Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Tag: Ireland

The Queen who dare not speak her name

Friday, 16 June, 2017 0 Comments

British Queens arrive on the shelves just after the first early potatoes, so they are often referred to as “second early” potatoes. Floury and delicious, they are suitable for steaming, boiling, roasting and chipping and are said to be one of the best for mashing.

The British Queen was created by Archibald Findlay (1841 – 1921), a prolific potato breeder, who also created the Majestic and Up-to-Date varieties. Findlay was a Scot who moved to potato-growing country in Lincolnshire in England to follow his passion. In Ireland, his British Queens are marketed as “Queens”, due to the absurd nationalism that has corroded language and corrupted thinking.

Northern spuds

“Potatoes are one of the last things to disappear, in times of war, which is probably why they should not be forgotten in times of peace.” — M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf


Loah in the Cave

Friday, 26 May, 2017 0 Comments

According to her Twitter bio, Loah is an “Irish / Sierra Leonean ArtSoul musician.” On 7 July, she’ll be performing in Mitchelstown Cave along with Peter Broderick, an American composer from Carlton, Oregon. In their publicity material, the organizers note: “The Cave is a half mile walk underground after a steep incline to the performance space. The temperature in the Cave is 12 degrees. Please wear flat shoes and bring a coat.”


Diving can be a leap of faith

Saturday, 13 May, 2017 0 Comments

“Do not think to swim below. The ocean is already pushing into ears, sinuses, temples, the softness of eyes, and the harpsichord strings behind the kneecaps.” — J.M. Ledgard

No Diving


Aeroplane of unrequited love

Friday, 5 May, 2017 0 Comments

He describes himself as “an electronic music producer obsessed by the culture of Ireland.” He’s Daithi. She describes herself as “Singer-songwriter-human, from Co. Kildare, Ireland.” She’s Sinéad White and the two of them wrote Aeroplane.

According to Daithi and Sinéad, the song was inspired by old Irish TV dramas from the 1980s and ’90s. “True to the people of Ireland at the time, the characters in these shows all seem to have a hard time expressing their feelings, and we wanted to write a song that imagined what was going on in their heads, while they stumbled through talking to their love interest. The video for the song uses footage from a short film that was shot in my home town Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, in the 1990s.”


For sale: mannequin, one-armed recently.

Tuesday, 25 April, 2017 0 Comments

The famous six-word novel attributed to Ernest Hemingway reads like this: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The Hemingwayesque mannequin shown here was spotted at the Castletownroche Car Boot Sale in County Cork, Ireland.

Castletownroche Car Boot Sale


Irish food truck

Thursday, 20 April, 2017 0 Comments

Irish food truck

Basics: fish and chips = iasc agus sceallóga

Example: “We ordered fish and chips to go.” (D’ordaíomar iasc agus sceallóga le tabhairt linn.)


Beautiful Lofty Balscadden

Sunday, 19 March, 2017 0 Comments

In his poem Beautiful Lofty Things, W.B. Yeats mentions meeting his beautiful muse Maud Gonne at the Howth train station in Dublin. Yeats lived at Balscadden House on Howth Head for three years and the final line of Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, which is quoted on the wall plaque that commemorates his residency, is a reference to Maud Gonne: “I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

Balscadden House is in a beautiful lofty place and we plan to walk there next weekend.

Beautiful Lofty Things

O’Leary’s noble head;
My father upon the Abbey stage, before him a raging crowd:
‘This Land of Saints,’ and then as the applause died out,
‘Of plaster Saints’; his beautiful mischievous head thrown back.
Standish O’Grady supporting himself between the tables
Speaking to a drunken audience high nonsensical words;
Augusta Gregory seated at her great ormolu table,
Her eightieth winter approaching: ‘Yesterday he threatened my life.
I told him that nightly from six to seven I sat at this table,
The blinds drawn up’; Maud Gonne at Howth station waiting a train,
Pallas Athene in that straight back and arrogant head:
All the Olympians; a thing never known again.

W.B. Yeats (1865 – 1939)

Balscadden House

Howth Head


Shamrock of stone

Friday, 17 March, 2017 0 Comments

When the British poet and war-time diplomat Sir John Betjeman visited the west of Ireland in the 1940s, he stayed with Lord Hemphill and his beautiful American wife Emily. She had met her titled husband while riding in the Borghese Gardens in Rome in 1926 and they married a year later in New York. The couple then moved to Tulira Castle, the Victorian bastion built in Galway by Edward Martyn and immortalized in George Moore’s Hail and Farewell. By the time Betjeman arrived, however, Emily was involved in a passionate affair with Ion Villiers-Stuart, as she revealed to him when they cycled through the primeval-looking landscape of The Burren. That day’s events led to one of Betjeman’s finest poems, Ireland with Emily. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Ireland with Emily

Bells are booming down the bohreens,
White the mist along the grass,
Now the Julias, Maeves and Maureens
Move between the fields to Mass.
Twisted trees of small green apple
Guard the decent whitewashed chapel,
Gilded gates and doorway grained,
Pointed windows richly stained
With many-coloured Munich glass.

See the black-shawled congregations
On the broidered vestment gaze
Murmer past the painted stations
As Thy Sacred Heart displays
Lush Kildare of scented meadows,
Roscommon, thin in ash-tree shadows,
And Westmeath the lake-reflected,
Spreading Leix the hill-protected,
Kneeling all in silver haze?

