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News from Ireland - April 2015

Hey, everyone! There was no news update from our Irish Society last month due to the craziness of St. Patrick's Day and Irish festival organizing. But we should be back on track now. Lots of political news this month, much on preparations for the 100th anniversary of Irish independence next year, and some interesting tidbits about high-tech agriculture (flying robotic sheep dogs and texting cows! what?!).

And if I were in elementary school in Ireland, they would send me back a grade. ;)


Dublin, Easter Week, 1916


Beginning with the re-enactment of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa's funeral and concluding with the commemoration of Roger Casement's execution, next year's commemoration of the centenary of 1916 will include 40 major events around Ireland, with the centerpiece being a wreath laying ceremony and parade in Dublin. Key events will include a state reception on Easter Saturday for relatives of those involved in the Rising, a parade from Dublin Castle to Parnell Square on Easter Sunday, synchronized wreath laying ceremonies around the country on Easter Monday to mark the time the first shots were fired, and an event at Liberty Hall to commemorate James Connolly. There will also be a series of ceremonies from May 3-12 at Kilmainham Gaol marking the executions of the 15 leaders.


The emphasis of next year's 1916 Centenary celebrations in Ireland will not solely be on the violent events of one week in April but will include the wider context in which the Rising took place. The commemorative program will also recognize the scale of civilian casualties in 1916, and acknowledges that the British army and police casualties are also worthy of remembrance, especially as many of them were also Irish.


The University of Notre Dame will play a major role in the international celebration of the centenary of Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising. A documentary television series, "1916: The Irish Rebellion," produced by Notre Dame's Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, will be broadcast worldwide next March. The film memorializes the events in Dublin on Easter Week 1916 when a failed armed insurrection gave rise to an independent Irish state and the disintegration of the British Empire. The three-part documentary, narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson, will be aired on PBS, RTE and the BBC, and will also be released as a 70-minute movie. The aim is to place the events of 1916 in their proper historical, political and cultural context as the precursor to an independent Irish state and the disintegration of colonial empires.


A block of four houses in Dublin, # 14 to 17 Moore Street, the last place where the rebels held out during the 1916 Easter Rising, is being bought by the Irish State. Number 16 was the location where the decision to surrender was made and the site will be turned into a commemorative center as one of the main projects associated with next year's centenary celebrations. Ireland's National Library is also developing a major online resource which will include thousands of letters and artifacts from the seven signatories and others.


The number of people killed in the 1916 Easter Rising was 485, according to Glasnevin Cemetery, which has spent three years trying to reach a definitive figure. The number of volunteers, policemen and British army personnel killed has long been established, and each of these men (they were all men) has a grave, the vast majority at Glasnevin Cemetery. There were 262 civilians killed, 54% of the total, with about 45 of them killed on the last day of the Rising. The British army and police accounted for 30% of those killed, while just 16% of the casualties were rebels.


Ireland is an exception to the rule for EU trade, with its main destination for exports being the US, accounting for 22% of all Irish goods sold abroad. In almost every other EU country the main destination for exports was another member of the EU. The UK is just behind the US as Ireland's favorite destination for exports, accounting for 15%. However, the UK is Ireland's largest import partner with 38% of Irish trade imports coming from the UK.


There have increasingly been calls in Britain for the UK to hold a referendum on leaving the European Union (a/k/a Brexit). As one of the UK's closest trading partners, the impact on Ireland of Brexit would be substantial, according to Open Europe, a non-partisan and independent policy think tank. In a worst case scenario, Ireland could see a permanent loss of 3.1% to GDP in 2030. Even in the best case scenario the loss would still total 1.1% GDP. This means Ireland would actually be worse off than the UK in such a scenario. The impact of Brexit on Ireland is so large due to the significant amount of Anglo-Irish trade, while the majority of the costs would stem from the imposition of a new customs border with the UK required by Brexit.


British PM David Cameron was in Northern Ireland last week campaigning for the May 7 British general election. Polling indicates that Britain is facing a hung parliament with no party gaining enough seats to form a government on their own. If that is the case, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) could be kingmakers in the next British government. In Northern Ireland today, the DUP has eight seats at Westminster; Sinn Féin five; the SDLP three; Alliance one; and one Independent unionist.


An official report recommending radical reform of the Irish Senate (Seanad) proposes that all passport-carrying Irish citizens, including emigrants and residents of Northern Ireland, be allowed to vote in Seanad elections. The report recommends that half of the 60 Seanad members should in future be elected by universal suffrage and proposes a system of online registration with voting papers distributed via the internet. It also recommended that work begin immediately on legislation to give effect to the recommendations. However, the changes are unlikely to be implemented before the next election which is due early in 2016. For details on the current makeup of the Seanad visit oireachtas.ie.


