating disorder.” conclusion about beauty standards. Everyone has e media is only somewhat responsible for negative body their own tastes and experiences. Throughout image, she continues. “ey trigger and influence people who your life, your feelings on the subject are are already predisposed to an eating disorder as a result of other bound to change. The important thing is factors – family, cultural, biological, personality, trauma and to always question what you’re development. ey are like pieces of a jigsaw that come together and looking at. then a crisis in coping (like a stressful event) will trigger behaviour which can develop into a full blown eating disorder.” If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, Irish website is really useful for finding information about what is happening and help for how you can deal with it.

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Photos: Nick Baldwin

With speculation growing that American football will be coming to Ireland, Alicia Forde looks at the reaction from both sides of the pond


merican football has been gaining new supporters in Ireland over the last decade. It has never been as easy to follow the sport as it is today, with digital television as well as the internet. However, many fans are still not able to follow it like they might other sports because of the scheduling. Sunday afternoon football in America is Sunday night football here in Ireland. So no matter if your favourite team is playing their biggest rivals or you're just watching the game for the sake of something to do, the nagging feeling that Monday morning is only a couple of hours away won’t disappear. And given the stop-start nature of American football, that feeling is set to hang around for a good while. In 2007, things changed for the better for European fans with the first of what has become an annual game in London's Wembley Stadium. Each of these matches has been well received in the United Kingdom, most notably in 2009, when the New England Patriots played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. e Patriots have a very large following in the UK, so there was a huge buzz surrounding the game. eir quarterback Tom Brady is probably the most well-known American football player. As well as that, the owner of the Buccaneers is a big name in British sport, as he also owns Manchester United. e International Series, as these matches are called, not only gives British fans a chance to experience a live American football match, but other European fans can also revel in the experience, for a much cheaper fare than going to the United States. If all goes to plan, things are set to get even better for Irish fans. In January, the office for Sports and Tourism confirmed that talks had been held about Croke Park hosting the International Series for 2011, probably sometime in the autumn. Mary Hanafin, who was Minister for Sports and Tourism at the time, welcomed the idea of the sport coming here and said that not only would it be great for fans travelling with the teams, but it would be great for local fans too. Ireland has a lot of connections with American Football. We

Patriots v Buccaneers, Wembley, 2009

have our own league, the Irish American Football League (IAFL), which includes our own version of the Super Bowl, the Shamrock Bowl. We also have connections to the National Football League (NFL) in the form of the American Ambassador to Ireland. Ambassador Dan Rooney’s family owns this year’s Super Bowl runners-up, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Ambassador himself is the chairman of the team. Ambassador Rooney’s father, Art, ‘THE AMBASSADOR founded the team and owned it WOULD LOVE THE until his death in 1988 when it STEELERS TO COME was passed to his son. TO IRELAND’ “e Ambassador would love the Steelers to come to Ireland,” a spokesperson for Ambassador Rooney told fml. “He has been to Croke Park and thinks the facilities are great but it’s up to the NFL Commissioner whether the game comes to Ireland or not.” Coming to Ireland is something that even Steelers players are talking about. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger discussed the idea back in January. When asked by local newspaper e Beaver County Times if he would like the Steelers to play the annual game in London, he spoke about the long distance to travel for one game. However, he also revealed: “I think it would be fun to go play in Ireland where Ambassador Rooney is. at would be kind of fun.” Although the extra 40 minutes of travel wouldn’t mean much to most people, it certainly would to a professional athlete. And if the outcome is for the International Series to move to Ireland for a year, you won’t hear many Irish fans complaining. Nothing has been finalised yet and at the moment, as most American football fans will know, even this year’s NFL season is in jeopardy due to new agreements which need to be made. Nonetheless, if everything gets resolved between now and the autumn, Irish college Super Bowl parties will turn into International Series parties in Croke Park. And for once, time will be on our side.

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With five European championships under her belt, Katie Taylor cemented her position as the world’s leading female boxer in 2010. Last year she claimed her third successive world title at the women’s world championships in Barbados. Her 100th career victory was capped when she was named overall boxer of the tournament. Widely recognised as the country’s most successful female athlete, it has been a long road for Katie. She started boxing aged 12 under the watchful eye of her father, Peter, and was catapulted onto the international stage in 2005, claiming her first European championship title in Norway. She also played international soccer for Ireland, rising through the ranks at under-17 and under-19 levels before being called up to the National Women’s Senior football team. She has since quit soccer to concentrate on boxing. She has said: “I love playing for Ireland and I love soccer. But when it comes down to it I would choose boxing as my number one sport. I would miss it too much if I wasn’t involved.”



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In the past year Irish sportswomen have had a string of successes, including a boxing world championship title, a European championship swimming silver medal and various athletic accolades. In GAA new counties have enjoyed All-Ireland success. Eimear Rabbitt finds out more


Investment in women’s soccer proved worthwhile as the U-17 team came agonizingly close to securing the European Championship, beaten 4-1 by Spain in the final. It was enough to qualify them for the Word Cup finals however, where they became the most talked about team in the tournament. The girls topped their group after defeating Brazil, before bowing out to Japan in the quarter final. The FIFA World Cup quarter-finalists won the Texaco Young Sportstars of the Year award last November, also scooping the UEFA Championship Fair Play Award for 2010. “The U-17’s success is the fruit of the Women’s Development Plan and all of the groundwork that has been done over the past five years,” Claire Redmond of the Football Association of Ireland told fml. “A recent survey has shown that all of the homebased players in that squad participated in our programmes in the past five years.” Launched in 2005, the plan was aimed at improving technical skills and increasing the number of girls and women playing soccer. A number of initiatives have been launched, including the Soccer Sisters programme. “It is designed to give players an early taste of football in a fun, friendly and safe environment, overseen by FAI qualified and Garda vetted coaches and is attended by girls aged 7-11 years,” said Claire. Further success was seen in the U-19s squad, ranked 6th in Europe for the 2009/10 season, the highest ever ranking achieved by a Republic of Ireland team.



Someone who knows all about hard work is sprint hurdler Derval O’Rourke. In 2010, the 29year-old athlete became only the second Irish female athlete – after Sonia O’Sullivan – to win medals at two European championships. She won silver at the European championships in Barcelona, having achieved the same in Gothenburg in 2006. In 2009, she took home a 60-metres hurdles bronze medal at the European Indoor Athletics Championships. However, O’Rourke truly made her mark on the international stage in 2006 when she won gold at the World Indoor Athletics Championships. “I started running in primary school and a teacher encouraged me to join a club. I take very little notice of the media coverage. I think it seems equal in athletics. There is room for improvement in everything but I think women do very well in athletics,” said Derval. Fellow Irish athlete and hurdler Bronagh Furlong agrees. “I think that there are very few sports today where women and men are equal Photo: Sportsfile but I think Athletics Ireland athletics is one of Derval O’Rourke them. Everyone competes separately. The fans support everyone and we are all supportive of each other. There is a great team atmosphere.” Bronagh also plays camogie and achieved AllIreland success with her native county Wexford before being forced to choose between the two. “In the end, it wasn’t a case of deciding between camogie and athletics but deciding between doing both or just athletics. I felt like I had more to achieve with athletics.” But despite all her successes, she still has one aspiration. “My dream is to get to the Olympics.”

Image: Swim Ireland

Last year was an incredible year for Leaving Cert student and Wexford native Gráinne Murphy, winning a silver medal in the 1500 metres freestyle at the 2010 European Aquatics Championships. The Wexford teenager followed up that success with two bronze medals at the European Short Course Championships in November, becoming only the second Irish person ever to medal at these championships. Gráinne’s commitment to the sport has forced her to split her Leaving Cert over two years, taking three subjects each year; “It gives me more time to focus on training and recover better between sessions and still obviously have time for some school work during the day,” she explained. Gráinne, a triple gold medallist at the 2009 European Junior Swimming Championships, relocated to Limerick three years ago under the supervision of her coach Ronald Claes at the high performance centre. “We work really well together, we are a good team and there is really good communication,” said Gráinne, who wonThe Irish Times / Irish Sports Council Sportswoman of theYear award 2010. “There is still a lot of time to go before the Olympics so I am just going to keep my head down, work hard and concentrate on the world championships.” Gráinne also believes that the positive reaction and coverage she has received since the European championships has been great for swimming. “Everyone at home has been really supportive, which is good for swimming. It is really good for kids to be able to see that all of the hard work pays off in the end.”

