The tour guide at Dublin’s Farmleigh House used the expression “chalk and cheese.”
I took it to mean something like “apples and oranges,” “two things you can’t compare.”
Or maybe it’s more like, “two things that are very different but which you could mistake for each other.”
Went looking for real life examples and found this fine, civil exchange on a Linkedin story about Lagos and Tokyo, whether they are chalk and cheese:
Interesting point about Tokyo’s 23 wards! Sometimes I wonder if Los Angeles needs way localer governance.
Poke into the history of just about any place in Ireland and sooner or later you’ll find an event of such violence and sorrow as to be almost ridiculous. Take Smerwick harbor. Here in 1580 six hundred luckless Italian and Spanish soldiers got massacred:
According to Grey de Wilton’s account, contained in a despatch to Elizabeth I of England dated 11 November 1580, he rejected an approach made by the besieged Spanish and Italian forces to agree terms of a conditional surrender in which they would cede the fort and leave. Lord Grey de Wilton claimed that he insisted that they surrender without preconditions and put themselves at his mercy, and that he subsequently rejected a request for a ceasefire. An agreement (according to Grey de Wilton) was finally made for an unconditional surrender the next morning, with hostages being taken by English forces to ensure compliance. The following morning, an English force entered the fort to secure and guard armaments and supplies. Grey de Wilton’s account in his despatch says “Then put I in certain bands, who straight fell to execution. There were six hundred slain.“
Shannon Luxton on Wiki took this photo of the massacre site:
According to the folklore of the area, the execution of the captives took two days,
Ask yourself — would you rather be beheaded day one, or day two?
with many of the captives being beheaded in a field known locally in Irish as Gort a Ghearradh(the Field of the Cutting); their bodies later being thrown into the sea. The veracity of these accounts was long disputed, until a local field known as Gort na gCeann (the Field of the Heads) was investigated by 21st-century archaeologists and found to be full of 16th-century skulls.
The Field of the Cutting. Jeezus, Ireland. And how about this monument to the heads?
Even for the time the Smerwick mass beheading was considered a bit much. Sir Walter Raleigh was in on it. Later his involvement was used against him.
Behead and ye shall be beheaded: eventually it was his turn:
Raleigh was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster on 29 October 1618. “Let us dispatch”, he said to his executioner. “At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear.” After he was allowed to see the axe that would be used to behead him, he mused: “This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all diseases and miseries.” According to biographers, Raleigh’s last words (as he lay ready for the axe to fall) were: “Strike, man, strike!”
Some four hundred thirty-eight years post Smerwick, the Spanish, Italians and Irish are on the verge of an England-less European Union. That my friends is called winning the long game.
Not easy to get there:
Lucky weather on this particular day.
What we might call in the USA a ghost town. The last inhabitants were evacuated in 1953:
In 1907 Norwegian linguist Carl Marstander went there to learn Irish from this local:
Tomás Ó Chriomhthain, who later wrote a book about his life there.
Some other islanders wrote, or dictated, their own tales of their hard and primitive lives on this island:
As a girl Peig Sayers was supposed to go join a friend in America, but the friend had an accident and couldn’t send the money. She gave birth to eleven children. Five died.
Peig’s book was (I’m told, by the excellent tour guide) forced on generations of Irish schoolchildren. In 1941 this genre of rural Irish poverty literature was parodied by Flann O’Brien / Brian O’Nolan / Myles na gCopaleen:
An Béal Bocht is set in Corca Dhorcha, (Corkadoragha, Corkadorkey), a remote region of Ireland where it never stops raining and everyone lives in desperate poverty (and always will) while talking in “the learned smooth Gaelic”.
Blasket life does seem rough.
This was my second visit, and both times I’ve been blown away by the Blasket Center / Ionad Blaiscoid Mhór.
The architecture and design and use of landscape on this building is just very cool:
Here’s it from afar:
Couldn’t find online who the architect was, so I emailed them, and they wrote back and told me:
The architect of the centre was Ciaran O’Connor, who is the State architect nowadays.
State architect. Cool.
Let’s wish him well!
“Pwease Adam? One bite? You’ll like it I promise!”
The Temptation of Adam, by James Barry.
Look grandfather, I am but a nymph!
Lady Caroline Crichton and her grandpa?
