Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The St.Patrick’s Day lost opportunity

March 16, 2017

St.Patrick's DAy

Can you imagine getting off the plane today, 16th March visiting Ireland for the first time. It’s the eve of St.Patrick’s Day, the iconic Irish festival and I wonder what are your expectations?

You have heard all about it, you have seen some footage on the TV, you know about the Irish dignitaries visiting foreign lands pressing the flesh and exchanging gifts of the shamrock. You know about the Irish celebrations all over the world on this special day where the Irish (and so many who would love to be Irish!) celebrate their Irishness. You have heard about Ireland, the friendly, beautiful country that is famous for the warm welcome, the craic and of course the pubs with that iconic drink, Guinness.

You must be excited..

I’ve just parked the car, grabbed a coffee and walked to the office and I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of this visitor – what do they see, what do they experience, what are they thinking?

Except for the window of the Tourist Office you really wouldn’t even know that there was a festival. That poor tourist must be a little confused!

I haven’t come to town to see the parade for donkey’s years (even though I do hear its got a lot better) and I haven’t considered it either this year either despite our office being on the route with a perfect view. Outside of the parade is there anything else that would bring me to town to celebrate my Irishness? I know there are some activities planned around the city for the weekend but the occasion just hasn’t crept inside my skin, it doesn’t connect with me.


Twice a year in Siena (start and end of the summer) in Tuscany there is a festival called the Palio of ‘Palio di Siena‘ which is basically a local festival that runs for a week each time that culminates in a bare back horse race in the Piazzo del Campo at the centre of the town.


Every man, woman and child comes out and celebrates. They sing, they parade behind their horses and at night they eat and drink together.

The Guardian refer to it “It’s not a horse race, it’s a way of life” and they talk about it being an “embodiment of civic pride”.

We have been there about six times as I am totally seduced by this special feeling of being connected and part of a community spirit, a coming together.

Everytime I go there I wish and long for something in Ireland that can bring out the same spirit and feeling of community, pride and connectedness –  St.Patrick’s Day should be that day but for some reason it falls short.

St.Patrick’s Day is one of our greatest assets and it should be the most special day in all of our calendars. Every man, woman and child, let’s celebrate together!

How can we make that happen?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service national agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland




Marcus Tullius Cicero – Mistakes that mankind keeps making

March 3, 2016


I bumped into a good buddy of mine, Pat Sweeney recently and we were exchanging various nuggets of wisdom (of course!) and he started chatting about some wise fella called Cicero, that he is very interested in and studies quite a bit.

Cicero used talk about six mistakes that mankind keeps making century after century. I was quite interested in what these mistakes were and when he was alive.

Marcus Tullius CiceroIt turns out Marcus Tullius Cicero was  3rd January 106 BC and died on the 7th December 43 BC. He was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and was widely considered to be one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists.

He seems to have had an interesting life – following Julius Caesar’s death Cicero became an enemy of Mark Antony in the ensuing power struggle, attacking him in a series of speeches. He was proscribed as an enemy of the state by the Second Triumvirate and was consequently executed by soldiers operating on their behalf in 43 BC. His severed hands and head were then, as a final revenge of Mark Antony, displayed in the Roman Forum!

The six mistakes he spoke about were:

  • Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others
  • Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected
  • Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it
  • Refusing to set aside trivial preferences
  • Neglecting development and refinement of the mind
  • Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do

Not a whole lot has changed since 43 BC!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork



When Johnny comes marching home again!

November 17, 2015

When Johnny come marching home again

For some reason this song was in my head this morning and as usual I just had the chorus and a few of the words.

Curiosity got the better of me so I asked my buddy Mr Google about it.

It was a popular song of the American Civil War that expressed people’s longing for the return of their friends and relatives who were fighting in the war. It was written by the Irish-American band leader Patrick Gilmore during the American Civil War who for some reason put the song out under a pseudonym “Louis Lambert” (very fancy!).

He is said to have written the song for his sister Annie as she prayed for the safe return of her fiancé, Union Light Artillery Captain John O’Rourke (another Irishman?), from the Civil War.

