Krunchie with Yachts

Krunchie with Yachts

Proinnsias - Krunchie As

"Proinnsias" sounds the same as "Krunchie as," except with a P instead of a K. Christened "Francis Killeen," he adopted the Irish form of this name "Proinnsias Ó Cillín." ("Cillín," which means "treasure," sounds exactly the same as "Killeen"). Some people have difficulty pronouncing "Proinnsias," and some children called him "Krunchie," a nickname that stuck.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Krunchie Killeen

A Jack of all Trades

To his baby sister, 18 years his junior, as she grew up, Krunchie (then called Francie) seemed like a latter-day Leonardo da Vinci, because of his multifarious "talents": Artist, Poet, Song-writer, Singer, Actor, Performer, Musician (tin whistle player), Multi-linguist (apparently), Scholar, Lawyer, Gardener, Mountain Climber (actually, mountain-walker), Home-Brewer and Wine-Maker, Gadget-lover, Inventor, Political Theorist, Community Activist, Organiser (of Céilís, Musical Evenings, Ballad Sessions, Art Exhibitions) and Government Adviser (actually, Civil Servant, but to a baby sister ...).

Many of these multifarious interests are reflected in the pages and posts of his Blogs, all accessible from here (via links in the panel on the right).

Patricia Killeen, the baby sister, in red hood, on visit to the mountains to see the snow, in Krunchie's Austin A40 Car, with mother, sisters Margaret and Catherine, and friend in blue hat, c. 1968

Krunchie, still a gardener (photo 2015)

Music Releases

It is only now, in his latter years, that he has learned the minimum skills to share his musical creations with the world: see Krunchie Killeen's YouTube Channel.

At present, he uses the software package Sibelius to write out and orchestrate his tunes using Note-Performer virtual Instruments; then he exports the creation  into MixPad (initially as a Midi file, but now with Note-Performer instruments, as a Sound File) where he adds adds his voice and tin whistle via the microphone. When happy with the production, he uses Distrokid to distribute the recording to Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Apple Music, Deezer and several other streaming services. He uses Movavi to create his videos, or makes them straight from his Huawei mobile phone.

Keeping the Day Job

Krunchie met Shay Healy (then known as Séamus Óg Ó hÉalaithe) at a Musical Evening when both were 20 years old. Both performed comic songs of their own creation at the event, and Shay told Krunchie he was thinking of giving up his day job to become a professional entertainer. Krunchie said "In my  opinion, you should hold onto your secure day-job."

There is a big difference between the joyful performance of trivial party pieces at musical evenings and the hardship of touring round from venue to venue trying to make a living from entertaining people.

While Shay chucked in his back-room job with the Irish Press newspaper group, (but soon was back on a payroll with RTE, but inside the entertainment industry), Krunchie held onto the day job and had a successful career in several departments - Foreign Affairs, Revenue Commissioners, Gaeltacht, EU Council of Ministers, finally settling in the Land Registry for over 30 years, where he rose to the important role of Chief Examiner of Titles. His ideas for the future of Land Titling is contained in his book Simplified Land Titling, which can be enjoyed by the general reader, and politicians, and not only lawyers or computer scientists.

Dáil na nÓg

Krunchie, at age 16, joined Dáil na nÓg ("Parliament of the Young"), a recently founded Irish Language open debating society for people aged between 15 and 21.

Dáil na nÓg in 1960 (Click to enlarge)

He soon spear-headed a campaign to attract more members and took a position on a sub-committee to write a constitution for the organisation. He proposed that one member should be given the task of drafting a constitution and bring it back to the committee for discussion. He was given this task. Since Dáil na nÓg was theoretically modelled on Dáil Éireann (the Irish lower house of Parliament), Krunchie read the Constitution of Ireland and the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann, and modelled his draft on these documents. The resulting draft was too complex and legalistic for its purpose. He spent the allocated budget on having his draft typed and duplicated (there were neither Word Processors nor Photocopying Machines in those days) and brought it before the committee. He defended his document against all criticism, so the other members gave in and accepted the draft, and it became the constitution.

A better document would have said in simple words that the organisation was a debating society and that members were not bound by any resolution passed. Because of the complex language of the constitution, this fundamental principal was not always understood and sometimes an inappropriate call was made to members to obey directives contained in motions.

A Debating Society can, in fact, take one view one day and the opposite the next. All members' views should be respected and nobody asked to change their view or conduct just because of the passing of a resolution. (Community activists should note that the same is true of "resolutions" passed by Parliament or City Council. Laws go through a more elaborate machinery, and binding Council decisions are included, not in resolutions, but in schedules of decided activities).

Dáil na nÓg was originally proud of being an independent organisation, determining policy and activities itself and not subject to its adult advisers. However, a few years after Krunchie had gone over the age limit, it became a branch of the Gaelic League for the sake of perceived benefits of being a branch of that organisation.

Besides debates, Dáil na nÓg held occasional Musical Evenings, Record Hops and Céilís, all of which, in his time there, Krunchie had a hand in organising.

Oireachtas na Gaeilge

Oireachtas na Gaeilge is an annual Irish-Language festival, like the Eisteddfod in Wales. In 1962, Dáil na nÓg was invited to nominate a member to its executive committee, and Krunchie was that nominee. Here, he got other voluntary tasks to carry out, i.e., Assistant Organiser and Master of Ceremonies at a Sean-Nós ("Old-Type") Singing competition, and at the Irish-Language National Drama Festival.

Most of the members of the Oireachtas committee at that time had sat on the committee for many years. The decline in Irish Language organisations meant that replacement of retiring members was difficult. In the days before mobile phones, communications migrated slowly through the structure of an organisation, which was like this:

Local Branch - District Council - County or City Council- Provincial Council - National Council.

Only very dedicated members were willing to take on the onerous tasks of Council Membership at any level. In the early days, the language movement was part of the national revival of the late 19th century; there were hundreds of thousands of members, a cultural festival, called a feis, in every parish, and enthusiasm to fill all positions of the structure. Now, emigration and weariness had weakened the movement. Various language organisations nominated members to the council of the Oireachtas and it was apparent that the same persons were burdened with membership of multiple committees.

But times were changing. There was a new buzz in the country from the First Programme of Economic Expansion (1957 to 1962). The Irish TV station had just opened.

One dynamic member of the Oireachtas committee was the nominee of Gael Linn, a fairly new, business-oriented organisation. This member called for a more active PR (Public Relations) element, but the conservative majority took the view that we were doing all the advertising we could afford. The new concept of PR had not yet entered their mind-set.

The committee, reviewing the previous year's festival, discussed, inter alia, the Youth Day of the festival, which they considered very successful, since they had filled the Theatre Royal with an audience of Four Thousand teenagers. When Krunchie's turn to speak came, he intended to offer a mild criticism; however, the words that came out of his mouth severely slated the event. He said that the youth were disinterested in the performances, spoke little Irish there, that the boys only wanted the opportunity to meet girls and have a bazz-off from school. He mentioned as unsuitable a performer who played the violin while dancing. The other members of the Committee said this was a very talented performer. Krunchie that said the young people would prefer to see a person of their own age playing the guitar amateurishly and singing songs relevant to the audience.

The annual Oireachtas concert for young people was dropped from the future programme, and, in its place, Gael Linn launched a new very successful nation-wide cultural programme for young people, called Slógadh, which engages the talents of the young people themselves (and takes the hell of an amount of organisation and PR).

(The Theatre Royal actually closed in 1962, to make way for an ugly modern building, but the Youth Concert could have moved to another venue).

Studies and Time-pressure

In the same year, Krunchie participated with the Dalymount Darkies in a concert of African American songs, with other members recruited from St Peter's Church Choir, of which he was a member since the age of seven, and in The Pirates of Pensance, a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta,  at Loreto College, North Great Georges Street, into which he was press-ganged by colleagues in the Estate Duty Office (of the Revenue Commissioners) where he was working, as well as an abortive weekly dance venture (The Mohicans) in the Four Provinces Ballroom.

In October he began his legal studies (at UCD and King's Inns), so he cut his connection with voluntary organisations to concentrate on his studies, and, in the next year, he earned the Gold Medal for both Constitutional Law and Law of Evidence.


As he faced into the semi-final year of his legal studies, he was beset with recurring migraines, which continued all the way through from January to exam-time (June). He still passed his exams, but not at Gold Medal level.

Eventually, by going over and over what elements of his life had changed to bring on the Migraines, his doctor figured that they had been triggered by the Five-day Week, introduced to the Civil Service in January 1965. Krunchie had taken this opportunity to lie on in bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This re-set his Circadian Clock every weekend, so that, when he rose from bed on Monday morning, the migraine was triggered by reason of missing some hours of deep sleep. The remedy was regularity of habit, particularly to rise at the same time every morning.

Having overcome his migraine recurrence, Krunchie achieved first place in the subjects of the last year's exam, but only third place overall, since the last two years were grouped in the final result.

The Sick Socks

After qualifying as a Barrister (with First Class Honours), Krunchie joined the egg-head branch of the Gaelic League (Craobh na Cásca), where he participated in study groups delving into Sociology, Social Psychology, Anthropology, Socio and Psycho- Linguistics, and Group Dynamics. This branch became known as the Sic-Socs (from "Psychology/Sociology").

The chairman of the Sick Socks, Maolsheachlainn  Ó Caollaí ("Malachy Keally") became President of the Gaelic League and Krunchie chaired two sub-committees of the National Executive, viz., the Constitution Sub-committee (to fix a legal problem that had arisen) and the PR Sub-committee (to improve how the organisation presented itself to the public). These subcommittees were dissolved when their task was done.

The Brendan Behan Branch

Krunchie considered that the Irish Language movement was too confined to academia and back rooms, and that it was cut off from the current culture; so, with a few like-minded Irish speakers, he set up a bilingual branch, "Craobh Uí Bheacháin: The Brendan Behan Club," which met in pubs. The branch settled on a weekly ballad session in Slattery's of Capel Street, with multiple acts at every session. (In those days of the ballad boom,  entertainers crawled around from venue to venue, performing their act and then heading off for the next venue).

Krunchie often took the role of MC in the club, throwing in comic poems of his own to enliven the audience when necessary.

The Pavees  became resident group because they enjoyed playing there, even though the remuneration was small. This group consisted of John Keenan Senior, John Keenan Junior, Paddy Keenan, Paul Furey, George Furey and Mick Moriarty. This period of the Keenan-Furey history gets the following mention in Wikipedia:

Recognising his son's interest, John Keenan tutored Paddy, along with neighbouring children, including Finbar Furey and Davy Spillane. During this period, the Keenan household was an ongoing session. At age fourteen, Keenan played his first major concert at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, followed by a few years of touring with a number of musicians, including his father, as "The Pavees."


Portrait sketch of John Keenan Snr by Krunchie Killeen. John was a player of the Uileann Pipes, but in latter years, his arthritis made it easier to play the mandolin instead

The Brendan Behan Branch has long since faded out, but the social idea of the Branch was (partially) taken on by headquarters when Club Chonradh na Gaeilge ("The Gaelic League Club") was launched in the basement of the organisation's headquarters. Some committee members of the Behan Branch were initial committee members of "The Club."

Céilí Maestro

All branches of the Gaelic League in Dublin had a right to be represented on the Dublin City Council of the organisation, and The Brendan Behan branch was no exception. 

Along with promoting the Irish Language, the Gaelic League had taken on the task of promoting Irish Dancing. Just as Gaelic Football and Hurling had been invented by the Gaelic Athletic Association, in the 1890s, to represent the modern form of traditional Irish ball games, Irish Dancing, modelled on Scottish Dancing, had been invented by the Gaelic League. The dances were strictly defined and only dances confirming to these rules were permitted at Gaelic League functions. (Unlike the GAA, whic banned its members from supporting or participating in Foreign Games, the Gaelic League ban just applied to dances at Gaelic League functions). There were two categories of Irish Dance: performance dances by trained Irish Dancers (promoted by dancing schools) and social dances, or Céilí. Céilís run under these rules were known as "Pure Céilí," as distinct from "Céilí and Old Time" and "Set Dancing" that continued the broader social dance inheritance.

Pure Céilí had been very strong in the 1940s but had declined dramatically in the l950s. Originally every branch of the Gaelic League in Dublin (about 20 branches) had run weekly céilís for its members, and these were often the social glue that held branches together. When céili declined, individual branches could no longer afford the venture, and  a sub committee of the City Council of the organisation took over, viz., Co-choiste na gCéilithe, ("Céili Joint Committee"). Alas, the joint committee was now losing money on its Céilís and placing a financial strain on the City Council.

Since Krunchie, when a member of Dáil na nÓg, had been involved in running Céilís that had made a modest surplus instead of a loss, the City Council asked him to take on the role of Chairman of the Céilí Joint Committee. He chaired a committee that had good skills in running Céilís, but introduced new ideas for promotion and cost-cutting. Under his chairmanship, the losses were curtailed and the Joint Committee broke even over the year's activities.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Whey Butter, the Cream, Kerry Group and Nutrition

In 1970, I came across, in Paddy the Cope Gallagher's shop in Gweedore, a product I had never seen before: Whey Butter!

