Reclaiming The Past And The Present

Labhair Gaeilge

Some interesting thoughts on translation and the Irish language from the Cork-based poet Louis de Paor in an interview with Alan O’Riordan in the Irish Examiner: “CAN a poem ever really be translated? The Cork poet Louis de Paor covers this ground in the introduction to his latest volume, The Brindled Cat and The Nightingale’s … Continue reading

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Saltire: Ionnsaigh, The First Scottish Language Graphic Novel

The Gaelic Chieftain, Maurice Harron

A quick break away from politics with news of the release of Saltire: Ionnsaigh, the first graphic novel in the Scottish (Gaelic) language, which is due to be launched at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August. From a report by the Stornoway Gazette: “The first in a series centring round Scotland’s first comic book superhero, the dark … Continue reading

Electronic Irish

A lot of people seem unaware of the two best online resources for historical texts relating to Ireland, both of which are entirely free to use. The first is “CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts”, a collection of hundreds of manuscripts and books in digitised form mainly written in Irish and English (of various periods) … Continue reading

Harry Potter To The Rescue!

It says much for the fantasy politics of British nationalism that a decision by the English-born children’s author JK Rowling to boost the already hefty warchest of the Unionist “No” campaign with a donation of one million pounds is being heralded by the right-wing press in Britain as “the most significant” celebrity intervention in the referendum … Continue reading

Paddy Ashdown, IRA Volunteer

Paddy Ashdown is a former British marine commando and intelligence officer with MI5, the ex-leader of the Liberal-Democrat party (which is now the minority partner in Britain’s coalition government), and a senior European and UN diplomat. So his view on the conflict in the British Occupied North of Ireland and how it relates to his … Continue reading

The Forge In The Forest, Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a British artist whose distinctive, sometimes surreal style will be familiar to many readers of Fantasy and fantasy-tinged Science-fiction even if his name is not so much. Since the late 1970s his exquisite illustrations, executed most frequently in pen and ink, have graced the covers of countless publications, notably the Fighting Fantasy and … Continue reading

Negationists Ahoy!

So that tired old spy/informer/traitor of yore, Seán O’Callaghan, is back peddling his same tired old “analyses” of political and military events in Ireland. Or more specifically the bit of Ireland still occupied by our neighbours over yonder (and with himself at the centre of the story as always). It’s hard to know what to say about … Continue reading

Gabriel Rosenstock, Margadh Na Míol In Valparaíso

Would I be right in suggesting that Gabriel Rosenstock and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill are probably the two greatest living Irish poets? There are many contenders for that title but when looks at the breadth of their works it is hard to imagine a more deserving rival than those two doyens of Ireland’s literary scene. Sometimes I prefer Rosenstock, … Continue reading

Cultus Obscuram – Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze

The old cliché “…so bad it’s good” springs to mind when one watches the 1975 cinematic release “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze”. Based upon the eponymous 1930s’ pulp magazine character primarily written by Lester Dent the film was intended to be the first in a series of purposefully old-fashioned adventure movies by legendary Sci-Fi entertainment … Continue reading

Even A Fanboy Has His Limits

Is it just me or is there now a dearth of thoughtful and well-informed websites and blogs on the genre worlds of Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature? Oh yes, the banner-heavy, paragraph-light sites that focus on the latest Marvel or DC movie franchises are in plentiful supply. However most of these flash-happy affairs have as much … Continue reading

An Irish Equivalent For Geek Or Otaku?

I was recently asked if there is an Irish word that is the equivalent of the Anglo-American term Geek or its Japanese near-equivalent Otaku (おたく/オタクおたく/オタク). I couldn’t think of anything unless one went for something like a crude Gaelicisation of the originals in the form of Geic (?) or Odacú (?). Then I remembered the … Continue reading

Fight The Power! An Interview With The Authors

In the 18th and 19th centuries one of the more popular forms of protest against authoritarian governments or regimes was through the publication of satirical illustrations or short picture stories frequently created with both literate and semi-literate audiences in mind. Using familiar or reoccurring images, symbols and caricatures political dissent or contrary opinions could be … Continue reading

