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    0 1

    An adventurer disappears in an ancient Egyptian pyramid
    and Owen travels back in time to find out why…

    A story for slightly older kids who aren’t afraid of mummies…!!!!

    It was a sun-drenched Wednesday afternoon and Owen was enjoying his favourite lesson in school – history class.

    Today Miss O’Reilly was teaching them about the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. “Many people know about the Great Pyramid of Giza which is one of the original Seven Wonders of the World,” she explained, “but what few people have heard about is another much smaller pyramid that was built close to Giza, a pyramid that has its own very interesting secret.”

    owen-the-mummys-tombOwen and Alberto, his best friend and time-travelling companion who was sitting next to him, leaned forward in their seats to hear more.

    “On May 15th, 1923, just a few months after Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in November 1922, a lesser-known adventurer named Roger Baxtable entered the smaller pyramid, known today as the Little Point Pyramid. He was travelling with only two camels and a guide that he had hired in a local town.

    “When he went inside the pyramid, the guide said he heard Baxtable screaming ‘It’s alive, it’s alive,’ before the entrance of the pyramid caved in, trapping Baxtable forever.
    “The guide was terrified and fled the scene,” continued Miss O’Reilly.  

    “There was a story that had been passed down for generations, that back in the year 2,400 BC, a young princess had been buried in the pyramid. However, she had been engaged to be married to a local prince who couldn’t get over her death at such an early age.

    “On the night of her funeral he went into the pyramid demanding that nobody was to follow him.

    “When inside, he closed up the entrance with rock after rock so that nobody could get in. His devastated family tried to follow him but he told them to leave him be, that he wanted to stay with the princess forever. If anyone tried to deny him his wish, he said he would haunt them.

    “Many local people claimed to have heard strange noises coming from the Little Point pyramid down the years, but nobody had been brave enough to enter it until Roger Baxtable came along. But when he went inside the pyramid in 1923, he was sadly never seen again.”

    Owen and Alberto sat listening with their mouths gaping open. What an amazing story. “You know what we have to do, Owen,” whispered Alberto. Owen nodded.
    “Meet me at the time machine tonight at 11 o’clock,” he replied.

    Owen’s father was a scientific genius, who had invented the world’s first time machine. He spent his life on adventures to many historic times, and always brought back relics which he left, anonymously, for the local museum to exhibit. Nobody knew his identity, but the treasures that he had left in the care of Professor Claude Santropolis at the National Museum of Greek Artefacts had made the museum the top tourist attraction in the whole country.

    At 11 o’clock, once the boys were sure that their families were fast asleep, Owen and Alberto met up with Owen’s dog, Noodles at the shed in their back garden. That was where his dad kept the time machine.  

    “We need to go back to 1923 and help Baxtable to escape,” said Owen.

    Alberto looked a bit nervous, and as the moonlight illuminated half of his face, Owen and Noodles felt shivers run down their spines.

    “I realise this is the scariest mission we have undertaken,” said Owen, “but we just have to find out what happened to him once he went inside that pyramid.”

    The three intrepid adventurers climbed inside the time machine and Owen set the date on the clock to May 15th, 1923. There was an explosion of blinding light as the machine warmed up and blasted its way into the past.

    When the time machine made its crash-landing in May, 1923, Owen cautiously opened the door and took a look around. They had timed it perfectly. In the distance they could see Roger Baxtable, just as he entered the Little Point pyramid.
    Behind him, stood his guide holding on to two camels, just as Miss O’Reilly had described. But then the story took a sinister twist!

    The guide turned to his right and ushered frantically at two dark figures that crept their ways around the side of the pyramid. The guide pointed at the pyramid and the two strangers sneaked their way inside, ready to attack an unsuspecting Roger Baxtable.
    “Oh no,” whispered Alberto, “the guide must have been part of a criminal gang. We have to save Baxtable. Come on, we have no time to waste.”

    First though, they had to distract the guide, so that they could get inside the pyramid without him raising the alarm.

    “Noodles,” whispered Owen, “do you think you could scarper around and distract the guide while Alberto and I run inside.”

    Noodles woofed in agreement and sped off across the golden sand.

    The guide jumped in surprise to see this strange dog running between his camel’s legs and the two beasts he was keeping hold of (the other camel belonged to Roger Baxtable) bolted, such was the fright Noodles had given them. While the guide chased after the camels, trying to calm them down, Owen and Alberto slipped inside the entrance to the pyramid. Within moments, they disappeared into the darkness.
    Alberto had brought a torch and he flicked the switch.

    A ray of light beamed its way down the eerie entrance tunnel of the pyramid, from where the two boys could hear voices.

    “Who are you guys and what do you want?” they heard a man shout in a strong English accent.

    Owen knew straight away that it was Roger Baxtable.

    “Hand over your treasure bag and all the money that you have,” snapped one of the men.
    Instantly, the boys knew that Baxtable was being ambushed.
    “Here, tie him up with this rope,” the other man ordered.

    Owen now realised what had really happened to Roger Baxtable all those years ago. Three thieves had lured him to the pyramid with the intention of taking his valuables, and then left him locked in the pyramid forever. Well this was Owen’s chance to rewrite history!

    “Are you ready?” he whispered to Alberto, just as Noodles arrived at his feet. “We’ve got to act fast!”

    Owen and Alberto ran up behind the two unsuspecting thieves and gave them both mighty shoves in the backs. The two thieves fell over into the darkness, dropping their lanterns to the ground. Baxtable reacted swiftly, jumping onto them both while they lay on the ground, tying their hands behind their backs.

    “Thanks guys, I owe you my life,” he said to Owen and Alberto. “I guess it’s one of the hazards of being an adventurer, always some dodgy character somewhere trying to get their dirty paws on your valuables.”

    Owen took a look over his shoulder. “Do you think the Mummy is really down there?” he asked.

    “Well why don’t we find out now that we’re here?” replied the adventurer. And Owen shuddered.

    Baxtable took the boys’ torch and led them deeper into the pyramid until they came to a dead end. And there, lying across the wall was not one, but two tombs. Baxtable’s eyes lit up. “Could this be what I think it could be?” he whispered, as he stood before the tombs that held the secrets to a piece of famous Egyptian history.

    “Do you mind if we take a picture of you standing in front of the tomb before you open it?” asked Owen, and Baxtable gave his best Indiana Jones-style smile as he posed proudly in front of the tomb. Owen whipped out his tablet, and clicked.

    But then, just as Baxtable reached to open the lid of one of the tombs, he heard a groaning sound coming from inside.

    “Er, ok,” grumbled Baxtable, “that doesn’t sound good. Time to make a swift exit boys.”

    As the lid of the tomb creaked opened, Owen, Alberto and Noodles nearly fainted with the fright. An Egyptian mummy pushed opened the door and began to climb out.
    “Arrrrggghhhh,” it yelled, and the four adventurers ran for their lives.

    They sprinted past the two thieves who were still face-down on the floor, and up the entrance tunnel to the pyramid.

    Owen was super glad to see the daylight. Standing outside was the confused guide, who by now had calmed the camels. Baxtable hopped up onto his camel and began to ride away (a camel even moves faster than an Egyptian mummy).

    Meanwhile, Owen, Alberto and Noodles jumped into the time machine, and reset the date to May 15th, 2017. Just as the time machine warmed up, they saw not one, but two mummies emerge from the pyramid. The two thieves were running along in front of them, into the desert, still with their hands tied behind their backs. Hot on their heels was the now even more terrified guide. Moments later, the time machine landed back in 2017, and Owen, Alberto and Noodles were back in the garden shed.

    The next morning, Professor Santropolis arrived at the National Museum to find a never seen before picture of Roger Baxtable standing in front of the ancient tombs of the Little Point Pyramid. The anonymous adventurer had struck again! “Thank you,” he whispered, “one day, I’m going to find out who you are…”

    Read stories for children every week in Ireland’s Own’s Owen’s Club

      0 8
      Young businessman sleeping by his desk in office

      Dan Conway’s Corner


      When one gets to a certain age, one of the ‘perks’ is being able to indulge oneself in “forty winks”. Sometimes, when meaning to read the evening paper, or catch up with the news on television, I have ‘dropped off’ and awoken an hour and a half, perhaps two or three hours, later. I guess that could still be called “forty winks”.


