Tag: Ireland

Cavan for Christmas

Saturday, 14 December, 2013 0 Comments

In January, The Strypes will play gigs in Toronto, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but on the 27th, 28th and 29th of December they’ll be in the Town Hall in their native Cavan. The band’s debut album, Snapshot, was released in September. From it, here’s What a Shame.

“The way he spat at the mike his lyrics couldn’t be fresher
They say he’d be a superstar if he could handle the pressure
After they put it to paper, they took him to tea
And told him just a couple changes that they wanted to see

They said his hair would be better if he coloured it black
And that he wouldn’t sound as harsh if he could tone it all back
They dressed him up in a craze to make him look pretty
They said the kids would dig if he looked like he came from the city”


The Tipperary Star bids for ‘Headline of the Year’

Thursday, 5 December, 2013 0 Comments

According to the 2011 census of Ireland, the population of County Tipperary was 158,754. That of Tipperary Town was put at 4,415. Both numbers are useful as it is not clear which “Tipp” entity The Tipperary Star is referring to in its recent headline.

The Tipperary Star

Situation clarified: “There are twelve women working as prostitutes in County Tipperary at the present time, The Tipperary Star can reveal,” the paper reported on 19 November. Councillor Billy Clancy pointed to the example of Germany, where he claimed “that 1 million per day are availing of” legalised prostitution. “They are even opening a mega brothel at the moment and I just feel that if we introduce legislation to ban prostitution people will just go to where sex is available to satisfy their desires,” he added.

The Tipperary Star, by the way, is owned by Johnston Press, a British newspaper conglomerate, and has a declining weekly circulation, now below 7,000 copies, down from 9,000 in 2008. Given the “sex sells” theory of newspapering, The Tipperary Star knows which buttons to press when it comes to doing the business.


Corruption and collusion in Ireland

Wednesday, 4 December, 2013 0 Comments

“The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 serves as a reminder that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world,” so says Transparency International in its latest report. Ireland finds itself in 21st position on the list, behind Uruguay but ahead of the Bahamas, but how accurately this reflects the situation in Uruguay or the Bahamas is difficult to judge as the difference between perceived corruption and actual sleaze is hard to define. The humiliation of those who suffer at the hands of dishonest bureaucrats cannot be rendered statistically; the loss of faith in governance is impossible to quantify.

In the case of Ireland, the latest blow to the credibility of its institutions came with recent revelations that charities in receipt of €1.5 billion in state funding were awarding their executives huge extra payments on top of their generous salaries. That those who make a living pleading for money to help the poor and the sick would turn out to be among the most avaricious and cosseted of fat cats is repulsive, but it neither surprises nor shocks. Much more shocking, however, are the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal, which were published yesterday. The tribunal found that Irish police leaked information to the IRA that led to two of Northern Ireland’s most senior police officers being murdered.

The tribunal was established in 2005 and spent six years examining intelligence and witness statements from police, undercover agents, IRA members and politicians during 133 days of public hearings. Three former members of An Garda Síochána, Ireland’s “guardians of the peace” — Owen Corrigan, Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey — were granted legal representation at the tribunal but all forcefully denied allegations of collusion in the murders. The costs of the Smithwick Tribunal have been estimated at €15 million, with some €6 million going on general legal fees. But despite all the evidence and all the money, it was still unable to name those who enabled the killings. That’s shocking, but it’s not surprising.


The original Lisa O’Neill

Saturday, 5 October, 2013 1 Comment

To celebrate the release of her new album, Same Cloth or Not, Lisa O’Neill will play a headline show at Whelan’s in Dublin on Saturday, 19 October. O’Neill started writing songs and music in her native Ballyhaise, County Cavan, and then moved to Dublin for a full-time career in music. She’s on the way.


Bicycle turning into brick

Sunday, 18 August, 2013 0 Comments

‘The Atomic Theory,’ I sallied, ‘is a thing that is not clear to me at all.’ ‘Michael Gilhaney,’ said the Sergeant, ‘is an example of a man that is nearly banjaxed from the principle of the Atomic Theory. Would it astonish you to hear that he is nearly half a bicycle?’ ‘It would surprise me […]

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Celebrating the Pattern Day

Thursday, 15 August, 2013 1 Comment

The “pattern” or pátrún was celebrated in almost every parish in Ireland from the middle ages to the mid-20th century. Primarily, a religious event associated with the patron saint of holy wells, the Pattern Day was also an important occasion in the social calendar. “We whiled away the time by drinking whiskey punch, observing the dancing to an excellent piper, and listening to the songs and story-telling which were going on about us,” wrote Crofton Croker after attending the Pattern Day at Gougane Barra in West Cork in 1813. With daylight fading, the revellers, Croker included, retired to tents:

“As night closed in, the tent became crowded almost to suffocation, and dancing being out of the question, our piper left us for some other station, and a man, who I learned had served in the Kerry militia, and had been flogged at Tralee about five years before as a White-boy, began to take a prominent part in entertaining the assembly, by singing Irish songs in a loud and effective voice. These songs were received with shouts of applause, and as I was then ignorant of the Irish language, and anxious to know the meaning of what had elicited so much popular approbation, I applied to an old woman near to whom I sat, and found that these songs were rebellious in the highest degree. Poor old King George was execrated without mercy; curses were also dealt out wholesale on the Saxon oppressors of Banna the blessed (an allegorical name for Ireland); Buonaparte’s achievements were extolled, and Irishmen were called upon to follow the example of the French people.”

In 1834, the English author Henry Inglis visited Connemara and was invited to a Pattern Day at Maumean in the Maamturk Mountains:

“It fortunately happened, that on the second day of my sojourn at Ma’am, a very celebrated pattern was to be held, on a singular spot, high up amongst the mountains, on a little plain… on an elevation of about 1,200 feet… The ascent to the spot where the pattern was to be held was picturesque in the extreme, for up the winding way, for miles before us and for miles behind too, groups were seen to be moving up the mountainside — the women with their red petticoats, easily distinguishable; some were on foot, some few on horseback, and some rode double. About half way up, we overtook a party of lads and lasses, beguiling the toil of the ascent, by the help of a piper, who marched before, and whose stirring strains, every now and then prompted an advance in jig-time, up the steep mountain path.”

On arrival at the summit Inglis was invited into a tent where “the pure poteen circulated freely.” However, heated words were exchanged and a fight developed. Inglis describes the row, how five or six “were disabled: but there was no homicide.” Afterwards, “some who had been opposed to each other, shook hands and kissed; and appeared as good friends as before.”

In 1682, Sir Henry Piers attended a Pattern Day at a church on a hill overlooking Lough Derravaragh in County Westmeath noted that quarreling was very much part of pattern procedure:

“For ale sellers in great numbers have their booths here as in a fair and to be sure the merry bag-pipers fail not to pay their attendance. Thus in lewd and obscene dancing, and in excess drinking, the remainder of the day is spent as if they celebrated the Bacchanalia rather than the memory of a pious saint or their own penetentials; and often times it falls out that more blood is shed on the grass from broken pates and drunken quarrels when the pilgrimages are ended than was before on the stones from their bare feet and knees during the devotions.”

Let’s hope that today’s Pattern Day in Ballylanders will a peaceful and happy affair.

Pattern memories


Hero

Tuesday, 9 July, 2013 0 Comments

Perhaps, the most glorious Wikipedia introduction ever written:

Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 — 5 June 1963), was an English officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He fought in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor wouldn’t amputate them. He later said “frankly I had enjoyed the war.”

By the way, in 1908 he married Countess Friederike Maria Karoline Henriette Rosa Sabina Franziska Fugger von Babenhausen. She died in 1949 and in 1951, at the age of 71, he married Ruth Myrtle Muriel Joan McKechnie, then 23 years his junior. She died in 2006 at the age of 102. Sir Adrian died at the family home in County Cork in Ireland in 1963, aged 83. His was an heroic life.

Adrian Carton de Wiart


Puck

Friday, 7 June, 2013 3 Comments

Travelling through West Kerry in August 1906, John Millington Synge wrote: “On the main roads, for many days past, I have been falling in with tramps and trick characters of all kinds, sometimes single and sometimes in parties of four or five… A crowd is as exciting as champagne to these lonely people, who live in long glens among the mountains… At the foot of the platform, where the crowd was thickest, a young ballad-singer was howling in honour of Puck, making one think of the early Greek festivals, since the time of which, it is possible, the goat has been exalted yearly in Killorglin.”

Synge was describing Puck Fair, an event that stretches back to pagan times and which revolves around the crowning of a wild goat that reigns as King Puck from atop a three-story high platform in the middle of Killorglin town. In her wonderful 1965 travelogue, The Orgy, American poet Muriel Rukeyser offers a Synge-similar description of her pilgrimage to Puck Fair, which she declared to be a carnival of debauchery:

“Killorglin looks like a drab little Victorian town. And is, except for three days of the year, in August… All this time people from all over are converging on the town — all over Kerry, of course, all over the country, and from Persia, they say, and Spain, and Europe, and cops in New York save up all year to go to Puck. The night before the Fair, all the little shops around the square, that sell all the things little shops sell — they close, and in the morning when they open, each one is a pub. The goat is crowned king — they say the tinkers choose their king there, too, but that of course is done in secret. The town is wide open, they say. It’s the last of the goat festivals: Greece, Spain, Scotland, England — the last.”

Last night, Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, a thriller set in a futuristic west of Ireland, won the Impac literary award and €100,000. The final chapter is titled “On the Night of the August Fair”, an event that resembles Puck Fair.

Puck Fair


The stone shamrock

Sunday, 17 March, 2013 0 Comments

When he visited County Galway in the west of Ireland, the British poet and diplomat John Betjeman stayed with Lord Hemphill and his beautiful American wife Emily. She had met her husband while riding in the Borghese Gardens in Rome in 1926. A year later they married in New York and moved to Tulira Castle, […]

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The day the rain finally came

Saturday, 16 March, 2013 0 Comments

Rainy Day has a soft spot for rain songs and the latest on our list is by the excellent Dublin singer-songwriter Eoin Glackin. “You should have seen them crying / You should have seen them smiling / You should have seen them lying / You should have seen them rising / The day the rain came.”

Predictably, it will rain in Dublin tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day.


Intrade didn’t predict this

Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 0 Comments

“With sincere regret we must inform you that due to circumstances recently discovered we must immediately cease trading activity on www.intrade.com.” So says the grim sentence that greets visitors to the website of the celebrated online-prediction exchange. Citing Irish law — Intrade is legally domiciled in the blessed land of St. Patrick — it said that it had been obliged to close customers’ accounts. What happened? And what were the “circumstances recently discovered”?

Well, more than a million trades took place on Intrade last year, but just 52,166 this year so far, according to the site’s statistics page, which is now offline. That must have hurt and something grave must have contributed to the fall off the cliff. Bloomberg, using the “irregularities” word, goes there. Missing in action, too, is the Intrade market page on the papal conclave, which begins today. As recently as Sunday, it had been predicting the election of an Italian pontiff, with an implied probability of 47 percent. Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, was the clear favorite with an estimated 25 percent chance of white smoke, while Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana followed with 19 percent. Now, alas, the papal electors must get on with the job in Rome without the aid of Intrade, a very worldly enterprise that fell to Earth because of “circumstances recently discovered”.

Rome