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Ireland

I would have liked to meet Ted Baldwin

The gravestone of Edward (Ted) Baldwin in Durrus, Co Cork.
“I told you I was sick”

This is a gravestone in the graveyard of St. James’s Church in Durrus, Sheep’s Head as pictured in 2014. Ted died well before his time at a young age and I have no idea who he was but to judge by his final message he must have been an interesting character.

I came across this after posting today’s photo of this church in Durrus on my photoblog.

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Ireland

Customs declaration

I’ll say it now before I get used to it.

Seeing a customs declaration on a package from the UK is really weird, and disappointing. #brexit

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Ireland

50% of our energy came from renewables

50.42% of Ireland’s electricity came from renewables in the last 24 hours

In the last 24 hours just over 50% of the electricity generated in Ireland came from renewables. We even exported 4% of our electricity.

Of course the wind isn’t blowing this hard every day, or it’s blowing too hard, and over the course of the last month the portion of renewable energy drops to 39%.

All this information is available on the Eirgrid Smart Grid Dashboard. Lots of information there including a log of wind speeds you can download, interconnection graphs showing our imports and exports of electricity from the UK and CO2 intensity & emissions data too. You can compare CO2 intensity against other parameters such as wind generation. The last few days have been very windy.

For more energy statistics take a look at the transport page on the SEAI website.

The amount of petrol consumed in Ireland reduced by more than half between 2007 and 2018 as a result of the shift to diesel cars. The increase in diesel use for private cars was offset by lower diesel use in freight. Diesel use was 12% higher in 2018 than 2007.

Renewable transport fuels have grown from a low base to over 3% of transport final energy use in 2018. This is almost all from biofuels blended with petrol and diesel. Electricity remained at just 0.1% of transport final energy demand in 2018. Most of this was from Luas and DART, but electric vehicles are growing strongly from a low base.

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Ireland

Putting Accents on Characters on Mac

Accents, everyone has one but some characters have more than one, and writing them on a Mac can be hard unless you know how.

I really only need one type of accent, the “sine fada” in Irish that goes over the vowels. They look like this: á, é, ó, ú and í.

For a long time I used Option-key using an Irish keyboard map I got off Justin Mason years ago. I haven’t used it for some time now and every now and again I wonder if there’s a better way of doing it using the standard keyboard maps on a Mac.

Turns out there is.

This page explains how to use the accent menu, but you can also use “dead keys” to type accents.

The accent menu is dead simple. Press the key down for a little longer than usual and a menu will appear with the accents required. Press the corresponding number and your accented character appears!

The dead key approach is probably faster however. Use the keyboard viewer to see your keyboard layout. I have a large split Microsoft keyboard and I’m using the British PC layout now so when I hit the Option key the accents are highlighted.

If I want to type “I like to eat cake” in Irish, and not “I like to eat shit”, I must use “Option-e” followed by “a” to get “á” in one word:

“Is maith liom cáca a ithe.”

I’m sure by now you’ve realised just how important accents are in daily life. It’s the difference between delicious chocolate and something that looks similar but tastes quite different. Yeah, you really needed that mental image didn’t you? Sorry. 🙂

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Ireland

Signs of the Pandemic

No mask on your face, big disgrace.

I can’t imagine going into a restaurant or pub for a long time still. The lockdown in Ireland has managed to reduce the infection rate of Covid19 in the country dramatically compared to levels last month but it hasn’t gone away.

Unfortunately the lockdown itself has decimated many businesses and put medical procedures on hold that would normally happen. I hope people take more seriously the advice to wear masks in busy public areas so we can avoid another lockdown in January but it’s almost guaranteed we’ll have another one in the new year. 🙁

Posted on Reddit today.

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Ireland

How many cars are on the road?

If you go along to the Transport Infrastructure Ireland website right now you’ll find a map of Ireland with lots of green dots.

These are the locations of cameras recording the volume of traffic on the road. It’s been interesting looking at some of the roads around Cork during the last year. Here are a few charts of traffic on the N20 between Blarney and Cork.

In January traffic maxed out at 1200 vehicles a day in the early morning with a similar bump in the evening.
February was similar, with slightly less vehicles per day.

The Covid-19 Lockdown bit in March. Schools closed on March 12th, pubs closed soon after. Most people who could were working from home. It made a big difference to daily traffic into Cork. From a high of 1200 vehicles in January to 400 in April.

In March only 800 vehicles a day made the journey into Cork. The 2km rule was introduced.
April was worse. The number of vehicles halved. Only 400 vehicles made the journey.
There was a very slight increase in traffic in May to 500 vehicles a day.
June saw a return to March numbers. 800 vehicles a day.
July was similar. Slightly more than 800 vehicles a day.
August isn’t over yet but numbers are slightly down again to less than 800 vehicles a day. Schools return at the end of the month so that will probably make a small bump.

