Bloomsday

Today.  Bloom sees a walking advertisement for his former employer:

A procession of whitesmocked men marched slowly towards him along the gutter, scarlet sashes across their boards. Bargains. Like that priest they are this morning: we have sinned: we have suffered. He read the scarlet letters on their five tall white hats: H. E. L. Y. S. Wisdom Hely’s. Y lagging behind drew a chunk of bread from under his foreboard, crammed it into his mouth and munched as he walked. Our staple food. Three bob a day, walking along the gutters, street after street. Just keep skin and bone together, bread and skilly. They are not Boyl: no: M’Glade’s men. Doesn’t bring in any business either. I suggested to him about a transparent show cart with two smart girls sitting inside writing letters, copybooks, envelopes, blotting paper. I bet that would have caught on. Smart girls writing something catch the eye at once. Everyone dying to know what she’s writing.


Rude!

We usually have very fine commenters here at HelyTimes but occasionally some bore tries to ruin the party.  This one regards my post where I suggested Ireland should take in two million refugees.  (Seems fair enough to me, the rest of the world took in two million Irish).

Hey, as long as we’re starting a conversation.


Messed up hoodie they’re selling in Germany

saw that when I went to read a Der Spiegel interview with Jeremy Corbyn:

More close than is comfortable to a kind of snobbish anti-Semitism is the most upper classy thing about Jeremy Corbyn, I wonder if it’s some kind of weird signal in the English language of codes.

I mean the ironic style that gives us our famously impenetrable sense of humour (which we will need now the rest of the world is laughing at us). The perfidious style that allows us to hide behind masks and has made England superb at producing brilliant actors for the West End but hopeless at producing practical politicians for Westminster. The teasing style of speaking in codes that benighted foreigners can never understand, however well they speak English. The cliquey style that treats England as a club, not a country, and allowed Jeremy Corbyn to say that Jews cannot “understand English irony”, however long their ancestors have lived here.

from this Guardian piece by Nick Cohen.  More:

The deferential style that allowed one Etonian to lead the Remain campaign and another to lead the Leave campaign and for the English to not even see why that was wrong. The life’s-a-game-you-shouldn’t-take-too-seriously style that inspired Cameron to say he holds “no grudges” against Boris Johnson now the match is over and the covers back on the pitch. The gentleman amateur style that convinced Cameron he could treat a momentous decision like an Oxford essay crisis and charm the electorate into agreeing with him in a couple of weeks, as if voters were a sherry-soaked don who could be won round with a few clever asides. The effortlessly superior style that never makes the effort to ask what the hell the English have to feel superior about. The gutless, dilettantish and fatally flippant style that has dominated England for so long and failed it so completely. The time for its funeral has long passed.

The ancient and modern codes and secret languages of the British Isles are an inexhaustible subject.

Feels in a way like Corbyn’s take on Brexit is “we must respect the voters’ stupidity.”  If he sold this take out, and presented Labour as the un-Brexit, would that be good politically?  If you’re over there sound off in the comments.


Chalk and cheese

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.

 


Smerwick harbor

 

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?

Dáibhí Ó Bruadair on Wiki

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.


Great Blasket Island

 

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.

source

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.

Really impressed with the Irish OPW. They take care of their treasures, Ireland.

Let’s wish him well!


Stars of the National Gallery of Ireland

source

“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.

Also good:

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).

 

 


Irish Abortion

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.


Fairy Fort

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.


Queens Elizabeth

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“.

(source)

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.

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”


Mysterious Antiquities of Ireland

Way out there in the Dingle peninsula they’ve got the Gallarus / Gallros / Ghallrois:

What is it?

The oratory was built by early christians who loved their trade.  Life was much simpler then, and men understood God and His ways much better than they do now

The construction is impressive.  

Wikipedia only adds to the mystery:

Dates and uses

Minor trial cuttings carried out at Gallarus in November 1970 yielded no finds or evidence of features or activity which might shed light on the period of construction and use of the oratory.