The lyrics are quite hilarious in particular the use of the word “gay”, reminding us that not so long ago we used this word to describe someone who was happy..remember the chain of Irish female fashion stores Gaywear that changed their name to A-Wear?

Here goes, lets welcome home our darling boy ..

When Johnny comes marching home again,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

The old church bell will peal with joy
Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,
And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow
And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

Let love and friendship on that day,
Hurrah, hurrah!
Their choicest pleasures then display,
Hurrah, hurrah!
And let each one perform some part,
To fill with joy the warrior’s heart,
And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home

You can sing the song yourself to the American Military West Point Band if you are in the mood!

Greg Canty

What is it about Cork and Dublin rivalry?

October 21, 2014

welcome to cork

Recently I was at the inspiring IGNITE UCC graduate innovation programme launch event whereby this years participants were introduced to the attendees.

One after the other. each of the enthusiastic new entrepreneurs stood up and very quickly pitched their business idea to the audience.

Hi, my name is Greg and I am developing an APP that records receipts for valuable things you purchase just in case they need to be returned at a later date” (not a bad idea..huh!! )

The simple routine was, ‘My name is ..and my idea is..‘.

We heard one good idea after another and then it came to Eileen Weadick’s turn.

Hi, my name is Eileen Weadick, I’m from Dublin and I hope you don’t hold that against me!” She went on to tell us about her company, eXtensicon that offers a technical content service for companies mainly in the Information Communications Technology sector.

Eileen was one of the only people to mention where she was from.

I chatted to her after and asked her why she felt she had to mention where she was from in such a way – no one else did. Even though she has been living in Cape Clear for years she explained to me that she still gets stick from some people for being a ‘Dub‘ or a ‘Jackeen‘.

Often it is harmless but sometimes there is a little bit of an edge to it she further explained.

While it seems odd and makes no sense that anyone would feel negatively disposed towards her there is a clear and real ‘truth‘ in what she was saying.

In Cork being very honest we do have an issue with the ‘Dubs‘ and the normal, friendly welcome that we are well known and much loved for, can be put firmly to one side if we hear the wrong accent.

What is that all about?

Do we think they feel superior to us and do we feel inferior to them?

Do we feel they get the breaks that we never get?

Do we feel they think we are all from the ‘country‘?

Is it so engrained in our history that these feelings are automatically passed down to us?

Maybe we feel they might know more then we do and it is our automatic defence mechanism?

I spoke to a guy from Dublin last week about the whole Cork/Dublin dynamic and he said he spent three years trying to ‘crack’ Cork but he never succeeded – he reckoned being from Dublin was the reason for his lack of success.

When we worked on the Cork Marketing project we found there was no reason to compete with Dublin – we are a modern European city with plenty to offer in our own right. If truth be told and we were to compare we have the distinct advantage of having a more relaxed and better quality of life.

When I worked with Guinness in Dublin I was surprised how enjoyable the whole experience was and how the anti-Cork feeling that I was expecting before I joined never, ever materialised.

We work a few days a week in Dublin and I do find myself stressing to anyone we meet that we have a real office there and often I wonder if my Cork accent is a disadvantage to doing business.

Based on my experience I genuinely don’t feel there is a similar prejudice against Corkonians but they do want to know that you are physically there and that you are up to the job in a larger market. Once you convince them of that you get business on merit.

While local knowledge is valuable and priceless, so too is a fresh perspective.

Why not enjoy both equally and have the best of both worlds?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion who have two Dubs working for us in Cork!

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork




What I didn’t know about the 9/11 Memorial

September 11, 2014

911 Memorial

We were very recently in New York (late August 2014) and on a very sunny, gorgeous Saturday we decided to visit the 9/11 Memorial site, which is nearly fully completed.

We had mixed feelings about going there as it feels a little ghoulish and after all when you are on holidays do you really want to visit some place that could upset you?

For those who haven’t been there the site is dominated by a nearly complete huge new building, One World Trade Centre, which will be the tallest office building in the US soon to be occupied by thousands of workers. Alongside this building there are other smaller new office buildings along with the Memorial, which consists of two pools set in the footprint of the original twin towers with a museum close-by. These pools feature 30 foot waterfalls each descending into a centre void. The names of the victims are inscribed in bronze parapets, which surround the pools.