How does this compare to last year? Here are the charts for July and August 2019.

July 2019 when almost 2000 vehicles travelled the road between Blarney and Cork.
August 2019 when Irish people went abroad and the country was noticeably quieter. 1100 vehicles a day.

It’s interesting to see those charts. The lockdown caused a huge drop in traffic as expected. Emissions from cars were down this year of course but agriculture remained the same so our impact on the environment didn’t change much. It’ll probably be worse as people use their cars rather than take public transport.

Out of curiosity I looked at the traffic volume going into Dingle from the Inch Strand side of the peninsula for July this year and last year. There wasn’t much of a change. 500 cars a day passed there in 2020 while only an extra 100 cars made the journey in 2019. They’ll be happy about that in Dingle!

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Ireland

Anyone for Takeaway Pints?

Along with what seemed like a large portion of the country I stayed in Dingle recently. The town was packed. We stayed in a B&B on the edge of town and every day around noon the road outside was a traffic jam of cars snaking through the town. Most people wore masks in the shops but of course there were a few rat lickers too.

I did notice that a lot of people had several empty pint glasses on their tables, and while they may have eaten a €9 meal there was no sign of food. I spotted a happy young couple cross the road with plastic glasses of beer and sit down by the statue of Fungi. It was upsetting given what’s happening with Covid-19.

Now we’re in lockdown again. It’s not the same lockdown we experienced from March onwards but people became lax, and the virus made it’s way into factories. Multiple outbreaks in meat processing plants locked down 3 counties last week. Yesterday the news nationally wasn’t good:

  • 1 death and 190 cases confirmed.
  • 76 are men and 111 are women
  • 75% are under 45 years of age
  • 75 are confirmed to be associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case
  • 14 cases have been identified as community transmission
  • 48 are in Kildare, 46 in Dublin, 38 in Tipperary, 20 in Limerick, 7 in Clare and the rest of the 31 cases are in Carlow, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow.

And so the restrictions:

  • All outdoor events will be limited to 15 people, down from 200, under strict new limits on public gatherings agreed this afternoon.
  • Under the restrictions that will remain in place until 13 September at the earliest, indoor events will be limited to six people, reduced from 50, except for businesses such as shops and restaurants, which are subject to separate rules.
  • Weddings will be exempt from the new restrictions, meaning they can go ahead with 50 people.
  • The measures agreed by Cabinet will mean that matches and other sporting fixtures will have to take place behind closed doors.
  • Gardaí will be given new powers to enforce rules around social gatherings, particularly in restaurants or bars serving food, and in private homes.
  • Under the measures agreed by Cabinet, people will be advised to work from home and to avoid using public transport, unless absolutely necessary.

Which leads some to say the GAA should encourage weddings at their matches so 50 people can watch.

Still confused, here’s a clear explanation.

These graphs are not good are they?

Schools open soon. Hopefully we can reduce the community spread or we’ll be closing schools within a month.

Oh yes, watch out for Storm Ellen tonight. There’s a status red warning for Cork!

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Ireland

Some Good News

In the future memes will be an exam subject.

I have to say, Some Good News with John Krasinski is a breath of fresh air in this time of quarantine and isolation. John picks up on good news stories from around the world and you’ll have to have a heart of stone not to laugh or cry or both watching them.

There’s the first episode but there are currently 2 more and all are worth watching.

Lanzarote

Last Friday they held an SGNProm live on Youtube but I missed it. It was scheduled for one o clock in the morning my time! Hopefully the next episode will have clips from it. Coincidentally I started watching The Office (US) last week. I watched a couple of episodes before but it didn’t stick. I think we’ll be making it a regular watch from now on though. 🙂

Conor Pass, Kerry.

I’ve worked from home for almost 15 years now. It’s not always easy, and the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown in Ireland made me realise how cut off I am from other people. I’m not an especially outgoing kind of person but this enforced stay-at-home order is even getting to me. Two to three times a year I travel somewhere to meet my team or the rest of the company but all company travel is cancelled now for the foreseeable future.

Easter celebrations, Malaga.

I and many others have the luxury and privilege to work from home while there are millions of people sitting idle or bored in their homes. I sit here at my screen but there are health workers risking their lives fighting a disease that looks like it will be a part of our world for the next two years at least.

Indoor Market, Malaga.

Shows on TV are now watched with from the perspective of Covid-19. People have the luxury of shaking hands or hugging. People are so close to each other! They can walk into a store 2 at a time! They’re meeting for a drink! That’s a very crowded train!

A sea of faces, St Patrick’s Day 2019, Cork.

BTW – You should subscribe to Damien Mulley‘s newsletter. Here’s the latest issue.

