Monday, July 24, 2017


The above picture shows a ringfort, of which there are several thousand on the island. It may also have been used as a cillín or cemetery for unbaptised children. They survived through the ages as they were regarded as sacred places and dwellings if the sí or faerie. The example shown here is in North Kerry and commands a view of six counties. 

Kenmare Stone Circle

Kenmare Stone circle with a rag tree. I am unsure however if a rag tree is an established tradition or something recently created by or for tourists? It is one of few stone circles located so close to a town. Admission to the site is two euros.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Farce of Irish

Irish is the original language of Ireland, a language that sets us apart from the English, but it is also a language that we can neither seem to completely embrace nor completely discard.   Irish is an official language of the EU but it is clearly not a working language in Ireland.

The farce of Irish comes to the fore when you try to do your business in the ‘country’s first official language’. My most recent experience with Irish as a farce was with the NCT, the authority responsible for maintaining road safety of motor vehicles. When booking the appointment online, you can choose between Irish and English, both official languages in Ireland. The NCT inspector will duly inspect your car but when it comes to printing out the report, often cannot hide their disdain when they realise the document they printed out is in Irish, a foreign language in places like Dublin. This is not a problem if you pass, but if you fail, you have to come back and show the inspector the report in Irish. They cannot read their own document and cannot access it in English. You can ring their customer service team and receive blasts of hot air. You can also contact the Irish language commissioner’s office, a watchdog on such breaches of the official language act, which though well meaning, will do the same.
Tourists like to see signs in Irish, even though the Irish written on the sign often makes no sense and whoever translated it obviously used google translate. Dublin airport has produced some dismal examples of this.  Signage in Irish is more often than not for decorative purposes only and serves no purpose for Irish speakers. Even in Galway city, the so-called the bilingual capital. I remember dining in a restaurant in the Bohemian Latin Quarter. The menu was bilingual but when I ordered in Irish, it quickly became clear that the Irish on it was just for show.

The Celtic culture of this land is being pushed to the fringes of society and Irish speakers are becoming strangers in their own country and even mocked for cultivating it. 
I believe a bilingual society is a more open society and it is lamentable that Ireland's attempt is nothing more than farce.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The grave of Arthur Griffith

Arthur Griffith (1872-1922 ) was one of the founders of the Irish state and a founding member of Sinn Féin. He is buried at Glasnevin.

Graves of Glasnevin

Glasnevin is vast and it would takes several days to go through all the graves of which there are more than a million. The cemetery is run by a private company which has both advantages and disadvantages. A tour of the cemetery is well worth it and the guides are enthusiastic about what they do. The pictures below are a minute taste of the magnificent gravestones on offer there. More to follow.
If I recall correctly, this above headstone dates from 1860, meaning the stone was carved by hand. Its unusual to see a cherub from this time. 

Famine Memorial at Glasnevin, Dublin

Famine Memorial at Glasnevin, Dublin unveiled very recently by President Michael D Higgins. It was only in the 1990s that famine memorials started appearing in Ireland. The famine was for generations a mark of shame. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Easter Rising Casualty, Galway.

I wrote about the death of constable Whelan in Gone the Way of Truth. He was Galway's first casualty of Easter 1916. He encountered armed rebels in the Carnmore area and was ordered by his superior to talk to to them as he knew many of them. It cost him his life. When I photographed it for the book, it was in an unkempt state but has recently been restored. Great to see the city looking after objects of historical interest of which there are many in Bohermore cemetery.