- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nectar of the gods

While hosting a wine tasting at the Greek Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue this week, Ambassador Alexandros P. Mallias surprised his many guests by declaring that Greek wines were so spectacular that after the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens “all of the athletes were drunk.”

Oops. On second thought — but not before the laughter died down — the red-faced ambassador, who arrived in Washington three months ago, said he’d meant to say that all the athletes “were drinking” Greek wines.

Mr. Mallias, who displayed 41 varieties of wine — Atlantis White to Rose of the Moon — at five tables around the embassy, noted that Greece has been producing renowned grapes for 4,000 years, along with the world’s best olive oil and honey.

Meet your clan

An Irishman doesn’t visit Capitol Hill and not recall the deep Irish roots of the late Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill.

Such was the enchanting dialogue Wednesday night as Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, former leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party of Northern Ireland, Mr. O’Neill’s daughter Rosemary O’Neill and Frank Duggan of the Irish American Republicans remembered a particular visit to Ireland by Mr. O’Neill, a former House speaker, three decades ago.

“He lit up when I asked him about when Tip went to Derry, Hume’s home in Northern Ireland,” Mr. Duggan says of the conversation with Mr. Hume.

As Mr. Duggan tells the story, before Mr. O’Neill’s arrival in Ireland, “Hume had asked the speaker for the names of some of his relatives, and then did a lot of [genealogical] investigating. One day, while in Ireland, Hume arranged a surprise trip without telling Tip their destination and drove across the border to the town of Buncrana in Donegal.

“Hume drove up to a house and said, ‘This is your great-grandmother’s house, and these people are your cousins.’ Hume had contacted one Jimmy Fullerton, who brought along a bunch more Fullertons. Apparently, it was very moving and Tip was overwhelmed.

“Tip’s daughter Rosemary told me tonight that she has a picture of all of them standing in front of the house. She said, ‘They all looked alike, just like my father.’ ”

It was in 1904 that Thomas O’Neill, the late speaker’s father, married Rose Tolan, a Massachusetts dressmaker whose mother was Eunice Fullerton Tolan, born in County Donegal, Ireland.

Celtic fan

Hats off to Susan O’Malley, president of Washington Sports and Entertainment — and the first female president of an NBA franchise, the Washington Wizards — who was chosen yesterday to serve as grand marshal of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Washington.

“Susan O’Malley symbolizes the best and brightest in the Irish-American community,” says Ginny Kelly, chair of the parade committee. Miss O’Malley was once an intern with the Washington Bullets basketball team and the Washington Capitals hockey team, before climbing up the ranks. She lives in Old Town Alexandria.

Too emotional

That was newspaperman and author Michael LeGault making various stops in Washington this week to reveal his list of America’s five best and five worst thinkers — culled from his new book, “Think: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye.”

Five best: outgoing Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, investor Warren Buffet, journalist and critic Christopher Hitchens, New England Patriots coach and three-time Super Bowl winner Bill Belichick and businessman Michael Dell.

Five worst thinkers? Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Christian televangelist the Rev. Pat Robertson, political dissident Noam Chomsky and former Enron Chief Executive Officer Kenneth L. Lay.

Mr. LeGault, an editor with the National Post in Toronto and a former columnist for The Washington Times, argues in his book that sharp, incisive reasoning has become a lost art in the daily lives of Americans. Somewhere along the line, he says, the “age of reason” morphed into the “age of emotion” — a systemic erosion that is costing time, money, jobs and lives, leading to less fulfillment and growing dysfunction.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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