The idea is simple and impactful even though  I felt the centre voids were quite depressing and should instead have captured something more positive and uplifting. This didn’t stop the huge crowds visiting and taking photos, some strangely posing as if it were an exotic holiday location and not a place where victims were being remembered.

The whole development unfortunately turned out to be a well documented troublesome political football. The final design was selected through an international competition that received 5,210 submissions. This must have been an impossible task – how can you properly and respectfully remember the victims. highlight  the awfulness of the attacks and at the same time capture a resilient and positive spirit that will comfort and inspire all who visit?

Much of what I saw I was expecting but a few things really surprised me, which I felt were really worth sharing.

The Victims

The memorial features the victims of both the September 2001 attack and the attack on 26th February, 1993. In 2001 there were 2,977 victims from over 90 nations. The oldest was 85 years old and the youngest was two. More than 400 of these were first responders who died performing their jobs. Six people died in the 1993 attack.

Meaningful adjacencies

When we walked around the two pools we noticed that there seemed to be no obvious sequence to the names that were inscribed on the surrounding bronze parapets. Reading the names you get a sense of the huge mix of nationalities that were working together on that tragic morning including plenty of Irish names. Some names had flowers inserted in between the lettering and some of the names were women who were carrying unborn children who were specifically mentioned, which was very poignant bringing home the reality of these terror attacks.

We discovered that the names were arranged carefully based on what was described as ‘layers of meaningful adjacencies‘. People’s names were arranged depending on where they were on 9/11 and the relationships they shared with others who were killed on that day, honouring requests from victim’s families for specific names to be next to each other.

This must have been a very complicated undertaking but it is a beautiful sentiment that reflects the togetherness of the victims and their surviving families.

Survivor Tree, 911 memorial

The Survivor Tree

In between and around the two pools there are swamp white oak (I read the brochure!) trees carefully planted softening the whole area. In the middle of all of this there is one particular tree, which is a little different as it stands there with some unusual straps and supports around it.

This tree is a Callery pear tree, which was found after 9/11 by the workers who were clearing the wreckage at ground zero. At this point in time it was reduced to a eight-foot-tall stump. This stump was nursed back to health in a New York City park and with much care it grew to 30 feet sprouting new branches..

There is a discrete little sign near this tree, which is rooted in its new home and it is attracting a lot of attention. Many of the visitors take photos near the tree but there is a huge desire by everyone to touch the ‘survivor tree‘. We touched it ourselves and it feels strangely reassuring and uplifting as it embodies the story of survival, resilience and hope.

In some way maybe this simple tree is the very best way to remember the 2,983 people who perished in 1993 and 2001?              

The 9/11 memorial site will no doubt attract millions of tourists every year reflecting on the victims names around the two pools and reliving the tragic events as shown in the memorial museum. Next to them the offices will once again fill up with thousands of ‘suits‘ going about their busy jobs, just as the victims did before them showing how the world and New York does move on.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork


Dachau and things we don’t want to remember

December 12, 2013

Entrance to Dachau

All four of us found ourselves at the front gates of the Dachau Concentration Camp on a cold but beautiful sunny morning as we were about to start the Memorial Tour. This has been open as a visitor centre since 1965.

Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Work will set you free” reads the inscription on the entrance gates.

This was very strange as only two hours before I was resigned to the fact that none of our crew wanted to go on the tour so I wasn’t going to force it on anyone.

After all why would anyone want to inflict such misery and horror on a few days holiday?

For me it was just 8 miles from Munich where we were staying, it is a huge part of the German story and I really wanted to see it – I knew it was morbid and would be upsetting  but something brought me there. It was quite a difference to the “Sound of Music” bus tour of Salzburg the previous day!

In a bizarre coincidence we missed the bus tour that we intended to take and hopping off the train at Dachau station we bumped into a lad from Templemore in Tipperary who is an official guide …off we went with Gordon!

Dachau is unique as it was the very first concentration camp, opened in 1933 initially for male German resistors who needed to be “re-educated“.  After 1938 as the Nazi terror machine reigned across Europe the camp became a cruel home to many other male Jews and other persecuted minorities.

