Entries by neal


Grappa is the Italian answer to brandy. It is produced by extracting the alcohol from the skins and seeds (vinacce) left in the fermenting tanks after the wine is transferred to casks. Once considered a poor man’s winter tipple in Northern Italy, grappa, which is made between 80 and 160 proof, is now fashionable throughout […]

Renewing a passport? Welcome to Homeland…

At noon one day last week, I approached the outskirts of Balbriggan as light snow fell. I was searching for the Fingal Bay Business Park. To the north, the white dustedMountains of Mourneshone between snow flurries. Border country. Somewhere here, in an anonymous campus, a deep cover operation of the DFA, the Department of Foreign […]


In a Dublin hotel last Friday afternoon, patrons could have been excused for thinking they were on the set of Fargo, the TV ganglands blockbuster. Gunmen armed with machine guns and dressed in police-style uniforms stormed into the crowded venue and set about executing a crimeland figure who was attending a boxing match weigh-in. Two other […]

The Palindrome Club

Sometimes I imagine myself as a member of a palindrome club. We hold our meetings in circular buildings in the Irish town of Navan, or near Ekalaka Lake. Our members are interested in radar, the racecar and the kayak. Our club deed is lodged with an attorney in Wassamassaw. We are called Otto and Dod […]