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Summer is always an exciting time when it comes to sport. For Irish people it generally means one thing 4 GAA. Crowds flock to the GAA’s national stadium, Croke Park, every summer to watch the All0Ireland camogie and Gaelic football championships play out. Last year, there was a record attendance as the Dublin Ladies’ Senior Football team won the All0Ireland Championship for the first time, while the Wexford Senior Camogie team clinched All0Ireland glory for only the second time since their 1975 win. “All the hard work has paid off,” said Wexford player Deirdre Codd. “It is a very special feeling and every child with an interest in GAA dreams of playing in Croke Park.” Deirdre, who has been playing with Wexford since 2004, is well aware of the commitment needed to succeed at the highest level. “5It6 means giving up at least four nights per week when you take into account training and gym work.You can go out on a Saturday night after matches but you know the limits and it can be hard trying to meet up with friends. We are all friends on the team though, as half of us went to the same school, so we organise to do things together.” Despite the growth in popularity of women’s GAA in recent years, women are still regarded as inferior in both media coverage and recognition in comparison to men. “RTÉ used to have coverage of the Championship semi0final but this has been done away with and now only the final in Croke Park is televised,” Deirdre told fml. Last year, she decided that enough was enough. “In the run0up to the final there was barely anything in the papers about camogie. I wrote a letter to the Sunday Independent and the next day, there were pictures of the match on the front and back pages of the newspaper.” For 220year0old defender Rachel Ruddy, 2010 was a phenomenal year. Not only did she achieve All0Ireland success in her first year with the Dublin team, she won an All0Star award in November. “The sport is definitely strengthening but there is a drop0off rate with young girls from about the age of 17 as they start developing other interests.” Some of the country’s top women footballers agree that although plenty has been done to improve the profile of women’s sport, there is always room for improvement. “There will never be a balance between men’s and women’s coverage but it is not the men’s fault,” believes Cork star and five0time All0Ireland winner Valerie Mulcahy. “The audience is simply not there to demand mainstream broadcasting all of the time.” Laois All0Star winner, Lorraine Muckian, is aware of the sacrifices which must be made but says it is well worth it. “There is a drop0off in interest with girls from the end of school and during college years. Things have definitely Photo: changed in women’s sport and as women get more and more competitive it can become all about the winning. “The intensity in training is at such a high level that sometimes the craic can go out of it and the banter which you look forward to at training isn’t there anymore. Because there is so much commitment involved, girls want to make sure it is worth it and this can lead to too much pressure at training,” she said. Lorraine has played senior football for the last six years and while she admits it infringes on her social life, her love of the sport and her desire not to let the other girls down always wins out. “The only holiday I have been on in recent years is the trip to Dubai with the All0Star award winners. There is always a constant tug of war between what you should do and what you want to do.You can’t play football forever but you can drink until you're 100 once you’re finished.”

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Reaching your full potential is what most players aim for in sport. But pressure can drive some players to use banned methods to bulk up. Christine Orford investigates the use of supplements and drugs in sport and their potential dangers

n most competitive sports there is a drive to become bigger, stronger, faster. But what lengths do people go to achieve this? Simply supplements? In schools rugby, most teams are dominated by huge guys. In these schools, the sport is taken very seriously, with coaches pushing players to succeed. e Irish Rugby Football Union’s (IRFU) official line is that under-age players should not take any sort of dietary supplements (protein, creatine, etc), let alone illegal drugs (such as steroids) in order to bulk up for matches. “It is still too early to say what the long term effects of taking creatine or protein will be, but as yet there has been no evidence to suggest it is harmful,” said Dr Tim O’Flanagan, physician for the Irish under-20s rugby squad. “However, I don’t think anyone is really in favour of encouraging players to take them.”

