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?
Some classic coverage from the Hely Times archive:
Try this ancient pickup strategy at the pub!
One thing leads to another and I’m reading about how there were black people on the Caribbean island of Montserrat who were said to speak Irish Gaelic:
Irish language in Montserrat
The Irish constituted the largest proportion of the white population from the founding of the colony in 1628. Many were indentured labourers; others were merchants or plantation owners. The geographer Thomas Jeffrey claimed in The West India Atlas (1780) that the majority of those on Montserrat were either Irish or of Irish descent, “so that the use of the Irish language is preserved on the island, even among the Negroes”.
African slaves and Irish colonists of all classes were in constant contact, with sexual relationships being common and a population of mixed descent appearing as a consequence. The Irish were also prominent in Caribbean commerce, with their merchants importing Irish goods such as beef, pork, butter and herring, and also importing slaves.
There is indirect evidence that the use of the Irish language continued in Montserrat until at least the middle of the nineteenth century. The Kilkenny diarist and Irish scholar Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin noted in 1831 that he had heard that Irish was still spoken in Montserrat by both black and white inhabitants. A letter by W.F. Butler in The Atheneum (15 July 1905) quotes an account by a Cork civil servant, C. Cremen, of what he had heard from a retired sailor called John O’Donovan, a fluent Irish speaker:
- He frequently told me that in the year 1852, when mate of the brig Kaloolah, he went ashore on the island of Montserrat which was then out of the usual track of shipping. He said he was much surprised to hear the negroes actually talking Irish among themselves, and that he joined in the conversation…
There is no evidence for the survival of the Irish language in Montserrat into the twentieth century.
The wiki page for Amhlaoibh has several interesting quotes:
“February 3, 1828 …There is a lonely path near Uisce Dun and Móinteán na Cisi which is called the MassBoreen. The name comes from the time when the Catholic Church was persecuted in Ireland, and Mass had to be said in woods and on moors, on wattled places in bogs, and in caves. But as the proverb says, It is better to look forward with one eye than to look backwards with two…“
Amhlaoibh lived out in Callan, in Kilkenny:
Nearby was born James Hoban, who designed The White House:
On a trip to DC once I brought along this book, which I recommend to any DC visitor:
Applewhite might’ve been the first to put in my head the idea that the The White House is modeled on Irish country mansions:
The entire southern half of Montserrat got pretty messed up by volcanic eruptions and was abandoned in 1997:
And is now an “exclusion zone”:
Montserrat’s national dish is Goat water, a thick goat meat stew served with crusty bread rolls.
for more interesting oddities of Western Hemisphere geography and history, I recommend:
Had a couple spare minutes last night while I was waiting for some wood glue to set so I took down my copy of the Tain.
That’s pretty cool. How about this?
Things go south for her:
There’s definitely some cuts I might suggest. Do we need this?:
But there’s also some great detail:
“Two thirds more.” That precision and detail! Can’t help but think the Tain guys are having a little fun with us.
W. B. Yeats the poet had a kid brother, Jack Yeats, a painter.
Early in his career he worked as an illustrator for magazines like the Boy’s Own Paper and Judy, drew comic strips, including the Sherlock Holmes parody “Chubb-Lock Homes” for Comic Cuts
Jack Yeats won a silver medal at the 1924 Olympics (the Chariots Of Fire Olympics). They used to give out medals in art and culture categories, and Jack won for The Liffey Swim:
The juried art competitions were abandoned in 1954 because artists were considered to be professionals, while Olympic athletes were required to be amateurs.
Bring ’em back I say!
Talking the artist as a young man, not the old blind guy. And, of course, bae (rnacle):
How about this eerie family portrait? bottom left is daughter Lucia, who got dance lessons from Isadora Duncan, fell in love with Samuel Beckett, and had Jung for a shrink (lotta good it did her):
Top right is son Giorgio. “He spent his days in an alcoholic haze,” says The New Yorker.
Something put me in mind of this book the other day.
I never made it all the way through, but it’s fun to take off the shelf. I’m told by turf types this book is considered pretty good if slightly outdated as knowledge, but who cares? It’s fun to read because Ainslie has wonderful style as a writer:
Anyway, reminded me of a lyric from an Irish song I thought I remembered.
Maybe this song never existed? Possible it did once exist, or better yet still does, as unGoogleable Irish ephemera, and I really did hear it once. Or something like it, something close, and between my drunkenness when I heard it and the singer’s when he sang it there was a miscommunication.
Or maybe I was just thinking of this: