Right out of the top drawer.

Previously: Nobody Knows The Bubbles I’ve Seen

Thanks Vanessa

This afternoon.

Baggott Street Hospital, Baggott Street, Dublin 2.

Ruadhan Mac Eoin writes:

A building that may be of architectural interest to your readers is the Royal City of Dublin Hospital in Baggot Street, which originally opened in 1832, but was later rebuilt – with the current edifice dating from 1893. Among people who worked there over the years was the noted Ulster born surgeon, John Houston.

A fine late Victorian red brick edifice with yellow terracotta details designed by another Ulsterman, Albert Edward Murray, it consists of 5 floors over basement and has 5,600 square metres of space inside, according to media reports. Hence the floor area equates to approximately the same space as that of about 50 houses.

It has been sitting completely idle since August 2019 and is attracting litter, while the state apparently ponders selling it off.

Maybe when readers next hear of the need for Covid restrictions so as to ensure capacity in the health system, they can think of this entire hospital sitting empty in Dublin 4.

Perhaps Broadsheet readers might know of other architecturally interesting hospitals or former hospitals that are sitting empty at a time of national health emergency?

Pics: Ruadhan Mac Eoin

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Recently graduated animator Alan Jennings introduces us to the everyday wonders of Mr Bill Jennings, aka ‘Captain Zero’ aka ‘Willie Lump Lump’ aka ‘Toots’ of Newbury, Vermont – a man of many mundane and fabulous talents. To wit:

“I once saw him twirl a couch on a single finger.” 


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Over 300 Irish Yoga teachers and Yoga business owners have joined together to launch The Irish Federation of Yoga Teachers.

Helen O’Dwyer writes:

Saturday is the official launch of Irish Federation of Yoga Teachers and, on that day, there is a full day of free online classes from independent teachers and yoga studios nationwide.

It is open for all teachers nationwide to join for free.

IFYT’s members range from independent yoga teachers, studio owners and yoga event organisers, all whom understand yoga to be an important asset that supports mental, emotional & physical health.

Many studies confirm the mental & physical health benefits of Yoga so the Irish Federation of Yoga Teachers is seeking to have Yoga deemed as an essential service during Level 3 of Covid19 lockdown restrictions.

Register here

Irish Federation of Yoga Teachers

From top: Where Is George Gibney podcast; Deep Deceptions by Justine McCarthy; Irvin Muchnick

The Second Captains/BBC Sounds podcast Where Is George Gibney? managed to stretch its title question, the answer to which was already widely published, across eight episodes, via a contrived stakeout that seems to have been recorded more than a year ago in and around Altamonte Springs, Florida.

The resulting stagily hushed passages had the redundancy of a hat rack in a moose’s den. They then were inserted between interviews with Gibney’s sexual abuse survivors and others – who, in turn and understandably, made the least institutionally connective or radioactive observations. George Gibney, molester and rapist. Very bad guy. Discuss.

The mechanisms of the max scandal, which widened the pool of victims and enabled its temporal length and geographic sustainability, were the cover-ups or lookaway passes by official law enforcement agencies and organized sports.

On the podcast, these villains remained “implied” at best. Most notably, there was not a word about the intricacies of the Irish Supreme Court decision or baffling moves by the Gardaí and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Lending narrative shape and meaning to the roles of those who refused to be interviewed was eschewed. Practitioners of investigative journalism will tell you that it is basic to call out no-commenters. Producer-narrator Mark Horgan didn’t even name them. He seemed to have time only for hermetically sealed infotainment.

Thus, the podcast exposed only a couple of old fools, Swim Ireland board member John Mullins and Irish-American coach Peter Banks. By innuendo-laced reference, there were also digs at a familiar bogeyman, the Knights of Columbus.

It was not noted that Banks had been an executive of the American Swimming Coaches’ Association at the time when, he all but admitted, he arranged a coaching job offer letter to support Gibney’s visa application under the US government’s Donnelly diversity lottery program.

In what is a medium of sound, Gibney’s contemporary voice contributed only expected silence. Yet Horgan, assured listeners, in retrospective voiceovers, that he was “seeing” how his confrontation with the former Irish Olympic swimming coach, in the parking lot of a shopping centre, played out as dramatic and consequential, both elevating the interviewer’s heart rate and causing his target palpable karmic consternation. The former was irrelevant. As for the latter, we have to take Horgan’s word for it.

Where Is George Gibney? will wrap up with two in-studio episodes, either live or live-to-tape, on December 3 and December 10. Many of the most important questions remain not only intriguingly open but shamefully unaddressed…

Where are the American media?

“It is a key ambition of the BBC to get this series on the radar in the US,” Maria Horgan, Mark’s sister and associate producer, told me in January 2019. This goal does not seem to be anywhere near achieved.

That is not entirely the fault of the podcast. When it comes to abuses in youth swimming, the major American media don’t think about what they don’t think about, and also don’t think about what they do think about.

USA Swimming, the national sport governing body under the US Olympic Committee, is under a federal grand jury investigation for financial crimes and abuse cover-ups. But only a handful of American newspapers have reported as much, without follow-through.

No one at all has picked up on the reporting by Concussion Inc. that myriad American government investigations of the swimming establishment, involving multiple Federal Bureau of Investigation field offices, include a live probe of failed citizenship applicant yet rollover green card holder George Gibney. Jane Khodarkovsky, human trafficking finance specialist for the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, heads up the Gibney investigation.

The Horgan team can’t control what the US media do. However, Horgan alone is responsible for non-existent product on the most serious aspects of Gibney’s American peregrinations, which would have taken global coverage to another level.

