Mrs. Tom Clarke

On this day in 1972 Ireland lost a valiant soldier in its continued quest for freedom. Mrs. Tom Clarke was how she preferred to be addressed in spite of being a staunch suffragist. She gave up her fight on September 29th at the ripe old age of 94, after living a life that would have sent anyone else to the grave much sooner.

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In honor of the MASSIVE escape from the Maze (Long Kesh) that happened on this day in 1983, I give you this song – played very loudly. 38 IRA prisoners left that day and half that succeeded in escaping. Good on ya boys

Scotland, the ___________

Scotland the Brave? Only about 45% of them. Proud? Not so much. Unless you count the 55% of them full of British pride and the subset of them who were enjoying the violence as they attacked anyone wearing blue or carrying a Scottish flag. Or maybe we’re speaking of the people who stormed a park in Glasgow while smugly displaying nazi salutes, singing God Save the Queen and waving a Union Jack. It was like the 12th of July all over again…except that it was September and seemed like it would go on forever. This fascist “victory” behavior, along with the fear-mongering and condescension of the Better Together bullshit campaign leaves a sour taste and a confused “what the hell just happened in Scotland?” question rolling around in my head.

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I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who reads my little ramblings and stories here. When I began it was just a place to put the things I was so passionate about and now it has blossomed into a tiny sparkling gem that makes me so very happy. Today I was given a gift that let me know I had moved someone enough to find and leave flowers on a grave and it damn near made me cry in a wonderful way.

Two things happened last week. I got to write the story of a woman who has been in my head and heart for years and then Scotland took over everything. Between writing about Anne Devlin, one of my passions and heroes, and the heartbreak of Scotland’s no vote, I have felt a little spent. I am still trying to find the words for a Scotland post – which is still coming to be sure – and have been focused on that quest.  The radio has been silent for a bit as I puzzle out just what I want to say.

However, today I got a notification from a stranger named Annie (ha!) who had read my story of Anne Devlin on a recommendation from a friend and who is currently visiting Ireland. She let me know that she had gone hunting for Anne’s grave in Glasnevin and then sent a picture of the bright red flowers she had left there for Anne – and for me – because she had been touched by my telling of her tale. It brought tears to my eyes and a giddy smile to my face that has yet to go away. To know someone reads an entry and is inspired by it is amazing. It is motivating me to quit my stumbling and get back into the writing patterns I had started before hitting the roadblock in my brain and heart that is the Scottish Referendum.

So thank you Annie, and everyone else, for occasionally stopping by and reading this silly little dream of a journal. It was just a place for me to ramble on about Ireland and history without driving all of my friends batty and now it is a thing that sometimes brings other people joy and inspiration. For that, I am eternally humbled and grateful.

Annie left flowers for Anne

Annie left the red flowers for Anne today

Anne Devlin, Ireland’s Almost Entirely Ignored Hero

Today is not the day Anne Devlin died but September 18th is. Given that the Scottish vote will be the news of that day this year, I thought I would step back for a minute into my favorite subjects. I started this blog because I am incredibly passionate about history in general – and Irish history in specific. I make an effort to highlight Irish women – the rebels, suffragists, and strong women who fought for Ireland just as much as their male counterparts but who rarely get the same credit. The Scottish referendum on Independence is HUGE news but their vote falls on an all too forgotten date in Irish history as well – and to ignore that would be yet another travesty inflicted upon Anne Devlin. Given that she suffered more brutality in her life than most would ever survive, the least I can do is mark the anniversary of her passing and give her the recognition that she deserves – even if I tell my tale of her life and death a day early.

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Too Little Too Late

This is Scottish Independence week (one would hope). With the vote 3 days away, it’s about time someone British starts talking about it as a likely possibility and viable option. The irreverent and humorous way that he did it is entertaining – but here’s hoping his mockery of a plea doesn’t sway a single vote, unless it’s someone switching to vote Yes.


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Ian Paisley, dead

When I was much younger and more of a punk kid, I always said I’d dance a jig on the day that Ian Paisley passed away. I even had a red dress. Now that I am older, less reactionary and more educated, when I heard that he had died this morning I sprang out of bed, got a cup of coffee and started looking for the news. I may have skipped just a little to get the coffee but there was no real jig. In my opinion, Ian Paisley was a bigot, one of the leading voices of Sectarianism and a figurehead of those who would preach hate and call it faith. There are way too many people in the world like him. The most diplomatic thing I can say about him is that he was divisive and powerful…but he was also a human being with a family and no one should ever cheer or crow about another person’s death.

His pulpits were often protected by masked men with clubs or worse. His fiery language was cruel and divisive throughout the Troubles. Moderate Protestants have gone on record saying that Paisley was likely responsible for more IRA volunteers than any other person – and many agree. The byproducts of his hate were an international sympathy toward the Catholics, high recruitment in the IRA and other paramilitary groups, and support for the civil rights movement. It was quite the opposite reaction from what he was hoping for but he continued his sectarian sermons nonetheless.

That said, without him the Peace Accord and Good Friday agreement may not have come to pass.  “Dr. NO” as he was called, said yes – far later than he should have – but he finally did. Watching him stand next to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness was a surreal and bizarre milestone, but it was one that was necessary to calm the strife in the North. I’m not sure there’s a tale of redemption in my heart for the man – but without him, things could have been much worse for much longer.

Ian Paisley passed away this morning in Belfast at age 88. Many are mourning his death, including Martin McGuinness who says they had a mutually respectful friendship even though at Paisley’s insistence, they never shook hands. In life Ian Paisley was a man who reveled in leading angry mobs, guiding immense crowds, and hogging media attention but before he died he requested a private funeral, attended only by close family. His family intends to honor that request, but has also spoken of a public memorial in the future.


Today I depart from news and history in the home of my heart to remember the actual place I live. No matter where you are, be someone’s hero today


It’s been 3 years since the first time I stood at Ground Zero. I remember the emotional toll it took on me and how it felt to be there but not much about the area itself. I had known I would sob. I knew I would mourn E. there. I was not prepared for my initial outburst of tears to have less to do with him and more to do with the sheer overwhelming feeling of heartbreak for every person who lost their lives there and for those who they left behind.

This year I stood there again and was totally bewildered and offended as tourists posed for pictures at the new site. I moved them back from the fountain rails in the new gardens to find the name I was looking for. I walked through the monstrosity that is the “museum” which sells “Never Forget” tchotchkes like thieves in…

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