In yews and woodbine, walls and guelder,
Nettle-deep the faithful rest,
Winding leagues of flowering elder,
Sycamore with ivy dressed,
Ruins in demesnes deserted,
Bog-surrounded bramble-skirted —
Townlands rich or townlands mean as
These, oh, counties of them screen us
In the Kingdom of the West.

Stony seaboard, far and foreign,
Stony hills poured over space,
Stony outcrop of the Burren,
Stones in every fertile place,
Little fields with boulders dotted,
Grey-stone shoulders saffron-spotted,
Stone-walled cabins thatched with reeds,
Where a Stone Age people breeds
The last of Europe’s stone age race.

Has it held, the warm June weather?
Draining shallow sea-pools dry,
When we bicycled together
Down the bohreens fuchsia-high.
Till there rose, abrupt and lonely,
A ruined abbey, chancel only,
Lichen-crusted, time-befriended,
Soared the arches, splayed and splendid,
Romanesque against the sky.

There in pinnacled protection,
One extinguished family waits
A Church of Ireland resurrection
By the broken, rusty gates.
Sheepswool, straw and droppings cover,
Graves of spinster, rake and lover,
Whose fantastic mausoleum,
Sings its own seablown Te Deum,
In and out the slipping slates.

John Betjeman (1906 – 1984)

The Building, Ballylanders, Limerick, Ireland


The dark wine of Patrick’s country

Thursday, 16 March, 2017 0 Comments

“I’ve a thirst on me I wouldn’t sell for half a crown.
– Give it a name, citizen, says Joe.
– Wine of the country, says he.
– What’s yours? says Joe.
– Ditto MacAnaspey, says I.
– Three pints, Terry, says Joe.”

The Guinness stout that nourished those Dublin characters in the “Cyclops” episode of James Joyce’s Ulysses has been sold in Africa since 1827. Today, 40 percent of worldwide Guinness volume is brewed in Africa and the continent’s biggest markets are Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Uganda and Namibia. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinness is produced by the Bralima brewery in Kisangani.

Talking of the Congo, the Sapeurs (Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes) are a group of tastemakers and elegant people who turn the art of dressing into a cultural statement. When these men go out on the town, the streets of Brazzaville are their fashion runway. Afterwards, they enjoy a bottle or two of the wine of the country.


St Patricius joins the menology

Tuesday, 14 March, 2017 0 Comments

“These saints did their service in the Western countries. St Patricius, the enlightener of Ireland who is more commonly known as St Patrick is one of them.” So spoke Dr Vladimir Legoida, head of communications for the Russian Orthodox synod, on Friday in Moscow. The occasion was the decision by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church to enlarge its menology with the names of some 15 saints, “who bore with witness of Christian faith in the West European and Central European lands before the split of the united Christian Church in 1054” in what became known as the Great Schism.

St Patricius

Dr Legoida told Pravmir that there was evidence Patricius had been venerated by the Russian Orthodox faithful. Critically, given Russian sensitivities, a key question was the role the saints might have played in polemics between Catholics and the Orthodox. “We took account the immaculateness of devotion of each saint, the circumstances in which their worship took shape, and the absence of the saints’ names in the polemic works on struggle against the Eastern Christian Church or its rite,” Dr Legoida said.

When it came to engaging in polemics or ridding Ireland of its snakes, St Patricius decided to concentrate on removing the reptiles. And, lo, his chosen land has been blessed since. “Russians to invade Trump’s luxury Irish golf resort” crowed the Sunday Business Post at the weekend, adding that “Up to 100 wealthy Russians will visit Doonbeg, Co Clare, to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.” What a saint!


Monday in Maria Edgeworth’s Ireland

Monday, 13 March, 2017 0 Comments

This is the week of Saint Patrick and in the run up to his big day on Friday we’re devoting our posts to matters Irish. To kick off, we’ve got an excerpt from Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth (1768 – 1849). It was published in 1800 and is regarded as the first Anglo-Irish novel.

Castle Rackrent satirises Anglo-Irish landlords and their mismanagement of their estates. The main characters are the spendthrift Sir Patrick O’Shaughlin, the litigious Sir Murtagh Rackrent, the cruel husband and gambling absentee Sir Kit Rackrent and the generous but improvident Sir Condy Rackrent. The novel is narrated by their steward, the sly Thady Quirk. For Maria Edgeworth, who was born in Oxfordshire and educated in London, the native Irish were a tempestuous people and her observations about their attitudes to notions of authority and time ring true today:

“Thady begins his memoirs of the Rackrent Family by dating MONDAY MORNING, because no great undertaking can be auspiciously commenced in Ireland on any morning but MONDAY MORNING. ‘Oh, please God we live till Monday morning, we’ll set the slater to mend the roof of the house. On Monday morning we’ll fall to, and cut the turf. On Monday morning we’ll see and begin mowing. On Monday morning, please your honour, we’ll begin and dig the potatoes,’ etc.

All the intermediate days, between the making of such speeches and the ensuing Monday, are wasted: and when Monday morning comes, it is ten to one that the business is deferred to THE NEXT Monday morning. The Editor knew a gentleman, who, to counteract this prejudice, made his workmen and labourers begin all new pieces of work upon a Saturday.”

Edgeworthstown House