We learned that Dachau was the sophisticated  “pilot” camp, which was to be used as a training ground for the Nazi’s who would practice, develop and use this model and replicate it over 2,000 times across Europe. This camp was so sophisticated that it was even shown to visiting dignitaries as part of PR, propaganda tours – this was no secret.

Dachau was a clever place to locate the camp as it is a beautiful area with a proud history – a camp there must surely be legit?

The top, well respected SS commanders would be trained here in detail about how to run a concentration camp. I always pictured the concentration camps as prisons but in reality it was an imprisoned workforce who were there to service factories, which were located outside the grounds. These factories included big companies who are still popular brands today.

This was a system designed both to imprison “Imperfect” people but also to make money from them in a brutally efficient industrial model.

Torture, humiliation and unimaginable cruelty ensured that all prisoners stayed in check – there were worse camps than Dachau Gordon told us.

I photographed the entrance  – on a sunny day it looked nice.

I photographed the famous gate with that “motto“.

I took a photo of the prisoners as they were photographed on the day they were liberated on the 29th April, 1945 – lots of happy faces.

I took a photo of the huge yard where the roll calls would have taken place – gorgeous day.

I took a photo of all the prisoners who were photographed in a roll call – lots of unhappy men lined up.

I took photos of the room where the prisoners were taken on the day they arrived – they were stripped, and then totally shaved and deloused with disinfectant, which would burn their skin we were told.

On display in the room were some large prints with graphic images, which started to reveal the full awful story – I didn’t photograph these.

We were shown a wooden table over which men were humiliated and whipped with a cane if they stepped out of line (not making a  bed properly for example) – I didn’t photograph this.

If a man tried to stand up to the officers they tied his hands behind his back with a chain, hoisted him over a wooden beam (in this cleansing area) and would drop him. This would dislocate his shoulders, break his arms and tear his muscles.

At this point I wanted to leave, I got the picture …I had heard enough.

The movie was about to start – we watched in horror at the black and white footage that was taken when the camp was liberated. Bodies found on railway carriages (this was unusual for this camp we were told), piles of naked corpses stacked on top of each other and the terrible state of the survivors.

This camp that was built for 7,000 prisoners ended up with over 32,000. After liberation 2,000 prisoners passed away from ill health – their condition was so poor that nothing could save them.

At this point I wanted to leave again – I felt the others were the same but no one said a word. 

We went back out to the yard and the fresh air and sunshine. We viewed the memorial sculptor and the beautiful tree lined passage that would have run through the middle of the camp – the trees had been there at that time, to make the camp look nice. I took a photo.

We walked over to the rebuilt barracks that the prisoners would have lived in – I didn’t take a photo.

We walked down the tree lined avenue which would have run in between the rows and rows of barracks on each side – these were dismantled after the war.

The crematorium where the human “waste” was disposed of was next on agenda. This was to the back of the site and would never have been seen by the prisoners. Some prisoners were given the job of running this area.

We first saw a little cabin with two ovens inside – it was clear what they were for.  I didn’t take a photo.

Due to capacity issues a new and very sophisticated and impressive looking building was erected. This consisted of rooms where prisoners would remove their clothing, a gas chamber (with shower heads, which they would have been used to – The sign at the entrance overhead read “showers” in German) and a bank of ovens. Its not sure if this gas chamber was used much – maybe it was just for training purposes?

Some women were hung in this room and then cremated because of something they did which upset someone ….it’s a blur.

We quickly walked through this area. I quietly blessed myself in each of the rooms. Towards the end of the war the crematorium was shut down as there was a coal shortage.

I didn’t take a photo.

Behind this building was a little garden walk where assassinations took place against one of the walls – young boys as young as 14 were doing the killing at this point in time.

I didn’t take a photo.

The Dachau Memorial was created by the survivors who wanted it to be shown and experienced in this way. They want the full story to be told so that all of us understand and none of us forget.

In Germany schools are brought here as part of their curriculum.

According to Gordon some of the remaining survivors still return and perform meet and greet duties and tell their stories to visitors.