Eat 2 Compete, not to cheat e IRFU is running a campaign in schools to discourage the use of supplements called Eat 2 Compete, which encourages students to engineer their diets to stay on top, as opposed to taking pills to improve their game. But are the players listening? Dave*, a student in one of the top rugby schools in Dublin said, “On my Senior Cup panel there were only about two or three of us

‘A lot of people on my team took creatine. And I'm sure some people on my team took testosterone, but no one did it openly’

who didn’t go on anything – all the supplements were legal though and they ranged from protein to creatine and other experimental things.” He made it clear that the headmaster is against the taking of any supplements for sports and has banned the practice. Despite this, he claims that the majority of players take supplements. It’s happening everywhere In other schools, this is also an issue. Dave said he knows of coaches who indirectly tell their players to take supplements by saying they should “bulk up”. “I know for a fact there are students in other schools who take illegal substances, because they were caught,” he said. While acknowledging that there is “anecdotal evidence” that supplements are taken, the head of communications for the IRFU, Karl Richardson, denied steroids or similar drugs are used, saying, “ere is no issue around players taking illegal substances because there is no evidence to

Photo: Peter Orford

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suggest they are used in secondary schoollevel rugby.” However, Dr O’Flanagan said that “although the Irish rugby culture may not encourage steroid usage, that’s not to say it doesn't happen. I have seen people, in particular body builders, who have got into trouble for taking steroids. It seems these drugs are readily available in certain gyms and over the internet.” Tried but not tested Currently no secondary school rugby players are tested for illegal substances at any stage during tournaments. According to Richardson, this is because “there is an issue of consent”. Dr O'Flanagan thinks it is because of the cost of the testing. Eoin*, a former student from another well-known Dublin school, said supplements were widely used on his team, with coaches giving players protein shakes after each training session. And some players took other things too. “A lot of people on my team took creatine. And I’m sure some people on my team took testosterone, but no one did it openly,” he said. Getting technical However, Eoin also points out that in the upper levels of rugby, muscles and weight only count for so much. “Technique and skill are much more important. Look at Luke Fitzgerald, when he was at school he was tiny, but he made everyone on the pitch look like 10-year-olds.” Although his regime was intense, he said that playing competitive rugby was a great experience. “Team rugby boosts your confidence, helps you to accept a schedule, a routine and to discipline yourself. On a rugby team, you might not particularly like everyone on the team, they might not like you. But on the pitch, you trust them and they trust you. Rugby can teach people a lot.” *Names have been changed

Colin Carroll has climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains and motorbiked across continents. But enough of that boring stuff. Liam Godinho met up with the man who created a championship for silliness



kay, I screwed up. Perhaps the only time I’ll ever meet a sumowrestler and I didn’t ask him one question about sumo-wrestling. In my defence, he didn’t look like a sumowrestler. is tall, thin lad from Fermoy wouldn't exactly strike fear into your heart if you came face to face with him in a ring wearing nothing but a giant nappy. Well, that is a terrifying image – no matter who’s wearing the giant nappy. But if he had been built like a typical sumo-wrestler, it would also have been a frightening prospect for the elephant upon which he won the amateur World Championships for Elephant Polo in

Nepal in… oh, forgot to ask about that too. So what did I ask about? Bull-surfing in India? Driving up cliffs in Iceland? Breaking the world record for the 3-legged marathon? Basically, there was too much to ask about so I asked about none of it. Meet Colin Carroll. When not working in the family law firm, he keeps himself busy with various (usually bizarre) adventures. Perhaps the craziest adventure began in 2004, when he met Graham Little, who is now a Sky Sports presenter. “I bought a car on eBay with my friend,” explains Colin, casually. “On one tank of petrol, we got to Zagreb. Bumped into these lads [one was Graham]. ey said they’d give us a tank of petrol if we gave them a lift. We went to Hungary. en we said we should meet every so often. “A few months later, the lads suggested we go to Poland. I said I'd only go on one condition, that we pretend to be a boyband. Suddenly, we're in the national papers in Poland, recording and releasing a single. I can't even sing!”


