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:
The story goes that one day Brendan Behan ran into Patrick Kavanagh on the streets of Dublin. Brendan suggested a drink and unsurprisingly Patrick agreed. Patrick mentioned a nearby pub.
“Ah, can’t do it,” said Brendan. “I’ve been banned from there for life.” Brendan suggested an alternative.
“Ah, can’t be done,” said Patrick, “I’m banned from that one.”
So the two shook hands and went on their way.
Patrick Kavanagh, quite cleverly, wrote a poem describing exactly the kind of statue that ought to be built to commemorate him, and that’s what they built.
The actor Russell Crowe has stated that he is a fan of Kavanagh. He commented “I like the clarity and the emotiveness of Kavanagh. I like how he combines the kind of mystic into really clear, evocative work that can make you glad you are alive”. On 24 February 2002, after he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in A Beautiful Mind, Crowe quoted Kavanagh during his acceptance speech at the 55th British Academy Film Awards. When he became aware that the Kavanagh quote had been cut from the final broadcast, Crowe became aggressive with the BBC producer responsible, Malcolm Gerrie. He said “it was about a one minute fifty speech but they’ve cut a minute out of it”. The poem that was cut was a four line poem:
To be a poet and not know the trade,
To be a lover and repel all women;
Twin ironies by which great saints are made,
The agonising pincer-jaws of heaven.
In this other picture on his wiki page, painted by Patrick Swift, PK looks a bit like Larry David: Lovelorn, tragic, Patrick Kavanagh wrote the poem which became the lyrics to the song “On Raglan Road,” sung here by the heroically haired Luke Kelly:
One Saturday afternoon in the East Village Boyland drank a couple beers and played this song a bunch of times and wouldn’t shut up about how great it was.
There were a couple of possible responses to this and I picked the correct one which was to drink a couple beers and agree with him.
Years later I was in Ireland. Dublin with RCK, then I rented a car and drove to Galway and points west.
On my way, I passed by signs for Athenry.
It looked boring. I took a picture for Sean but I never showed it to him. Why disappoint him?
Now that my readership has doubled 10,000, I would like to ask for everyone’s help. Summer before last, in the legendary harsh Twelve Bens wilderness of western Ireland I met these people, and took this lovely picture. I would like the Internet’s help in sending the picture to the photographed heroes. Their names are Rob and Lou, and they live in Belfast. Lou at one time worked in the schools of Kankakee, Illinois. Those are all the clues I can provide.
Clancy Brothers & Makem:
Was anyone ever uglier than Shane McGowan? Not criticizing, just saying.
MacGowan claims to have been introduced to alcohol and cigarettes by his aunt on the promise he would not worship the devil. In a 2007 interview with the Daily Mirror he told a reporter: “I was actually four when I started drinking. I just remember that Ribena turned into stout and I developed an immediate love for it.” MacGowan says he tried whiskey when he was 10 and continued to drink heavily thereafter.
The wikipedia page on Shane no longer claims, as it once did, that his dental troubles were at least partially due to attempting to eat a vinyl record of “Sgt. Pepper” while on LSD.
OK, wikipedia, gimme the tragedy:
On 30 June 1980 during a concert in the Cork Opera House Luke Kelly collapsed on the stage. He had already suffered for some time from headaches and forgetfulness, which however had been ascribed to his alcohol consumption. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The subject of the song, btw?:
[Kelly] was dragged from his bed and hanged by British soldiers who decapitated his corpse and kicked his head through the streets shortly after the fall of Wexford on 21 June 1798.
In the 1960s, some impoverished Irish musicians and folk singers decided to put together an Irish musical. Based on the balled “The Night Before Larry Was Stretched,” attributed to “Hurlfoot Bill,”* the film, “O’Donoghue’s Opera,” starred Ronnie Drew, later incredibly famous for his work with The Dubliners. The film, left uncompleted when the makers ran out of money, was found in 1997 in a junk shop in Galway.
Now you can enjoy the entire film on YouTube. I can’t encourage you to power through the whole thing. But I think you’ll have some fun around 2:44 of Part 1, where some winning girls sing an old IRA recruiting song. Then hop to 7:51 to see Larry’s cat burglar costume and the temptation that proves his undoing.
The stirring conclusion I have TubeChopped for you.
It is quite moving, really, to see Ronnie get hung. This really happened to people all the time.
A great shame that I never had the chance to discuss this film with fellow cinephile/Hibernophile SDB, who was seemingly designed by the Almighty to enjoy this picture.
Elvis Costello recorded “TNBLWS” but I prefer the version by The Wolfe Tones:
* Wikipedia has some stern words on the subject of attribution for this song.
The statue of Molly Malone in Dublin is basically a sculptural softcore boobie pic for dudes who fetishize fishmongers, right?
Also of note in Dublin statuary, Oscar Wilde. I mean, c’mon dude. Sit up! :
A good pick-up tactic, from the Tain, as translated by Thomas Kinsella:
Nes the daughter of Eochaid Salbuide of the yellow heel was sitting outside Emain with her royal women about her. The druid Cathbad from the Tratraige of Mag Inis passed by, and the girl said to him:
“What is the present hour lucky for?”
“For begetting a king on a queen,” he said.
The queen asked him if that were really true, and the druid swore by god that it was: a son conceived at that hour would be heard of in Ireland for ever. The girl saw no other male near, and she took him inside with her.
She grew heavy with a child. It was in her womb for three years and three months.
That kid, as you no doubt know, Reader, was Conchobor, who gets obsessed with Deirdre later on. Bad idea, Con, she ain’t called “Deirdre of the sorrows” for nothing.