Little Miss Muffet, of  course, sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey. It is a very ancient pastural practice to separate milk into these two parts. First the cream is taken off, from which butter is made. The remainder is rich in protein, of which 80%  is casein protein and about 20% is whey protein. Curds are mainly casein, and Whey, the main protein in the watery substance left behind.

Now I thought I had discovered a butter made from the watery protein content of the milk! I was mistaken, since whey butter is actually made from a residual fat content of the watery whey obtained by making cheese by adding rennet to full-fat milk. The rennet curdles the milk; the solid part is taken off to form into cheese, and the "whey" is the watery part left behind.

I tried out the whey-butter, and found it very satisfactory for spreading on bread. I assumed it was not suitable for cooking (being, as I thought, devoid of fat).

I looked in many other shops, not only in Donegal, but in Dublin and other towns, and never found another shop stocking it.

If I was interested in this product, then there must be thousands of others. The "health food" sector must be one good outlet! Yet, I had never heard of it.

Ireland relied heavily on its exports of Irish Creamery Butter. Curds were often used to make cottage cheese, and Whey was more or less a waste bye-product, except for feeding to pigs. Now I saw it as potentially having significant value. All it required was marketing!

I thought the matter interesting enough to mention it at a departmental conference. I was working in the Gaeltacht Department at the time. This department was quite contrarian in its policies, setting up industrial estates, for example, in remote wastelands. (Seamus O Raghallaigh, its senior officer in Donegal, was actually a founder member and editing secretary of the Regional Science Association International, which promulgated the economics of remote industrial estates).

The Department took interest and raised the matter with the Dairy Board. A reply was soon received to the effect that "we have a very effective marketing campaign going on under the slogan 'Butter is the Cream,' so we are not in favour at present of promoting whey butter!"

Shortly afterwards, a departmental colleague mentioned to me that a group of Kerry farmers were taking interest in the product. By 1972 the North Kerry Farmers Cooperative had set up a joint venture with the Dairy Disposal Company (a state-owned company) and Erie Casein Company (an American company already involved in marketing milk proteins). There was an abundant supply of milk in County Kerry. After separating the milk, the remaining low-fat milk was initially used to extract casein for the manufacture of cheese and plastic, leaving whey as the waste product. Now they were interested in pursuing the potential of whey as a valuable product. (All I could suggest was that they evaporate the water and reduce the whey to a powder; then see to marketing the powder whey). In the following years, whey became the basis of muscle-building foods.

This North Kerry Cooperative venture evolved into Kerry Group, which has an annual revenue of €6 Billion and employs 24,000 people worldwide. While casein products were its inspiration, it never confined itself to that and markets around 15,000 products.

Meanwhile "Butter is the Cream" became unstuck. There was a sudden turn against consumption of saturated fats by those who guide public health. Everybody put low-fat milk on the table in place of full-fat milk. A flood of poly-unsaturated margarines flooded the market. Irish people stopped having the glass of milk with their lunch. People everywhere switched to low-fat, sugary foods and drinks. "Curds" became virtually the waste product in place of Whey!

Result of the flight from fats to sugars: an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. It turns out that natural fats are not the bogey-man after all, but sugars.

Now our health advisers are telling us that full-fat milk and butter are good for us after all!

Of coursse, Kerry Group kept up to date with the changes in perception and in October 2015 launched the Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute, "your trusted destination for health, nutrition &  general wellness science and policies."

Monday, 8 February 2016

Krunchie's Concepts

Two spectres in the maths world that have annoyed my brain over the years are Georg Cantor's alleged proof of the trans-finite (numbers bigger than infinity) and Alan Turing's non-computable numbers. Over the last few months I have given a lot of time to writing down my refutation of these absurd, but widely acclaimed, propositions.

Cantor is the founder of Set Theory and Turing one of the two fathers of computer science.

Last week, I posted my script to a maths journal, clearing the puzzle out of my mind. So, other puzzles return lest my brain be idle.

Over the last two nights I have found myself dreaming again of modes of transport. In Saturday's dream, I "drove" a magic carpet through Dublin's traffic. On Sunday night, I found myself struggling, on foot, through a great maze of tram tracks, and dodging trams.

Both are hopeless competitors of my "Krunchie's Cab" transport system.

Continue ...