Cardiacally insufficient post

Another wasted day caused by overactivity exacerbated by the effects of a lingering flu virus have caused me to take my pacing a bit more seriously. (This slightly alarming review article in the International Journal of Cardiology also helped to motivate me.)

The phenomenon known as Post-exertional neuroimmune exhaustion – as illustrated in this series of articles – not only cruelly reverses the usually beneficial effect of exercise, but lessens the heart’s already compromised capacity to circulate blood around the body. This is why patients who have over-exerted themselves, whether by walking too far or even just climbing the stairs, have palpitations at rest, which is an uncomfortable and sometimes frightening experience. This also has long-term implications, as the review article quoted above points out there is a high mortality rate among ME patients due to heart disease.

One way to reduce the damage caused by repeated flare-ups is to monitor the Anaerobic Threshold – the heart rate beyond which the damage occurs. The methods for this are shown here , but in general the calculation is (220 – [your age]) x .6. Observing the heart rate and ensuring it does not go above a certain level is a difficult task, which is why I am considering the purchase of a heart rate monitor. I am open to suggestions of relatively cheap ones if anyone has experience of this.

Beethoven’s Irish (and “Irish”) songs

Thanks to the wise people of, I discovered that Ludwig van Beethovenhad arranged some Irish songs.

One of the songs Beethoven arranged was called O would I were but that sweet linnet, the words of which had been written by William Smyth. Thomas Moore noted in his journal that Smyth had rewritten many of his Irish Melodies and sold them as new compositions, O would I were but that sweet linnet being lifted from The valley lay smiling before me (O’Rourke, Prince of Breffni). This song, a lament for Tigernán Ua Ruairc, is set to the tune of Cailín Deas Crúite na mBó. Smyth’s effort was little more than doggerel, but his appropriation was plausible enough to fool one of the greatest composers of all time into believing that it was culturally authentic.

Cailín Deas Crúite na mBó lyrics.

Some more background is below:

George Thomson (1757-1851) of Glasgow, Scotland, was a publisher and collector of folk songs. He commissioned composers of his day to set the folksongs, paying them well. Among the composers who took Thomson up on his offer were the Austrian Ignaz Josef Pleyel, the Bohemian Leopold Kozeluch, Franz Joseph Haydn, and even Ludwig van Beethoven.

Beethoven began his folksong settings in 1809 and continued with them off and on until 1820. Beethoven spent considerable time on the folksong settings and attempted to make them of real musical interest. Most of the folksong settings are for voice with a piano trio accompaniment (piano, violin and cello), and are not simple settings. While Thomson was most interested in British Isles songs, Beethoven expanded his own scope to include German, Danish, Tyrolean, Polish, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian and Italian texts, even though Thomson would only publish the Scottish, Irish, Welsh and other British songs.

All in all, Beethoven wrote approximately 64 Irish songs, most of which were published in the groups Twenty-five Irish Songs (WoO 152, 1814), Twenty Irish Songs (WoO 153, 1814-1816), and Twelve Irish Songs (WoO 154, 1816), all published in Edinburgh and London. Source.

The Ballycohey Ambush (1868): Landlordism and Anglo-Irish relations

Peter O’Grady gave an exhaustively-researched talk in Thurles on 15 February last which dealt with the Ballycohey Ambush. This was a violent protest against William Scully and his methods by tenants which took place on 14 August 1868 in the vicinity of Shronell in the parish of Lattin-Cullen, some four miles outside Tipperary town. [1] Covered in extensive detail by the newspapers of the time, it is almost forgotten by modern historians outside of Tipperary in spite of having had a significant impact on Irish and British politics, according to O’Grady. It created a revulsion against landlordism that helped Gladstone pass the 1870 Land Act, a piece of legislation important both in Ireland and in Britain. The talk, held in Thurles library, had an impressive number attendees from the Lattin/Shronell area, some of whom were descended from participants in the events. (NB: It may be easier to follow this blog post by identifying Ballycohey on a map (“Ballycohy” on Google Maps) and noting its position relative to Tipperary town, Limerick Junction, Shronell and Lattin.)

In all of West Tipperary’s eventful history, there are some landlords of special notoriety.  John Sadlier M.P., ‘Prince of Swindlers’, who would have been notorious for breaking rank with the Independent irish Party with his friend William Keogh even had he not collapsed the Tipperary Bank (and a few others), or the proverbially wealthy John Damer, the descendant of a Cromwellian officer who was famously cursed by Liam Dall Ó hIfearnáin, whose ancestors had been disposessed by the Damers. Perhaps no name is so now reviled in that part of the world as that of William Scully. The son of Denis Scully, a loyalist Catholic and critic of the Penal Laws and an associate of O’Connell, Scully became a landlord of great wealth and property in Ireland and the largest private landowner in the United States. U.S. By 1900, he owned 225,000 acres of prime agricultural land in the U.S., farmed by 1500 tenants, and 2,500 acres in Ireland. It was later written of Scully’s bad character in the U.S. that

[n]o frontier landlord in the entire country caused as much unrest among his tenants and was the object of as much ill-feeling and political agitation as William Scully. [2]

O’Grady talked first of the impact of landlordism in Ireland, an imposed system which set planter perpetually against native. Landlordism was inevitably connected with colonialism (Cromwell’s solution to the Irish problem being, in effect, to impose landlordism) and the struggle against it started a progress of events which eventually led to the national struggle. The Scullys benefited from the relaxation of the Penal laws in the 1770s and leased the lands of Ballycohey and Shronell from the Damers. They also benefitted from the widespread sale of lands during the Famine. West Tipperary and its vicinity saw large Famine clearances, such as Knockorden in Lattin and Castletown near Oola, where 1,000 people were evicted. The republicanism that inspired the Fenian movement started during this time. Paul Bew, possibly one of the historians criticised by Peter O’Grady for imposing an illusion of democracy on nineteenth century Ireland, believes that tenant complaints were exaggerated (“As The Nation acknowledged in 1870, it was a matter of ‘extremes’ of legal tyranny rather than actual practice”), and that their real grievance was in being subject to an alien race and religion. [3] Without entering into too detailed a discussion on the landlord system in Ireland, its injustices were thrown into relief when exported. William Scully, who acquired much of his 220,000 acre U.S. holdings from the government at $1.25 or less per acre,

… rented this huge acreage to twelve hundred tenants under a modification of the Irish land system, which required that the tenants make all improvements and pay both the taxes and a cash rent. These requirements kept the tenants in poverty and their improvements substandard while limiting the social amenities of the Scully districts. [4]

In June 1868, William Scully’s Ballycohey tenants  took issue with his announcement of changes to the leases including a provision that they had no rights to the crops they planted on the rented land. The tenants refused to sign, offering to pay an increased rent instead. Scully retaliated by preparing notices to quit. Scully himself had police protection as a result of death threats. His elder brother was shot in 1842, which may have shaped his attitude towards his tenants. Scully was charged but not convicted of shooting a son of a tenant whose holding he wished to appropriate. He was also sentenced to 12 months’ hard labour for inflicting a serious head wound on the wife of a tenant, but never served his sentence. Hassled by a hostile crowd, Scully failed to serve notice on Ballycohey tenants on 11 August as planned. As he decided to return three days later, against the advice of the police, an ambush was planned by the tenants with the aid of an informer in the R.I.C. This was assisted in its logistics by the Fenians, though O’Grady stressed that this was not a Fenian operation. Nevertheless, events would show that it was expertly planned and carried out.

Scully and his police escort went by train to Limerick Junction from Tipperary town and then walked a distance of about half a mile over the train tracks to avoid being confronted on the road. The ambush party, having expected to attack on the road, simply switched to Plan B. A huge crowd gathered outside the Ryans’ house and intimidated Scully and his bailiff Gorman, though not the police. Scully’s escort advised him to go home, but together with Gorman and Maher, another bailiff, and a policeman named Morrow, he went into Dwyer’s house. They were met with a volley of gunfire from the loft of the house and from the outhouse. Gorman was mortally wounded and Scully, in spite of being hit, fired back. Morrow, who was still outside, was hit and died. Maher was seriously wounded. The police outside gave chase, but the ambush party had already escaped and were subsequently helped out of the area by locals. Some returned to live in Ballycohey after several years had passed.

In spite of the several deaths and injuries – and there was no question of self-defence being a factor – Scully’s reputation influenced public opinion against him. The incident, which was instantly a cause célèbre, seemed to crystallise the issue of landlord-tenant relations. E.D. Steele noted that Britain’s Conservatice government “conspiculously failed” to bring the perpetrators of the killings to justice, partly because the local community refused to give evidence, “and partly because the moral and political position of the attackers was a very strong one.” [5] Scully responded to the widespread condemnation of his conduct as landlord by asserting that the tenants could have gone to the law if they had felt hard done by. He wished to fight back against the tenants, but Charles Moore of the Moore family of County Antrim, a member of parliament for Tippeary who had purchased the nearby Mooresfort estate in 1854 [6], defused the situation by purchasing the Ballycohey land at an inflated price.

William Gladstone (who was “profoundly moved” by the incident)  promised to pacify Ireland, and in an election speech of October 1868 he stated his position on the Irish land question. Though Scully’s actions had been legal, it was possible, if not to excuse, to understand “this deep and sullen feeling of… passive estrangement, sometimes arising into active and burning hatred” which were the result of “unjust laws regulating the tenure of land.” [7] Gladstone became influenced by George Campbell, an administrator and judge in India, who visited Ireland and made comparisons with Indian customary tenures. He was under pressure from assorted interested parties in England and Ireland who were alarmed by his election promises and by the increase in agrarian crime that followed the incident at Ballycohey, and unsettled by the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, feared that Gladstone intended to legislate for fixity of tenure (which was already customary in Ulster only). In the event, the expectations that Gladstone had inevitably raised in Ireland were not met by the Land Act of 1870, which offered a limited protection to evicted tenants and legalised the Ulster Custom where it could be shown to exist. However, ED Steele argues, not only that Gladstone had tried to persuade his cabinet to enforce tenant right, but that the Act constituted an enormous development of state intervention in private property and freedom of contract. [8] Gladstone’s approach was more long-sighted than his opponents gave him credit for. His statement on introducing the bill, that “the stability of the Empire” depended on it, reflected his belief in the political threat behind the land issue, and the threat of Fenianism to the very viability of the British Empire.



[2] Paul W. Gates, Frontier Landlords and Pioneer Tenants (1945), p. 34, quoted in Homer E. Socolofsky, ‘William Scully: Ireland and America, 1840-1900’, Agricultural History , Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan., 1974, p. 155

[3] Paul Bew, The Politics of Enmity, p. 274


[5] E.D. Steele, Irish land and British politics: tenant-right and nationality 1865-1870, Cambridge University Press (1974), p. 72. Steele calls the Ballycohey ambush “one of the most fateful incidents in nineteenth century Irish, and Anglo-Irish, history.” (p. 71)


[7] Steele , p. 73.

[8] Ibid., p. 298

More about the Ballycohey Ambush:

Gerard Moran, William Scully and Ballycohey: a Fresh Look (Tipperary Historical Journal, 1992) You will need Adobe Acrobat or an equivalent programme to read this file.

Extract from A.M. Sullivan’s ‘The Story of Ireland’ (1900)
Extract from Sir Michael O’Dwyer’s ‘The O’Dwyers of Kilnamanagh’ (1933)

Some biographical information about William Scully

Ballycohey memorial, Shronell

Tullamore rings in the changes for M.E. and Fibro

The latest blog alert was for Sunday 9 October, with the theme being “what the disease is doing to you, how you are affected day to day and what your hopes for the future are”. I couldn’t take it up as I was in Tullamore for an international conference on M.E. and Fibromyalgia held by the Midlands Fibromyalgia Support Group with support from the Academy of Nutritional Medicine (AONM). However, I think it’s possible, in writing up some of my impressions of the conference, to answer some of those questions. Luckily for me (given that I’m still recovering from that strenuous day), I don’t have to go to the trouble of transcribing my notes just yet, as the AONM have generously written up summaries of all speakers’ presentations.

Regrettably I and the person who went with me, who has M.E. and possibly Fibro as well, missed Dr Peter Julu’s talk. The conference was to start at 9 a.m., and the first train to stop at Tullamore on a Sunday morning leaves Heuston at 8.30. Not that I would have made an earlier one: I had to get up at 6.40 as it was. We somehow managed to get a bit lost when we got to Tullamore – I was at fault for relying on Google Map’s disingenuous representation of the hotel’s location – and so I was tired enough by the time we had registered to want to rest until the first coffee break. With a very large body of sick people to refresh, the coffee breaks each lasted half an hour, and tea, coffee and biscuits (not forgetting a gluten-free selection) flowed liberally. Water was also available at all times inside the conference room. Otherwise, it wasn’t easy to tell that the attendees weren’t your average conference-goers, though a few were in wheelchairs and there was some comfortable seating for those too tired to sit in the normal seats for any length of time. The lengthy breaks and the attentiveness of the organisers and hotel staff to our collective comfort meant that just about a majority managed to stay until the end, although, if they’re like me, they’ll still be recovering.

Of course, given the recent developments with her research and the severance of her connection with the Whittmore Peterson Institute, Dr Judy Mikovits’s talk was of great interest to many. She let it be known that she has an offer to continue her work on patient blood samples in Canada. Her account of the partial retraction of the Science paper was that she had not relayed a standard methodological process, so it was more of a correction than a retraction, if I understood her correctly. Dr Perrin added at the end that the authors of the paper on XMRV (Lombardi et al) had not claimed to have found a cure for M.E., and that the media had mistakenly claimed otherwise. Dr Mikovits’s paper was much too dependant on terminology specific to virology for me to make any judgement about her work. She did maintain that the samples that Lombardi at al studied had not been contaminated, as others had claimed. She also stated that other researchers had not replicated the conditions of the initial study – a requirement of science! – and that it was vital that it continued, and research into other diseases like cancer stood to benefit by it. (Since I started writing, I found this  detailed summary of her paper.)

Most of the papers contained the theme of autonomic nervous system dysfuntion. Dr Julu’s paper suggested that it was a factor in cardiorespiratory dysfunction in M.E. Dr Goyal talked about the exhaustive process of health support and detoxification (which includes elimination of latent viruses, should they be present) which can help regulate the immune system. Dr Daniel Perrin is an osteopath whose methods of treating M.E. have been verified in some recent studies and he talked about what he believes is behind the neurological dysfunction in M.E. and why viruses have shown to be present in the spinal fluid of some M.E. patients (an autopsy on Sophia Mirza had massive amounts of viruses present. Her death was certified as due to of M.E.). In diseases such as M.E., the blood-brain barrier is compromised, which allows toxins to enter the brain. Dr Mikovits mentioned, if I wrote this down correctly that XMRV in M.E. patients was triggered by the extremely widespread HHV6 and CMV. Catherine Norton showed some of her PhD research on the quality of life of people with Fibromyalgia, comparing it with the effects of Raynaud’s disease and Sclerodoma. Sufferers of the latter illnesses reported a similar lack of medical support to Fibro patients.

Two particularly heartening things emerged from the conference: in spite of recent controversies, Dr Mikovits pointed out that researchers have been spurred into looking at retroviruses, immunology, NK cells and the like, something that was not being done before. And Dr Goyal revealed the heartening new development that the Medical Research Council in Britain is beginning to fund biomedical research into M.E. and moving away from the psychatric model. As Dr Perrin noted that researchers and clinicians should start to create a united front so that the stranglehold of the anti-science brigade on the media could be loosened, I reflected that patients should alter our approach too. The person who accompanied me expressed her dissatisfaction with Greg Crowhurst’s presentation, which was dispiriting and negative. Suffering is a negative thing, but dwelling on this is disempowering in its tendency. I think we also need to address our issues from a position of strength and unity. Focusing on our individual stories and issues is a P.R. tactic that was necessary in its time, but I think the same end of making people realise just how serious are the problems that the illness brings us is now better served by looking at them dispassionately, as issues. Essentially, we need to depersonalise things for our own sakes, and to take the ammunition from the hands of – you know who.

On the subject of the Medical Research Council, I found this story from 2009:

It is an established fact that the MRC has a secret file on ME that contains records and correspondence since at least 1988, which, co-incidentally, is about the time that Simon Wessely began to deny the existence of ME.

The file is held in the UK Government National Archives at Kew (formerly known as the Public Record Office) and was understood to be closed until 2023, but this closed period has been extended until 2071, at the end of which most people currently suffering from ME will be conveniently dead.

As one puzzled ME sufferer recently noted: “why on earth have a 73 year embargo on these documents on an illness where a load of neurotic people, mostly women, wrongly think they are physically ill?” (; 14th October 2009).

Myalgic encephalomyelitis: International Consensus Criteria

Several clinicians, researchers and other professionals have come together to decide on a new defintion of M.E., which has been published in October’s Journal of Internal Medicine. (One, Professor Austin Darragh, is well-known to M.E. patients in Ireland as having been one of the vey few consultants willing or able to treat them. Having retired from practice, he now lectures in the University of Limerick.) The definition is “consistent with the neurological classification of ME in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD G93.3)” (p.227). The researchers favour the Canadian Consensus Criteria [1] and are critical of the “broadly inclusive” criteria of the Center for Disease Control in the U.S., which uses the Reeves empirical data. (Dr Reeves: “[Mental illness] is associated with chronic medical diseases. That’s an important message.” [2])

The new criteria differ from the Canadian Consensus Criteria in a number of ways, but there are three particularly noteworthy changes. One is that the latter’s requirement that the symptoms be present for six months before diagnosis can take place has been done away with. Another is that “fatigue” has been eliminated as a symptom. It is noted that the term “fatigue” has only served to confuse, and that no other fatiguing disease, such as cancer or MS, has fatigue attached to its name. The last major difference is that Postexertional neuroimmune exhaustion (PENE) (replacing the term Postexertional malaise) is the primary diagnostic symptom, and it is compulsory. As the article notes:

The normal activity ⁄ rest cycle, which involves performing an activity, becoming fatigued and taking a rest whereby energy is restored, becomes dysfunctional.

Numerous papers document abnormal biological responses to exertion, such as loss of the invigorating effects of exercise, decreased pain threshold, decreased cerebral oxygen and blood volume⁄ flow, decreased maximum heart rate, impaired oxygen delivery to muscles, elevated levels of nitric oxide metabolites and worsening of other symptoms. (p.331)

Generally speaking, I think it does a good job of classifying, and indeed clarifying, symptoms, and I agree with PENE being viewed as the primary symptom in the sense that it serves to distinguish M.E., from other diseases. The removal of references to “fatigue”, and the attribution of fatiguability to a concrete and ascertainable cause, is also welcome.  It is also advantageous for the international community of M.E. sufferers (and we extend around the globe) to have diagnostic criteria compatible with the WHO guidelines.

[1] Canadian Consensus Criteria at this link:

[2] ‘Disorders of the Day’, Lebanon Daily News, 24 September 2011

Journal of Internal Medicine Volume 270, Issue 4, pages 327–338, October 2011

Myalgic encephalomyelitis: international consensus criteria
Adult and paediatric clinical and research
Myalgic encephalomyelitis is an acquired neurological disease with complex global dysfunctions. Pathological dysregulation of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems, with impaired cellular energy metabolism and ion transport are prominent features. Although signs and symptoms are dynamically interactive and causally connected, the criteria are grouped by regions of pathophysiology to provide general focus.
  A patient will meet the criteria for postexertional neuroimmune exhaustion (A), at least one symptom from three neurological impairment categories (B), at least one symptom from three immune/gastro-intestinal/genitourinary impairment categories (C), and at least one symptom from energy metabolism/transport impairments (D). Continue reading

Culture Night in Dublin

This post is a little disingenuous, as I wasn’t actually there, having been laid low by the bug/virus that’s going around. However, I do have a couple of things to share thanks to a relative: one is a short video from the chapel in Dublin Castle and a few photos. The other is some phone pictures from the Freemason’s Lodge on Molesworth Street. These don’t really capture the wealth of heavy-handed symbology, including but not limited to New Testament and Egyptian, or its horror-inspiring effect. As my sister commented, “It’s like a Disneyland for Satanists.”

Link to A Short History of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, including the text of a manuscript on masonic ritual from 1711 which is now housed in Trinity College, Dublin.

The photos are at my Flickr account, and the video is embedded below.

Seán Treacy, “the Pearse of Munster”

There is a tradition that every time Tipperary makes it into the All-Ireland final, Tipperary fans commemorate Seán Treacy. At 12 noon the day of the final before heading to Croke Park they gather to say a rosary, read the Proclamation and sing Tipperary So Far Away at the site of his death in a gun battle with British forces on 14 October 1920 in Talbot Street, Dublin.

This blog post has an article by Desmond Ryan, Seán Treacy’s biographer, about the enigmatic figure. While Dan Breen’s fame eclipses his by far, Breen clearly modelled his image on the intelligent leader who had clear-minded military objectives, and was ready to kill in the process. He famously said to Terence McSwiney in 1918, “I would rather one peelers barracks than all your moral victories.” He had a poetic side too, which led Ryan to dub him “the Pearse of Munster”. “The spirit of freedom,” he told Patrick O’Dwyer of Hollyford, “is in the mountainy men.”

I took this video today (alas, the video containing John Hassett’s fiery speech isn’t uploading right now); Kilkenny may have put a damper on things this year, but no doubt Tipperary fans will be back at Croke Park, and Talbot Street, in years to come.

See this post for Tipperary hurler Pat Kerwick’s famous rendition of The Galtee Mountain Boy at Croke Park after Tipperary’s All-Ireland hurling final win of 2010.

The post I’m finishing at the moment describes a talk I went to in February in Thurles about the Ballycohey ambush (1868), described as “one of the most fateful incidents in nineteenth century Irish, and Anglo-Irish, history” but rarely referred to by modern historians. I still have to review Michael Keogh’s With Casement’s Irish Brigade; just so you know I haven’t forgotten.