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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon


I'm not one of them and if you are you represent 10% of the population. You may have been discriminated against and subjected to cruelty in the past. Even today the other 90% don't fully understand you even though you are probably more creative than they are.

We Irish are great for knowing feast-days etc. But how many of us know that August 13th is International Left-handers Day.

Some years ago I compiled and presented a radio programme on the subject and there was not a lot of interest in the subject on this island. Now the Left-handers of Ireland have their own club.

You will find them at
Or you can write to them at:
The Left Handers Club of Ireland,
24 Seabury Green,Malahide, Co.Dublin.
Their email is:

They feature an on-line shop where you can purchase items designed for the left-hander. and their Newsletter includes much useful information:

"As left-handers, we are very adaptable and most of us cope very well with the "right-handed world". Many left-handers do not realise the benefit they could get from using left-handed items as they have always got by with the right-handed versions of the various items such as scissors. However, having actually tried the products and found that they really do make a difference, they often write to tell us that they would not be without them now!

Left Hand Questions and Answers

We are sometimes asked a variety of questions. Here are three that we are most often asked:

Q. Are left-handers more artistic than right-handers?

    A. Left-handers are often thought to have a higher spatial awareness than right-handers. There have been some very famous left-handed artists, among them Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. They were both members of the Renaissance school of artists that encouraged its members to paint with both right and left hands. There was one study of art students that reported that 21% were left-handed and 28% were mixed-handed. There have been other studies which did not agree with these findings. There have been similar studies and similar findings done with architect students. However, the fact remains that architects have frequently reported a high number of left-handers in their ranks.

Q. How old is a child when you can tell if he/she is going to be left-handed?

    A. Most babies use both hands initially, and no preference is generally noted until the child is around seven to nine months. This should become consistent at about eighteen months. Even then, the preference may not be established until the child is around three years old, when a more definite pattern of preference can be seen. The degree of hand preference continues until the child is at least nine years old. Children who draw with their right hand, but throw or catch a ball for example, with their left hand have not established their dominance.

Q. If a left-handed child is forced to write with the right hand, will a stutter develop?

    A. It has been reported in children who have been forced into using their right-hand. Much of the early research showed high percentages of changed non-right handers with stutters. From the ‘40's, researchers suggest the stress ******ed the speech defect, and others suggest that there was no connection between enforced change and stuttering at all. Even so, it is unwise to force a non-right hander into right handedness."

Well Known lefthanders:

Paul McCartney, Paul Simon (Simon & Garfunkle), George Michael, Curt Cobain (Nirvana). Martin Turner (Cartoonist Irish Times), Bertie Ahern. Bill Clinton, George Bush snr. Whoopie Goldberg, Ken Barlow (Coronation St). Monica Seles (Tennis), Mike Weir (Golf). Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Beethoven.

Psychologists have written many articles about handedness. Some have attempted to change lefthanders from a lovable klutz to a doomed race. Some have argued for a variety of reasons, ranging from less immunity to disease to a higher accident rate, lefties didn’t live as long as righties.

There are those that claim there is evidence that left-handedness are caused by minor brain damage at birth. As a result, lefties are clumsier if perhaps also more creative.

Some medical literature report lefties have a higher accident rate, are more likely to have their fingers amputated due to power-tool accidents, suffer more write fractures, etc. They also claim lefties suffer a higher incidence of allergies, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and certain learning disabilities.

Other studies show lefties with an unusually high frequency of depression, drug-abuse, bed-wetting, attempted suicide, lower-than-normal birth weight, sleeping disorders, and autoimmune diseases.

Sports experts say lefthanders have a better natural curve when throwing a baseball. However, they always follow this statement by stating the lefthander may have a natural curve, but he never knows where the ball is going.

In the past left handers were known as "sinistrals". ( In Ireland the word was "cíteog". My late father used to describe the left hand as "the hand the Devil wipes his arse with".