      Young businessman sleeping by his desk in office

      We had a bit of a discussion about that very topic down in Dolly Harney’s Select Lounge one night recently. We tend to think of a wink being something as brief as the wink of an eye. But: it isn’t so. Not where forty of them are concerned. And anyone who gainsays that pearl of wisdom will risk the wrath of The Irascible One.  

      As it was, he rose up like a sleeping giant from behind his red top newspaper, and silenced us with a sort of shocked expression on his physiogamy. “What do you mean, the wink of an eye?” he demanded. “Don’t tell me you don’t know what the wink of an eye is,” I said, risking life and limb. “A wink,” he said with barely-controlled intensity, “a wink is a fourteenth-century term for a short period of sleep.”  

      That woke us up and quelled us to silence all at once. A silence that was as short – or as long – as a mediaeval wink. “Well, fancy that.” said Little Jimmy Murphy. “I knew you were getting on a bit,” grinned Dolly from behind the partly-polished pint glass in her hand, “but I didn’t think you were that ancient.”

      At which point, Johnny Begley sought refuge behind the paper curtain of his tabloid newspaper. I’m not sure, but I’d swear he was grinning.
      The term “forty winks” was first committed to print by the novelist George Eliot in 1828: she must have been a schoolgirl then, as she was born in 1819.  And she was Mary Ann Cross when wrote that she’d had “forty winks on a sofa in the library”. Later she married a Mr. Evans and was Mary Ann Evans until she adopted the male pseudonym George Eliot.  “That’s a funny name for a woman writer,” opined Little Jimmy.

      But of course it wasn’t, for no one knew that George Eliot was a woman. Back in those late-Georgian-cum-early-Victorian times, publishers expected the ‘fairer sex’ to write “romantic novels” and nothing more. Had Mary Ann Evens sent in ‘Adam Bede’ or ‘Middlemarch’ to a publisher, those manuscripts would have been rejected out of hand. But George Eliot: now that was a different matter entirely.

      And so her first novel, ‘Adam Bede’, was published amid much acclaim and was a great success. When her publisher  found out George Eliot was Mary Ann Cross, he was probably very cross.

       In antique times, forty was called into practice not only as the precise number that we use today, but also as an indefinite term for a large number. There are frequent biblical references to ‘forty days’, which has been taken to signify ‘a great length of time’ – a more metaphorical usage – rather than the literal meaning of forty calendar days. Because of this, the number forty came to have an almost mystical quality.

      Forty winks, then, could mean forty or forty times forty.  Or forty times that again.  The biblical wink could be as lengthy or as immeasurable as our modern-day moment. Or the typical Irish ‘just a minute’, which could equally mean ten or fifteen of them, but seldom or never ‘just a minute’.

      You could wait a considerable time while on the phone to a governmental department. Just as well, then, if, for ‘waiting-music’, they’ll play something thundering from Beethoven or Tchaikovsky – otherwise you might be tempted to understudy Mary Ann Cross and have forty winks while you’re waiting.

      Read Dan Conway every week in Ireland’s Own

        0 38

        Nestling on the Shannon and close to Lough Ree, the town and surrounding area is steeped in a history which has been appreciated by locals for centuries, but has been growing in popularity with tourists in recent times,
        writes David Flynn.

        Athlone is a town in the centre of the country which has the River Shannon flowing through it and, interestingly, with a bridge that effectively splits the town between two counties – Westmeath and Roscommon – and two provinces, Leinster and Connaught.

        athloneThe town is steeped in history, both ancient and modern. Athlone Castle has stood on the Connaught side of the bridge overlooking the River Shannon for more than 800 years. A steep walk up to the courtyard of the castle opens up into a world of Athlone’s long past, much of which can be experienced in the castle’s museum.
        Across the road, to the other side of the bridge, is the Luan Gallery, which also overlooks the River Shannon. The gallery, which opened in 2012, features selections of modern and past art.

