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Clare music: pipes and concertina and jigs

Tuesday, 16 July, 2019

The concertina player Liam O’Connor and the uilleann piper Cian Talty live beside each other in Glendine, just outside Miltown Malbay, the unofficial capital of Irish traditional music. Liam’s mother is the well-known tin whistle player, Bríd O’ Donohue, and Cian’s grandfather was Martin Talty, a dear friend of the legendary West Clare piper, Willie Clancy. Nuff said. Scaoil amach an bobailín!


The scandalously naked Burren

Monday, 15 July, 2019

The name means “stony place” and it is one of the strangest landscapes in Europe. What’s called The Burren occupies most of the top western corner of County Clare and this region of solid rock, which looks like a desert, is quite the opposite. Cattle are fattened by its limey grass and Arctic flowers blossom beside Mediterranean perennials between the niches of the limestone slabs. Emily Lawless (1845 – 1913) set her novel Hurrish (1886) in what she called this “Iron Land”. Snippet:

“Wilder regions there are few to be found, even in the wildest West of Ireland, than that portion of north Clare known to its inhabitants as the Burren. Seen from the Atlantic, which washes its western base, it presents to the eye a succession of low hills, singularly grey in tone — deepening often, towards evening, into violet or dull reddish plum colour — sometimes, after sunset, to a pale ghostly iridescence.

You picture them dotted over with flocks to sheep, which nibble on the sweet grass… But these Burren hills are literally not clothed at all. They are startlingly, I may say, scandalously naked.”


The horror of wokeness

Sunday, 14 July, 2019

Wokeness is the state or quality of being woke (aware of social and political issues relating to race, gender, class, whiteness, environment, migration, Trump…) But this Frankenstein child of identity politics is, in fact, self-righteousness masquerading as enlightenment.

Kinne Tonight is an Australian comedy television series hosted, written and produced by Troy Kinne. The first season premiered on 27 May this year and it offers a needed antidote to wokeness.


Putting on the pullover

Saturday, 13 July, 2019

The gifted Mexican artist David Álvarez told the Spanish public radio and television service, RTVE.es, that “cada imagen que ha creado está apoyada en la ‘metáfora para intentar sorprender a quien mira, para que la imagen sobreviva a la primera lectura y que, con suerte, propicie alguna pregunta.'” In other words, each image he creates is supported by the metaphor of trying to surprise the person looking at it so that it survives the first encounter and prompts some questions.

David Álvarez


The Orange Order

Friday, 12 July, 2019

On 1 July 1689, the Dutch-born Protestant King William III defeated the last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland, King James II, at the Battle of the Boyne in County Meath. The victory of William of Orange is celebrated each year by the Orange Order on the Twelfth of July, when marching bands from Orange lodges all over Northern Ireland parade through villages, towns and cities. The Orange Order was formed near Loughgall in County Armagh in 1795, when its founding members pledged their loyalty to the British royal family and swore to defend the Protestant faith.

The Orange Order

Photo: Michal Pudelka


The miracle stone of Labamalogga

Thursday, 11 July, 2019

The small monastic site of Labbamologga on the Limerick/Cork border was founded in the 7th century by Saint Molaige, and the name Labbamologga is an Anglicized form of the original Irish, Leaba Molaige (the bed of Molaige or Molaige’s resting place). Locals say that if you pick up a stone from the ruins of the second church on the site and apply it to an area of the body that is being affected by illness, while simultaneously praying or wishing for a cure, miraculous things can happen. You may carry away your “miracle stone” from Labbamologga but it must be returned at some point. On that, there is universal agreement.

Labamalogga stone


Yay, Team America! From China and Ireland via Apple

Wednesday, 10 July, 2019

Apple celebrated the Women’s World Cup win by the USA with an all-female red, white and blue graphic. How very woke and patriotic. Up to a point. The same Apple announced at the end of June that its new Mac Pro will be assembled in China, not the USA, and the very same Apple uses Ireland as a haven to pay minimal taxes on the profits it makes on those Mac Pros. So much for patriotic bit. As regards the wokeness, the company’s Inclusion & Diversity page shows that 67 percent of Apple’s workforce self-identifies as “not women”, which allows lots of women lots of time to hone their dribbling skills in the run up to the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Think different indeed.

Apple wokeness


A drawing a day keeps the doctor away

Tuesday, 9 July, 2019

That’s the philosophy of Mrzyk & Moriceau, both of whom “Vivent et travaillent à MontJean-sur-Loire,” where they draw daily.

Mrzyk & Moriceau


Word of the week: sinister

Monday, 8 July, 2019

The adjective sinister, with its meaning of evil, entered the English vocabulary early in the 15th century. It came from the Old French senestre, sinistre “contrary, false; unfavourable; to the left”, and its origins are in the Latin sinister, meaning “left, on the left side”.

The Latin word was used in augury, the Roman religious practice of interpreting omens from the flights of birds. Flights of birds, seen on the left side, were regarded as bringing misfortune, and in this way sinister acquired a sense of “harmful, adverse.”

When the augur interpreted flights of birds, it was referred to “taking the auspices”. This comes from the Latin auspicium and auspex, literally “one who looks at birds”.

Flight of birds


A Year Along the Geostationary Orbit

Sunday, 7 July, 2019

A geostationary orbit, often referred to as a geosynchronous equatorial orbit, is a circular orbit 35,786 km above the Earth’s equator and following the direction of the Earth’s rotation. Here, Felix Dierich presents a year through the eyes of the Himawari-8 Japanese weather satellite.


How China deploys Android malware at its borders

Saturday, 6 July, 2019

The Chinese authorities are are conducting a huge campaign of surveillance and oppression against the Muslim population of the Xinjiang region and foreigners crossing certain border checkpoints are being forced to install a piece of Android malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other data to the regime. Vice has the story. Snippet:

“The Android malware, which is installed by a border guard when they physically seize the phone, also scans the tourist or traveller’s device for a specific set of files, according to multiple expert analyses of the software. The files authorities are looking for include Islamic extremist content, but also innocuous Islamic material, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, and even music from a Japanese metal band.”

One of the most repulsive supporters of the awful Beijing regime is Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order. It was published in August 2016 but the resistance in Hong Kong has exposed the shabbiness of his world view.