Second Spoken Languages Of Contemporary Europe

Map showing the second most spoken languages in Europe by nation state, revealing historic regions of invasion, colonisation and modern immigration, 2014

Interesting charts from the folk at (the anglocentric) Move Hub: “This map shows the second most common first language in (nearly) every country in the world. These are people who speak it as a first language, we decided this was a more revealing metric as it illuminates the ancient furrows of conquest, colonisation and recent … Continue reading

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The Irish Republic

Photo of Mae Burke, Eithne Coyle and Linda Kearns, Cumann na mBan revolutionaries, taken shortly after they escaped from a British POW camp, in Carlow, Ireland 1921

I remember writing an essay many years ago where I stated that the Irish revolution was the making of Ireland’s language revival and the Irish counter-revolution was its breaking. Nothing in the last ten years has altered that opinion. The internecine victory of the reactionary forces of the old Catholic Nationalist bourgeoisie in 1923, with … Continue reading

Fingal Irish

Scary Eire

  I’ve discussed before the truly excellent blog Dublin Gaelic which discusses the history of the Irish language in the capital and its hinterland, focusing in particular on the historic dialects of Irish in the region (now essentially lost; the contemporary version of Dublin Irish is based upon dialects from the west of Ireland mixed … Continue reading

The Rise Of The Islamic State

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Reading Tom Holland’s stupendous (if controversial) history of the foundations of Islam, In the Shadow of the Sword, I was struck by how current events in the Middle East can find distant parallels in the political and religious convulsions of the sixth and seventh centuries. In particular the rise and spread of the Islamic State … Continue reading

British Violence Good, Irish Violence Bad

The mutilated body of Patrick Loughnane, age 29, Volunteer of the Irish Republican Army, tortured to death alongside his younger brother Harry, age 22, by the Royal Irish Constabulary, Britain's feared colonial police force in Ireland, 1920

Perhaps I should change that headline to a more accurate one? “British Violence (By Irish People For Britain) Good, Irish Violence (By Irish People Against Britain) Bad” For that in essence is the argument put forward by former Taoiseach and aficionado of several right-wing think-tanks John Bruton in a number of recent speeches. Of course … Continue reading

Underground Warfare

Maev's second meeting with Fergus, illustration from The Táin by Mary Hutton, 1924

  One of the commoner settlement types to be found in Irish archaeology are the ráthanna or so-called ring-forts 40,000 of which are known to have existed during the first millennium CE (and probably many more than that). These were a class of fortified homestead normally consisting of a circular earthen bank inside an exterior ditch which together enclosed … Continue reading

Festival Of Lúgh

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It’s a rather overcast and muggy day in BÁC but I’ve still followed my own little traditions for Lúghnasa, the festival of Lúgh that marks the harvest time in the Irish and Celtic calendars. A climb to the summit of Binn Éadair to watch yesterday’s sunset over the capital that marks the commencement of the … Continue reading

Dublin Irish, 4000 Years And Counting

Ireland in chains

A few years ago a former passive-agressive manager in my job, who made a great point of mispronouncing my surname whenever the chance arose, confronted me with the following declaration: If you speak Irish why are you living in Dublin? Why don’t you go live somewhere down the country where it is spoken? His pugnacious … Continue reading

This Land Is Mine, Israel And Palestine

Israeli soldiers pray before a Torah, southern Israel, 2012 (AP Photo - Ariel Schalit)

From the talented Nina Paley.

The Orange Order – Enough Is Enough

British soldiers of the RIR unit with a flag supporting the anti-Catholic and Protestant fundamentalist Orange Order in Drumcree, 2002

From 1975 to 1982 a British terrorist faction nicknamed the “Shankhill Butchers”, part of the militant UVF, carried out a series of attacks designed to instil terror in the Irish Nationalist community of Belfast, randomly targeting men, women and children living in isolated enclaves around the city. Like Al-Qaeda in Iraq during the intercommunal conflict the … Continue reading

France Had Pétain, We Nearly Had Redmond

John Redmond MP presents a regimental flag to a unit of the Irish National Volunteers, the paramilitary wing of the Irish Parliamentary Party, the Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, April 1915