An early Irish stone church

Antiquarian Charles Smith[7] is the originator of the claim that the building is an early Irish stone church although no historical information is available prior to 1756 regarding its use.

Gotcha.  It more or less “appears” in written history in 1756?  This area, while beautiful, is remote.  People still speak Irish there now, can only imagine what it was like in 1756

A Romanesque Church

In 1970, archaeologist Peter Harbison argued that the oratory might have been built as late as the 12th century for a number of reasons, mainly because the east window has a rounded top made of two carved stones (not a true arch).

Hmm!  Arch evidence.

A private funerary chapel

Harbison also produced some evidence pointing to a later date and a different use: a letter by English traveller Richard Pococke who visited the oratory in 1758, two years after it was discovered by Charles Smith:[10] “Near this building they show a grave with a head at the cross of it and call it the tomb of the Giant; the tradition is that Griffith More was buried there, & as they call’d [it] a chapel, so probably it was built by him or his family at their burial place.”

A tomb for giants? I love this!

A shelter for pilgrims

In 1994 and 1995, Peter Harbison gave up the hypothesis of a 12th-century church and claimed that the placename Gallarus meant “the house or shelter of foreigner(s)” (Gall Aras), the said “foreigner(s)” being pilgrims from outside the peninsula.[12] However, this does not accord with lexicologist Padraig O Siochfhradha’s translation of the name as “rocky headland” (Gall-iorrus).

I remember the word aras in Irish because Bus Aras is where you catch the bus.  The bus house.

Gall:

A steam bath?  The English house?  The walnut place?

Killer location, anyway.

 


French tourists

thought they were ruining my photo but now I see they were essential.

 


Wars Of The Irish Kings

In fact, land in pre-twelfth century Ireland had little political value.  Although there were rich plains, it was not a farming culture but a decentralized grazing one in which wealth was measured in cattle.  There were no cities, and the kingdoms, which rarely had roads or clearly defined boundaries, were separated by a dense forests and bogs, which were more of a deterrent to travel (or easy military movement) than the mountains.  A reading of the  sometimes-cryptic early annals suggests and endless series of battles and cattle raids.  To be glib, early medieval Ireland sounds like a somewhat crazed Wisconsin, in which every dairy farm is an armed at perpetual war with its neighbors, and every farmer claims he is a king.

Some tite illustrations in the book:

For a dip into Irish history, you can’t top:

The illustrations go a long way towards telling the story.

It’s not all bad. 

Edward McGuire’s portrait of Seamus Heaney.


Stewball

Samuel Sidney [The Book of the Horse, 1875, repr. ed. Bonanza Books, 1985] stated Skewball “…won a great number of plates and prizes in England, and one famous match in Ireland.” The Irish turf callendar says he won six races worth £508 in 1752, when he was eleven years old, and was the top earning runner of that year in Ireland. The match became the subject of a ballad, Skewball, which has endured, in varying forms, to the present day.

The match celebrated by the ballad is listed in Pond’s Racing Calendar of 1752. It was held at the Curragh in Kildare, Ireland, on Saturday, March 28, with each participant putting up 300 guineas. Arthur Marvin (also Marvyn, or Mervin) owned Skewball, who carried 8st. 7lb. His opponent was “Sir Ralph Gore’s grey mare,” carrying the heavier weight of 9 st. Skewball was a gelding, which explains why he was still running at age eleven; although it was not uncommon for horses to run to ages 9 or 10 during that period, successful stallions were usually retired from the turf to commence their stud careers. He won the 4 mile race in 7 minutes and 51 seconds.

(source)

Whatever just noting that it’s the 266nd anniversary of a run by a horse in a race that people are still singing about.

A skewbald horse. Karakal’s own work on Wiki

They don’t seem to run many four mile horse races anymore.  Some history on these “real stayers.

Sir Ralph Gore, owner of the grey mare, was born at Belle Isle castle.

