Monthly Archives: November 2016

European aerospace sector and regions

A few years ago due to a previous job position, I got used to look at materials of the different aerospace industry associations or agencies, from the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), the European Defence Agency (EDA), or focusing on Spain, the TEDAE, on France, GIFAS, etc. I would do that to seek relevant figures about the business, employment, trends… Nowadays, I do that from time to time out of curiosity to see the evolution in the recent years.

The documents, yearly reports or facts and figures brochures that those institutions publish provide a good snapshot of the aerospace sector, its main players, locations, trends, civil / military split, resources invested in R&D, orders of magnitude, etc. Let’s take first a brief look at the sources and see what we can learn from them.

Europe – ASD.

The ASD releases every year a “Key Facts & Figures” brochure (2015 issue here, PDF, 1 MB) which provides consolidated European figures of revenue, employment, investment in R&D, the split per sector (aeronautics (civil vs. military), space, land & navel)). Let me share some figures and graphic as teaser. In the year 2015 :

  • The turnover of the industry was 222 bn€ (54% civil / 46% military). Up 11% from 2014.
  • Direct employment: 847,700, out of which 552 k in aeronautics (2/3 in civil).
  • R&D expenditure: 20 bn€ (that is a 9% of revenues), out of which 16 bn€ in aeronautics.


It is a pity but ASD, in the past, used to provide a more complete view of the business, as it, for example, provided figures of employment per country, compared revenues of the major players in the industry, etc. (see the 2010 brochure as an example). At some point the information provided has turned to be less detailed.

2010 ASD employment figures.

2010 ASD employment figures.

Europe – EDA.

Similarly, the European Defence Agency (EDA), produces a yearly “Defence Data 201x” report with the main figures and trends for the defence: member countries defence expenditures, investment on R&T, equipment, military personnel, etc. The latest one, released in 2016, aggregated defence figures of EDA members states from 2014 (PDF, 300 KB) and previous years. In a few snapshots it can be seen the effect of the crisis and austerity in defence expenditures.



Continued decrease of EDA members defence expenditure as a share of GDP and overall government expenditure.



Spain – TEDAE.

At the national level, yours truly being Spanish, I will focus first on TEDAE, which does a similar exercise for Spain as ASD at the European level. TEDAE makes two different kinds of reports, an annual report of activities (“Informe Anual 201x”) and a brochure with the main figures which contains very insightful infographics (“Cifras TEDAE 201x”). You may retrieve them here. Some figures for the year 2015 (find the report here, PDF, 31 MB):

  • Revenues: 9.7 bn€ (5 bn€ defence). Up from 9.4 bn€ in 2014.
  • 10% of revenues are invested in R&D.
  • Employment: 54,448.
  • 83% of revenues are exports.


It is a pity but TEDAE, in the past, used to provide a more complete view of the business, as it, for example, provided figures of employment per region within Spain, compared revenues of the major players in the industry, etc. (see the 2013 brochure as an example). At some point the information provided has turned to be less detailed.


Source: “Cifras TEDAE 2013”.

In the map you can see that almost half of the aerospace activity in terms of revenues (49.3%) takes place in the Madrid region, mainly in Getafe, where Airbus and Airbus Defence and Space have one of the largest factories in Spain. Nevertheless, you can see that in the region there are up to 172 production centres. In terms of employment, Madrid region accounts for a 43.9%, followed by Andalusia with 29.1%, which has seen a continuous growth in the last decade.

France – GIFAS.

Continuing at the national level, yours truly working and living in France, I will focus secondly on GIFAS (Groupement des industries françaises aéronautiques et spatiales) which does a similar exercise for France as TEDAE does for Spain and ASD at the European level. I must say that nowadays, the report from GIFAS is the most complete of the ones I have been reviewing, showing figures of revenues, new orders, employment (per region, gender, profession), recruitment, investment, exports, revenues per region, etc. Find here the annual report from 2015-2016 (PDF, 7 MB). Some key figures of the French aerospace and defence sector:

  • Revenues (unconsolidated): 58.3 bn€ (77% civil; 68% export). Up 14.8% from 2014.
    • That is a 26% of the European aerospace industry, or 6 times the size of Spanish aerospace and defence industry.
  • 15.9% of the revenues are invested in R&D. (7.1 bn€)
  • Employment: 185,000
    • Up 1.7% from 2014.
    • 42% engineers and managerial staff, 21% women, 92% working in aeronautics (8% in space).
    • Those ~170,000 working in aeronautics represent a 31% of the 552,000 employees working in Europe in aeronautics (refer to ASD figures above).
Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

The annual report from GIFAS includes a map with the distribution of employment per region (what I mentioned that ASD for Europe and TEDAE for Spain used to do but they do not anymore) and in it, the weight of Toulouse and its region (Languedoc-Rousillon-Midi-Pyrenees) can be appreciated.


Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

Up to 28% of the 185,000 employees of the aerospace and defence sector are based in the area (1). That is about 52,000 employees in the region around Toulouse. If we compare with Europe figures from ASD (though those figures date from 2015), they represent around a 9% of the European aeronautics sector, or about the same size of the whole industry in Spain.  Thus, as expected, truly Toulouse is the centre of gravity of the sector in Europe.

Other European Countries.

I then thought it would be good if there was a thorough database or report with key figures and data for the complete of Europe, its countries and regions and wondered whether there was any such source. A kind of report with the breadth of information provided by GIFAS but compiling data from each an every European country. At first sight that compilation could be done by ASD but they do not. And it is not easy to do. For instance, not all bodies representing each national industry provide the same level of detail nor are as diligent in releasing yearly figures, or the figures correspond squarely to the same sectors:

  • The British Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Group (ADS) publishes  a yearly “Facts & Figures” (find here the latest from 2016, PDF, 0.4 MB): 65 bn£ in revenues, thereof 31 bn£ in aerospace, of which 81% export, 13% invested in aerospace R&D (3.9 bn£),  128,000 aerospace employees (out of the global 340,000 employees between the 4 sectors).
  • The German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) releases a yearly brochure with the key figures of the industry (see here the latest one with 2015 key figures, PDF, 0.9 MB): 34.7 bn€ in revenues (up 8% from 2014), 73% in civil aviation, 70% export, 12.1% invested in R&D (4.2 bn€), 106,800 employees.
  • The Italian Industries Federation for Aerospace Defence & Security (AIAD) releases an annual report with figures (find here the 2015 annual report, PDF, 0.4 MB): 15.3 bn€ in revenues, 80% corresponding to the group Leonardo-Finmeccanica, 50,000 employees.
  • The Swedish Security and Defence Industry Association (SOFF) releases a “Facts” brochure with some of those figures (see here the figures from 2013/2014, PDF, 1 MB) a yearly report with some global figures (sales of 30 bn SEK in 2013, about 3 bn€), with some detail: 60% export, 65% military, 18% invested in R&D, about 52,000 employees.
  • The Netherlands Aerospace Group (NAG) releases a “Factsheet” with a good snapshot of the industry (see here the latest one with 2014 figures, PDF, 0.6 MB): 3.9 bn€ in revenues (up 5.4% from 2013), 69% export, 50% MRO, 16,500 employees.

No wonder that ASD does not undertake the exercise to provide a global picture.

Nevertheless, with a quick review of these sources and their figures we have covered the 7 leading European countries in the aerospace and defence industry, which together combine above 85% of the activity and employment.

Clusters – EACP.

Therefore, unfortunately I have not been able to find in the reports of the existing industry association that global, consistent and detailed view. However, in searching for that information I found out about the European Aerospace Cluster Partnership (EACP), that

provides a permanent platform for mutual exchange, policy learning, and cooperation to achieve high-level performance among European aerospace clusters.


The EACP aims at initiating an active exchange of information and knowledge between all partners and at developing and realizing concrete steps for long-term trans-national cooperation between clusters and companies for a stronger and more competitive European position in the world aerospace markets.

From what I read, the role of the partnership would be similar to that of ASD, but rather than gathering national industry associations (and companies), their members are regional clusters (34 of them from 13 different countries). The partnership started in 2009, and honestly, it had escaped my radar up to now.

Location of EACP clusters (source: EACP brochure).

Location of EACP clusters (source: EACP brochure).

The good news: they release a brochure (PDF, 22 MB) which provides an overview of the clusters in Europe members of EACP. That report provides some figures of 20 of the 34 clusters and taken together it is the closest exercise to the global approach I was looking for. I have compiled in the table below part of the available data of those 20 clusters.

Ranking of EACP clusters by employment. (Source of the data: EACP brochure 2015).

Ranking of EACP clusters by employment. (Source of the data: EACP brochure 2015).

Some comments and caveats to it:

  • The biggest cluster or region is Aerospace Valley which encompasses the French regions of Midi-Pyrenees and Aquitaine, and thus companies such as Airbus, Airbus Defense and Space, Air France Industries (MRO), ATR, Continental, Dassault Aviation, Latécoère, Liebherr Aerospace, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, Turbomeca (Safran Group), Alstom Transport, Honeywell Aerospace, Thales Alenia Space, Thales Avionics, Rockwell Collins and several research centres (2).
  • The report informs that the cluster employs 130,000 workers. Recall the figures included at the GIFAS (industry-only) report, where the combined workforce of the regions Midi-Pyrenees (28%) and Aquitaine (10%) is about 70,000 employees (I have taken the percentages from the GIFAS 2014 report, previous to the re-organization of French regions).
  • The largest region in Spain, as we saw before, is Madrid. Madrid Aerospace Cluster would be placed 4th in the ranking above (however the ranking has some caveats that I discuss below). The figure of employment of the Madrid cluster (35,000) is not the same as that provided by TEDAE (industry only) in its 2013 report for the region of Madrid (the 43.9% shown in the map referred to the aeronautics sector only (~41,000 employees of the ~51,000 working in aerospace and defence) and yields a figure of 18,000 employees).
  • In the ranking the main other two Spanish clusters, HEGAN and HELICE (from the Basque country and Andalusia) are reported as very close to each other in terms of employment, however, as seen in the map from TEDAE, the Andalusian aeronautics industry represents a 29% of the national one, whereas the basque one a lower 10%. I guess that the reported figures in EACP from HELICE refer mainly to industry figures (or that the research centres mentioned do not employ many workers) and that HEGAN ones include a considerable figure of researchers.
  • The main caveats:
    • there are several clusters of which employment figures are not provided in the EACP report, in particular, the clusters from the UK (which as seen above is the second largest aerospace industry in Europe with over 128,000 employees; one or several regions from the UK would be placed high up in a regional ranking), the cluster from Paris region (recall that it represents 28% of the French aerospace employment as per GIFAS), other Italian clusters apart from Torino.
    • there are no Swedish or Dutch clusters among the members of EACP, and therefore no info is included either in the report or the table above, and we saw that those 2 countries are among the leading 7 European aerospace industries. Certainly a Swedish and or Dutch cluster would rank high in the list.
    • As reported above, the reported figures of the different clusters seem not to be consistent with each others, some reporting mainly industry employment whereas others include high numbers of researchers from other institutions than industry.

This post was intended mainly to share some sources above, make a review of some of the main figures of European aerospace industry and its regions. Hopefully the next time that I take a look into it I may find a European-wide report as consistent and detailed as that of GIFAS.

(1) Recall that Airbus plant in Toulouse is the biggest factory in France as I commented in this other post, where I included a map with the largest 100 factories from the French industrial weekly “L’Usine nouvelle”.

(2) As an example, on top of industry, the EACP report includes the following research institutes within the French “Aerospace Valley” cluster: Bordeaux University, CEA/CESTA, CEA TECH, CERFACS, CNES, CNRS, Ecoles des Mines d’Albi-Carmaux, INP Toulouse, INRIA, ONERA, Toulouse University… up to 80 research institutions.

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Terre des hommes (Wind, Sand and Stars)

terreTerre des hommes (of which English version was titled “Wind, Sand and Stars”, and apparently differs greatly from the French version which I read) is a compilation book of some memories of the aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, of his time at the airmail carrier l’Aéropostale.The book was published in 1939, two years later he received the US National Book Award for this book. His most known book, “Le Petit Prince“, was published a few years later, in 1943.

Saint-Exupery failed to enter to Naval Academy and started studies of Fine Arts, which he did not finish. While doing his military service, he took flying lessons and there he discovered his passion. He flew first for the French Air Force, then he was a pioneer in the international postal flight, flying for the Aéropostale between Toulouse and Dakar, and later other lines. Those were years in which aviation differed very much to what it is today, and that is reflected in “Terre des Hommes“, where he pays tribute to some of his colleagues, mainly Henri Guillaumet and Jean Mermoz, and he shares some experiences which seem today unbelievable.Those years at Latécoère (which airline later became L’Aeropostale) must have been truly remarkable.

Henri Guillaumet was another pioneer of French aviation who contributed to the opening of airmail routes through the South Atlantic and the Andes. He was said to be one of the best pilots of his time, “Je n’en ai pas connu de plus grand” (I’ve never known a greater one), said Didier Daurat, director of l’Aéropostale.

Guillaumet taught Saint-Exupéry how to see the land they flew over, noticing every minor detail, every tree, corner of a river, and getting to know the locals, their farms, etc., as that was the ground he would have to land on given the case:

“Mais quelle étrange leçon de géographie je reçus la! Guillaumet ne m’enseignait pas l’Espagne ; il me faisait de l’Espagne une amie. Il ne me parlait ni d’hydrographie, ni de populations, ni de cheptel. Il ne me parlait pas de Guadix, mais des trois orangers qui, près de Guadix, bordent un champ : «Méfie-toi d’eux, marque-les sur ta carte… ».”

Jean Mermoz, another French aviation pioneer, first flew for the Air Force and then for Latécoère. It is famous the quote from Daurat who, after Mermoz performed his entry flying exam, he told Mermoz “We don’t need acrobats here, we need bus drivers.” Of Mermoz, Saint-Exupéry describes when he was captured in Africa or how he opened routes through the Andes.

“Quelques camarades, dont Mermoz, fondèrent la ligne française de Casablanca à Dakar, à travers le Sahara insoumis. Les moteurs d’alors ne résistant guère, une panne livra Mermoz aux Maures ; ils hésitèrent à le massacrer, le gardèrent quinze jours prisonnier, puis le revendirent. Et Mermoz reprit ses courriers au-dessus des mêmes territoires.

Lorsque s’ouvrit la ligne d’Amérique, Mermoz toujours avant-garde, fut chargé d’étudier le tronçon Buenos Aires à Santiago, et après un pont sur le Sahara, de bâtir un pont au-dessus des Andes. On lui confia un avion qui plafonnait à cinq mille deux cents mètres. Les crêtes de la Cordillère s’élèvent a sept mille mètres. Et Mermoz décolla pour chercher des trouées.”

There are two stories in the book which are breathtaking. The first one describes a crash Guillaumet suffered in the middle of the snow-covered Andes. He crashed in the middle of a storm and once on ground, he covered himself with the postal bags for 48 hours. As there would be no one coming to pick him, he then walked for 5 days and 4 nights (without ropes, axes, food supplies, or any other equipment for the hike). In those moments, he only wanted to get some sleep but he kept telling to himself that his wife and his friends, all hoped for him to continue walking and he could not let them down. To keep himself awake he thought of movies or books and tried to mentally review them in his mind from end to end. However at some point he fell down and was not capable to stand up again.

“[…] semblable au boxer qui, vide d’un coup de toute passion, entend les secondes tomber une à une dans un univers étranger, jusqu’à la dixième qui est sans appel.”

But then, he suddenly thought that in the case of a disappearance the legal death would be established four years later and this would impede his wife to immediately receive the compensation from the insurance policy. This gave him the will to continue walking just for 50 more meters until there was a great rock where his body would be clearly visible the following summer.

“«Si je me relève, je pourrai peut-être l’atteindre. Et si je me cale mon corps contre la pierre, l’été venu on le retrouvera.»

Une fois debout, tu marcha deux nuits et trois jours.”

He stood up and continued walking, not only for 50 metres but for 2 days and 3 nights more and he saved his life.

“«Ce qui sauve, c’est de faire un pas. Encore un pas. C’est toujours le même pas que l’on recommence…»”

f-anry-2The second story is from Saint-Exupéry himself, when, together with his mechanic, departed from Senegal to Egypt. The last lap would take them from Benghazi (Libya) to Cairo. During that flight they suffered some engine issue which started with heavy vibrations and finally ended in a crash. This time was not in the snow-covered Andes, but in the middle of the desert (close to Simoun). Again, nobody would come immediately after them. Saint-Exupéry started to make some estimates of whether they would find them in 8 days if they had flown straight or in 6 months if they had suffered some drift (derive), and where to walk to try to be closer to civilization.

In that situation he remembered the words and the example from Guillaumet and he pushed himself one step at a time. It is daunting to read how in the night he buried himself in the sand to keep the warmth of his body.

«Je creuse une fosse dans le sable, je m’y couche, et je me recouvre de sable. Mon visage seul émerge

Four days later, four days of thirst, hunger and lack of sleep, they were found by two Bedouins with camels in the desert in Libya.

The figure of Saint-Exupéry is today of worldly fame and I believe that one has to read this book (1) to really know who he was.


(1) Apart from “Le Petit Prince“, which I commented here, I have also read his “Vol de nuit” and “Pilote de guerre“, which are short novels based on experiences very close to what he lived and described in “Terre des Hommes“.

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The most (and least) read of the first 600 posts

And with this entry the blog reaches 600 posts, a good number to make a recap to see which were the most and least read of the first 600 posts. (1)

Since I started the blog in February 2010, the blog has received over 280,000 visits and hundreds of comments.

Find below the list of the top 10 and bottom 10 posts:

1. Impuestos en Francia vs. España

2. Mi adiós a Ibercaja

3. Will Boeing 787 ever break-even?

4. Monaco GP Walking Tour

5. 787 Break Even for Dummies

6. Impuestos en Francia vs. España (actualización 2012)

7. Beluga vs. Dreamlifter

8. Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts (2012)

9. Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts (2013)

10. Patek Philippe Caliber 89

490. Ailes Anciennes Toulouse, Visites Cockpit (April 2016)

491. Special assistance vs. free ride

492. Kronborg castle and Hamlet

493. Musee Mecanique (San Francisco)

494. Flight excursion to Najac

495. Lincoln and U. S. Grant on the preservation of the Union

496. “Caimaneando”

497. The Spirit of St. Louis (book review)

498. Aerospace, a high-tech sector in Spain

499. Museu do Futebol (São Paulo)

As a curiosity, see below the evolution of the visits to the top 10 blog posts per year:


Let’s see what I’ll write about in the next 100 posts…

(1) I wrote four such posts when I reached the first 100200300, 400 and 500 posts in the blog.

NOTE: the box in the right showing “Current Top Posts” shows the most read ones in the last two days, not the all-time most read ones (the ones above).

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Kilkenny is a small town of about 24,000 inhabitants by the river Nore in the province of Leinster. The city is best known by its Castle, built by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke (Wales), at the turn of the XII to XIII centuries on the location of a previous fortification built by his father-in-law Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (of the 1st earldom creation), better known as Strongbow, one of the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1170.

dsc02341 dsc02339

The castle was later purchased by James Butler (3rd Earl of Ormond) in 1391 and would be the Butler’s family main residence for the following 6 centuries, until they left it in 1935 and in 1967 was sold to the municipality for 50 pounds.

The castle went under a strong restoration which sought to re-build most of the rooms to what they would have looked like at some points in their history. Today, the castle is open for visits. At the basement, the foundations from the XIII are still visible; other than that, the castle resembles more a XIX century palace, with dining rooms, halls, a library, a “Chinese” room and the large picture gallery with its wooden ceiling, fire place with marble from Carrara, etc.


Picture gallery.

From the visit, I took the following takeaways more or less linked to Spain:

  • The “Moorish” staircase, created by the architects Deane and Woodward, which resembles very much to the style seen at constructions in Cordoba, Sevilla or Granada.


  • The tapestries. Several tapestries, located at the tapestry room and at the picture gallery, show the story of Decius Mus, a Roman consul in 340 BC who sacrificed himself through the ritual of devotio to allow for the victory of his army at the battle of Vesuvius. After 300 years in display, the tapestries needed to go through some conservation work, which was entrusted to the Real Fabrica de Tapices in Madrid.dsc02336
  • The Butler gallery at the basement of the castle offers space to contemporary art. In it there is a collection of the posters of some prominent artists for whom an exhibition was organized, one of them the Spanish Antoni Tapies, in 1992.


Other than the castle, another highlight of Kilkenny is St. Canice’s Cathedral, the second largest in Ireland, after St. Patrick’s in Dublin. It was built in the XIII century at the location where St. Canice had built a small monastery back in the VI century. The cathedral has a typically Irish round tower, with the uniqueness that this is one of the only two in the country that can be climbed to the top.


Some of the main attractions that can be found inside the cathedral are several tombs of the Butler family, an archive with the names of all the Irish who lost their lives in the World War I, or the stone throne of St. Kieran.


Kilkenny was as well for a decade, 1642-1652, the seat of the Irish Catholic Confederation, or the “Confederation of Kilkenny”, which following the Rebellion of 1641, established itself as a self-government, until the conquest of Ireland by Oliver Cromwell (1649-1653).


Stone marking the place were the Confederation Hall stood.

During the visit, after having walked through the lively High, Parliament and St. Kieran streets, I went to look for Tynan’s Bridge House, a pub established in 1703 where I wanted to have taken a beer. I found the pub, but closed.


… and talking about beer, it is in Kilkenny that the beer Smithwick’s is brewed and the brewery can be visited, though I didn’t. Smithwick’s was acquired by Guinness in 1965. We visited Guinness brewery in Dublin some days later (I may write about it one day), which is a giant museum but lacks the artisanal touch that I experienced when visiting Bowmore whisky distillery in Sctoland. I wonder whether at Smithwick’s that would have also been the case.


Nore river.


Black Gate.

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Crónica de una muerte anunciada

cronicaEl día en que lo iban a matar, Santiago Nasar se levantó a las 5.30 de la mañana…”; quizá sea este uno de los comienzos de una novela en lengua española que más se ha quedado grabado en la memoria colectiva (1).  Gabriel García Márquez publicó “Crónica de una muerte anunciada” en 1981; en 1982 obtuvo el premio Nobel de literatura, unos quince años después de haber escrito “Cien años de soledad”.

Crónica de una muerte anunciada” es una novela corta (unas 50 páginas incluyendo el prólogo en la versión digital que leí), parece que basada en un hecho real, en la que García Márquez mezcla un estilo periodístico con la novela policíaca. Con un principio como el descrito arriba es claro que la intriga de la historia no es el final, conocido, sino en cómo se llega a esa final. La tensión va creciendo y el lector termina sintiéndola dentro de sí, frustrándose viendo que unos y otros no terminan de conseguir avisar a Santiago Nasar para evitar su muerte, albergando siempre un hilo de esperanza.

Esta es la quinta (2) obra de García Márquez que he leído y, sin duda, es ésta, junto con “El amor en los tiempos del cólera“, una de las dos que más me han gustado y por tanto la recomiendo.

Leí esta novela a principios de 2016 y, como hago siempre, anoté varios pasajes que quiero dejar aquí para compartirlos y como nota mental para futuras referencias.

“- […] No es justo que todo el mundo sepa que le van a matar al hijo, y que ella sea la única que no lo sabe.

– Tenemos tantos vínculos con ella como con los Vicario – dijo mi padre.

Hay que estar siempre del lado del muerto – dijo ella.”

“Su contrariedad fue mayor cuando cantó la rifa de la ortofónica, en medio de la ansiedad de todos, y en efecto se la ganó Bayardo San Román. No podía imaginarse que él, solo por impresionarla, había comprado todos los números de la rifa.

Esa noche, cuando volvió a su casa, Ángela Vicario encontró allí la ortofónica envuelta en papel de regalo y adornada con un lazo de organza. “Nunca pude saber cómo supo que era mi cumpleaños” […]”

“- Cuando despierte, recuérdame que me voy a casar con ella.”

“[…] y mi madre decía que había nacido como las grandes reinas de la historia con el cordón umbilical enrollado en el cuello.”

“Se casó con esa ilusión. Bayardo San Román, por su parte, debió casarse con la ilusión de comprar la felicidad con el peso descomunal de su poder y su fortuna, pues cuanto más aumentaban los planes de la fiesta, más ideas de delirio se le ocurrían para hacerla más grande.”

“Santiago Nasar era un hombre de fiestas, y su gozo mayor lo tuvo la víspera de su muerte, calculando los costos de la boda. En la iglesia estimó que habían puesto adornos florales por un valor igual al de catorce entierros de primera clase. Esa precisión había de perseguirme durante muchos años, pues Santiago Nasar me había dicho a menudo que el olor de las flores encerradas tenia para él una relación inmediata con la muerte, y aquel día me lo repitió al entrar en el templo. “No quiero flores en mi entierro”, me dijo, sin pensar que yo debía ocuparme al día siguiente de que no las hubiera.”

“[…] la realidad parecía ser que los hermanos Vicario no hicieron nada de lo que convenía para matar a Santiago Nasar de inmediato y sin espectáculo público, sino que hicieron mucho más de lo que era imaginable para que alguien les impidiera matarlo, y no lo consiguieron.”

“Clotilde Armenta sufrió una desilusión más con la ligereza del alcalde, pues pensaba que debía arrestar a los gemelos hasta esclarecer la verdad. El coronel Aponte le mostró los cuchillos como un argumento final.

– Ya no tienen con qué matar –dijo.

– No es por eso –dijo Clotilde Armenta-. Es para librar a esos pobres muchachos del horrible compromiso que les ha caído encima.”

Comer sin medida fue su único modo de llorar […]”

“La versión más corriente, tal vez por ser la más perversa, era que Ángela Vicario estaba protegiendo a alguien a quien de veras amaba, y había escogido el nombre de Santiago Nasar porque nunca pensó que sus hermanos se atreverían contra él.”

“[…] La fatalidad nos hace invisibles. El hecho es que Santiago Nasar entró por la puerta principal, a la vista de todos, y sin hacer nada para no ser visto. […]”


(1) “En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme…” seguramente ocupe un primer lugar dentro de una hipotética lista de comienzos memorables de libros.

(2) Las otras cuatro: “Relato de un náufrago”, “Cien años de soledad”, “El amor en los tiempos del cólera” y “El general en su laberinto”.

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Rock of Cashel

Cashel is a small town of about 4,000 inhabitants, in the county of Tipperary, on the way from Kilkenny to Limerick, which is dominated by the Rock of Cashel, a eclesiastical site on the top of a hill which was once the seat of the over kings of Munster, ever since the Eóganacht, the descendants of Eógan Mor came to prominence around the 4-5th centuries AD.


Conall Corc, a descendant of Eógan Mor, is said to be the founder of the Cashel kingship and according to the tradition St. Patrick baptised the grandsons of Conall Corc at Cashel in the 5th century AD.

Replica of St. Patrick's Cross.

Replica of St. Patrick’s Cross.

Today, the Rock of Cashel is a historical site that can be visited in about an hour. The entrance is 7 euros (free if your B&B happens to have a voucher, ask for it).

The main historical constructions remaining are the round tower (from c. 1100), Cormac’s chapel (consecrated in 1134, though at the time of my visit it was under restoration and not open for visit), the Cathedral (from 1270), St. Patrick’s Cross (from 12th century) and a replica of it in the garden, and the Hall of the Vicars Choral (from the 15th century).

Original St. Patrick's Cross.

Original St. Patrick’s Cross.

Round Tower.

Round Tower.




The views of the surroundings from the Rock are impressive, as impressive is the view of the Rock as one approaches it from the bottom of the village, especially from the “Path of the Dead” connecting the Rock with the R505 road at the south-west of the hill. I discovered this path during my early morning run before sunrise, this allowed me to enjoy the view of the Rock with the first rays of light of the morning sun. A nice experience.

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Finally, another highlight that I wanted to have visited in Cashel was the Bolton Library collected by the archbishop Theophilus Bolton from 1730 to 1744. The library was recommended in the guide and according to a local brochure was the finest outside of Dublin, including works by Swift,  Dante, Calvin, Erasmus, or Machiavelli. The pity is that since a couple of years ago the library is not anymore housed in Cashel, as the building didn’t meet the best conditions for the preservation of the books. Today the books are conserved at the University of Limerick.

Bolton Library.

Bolton Library.

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The Economic Consequences of the Peace

armisticeAfter the Armistice of November 11th, 1918, terminating the World War I in the west front, John Maynard Keynes attended the Paris Peace Conference as a delegate of the British Treasury. It was at that time that he wrote the book “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” (released at the end of 1919) (1).

I read the book back in 2012, and hadn’t yet written a thorough review of it in the blog despite of being reminded of it every year on Armistice Day, a memory day observed in France. In the book, Keynes explained how the disaster in the making was about to be produced; due to lack of communication between representatives from USA, UK, France and Italy, the electoral interests of British representatives and the intention from Clemenceau of taking as much as possible from Germany.

“Moved by insane delusion and reckless self-regard, the German people overturned the foundations on which we all lived and built. But the spokesmen of the French and British peoples have run the risk of completing the ruin, which Germany began, by a Peace which, if it is carried into effect, must impair yet further, when it might have restored, the delicate, complicated organization, already shaken and broken by war, through which alone the European peoples can employ themselves and live.”

economicconsequencesKeynes advocated for softer terms to be imposed on Germany, not only out of justice for its future generations but out of pragmatical economic estimates that he discusses in detail in the book.

“My purpose in this book is to show that the Carthaginian Peace is not practically right or possible. Although the school of thought from which it springs is aware of the economic factor, it overlooks, nevertheless, the deeper economic tendencies which are to govern the future. The clock cannot be set back”

He criticized that from the very beginning, as laid out in the Fourteen Points outlined in a speech by Woodrow Wilson earlier in 1918, the spirit of the conference was not the appropriate one,

“The thoughts which I have expressed in the second chapter were not present to the mind of Paris. The future life of Europe was not their concern; its means of livelihood was not their anxiety. Their preoccupations, good and bad alike, related to frontiers and nationalities, to the balance of power, to imperial aggrandizements, to the future enfeeblement of a strong and dangerous enemy, to revenge, and to the shifting by the victors of their unbearable financial burdens on to the shoulders of the defeated.”

At that time there wasn’t the amount of available open data on economic figures, output, trade, etc., that we enjoy today. This did not deter Keynes in making the estimates himself of the economic provisions that a sound peace treaty should include in his point of view.

The German economic system as it existed before the war depended on three main factors:

  1. Overseas commerce as represented by her mercantile marine, her colonies, her foreign investments, her exports, and the overseas connections of her merchants;
  2. The exploitation of her coal and iron and the industries built upon them;
  3. Her transport and tariff system.

Of these the first, while not the least important, was certainly the most vulnerable. The Treaty aims at the systematic destruction of all three, but principally of the first two”

Under the provisions of the treaty Germany was demanded a yearly contribution to the Allies of 40,000,000 tons of coal. Keynes argued to what extent this, together with other provisions, put Germany in a dire state.

  • Pre war maximum output had been reached in 1913, with 191,500,000 tons of coal. Out of which 19,000,000 tons were consumed in the mines and 33,500,000 tons were exported,
  • This left 139,000,000 for domestic (pre war) consumption.
  • The nominally German output was diminished due to loss of territory (Alsace-Lorraine, Saar Basin, Upper Silesia), which meant a reduction of up to 60,800,000 tons out of 1913 figures… thus, a maximum theoretical output of ~130,000,000 tons.
  • Keynes argued that the destruction of the war, the reduction in working hours (from 8.5h to 7h) and loss of efficiency (due to operators lost in the war, those with deteriorated health, etc.) could account for a loss 30% of output… thus, a maximum theoretical output limited to ~100,000,000 tons.

Requiring Germany to contribute 40,000,000 tons would leave it with only 60,000,000 tons for domestic use, which even when allowing for the loss of territory, meant that its economic future was being jeopardized.

Every million tons she is forced to export must be at the expense of closing down an industry.

But it is evident that Germany cannot and will not furnish the Allies with a contribution of 40,000,000 tons annually. Those Allied Ministers, who have told their peoples that she can, have certainly deceived them for the sake of allaying for the moment the misgivings of the European peoples as to the path along which they are being led.”

A similar criticism is made of the chapter of the treaty that covers the “Reparation“, that is the compensation for the destruction of the war and loss of civilian lives.

“compensation will be made by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies and to their property by the aggression of Germany by land, by sea, and from the air.”

Keynes argued that the claims from the different Allies were much too high. He, again, came up with his own estimates, which he later validated with French output statistics of the time and suggested an early settlement, without entering in the painful exercise of calculating every minor detail.

Belgian claims against Germany such as I have seen, amounting to a sum in excess of the total estimated pre-war wealth of the whole country, are simply irresponsible.” […]

“While the French claims are immensely greater, here too there has been excessive exaggeration, as responsible French statisticians have themselves pointed out. Not above 10 per cent of the area of France was effectively occupied by the enemy, and not above 4 per cent lay within the area of substantial devastation. Of the sixty French towns having a population exceeding 35,000, only two were destroyed—Reims (115,178) and St. Quentin (55,571); three others were occupied—Lille, Roubaix, and Douai—and suffered from loot of machinery and other property, but were not substantially injured otherwise.” […]

“…it will be difficult to establish a bill exceeding $2,500,000,000 for physical and material damage in the occupied and devastated areas of Northern France. I am confirmed in this estimate by the opinion of M. René Pupin, the author of the most comprehensive and scientific estimate of the pre-war wealth of France, which I did not come across until after my own figure had been arrived at. […] but to be on the safe side, we will, somewhat arbitrarily, make an addition to the French claim of $1,500,000,000 on all heads, bringing it to $4,000,000,000 in all.

In this speech the French Minister of Finance estimated the total French claims for damage to property (presumably inclusive of losses at sea, etc., but apart from pensions and allowances) at $26,800,000,000 (134 milliard francs), or more than six times my estimate.” […]

(estimate for all countries) “I believe that it would have been a wise and just act to have asked the German Government at the Peace Negotiations to agree to a sum of $10,000,000,000 in final settlement, without further examination of particulars. This would have provided an immediate and certain solution, and would have required from Germany a sum which, if she were granted certain indulgences, it might not have proved entirely impossible for her to pay.”

A similar discussion is presented in relation to the Pensions and Allowances to be added to the Reparation chapter.

Keynes then turned to the ability of Germany to pay,

[…] “I reach, therefore, the final conclusion that, including all methods of payment—immediately transferable wealth, ceded property, and an annual tribute—$10,000,000,000 is a safe maximum figure of Germany’s capacity to pay. In all the actual circumstances, I do not believe that she can pay as much. Let those who consider this a very low figure, bear in mind the following remarkable comparison. The wealth of France in 1871 was estimated at a little less than half that of Germany in 1913. Apart from changes in the value of money, an indemnity from Germany of $2,500,000,000 would, therefore, be about comparable to the sum paid by France in 1871; and as the real burden of an indemnity increases more than in proportion to its amount, the payment of $10,000,000,000 by Germany would have far severer consequences than the $1,000,000,000 paid by France in 1871.”

A capacity of $40,000,000,000 or even of $25,000,000,000 is, therefore, not within the limits of reasonable possibility. It is for those who believe that Germany can make an annual payment amounting to hundreds of millions sterling to say in what specific commodities they intend this payment to be made and in what markets the goods are to be sold. Until they proceed to some degree of detail, and are able to produce some tangible argument in favor of their conclusions, they do not deserve to be believed.”

“… if the Allies were to “nurse” the trade and industry of Germany for a period of five or ten years, supplying her with large loans, and with ample shipping, food, and raw materials during that period, building up markets for her, and deliberately applying all their resources and goodwill to making her the greatest industrial nation in Europe, if not in the world, a substantially larger sum could probably be extracted thereafter; for Germany is capable of very great productivity.” […]

“It is true that in 1870 no man could have predicted Germany’s capacity in 1910. […] The fact that we have no adequate knowledge of Germany’s capacity to pay over a long period of years is no justification (as I have heard some people claim that, it is) for the statement that she can pay $50,000,000,000.”

The future in his view was then going to be bleak:

The Treaty includes no provisions for the economic rehabilitation of Europe,—nothing to make the defeated Central Empires into good neighbors, nothing to stabilize the new States of Europe,” […]

An enormous part of German industry will, therefore, be condemned inevitably to destruction. The need of importing foodstuffs will increase considerably at the same time that the possibility of satisfying this demand is as greatly diminished. In a very short time, therefore, Germany will not be in a position to give bread and work to her numerous millions of inhabitants, who are prevented from earning their livelihood by navigation and trade”

In the last chapter, he offered some alternative measures, which were clearly not taken in 1919 but which may have influenced the Marshall Plan after the World War II.

“I do not intend to enter here into details, or to attempt a revision of the Treaty clause by clause. I limit myself to three great changes which are necessary for the economic life of Europe, relating to Reparation, to Coal and Iron, and to Tariffs.

Reparation.—[…] I suggest, […], the following settlement:—

(1) The amount of the payment to be made by Germany in respect of Reparation and the costs of the Armies of Occupation might be fixed at $10,000,000,000.

(2) The surrender of merchant ships and submarine cables under the Treaty, of war material under the Armistice, of State property in ceded territory, of claims against such territory in respect of public debt, and of Germany’s claims against her former Allies, should be reckoned as worth the lump sum of $2,500,000,000, […].

(3) The balance of $7,500,000,000 should not carry interest pending its repayment, and should be paid by Germany in thirty annual instalments of $250,000,000, beginning in 1923.

Coal and Iron.—(1) The Allies’ options on coal under Annex V. should be abandoned, but Germany’s obligation to make good France’s loss of coal through the destruction of her mines should remain.

Tariffs.—A Free Trade Union should be established under the auspices of the League of Nations of countries undertaking to impose no protectionist tariffs whatever against the produce of other members of the Union, Germany, Poland, the new States which formerly composed the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish Empires, […] The adherence of other States would be voluntary from the outset. But it is to be hoped that the United Kingdom, at any rate, would become an original member.”

I strongly recommend the book. It not only gives an insight into the Peace Conference, the Treaty of Versailles, and how not to end a war, but it also gives a fabulous opportunity to read a very rich and readable book from John Maynard Keynes, a figure of which importance cannot be overstated.

(1) You may find it here at the Guttenberg Project.

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Reales Ordenanzas de Carlos III

Las Reales Ordenanzas son las normas que establecen el comportamiento, derechos y deberes de los militares de las Fuerzas Armadas de España. Las Reales Ordenanzas de Carlos III fueron realizadas en 1768 bajo su reinado (1759-1788) y estuvieron vigentes hasta 1978, siendo las más longevas de la historia de España.

Durante el MBA que cursé en 2006-2007 en la EOI, Emiliano Mata, quien entonces nos dio clases de estrategia, y más tarde fue compañero de trabajo, recomendaba en ocasiones la lectura de dichas Reales Ordenanzas.

A principio de este año las leí y en esta entrada quería comentarlas brevemente.


Las Reales Ordenanzas de Carlos III están estructuradas en títulos: “Del Soldado”, “Del Cabo”, “Obligaciones del Soldado”, “Del Sargento”, “Obligaciones del Sargento”… “Crímenes militares, y comunes, y penas que a ellos corresponden”. Cada uno de los títulos se estructura en artículos (entre menos de 10 hasta más de 100 por título).

A continuación quería compartir algunos de sus artículos:

Dentro del Título I,

  1. Desde que se le sienta su plaza, ha de enterársele de que el valor, prontitud en la obediencia, y grande exactitud en el servicio, son objetos a que nunca ha de faltar, y el verdadero espíritu de la profesión.
  1. En el esmero del cuidado de la ropa consiste la ventaja de que el Soldado no se empeñe, como que grangée el aprecio de sus Gefes; y para lograr uno, y otro, se labará, peynará, y vestirá con aseo diariamente, tendrá los zapatos, evillas, y botones delvestido limpios, las medias tiradas, el corbatín bien puesto, su casaca, chupa, y calzón sin manchas, rotura, ni mal remiendo, las caídas del pelo cortas, y con un solo bucle a cada lado, la gorra bien armada, y en todo su porte, y ayre marcial, dará a conocer su buena instrucción, y cuidado.
  1. No ha de llevar en su vestuario prenda alguna que no sea uniforme: nunca se le permitirá ir de capa, ni con redecilla, fumar por la calle; ni fuera de los Cuerpos de Guardia, sentarse en el suelo, en Calles, ni Plazas públicas, ni otra acción alguna, que pueda causar desprecio a su persona.
  1. Se prohibe, baxo de severo castigo, al Soldado, toda conversación, que manifieste tibieza, o desagrado en el servicio, ni sentimiento de la fatiga que exige sus obligación; teniendo entendido, que para merecer ascenso, son cualidades indispensables el invariable deseo de merecerlo, y un grande amor al oficio.
  1. Si, estando en la puerta de una Plaza, viere venir alguna Tropa armada, o pelotón de gente, llamará luego a su Cabo; y a proporción que se acercare, continuará su aviso; y en el caso de que el Cabo no le haya oído, o la celeridad de los que se acercan, no le haya dado tiempo para acudir, la misma Centinela cerrará la barrera, o puerta, si la hubiere, mandará hacer alto a los que se aproximen; y si, en desprecio de este aviso, pasasen adelante, defenderá su puesto con fuego y bayoneta, hasta perder la vida.
  1. Toda Centinela apostada en Muralla, puerta, o parage que pida precaución, desde la Retreta, hasta la Diana, dará el Quién vive a quantos llegaren a su inmediación: y respondiendo: España, preguntará: Qué gente? Y si fuere en Campaña Qué Regimiento? Si los preguntados respondiesen mal, o dexasen de responder, repetirá el Quién vive dos vezes, y sucediendo lo mismo, llamará la Guardia para arrestarle; y en caso de huir entonces, dando con este motivo de sospechar que sea persona malintencionada le hará fuego.

Dentro del Título II,

  1. El Cabo, como Gefe más inmediato del Soldado, se hará querer, y respetar de él, no le disimulará jamás las faltas de subordinación: infundirá en los de su Esquadra amor en el oficio, y mucha exactitud en el desempeño de sus obligaciones; será firme en el mando, graciable en lo que pueda, castigará sin cólera, y será medido en sus palabras, aun quando reprenda.
  1. Los Cabos en su trato con los Soldados serán sostenidos, y decentes; dará a todos el Usted; les llamará por su propio nombre, y nunca se valdrá de apodos, ni permitirán que los Soldados entre usen de vozes, ni chanzas de mala crianza.
  1. Toda tropa que marche sin Armas con qualquiera destino que lleve, cederá a la que vaya con ellas; y toda Tropa que no tuviere Vanderas, o Estandarte, cederá a los que tuviere.

Dentro del Titulo IV,

  1. El Sargento tendrá con los Soldados, y Cabos un trato sostenido, y decente; dará a todos el Usted: no usará, ni permitirá familiaridad alguna, ni permitirá familiaridad alguna, que ofenda a la subordinación: será exacto en el servicio, y se hará obedecer, y respetar.

Dentro del Título X,

El que blasfemare el santo nombre de Dios, de la Virgen, o de los Santos, será inmediatamente preso, y castigado, por la primera vez con la afrenta de ponerle una mordaza dentro del Cuartel, por el término de dos horas por la mañana, y dos por la tarde, en ocho días seguidos, atándole a un poste; y si reincidiere en esta culpa, se le atravesará irremisiblemente la lengua con un hierro caliente `por mano del Verdugo, y se le arrojará ignominiosamente del Regimiento, precediendo Consejo de Guerra.

3. […] los delincuentes en tan enorme delito, en cualquiera número que fueren sin que les releve de esta pena el raro accidente de que no sean Catholicos; pues teniendo prevenido, que no se admita en mi servicio Soldado, que no sea Catholico Apostólico Romano, es mi voluntad, que el que se delata, o se averigue ser de otra Religión, en el caso de hallarse reo, padezca (sin excepción) el castigo, que para el crimen en que incurriere, prescriben mis Ordenanzas.

  1. Todo Soldado, Cabo y Sargento, que en lo que precisamente fuere de mi Real servicio, no obedeciere a todos, y a cualquiera Oficiales de mis Exercitos, será castigado con pena de la vida.
  1. Los que emprendieren cualquiera sedición conspiración, o motín, o indugeren a cometer estos delitos contra mi Real Servicio, seguridad de las Plazas, y Países de mis Dominios, contra la Tropa, su Comandante, u Oficiales, serán ahorcados en cualquiera número que sean; y los que huvieren tenido noticia, y no lo delataran luego que puedan, sufrirán la misma pena.
  1. El Soldado que no se hallare en una al Arma, Campo de Batalla, u otra cualquiera función, con la misma prontitud que sus Oficiales, sin justificación de causa legítima, que se lo haya embarazado, será pasado por las Armas.
  2. Los Espías de ambos sexos serán ahorcados; y si lo fuere algún Paisano, (de cualquiera calidad, y estado que sea) se le aplicará por la Jurisdicción Militar (con inhibición de la de que penda) la pena de muerte, procediendo para el conocimiento de su causa el Comandante Militar, con dictamen del Auditor, o Asesor, si allí lo huviere.
  3. El que forzare a muger honrada, casada, viuda, o doncella, será pasado por las Armas; pero quando solo conste de la intención deliberada, y esfuerzos para conseguirlo, será desterrado a diez años de Presidio de África, o seis de Arsenales, debiendo justificarse, que no haya intervenido actual amenazas de Armas de qualquiera suerte; pues en este caso, o en el de que la muger ofendida haya padecido algún daño notable en su persona, será precisamente condenado a muerte el agresor.


Como queda claro al principio, las ordenanzas establecen un reglamento para militares, pero Emiliano recomendaba su lectura por la pertinencia de los principios subyacentes a algunos artículos en el mundo empresarial. El respeto en el trato, el aseo, la prohibición de fumar, el no hablar mal del empleador, el liderazgo de hecho, etc., son principios básicos contemplados en cualquier régimen interno hoy en día.

He querido dejar también como invitación a reflexión artículos relativos al acoso a las mujeres o la sedición,  que son siempre de actualidad debido a diferentes sucesos.

Finalmente, me llamó la atención el artículo sobre los espías, en contraposición con la estimación en que se les tiene en “El Arte de la Guerra” de Sun Tzu (ver esta entrada sobre ello), donde su uso, tanto de los espías propios como de aquellos del enemigo, es considerado esencial.


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The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)

oscar-wildeOne of themes present at all times during a recent visit to Dublin was literature. The tourist guide offers you literary walking tours, a literary pub crawl, suggests to visit different libraries, book shops, major parks are adorned with statues dedicated to Irish writers, etc.Thus far, point taken. Already while in Dublin I was taking note of authors and books to be read in the near future.

During the stay in Dublin, our hotel was close to Merrion square, where Oscar Wilde lived as a child. I, therefore, decided to start with one of his plays, “The Importance of Being Earnest“, which was performed for the first time in 1895 in London.

The play, a critical satire of some of Victorian England social institutions and values (in particular marriage, literary press, religion, honesty, punctuality), is centered around two friends, Algernon and Jack (John Worthing), who go about from criticizing each other’s habits, to sharing each other’s faked relatives, to proposing to each other’s cousin and ward. After drawing several parallels between the two characters and their fiancées, and going about several absurd situations,  the play unravels in the most unexpected way.

The book is rather short (~45 pages in the digital version I read) though it’s full of surprising turns and punch lines. It has a memorable and quotable sentence in every other page. I will share some below:

“[…] I have come up to town expressly to propose to her” – “I thought you had come up for pleasure?”

“More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.”

“Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don’t try it. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers.”

“Do you smoke?” – “Well, yes. I must admit I smoke.” – “I am glad to hear it. A man should always have an occupation of some kind.”

“I have lost both my parents.” – “To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

“I would strongly advise you [..] to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent…” – “[…] I can produce the hand-bag at any moment.”

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”

“[…] Algernon. It is not at all a bad name. In fact, it is rather an aristocratic name. Half of the chaps who get into the Bankruptcy Court are called Algernon.”

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

“True in matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.”

“Never speak disrespectfully of Society. Only people who can’t get into it do that.”

“He has nothing but he looks everything. What more can one desire?”

“I see no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more attractive at the age you mention (35) than she is at present (18). There will be a large accumulation of property.”

“I never change, except in my affections”.

I strongly recommend the reading of the play (it took me about 3 hours). You may find the ebook here at Guttenberg Project or you may watch below the play in Youtube:

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The first stop I made in my trip to Ireland last week was to visit Glendalough (Gleann Dá Loch, meaning “Valley of two lakes”), in the county of Wicklow, where there is a monastic settlement dating from the Middle Ages, when it was founded by St. Kevin.

The entry to the settlement it’s free and several routes are proposed to visit the place including some walking trails (from 1 to 11 km) around the lower and upper lakes.

Some structures from the X to the XIII centuries remain today, such as the Gateway (unique in Ireland due to its two stories and double arch), the Round Tower (with over 30 m of height and an entrance at 3 m to protect it in case of attack), and the Cathedral.



Round Tower

Round Tower

Cathedral of St. Peter and St Paul.

Cathedral of St. Peter and St Paul.

On the way to the upper lake, it is found the Deer Stone (where St Kevin would have fed some infants with milk from wild a deer), St. Kevin’s Cell (small circular structure where he retired to pray and meditate) and Reefert Church (Righ Fearta, the “burial place of the kings”, where members of the once important O’Toole family would have been buried).


Deer Stone.

Lower lake.

Lower lake.

St. Kevin's Cell.

St. Kevin’s Cell.

Reefert Church.

Reefert Church.

Reefert Church.

Reefert Church.

Upper lake.

Upper lake.

Leaving on my way to Kilkenny, I still had time to enjoy the views of the valley and find some other ruined churches along St. Kevin’s Way, a pilgrim path that starts at Hollywood and crosses the Wicklow Gap to arrive at Glendalough.

Wicklow Gap.

Wicklow Gap.


The previous night I stayed at the Trooperstown Wood Lodge just a few kilometres from the monastic site and more than recommended. The lodge is run by the same people who manage a nearby restaurant, The Wicklow Heather, which not only serves great food and has a good atmosphere but it’s decorated around Irish literature, especially its “Writers Room”, where customers may discover some of Irish authors and its writings.

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In the morning I went for a short run from the lodge across the river and nearby forest, in the southern part of the Wicklow Mountains. Thus, you can imagine that the complete experience was wonderful and I can only recommend to visit the place.

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