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at seems to have been the most normal part of the whole experience, with the adventure soon descending to the depths of insanity. “Months later, we're in Latvia. We did Bobsleigh against the Russian and Latvian Olympic teams. It was crazy! A hundred miles an hour down a chute – colours dissolved. I'll always remember that. Colours dissolved! I couldn't distinguish between green, blue... that's how fast it was going. Does that mean we were going faster than the speed of colour? Does that even exist? “e same week we took on these guys in ice-hockey in the square in Riga. We relied on the fact we were rugby players so we insisted full contact. ey beat the shit out of us. ere and then, Graham said, 'Lads, we need to get our asses in gear – elephants.’ So then we decided to go to Nepal to try Elephant polo. Riding home through the jungle, I saw the backside of the elephant in front of me, and thought, 'If that ass had a G-string, it'd be a sumo-

wrestler.' Right there and then, in the jungles of Nepal, I came up with the idea to try sumo-wrestling. And on it goes. It's all impulsive – just go, go, go.” “When we're away, we always say one of us has to die. We all know that we’re moving towards that ultimate moment. It's our running joke everyday when we shoot.” e adventure was the basis of a television series on BBC and RTÉ, Colin and Graham's Excellent Adventures, in which the group travelled the world representing Ireland in the most obscure sports. But Colin did not leave the absurdity of that adventure behind. Now, 37, he created a championship for silliness, held for the first time in Cork last summer. Under the motto, “taking silly very seriously”, the Paddy Games includes sports such as Irish-dancing hurdles and bog-roll gymnastics. Usain Bolt was invited to take part in retro running (backwards running) but, sadly, did not turn up. Colin speaks proudly of his latest project. “We Irish are, and can be, strong, cool, hip and comfortable in laughing at ourselves. We at the Paddy Games have reclaimed the word 'Paddy'. “Establishment sports bother me. e Olympics sent me a legal letter. ey're intimidated and threatened by the Paddy Games. It’s ridiculous. Who is it that says we should run over the hurdles and not under them? Why is the doggy-paddle not in the Olympics? It’s the first stroke we all learn.” And he is certainly ambitious. “e Paddy Games will make millions very easily. e London Olympics opening ceremony is on 27 July 2012. In London, five days before that, we’ll have the Paddy Games. We'll steal the world's thunder. London and, indeed, the Olympics, will be remembered not for the Olympics, but for

the Paddy Games. “We'll have a Winter Olympics by 2014. And the greatest celebration of the Paddy Games, when I'll make tens of millions will be during the 2016 centenary celebrations of the 1916 Easter Rising. e Irish Government is pumping millions into centenary celebrations,” he said. “Meanwhile, Hollywood has committed a hundred million to Irish themed centenary celebration movies. So there's a huge wave being created and I'm just gonna surf it. At the same time, coincidentally, the Brazil Olympics will be on. So Dublin, right here, should be staging the Paddy Games 2016 doing the old proverbial [sticks up middle finger] to the Brazil Olympics,” said Colin. In the meantime, he has plenty of other projects to keep himself busy. I met him in early November, just before he set off

for North Africa to motorbike around the Sahara, which sounds quite dull and normal compared to most of his adventures. He is also planning another world record attempt to go with his three-legged marathon record. He hopes to get “300 guys and girls swimming to the music of Riverdance” in Cork's river Lee in the largest open-water synchronised swimming event. Ah, that sounds more like Colin's silly side. He has been doing synchronised swimming for the last couple of years, claiming to be fighting discrimination. “I'm not gone on synchronised swimming. Come on, let's get a grip. I like messing around but I like sport. But

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equally, I'm a lawyer. What's wrong? ere's discrimination in the sporting world. I’ve seen Katie Taylor box two or three times. I saw her down in Dungarvan a few years ago and there was no-one even watching. She can box, why can't we synchronise swim? You can't have your cake and eat it. We're in an era of equality. Why can’t men not do synchronised swimming in the Olympics?” While his various projects could lead to accusations that he’s an attention-seeker, Colin claims to enjoy staying out of the spotlight. “ I love that nobody knows me. All this celebrity culture, it’s sickening. I'd hate to be involved in it. People who achieve nothing, shouting everything. Emptiness has a lot of currency today. I've a dreadful drive to do things. And the best way to do things is to be noticed as little as possible. But the thing is, the stuff I want to do attracts media attention, so I end up looking like my intention in the first place was the get into the public eye, which is just not the case,” said Colin. So how does he decide what crazy thing to do next? “e biggest problem in my life is deciding who I am. Every few years I consciously change who I am. For example, now I'm sitting here: I'm a lawyer. But next month, I'm no longer a lawyer. I shave my hair, out comes the tattoo on my head and I'm somebody else,” he said “Daylight is fading in Ireland now. And I notice that. e dropping leaves and all that. I don't wanna hang around for the storm that's coming next month. Basically, as the sky is falling, I want to chase the sun.” To read more about Colin’s crazy life, check out his website:


It’s a long journey from being an amateur player to a professional sports star. Alicia Forde spoke to two up and coming athletes to find out more


Jack Fitzpatrick playing for Gonzaga College in the Senior Cup

hat do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we’re all asked when we’re young. And a lot of us will at some point answer sports star. e answers often change as we get older. However, a few people strive to reach the goals they’ve dreamt of in childhood. But how do you go from fantasising about turning pro to actually doing it?

The star of the scrum Jack Fitzpatrick is a 17-year-old secondary school student from Dublin. Like many other boys, Jack started out playing rugby at a local club. “I started when I was about seven down in Seapoint rugby club,” he said. is was the beginning of his love for the game but it wasn’t until he began secondary school that Jack realised how serious he was about it. “Rugby generally gets serious in school at third year with the Junior Cup and that was the case with me,” Jack said. e Leinster Schools Senior Cup is one of the most serious school-based competitions in the country. e trophy is coveted among under-age rugby players and it’s an honour to be named in the 22-man squad for any match. Jack was the full-back on this year’s Gonzaga team, which unfortunately lost a tough match to Terenure in the first round in February. Despite this disappointing loss, Jack has

plenty to be happy about in his rugby career. Not only is he a member of the Leinster Under-18s squad, he was also picked for the National Talent Squad at the end of last year. e National Talent Squads, according to the IRFU’s (Irish Rugby Football Union) website, are “part of the IRFU’s High Performance pathway and consist of underage players who have been identified at this point in their development for progression to international team representation.” Jack enjoyed his favourite moment since taking up rugby while playing on the Under-18s School Team for Ireland. “My best experience was definitely getting the chance to play for Ireland against England last December,” he said. Getting to play in the RDS is something that any player would relish but Jack prefers to play in the other famous Dublin 4 rugby stadium. “Donnybrook is my favourite place to play,” he said. “Probably because that’s where all the big schools matches take place.” While playing for your province and


NAME: Jack Fitzpatrick AGE: 17 FROM: Dun Laoghaire, Dublin SPORT: Rugby FIELD POSITION: Full back, 15 TEAMS: Gonzaga Senior Team, Leinster Under-18s, Ireland Under-18s School Team FAVOURITE PLACE TO PLAY: Donnybrook

country is prestigious and not something that happens to everybody, players also have to be careful not to let it take over their lives. “Obviously training and playing take up a lot of your time but I think it’s important to balance them with school,” Jack said. “During the school season, we have training around four times a week with matches on Wednesdays,” he said. With training being such an integral part of a sport and studying an important part of school, under-age players have to be experts in time management. Nerves are natural for anyone, especially when you’re playing matches in front of big crowds and Jack is no exception. “Before all matches I feel nervous. Once the game starts and I'm concentrating on my job I forget about the nerves.” Rugby plays such a central role in Jack’s life that he has “no idea” what he would do if he couldn’t play. And when asked who he admires in the game, his loyalty to his school shines through. “I really admire players that came from Gonzaga like Kevin McLaughlin and Dominic Ryan,” he said. However, he also shares the same sentiment as many rugby fans up and down the country. “I’m a big fan of Brian O'Driscoll as well because I think he is a great leader.” Jack Fitzpatrick is definitely a name to keep an eye on in the future. For anyone else who wants to try following in his footsteps Jack’s advice is simply “just train hard”.