Sladmhargadh, Karl Uhlemann

I’ve written before about my love of vintage book covers, especially those to be found in the genre fields of Science-Fiction and Fantasy (see my posts on Bruce Pennington as well as Chris Achilléos). So here is a wonderful in-your-face example from the mid-20th century Irish artist and designer Karl Uhlemann who illustrated some of Ireland’s best-known … Continue reading

Republican Think-Tanks

There is a considerable debate going on amongst Irish Republicans and interested observers in Ireland over the future direction of revolutionary republicanism. With a renewed focus on the ideological aspects and political traditions of Republicanism as it pertains in the 21st century some new ideas are emerging as well as much self-analyses (and quite a … Continue reading

From The New Sun To Dune, Bruce Pennington

Following the positive reaction to my brief post highlighting the career of the British illustrator Bruce Pennington (notably his artwork for the 1980 book cover of Gene Wolfe’s classic science-fantasy publication “The Shadow of the Torturer”) I thought I’d feature a few more of his best regarded images. These include two more wraparound illustrations for … Continue reading

Cultural Segregation?

The Arts Council of Ireland, which received over €59.9 million in public monies in 2013, has announced a new €150,000 endowment to be granted to an Irish writer of high standing who will be styled the Laureate for Irish Fiction. “The honour will be used to promote Irish literature nationally and internationally and to encourage … Continue reading

A Stranger In Olondria By Sofia Samatar

I don’t get much time to read works of fiction these days which somewhat pains me since some books have been a more faithful companion through life’s myriad rises and falls than many an erstwhile friend or partner. However reading a vivid opening paragraph like this makes me want to return to my former page-turning … Continue reading

Vae Victis!

The hostile reaction to the publication of Anne Cadwallader’s book “Lethal Allies”, a history of the British death squads which operated in the so-called “Murder Triangle” of mid-Ulster during the 1970s and early ‘80s, continues to rumble on in British and Unionist circles. A review on a newly launched website supported by several academics, Arkiv, … Continue reading

Publishing News From Scotland And Ireland

Congratulations to the author Tim Armstrong on his award from the Saltire Society, one of Scotland’s premier cultural organisations, for his Scottish language Sci-Fi novel Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach. From the Scotsman newspaper: “AN AMERICAN writer has landed one of Scotland’s flagship literary prizes – with the first ever Gaelic science fiction novel. Tim Armstrong, a former … Continue reading

Hobitit – The Hobbits

I thought I’d post this to An Sionnach Fionn since few people will have heard of it let alone seen it outside of its home country. In 1993 the television and radio network Yle, Finland’s public service broadcaster, produced a mini-series loosely based upon a theatre version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy “The Lord of the … Continue reading

Raven, Swordmistress Of Chaos, Chris Achilléos

Chris Achilléos is a Cypriot-born British artist who came to prominence in the 1970s and ‘80s with illustrations for a large number of books and magazines in the Fantasy and Sword ‘n’ Sorcery genres. Instantly recognisable for his exquisitely rendered female figures, invariably beautiful, frequently belligerent, he became widely known amongst fans through several best-selling … Continue reading

Death Dealer, Frank Frazetta

The name of Frank Frazetta will conjure up for many some of the most luscious and artistically accomplished Fantasy art to have been produced over the last 60 years. From the 1950s to the early ‘90s the American artist established his fame with a host of covers for books, magazines and comics not to mention … Continue reading

The Shadow Of The Torturer, Bruce Pennington

For lovers of science-fiction and fantasy book art from the 1970s and ’80s the name of Bruce Pennington looms large. He is indelibly associated with some of the greatest writers of the era, his baroque images gracing the covers of such diverse publications as Frank Herbert’s “Dune” or Harry Harrison’s ” Stainless Steel Rat”. However for … Continue reading

JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit And An Sionnach Fionn

The 2013 issue of Tolkien Studies, an academic journal dedicated to the works of the English Fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien, includes a few references to An Sionnach Fionn and the discussion we had with Michael Everson, the publisher of An Hobad or the Irish language version of The Hobbit. Check it out on the “Book … Continue reading

Fionn And The Man In The Tree

One of the more mysterious mentions of the legendary hunter-warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill in the indigenous literatures of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man is “Finn and the Man in the Tree”, a short 8th century Old Irish text containing several Latin words or phrases. It is found in the Seanchas Mhór, an important … Continue reading

Steampunk In Ireland

Because there is far too little Steampunk in Ireland, here are some links: Steampunk Collective Ireland Steampunk Ireland The Josie Baggley Company Talking to a friend a few days ago who is a sean scoil Steampunker I found him frustrated by the way the movement in Ireland is subsumed into the cod-Victoriana of the Pax … Continue reading

Male Writers, Female Characters

Talking of online kerfuffles here is another example, albeit of rather less significance than the one discussed earlier. British sci-fi writer Rod Rees, author of the popular if sometimes derivative Demi-Monde series of novels, has penned an article for the publisher Joe Fletcher Books pondering aloud if male writers can create authentic female characters. To me … Continue reading

Albert Robida, Fantastic Futurist

The artist Albert Robida is one of my favourite writer-illustrators from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not least for his fantastical vision of a future Europe represented in a trilogy of “scientific romances” called Le Vingtième Siècle (1883), La Guerre au vingtième siècle (1887) and Le Vingtième siècle – La vie électrique (1890). … Continue reading

Iain Banks 1954-2013

The future (and past) of the Culture is no more except in those works already published as the great Scottish writer and Sci-Fi author Ian Banks finally succumbs to the cancer he has struggled against over the last few months. Terribly sad news and I’m sure that WorldbyStorm sums up the feelings of many on … Continue reading

Jack Vance, 1916−2013

Thanks to WorldbyStorm for highlighting the passing of that elder statesman of American Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature, Jack Vance. While his politics sometimes left a little bit to be desired one could never say the same about his imagination or his writing. From a report in the Guardian: “Tributes from the great and the good … Continue reading

No Second Troy

One of the last monolingual Irish-speakers in Ireland being interviewed by the British historian Michael Wood for his 1985 BBC documentary “In Search of the Trojan War”. Does he look like a member of an “affluent, Mercedes-driving, latté-sipping, urban, Gaelic-speaking elite”? Or the last survivor of a people driven to the point of near-extinction? A point, perhaps, for … Continue reading

Two Upcoming Events, Tolkien And The Irish Invincibles

Quick post to promote two upcoming events I’ve been asked to highlight. The first is a conference organised by Dr Shane Kenna titled “The Irish National Invincibles and Their Times: Perspectives on Late Victorian Irish Nationalism 130th Anniversary of the Execution of the Invincibles in Kilmainham Gaol Dublin“. It will be held in the historic Wynns Hotel, Abbey Street, … Continue reading

Scottish Mythology And Folklore

Some of the most popular (and visited) pages on An Sionnach Fionn are dedicated to the core elements of the Seanchas or indigenous mythology and folklore of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. I have several lengthy articles discussing the likes of the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomhóraigh (not to mention the Lucharacháin … Continue reading

Ruairidh Arascain Is Mhàirr

Good article by Patrick Witt on the Irish Story examining the late 19th and early 20th Scottish Gaelic Republican writer Ruairaidh Arascain (Ruairidh Erskine) and his links with the Irish Revolution: “This essay aims to shed light on a thread of Scottish nationalism that found inspiration in the Irish Gaelic revival and, later, in the Irish … Continue reading

Scottish Sci-Fi With “Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach”

Over at Bella Caledonia writer Paul F Cockburn has an interview with Tim Armstrong, author of the Scottish language Sci-Fi novel Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach. Meanwhile some Irish related stuff here. Related articles Iain Banks: Approaching the End of an Era with Wit (theculturetrip.wordpress.com)

  • blog awards ireland Nominated: Best Politics Blog 2013, Best Personal Blog 2013, Best Blog Post 2013
  • blog awards ireland

    Nominated: Best News/Current Affairs/Political Blog 2014, Best Mobile Blog 2014, Best Blog Post 2014