Well another year has all but passed for An Sionnach Fionn, which has now seen some 20 months of existence. My very first post went up on the 15th of May, 2011, and there have been 644 posts and articles since then, not to mention 121 permanent pages of reviews, studies and other resources. I have had 1239 Comments from readers, the vast majority of them from a community of regular contributors for which I am extremely grateful.
There were 2018 “shares” of posts and pages via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon and other social network services in the first six months of the blog before I switched over to the so-called “official” share buttons in October 2011 (e.g. the Facebook “Like/Share” icon). Unfortunately reposts to social media are now no longer recorded but they have certainly surpassed the 5000 mark. Traffic, or the number of people visiting the website, has substantially jumped in the last six months thanks to the publication of regular posts and articles (not to mention all those shares). Not easy when one works under a round-the-clock schedule for a major IT corporation 😉
In twenty months there have been nearly 190,000 views of An Sionnach Fionn, an amazing statistic for a one-man blog, with 2115 on the busiest day. The majority of visitors have come from Ireland, of course, though closely followed by the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, France and Germany. Again, let me express my deep gratitude to all those who visit and those of you who so kindly share my articles around the internet. You are the ones who are making this website such a success. As of today An Sionnach Fionn has 517 followers who subscribe to regular updates via email and other notifications.
When I first started blogging, over a year and a half ago now, there were very few independent Irish Republican or Nationalist bloggers out there. The internet, like all media, has its trends, and blogging had faded into obscurity after a long period of popularity amongst Republicans and their supporters across the globe. Back in the mid-1990s and early 2000s there was a plethora of Irish Republican websites, so many in fact that most formed themselves into webrings (ask your granddad). With the Peace Process and Belfast Agreement many sites stagnated or disappeared. Some were victims of a concerted effort by the British government, and sympathetic authorities, to censor the widescale dissemination of Republican views via the world wide web. Others were simply left to lapse as their owners focused on other goals or areas of their life.
Most contemporary online Republican activity now takes place inside open or secure message-boards, such as Republican.ie, the Republican Socialist Forum or the Irish Republican Bulletin Board. A handful of blogs and websites offer individual viewpoints like The Singing Flame, 1169 And Counting, Ardoyne Republican, Fiannaíochta, Peter Daly, The 1916 Societies or Independent Republican News but many are party-affiliated. The majority of Irish Republican political parties or organisations also favour their official, and tightly controlled, websites (like Sinn Féin, IRSP or éirigí) supplemented by local party sites.
However over the last two years blogging has seen something of a resurgence amongst those with an independent or unaffiliated Irish Republican view. There are now several bloggers from an Irish Nationalist background publishing on a regular basis. Since May 2012 there has been Bangordub with his analytical statistics-based site We In Coming Days May Be, while from September 2012 Footballcliches has contributed several lengthy pieces on politics and society in the North of Ireland. These have joined five regular Republican bloggers, the independent Hoboroad’s Political Highway (a prodigious poster on his site since 2011), Keeping An Eye On The Czar Of Russia (a veteran if independently-minded former member of the SDLP, whose blog has been active since 2011), irregular blogger Endgame In Ulster (publishing since 2010) and author and journalist Jude Collins (who has been publishing his forthright views online since 2009).
I could also mention overseas bloggers like the Irish-Scottish 107 Cowgate, the New Zealand based Irish Revolution, the Italian Five Demands and Les Enfats Terribles or the Spanish El Norte de Irlanda and Innisfree. The Irish Republican cybersphere is more active now than it has been for many years with a host of different views being offered. Long may this continue.
From An Sionnach Fionn a very happy New Year to all.