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Ploughing the sea and the shore

Wednesday, 20 September, 2017 0 Comments

The Irish (Gaelic) word treabhadh means “ploughing”, but its use is not confined to the land. In An t-Oileánach (The Islander), Tomás Ó Criomhthain writes of “ag treabhadh na mara”, literally ploughing the sea. It’s a beautifully visual phrase for describing the hard, dangerous work involved in making a living from fishing:

“Daoine bochta saonta sinn ag cur an tsaoghail dinn ó lá go lá. B’fhéidir nárbh’ fhearra dhúinn bheith n-ár scannróirí. Bhíomair oilte, toilteannach leis an slí bheathadh do cheap an Máighistir Beannaithe dhúinn a dhéanamh gan leisce, ag treabhadh na mara go mion minic gan súil le dul chun cinn ach ár ndóchas i nDia.”

Ploughing the sea and the shore

Inspirational No. 10s

Tuesday, 19 September, 2017 0 Comments

Our new century began with the most open, exciting tournament in modern football: Euro 2000. The four semi-finalists all played classic No. 10s in the space between midfield and the opposition defence. France, Italy, Portugal and Holland had Zinedine Zidane, Francesco Totti, Manuel Rui Costa and Dennis Bergkamp respectively. Today? In a sign of the changing times, the No. 10 jersey is being assigned to inspirational players — Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. — rather than designated playmakers.

No. 10s

The sea around us

Monday, 18 September, 2017 0 Comments

“If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.” — Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

The sea around us

Morning Sea

Let me stop here. Let me, too, look at nature awhile.
The brilliant blue of the morning sea, of the cloudless sky,
the yellow shore; all lovely,
all bathed in light.

Let me stand here. And let me pretend I see all this
(I really did see it for a minute when I first stopped)
and not my usual day-dreams here too,
my memories, those images of sensual pleasure.

Constantine P. Cavafy

Michael Fitzgerald: who would have been 99 today

Sunday, 17 September, 2017 0 Comments

“And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas

Michael Fitzgerald (17 September 1917 – 2 April 2011): He was a farmer and he was a thinker. He loved the land, its history, its substance, its moods and its meaning. He knew why people had fought and died for it and he understood the passions it generated. His hands were shaped by decades of wresting a living from the soil. Possessed of a sense of chivalry that has all but disappeared; he was one of the last representatives of a culture that had its roots in an ancient, a simpler, a lost world.


Wind & Rain

Saturday, 16 September, 2017 0 Comments

The 184th Oktoberfest begins in Munich today and it will run until 3 October. Normally, it’s an occasion for Kaiserwetter (glorious, sunny weather) but it’s kicking off this year with wind and rain. That’s ideal weather, though, for rugby and, for the first time ever, Oktoberfest will feature a world-class “sevens” rugby tournament, with teams from Fiji, South Africa, England, France, Ireland, Australia and Germany.

Wind and rain are central motifs in the ballad performed here by the superbly talented Hanz Araki, who combines his Japanese and Irish heritages in an American mix that makes for a refreshing interpretation of traditional music.


Friday, 15 September, 2017 0 Comments

Our posts here this week have been dedicated to the 16th anniversary of 9/11. The focus has been the photographs collected by the Berlin-based artists Stefka Ammon and Robert Ziegler for their 9/11 remembrance project, MY_WTC, which displays tourist images of the World Trade Center.

Our final photograph is personal and was taken in October 1989. My late mother kept a diary of her trip to New York City and here’s what she wrote after her boat trip around Manhattan: “Seen World Trade Centre with its Twin Towers. Rise 110 Stories and 1,350 feet each and on one of them is a high pole to warn the planes not to fly too low.”

Mother with Twin Towers


Thursday, 14 September, 2017 0 Comments

We’re recalling the 16th anniversary of 9/11 this week here by presenting the photographs collected by Berlin-based artists Stefka Ammon and Robert Ziegler for their 9/11 remembrance project devoted to tourist images of the World Trade Center. Here we have a perfectly-framed image of a young man facing the camera as a swath of ferry backwash forms where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Lower Manhattan is shrouded in haze and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are a spectre of their tragic destiny. “MY_WTC #31 | Paul 1990 | Twin Towers, center stage.”

“1990, on the ferry to Staten Island. After traveling up from Annapolis on a greyhound bus, arrived with a headache, so decided to get out of the humid city, to get some fresh air and a better view of the city from the ferry. I was glad I did because I’d never get another chance.”



Wednesday, 13 September, 2017 0 Comments

We’re honouring the 16th anniversary of 9/11 this week here by highlighting some of the photographs collected by the Berlin-based artists Stefka Ammon and Robert Ziegler for their 9/11 remembrance project devoted to tourist images of the World Trade Center. This is “MY_WTC #23 | Rami 1998 | Falling in love on a roof.” Nicolas Liucci-Goutnikov, a curator at Centre Pompidou in Paris, commented on the photo thus: “an ‘artistic’ nude in the foreground restores to the towers their phallic symbolism.”

“The image was captured in July 1998, my first days in New York City & first romantic moments with the women which became my girlfriend later that time. Each time I look at this picture, it brings out autumn like feelings. Together with the iconic twin towers in the background, it’s a real child like memory.”



Tuesday, 12 September, 2017 0 Comments

We’re remembering the 16th anniversary of 9/11 this week by looking at some of the photographs collected by the Berlin-based artists Stefka Ammon and Robert Ziegler for their 9/11 remembrance project devoted to tourist images of the World Trade Center. This is “MY_WTC #517 | Dyanna 1991 | My Sibs & I.”

“Every year my family would take 2 car trips from DC to New York because my parents loved the city so much. I hated car trips so I always slept through most of the ride but would always wake up to see the skyline as we approached, specifically looking for the twin towers (WTC). September 11, 2001 changed all that but I will never forget that long elevator ride my family and I took all the way to the top of the tower (captured in this photo) or the beauty those buildings added to the city of New York.”

Their WTC

9/11 and MY_WTC

Monday, 11 September, 2017 0 Comments

It’s been 16 years to the day since Islamist terrorists used hijacked planes to declare war upon the West and murder some 3,000 innocent people in the process. Those who experienced what has become known as 9/11 will never forget that infamous day and it is our duty to remember it annually and perpetually.

The Berlin-based artists Stefka Ammon and Robert Ziegler have created a project in remembrance of 9/11 in the form of a website devoted to photos of the World Trade Center submitted by people who visited New York City between 1966 and 2001. For the remainder of the week, here, our posts will be devoted to those images. We begin with the photograph titled “MY_WTC #25 | Freidoun 1994,” which was taken from a Hudson River boat filled with tourists. The light creates a dramatic panorama and the spell-binding buildings are magnificent and heart-breakingingly vulnerable.

The World Trade Center

Scotland the most beautiful

Sunday, 10 September, 2017 0 Comments

1. Scotland: And finally, the world’s most beautiful country is revealed: Scotland. Who can deny that these wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles are some of the most wonderful and beautiful sights in the world?”

That was the result of a poll of readers conducted by the Rough Guides travel publisher in a bid to determine “the most beautiful country in the world.” Angus Wright dutifully wrote up the result for The Scotsman, but it’s the comments on his article that take the Walkers Shortbread biscuit:

Rank Bajin: “It’s quite nice when the rain stops. Usually that’s March 28 and June 30 at 3:30pm. The rest of the time you can’t see anything”

Stewart Mckirdy: “Seriously ??? Who did Rough Guides ask ? people from Scotland presumably”

14152956259: “Not Scottish unionists, that’s for sure.”

Paolo Tognini: “Italy has 53 UNESCO World Heritage sites, highest number in the world on a country basis. Scotland has 6. It is obvious that none of the voters has ever visited Italy….. Mind you, I do like Scotland but this survey result needs a reality check.”

RejeanLavoie: “…or…Scotland needs more UNESCO sites and Italy has a complex?”

Ed Watts: “Paolo, with all due respect why “It is obvious that none of the voters has ever visited Italy…..” – I have visited Italy, and had little, if any, interest in UNESCO sites. Italy’s nice, undoubtedly – Scotland’s better.”

Filmmaker Adam Stocker would agree with Ed, there. After driving around Scotland in his (white) van, he made a short video titled “Scotland – Lochs, Mountains & Light”. He included lots of the most beautiful rain, too.