According to the lefties Newsletter:

"Even court procedures favor right-handers. If you go to court and must testify,they swear you in by instructing you to raise your RIGHT arm/hand. At certain other functions, such as swearing in the President of the United States, the individual is instructed to place their LEFT hand on the bible and raise their RIGHT hand. Well, as far as I’m concerned, that tells the story. WHICH HAND IS ON THE BIBLE? THE LEFT. (CASE CLOSED)".

"We all know the heart is on the left side of the body, or, at least that applies to most of the human specie. One must wonder why God selected the most important organ (heart) of the human body to be placed on the LEFT side of the body. But, here again, they (whomever they are) insist the RIGHT hand be placed over the heart when paying respect to the flag. Wonder who started this, Napoleon?"

"When I entered the military service, they ordered me to salute the Officers with my right hand. Why? I wanted to salute with my left hand. Who started this saluting with the right hand in the first place? Someone said it was Napoleon, but what does he know? He’s dead!"

"Greetings between two individuals usually begin by shaking hands, RIGHT HANDS. Who started this? Was it Napoleon?"

"Do you know when I purchase a baseball glove I must pay more for it then same type of right-handed glove? Because it happens to be left-handed. I asked the salesman why do they charge more for the left-handed gloves? He said they do not manufacture as many even though they use same amounts of material. That’s interesting! So, if they make a glove for a nonexistent hand, the price would be prohibitive?"

"Try buying left-handed golf clubs, now that will cost you a bundle. Oh well, I guess we should consider ourselves fortunate, so far they have not forced us to buy left-handed basketballs".

"Do you realize all playing positions on a baseball team are not available to lefthanders? Let me walk out on the field and tell the coach I want to play third, shortstop or second-base - he will tell me I’m not qualified, I’m LEFT-HANDED. How many catchers do you know that were left-handed? So, out of nine positions we qualify for only five. Forty-four point 4 percent of the team is selected before we arrive at the ballparks. Coincidentally, all right-handers qualify for all positions. I say strike three. You’re ALL out!"

"How many left-handed guitars are available to us “Southpawlers?” Oh, do not mind that - just play the right-handed guitars, not that much difference. SURE! Of course, the same applies to other musical equipment, pianos, fiddles, etc. I think these individuals are all “OUT OF TUNE.” Oh well, someone has to carry the gear."

"Have you ever experienced a right-handed person teaching a left-handed person how to tie shoestrings or neckties? I recall, as a youngster, someone was teaching me to put the correct shoe on the correct foot. I took the left shoe, put it on my left foot and the individual said, “very good, you put it on the RIGHT foot. SAY WHAT?"

Incidentally, a thorough scientific study has determined ALL polar bears are left-handed, or, maybe we should say left-pawed.

An Irish leftie has proposed the following "bill of lefts"
    1) Free to salute with either hand from noon ‘til midnight.
    2) Free to place the left hand over the heart while paying respects to our flag.
    3) Free to suck your left thumb from noon to midnight.
    4) Right-handed citizens cannot call you LEFTY, SOUTHPAW, WEIRDO, FREAK, SPACE CADET, CLUMSY, ETC.
    5) Free to shake hands with the left hand from noon ‘til midnight.
    6) Scissors must be manufactured for either hand. All right-handed manufactured tools must contain a left-hand modification kit.
    7) A rule preventing players on baseball teams from wearing a glove and a rule allowing left-handed pitchers to hit at least three players during a game.
    8) Authority to change all plumbing systems. We want that darn hot water control on the RIGHT side. You would be surprised how many lefthanders have been sizzled by that left control. We want ALL controls changed. Example: To start the water flow you must rotate the control clockwise. (That should get a few of them).
    9) Authority to reconfigure the entire transportation system to satisfy left-handed requirements. Example: All highways redesigned to make the left lane the primary lane. All signs must point to the left and, certainly, no right turns would be allowed.
    10) All sport games must be designed for clockwise movement. For example: In baseball the first base will be moved to third base and third base to first base. All auto race tracks, horse-racing tracks, ice racing events, running tracks, etc must be configured for clockwise movement.

That's what the lefties have to say; I'm not really qualified to comment, being a dextral, although it has been suggested that I'm ambidextral (equally clumsy with both hands). Right?

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