Real Cooperation #43 #cong23 #reality


We evolved to be social animals that prioritise cooperation, not competition. That is our reality. Our dominant ideology of neoliberalism rejects this. It is causing the destruction of our world.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Nourish others.
  2. Shun extractors.
  3. Work cooperatively
  4. Realism is better than blind optimism.

About Conor O'Brien:

I am a retired dairy farmer from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement. I am a member of the Board oversight on Mitchelstown Credit Union. Member of Knockmealdown Active that develops outdoor activities there. Also involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community. I help to organise an October storytelling workshop on was on Whiddy Island. Learning more about the soil every day. Reading. Local and general economic history. Evolutionary biology.

Contacting Conor O'Brien:

You can contact David by email.

By Conor O’Brien

Religion, quantum physics and reality.

We evolved to be social animals that prioritise cooperation, not competition. That is our reality. Our dominant ideology of neoliberalism rejects this. It is causing the destruction of our world.

We are all linked in community. Religion was the means of transmitting the science and values needed to live in this wonderful world in which our greatest pleasures come from associating with others. Religions evolved with our species increasing knowledge of their societies and how the world worked. Just as properly functioning markets are a very effective means of exchanging goods, so also were religions very effective means of transmitting social values and science.

Einstein said that “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” The problem of the Christian religion began when it rejected Galileo, and the science which showed the universe did not revolve around the Earth and man. It became blind to the reality of the world which science had revealed, which led to it losing the authority to speak for the values that hold society together. Evolutionary biologists such as David Sloan Wilson are now developing the knowledge of how we evolved as social animals. “Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary”

In the absence of a theology that incorporated science a powerful section of society has promoted the primacy of their individual power over social and environmental needs.

Last August I brought my third cousin Bill Stokes of California and his friend Adam to visit our common Frewen homestead in the Glen of Aherlow where our great grandmothers Eliza and Brigid Frewen came from.

We visited Clonbeg graveyard where the Frewen grave is, just as another group were going in. I recognised Jimmy Barry among them from hillwalking with him.

We went in and took photographs at the Frewen grave and followed the other group down to the holy well where Jimmy was explaining it to them. We joined them and Jimmy recognised me; the visitors were going, “Does everyone know everyone else in Ireland?” Jimmy said, “No, that’s normal in Ireland; we do only one degree of separation here. The rest of the world needs seven.”

“Yeah, a likely story”

A few of them lingered to talk to us and I asked them what was their connection to Clonbeg. They were all siblings, (60-70yrs) , scattered across the US, and they get together every year, so they had decided to visit their peoples graves in the Clonbeg. They did not know the location of the grave.

I asked them what was the name?


Astonishment all around. They were from Connecticut, Texas, and all over. But some of them had gone to the same Mary Knoll seminary that Bill had been to.

Obviously I had to remind them, “It’s normal to make connections like that in Ireland”

I had recently been listening to a person explaining how a recent Nobel prize was for Quantum physics and I remembered enough of it to make the connection. In Quantum physics there are particles smaller than an atom which are spinning + and -. They are so connected that if one separates them even as far as the moon, a change in one will be reflected in a change in the other. Don’t ask me anymore: its all quantum physics.

So this was a perfect example of Quantum Frewens all coming together.

Bills friend Adam could not believe that this was all happening in a graveyard in Ireland and finishing up with quantum physics. I kept telling him that this was normal in Ireland.

Coincidences do happen, and I’m not going to say that we might not develop a theory of Irish relations that matches quantum physics. But if our knowledge of how the world works was still at the pre-Galileo stage, we would have accepted an explanation that involved saints and ancestors guiding our steps. And possibly have made offerings to St Sedna, the patron saint of the holy well.

Today we have a much clearer knowledge of how our world works, so we can use a story about quantum physics to explain how three different branches of Frewen’s arrived at their family grave together. But the story is still carrying the same messages that communities matter.

Over the past 50-70 years we have been part of a great natural experiment in breaking our social bonds. It is justified by a theory of economics which claims that individual greed and competition at the expense of nature and society will benefit everyone. It prioritises financial growth over regeneration of nature, private accumulation over community needs, ignores scientific knowledge and methodologies, is of benefit to only one per cent of the population, and glorifies norms of behaviour that are regarded as psychopathic in normal society.

The evidence is plain that the experiment is a failure. We are in the middle of a global process of destroying the environment through an exponential rate of extraction and consumption of fossil fuels and other raw materials. We need to change that reality by building an alternative system from the ground up, not the degrowth of a failed system.

We need to grow with the patterns that regenerate nature. Respect nature, diverse scale of communities, diversity within communities, make resources shareable, avoid extremes, reduce energy, recycle, reuse, use natural processes. This does not mean rejecting science, but directing our efforts to productive and nurturing ends, not consumption and domination. I can tell you from my experience of changing out of conventional to regenerative agriculture that it is one of the most enjoyable and learning parts of my farming career.

We start by changing our values and for that we need to stop basing our spiritual life on a theology based on medieval science. A theology of domination will not do this. We need to form a theology of nurturing.

Our Autonomy is our Purpose. #55 #cong22


Purpose is doing.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Purpose is what you do.
  2. Autonomy, identity, and values operate within a context to produce a purpose,
  3. Environmental degradation is the elephant.
  4. My change in purpose

About Conor O'Brien:

I am a retired dairy farmer from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement. I am a member of the Board oversight on Mitchelstown Credit Union. Chairperson of Knockmealdown Active that develops outdoor activities there. Also involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community. I help to organise an October storytelling workshop on Cape Clear island, although this year was on Whiddy Island. Learning more about the soil every day. Reading. Local and general economic history.

Contacting Conor O'Brien:

You can reach Conor by email or connect with him on Twitter.


By Conor O’Brien

A purpose is the proposed solution to a human problem. It is only possible if we have autonomy to act as we decide. We are social animals; all our actions and purposes are defined in relation to others.

Our actions describe what our purpose is. As Donella Meadowes said: “The best way to deduce the system’s purpose is to watch for a while to see how the system behaves.”; and: “The least obvious part of the system, its function or purpose, is often the most crucial determinant of the system’s behavior.”

Our purpose is affected by our identity, our values, and our context. Identity is affected by three main areas of our lives: family, place, and profession. Being able to act purposefully in anyone of those areas strengthens one’s personal autonomy and identity. For one person it may be their profession that defines them; for another, especially in Ireland, place is often a very strong part of identity. Gender influences how it is both perceived and expressed, particularly so for women in relation to family and to a decreasing extent in professions.

Values are the gut-feelings that determine how we relate to others. We tend to be strongly reciprocal, often to the point of altruism. But this strong reciprocal tendency makes us hypersensitive to unfairness, often to the point of jealousy and revenge. A common purpose is one of the mechanisms by which we overcome this potential whiplash between love and hate. If a couple have a common purpose in raising their family it provides a balance to the relationships.

There is an analogy in biology where some microbes can move the Ph of their environment above or below 6.5Ph which is the sweet spot for most plants. A common purpose can act on a relationship in a similar way.

A purpose without a feedback mechanism will not be achievable. Within a family feedback relating to core values occurs through their normal communication. Organisations are just as dependent on feedback of values and will also be affected by strong reciprocity. In their simplest form they can be defined as mutual fairness, autonomy, and development.

Values are not as easily measurable as material factors, but again a Donella Meadows quote: “Pay Attention to What Is Important, Not Just What Is Quantifiable.”. One might find that an organisations purpose is unachievable, but if the organisation maintains its values while it adapts it may survive. It will almost certainly fail if it forgets it’s values.

Having a purpose implies changing the present context and reorganising how social relations and resources are configured. Purpose without action is just a dream. Action will cause uncertainty, fear of the unknown, and concern whether the risk is worth the reward.

Climate change, environmental degradation, and fossil fuel reduction have produced an extremely uncertain context for satisfying our core needs of food, water, shelter, and sociableness. This has been caused by the way in which the public values of our society have prioritised capital and power over community and the environment. An immediate result is that there is a genuine possibility that food security might be an issue for our grand-children, and possibly even our children because the biology of the soil has significantly degenerated.

There is a classic photograph from the 1920s in the American Mid-west of a country road heading into a huge black cloud of dust. This was replicated last year during another dust-storm; only this time the cloud was white. There was no more black earth left to blow.

Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. The operating principle of our economic system is that individuals will preferentially satisfy their own needs. This is not valid, but it has enabled a subset of humanity to do so at the expense of all others.

Plans to achieve one’s purpose cannot be based on the principles that have led to the present environmental crisis. This will require local and community based approaches rather than a government led top-down ones. Whether our present centralised governance structure will support this may be crucial to our social and environmental regeneration. One will have to consider several routes, husband resources carefully, and be prepared to adapt them.

For me that leads to two purposes. I have experience of organising storytelling workshops. I want to run one next year that helps environmental workers to find stories that speak of changing values so that our grandchildren will not be at risk of food insecurity. This is tentatively set for St Brigid’s weekend 2023.

Contact me if you know of a storytelling facilitator who might be suitable.

The other is a recognition that good food leads to good health and that future generations of children need security of nutritious food. Regenerative horticulture that provides this is a skilled profession that can only be learned by doing. I intend to support the establishment on my farm of a two to three acre smallholding which would have sufficient income both to make a profit for the operator and enable her to train another person, who could then start up on their own. It may grow into a larger cooperatively organised operation, or not. Try it and see.

If you know someone who is interested in this tell them to contact me.

Leadership or Management #44 #cong21


Leadership role belongs to the group. We need to develop more groups against environment crises

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is a role that is filled by the group; management uses the group.
  2. Capitalism uses managers; it drives inequality and environmental damage.
  3. We need to learn how to develop and select people and groups to utilise leadership better.
  4. Think local, act local; global will find you.

About Conor O'Brien

I am a retired dairy farmer from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement. I am a member of the Board oversight on Mitchelstown Credit Union. Chairperson of Knockmealdown Active that develops outdoor activities there. Also involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community. I help to organise an October storytelling workshop on Cape Clear island, sadly not this year. Learning more about the soil every day. Reading. Local and general economic history.

Contacting Conor O'Brien

You can follow Conor on Twitter

By Conor O’Brien

Leadership is about effectiveness; management is about efficiency. The first focuses on prioritising the purpose of the group, the other on the best return for the resources used. Leadership is not an individual asset, but an essential role in a group; management is a valuable skill that can be priced -and discarded if too expensive. The role of leader is filled by a group decision; the role of manager is decided by the owner of the resources. A culture of leadership is core to a cooperative entreprise; a culture of management is core to a capitalist enterprise.

In a cooperative the assets are held in common, in a capitalist entreprise assets are owned by individuals. Garrett Hardin predicted that property held in common would be destroyed by individuals extracting more than their share. He suggested dividing the commons into individual properties to prevent damage. Elinor Ostrom got a Nobel prize for showing otherwise: that all over the world assets which are held in common are managed prudently for the benefit of all participants.

The participants of cooperatives are independent members of their organisations. They each have a voice in selecting the person to fill the role of leader, and expect them to coordinate the work in a way that achieves the purpose of the group while respecting the values of the members.

The reward to the leader will derive from the work involved in the role, and will be decided upon by the group. It will not come from control of the output of the group.

A capitalist entreprise is owned and managed to maximise the return on the capital involved without regard to either the employees or the environment. The income of the manager is dependent on how well they maximise the capital involved. It is a system that has produced our modern world.

Both leadership and management are the factors that make the difference between success and failure in their respective entreprises.
What does also seem to have grown with capitalism and the managerial approach is the growth of multiple layers of management and increasingly disproportionate rewards to the upper layers. It is increasingly being accepted that the drive of capitalism for it’s constant growth is a major factor in this.

We are facing the environmental crises that Garrett Hardin predicted, but it has come from his solution. This was to divide and allocate to private property every possible part of the commons. But capitalism cannot use something that has no value. It cannot sell fresh air, or a clean environment. Nor can it sell the care of children by their parents. Not being able to use such things to grow itself, it ignores and demeans them.

The major changes that are needed to save our environment will not come from the top 10% of capitalism. They are too far removed from it’s immediate effects, too protected with layers of managers to have any common feelings with the 90% of people who will be affected, and have reached their position by ignoring those feelings when they arise.

That is why leadership is so important. We need to build a diversity of organisational structures from the ground up. We have many valuable examples. The Credit Union movement in Ireland has over three million members; there are GAA and other sports organisations in every parish; there are home-grown Tidy Towns and local development organisations in most towns and villages.

What is most missing, in my experience, is autonomous organisations that benefit young people themselves, and where they learn to volunteer and develop the necessary social skills to be independent thinkers and social organisers. The Maker community is showing how this might develop.

Think local, act local; global will find you.

Regenerative farming: Food 3.0 #7 #cong20


Our industrial/financial based society does not provide us with food that is healthy, fresh, grown in healthy soil by a fairly rewarded producer. It’s methods damage the soil and the climate.
Regenerative farming can change this and also strengthen our communities and societies.
I am searching for a person who would develop a regenerative horticultural enterprise on my farm.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Have a diverse diet.
  2. Support research on regenerative farming.
  3. Develop local resilience by supporting local enterprises.
  4. Your society provides your food. If it’s not good enough, change it.

About Conor O'Brien

I come from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement and have always been involved in community and farming organisations. I am a member of the Board oversight on Mitchelstown Credit Union. Chairperson of Knockmealdown Active that develops outdoor activities there. Also involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community. I help to organise a storytelling workshop on Cape Clear island in October every year. Learning more about the soil every day. Reading. Local history.

Contacting Conor O'Brien:

 You can contact Conor by email  or follow him on Twitter.

By Conor O’Brien.

Communities, and societies, developed so that people could manage their food, shelter, and health by coordinating how they used their resources. Various power structures evolved to do this. Some structures were benign, others oppressive; but all depended for their survival on satisfying their peoples material needs.
In simple terms Society 1.0 was pre-industrial, based on what a specific place and people could produce; Society 2.0 is the present industrial cum financial society based on maximising the growth of capital, with no ties to place or people. In Society 3.0 people will use the ICT developed in Society 2.0 to build their own virtual communities with no need for a common sense of place

During Society 2.0, our present industrial/financial age, the connection between people’s between their material needs and the means of providing them was gradually broken. One contributed to society by engaging in the market; by selling one’s labour for a specialised task, while buying one’s food and material goods from others who also did specialised tasks. Growing the return on capital became more important than any other need of society. This alienation from the sources of our well-being is not a minor matter of harmless ignorance.

Our health is directly related to the nature of our diet. Diversity and freshness in our diet is essential to the proper functioning of our bodies. Our present system of food production and distribution drastically reduces the opportunity for food diversity and freshness. We need a system that produces healthy food near us, grown on healthy soil, with a decent income for the producer. Regenerative farming is the new Food 3.0 that can do this

The core principle of regenerative farming is that the fungi in the soil can mobilise any elements that are in the soil which are needed by the plant. These are exchanged through the root system for the sugar produced through photosynthesis in the leaves. It depends on diversity of plants and the biome; protecting the soil with plants; integrate livestock and reduce ploughing.
In the conventional system of using artificial fertilisers the plant does not need to exchange any sugars with the fungi and the die off. Without the fungi the rest of the biome that are essential to the natural cycle will lack essential nutrients.
Applying herbicides and fungicides to correct the resulting crop ailments further destroys the fungi and the soil biome. Without these the soils water absorption potential is reduced. This is a soil catastrophe because the weaker molecular and physical ties within the soil leads to erosion and carbon loss from the soil. About 40% of the worlds agricultural land is seriously degraded.

The photosynthetic sugars are the currency of all living things. Our industrial Society 2.0 depends on the photosynthetic hydrocarbons trapped in the fossil fuels from millions of years ago. Burning these fossil fuels is driving a climate catastrophe. We are burning the currency that enables us to access the resources to maintain our society.
On the other hand, regenerative farming stabilises the carbon cycle, and sequesters carbon in the soil. The improvement in the soil’s water holding capacity reduces the effect of both droughts and floods.
There is another, social, effect. Regenerative farming is human capital intensive rather than financial capital intensive This makes it much more difficult to scale up and enables more people to make a living directly from farming. Being local and people intensive it provides both energy and resilience to communities, and consequently to the broader society.

At Christmas 2018 my brothers and I found that we had independently begun looking at regenerative agriculture and realising how little we know about plants and the soil. It has been one of the most productive learning periods of our careers.
I am now actively looking for someone who would be interested in developing a one to three acre regenerative horticultural operation on my farm at a reasonable rent.
So if you know someone who might be interested in starting a horticultural regenerative farming enterprise, let them contact me at:

Communities of Oak or of Pyramids #29 #cong19


Environmental degradation is life-threatening for todays young people but it will not be stopped by the world-view that produced it. This is my account of how my world-view and that of my community of farming is changing. And a hope that in taking action we will find a path.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Our environment is being degraded; sometimes from our own actions in our own communities, more often by people with far more power than we have.
  2. The world-view of the communities we live in shapes our attitude to this.
  3. We need to help our communities to change their world-view in order to reverse the degradation.
  4. If we work together we might be able to change our path before it is too late.

About Conor O'Brien:

I come from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement and have always been involved in community and farming organisations. I am a director of Mitchelstown Credit Union. Also involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community. I help to organise a storytelling workshop on Cape Clear island in October every year.

Contacting Conor O'Brien:

You can follow Conor on Twitter or contact him by email.

By Conor O’Brien

It is no longer possible to claim ignorance of the reasons for environmental degradation; inaction is a deliberate decision. We need world-views that reflect reality.

This is my account of how my world-view and that of my community of farming is changing. It is also giving me hope that communities in our broader society can change how we view our environment.

I retired from farming 12 years ago, and am still part of the farming community; it is a good identity. I was a medium scale ‘progressive’ dairy farmer committed to using the Teagasc approach, and sometimes was among those who were ahead of it.

The world-view of progressive farming is one of maximising the growth of plants by applying the optimum amount of fertiliser and treatments. The soil was simply a medium to support the plants. Some soils had a greater range of minerals naturally available than others; any deficits could be made good by appropriate inputs. Insects and micro-organisms were treated as an incidental environmental feature.

I was sufficiently environmentally aware to avoid damaging hedgerows, or wild-life habitats at the field edge; leaving habitats like trees and small ponds as they were. Overall, I considered that I had respected my corner of the world; while I had been careless at times, I had done some good as well.

I have two brothers also farming; Ned in dairy, Pat in tillage. About nine months ago, we were each surprised when we realised that we had independently begun questioning our world-view of progressive farming as we knew it.

The trigger for me was a friend who wanted space to grow vegetables without chemical inputs. In Ned’s case it was a curiosity about maximising output on an outlying farm using a low input approach. For Pat it was a question about reducing inputs by avoiding ploughing. Initially none of these initiatives challenged our world-view but as we went deeper into them we began to come across work that did challenge it, and appeared to have solid scientific credentials.

The new information showed that with our focus on ‘the green plant’ we were dealing with only a third of the total earth ecosystem. We were ignoring the other two-thirds of fungi and other organisms which comprise the earth and soil in which the plants exist.

The Oak and the Pyramid

The world-view of intensive farming is a microcosm, a fractal, of the larger world-view. In this view we are external manipulators of the earth as a global test-tube which will not damage us if it fails. The criteria of success is power and control of the surplus produced by maximising the growth of components in the system. Considerations for the needs of the broader ecosystem become irrelevant to the pursuit of success. Any surplus flows up; power is exercised downwards. The structure is shaped like a pyramid in which the components are shaped to support the structure of control.

In an oak forest an individual plant grows as a result of the whole ecosystem growing, and no one tree can dominate the system. Oak trees have a greater diversity of organisms living on them than any other plant in our ecosystem because they need the contribution of each organism. The trees exchange the sugars they produce through photosynthesis for the minerals that the various organisms absorb from the ground.

All models are wrong, but some are useful. An ecosystem is not a full model of society but it could help us to see around the huge world-view of society as a pyramid of power. By seeing ourselves as part of an ecosystem, just as much as an oak tree or the organisms around it, we recognise that we and our communities are not bystanders but intimately involved with it.

Trust is essential in communities. There are no free lunches in nature, nor is there limitless growth and power. It depends on exchange, and just as finance is the currency of exchange in a pyramid, or carbon in an ecosystem, trust is the currency for communities. Trust is a personal commitment that grows through our interactions with others. It grows faster through real interactions than through the virtual ones of social media, but social media can be powerful in supporting real interactions.

It is right to be realistic about the environmental damage; but we should also be alert to the possibilities for change. The oak tree world-view is not strange to us. Just as the organisms of our soil have withstood our farming practices, so also do we have a pattern of strong communities and voluntary organisations; they are a real existing part of our world-view. Congregation itself is an immediate example. We do not have to learn how to build structures where trust can grow; they are waiting to be recognised in our own lives.

Changing our world-view of farming was not easy; it brings uncertainty and doubt about one’s future path as well as regret at what one now views as mistakes. It is a journey that one starts without realising the implications. It can not be done alone, nor with people in whom one lacks trust. We were helped by finding that there were other farmers on the same path. We were surprised by how much support there is outside of the pyramid. The change came from access to information through the internet, and the discussions, walks, and growth of trust that came through the groups.

Being part of a supportive community is like a walk in an old forest; no one ever regrets it.
The oak tree or the pyramid. There is the world-view to choose.

A major part of the change in thinking derived from the work of two Australian scientists, Drs Walther Jehne and Christine Jones.

Christine Jones.

Walther Jehne.

“ approximately 60% of the ‘greenhouse effect’ is due to water vapour, 20% due to carbon dioxide and 20% due to other gases including methane and nitrous oxide. Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels represent only 3 to 5% of the atmospheric carbon flux. Improvements to photosynthetic capacity, groundcover management and soil microbial status hold the key to both adaptation and mitigation of climate change and global warming.” Dr Christine Jones.

Bring Out Your Ideas and Move Them On #32 #cong18


I have very often found myself thinking about an idea and removing the more extreme parts of it to make it more presentable. Then finding when I explain it to someone, they agree with me, and also the parts I had toned down . Of course I agree with them, but come away thinking, “Damn, I wasn’t radical enough. The idea was fine the first time, and I could have gone even further”.

The problem is not shortage of ideas; it is getting them out into circulation. And leave space for the next idea to come forward.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Dont water down your ideas
  2. Extreme can be positive
  3. Leave space for the next idea
  4. Express your ideas

About Conor O'Brien:

I come from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement and has always been involved in community and farming organisations. I am now a director of Mitchelstown Credit Union; involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community, and develop it; and with a friend who wants to develop a food-growing low cost of living system so that a person with a project is not weighed with unsustainable living costs.

Contacting Conor O'Brien:

You can contact Conor by email or follow him on Twitter.

By Conor O’Brien.

I have a friend Seamus Duggan, retired now, who was the local mechanic cum blacksmith. Not the blacksmith with a forge, that time was well gone, but with the electric arc welder. In arc welding the two bit’s of iron are connected to the negative pole of the welder, while the positive pole held a special rod that melted in the electric arc produced when it was held over the negative iron. The temperature of the arc was high enough to melt the pieces of metal and the rod for that second in that spot until one moved it on, leaving the molten magma to cool and fuse the two metals together.

Seamus was a good mechanic, but he was gifted with the welder, a brute of a green Essex machine. Hard work, but eased with a few, or more, pints in the pub across the way. The view was that he could calibrate his intake so that the following morning the drink induced shake in his hands had the correct waviness for a few hours welding until his head regained it’s composure.
One evening during silage time Mick O’Brien came on towing a tractor that had broken the half-shaft in the back axle. Of course the silage took precedence over the pub. Seamus went at it, got the cab lifted enough to get at that side of the tractor, wheel off, hub off, and pulled out the broken side of the half-shaft hoping that the break was up close and he could grip the remainder. This time, no; the shaft was broken just at the splines, way deep inside. The whole back axle would have to be stripped; an all-nighter. He went and got the half-shaft out of a scrap tractor out the back. The back axle was still looking at him, so he sat down on the wheel and lit a cigarette, and another when Marie brought out a cup of tea to him. The broken stub was going nowhere.

Just as he got up, he thought of the welder. He had never heard of it being done, but a bad welder is always getting the welding rod stuck in the cooling magma especially on cold metal; and a welding rod would be long enough to reach the stub. Could he do it deliberately?
He practiced a bit on the broken shaft until he had got the right technique of jamming the rod on to it and flicking the power on and off fast enough to make the magma, but only enough to stick the rod. Then he carefully pushed the rod onto the stub, flicked the power and Halleluiah, the rod stuck to the stub. A tap on the stub to break any fusing to the gears, a gentle easing and out it came. Job done. The whole thing was back together in forty five minutes.

I was over in the pub that night. We all knew about the tractor and none of us were expecting to see Seamus, so when he came in, water still dripping off his hair from a quick wash and a smile on his face we knew something had happened.
We got the story and more like it; there were acres and fields cut for silage that night, machines broken and fixed, reputations made and unmade.

Later when the place quietened and Seamus and I were chatting, he turned to me and said something I will always remember. “Conor,” he said, “There’s no point in being crazy if you cannot show it”. It was the smartest thing said that night.
He is right; bring out your ideas and move them on.