During the Battle of Lauffeld on 2 July 1747 all his superior officers were killed or severely wounded, so command of the battalion fell to Gore, who performed so well, that on the following day he received the thanks of the British commander Prince William, Duke of Cumberland.

The Curragh:

photo by Eoghan888

(Remembering now that I stopped there once to visit the Irish National Stud)

Helytimes own photo

Leadbelly’s version:

and one more from Leadbelly:

Check out the bowties on The Hollies:


Mary Anne Trump

One of our most popular posts is on Fred Trump, outrageous, villainous, smiling agent of chaos much like his son.

But we never really thought about Trump’s mother.  Mothers should be off limits maybe?  Even Trumps have mothers.  A hasty misreading of this Kellyanne Conway quote:

Got us to look into it.

Stunned to find Trump’s mother was a Gaelic-speaking immigrant from a remote Scottish island.

Hailing from the Outer Hebrides

Mary Anne MacLeod was born in Tong, on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, United Kingdom, in a pebbledashcroft house numbered “5 Tong”

Tong

She was raised in a Scottish Gaelic-speaking household with her second language being English, which she learned at Tong school where it was reported she was a star pupil. Mary attended the school up until the eighth grade. Her father was a crofter, fisherman and compulsory officer (truancy officer). According to one profile, she was “brought up in an environment marked by isolation, privation and gloom.”

Wow.  She’s pretty much from the Iron Islands.

You can see her interviewed in 1994 on Irish television, RTé, here.  She has an interesting accent.  She speaks of her love of Irish and Scottish music.

She claims Trump is meeting Steven Spielberg?

 


Ireland should take in two million refugees

I’ve developed a radical policy idea.  This is my position paper.

The Republic of Ireland should take in two million refugees.

Here’s my case.

Ireland is empty

Seriously, walk around the place.  There’s like nobody there.

Almost nobody

Here’s Ireland overlaid on Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania has 12.78 million people.  Similar landscape and climate.

Ireland has 4.773 million people.

Ireland has fewer people today than it did in 1841.

Not busy

What a wild fact.  What other country is like that?  Can we really trust that 1841 census?

My source here is the Central Statistics Office of Ireland:

Ireland is empty because people moved away.

There were all the people that died in the massive famine.

But post-famine emigration is really what depopulated Ireland.  The whole story of Ireland is people moving away.

Even James Joyce looked for a life elsewhere.

The people of Ireland were themselves once refugees.  

They weren’t always looked fondly on either.

They were considered to be dirty and dangerous fundamentalists from a scary religion.

Now look at them.

“Her father, Alfred Roy Carey, was of African American and Afro-Venezuelan descent, while her mother, Patricia (née Hickey), is of Irish descent.”

Says The Washington Post:

According to the Census, there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million).

That’s just the USA.  There are something like two million Irish Australians and four millionish Irish Canadians.

What a great chance for Ireland to return the favor! 

What a cool national mission for Ireland!

And remember, we’re just restoring Ireland to its historical population level.

some people could live here

Possible counter argument:

But that will destroy the unique national character of Ireland!

Meh.

First of all, maybe they won’t, maybe they’ll adapt to it.  Or, as immigrants have done everywhere, offer new foods, traditions, ideas, and stir themselves into an overall blend.

You telling me Athlone isn’t happy to have Thai restaurant Kin Khao? Check out the reviews!

Second of all Irish culture is pretty darn resilient, there’s dudes in Southie three generations removed who’ve never visited the place who have shamrock tattoos and sing some fraction of the songs while they get drunk together.

Third of all Irish culture has been well-preserved already.

You can count on the Irish to do a fine job preserving.  source, shoutout to Wiki user Dilif

You can count on the Irish to do a solid preservation job.

(This song about boiling a policeman and spreading him like pavement is a fair example of Irish culture*.)

and

Frankly Irish culture could use a bit of a jolt.

Previous pinnacle of Irish culture?

Taking in two million refugees is a challenge.

But Ireland is up to it.  This country is one of the best ever producers of nurses, caregivers, teachers, cops.  It could be a a national project that would bring out the best in them.

You don’t think largely ceremonial president Michael D. Higgins could inspire and lead his countrymen in this task?

In conclusion, Ireland should take in two million immigrants.

Honestly it’s mostly sheep over there.

By the way, not asking Ireland to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  You could argue California has already taken in two million refugees.  I haven’t crunched the numbers yet but I think we could take in a million more.

* I’m aware the song was written by a Scottish person

How big are the UK and Ireland compared to California?

The UK: 65.64 million people.  93,629 square miles.

California: 39.25 million people. 163,996 square miles.

Ireland: 4.773 million people.  32,595 square miles.

In 1841 the population of Ireland (just counting what’s now the Republic, not the whole island) was 6.53 million.

abandoned house near Killary photoed by Helytimes

Ireland is like a ghost town.

Today’s radical policy suggestion:

Ireland should take in two million refugees.  Much as the world once took them in.  It’s time to return the favor.  Two million refugees would return the nation to pre-1841 population.

Today’s question:

Are there other countries where the population is significantly smaller today than it was around 1840?

(maps via the great site Overlap Maps which is run by Sunflower Education, a publisher of books for homeschoolers)


The Irish comic tradition

source.  Barry McGovern / Johnny Murphy in Irish comic storyteller Samuel Beckett’s play

Just read this one.


It’s true.  Bannon, as presented in this book, is funny.  Makes it harder to dislike him.

At one point he describes Paul Ryan as

a limp-dick motherfucker who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.

This vivid turn of phrase after speaking to an embattled Roger Ailes:

Bannon was surprised at his desperation.  “He was babbling,” he later told an associate.  “He was in the fucking mumble tank.”

Bannon’s key insight:

Monster, filthy, sick, beast – these are terms Bannon throws around as compliments, what bro doesn’t?  But on the other hand he starts to sound a lot like a dark wizard delighting in his devil-powers as he launches demons at the world.

Anyway, fast, entertaining and insightful book.

Was interested in the perspective of Peter Schweitzer, who wrote Clinton Cash.

Could you argue the same about journalists and Trump?  Both love Twitter.


The Ordnance Survey

 

A friend is going to Ireland to do some landscape painting.  I’m like, amazing.  Plus this is a guy who usually gets it with maps.  One day I sit down at my desk which has under its top an Ordnance Survey map of the Dingle Peninsula.

And I’m like oh friend make sure you get the Ordnance Survey map for where you’re going!

Why, he says.

Look, the Ordnance Survey Ireland website doesn’t have the smoothest experience.

But the treasures within!

Ordnance Survey Ireland is headquartered in the Phoenix Park.

The origins of the Ordnance Survey lie in the aftermath of the last Jacobite rising which was finally defeated by forces loyal to the government at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Prince William, Duke of Cumberland realised the British Army did not have a good map of the Scottish Highlands to find the whereabouts of Jacobite dissenters such as Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat so they could be put on trial.

They just missed him here.

You don’t want to have a map that marks every stone row and holy well?

A map that shows the ancient druid stones and the ruined churches like something a wizard would have?

good to have a waterproof map


St. Pats, 2017

Some classic coverage from the Hely Times archive:

The Irish Language in Montserrat

The Tain

Jack Yeats, Olympic Silver Medalist

James Joyce: Hot Or Not?

Best moment in Ulysses

Ainslie’s Complete Guide To Thoroughbred Racing

Patrick Kavanagh, and how to get a statue built of yourself

The Fields of Athenry

Can you help me ID Rob and Lou?

The Irish Rover

Luke Kelly’s Hair, Considered

O’Donoghue’s Opera – The Quest for an Irish Musical

Dublin Statues

Try this ancient pickup strategy at the pub!

Be safe!