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 barony of An Chúlóg. For administrative purposes Ireland is divided into townlands, parishes, baronies and counties, the first three often following indigenous Irish territorial divisions rather than later British colonial impositions). I spent a considerable part of my childhood here, both at school and at play, and remain a regular visitor. So I thought I’d post a couple of pictures of my favourite houses (of which there are many).
Arna chéadfhoilsiú ar The Irish Republic:
Imagine the United States suspending Independence Day ceremonies for 36 years, or the French doing likewise with Bastille Day ceremonies. Imagine if the British government announced that, even for one year, there would be no Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph on November 11th. There would be national uproar in any of these countries. Yet, here in Ireland, just such a suspension occurred. There was no state ceremony to mark the 1916 Rising on what was then seen as the National Day of Commemoration, at the GPO on Easter Sunday, between 1971 and 2006 when it was reinstated.
By that time the idea of national commemoration had had its emphasis shifted away from remembering and commemorating the issuing of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on April 24th 1916 and the week-long revolution that followed which fueled a partially successful War of Independence. In 1986 a new National Day of…
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Philip Weiss links to a shocking and profoundly disturbing video of a Palestinian father unable to accept the killing of his young son during an Israeli military attack on a civilian population centre in the Gaza Strip. This the reality of Israel’s latest campaign against the besieged population of Gaza while supposedly countering the military forces of the Hamas-led government and assorted Palestinian insurgents. This will also be the consequence of Israel’s actions following the warning that a quarter of a million people living in northern Gaza have just 24 hours to flee their homes in gross violation of international law.
The atrocious murder of three Israeli teenage boys does not justify the murder of over a hundred Palestinian men, women and children. Especially when the vast majority of those men, women and children had nothing whatsoever to do with the former event. It is arbitrary and collective punishment of entire families and communities. So what is the difference between what Israel is doing now in Occupied Palestine and what Russia did in Crimea and is still doing in eastern Ukraine? Or what Assad is doing in Opposition-held Syria? Or what ISIS is doing in Syria, Iraq and Kurdistan?
The infamous Ku Klux Klan had – and probably still has – burning crosses. The equally infamous Orange Order has burning bonfires. The function of both is the same: celebration, defiance, intimidation. With “only” three ethnically motivated stabbings, scattered and desultory rioting, a handful of inter-communal clashes, minimal damage to property, shorter than previous road and street closures or diversions, several arrests and no police injuries it has been what is generally viewed as a “good” July 11th and 12th. The increased number and size of bonfires, complete with prominent sectarian and racist messages and effigies targeting Irish, Chinese-Irish, Polish-Irish and other communities, is considered a small price to pay. Not to mention the heavy preponderance of flags celebrating the KKK, various British terrorist organisations and British Army units noted for their participation in war crimes here in Ireland.
Last year the Orange Order refused to denounce violent protests by their supporters and the British terror factions dutifully followed suit and brought mayhem onto the streets. This year the Orange Order instructed that there be no violent protests by their supporters and the British terror factions dutifully stayed off the streets. However we are told that there are no links between both…
British Nationalism and blood sacrifices…
Arna chéadfhoilsiú ar A Wilderness of Peace:
“I was born in Inverness, I’m a passionate Highlander, and I love Scotland. I will take a stand to keep the United Kingdom together. I will give my life for my country as my grandfather did in the First World War. And his brother Charlie. Highland regiment! British Army! I am British forever! We will never, never change! We will keep our union together in the name of Jesus!”
Social media has erupted over Nigel Kirk Hanlin, whose appearance on Question Time’s final show recorded in Scotland before the referendum was certainly memorable in comparison to the usually fairly bland and tepid proceedings of the show. I really didn’t feel much desire to talk about him: he’s just like dozens of other No voters I’ve encountered along the campaign trail, with the same anger and repudiation of the “Nationalists” attempt to break up their…
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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 operations, especially language that knowingly harks back to World War Two and the Third Reich, is not only offensive but counter-productive. Six million men, women and children from a Jewish background, however tenuous, died in the concentration camps or the killing fields of Europe between 1939 and 1945. To refer to an “Israeli blitzkrieg” on Gaza as An Phoblacht did today is to echo language normally used in relation to the Nazis. It is both insensitive and unnecessary. Likewise the Israeli government, however much it is influenced by sectarian and racist views, is not a “Zionist regime”. It is all the more ironic that this article comes from the newspaper of Sinn Féin, a party that sits in a regional power-sharing government in the north-east of Ireland with another grouping whose isolationist world view is not so far removed from that of the current governing parties in Israel.
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 remembering how the conflict in the north-east of Ireland was exploited to feed the baser vices of the ruling elites in our neighbouring island. The Blether Region, which normally focuses on issues relating to the Irish, Scottish and Scots English languages, has done an exemplary job in reminding us of the squalid nexus of sectarianism, terrorism, money and power as represented by the infmaous Kincora Boys Home Scandal. For ten years the “reverend” William McGrath, a fanatically anti-Catholic member of the Orange Order in Belfast, the founder of a would-be terror gang, a Far Right conspirator, and a believer in the myth of the Lost Tribes of Israel, worked with others in the 1970s to supply a chain of boys and youths for the “ritualised” pleasures of fellow Unionist leaders, members of the British armed forces, the intelligence services, and senior government officials (elected and otherwise). The list of those possibly involved seems to grow with every passing week as more information comes to light, primarily through the efforts of a few honest campaigners in Britain, and now Ireland, with the British news media lagging well behind (you can assume your own reasons for that). The latest post is here and should be read by all those concerned with just how incredibly dirty the “Dirty War” really was. Beyond even the reckoning of most of its protagonists.
When politics and religion, fantasies and ravings, are mixed together this is the result.
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:
“Syria, graced with thousands of historic sites, is seeing its cultural heritage vandalised, looted and destroyed by war…
In March the Syrian air force bombed the world’s best preserved Crusader Castle, the 12th Century Krak des Chevaliers in Homs province.
In November a mortar shell, fired from rebel-held areas in the north-eastern suburbs of the capital, Damascus, struck the priceless mosaics on the facade of the 8th Century Great Mosque – the spiritual heart of the city.
Among the 2,000-year-old remains of the Roman oasis city of Palmyra, to the north-east, the army has dug a road and earth dykes, and installed multiple rocket launchers inside the camp of the emperor Diocletian.
Further north, Aleppo’s Great Mosque, founded in the early 8th Century, has come under heavy fire. Its 50m-tall Seljuk minaret, a masterpiece of elegance dating from 1095, was considered one of the most important monuments of medieval Syria.
The minaret, whose height made it a useful rebel lookout and sniper position, collapsed as a result of shelling in March 2013.
Aleppo’s souks, dating back in parts to the 13th Century, were considered the finest of any in the Middle East, with more than 12km of winding alleys. Not just a major tourist attraction, they represented the beating heart of the commercial city, founded in the 2nd Millennium BC.
Free Syrian Army rebels established a headquarters in a bath-house near the old souk, making it a target for bombardment.
The Old City of Homs suffered more aerial bombardment than any other city in Syria. Many ancient buildings, including several active churches and monasteries, were flattened. Umm Al-Zinnar Church boasted a relic from the belt of the Virgin Mary.
Far to the south, the 2nd Century Roman amphitheatre of Bosra, once the capital of the Roman Province of Arabia, is concealed within a 13th Century fort not far from the Jordanian border. It has been occupied during the current fighting by army snipers and shabiha militia, its windows piled with sandbags, firing at rebel pockets in the Old Town of Bosra.
The famous tells or archaeological mounds of Mesopotamia – rich repositories of man’s earliest history once carefully dug by the likes of Agatha Christie’s archaeologist husband Max Mallowan – are now systematically being plundered with heavy machinery to fill the coffers of Islamist militant group Isis. While some ancient artefacts are traded for weapons or cash, others that represent humans or animal gods are seen by Isis as heretical to Islam and destroyed.
Isis has also bulldozed statues of lions along with Sufi and Shia shrines in the Raqqa province, the militant group’s headquarters.”