I’m looking forward to listening to Mike Murphy interview the Irish President, Michael D Higgins in the first episode of Senior Times.

Flash Harry, 2019, Cork Opera House.

The Sunday Times has an explosive article today on the incompetence of the British Government.

It’s behind their paywall but my wife has bought the paper on and off for the last few years so I went searching for it today. No sign of it in the two local shops and I wasn’t going to risk going to any more just for a newspaper. We did sign up for the 7 day free trial of their app and I have to admit it looks great. The in-app purchase is easier to cancel than a sub on their website which requires a phone call.

Also: The eleven days that may have tragically cost the UK in the fight against coronavirus.
Also: Why is coronavirus killing so many more people in the UK than in Ireland?

The This Won’t Hurt a Bit podcast is back with two more episodes on Covid-19. Their first episode on March 24th reminded me of the fake cures doing the rounds on Facebook back at the start of March. Drinking warm water to flush any virus from your throat into your stomach to kill it was a favourite but it was oh so stupid.

Fuck what’s happening in the United States.

Kevin Cunningham used Python and R to extra raw data from the Google mobility PDFs released recently. It clearly shows Irish people stayed at home!

The Covid-19 curve has been flattened in Ireland

Simon Harris, Minister for Health, warns us to get complacent.

In the US protestors want the stay-at-home restriction to be lifted. Some obviously are worried for their livelihood but many others believe the whole thing a hoax.

Edit some days later: SGN had a great update from their prom!

Categories
Ireland

The Price of Petrol

The price of petrol in my local filling station in Blarney now stands at €1.259/litre. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that low here before. The Blarney station isn’t the cheapest in the area but I haven’t visited anywhere else in almost a month. I’ve been told the price went as low as €1.199 elsewhere in the city.

The last time I filled up was about three weeks ago when I remember using a latex glove to hold the pump handle. I’d normally use sanitiser anyway but it seemed prudent to be extra careful. The price then was €1.299/litre, not far from the price when I started recording my fuel usage in 2010 when it was €1.289/litre!

We’re only allowed travel for necessities like shopping, work or caring for others. There are Garda check points. There were reports of Dublin and UK reg cars in West Cork last week prompting the Taoiseach to ask people not to travel. People are sent home again. There’s hardly any air travel. Dublin airport reported only 900 people passed through the airport on Easter Monday when normally there’d be 100,000.

On Monday evening there was only one aircraft flying over Ireland, and that was the coastguard helicopter.

The fall in price wasn’t due to COVID-19, but that contributed to it. Demand for oil was slowing down already but from my experience the price was still at €1.399/litre in early March, and that was probably at one of the cheaper places. The Russians and Opec were having a price war. Opec wanted to reduce pumping but the Russians ignored them and continued pumping. It seems now there was a deal two days ago so we might see prices jump again.

Restrictions are going to continue until May 5th and of course we all know they’ll go on for longer. A vaccine for general use won’t be available until next year so we’ll have to learn to live with it.

My son plays Minecraft with a friend in Sweden who is still going to school. We’re wondering why since schools here have been closed since March 12th. They think that children aren’t super spreaders so there’s no need to close them.

While other countries, or rather, their inhabitants, struggle with varying levels of lockdown, Sweden has relied on relatively few recommendations to try and prevent the spread of the virus.

Nursing homes have been closed to visitors, higher education has been moved online and there’s a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

Authorities have also encouraged people to work from home and to avoid unnecessary journeys.

But primary and secondary schools up to the age of 16 remain open, as do hairdressers and gyms, and restaurants and bars can stay open once they offer table service to avoid crowding at counters and bars.

A large emphasis has been placed on personal responsibility, and anyone with symptoms is asked, and trusted to self-isolate.

But is the strategy working?

As of today, over 1,000 Swedes have died from Covid-19, an increase of 114 deaths on the previous day’s figure and around 11,440 have been infected, out of a population of 10 million.

I went out for a cycle. The roads are much quieter. It was lovely. It almost felt normal because I was well away from the few people walking around. I heard birds singing.

Categories
Ireland

Is Ireland prepared?

The next few weeks are going to be absolutely awful for Ireland. Of course we’re not prepared. The HSE is doing everything they can but they’ve been underfunded for many years. This is what it’s like in Italy right now. If you’re not scared you should be.

There was a short interview with Dr Catherine Motherway, Intensive care physician at UH Limerick on Prime Time yesterday. It’s an important reminder about how under resourced the health services are in this country.

We have half the European average of ICU beds. That’s half what the Italians have per capita.

“You don’t want to get the virus”
“We MUST treat each other like pariahs”

Keep your kids in the house. Don’t let them mix with their friends.

While this post is about Ireland, I bet most countries have under resourced health services so the message is the same. Stay at home. The virus is all around you already and you don’t know it.