I don’t think this requires any note from me, except that I thought it was a joke and still hope that it is at least a little tongue in cheek.
Few political and military leaders span the spectrum like Michael Collins did. He was a brilliant strategist, and went from an IRA guerrilla leader who could pretty much do anything to a reluctant politician and a commander in the National Army.
Mick was used as a pawn and a scapegoat by Eamon De Valera in the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations that resulted in the partition of Ireland in 1921. He wanted no part in the political process but was sent anyway despite his fervent objections. He knew this agreement would bring chaos and anger to the Isle and was personally against it. Still, his name was signed and when another signatory mentioned that by signing it, he may have ended his own political career, Collins replied with “I may have signed my actual death warrant.” He was right. Continue reading
It has been said that tourists – and mostly American tourists – are the only reason that Kilmainham Gaol is still open because most Irish couldn’t be bothered with it these days. My new friend who is now happily married here in the U.S. agrees with the travel books that say things like that because he and his generation seem to be sick to death of the glorious dead mentality and couldn’t care less about the history and the Troubles that have haunted the country since even before the Rising of 1916. In fact, he was shocked that we were still asked questions about our religion and last names on our travels to Ireland at the end of last year, both in the Republic and the North because he thought those kinds of things were finished.
However, when I did tour Kilmainham Gaol, I was in a group mostly made up of Irish people and all seemed just as profoundly affected by it as I was. Perhaps it was because of the off season which meant my group was thankfully smaller when we went through the infamous prison, or perhaps it was an anomaly altogether but I was glad for it. It made for a decidedly more intimate and more personal experience.
This last weekend in Merrion Square, hundreds of Dubliners saw an outdoor viewing of one of my favorite movies in the world – Dead Poet’s Society. The proceeds went to various suicide prevention and mental health programs in Ireland which is incredibly encouraging. Here in the U.S., our entire health care system is broken and the worst victims of this are those who suffer from mental health afflictions. Whenever something that is this tragic and heartbreaking happens, we always hope that it will change the dialogue and the system, but it rarely does anything to truly help, except at a grass roots level. Our politicians can’t admit that the reality of how poorly we treat our citizens is appalling because then they would actually have to come up with a way to change it – and that involves a complete revamp of mental and physical healthcare. Continue reading
This love story turned a new page yesterday. They started as random long distance/online pen pals – he’s from Dublin, she’s from the U.S. – and 8 months later, he’s here in the United States and this just happened.
For more on their whirlwind romance and love story click here. And then raise a glass in congratulations and hope. His parents have been married for 54 years next month – hopefully these two have that same kind of luck and fortitude.
Operation Banner is the official name for the nearly forty years that the British Army was officially deployed in the North of Ireland. It was launched on this day in 1969, in part because of the Battle of the Bogside and the riots and protests that it set off in the rest of the north.
It was clear that the Royal Ulster Constabulary could not handle (and did not tolerate) the rising voices of the Civil Rights movement, nor could it control the protests and riots that unfolded during that time. The civil unrest was made worse by the obvious bias that the RUC had against Catholics, Nationalists, and Republicans. Originally those communities welcomed the Army, thinking the soldiers would be more impartial and supportive. It soon became apparent that was not the case and as the British Army paired up with the RUC, a gradual souring took place within the community. This led to an uptick in those willing to fight against them and the enrollment in the Irish Republican Army and other paramilitary groups boomed.
One of my other passions aside from all things Irish is jewelry making. I usually make larger, more dramatic pieces but this delicate gem is inspired by the Irish wedding I am lucky enough to attend tomorrow. It’s too bad the bride said she didn’t need jewelry. Garnets and sterling silver are always such a lovely combination.
45 years ago the Nationalist people in the Bogside area of Derry began a legendary fight with the British authorities that is widely regarded as one of the first events of the Troubles in the North of Ireland. The violence, rioting and battle began on August 12th, 1969 and was ignited by an ill-conceived decision to allow the Apprentice Boys to parade near the Nationalist and Catholic areas of Derry.
The authorities saw no reason to stop the oppressive parade that had been happening annually for years. What made this year different than others though was the political climate, which they were not in the habit of paying attention to. The Civil Rights movement was gaining traction all over the North and had led to many skirmishes in Derry already that year. The level of dissatisfaction in the Catholic and Nationalist areas including the Bogside, was already palpable and growing stronger every day. In 1969, Catholics made up more of the population than any others but the Protestant Minority still held all the key positions in government and power so they had no recourse for injustices they faced. Many flooded into the civil rights movement in order to have a voice – and those voices were getting stronger and stronger, despite being ignored by the leadership of the city.
It was under this kind of tension that the parade was not only allowed to happen, but it was going to happen right in their faces. It was the spark that sent the Bogside over the edge. In the days leading up to the parade, many attempts were made within the area to keep residents calm and a request was sent to the Apprentice Boys and the government to either cancel or to reroute the march. The plea was refused and the attempts for calm became plans for defensive maneuvers.
It sounds like a mysterious and enticing thing, Operation Demetrius, so grand…like a top secret cocktail party or a James Bond tryst. It wasn’t – it was just a pretty name for a terrible thing that caused all kinds of problems. It’s better known as Internment and the British introduced it to Northern Ireland on this day in 1971.
The arrests began around 4AM. Witnesses report brutality, abuse, and unnecessary destruction by the police while they searched for their suspects. Other than damage to their homes, the police brought damage to their bodies as well, strapping some to armored vehicles as human shields and wielding batons and other weapons even when they were not resisting. Those arrested were subjected to sleep deprivation, starvation, forced nudity, burns and other forms of torture, all of which were sanctioned by the British government.
Simply lovely reminder of laws that just made sense.
Irish society, up through the Iron Age, was based on the family unit. The family traditionally consisted of living parents and their children. The next larger unit came to be known as the Sept, which consisted of a closely related group of families such as the families of children of one set of parents and normally bore the same surname. The Clan (from clann meaning children) was the next larger unit and counted lineage from one ancestor. The Tuath (tribe) was generally considered the smallest political unit. It’s components were formed of several septs, houses or clans which likewise claimed descent from a common ancestor. The adoption of non-blood related individuals or groups into the Clan was a general practice. However, it required the formal approval or consent from the Clan members (Fine). Such a process resulted in a generous mixture of outside blood and the thus in many Clans…
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