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Tag: Ireland

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.


The wrath of Brian

Saturday, 21 October, 2017 0 Comments

“Storm Brian, a rapidly deepening depression in the mid-Atlantic, is expected to fill as it tracks over parts of Ireland late Friday night and early on Saturday.” — Met Éireann

Brian

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore


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


Never closer the whole rest of our lives

Tuesday, 5 September, 2017 0 Comments

When poets remember their mothers, they portray the complexities of a relationship in which the mother is both intimately known and yet oddly mysterious. In Seamus Heaney’s sequence Clearances, written in memory of his mother, he includes a sonnet about the beautiful ordinary moments that happened while he and his mother peeled potatoes in the kitchen. The silences are broken by “pleasant splashes” of water as the potatoes drop into a bucket.

But the next sounds we hear are of sobbing and of murmured prayers: “some were responding and some crying”. As his mother dies, Heaney recalls the peeling of those potatoes “when all the others were away at Mass” and “our fluent dipping knives — Never closer the whole rest of our lives.” The beauty of that moment is heartbreaking.

In memoriam M.K.H., 1911 – 1984

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives —
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

Picking the potatoes


The Pattern Day in Ballylanders

Tuesday, 15 August, 2017 0 Comments

Today is the Pattern Day as the 15th of August is still called in some parts of rural Ireland. Despite all the signs of the country’s secularization, people will journey the “holy well” in Ballylanders for the Pattern observances that echo a disappeared world and this brings us to The Irish Countryman, a book that allows us to contrast the Ireland of today with that of 80 years ago.

When the young Harvard-trained anthropologist Conrad Arensberg arrived in Ireland in 1935, he was a man with a plan. “Like Caesar we divide our Gaul,” he wrote and proceeded to treat the country as four regions, more spiritual than geographical. The first was “the seat of an age-old tradition, of the remains of a once brilliant Celtic civilization.” The second was one “some among the nationalists dislike” because “It is the Ireland of the merry and happy-go-lucky present” that revealed a “talkative, mercurial, witty people.” Arensberg’s third Ireland was a “grimmer land”:

“It is a sober, hard-working land of minute towns and small farms upon a soil not always grateful. It is a land of hard realities. This Ireland is subject to hot flashes of anger and dispute which throw into relief deep-lying hatreds and fierce loyalties… This is the Ireland of bitter economic fate and political unrest. Much of this can be laid at England’s door, but not all.”

The anthropologist’s fourth Ireland was “the land of the devout, where word and deed breathe a religious fervour which most of us have forgotten. This is the land of holy wells and pilgrimages and roadside shrines… To many of us, perhaps a paradox lies here. Fierce love of political liberty goes hand in hand with a deep devotion to the most authoritarian of Christian creeds.”

Conrad Arensberg was not the only visitor to be perplexed by a country where “a puritanical morality” coexisted with “the hilarity of the race meeting.” That was then. Or was it? In the 80 years since he explored Ireland, the country has moved from being a rural to an urban society, from an agrarian to a post-industrial economy. As a result, those “doing the rounds” of the holy well in the Ballylanders graveyard today will be accompanied by a soundscape of mumbled prayers and purring smartphones. Conrad Arensberg would not have been surprised, though, because as he wrote in the conclusion of The Irish Countryman, “the chief expression of traditional social life is calling the countrymen together through a whole countryside for a re-enactment, both solemn and gay, of their sentiments about their fellows and about their view of life and death and destiny.”

Getting ready for the Pattern


The Wild Atlantic Way of Max Malloy

Saturday, 5 August, 2017 0 Comments

“I am Ireland-based photographer with a background in arts, who came to Ireland 13 years back, had a crush on Irish landscapes and haven’t left ever since.” So say Max Malloy, who was born in Latvia and spent his childhood beside the Baltic. He moved to Ireland 13 years ago “to be closer to the ocean and to the never ending green fields.” A constant theme in his work is what is called the Wild Atlantic Way: “i enjoy every frame that highlights the beauty of the ocean, the grandness of the cliffs.”

