Listowel Library in January 2024

Christmas 1988

A Greeting card for Christmas 1983

The Touch of a Master’s hand

Another old poem so beloved of listeners to Mo Cheol Thú on far off Sunday mornings.

Well it was battered and scarred,

And the auctioneer felt it was hardly worth his while,

To waste much time on the old violin but he held it up with a smile,

Well it sure ain’t much but its all we got left I guess we aught to sell it,

Oh, now who’ll start the bid on this old violin?

Just one more and we’ll be through.

And then he cried, “one give me one dollar?,

Who’ll make it two?

only two dollars who’ll make it three,

Three dollars twice now that’s a good price,

Now who’s gonna bid for me?

Raise up your hand now don’t wait any longer the auctions about to end,

Who’s got four ?

Just one dollar more to bid on this old violin?

Well the air was hot and the people stood around as the sun was setting low,

From the back of the crowd a gray haired man,

Came forward and picked up the bow,

He wiped the dust from the old violin then he tightened up the strings,

Then he played out a melody pure and sweet, sweeter than the Angels sing,

And then the music stopped and the auctioneer,

With a voice that was quiet and low he said, Now what am I bid,

For this old violin and he held it up with a bow.

And then he cried out one give me one thousand,

Who’ll make it two?

only two thousand who’ll make it three,

Three thousand twice you know that’s a good price,

Come on who’s gonna bid for me?

And the people cried out what made the change we don’t understand,

Then the auctioneer stopped and he said with a smile,

It was the touch of the Master’s hand.

You know there’s many a man with his life out of tune,

Battered and scarred with sin and he’s auctioned cheap,

To a thankless world much like that old violin,

Oh, but then the Master comes,

And that old foolish crowd they never understand,

The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought,

Just by one touch of the Masters hand.

And then he cried out, any one give me one thousand,

Who’ll make it two?

only two thousand who’ll make it three,

Three thousand twice you know that’s a good price,

Common who’s gonna bid for me?

And the people cried out what made the change we don’t understand,

Then the auctioneer stopped and he said with a smile,

It was the touch, that’s all it was; it was the touch of the Master’s hand,

It was the touch of the Master’s hand; oh, it was the touch of the Master’s hand

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: John Kramp

An Old Flagon

Photo: Dan Hartnett

Shine’s was where the Maid of Erin is now

Preparing for St. Brigid’s Day

My Kildare family sent me a photo of Kildare Town’s lovely new mural

Nearer to home they are celebrating in Athea.

The Story’s the Thing

If you missed Rich Moran at Listowel Writers’ Week 2023, here is an article from The Irish Echo online with his important message for business.

WORDS MATTER: Great leaders don’t say “whatever” says author Rich Moran. He is pictured at his home in Tiburon, CA with the San Francisco skyline in the background.

Meet Rich Moran, the Californian tech leader who won’t ever take “whatever” as an answer

News January 27, 2024 by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir author of an acclaimed new book on leadership says Irish start-ups seeking funding in the U.S. need to “tell a story”. 

“That’s what resonates and if you can tell a story, then funders understand your business and respond accordingly,” says Rich Moran, author of ‘Never Say, Whatever: How Small Decisions Make a Big Difference’.

A resident of Tiburon in the Bay Area of California, Moran has scored success with a series of start-ups and owns the Moran Manor winery in Napa. But his love of tech and business mentoring is rivalled only by his love for the land of his forebears.Indeed, he relishes the opportunity to engage with Irish start-ups aiming to hit it big in Silicon Valley and enjoys visiting the Emerald Isle – last year, he hit the jackpot for any lover of Irish literature when he was appointed writer-in-residence at the Listowel Writers Week.

The connection between entrepreneurship and literature – spinning a good yarn is a cornerstone of both worlds.

“A great origin sets a company apart,” explains Moran. “For example, I am working with a start-up treating gum disease. The treatment emerged from a doctor who was worried about the bad breath of his dogs.  He injected a drug into the gums of his dogs to combat the bad breath and found the side effect was that it protected their gums. That’s a memorable story which people can relate to – and he’s just raised $70m in funding to roll out the drug to the market.”In short, words and how we use them are important. Indeed, one word: “Whatever” is a bugbear for Moran – indeed so fed up was he with hearing the term used by so-called leaders that it moved him to pen his new opus. 

“We make 30,000 decisions a day, everything from whether to put cream in your coffee to slowing down when you see a red light,” he says. “But there are probably 20 big decisions which shape your entire life: who you marry; whether to have children; where to live and so on. However, no matter whether the issue is big or small, whatever does not count as a decision. So my new book is about decision-making – something which the Irish tend not to be good at.”A blogger and speaker at business conferences and seminars, Moran says his new work has struck a chord with corporate leaders. “No one wants to be involved with a ‘whatever’ organization,” he says, “Could you imagine what the head of the Federal Aviation Administration would think if one of his air traffic controllers was to respond to a request from an approaching pilot about where to land with a ‘whatever?’

Weaving in interviews with C-Suite executives, entrepreneurs and “everyday people” who are good at making decisions, ‘Never Say Whatever’ analyses why staff members get to the position where they just don’t care — and “whatever” becomes the default response.

“It indicates a sense of helplessness in some cases but in others it’s someone trying to avoid making a decision so a co-worker can be blamed when things go wrong,” says Moran. 

“The reality is that effective leaders don’t say ‘whatever’. Busy people never say ‘whatever’. And if you want to make an impact with what you do, then you too should never give ‘whatever’ as an answer when a decision has to be made.”

A veteran author, Moran invented the ‘bullet-point business book’. His latest tome, however, will surely burnish his reputation as one of Irish America’s most eminent strategists and tech leaders. As chair of early-stage Canadian AI company and the owner of Moran Ranch winery, he finds himself in demand for his tech investment nous. However, keeping his connection to Ireland fresh and vibrant is a priority for him — though he’s understandably sore about the fact that he is not entitled to Irish citizenship because he doesn’t have a grandparent born on Irish soil.

“When I did the 23andMe DNA test, they sent me a letter from the head guy saying that I was a rarity in being fully 100 per cent Irish,” he says. “My grandparents were an O’Brien, a Hanley, a Brennan and a Moran. All were born in the US to immigrant parents – but sadly that’s not enough to earn me citizenship.”

And while there is access to an Irish passport via “Irish descent or association” at the discretion of the Irish Justice Minister, Moran, like many others, has found that process opaque and impenetrable.

If you didn’t know better, you would think that the folks at the passport office, faced with making a decision on Moran’s citizenship, have responded with a “whatever”!

A Fact

In 1506 the first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at The Vatican.