Whatever about removing modernist symbols of relatively recent oppression in various nations around the world, Queen Victoria in Ireland, Stalin in Ukraine, Pol Pot in Cambodia, using contemporary political or religious ideology to justify the destruction of ancient monuments indicates the facile nature of those beliefs.
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’ to be filmed in Irish and was made in London in 1934 while the cast were recording post-synch sound for Man of Aran.
All copies of Oidhche Sheanchais were thought to have been destroyed in a fire in 1943, but a nitrate print of the film was discovered at Harvard University in 2012.
The Harvard Film Archive worked with the university’s Houghton Library and Celtic department and Harvard’s Office of the Provost, to preserve Oidhche Sheanchais on 35mm film and in digital formats, as well as translating the film and creating a subtitled version.
The film originally had a short cinema run in Ireland in 1935, and was never subtitled in English. It featured Colman ‘Tiger’ King, Maggie Dirrane, Michael Dirrane, and Patch Ruadh of the Man of Aran cast sitting around a hearth listening to Ó Dioráin’s story, interspersed with footage of seascapes shot while filming Man of Aran.
The restored film premiered at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, Italy, last week…”
From the blog Antti Alanen: Film Diary:
“The short Oidhche sheanchais affirms Flaherty’s belief in cinema as a mythopoeic and folkloric art. Ireland’s first government-sponsored film, Oidhche Sheanchais was funded by a modest £200 budget assigned for the production of an Irish language talkie enshrining a vital element of the national heritage. Flaherty directed the film while in London recording the post-synch sound for Man of Aran using that film’s cast together with Seáinín Tom Ó Dioráin, a renowned Aran Island storyteller. Unlike Man of Aran, Oidhche Sheanchais was recorded entirely in Irish. Prior to the film’s release the Irish Press distributed a dialogue transcript to ensure that “children will… not miss any of the beauty and subtlety of the story it tells.”
Some positive signs pointing towards growing stability in the numbers of Scottish (Gaelic) speakers in Scotland. Despite the decline caused by centuries of political, social and cultural exclusion – in particular since the 1800s – communities are remerging in urban regions like Edinburgh and Glasgow. From the Scotsman newspaper:
“THE growth of Gaelic education throughout Scotland in the last year has been hailed a success by the language’s national body – despite a continuing decline in its historic heartland of the Western Isles.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s annual report for 2013/14 highlights a rise in numbers seeking to be educated in the language.
Gaelic-medium education has risen by 6.1 per cent at primary school level, with the number of children entering into primary one rising by 13 per cent to 486 entrants.
The number of pupils also doing Gaelic-medium education at secondary level rose by 7 per cent, totalling 1181.
Further growth was seen the early years sector with the number of parent and toddler groups and playgroups increasing from 80 to 93, thus furthering the potential of increasing the number of entrants to GME in the coming years.
But the Western Isles is still proving to be a sore point for the body, which supported by public funds.
Through the course of the year the Bòrd dealt with 349 applications for funding from different organisations throughout the length and breadth of Scotland. 72 per cent however of the funding received by the Bòrd from the Scottish Government was distributed to others.
Minister for Scotland’s Languages Dr Alasdair Allan said: “Parents across the country have been clear that they recognise the benefits of a bilingual education for their children and the rolls for GME schools and units continue to grow.
“This support is one of the key reasons that the 2011 census showed that the number of Gaelic speakers under 20 had grown in the last decade and the historic decline in the number of speakers has slowed dramatically.”
Arna chéadfhoilsiú ar Come here to me!:
A stones throw away from a US Embassy is an odd location for a memorial to a revolutionary guerrilla army.
But this is the case for the plaque and celtic cross at the corner of Herbert Park and Clyde Road in Ballsbridge dedicated to the memory of the officers and men of the IRA’s Third Battalion Dublin Brigade.
Significance and context
On the 13th of May 1973, in one of his last public appearances in office, President Eamon De Valera unveiled the IRA memorial in front of a crowd of several hundred. A little over a month later, and at the grand age of 90, De Valera retired from political office.. Commandment of the Third Battalion in the lead up to and during Easter Week 1916, De Valera died in the Linden Convalescent Home, Blackrock on 29 August 1975…
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Dónal McAnallen is a passionate and well regarded Irish rights activist, sports historian and writer so what is the source of the controversy that has blown up over the last few days in relation to his Irish language advocacy within the GAA? From a report by the Belfast Telegraph:
“[GAA] President Liam O’Neill could be forced into a humiliating climbdown, after he confronted a GAA employee delivering a speech in Croke Park on Saturday before staging a public walkout before the address was completed.