        Lough Ree, which is located just north of Athlone town, is bordered by three counties – Longford, Westmeath and Roscommon. Co. Longford is close to Athlone town, maybe about seven miles from the town centre. To get to Longford from Athlone you drive through the villages of Ballykeeran and then Glasson, which is five miles from Athlone town. The Westmeath/Longford border is about three miles from Glasson, beyond the village of Tubberclair.

        Between the villages of Ballykeeran and Glasson, on the left-hand side of the road, there is a scenic viewing point, which is elevated above the water. Glasson village, five miles from Athlone is known as ‘The Village of the Roses’.

        Lough Ree is the largest lake on the River Shannon, and hosts fifty-two islands, many of which housed residents up to a couple of decades ago. Lough Ree is 29 km in length and the lake also hosts some of the most beautiful flora and fauna in the country.

        A notable lakeside woodland off Lough Ree is Portlick Woods, near Glasson, Co. Westmeath. It has beautiful walkways through its forest, and the walk eventually brings you to the waters of Lough Ree.

        Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5605)

          0 28

           Padre Pio, also known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, was a friar, priest, stigmatist, and mystic, now venerated as a saint of the Catholic Church. Padre Pio, who was born 130 years ago, became famous for exhibiting stigmata for most of his life, thereby generating much interest and controversy. He was both beatified (1999) and canonized (2002) by Pope John Paul ll, writes RAY CLEERE.

          Pietrelcina is in mountain country towards the South of Italy. Francesco Forgoine was born there into an isolated community of about 5,000 people 130 years ago on Wednesday, May 25, 1887, at 5pm in the evening, the time when the church bells range to call the faithful to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary in her month.

          The family was poor and hard-working. But they were a prayerful family. They attended morning Mass regularly and always prayed the evening family Rossary. His mother was especially devoted to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and fasted three days a week.

          Francesco was the second of six children and they were all formed in a truly spiritual atmosphere. His school essays showed a marked understanding of prayer and penance for the Holy Souls.

          At 5 years of age he talked about his desire to become a priest. It was not surprising that at 9 years of age he was found sleeping on the floor with a stone for a pillow. Saintly Capuchins did that at the time.

          Schools were rare then. There were only five church schools in the diocese and the population was 70% illiterate. Private schools cost money. His father went to America and sent a monthly contribution.

          He was a good and happy man and he returned home “full of joy and poorer than ever.” Francesco did well at school. His first teacher was a married ex-priest but eventually Francesco could learn no more from him. He ministered to him on his deathbed. Francesco also did well in his second school and he qualified for the Novitiate.

          Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5605)

            0 20

            Denis Fahy recalls an official visit by the newly installed president of Indonesia  to Ireland in 1961, which was the shortest official visit to this country by any foreign leader.

            When President Sean T O’Kelly opened his newspaper on Thursday, December 29th, 1949, he was surprised to read that he had sent ‘cordial personal wishes’ to President Sukarno of Indonesia on the occasion of the country becoming independent after 342 years of Dutch rule.

            His private secretary, the formidable Michael McDunphy, got on the case. Memoranda circulated and it transpired that, because of what we might nowadays call a systems malfunction, a draft text prepared by the Department of External Affairs for O’Kelly’s signature had morphed prematurely into a press release from the Government Information Bureau.

            Happily, there were no diplomatic repercussions, at least in Jakarta. The Taoiseach, John Costello, sent a formal letter of recognition to the Indonesian Prime Minister, Mohammad Hatta, on January 3rd but, apart from occasional visits by the ambassador in London, there was no further official contact between the two countries until 1961 when Sukarno made the shortest official visit to Ireland by any foreign leader.

            The reasons for the visit, one of the first by a head of state to independent Ireland, are unclear but it’s likely that the initiative came from Sukarno himself as he was travelling around the world for the fourth time in four years.

            He may  have wanted to annoy the British government by coming to Ireland, while declining to visit London during the three month trip because of a “shortage of time”.

            Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5605)

              0 21

              By Rebecca Holmes

              Sometimes we visit the past by chance. That happened to me last year, when I discovered for myself how a place takes on an extra dimension when personal history is added.

