The Republic of Ireland made history today by becoming the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage via popular vote. Ireland only decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, so the country has seen an amazing turnaround on gay rights issues. And the omens are good.
It is worth remembering that the things that were changed were ancient, hallowed traditions, sanctioned by time and religion and social practice. My right to rape my wife was part of common law – it had long seemed perfectly obvious and “natural” that the question of consent to sex simply didn’t arise in a marriage. (In many parts of the world, indeed, this still seems “natural”.) The idea that a wife was not a legally or economically separate person but a mere adjunct to her husband had very deep roots. Within my lifetime, even minimal changes to this idea were bitterly opposed.Marriage was nothing to be proud of in 1983. On the eve of the Irish vote on marriage equality, Fintan O’Toole puts into context the change it will make to the "sanctitity" of marriage, by reflecting on the changes marriage in Ireland had already undergone since his own marriage in 1983. Tomorrow the Republic of Ireland will hold a referendum on Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015, which if passed would make gay marriage available.
Just sixteen years years after the Trail of Tears, the Choctaw Nation collected $710* and sent it to Ireland to help during the potato famine. In 1992, a group of Irish people retraced the Trail of Tears to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the gift. [more inside]
Three years ago, a man punched a hole in a Monet painting as it hung in Ireland's National Gallery. Conservationists have restored it. This is their story. [more inside]
It was with a heavy heart and no small amount of anger that I decided it was necessary to write a public refutation of the insidious myth that the Irish were once chattel slaves in the British colonies. The subject of this myth is not an issue in academic circles, for there is unanimous agreement, based on overwhelming evidence, that the Irish were never subjected to perpetual, hereditary slavery in the colonies, based on notions of ‘race’. Unfortunately this is not the case in the public domain and the ‘Irish slaves’ myth has been shared so frequently online that it has gone viral.For OpenDemocracy, Laim Hogan writes a short article on the myth of Irish slavery, extracted from his larger essay 'The myth of “Irish slaves” in the colonies'. This has become relevant again in the wake of Ferguson as white supremacists and others use it to disparage and minimise African-American history and suffering: "the Irish don't ask for reparations and they were slaves".
Did Vladimir Lenin speak English with an Irish accent? The blog of Dublin culture Come Here To Me has some fun digging into Lenin's supposed Rathmines accent. The Dublin Review of Books describes the now extinct "Rathmines accent" a bit more, but says the Lenin story is not "enormously well-vouched". (The Russian embassy in Ireland apparently thinks otherwise).
Jack O’lanterns: Pumpkins and turnips and fungi, Oh My!, a brief but informative blog post by Kirsty Jackson at Plant Scientist.
"When do women in Ireland get to say 'no'? Today we find out that the answer is 'never', not really – not if a man has other ideas and the state decides to enforce his use of a woman's body." [Warning: may be triggering.] New Statesman, "Violation after violation: why did Ireland force a woman on hunger strike to bear her rapist's child?" [more inside]
An internaut helped some statues take their first selfies at Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, Ireland.
Sean-nós singing: a bluffer's guide. While the future of the Gaeltacht is in question, sean-nós singing is alive and well in Ireland and beyond. [more inside]
Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, was a dangerous place to be in the late 1970s. With bombs, shootings, British Army Patrols, riots on the streets, and The Ramones and New York Dolls on the turntable, the most punk thing 5 Catholic lads could do was to sing upbeat songs about adolescent lust, girls, getting nowhere with said girls, and the general struggles of being young. In the bleeding heart of The Troubles, The Undertones escaped by dreaming of a life more ordinary. [more inside]
A week later she got back to me and said do you really want all of these deaths? I said I do. She told me I would be charged for each record. Then she asked me did I realize the enormity of the numbers of deaths there?”It had long been known children had died in the Mother and Baby home for "fallen women" in Tuan Galway, but it was not until local historian Catherine Corless started investigating that it became clear that between 1925 and 1961, 800 children were buried in a mass grave on the site, possibly inside a septic tank. [more inside]
The registrar came back with a list of 796 children. “I could not believe it. I was dumbfounded and deeply upset,” says Corless. “There and then I said this isn’t right. There’s nothing on the ground there to mark the grave, there’s nothing to say it’s a massive children’s graveyard. It’s laid abandoned like that since it was closed in 1961.”
The Roader’s Digest is ‘the most complete archive of information on the British and Irish road networks on the web.’ from the A1 to the R999; from the B3306 to the B855, they probably have a description of it. [more inside]
The Dead Zoo Gang "Over the last several years, millions of dollars worth of antique rhino horns have been stolen from natural history museum collections around the world. The only thing more unusual than the crimes is the theory about who is responsible: A handful of families from rural Ireland known as the Rathkeale Rovers." (Via)
Google has been in Ireland since 2003, and some former Google employees and contractors with significant experience at the company say that Google’s reputation as a great employer is undeserved. Permanent staff are well taken care of, they say, but even many permanent staff are overqualified, overworked, and perform relatively menial tasks. In addition, entire layers of hidden contractors and temporary workers do much of the work without the benefits or opportunities accorded permanent staff.
Trinity College Dublin has added high-quality scans of the Book of Kells to their archives. These scans are now viewable by the public online.
It's pretty widely known that there have never been snakes in Ireland, so who did Saint Patrick chase out? The case has been made that the story of Saint Patrick chasing out druids (snake-tattooed pagans) is also a myth (and Patrick wasn't even Irish). But that doesn't mean there are no reptiles in Ireland. The only native land-based reptile is the viviparous lizard, though there are other reptiles that are semi-inhabitants of Ireland. And this brings us to the the amateur survey of Ireland's lizards, newts, frogs and slow worms, one of a number of such surveys hosted by Biology.ie, "Ireland's premier Biodiversity Awareness portal."
"I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it many times again, but one of the joys of webcomics is their ability to cover every possible subject and fill every conceivable niche. Say, for example, you’re into early Irish literature and you want to read it in comics form. Webcomics are happy to help you out. At this very moment, in fact, there are at least two ongoing webcomics based on the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley, the central epic of the Ulster cycle: Patrick Brown’s The Cattle Raid of Cooley and M.K. Reed’s About a Bull. Thank you, webcomics! You’ve justified the existence of the Internet yet again!" -- Shaenon Garrity reviews two niche webcomics.
With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching, it's a great opportunity to have a look at "Danny Boy". [more inside]
This book deals with the Dialect of the English Language that is spoken in Ireland. As the Life of a people—according to our motto—is pictured in their speech, our picture ought to be a good one, for two languages were concerned in it—Irish and English. ... Here for the first time—in this little volume of mine—our Anglo-Irish Dialect is subjected to detailed analysis and systematic classification.P.W. Joyce's 1910 work, "English as We Speak it in Ireland," is a fascinating chronicle of a language's life, and no mistake. [more inside]
Drag Queen Panti Bliss, aka Rory O'Neill, received a standing ovation after speaking at Dublin's Abbey Theatre on homophobia, and oppression. [more inside]
Icy weather getting you down? How about a nice relaxing beach holiday? The same weather pattern bringing Antarctic temperatures to America is pushing Himalayan surf towards Europe. With storm swell battering coastlines from Portugal to Cornwall, big-wave specialists from around the world are flocking to the unlikely surf mecca of Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, Ireland. Apparently it's been pretty intense... "Down there was living repeatedly rabbit punched while diving in the deep!" [more inside]
Adding to the widely reported speculation that Chiwetel Ejiofor is joining the cast, the BBC is reporting that open auditions for two of the lead roles in the next Star Wars film are being held across Britain and Ireland in the next few weeks. Shooting is still slated to start in January. The audition call tweet gives details of the roles... [more inside]
Philip Chevron - "singer, writer, composer, punk rocker, poet, Radiator, Pogue" - passed away from esophageal cancer on October 8th, far too young at only 56. He was most widely known as the Pogues’ rhythm guitarist, who penned "Thousands Are Sailing", a haunting ballad about Irish immigration to the USA that quickly became a live favourite (in later shows usually sung by Phil himself). [more inside]
The most Irish island in the world. Booker Prize winning author Anne Enright travels to the edge of Newfoundland. (single page version, may trigger printer).
The Bluffer's guide to Irish folk: 20 songs from the last 50-odd years of Irish traditional music.
One hundred years ago today, W.B. Yeats published one of his best known poems, September 1913, as a letter to the Irish Times. [more inside]
A translated version of Avicii's "Wake Me Up" recently broke the record for highest number of views for an Irish language video. It's just the most popular example of the headline-grabbing music videos being made at Coláiste Lurgan, an Irish language summer school for teenagers. Their other popular videos include An tAdh 'Nocht (Get Lucky), Tóg Amach Mé (Wagon Wheel), Pompeii, and Amhrán na gCupán (When I'm Gone). Interview with the school's manager here, setting out his mission. See more songs on YouTube and Bandcamp.
One sunny summer day in Dublin, pub drinkers spill out onto the streets. Blocking traffic. And dancing. With taxi drivers. The taxi driver is part-time DJ Wayne Karney. His dance partner is Andrea Pappin, spokesperson for the Irish Presidency of the EU 2013.
With a vote of 127 to 31, Ireland has passed a law allowing limited rights to abortion when the mother's life is at risk or she is at risk of suicide. Amendments to include rape and incest were defeated. Last year, almost 4,000 women travelled to the UK for abortions, including termination of more than 1,000 non-viable fetal abnormality pregnancies. [more inside]
"For nearly two centuries, biologists have been struck by a mystery of geography and biodiversity peculiar to Europe. As Edward Forbes pointed out as far back as 1846, there are a number of life forms (including the Kerry slug, a particular species of strawberry tree and the Pyrenean glass snail) that are found in two specific distant places—Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula—but few areas in between." -- How did a specific snail species from the Pyrenees end up in Ireland but nowhere else?
Lee Buchheit, fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress
Lee Buchheit, a lawyer at US firm Cleary Gottlieb, has been present at all the major debt crises of the past three decades. His reputation among investors is as a fearsome and aggressive litigator, but finance ministers in distress see him as something of a fairy godmother.[more inside]
Amy and Katie, the twins born 87 days apart - after mother's contractions simply stopped.
"This video has been dramatically enhanced in quality, using modern video editing tools. The film has been motion stabilized and the speed has been slowed down to correct speed (from 18 fps to 24 fps) using special frame interpolation software that re-creates missing frames." Watch corrected and cleaned footage of circa 1900s London and Cork (5 min 35 sec). (via)
"[The Loyal Yiddish Sons of Erin]'s biggest event was the annual Erev St. Patrick's Day Banquet. It was a formal gala at the Americana Hotel, complete with a big band, kosher corned beef and green bagels." American-Irish-Jews still celebrate St. Patrick's Day: “It’s an American-Irish holiday, surely not Jewish. It has nothing to do with Jewish people. But I’m Irish, and I have a feeling for it.” [more inside]
'I'm sick of being ashamed." Three days ago, an anti-harassment activist said those words to me in a flat above Cairo's Tahrir square, as she pulled on her makeshift uniform ready to protect women on the protest lines from being raped in the street. Only days before, I'd heard exactly the same words from pro-choice organisers in Dublin, where I travelled to report on the feminist fight to legalise abortion in Ireland. I had thought that I was covering two separate stories – so why were two women from different countries and backgrounds repeating the same mantra against fear, and against shame?[more inside]
One day on a battlefiled in South Carolina, an escaped slave found the unconscious body of a wounded redcoat. [more inside]
Curious about contemporary Dublin slang? C'mere to me and have a look at this YouTube video yoke. It's only massive! [more inside]
In rural Ireland, pub business is down due to stricter drunk driving laws. In order to increase business, some counties are considering loosening the laws - in one county, "councilors voted to let rural residents drive a bit drunker."
The Fastnet Race is a biennial sailing race from Cowes to Fastnet Rock to Plymouth, in England. In 1979, it was the venue for one of the most famous storms and greatest disasters in yacht-racing history. [more inside]
“So when I was pregnant and about to give birth, I was expecting kindness, understanding, love. But, by god, was I wrong. They were torturers. They didn’t care. I was a thing. An experiment.” [more inside]
Perhaps the greatest Irish band in history. They came from Liverpool, a city with an Irish population so large that it's known as "The Real Capitol of Ireland," and with an accent, "Scouse," that betrays its Irish influence. There were four in the band, and three were of Irish descent. [more inside]