Dónal McAnallen, an employee of the Ulster Council, was in Croke Park on Saturday delivering a presentation on the Irish language, when O’Neill interrupted the session and made a number of angry allegations, to the effect that McAnallen was in some way harming the Irish language.
He was in Croke Park delivering a presentation on measures that county language officers and clubs could use in order to advance the use of Irish language within their units.
O’Neill took exception to the content of the text and confronted McAnallen.
When McAnallen began to explain, O’Neill refused to listen and departed the room.
Other county board representatives who were present at the meeting backed up this version of events.
A spokesperson for the GAA replied and confirmed that O’Neill did leave the meeting adding: “He was disappointed at the tone and tenor of some of the comments and at one presentation in particular, in light of the fact of how passionate he has been and continued to be in favour of the Irish language.”
From what one hears the speech discussed matters already under debate by the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association or Cumann Lúthchleas Gael) which not too long ago recommitted itself to furthering the use of Irish within the organisation. So why the allegedly explosive reaction by the GAA president? Why would greater facilities for Irish-speaking players and communities harm a movement which supposedly has the indigenous language of this island nation at its heart? More on this when I have it.
An interesting view from the United States on the deepening political crisis in the north-east of Ireland following the avowedly ethno-sectarian declarations by the DUP and others on behalf of the “Protestant Unionist Loyalist” community. Because of course one can only be a Protestant if one is a Unionist and Loyalist, and one can only be a Unionist and Loyalist if one is a Protestant. While militant sectarianism in Iraq and Syria, Israel and Palestine is making headlines around the world the leaders of British Unionism in Ireland are wallowing in it…
Arna chéadfhoilsiú ar Choosing the Green - Roghnú Glas :
Everyone likes a parade. I get it. They’re all pomp and circumstance – people showing off their heritage, their music, their flags. There are parades worldwide for what seems like every single little excuse that anyone can find. Some are big, some are small, some are downright silly, and some threaten a fragile balance.
The marching season in Ulster falls into the last category. July 12th is a day that roughly half of the population celebrates the victory of William of Orange (a Dutch King, by the way) over the English King James II. It’s a huge holiday which is steeped in irony, when you think about it. This is a bunch of people who violently insist on being considered British that take to the streets to celebrate a Dutch victory over their own historical ruler. Label that one for storage in the “Things that make you go hmmmm
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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 of the Government. My visit included various cities in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The main objective of my visit was to assess the country’s achievements and challenges in guaranteeing the right to adequate housing and non-discrimination in this context, in accordance with existing international human rights standards. The assessment includes legislation and policy frameworks as well as the consideration of concrete outcomes from those policies, examining how they respond to the housing needs of women, men and children, with a particular focus on those most vulnerable and disenfranchised.
Planning systems reforms are also being considered in Northern Ireland, devolving powers to Local Councils, which will also be territorially redefined. In this context, I want to express my concern at the potential that this decentralization may have for increased sectarianism and discrimination.
… population groups, highlighted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2009, which continue to face inadequate access to affordable housing are Catholics in Northern Ireland, specifically in North Belfast. The current allocation scheme was created to be fair and open, and to allocate accommodation on the basis of meeting the housing need of people. Despite the efforts of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, I remain concerned that full equality has not been achieved yet.”
Nearly five decades on from the eruption of the war in the north-east of Ireland and the causes of the conflict remain as current as ever. Despite the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998, despite supposed power-sharing and improvements in civil rights institutionalised discrimination based upon religion and ethnicity remains the dominant feature of the last remnant of the historic British colonial state on our island nation. One cannot reform the unreformable. One can only wipe the slate clean and start again.
The Irish-speaking citizens and communities of Ireland are under attack. They are under attack from a coalition government of two parties who seem determined to finish the ethnocide of the indigenous Irish language and culture begun eight centuries ago. For how else could one explain the events of the last three years? The rolling back of legislation giving minimal equality to Irish-speakers in relation to public services and the withdrawal of bilingual provisions? The lowering in status of those whose duty it is to uphold the law on behalf of Irish-speakers while neutralising that role through a lack of resources? The regulatory excision or debasement of traditional Irish-speaking communities? The reduction or termination of state support for voluntary organisations and charities operating through the Irish language? The arrest and detention of Irish-speaking citizens for speaking in Irish? The imposition of acceptable levels of inequality between Irish-speaking and English-speaking defendants before the courts, with juries and trials loaded in favour of the latter? It is a catalogue of institutionalised discrimination with the acquiescence of the highest echelons of the government itself.
Now Gaelport, the popular main community website for Irish-speakers at home and abroad, has finally ceased to function following the inexplicable withdrawal of state funding and with no replacement in sight. Or even likely. It is just the latest in a series of recent closures of Irish language media, print and electronic, in each case due to the movement of government resources to elsewhere (like the tens of millions of euros devoted over the last decade to Bord na gCon – the dog-racing authority!). From the Hidden Ireland blog:
“Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge was established in 1943. Its role is to act as a coordinating body for voluntary Irish language organisations.
Gaelport.com was the leading Irish language news and information website listing Irish classes, Irish job vacancies and Irish language events. It was a project of the Comhdháil funded by Foras na Gaeilge. As such it was an award-winning news site for Irish-speakers and indeed those whose Irish was a little rusty as a lot of the material was in two languages.
In January of this year Foras na Gaeilge announced the six organisations chosen to partake in their new funding model. As Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, the organisation who runs Gaelport.com along with many other projects, was unsuccessful in its efforts to secure a place among the six lead organisations there remained no option for the board of An Chomhdháil but to cease the employment of its six staff members in light of its core-funding being completely cut.
It had been hoped to transfer the bulk of the work, including gaelport.com, carried out by the Comhdháil since 1943. With their almost 71 years of experience they were hampered by the fact that successful organisations were unsure of the resources which would be allocated to them after 30 June 2014. This may still be the situation. (While writing this we understand that Foras na Gaeilge are also withdrawing funding from another website used extensively throughout the world, beo.ie, which will make it very difficult to continue! The unenviable record of Foras na Gaeilge is thus added to as they continue on this incomprehensible destruction, without replacement, of the Irish language media, at least three newspapers and some other periodicals).
The most alarming and disgraceful part of this is the lack of communication from Foras na Gaeilge with the Comhdháil and the other organisation whose employees work is so little appreciated that they have given no advice or shown any concern for the future of these dedicated people.
The board of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge had little choice but to wind down the operation and organisation in an orderly way until the funding was finally withdrawn from it at the end of June.
Today we have seen terribly sad pictures being tweeted of a skip being filled with the ruins of 71 years of voluntary and dedicated activity!
Nobody denies that the organisation of the voluntary sector in the language movement should be rationalised but the unthinking bureaucracy which so recklessly wielded the axe leaves an angry and untrusting public. This could be seen when up to 10,000 people marched through Dublin in February, a thousand marched in Conamara later in February, thousands also marched in Belfast in April and smaller gatherings took place in other venues. Part of the reason for these marches was the Government’s policy or lack of policy for the National Language.
The Irish people should be grateful to the staff of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge and their dedicated work over the past seventy years. That has now been lost because a lack of appreciation or indeed understanding of Foras na Gaeilge.
Foras na Gaeilge is the body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout the whole island of Ireland. It is difficult to see how this slaughter may be called promotion. It is difficult to see any logic at all in their actions.”
From 2011 to 2013 the coalition government of Ireland, under Fine Gael and Labour, spent nearly two billion euros of Irish-taxpayers money on overseas aid. They did it to help communities abroad (not to mention the “pet charities” of politically influential friends and supporters domestically, as we have seen with the high-profile scandals of recent months). Meanwhile the politically-powerless Irish-speaking communities at home were being deliberately and knowingly starved of resources. There is a lesson to be learned there.
Power does not grow from the bottom of a begging bowl.