Gareth Reid, Graham Norton (from Gareth Reid’s website)
In 1992, Norton’s stand-up comedy drag act as a tea-towel clad Mother Teresa of Calcutta in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe made the press when Scottish Television’s religious affairs department mistakenly thought he represented the real Mother Teresa.
This one by Paul Henry, A Connemara Village, is under some serious copyright I guess.
Robert Ballagh’s portrait of Neil Brown “communicates the resolute character for which he was known.” I’ll say! Copyright plus reproductions don’t do it justice. Worth seeing if you’re in Dublin.
John Kindness, Gay Byrne
The Liffey Swim by Jack Yeats (W. B’s brother) won Ireland’s first Olympic medal, a silver in 1924 in the category Painting. (Jean Jacoby took gold).
The Irish are having a referendum on whether to repeal the 8th amendment to their constitution, which bans abortion.
Struck by the bluntness of the campaigning.
Feel the experience of growing up around Catholic anti-abortion people helps explain things that seem incomprehensible to some liberal pals, like how people could vote for Roy Moore (or Donald Trump).
People hate abortion protesters. ‘They’re so shrill and awful.’ But they think babies are being murdered. What are they supposed to be (saying)? ‘Well, hmmm … that’s not cool.
(Don’t ask who said that.)
Is anyone convincing anyone on this one?
Not easy to find “new” arguments on the abortion issue but Irish novelist Sally Rooney made a point I hadn’t heard stated so cleanly before:
Yes. Pregnancy, entered into willingly, is an act of generosity, a commitment to share the resources of life with another incipient being. Such generosity is in no other circumstances required by law. No matter how much you need a kidney donation, the law will not force another person to give you one. Consent, in the form of a donor card, is required even to remove organs from a dead body. If the foetus is a person, it is a person with a vastly expanded set of legal rights, rights available to no other class of citizen: the foetus may make free, non-consensual use of another living person’s uterus and blood supply, and cause permanent, unwanted changes to another person’s body. In the relationship between foetus and woman, the woman is granted fewer rights than a corpse. But it’s possible that the ban on abortion has less to do with the rights of the unborn child than with the threat to social order represented by women in control of their reproductive lives.
(Don’t like how they spell fetus as foetus. One of many upsetting aspects.)
Anyway, let’s see who wins! The vote goes down Friday.
My assistant shows us the height of the walls.
This part of the fort was too well defended to explore.
Note the width of the walls. This suggests fairies of significant size. Not inconceivable that these fairies stood as high as five or even six apples.
The inhabitants of the fort wallow in safety.
Many forts like this can be found in Ireland, sometimes billed as “Iron Age forts.” When was the Iron Age?
The Iron Age is taken to end, also by convention, with the beginning of the historiographical record. This usually does not represent a clear break in the archaeological record; for the Ancient Near East the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire c. 550 BC (considered historical by virtue of the record by Herodotus) is usually taken as a cut-off date, in Central and Western Europe the Roman conquests of the 1st century BC. The Germanic Iron Age of Scandinavia is taken to end c. AD 800, with the beginning Viking Age.
The distant and mysterious past, in other words.
Insight into the “crazed Wisconsin” period of Irish history.
O’Byrne’s corpse was butchered and for months the head and quarters hung on pike staffs on the wall over Dublin Castle drawbridge. Several months later the pickled head was presented to the council secretary at London by an English adventurer, who was disappointed to find that the head-silver due on O’Byrne* had already been paid in Ireland. The queen was angered that, “the head of such a base Robin Hood was brought solemnly into England“.
Read enough Irish history and you gain a grudging respect for Queen Elizabeth I. She’s always delivering withering remarks and savage putdowns to people giving her bad news.
In 1603, Elizabeth had seemed a foolish old woman, as men looked expectantly to a Stuart king. By 1630, when Stuart kings had proved rather a disappointment, she had become the paragon of all princely virtues.
Christopher Haigh,The Golden Age of Queen Elizabeth I—Myth or Reality? Awake! magazine, 2010, 1/10 pp. 19-22.
At this remove, who can say if Elizabeth was a foolish old woman or one of history’s canniest power players, but I’m team power player. She managed to survive rebellions, armadas, assassination attempts, plagues, you name it!
Just surviving as a queen is tough.
The (current) Queen did not seem that into the wedding. The Crown may have fooled us into thinking the Queen is more woke than she is.
* was reading about O’Byrne after seeing convo on Tom Ricks’ twitter about the origin of “firebrand”