              1200px-clifden_castle_frontMy mother came from Northern Ireland and met my father, a Lancashire man, during the Second World War, moving to England when they married in 1948. As a result, my childhood was punctuated with visits to ‘home’.

              These faded away as I grew up, but I never forgot about them. So when my husband suggested we join a couple of friends on a coach holiday to Connemara, it seemed an ideal opportunity to make up for lost time, as well as getting to know a little of a beautiful area.

              According to the itinerary, we would be based in Clifden, in County Galway. Although my mother didn’t hail from that part of Ireland, something about the name rang a bell. My parents both died some time ago, but I checked an old photograph album and, sure enough, one page was marked ‘Clifden, 1947’.

               It contained five faded black and white photographs, two of them showing what appeared to be a ruined castle in a field. Intrigued, I took a photocopy, in case the place still existed and was within reach of where we were staying.

              Our first full day in Clifden was free from excursions, for us to relax and explore. This would be the perfect chance. After breakfast, I showed the page to some of the waitresses and told them a little about how my parents had met.

              “That’s Clifden Castle,” one of them said. “It’s in walking distance. Go up the Sky Road and you’ll soon find it.”

              Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5605)

                0 46
                Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, Route 23, El Chalten, Patagonia Argentina

                In the continent of South America, Argentina and Chile, its western neighbour beyond the Andes Mountains, stretch southwards for more than two thousand miles.
                Argentina’s four southernmost Provinces ending in Tierra del Fuego (‘the land of fire’), together with a smaller area of Chile, are collectively known as Patagonia. This enormous territory, what a 19th century writer described as ‘the uttermost part of the earth’ covers 400,000 square miles, and is mostly a rugged wilderness of treeless wind-scoured steppe with isolated sheep ranches and few people.

                To European explorers of the 16th century, Patagonia was a mysterious place, thought of as lying somewhere between India and Japan. In 1518 King Charles 1 of Spain commissioned the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, with an expedition of five ships, to sail down the South American coastline, find a way to the Molucca Islands of the Pacific, and claim them for the Spanish crown.

                Magellan did find a sea passage of over three hundred miles connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, sailed it in thirty-four days, and made it to the Pacific islands of the Phillipines, where he was killed in 1521. That seaway through Tierra del Fuego today bears the name of the Magellan Strait.

                Fifty years later, the Elizabethan explorer and privateer Sir Francis Drake, set out from Plymouth in the Golden Hind in November 1577 to attempt a voyage round the world. The following August he and his crew gazed with awe at the snow-covered mountainous slopes bordering the Strait.

                A storm forced them to retrace their path to the Atlantic coast, and Drake later related how his ship anchored at 50 degrees South, somewhere near “the southernmost point of land in the world.”

                He would not at the time have known that further south from Cape Horn was the immense, and as yet undiscovered, ice-covered continent of Antarctica. With a fair wind, the old sea-dog sailed up the coast of Chile, across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and home to a hero’s welcome. He had circumnavigated the earth.

                Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5604)

                  0 79

                  An embarrassment of acting and directorial talent has meant that Ireland has boxed well above its weight when it comes to TV and cinematic output, writes Tom McParland.

                  All nations are obsessive. The British crow about their stiff upper lip and their victory in the 1966 World Cup in the same breath. The Americans, like some Northern Ireland loyalists, are so unconfident about their identity they have flags coming out of their ears.

                  We Irish – reactionary penitent pilgrims – feel the need to inflict ourselves with dual language signposts, the myth that we all speak Gaelic and that Micheál Mac Liammóir, Bing Crosby and Victor McLaglen were, or at least should’ve been, Irishmen.

                  frickercoverSuperficially the reason for national obsession is guilt: Americans (Red Indian), British (Ireland and dozens of other countries) and Ireland (historical defensiveness). We feel about Ireland the way we feel about ourselves returning from a package holiday. We didn’t spend €7000+ getting DVT, sunstroke, and bringing home marble Buddhas-on-a-rope or kangaroo back scratchers to be laughed at! But the real reason we can’t get enough about Ireland is an everyday warts-and-all love of our country.

                  Hollywood has profitably played for years on this naivety. Remember 1944’s Going My Way? The one where operatic giantess Risë Stevens is supposed to have been the ex-girlfriend of elfin Father Bing O’Malley when he was humble Chuck. The attraction was mutual, Risë’s enthusiasm for sophisticated Swinging on a Star and Bing’s raving about hoe-down Mussorgsky’s Khovanschina.

                  Yet it’s as plain as the dieresis on the e of Risë that she’s only there to cluck Ave Maria. And what about that old fox, Father Barry Fitzgerald being lulled to sleep dreaming of Ireland and his old Mum whilst Father Bing crooned Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral? Then at the end when Barry’s 90-year old mute mother is wheeled in like an unsteady Madonna in a village procession, it really brings a lump to the gloat.
                  Bing was at it again in 1945’s Bells of Saint Mary’s, a much better effort thanks to the pugilistic presence of Sister Ingrid Bergman and Bing’s acerbic housekeeper Una O’Connor.

                   Just when we thought Sister Ingrid was laid up somewhere as a praying tubercular saint, we were shocked to learn that, far from a potential mother superior, Ingrid became a superior mother with three husbands and four kids. But regardless, every time Bells turns up on TV, Ingrid regains her saintly dignity for two hours and we, the trusting unquestioning Catholicism that made the making of Bells tenable.

                  Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5604)

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                    By David Flynn

                    Following on from the Cold War of the 1950s, spy dramas, both in cinema and television, were very popular, especially following the first James Bond film, ‘Dr. No’ in 1962.

                    The feeling of war and mistrust was in the air, and the Vietnam war was at its height in 1964, when the television series, ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ premiered.

                    Bond creator, Ian Fleming had a hand in the creation of the television spy series after producer Norman Felton asked for his advice. Fleming suggested the secret agent character Napoleon Solo, and after the pilot episode, producers beefed up the character of Russian agent, Illya Kurvakin.

                    Robert Vaughn, who played Solo, had in 1959 been nominated for an Oscar for his role in the movie ‘The Young Philadelphians’. David McCallum, who played Kurvakin, had recently starred in the movie, ‘The Great Escape’.

                    The opening scene of a typical show in the first season was set outside a tailor’s shop in New York. Two young agents walked through the entrance, and behind the façade of the tailor’s shop was the headquarters of U.N.C.L.E. – an organisation for maintaining political and social order throughout the world.

                    The agents, Solo and Kurvakin introduced themselves, along with their chief, Alexander Waverly, who sent them on various missions. U.N.C.L.E. stood for “United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

                    The Man from U.N.C.L.E. opened on a Monday in September 1964 on the NBC network in America, against the sci-fi drama ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’ on CBS and long running gameshow, ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ and ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ on ABC.

                    Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5604)

                      0 92

                      Over 16 million animals went to war, writes Paula Redmond

                      Amidst the remembrances of the events of World War 1, the role that animals had to play in that war is often forgotten. Domesticated animals fulfilled a variety of roles during the war effort on all sides. They include: horses; dogs; cats; pigeons; camels; mules; donkeys; oxen and even elephants.

                      One job that they assisted with was communication. This was one of the most problematic areas for commanding officers who faced difficulty sending orders and receiving reports once battles had begun. In previous wars, a general could roam the smaller sized battlefields to see what was happening and issue and revise orders as necessary.

                       During 1914-1918 this was impossible as the battlegrounds stretched over many miles and the shear number of soldiers in combat made it impossible. Morse code was used, but could be intercepted, and even if it was encrypted the enemy could often decipher it. In addition, the telephone cables were regularly damaged with artillery despite being buried many feet below ground.

                      The alternative was a live messenger. A ‘runner’ was a soldier who was sent across the battlefield with either a written or verbal message. Interestingly, this was the duty that a young Adolf Hitler performed during WW1 after he volunteered to join a Bavarian regiment.

                      Apart from being a very dangerous job, it was also an unreliable communication method as the runner could be killed or injured and never make it to their destination.

                      Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own (issue 5604)

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