Statue at Dachau

The last part of the tour is a simple statue of a lone survivor, which is directly facing the crematorium – the statue is of a skinny, prison weary survivor standing proudly in a long trench coat.

He could now walk out of Dachau ..

I took that photo.

We are all busy with our own lives and it is often easier to turn away and not look at things that are unpleasant and make us feel uncomfortable.

Today l look at my photos – while I went to Dachau I did my own filtering job and I left the really unpleasant stuff behind.

It’s easier that way.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Hugh O’Flaherty and those Poppies

November 3, 2013

Hugh O'Flaherty Statue in Killarney

What a great week.

This was the culmination of an idea and the five years of hard work that followed.

Our idea was simple – we wanted to create a permanent memorial in Killarney to honour Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, the Irish World War 2 hero who instead of turning his back on escapees and people on the run from the Nazi regime, he gave them shelter.

He ignored the rules and the neutrality status of the Vatican and he set up a network of safe houses in and outside Rome and with the help of a special group of people he helped 6,500 to safety until the war was over.

After the war this very special man visited the prisons to ensure the Nazi prisoners were being treated properly, including the head of the Gestapo in Rome, Herbert Kappler.

Visiting the Nazi’s and in particular Kappler, confused many as they had been involved in so many atrocities and in particular would have arrested and quite probably assassinated the Monsignor if they had captured him. When questioned why he was doing this the Monsignor replied with a very simple and pure response

“God Has No Country”

Until I read a review of the book by Brian Fleming, about the Monsignor’s heroic deeds “The Vatican Pimpernel” I did not know of this great Irishman and to our shock we realised that most other people were exactly the same.

Who?” is the most popular response you get from people when you mention his name.

The sculpture with the accompanying story board in a prominent location in Killarney will hopefully change this both with the Irish and the many international visitors to Killarney.

The sculpture was unveiled on October 31st, 2013, the 50 year anniversary of his death before a large audience, which included the O’Flaherty (and Dineen) family, William Derry (son of Sam Derry, one of the key members of the Monsignor’s team), David Sands and Mo Burton (the grandkids of Henrietta Chevalier, the Maltese widow who offered her home as a safe house for escapees in Rome).

In the audience we also had the Israeli, Canadian and British Ambassadors and John Morgan representing ELMS, The Escape Line Memorial Society.

The moving ceremony consisted of speeches by the town Mayor Patrick Courtney, Hugh O’Flaherty, the grand nephew of the Monsignor as well as Jerry O’Grady the terrific chairman of our Memorial Society. We unveiled the plaques that carried the story of the Monsignor, the “God Has No Country” plaque and the sculpture itself.

John Morgan from ELMS left a wreath of poppies at the feet of the sculpture,

We did it!

Five years of organising, events and fundraising – most of which has come from individuals (please note we received no state help nor support from tourism bodies) brought us to this proud moment.

Killarney now has a beautiful sculpture, a permanent memorial, something to be proud of and a new attraction to visitors, which can only help things in the town. It is also a real connection to British, American and European visitors.

Poppies - Flanders Field

Poppie Anger

While this was an incredible week I was dumbfounded that our chairman received a call from an “angry” citizen enraged that we had allowed the Poppy wreath to be left at the foot of sculpture of the Monsignor. I’m glad he didn’t call me ..

How can any Irish person take in this whole incredible project and the very best they can come up with is to get angry with us because of a Poppy wreath. What has happened to someone that this is the only emotion that is stirred from such an occasion?

What is it about the poppy?

The destruction brought by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century transformed bare land into fields of blood red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers. In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as World War One raged through Europe’s heart. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.

The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in World War One and later conflicts. It was adopted by The Royal British Legion as the symbol for their Poppy Appeal, in aid of those serving in the British Armed Forces, after its formation in 1921′

The Poppy represents something beautiful growing from the sacrifice of others.

Our key objectives with the sculpture of the Monsignor are to honour his selfless deeds and his courage but more importantly to inspire these traits in all of us so that we can do great and selfless deeds in our lives.

While my first instinct would be to give our angry poppy friend a piece of my mind, instead I hope that he can put his anger and prejudices aside and realise what this is really about. Maybe he should stop and smell the poppies…

As a great man once said “God Has No Country

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin