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Ireland

Swift and Kavanagh week

Sunday, 26 November, 2017 0 Comments

On Thursday here, we’ll celebrate the 350th anniversary of the birth of the satirist Jonathan Swift and on the same day we’ll mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the poet Patrick Kavanagh. Accordingly, the daily posts here will commemorate these two significant figures in global and Anglo-Irish letters. Age before beauty, they say, so we’ll kick off tomorrow with Swift:

“And he gave it for his opinion, that whosoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.” Voyage to Brobdingnag, Jonathan Swift

But we’ll have Kavanagh on Tuesday:

“I always say to these here, marry the first man that asks you. There’s only three classes of men a woman should never marry — a delicate man, a drunken man, and a lazy man. I’m not so sure that the lazy man isn’t the worst.” Tarry Flynn, Patrick Kavanagh


Musings upon the murderous Gerry Adams

Thursday, 23 November, 2017 0 Comments

“The first person the IRA murdered after Gerry Adams was elected Sinn Féin president was Charles Armstrong, the Ulster Unionist chair of Armagh City and District Council.”

Now, there’s an opening sentence that earns its keep. The writer is Newton Emerson and his Irish Times piece is titled “Licensing next war is Adams’s real legacy.” Emerson expands that opening sentence thus:

Adams became president on Sunday, November 13th, 1983. The following evening, a bomb exploded under Armstrong’s car as he left a council meeting. An SDLP colleague, Pat Brannigan, risked his life by pulling Armstrong from the burning wreckage. Armstrong left a wife and eight children, who heard the explosion from their house a few hundred yards away. Afterwards, they received threats and hate mail and were forced to move. To the IRA supporter, every victim becomes culpable by the mere fact of their victimisation.

The barbarism Gerry Adams and his Sinn Féin/IRA “comrades” exhibited in killing Charles Armstrong was part of a pattern: “Three weeks after the Armagh bomb, the law lecturer and UUP assembly member Edgar Graham was murdered by the IRA — shot eight times in the back as he left the library at Queen’s University, Belfast. He had been considered a future liberal leader of the party.”

In Ireland and abroad, Gerry Adams is celebrated as a “freedom fighter” but he’s nothing of the sort. He’s a bloodstained monster.


W.H Auden on Gerry Adams

Monday, 20 November, 2017 0 Comments

The weekend news that Gerry Adams intends to stand down next year as the leader of Sinn Féin brought to mind W. H. Auden’s Epitaph on a Tyrant. The great poem ends with the observation that when the tyrant cried “little children died in the streets” and there can be no doubt that many little children died at the hands of Adams and his evil companions. One thinks, for example, of three-year-old Johnathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry, murdered by Sinn Fein/IRA in 1993 in Warrington.

Epitaph on a Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

W. H. Auden (1907 – 1973)


We are in the mountains and they are in us

Sunday, 12 November, 2017 0 Comments

Sliabh Ri

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” — John Muir


The 11 th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Saturday, 11 November, 2017 0 Comments

It’s Armistice Day. The event is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the truce signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne in France for the cessation of hostilities. The agreement took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning — the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. More than nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the First World War.

Lieutenant Robert Martin O'Dwyer Today, we remember the World War I dead of Ballylanders, Co. Limerick: Sergeant John Brazil, Lieutenant Robert Martyn O’Dwyer and his brother Rifleman Peter O’Dwyer. Their bodies were interred in places as far apart as Pas de Calais in France and the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. May they rest in peace.

“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.” — Czesław Miłosz


Stone Head by Viscount Lismore

Wednesday, 8 November, 2017 0 Comments

What is now called Glengarra Wood is a part of County Tipperary that was granted by Charles 1 to Sir Richard Everard in 1640. In the ensuing Cromwellian wars, Sir Richard supported the royalist cause, which resulted in the confiscation of his property and its transfer to the Lismore family, who held the lands until 1940.

Glengarra head

In the latter part of the 19th century, Viscount Lismore built a hunting lodge in the wood and planted the banks of the river and road leading to it with many native and exotic trees, including Cedars of Lebanon, Sequoiadendron, oak, spruce, laurel, birch, alder and Scots Pine. Today, Glengarra Wood is home to some 60,000 threes and the lodge, which is being refurbished as a youth hostel, is guarded by fearsome stone creatures.


I hear lake water lapping

Sunday, 5 November, 2017 0 Comments

Killarney

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

W. B. Yeats (1865 – 1939)


At Tally’s haunted pub

Saturday, 28 October, 2017 0 Comments

Well, it’s not haunted by any particular ghost that we know of, but it’s haunted in the sense that it represents the spectral remains of a vanishing rural Irish pub culture. The countryside is dotted now with these shuttered places and they are sad reminders of a more sociable past that’s been eroded by forces including migration, mobility, work, an ageing population, stricter penalties for driving while intoxicated and the availability of ultra-cheap alcohol in supermarkets.

Tally Bourke’s was notorious for its late hours and its oddities. When Tom Tobin got the job of installing shelving in the pub, he found that Tally housed her flock of hens behind the counter. The customers never complained, though. And they never objected to the lack of toilet facilities, either.

Tally Bourke'


Peadar O’Loughlin, RIP

Tuesday, 24 October, 2017 1 Comment

Born in the parish of Kilmaley in County Clare on 6 November 1929, Peadar O’Loughlin was a traditional musician’s musician. He happily shared his tunes with a younger generation, typified by Ronan Browne and Maeve Donnelly, eager to learn a style that was sparsely ornamented but powerfully rhythmic, and his playing, on fiddle, flute and pipes, reflected a gentle, generous personality that will be very much missed.


Ophelia and the disconnected

Wednesday, 18 October, 2017 0 Comments

The terms being used to describe Ophelia range from hurricane to cyclone to post-tropical storm. Regardless of the name, Ophelia did considerable damage in Ireland and more than 100,000 people are still without electricity as a result. Some of these reside in places well known to your blogger and this verse from Hope is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson is dedicated to all those waiting in the cold and the dark for those blue crosses and pins to be removed by ESB repair crews.

And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

ESB outages


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.