John Redmond is probably one of the more divisive figures in Irish history and rightly so. The patrician head of the Irish Parliamentary Party whose followers eulogised him with an almost messianic fervour while excoriating any and all critics he was the self-proclaimed “leader of Nationalist Ireland” who bullied and cajoled thousands of young Irish … Continue reading

Name The Kincora Abusers

"Belfast Fianna Fáil wish all members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland a happy 12th of July"

  For the first time an allegation long made in private has been stated in public: a senior member of the largest political party representing the British Unionist community in the north-east of Ireland and a current minister in the regional executive in Belfast was once an associate of Tara, a would-be British terrorist grouping founded in the … Continue reading

Britain’s Legacy In Ireland, 800 Years In The Making

A British Unionist and Orange Order bonfire decorated with sectarian and racist messages, Ireland, July 2014

Pictured above is an “Eleventh Night” bonfire, one of many dozens erected across the north-east of Ireland by usually adolescent members of the British Unionist minority to commemorate a series of 17th century Protestant British victories over Catholic British and Irish opponents during localised conflicts in the pan-european War of the Grand Alliance. In Ireland the primary struggle, … Continue reading

Between The Land And The Sea

Teach an Locháin, Bóthar an Choinicéir, Cill Fhionntain, Éire 2014

Regular readers will know of my affection for Bóthar an Choinicéir, a leafy side-road in Fine Gall situated on a narrow strip of land between the sea and the main BÁC-Binn Éadair DART line. Generally considered to be part of Cill Fhionntain technically the area lies within the separate townland of An Coinicéar (though both lie in the … Continue reading

Rhetoric Should Take Second Place To Respect

An Phalaistín (Palestine)

The ongoing military operations being carried out against the civilian population of Gaza and Occupied Palestine as a whole by the Israeli defence forces and government in pursuit of Palestinian insurgents are dreadful and may well fall into the category of war crimes. However the use of deliberately egregious language to describe or condemn those … Continue reading

A Sickness At The Heart Of Britishness

The True "Northern Ireland" In Orange

As Britain witnesses the revelations of a decades old culture of institutionalised paedophilia and sexual abuse within the heart of the state (seemingly encompassing the BBC, the lower and upper houses of parliament, the judiciary, the police and intelligence services, the “aristocracy”, and past – and possibly current – governments in London) it is worth … Continue reading

Syria’s Other War

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

As if the dreadful loss in human life and untold misery inflicted upon tens of thousands wasn’t enough the internecine struggle in Syria now rivals the conflict in Iraq for the irreparable damage it has caused to the physical heritage of the Middle East and its many peoples. A thoroughly depressing report from the BBC: … Continue reading

Oíche Sheanchais, The First Irish Language Sound Film

Mian Ní Cheallaigh, An Cladach, Contae na Gaillimhe, Éire, 26ú Bealtaine 1913

From a report by the Galway Advertiser: “The first Irish language ‘talkie’ ever made has premiered at a renowned Italian festival of rediscovered and restored film… Oidhche Sheanchais, an 11-minute film featuring Aran islanders from the Man of Aran cast listening to a story told by seanchaí Seáinín Tom Ó Dioráin, was the first ‘talkie’ … Continue reading

A Colony Cannot Be Reformed

We Shall Overcome - Civil Rights In Ireland - The 1960s

In case you missed it, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations: “Press Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing… From 29 August to 11 September 2013, I undertook an official visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the invitation … Continue reading

The Real Subversives In Ireland

John Redmond British Army Recruitment Poster

The twisted psyche of the ruling elites in Ireland is never plainer to see than when one of them emerges from the Big House to criticise the revolutionary stepping stones that led to the establishment of the nation-state they inhabit. And by implication the very existence of the state itself. Former Fine Gael politico and EU careerist … Continue reading

Tony O’Reilly, Entrepreneur Or Ideologue?