Photos: Stephen Power


NAME: Stephen Power AGE: 15 FROM: Swords, Dublin SPORT: Skiing FAVOURITE PLACE TO SKI: Hintertux Glacier, Austria GOAL: World Cup Circuit, Innsbruck 2012 TRAINING: Various types, six days a week OTHER LIKES: Golf, he has a handicap of 15

Taking the piste: Stephen Power on the slopes

The star of the slopes

One answer that children don’t usually give when asked what they want to be when they grow up is a professional skier. Ireland is well-known for many things but winter sports aren’t among them. However, this hasn’t deterred 15-year-old Stephen Power from striving to be a professional skier. Stephen, from Swords in Dublin, has been skiing for five years. Although the sport has become popular among the Irish, this is mainly for holidays and recreation. It is still unusual for us to produce competitive skiers. “After my first ski trip away, I joined the Ski Club of Ireland in Kilternan,” Stephen said. “I competed in monthly races. e coach watched me race and saw my potential. I was then asked to join the race squad.” But working towards professionalism isn't easy. Stephen trains six days a week, while still keeping time for school work. Training is split between ski training indoors in e Ski Centre in Stillorgan and outdoors in Kilternan, as well as extra training in the athletics stadium in Santry and his home gym. While new facilities in Ireland definitely help Stephen’s training, there is nothing like the real thing. “I try to get away as often as possible. I have been away five times already this year,” Stephen said. With all this training, how can anyone fit in study? “I have to do extra study on the


weekends and study before and after training,” he said. For anyone who remembers studying for their Junior or Leaving Certs, you can’t help but be in awe of what Stephen does. To be that dedicated to something at such a young age isn’t easy and is very admirable. However, it is also obvious that he loves what he does and this pushes him to do well. “I love the thrill and excitement just before the race as I try to assess the conditions,” he said. Even nerves can’t bring him down when facing a steep incline: “e adrenaline takes over and it becomes fun after a while.” Stephen recently shared a slope with Irish boxing royalty when Bernard Dunne interviewed him in the Ski Centre in Stillorgan for a segment on e Daily Show on RTÉ. “I really enjoyed the interview with Bernard,” he said, “He understood the difficulties with funding and the fact that I need to go abroad, which is a huge commitment for me and a lot of money for my family or for a sponsor.” It certainly is a commitment and considering he is hoping to go to Innsbruck, Austria to ski the World Cup Circuit in 2012, this kind of

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dedication is demanded. But hopefully he’ll be at least as successful as he has been for the last three years, having been selected annually to represent Ireland in children’s international races. According to Stephen, anyone who wants to start skiing seriously needs to be dedicated, especially with time, fitness and finances. After seeing his training schedule and hearing that he has broken both thumbs while training, no one can accuse him of lacking commitment. To be a professional at anything takes time and devotion. And as Jack and Stephen have proven, it takes a great deal of mental and physical energy too.

Stephen in action



Sport is a great way to keep fit, as well as to meet other people. In Ireland, a few sports have traditionally dominated. But there are many more out there that you may never have considered trying. Liam Godinho suggests some alternative sports available to you


n 2002, something extraordinary happened. Ireland almost won a medal at the Winter Olympics. At a time when the average annual snowfall in this country was approximately none, an Irish competitor finishing fourth in a Winter Olympic sport was an incredible achievement. Clifton Wrottesley may in fact have been a British peer but that didn't stop the whole country from suddenly becoming experts in skeleton, a seemingly crazy sport where each competitor slides down a bobsleigh chute lying flat on their stomach on a tea tray – okay, it's a small sled but tea tray was much easier for us to imagine at the time. Unexpected success stories such as Wrottesley's come along every so often. Who could have predicted the country embracing cricket in the way that it did during the 2007 Cricket World Cup? Experts in the sport were springing up in all kinds of unexpected places following the Irish team's remarkable giant-killing run, which included a draw against Zimbabwe before victories over Pakistan and Bangladesh. ese were three

of the best teams in the world. And this year's incredible, record-breaking victory over England was even better still. What makes these stories special is that, in a small country dominated by a few main sports (Gaelic football, hurling, soccer and rugby), success elsewhere usually comes as a complete surprise. Nobody knows when or where the next Clifton Wrottesley will come from. ere are several reasons to play a sport: because you are good at it; to keep active and fit; social interaction; but the most important reason should always be that you enjoy it. Ask any of the competitors involved in these successes and they will tell you that the main reason they play their sport is not for these moments, which are welcome bonuses, but because they enjoy playing the sport. You do not have to play GAA or soccer or rugby simply because they are the most popular sports. ere is also no reason to stick with only one sport. roughout the country there are numerous alternatives available that you might never have considered trying. You might be surprised at what you would enjoy.

Team sports

e traditional favourite sports in Ireland tend to be team sports. But if you don't enjoy the skills involved in those particular sports but still enjoy being on a team, or if you simply want to try out something different, there are plenty of other options. After soccer, Olympic handball is probably the next most popular sport in mainland Europe. However, in Britain and Ireland the sport is mostly ignored. But it can be a very fast and enjoyable sport (think indoor soccer but, obviously, played with your hands). As Michael Moloney of the Irish Olympic Handball Association explained, “Everyone on the team has a part to play. Unlike other sports, all players are involved, there's no room for superstars.” “ere are two very successful clubs in Dublin (Astra Handball Club and Lughnasa Handball Club) who have developed a conveyor belt of developing young players and incorporating them into their senior teams,” Michael told fml. e Community Games also offers young people from all over the country the opportunity to learn the sport. On top of that, Olympic handball offers many opportunities to go abroad to play. Michael revealed that if you “mention you are from Ireland and play handball, you are treated like royalty.” ere are also team sports where the individual can stand out. For a long time, cricket was tainted in Ireland. People thought of it as an English sport or just boring. Ireland's success in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups helped to change that view. is year's

victory over England is sure to give the sport another massive boost. Brian O'Rourke, Leinster development manager with Cricket Ireland explained, “Anything that involves striking and running and catching can only be beneficial. We've got nearly 40 secondary schools playing around Dublin. is year it's only a four-week season which begins straight after Easter.” “ere's no better time to be getting into cricket. It's in the papers and on TV. It's a minority sport but it's growing. Our role is to try and get every youngster in the country with a cricket bat in their hand or bowling a ball.”

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Photo: Barry Chambers


Fight sports

One of the most internationally successful sports in Ireland is boxing. e country's only medals at the 2008 Olympics went to boxers and Ireland's biggest hope for the 2012 games is Katie Taylor. Recent successes are sure to have done the sport’s status much good. But there are many other fight sports on offer throughout the country, including kick-boxing, karate, judo and taekwon-do. Taking up one of these sports can help you get fit. ey also teach participants important self-defence techniques. Or if you’re simply interested in testing yourself one-to-one agains other players, they’re perfect. ere is a great amount of discipline required in many of these sports. e Dublin ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation) website provides a list of 18 club rules. For example, the Dobok (training uniform) must be worn in all classes and “must be clean and ironed” and you must “bow to your partner before you start and when you finish” practising.

Pool sports


Swimming can be a great way to relax while also being quite active. ere is the option to just swim casually or to push yourself by gradually increasing the number of lengths you swim or your speed. Perhaps there are more Gráinne Murphys out there. If you want to try something a little different, there's water polo. If Olympic handball is like indoor soccer played with your hands, water polo is like handball played in a swimming pool. Again, it is a team sport but one that is quite different to most others. ere are clubs at a number of pools around the country while the Irish Water Polo Association also organises the National Waterpolo Academy in Limerick which, according to the Swim Ireland website, “offers the elite underage athletes an opportunity for intensive training and education twice a year – in August and December. e academy caters for about 100 athletes aged 14-16 each year.”


Water sports

Even if you don't like swimming, there are still plenty of water sports out there. But you will probably have to get out of the pool. Ireland has some great opportunities for surfers, while kayaking can be enjoyed at different levels, as Patrick McCormack, an instructor for Irish Canoe Kayak, revealed. “e real beauty is that unlike many sports your surroundings are constantly changing. You see areas that other people on the land could not see and you can put yourself in places where you can feel totally remote. If you aren't into the feeling of adrenaline pumping through your veins you can take it easy and do some gentle kayaking or if you love the buzz, you can throw yourself into the extremes that the sport has to offer.” Again, Ireland has some great opportunities for anyone who wants to kayak. “We are an island surrounded by the sea and filled with rivers and it's always raining,” explained Patrick. “So you will never run short of places to go kayaking.”

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Become the skier or snowboarder you’ve always dreamed of watch?v=8wzdRDtAGyk


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fml Magazine is the final year print project by the students of Dublin Institute of Technology's BA in Journalism and a Language 2011. It is...

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