Horgan failed to mention, let alone cover in depth, Gibney’s age-group swim club coaching stint in suburban Denver, and disturbing dead-end reports from two local police departments coming out of his more than five years in Colorado.

There, Gibney’s chairmanship of a church charity’s children’s eye clinic mission in Peru – coinciding with the expansion into the Archdiocese of Denver by the abuse-plagued Peruvian Catholic sect Sodalitium Christianae Vitae was not explored.

Where is the full 1991 Florida rape story?

In my listen, the most unseemly failure of the podcast was the half-disclosure of the 1991 incident, during a training trip by the Trojans swimming team to Tampa, Florida, in which Gibney raped a 17-year-old swimmer called “Susan.”

In 2006, RTÉ television’s Prime Time gave Susan what is also, generally, the greatest strength of Where Is George Gibney?: an opportunity for survivors to speak in their own voices. (Watch Susan at around the 6:00 mark in the video here)

Unfortunately, by the time the BBC podcast was being produced, Susan was back in a psychiatric hospital and in no condition to be interviewed. Horgan could have chosen to play the 14-year-old clip of her; podcasts are driven by archival TV and radio nuggets, as well as by fresh content.

It gets worse. The podcast related the full background of Susan’s swimming career, including Gibney’s serial abuse, which also occurred on another trip abroad, in Holland, months prior to the Tampa incident.

But for unknown reasons, BBC / Second Captains omitted the back end of the story. Upon her return to Ireland from the US, Susan discovered she was pregnant. An Irish swimming official plied her with narcotic drugs and accompanied her on a trip to England, where she got an abortion.

We know the back end of the story because Justine McCarthy of The Sunday Times reported all this in 2015. McCarthy called the swimming official “a professional person”. McCarthy called the swimming official “a professional person”. They were a shockingly unethical fixer, whoever they were.

And by the way, where is Justine McCarthy — and everything that flowed from her groundbreaking work?

Where Is George Gibney? featured Irish journalists Johnny Watterson and Paul Kimmage, and without a doubt they were vital chroniclers of the decades-long story. Watterson, an alumnus of Newpark Comprehensive School, where Gibney taught and coached, was haunted by hearing about the horrors suffered by his contemporaries there. Watterson put the resources of his newspaper at the time, the Tribune, on the line to lift the story into credibility and wide circulation.

For her part, McCarthy wrote the definitive book, Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals, which would be cited by a federal judge in the US, Charles R. Breyer, when he ruled in my favour in 2016 in a Freedom of Information Act case to force release by the Department of Homeland Security of records from Gibney’s immigration file.

McCarthy’s reporting, both for her newspaper outlets over the years and in the Deep Deception book, is chock full of the sort of hard information the podcast simply ignored. To wit:

In 1996, “Susan” was one of four women who made fresh allegations against Gibney, including the Florida rape, that were investigated by police in Blackrock. Bizarrely and unfairly, Horgan’s podcast tosses off the line that Susan’s case went nowhere for lack of jurisdiction.

In 1997, Susan reported the incident to the Irish Amateur Swimming Association and the Olympic Council of Ireland, and filed a civil lawsuit against Gibney (by then he was two years into his American odyssey).

In 1998, Susan’s account was part of the Irish government’s Murphy Inquiry into widespread abuses in the country’s swimming programs. The Murphy report was yet another data point the podcast completely blew off.

Some years after that, journalist McCarthy got involved, ultimately prevailing upon her husband, a lawyer, to help represent Susan.

In 2011, Susan lost High Court proceedings against Irish sports bodies, but came to a complicated monetary out-of-court settlement.

In a truly disgusting development in 2012, the Olympic Council and Swim Ireland (successor to the Irish Amateur Swimming Association), claiming reimbursement of costs for defending litigation, clawed back almost all the money for Susan.

In the recent bonus episode, Mark Horgan made what I believe was the series’ only reference to the work of Justine McCarthy.

My last word on the whole disappointing enterprise is the same as my first: I am spectacularly unimpressed by all the bells and whistles. The world didn’t need a BBC-funded podcast reframing the story in a way that truncated accountability, vacuumed up credit, and served the podcaster’s ambition to be behind the wheel of a cheesy production.

Where Is George Gibney? just needed to tell the damn story, straight. It failed.

Irvin writes at Concussion Inc.

Previously: Irvin Muchnick on Broadsheet

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Auto Da Fé – November, November

Continuing our series of underrated Irish music since 1960, reader Lovely Hurling sounds the fanfare for 1980s New Wave acolytes Auto Da Fé, who formed in Holland and were led by former Steeleye Span singer Gay Woods and keyboardist Trevor Knight.

November, November was their debut single released in 1982 and produced by one Phil Lynott.

Lovely Hurling writes:

“Not alone does Gay Woods have one of the sweetest voices ever committed to vinyl, I think they have one of the coolest Irish band names.”

Nick says: Auto Da Fé for the people.

Behold: NGC 7293, aka, the Helix Nebula – the brightest and closest example of a planetary nebula – the expanding, glowing shell of ionised gas created in the last days of a Sun-like star. One day, our own dear Sol might look like this. To wit:

The outer gasses of the star expelled into space appear from our vantage point as if we are looking down a helix. The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce. The Helix Nebula […] lies about 700 light-years away towards the constellation of the Water Bearer (Aquarius) and spans about 2.5 light-years. The featured picture was taken with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) located atop a dormant volcano in Hawaii, USA. A close-up of the inner edge of the Helix Nebula shows complex gas knots of unknown origin.

(Image: CFHT, Coelum, MegaCam, J.-C. Cuillandre (CFHT) & G. A. Anselmi (Coelum)


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