John Redmond The British Ventriloquist

For the last three decades the national press in Ireland has been dominated by the publications of the Independent News & Media group (INM), a corporation formerly ruled by the controversial businessman Tony O’Reilly (or “Sir Anthony O’Reilly” as his newspapers were allegedly instructed to describe him following his “knighthood” by the British head of state in 2001 for … Continue reading

The Dirty Secrets Of A Dirty War Get Even Dirtier

Joint footpatrol of British UDA terrorists and British Army soldiers

In the “better late than never” category Britain’s Left-leaning newspaper, the Guardian, has published a special investigation by Ian Cobain into the infamous Ballymurphy Massacre of August 1971. During the course of three days rampaging British troops in an isolated Irish Nationalist enclave on the edge of West Belfast murdered ten civilians, 9 men and boys … Continue reading

The Cló Gaelach Or Irish Typefaces

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Following on from the popularity of a recent post examining some online sources for Irish literary studies I thought a few of you might be interested by information on the Cló Gaelach (literally “Irish Type”), the family of typefaces formerly used in Ireland for Irish language texts. They originated in the 16th century with the creation of … Continue reading

The Axis Of British Fundamentalism

"Belfast Fianna Fáil wish all members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland a happy 12th of July"

Recently the British journalist Colin Freeman while reporting on the crisis in Iraq for the Daily Telegraph, the establishment newspaper in Britain, made this observation on the reconstituted Shia militias now making their muscular presence felt in the Sunni districts of Baghdad: “Waving rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, the convoy of Shia militiamen rolled down the … Continue reading

In Support Of A Reunited Brittany

In 1941 the Vichy regime in France ordered the partition of the north-western Celtic nation of Brittany as part of administrative restructuring during its collaborationist rule with the Nazis. Nearly a fifth of the territory of the Bretons, including the historic capital city of Nantes, was incorporated into an artificial region called Pays de la … 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

Nelson McCausland, The Tea Party Escapee

What other nation in Western Europe would tolerate a senior member of a regional government using his personal blog to publicly list individuals and their home addresses when those persons are at risk of a terrorist attack? Yet that is the very situation we have in Ireland with Nelson McCausland, the minster for social development … Continue reading

The 100th Anniversary Of The Redmondite Putsch

In June 1914 the autocratic leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party or IPP, John Redmond MP, staged something of a putsch within the ranks of the Irish Volunteers (IV), the nationalist paramilitary movement set up in response to the earlier formation of the separatist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in the north of Ireland which the British government … Continue reading

A Message To Scotland

When the children’s author JK Rowling announced her financial support for the anti-sovereignty side in Scotland’s forthcoming referendum on independence she lamented the alleged online campaign of abuse against British Unionist supporters by their Scottish Nationalist rivals. While using her own troll-like language to mischaracterise some of those who believe in a free and self-governing … Continue reading

The Logainm Relaunch

A quick (if late) post on the Placenames Database of Ireland or Logainm, a comprehensive topographical index of our island nation that became something of a surprise internet hit upon its official launch in 2013, and which has now been given a major overall by Fiontar, the Irish language studies and research unit of Dublin City University. … Continue reading

The Many Faces Of The Labour Party

Joan Burton, the aspirant leader of the rapidly decaying Labour Party, has loftily informed the waiting news media that she has no intention of entering into coalition with Sinn Féin because the party, “…still had questions to answer over its links to the atrocities of the Troubles.” Hmmm. Just as well no one mentioned Group … Continue reading

The Whole Aim Of Newspeak Is To Narrow The Range Of Thought

Colm Keena, the journalist and less-than-sympathetic biographer of Gerry Adams, has an article in the Irish Times newspaper examining the Sinn Féin leader and tangentially the origins of the conflict in the north-east of Ireland. It reads like this: “Militant nationalism. Militant nationalism. Militant nationalism. Militant nationalism. Militant nationalism. Militant nationalism. Militant nationalism. Militant nationalism. … Continue reading

British Unionism, Nationalism In Denial

In a glorious example of the Irish political rhetoric known as “whataboutery” the columnist N.R. Greer takes to the pages of the Newsletter to attack the critics of the sectarianism and racism that is at the heart of the ideology of British Unionism in Ireland (and perhaps inevitably so given the origins of political Unionism … 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 Threat Of The Gaelic Ail-Caoíde

Talking of petty bigots whose anachronistic opinions are derived from centuries of colonial supremacism here comes another tirade against one of the indigenous languages of these Celtic Isles. Drew Cochrane, editor of the Largs & Millport Weekly News, spouting some ripe Daily Mail-style rhetoric for his Anglophone (and -centric) readership. Funny how people who complain … Continue reading

  • 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