Minister of State

Since my return from Ireland I have been trying to figure out what I could do for work in order to move there. Unfortunately, I do not have a background in Tech which seems to be one of the only fields where business is thriving in the Emerald Isle, so I have been hunting for other ways. It turns out that I just needed to apply for the Minister of State/Gaeltacht affairs position, since apparently the job requires very little knowledge of Irish and does not require fluency in the language.

Seriously?! It is my impression that if you are put in charge of Gaeltacht Affairs, you should be able to conduct business or resolve conflict in Irish, since you are representing that language and the people who speak it. Perhaps I have that wrong and Joe McHugh will do just fine but I don’t think I’m mistaken in what the job requirements should be.
If I am though, I would like to formally announce that I am applying for the job. After all,
Tá beagán Gaeilge agam.

:head hits desk:

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The Death of the Countess

Her cell at Kilmainham, following the Easter Rising. I should mention the tour guide let me go back to take this picture, despite not usually allowing it, because I begged

“I do wish you lot had the decency to shoot me.” -Constance Markievicz, 1916.

Constance Markievicz may have wanted to die like her compatriots for her role in the Easter Rising but the English wouldn’t execute a woman. In the end, they may have wished they had, for the Countess had another 11 years to continue being a thorn in their side. She went straight into an even more political role, creating a world where women were more equal to the men, remaining staunchly Republican and inspiring thousands of people, including myself, throughout the years since. She is one of my favorite heroes.
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Ireland in the Atlas Obscura

I write for a few places – one of my longtime favorites is the Atlas Obscura which is a combination of an obscure travel guide and a historical Atlas. Their Irish section was woefully sparse before I filled it out (which I am still doing) and sometimes I like to share the entries.

The deserted village of Slievemore was one of the first I knew I had to add when I went to Ireland. We were there in the early hours of the morning and it was pouring down rain but we explored it anyway.

Interesting fact: When you’re deep into the Gaeltacht island of Achill in December, it is important to note that there are no off season accommodations. In fact the Annexe Pub was the only place we could find anyone and the amazing bartender had to call a friend who owns the summer hostel to turn on the heat and give us a room for the night. It was a much appreciated and really lovely thing for him to do for the crazy tourists who were traveling without an itinerary. If you make it out that way, have a pint – the Guinness was perfect – and give him some love from the crazy American ladies that he saved from a freezing storm.

The deserted village of Slievemore

The deserted village of Slievemore

Peaceful

Mostly peaceful parades have nothing on these places and moments that I experienced in Ireland. I needed to remember and share a few beautiful places to wash away the ugliness and the anxiety of the peak of the marching season from my brain. All were taken December 2013 by me and none are Photoshopped, amazingly enough. The last one really feels like  July 13th….the calm after the storm.

 the peak of Connor Pass

the peak of Connor Pass, Dingle Peninsula

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Sunset on the Cliffs of Moher – or the Cliffs of Insanity if you love the Princess Bride

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A beautiful resting place on the Island of Achill

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County Mayo, on the way to Achill Island.

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The calm after the storm

The face of sectarianism

I already posted a pretty lengthy opinion on the Orange Order parades so I won’t rehash it now. However, the planned “graduated protests” and the threats of real violence from Protestant leaders prove again that these people have failed to lead at all. If you ‘cannot guarantee’ that your own parades will be peaceful and you are in fact promising that they won’t, what right to you have to call yourself a leader? A sane party host would take responsibility for their guests and cancel the party themselves if things were sure to get out of hand. They would not be falsely ringing their hands, shrugging their shoulders and standing by while their home got destroyed. Leaders who cannot lead should be fired from their jobs no matter which side they adhere to.

And then there’s this.

Vandalized Mary

And this.

Effigy of Gerry Adams

These disgusting crimes put the question of “heritage and tradition” to rest, unless tradition has always been hate-filled supremacy and heritage has always been power over and at the extent of someone else. It is time to put an end to these truly vile events. It’s time to call it what it is – which in these cases, is a celebration of sectarianism, hatred and entitlement.

And please, if you are reading this from the North, do the right thing. Put pressure on the authorities to charge these things as the hate crimes that they are but for the next 48 hours, try to take the high road. Whether you are marching, protesting, or protecting yourselves, try to stay peaceful no matter what and keep each other safe. Respect should be granted to all humans, regardless of which side of the divide you stand on. I hope everyone and everything (except the hateful bonfires) are still standing on the 13th, as unlikely as that seems to be. My thoughts are with you from across the puddle.

A Love story

Today I give you a love story – one that I hope will become a fairy tale ending. When I begrudgingly came home from Ireland at the start of the year, I had a coffee date with a good friend who was enthralled with the stories I was sharing with her. She promptly went home and started researching Ireland on many sites – including a dating one that she had a profile on.

She changed her location search to Ireland and browsed a few profiles there. Within a couple of weeks, she was in constant conversation with a man from Dublin. Each stayed up all night to continue talking despite the time difference and when she flew to Dublin six months later for her first “real” date, I was thrilled for her, particularly when they hit it off even better in person. By the time she left, she had met the parents and friends, and they were planning for him to move here to the U.S.

This is where I think the story goes a little backwards, at least in my head. I want to leave the U.S. and live in Ireland, and eventually, so does she. While I was traveling there, the first question most people asked me once they learned I was an American was “Well, what the hell are you doing here?”. I understand the economy is terrible in Ireland – it is here too – but I was surprised and saddened when the people I spoke to were desperate to get out of Ireland – particularly when all I wanted to do was stay. It is thought that more Irish live outside Ireland than within it, which is a terrible statistic.

But I digress. He was to move here. When he was laid off in Ireland, he joined thousands who had been unable to find a job, and she has one here that could support them both temporarily. So despite her desire to eventually move there, he just landed here in the United States and they are off to a good, if lightning quick, start.

Here is where the tricky business of visas comes into play. He can only stay for a few months unless they get married – which is their plan – to the bewilderment, trepidation, and fascination of everyone that hears their tale. They are a love match but are still getting to know each other outside of the internet. In addition, he has to acquaint himself with a whole new country in a short amount of time, one in which he likely will be unable to work at least for a few months. They have been forced through geography and government to make drastic decisions in an incredibly short amount of time.

They’re choosing each other, consequences be damned. Whether it works out in the end or not, I have to salute their willingness to change everything for each other and try to make it work. It’s rare to find a person who matches you – especially one who will grab the hand and jump – no matter where that leads. Their story gives me a goofy grin and can only hope that it works for them…despite my belief that she’s doing it backwards.

Slainte to you both