Max Malloy cliffs

Max Malloy landscape

Max Malloy Atlantic


Gin of the week: Dingle

Wednesday, 26 July, 2017 0 Comments

Remember the real estate mantra? Location, location, location. And when it comes to location, the town of Dingle has it tripled. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic in Ireland’s southwest, picturesque Dingle looks out across the water to the Blasket Islands and further beyond, America. Geography is destiny and the locals know how to make full use of their good luck. By the way, although Dingle is one of Ireland’s largest Gaeltacht towns, its people voted to retain the name Dingle rather than the officially sanctioned — and signposted — Gaelige of “An Daingean”. Branding is destiny, too.

Would all those Dingle tourists like to take away a bottle of gin infused with wild Kerry flowers and hints of rugged Kingdom heather? Liam La Hart and Oliver Hughes, founders of the hugely successful Porterhouse Brewery chain, thought so and thus was Dingle Gin initiated and distilled. The juniper element is pure London Dry and the Irish botanicals include rowan berries, fuchsia and hawthorn. Present, too, are angelica and coriander. In every sense, this is a glocal gin.

Jette Virdi, who describes herself as “a food stylist, workshop host and a mentor for big hearted creatives”, drinks her Dingle Gin with thyme and tonic. Sláinte!

Note: Dingle is the third in a gin series that began with Blackwater No. 5 and continued with Friedrichs.


Fionn Regan meets Thomas Moore in Wicklow

Saturday, 15 July, 2017 0 Comments

Inspired by a visit to the Vale of Avoca in County Wicklow some 200 years ago, the bard Thomas Moore wrote a song called The Meeting of the Waters. Snippet:

“Sweet vale of Avoca! How calm could I rest
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.”

The Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan was born and raised in Wicklow and he released his debut album, The End of History, in 2006. Now, more than a decade later, he’s back with The Meetings of the Waters and the video is enhanced with the sculpted features of the actor Cillian Murphy of Peaky Blinders fame.


Two Corants for Lyra Viol by Alfonso

Saturday, 1 July, 2017 0 Comments

On the face of it, a blog entry with the title “Two Corants for Lyra Viol by Alfonso” has a touch of the perplexing about it. What’s a “corant”, and why two of them? And then there’s the “lyra viol”. Not just a viol, mind you, but a lyra viol. Topping if all of, we have “Alfonso”. If people had to pick an Alfonso, most would opt for Alfonso Cuarón, the film director, whose works include Children of Men and Gravity. In this case, however, we’re talking about Alfonso Fontanelli (1557 – 1622).

Alfonso Fontanelli was an Italian composer, diplomat and courtier. He was one of the earliest composers in the seconda pratica style during the transition to the Baroque era but his career was interrupted in November 1601, when he discovered that his wife had been having an affair. He murdered her lover, but spared her life, unlike his musical acquaintance Gesualdo who, in similar circumstances murdered both his wife and her lover. As punishment for the crime, Alfonso was stripped of all his possessions. Still, he found refuge in the opulent Roman household of Cardinal Alessandro d’Este, and was thus saved from indignity. Alfonso Fontanelli became a priest in 1621, and died in early 1622 from an insect bite while in the Oratorio della Chiesa.

The lyra viol is a small bass viol, used primarily in the 17th century, while a corant was a type of dance popular in the late Renaissance and Baroque era.

Bringing it all together now: The Irish viola de gamba player, Liam Byrne, is part of the Icelandic collective Bedroom Community and he features with violist Nadia Sirota on Tessellatum, their upcoming album and film. That’s all a long way from the Renaissance world of Alfonso Fontanelli, but everything’s connected.


In the year of his first cigarette

Saturday, 24 June, 2017 0 Comments

In the year that the great Galty smoked his first cigarette, The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, premiered in Hollywood; Francisco Franco assumed power in Spain; Flann O’Brien’s metafiction At Swim-Two-Birds was published in London; Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt married Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran; Billie Holiday recorded Strange Fruit; Italy seized Albania and King Zog fled; an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded in the centre of Coventry, killing five people; John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath was published; Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics No. 27; nylon stockings went on sale in Wilmington, Delaware, and LaGuardia Airport opened in New York City.

Oh, and the opening shots of World War II were fired when Germany invaded Poland.

Galty