Posts

Why do the Irish not talk about 'The Famine'?

Image
By Ciaran Tierney
Why, until now, has there been so little evidence of the Great Hunger of 1845 to 1849 on and around the streets, parks, and monuments of Ireland?
A former Hollywood scriptwriter, the people of a Cork village, and a Dublin taxi-driver were not the only ones to be struck by it.
But they decided to do something about it in recent years.
Sometimes you need to go away or talk to strangers to see your home place with clearer eyes or question why some things are somehow best forgotten or ignored.
After many years spent in Britain and the United States, it shocked Mark Kennedy upon his return to his native Galway that there was no public memorial to the greatest disaster in Irish history.
There was no place or statue in his city to commemorate the catastrophe that stole a million lives and forced up to two million to seek out new lives in North America. And Mark wanted to know why.
There was nothing to show friends from the U.S. when they visited the West of Ireland to explore thei…

Do the Irish really need to "get over themselves"?

Image
Are the Irish an over-sensitive lot?

Is it really worthy of a national debate – and even a Twitter tag – when a British TV presenter goes on social media to tell us that some of us “need to get over ourselves”?

And all because he described a row between the British and the Irish over the impact ‘Brexit’ will have on the Irish border as a “kerfuffle” in an interview with the Irish Tanaiste (or Deputy Prime Minister)!

The online reaction to a Twitter outburst by Sky News presenter Adam Boulton might have been something of a storm in a tea-cup this week, but it comes at a time when Irish people are deeply alarmed by the attitudes they are hearing from some people on the other side of the Irish Sea.

Not to mention general disquiet over the impact Brexit will have on the Irish economy, particularly in border communities which were devastated by 30 years of The Troubles until the 1998 Good Friday Agreement brought wonderful changes to all of our lives.

The Republic exports €15.6 billion wo…

Bluster over Brexit shows many wounds have yet to be healed

Image
Irene from Manchester, England, was very upset.                                 

She thought it was terrible that a small little island has been holding up those important Brexit negotiations.

She wrote to a newspaper this week to say that the island next door to Britain was “too small to have a border” and “causes everybody a headache”.

In her opinion, Ireland “should never have been split”.

She said it was about time the Irish made up their minds, to decide whether they were “in or out” of the wonderful United Kingdom.

It seemed to have escaped her attention that the Irish pretty much made their minds up about the British Empire a long time ago.

They spent hundreds of years trying to break free; issues such as the Plantation of Ulster, the Great Famine, the Penal Laws, and the attempted destruction of their native language might just have helped the pesky peasants to “make up their minds”.

Irene was quite shocked to discover that this little island to the west had a border, the onl…

The great Galway 'busker war' of 2017!

Image
This is Emma.                                                                           

Emma’s a gem.

Emma and people like her add so much to the vibrancy of my city.

Throughout the year, she’s a huge hit with tourists and locals alike. She takes up her spot at the top of High Street, puts on a backing track, and dances to the best of Irish music.

Shoppers take a break to enjoy her superb skills as a traditional Irish dancer, while visitors soak up this perfect taste of the vibrant native culture in Galway.

A few yards up the street, more visitors are captivated by the Galway Street Club. A ‘raggle-taggle’ collection of performers from all over the world, they entertain the masses for free on Shop Street and their act has become so successful that they are now invited to play decent-sized venues all over Ireland.

When they are not pumping out the sounds outside Eason’s, their perch is often taken up by James.

Gifted with a voice akin to Luke Kelly, one of his sessions on the street …

No poppy for the innocent victims

Image
For an Irish footballer who lives in England, it’s a source of annual abuse. 

For An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, it’s become a new cause for
derision.

And for a small, but brave number of high-profile people in Britain, including Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow, not wearing one is a courageous statement in the face of a wave of xenophobia and jingoistic nationalism.

The red poppy.

Is it right to wear one on Remembrance Sunday?

And is it ever right for an Irish person to wear a symbol which honours the members of the British Army?

An Taoiseach broke new ground when he became the first Irish leader to brandish a poppy in the Dail this week.

It hardly came as a huge surprise, given that this is the leader who tweeted about remembering “where he was when Princess Diana died” on the day two homeless people passed away on the streets of Dublin.

The Irish people clearly have a very problematic history with the British Army, even though more than 200,000 men and women from this island served with…

Why do the Irish denigrate the truth-seekers?

Image
In Ireland, we tend to denigrate and ridicule those who seek out the truth or shine light on our darkness.                                             
It’s as though the mirror they hold up to Irish society is too ugly to witness, too painful to face up to, so that it’s easier to assassinate their characters than to acknowledge their search for justice.
Take Jonathan Sugarman.
There are restaurants in Dublin who refuse to accept a reservation upon hearing his name. There are pubs where he’d be shunned, seen as a pariah, if he joined the great and the good as they let their hair down on a Friday night.
Because, for the vast majority of Irish bankers, the party has never stopped.
Why would they disown him? His only ‘crime’ has been to do his job properly and to tell us the truth.
When I spoke to him this week, ten years had passed since he did the right thing, at enormous cost to his finances, his career, and his mental health.
An Israeli citizen living and working in Ireland, he thought he w…