Ireland has the highest proportion of children in the EU, with 22% of the population being children under the age of 15. Ireland is also the most "youthful" country in the EU, with four out of 10 people (40.1%) aged under 30. Ireland's fertility rate, at 2.01 live births per woman (in 2012), was the highest in the EU (along with France), but it is still below the population replacement level of 2.1 per cent. Overall, there are a decreasing number of children and young people in Europe's total population.


Now in its 24th year, the recent All-Ireland Schools Quiz has a competition for under 11-year-olds and one for 11-13 year olds. More than 25,000 children took part in this year's event where pupils from Killorglin, Co Kerry won the category for under 11-year-olds while the 11-13 year old category was won by students from Roscahill, Co. Galway. Check here to see how you or your children would do when answering some of the test questions. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/do-you-know-more-than-a-primary-school-student-1.2173286


University College Dublin (UCD) is the only university in the world with a Center for Experimental Archaeology. Experimental archaeology involves reconstructing buildings and artefacts from ancient culture using only the tools and materials available in that period. UCD students have built a reproduction of one of Ireland's oldest houses from 7800 BC, using intertwined birch trees like a wicker basket to create a structure that looks like a giant chimney stack. Another student has built stone axes and used them to cut meat and trees. The handle is made from the holly tree, the head from shale and the axe secured with pine roots.


The Wall Street Journal says Irish famers are Using Drones to Herd Sheep. The drones are seen as a relatively cheap alternative to the sheepdog. Camera-wielding copters that can be bought off-the-shelf for as little as $500 can cover hilly terrain quickly, finding and guiding sheep and cattle which the rancher operates remotely, sometimes wearing goggles that show the drone's perspective. A Carlow farmer is quoted as saying "Shep can round up a flock as quickly as a dog or four-wheeler."


A dead calf and a dead cow are all too common occurrences on farms, and a Co. Offaly farmer who found himself in a sleep-deprived state every calving season when watching cows day and night waiting for them to calve, has developed an innovative product, the Moocall. He determined that the most significant indicator that a cow is about to give birth is its tail twitching spasmodically. The Moocall is a simple device that clips onto the pregnant cow's tail to monitor the tail's activity until the twitching activity tells the sensor that calving is imminent. The device then texts the farmer with a warning.


Billboard Magazine lists the Top Ten Irish Musicians of All Time, those who have made the biggest impact on the Billboard Hot 100 chart over the decades. This special list of the top 10 Irish artists tallies the biggest Billboard stars who were born, raised and/or formed in Ireland, and the list starts with U2 followed by Gilbert O'Sullivan, Sinéad O'Connor, Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Enya, The Script, The Cranberries, The Irish Rovers and Thin Lizzy. Those not making the list include The Chieftains, The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, The Pogues, James Galway, and many others.


The Washington Post reviewer says that Colm Tóibín's endorsement for a new Irish book The Dirty Dust: Cré na Cille, "hooked me immediately: 'The greatest novel to be written in the Irish language, and among the best books to come out of Ireland in the twentieth century.' John Banville describes it as 'a modern masterpiece,' while the scholars Seamus Deane and Brian Ó Conchubhair add their praise for Alan Titley's truly dazzling English translation. All four emphasize author Máirtin Ó Cadhain's humor, speed and never-flagging linguistic energy."

April 19, 2015



Thanks for this excerpt from Seattle Irish Heritage Society newsletter, daermi. I've been looking forward to it. Cultural context.

Here is a poem that, while not directly part of 1916, follows in its wake (the poet Seán O Riordáin was born in 1917). "Saoirse"/Freedom is exploring an inner landscape, not an outer event.

Below are Seán O Riordáin's original words. As you can imagine, Paul Muldoon's poetic rendering is not an exact translation (so I've also included a translation by Greg Delanty). Iarla Ó Lionáird's incandescent vocal also shuffles the words slightly. The interplay of the three artists is, as "Other Voices" describes it, "quite the cultural mashup."


Rachaidh mé síos i measc na ndaoine
De shiúl mo chos
Is rachaidh mé síos anocht.

I'll go out and mingle with people. I'll head down on my own two feet. I'll walk down tonight.

Rachaidh mé síos ag lorg daoirse
Ón mbinibshaoirse
Tá ag liú anseo:

I'll go down looking for Confinedom, counteract the rabid freedom coursing here.

Is ceanglód an chonairt smaointe
Tá ag drannadh im thimpeall
San uaigneas:

I'll fetter the pack of snarling thoughts hounding me in my aloneness.

Is loirgeod an teampall rialta
Bhíonn lán de dhaoine
Ag am fé leith:

I'll look for a regular chapel chock-a-block with people at a set time.

Is loirgeod comhluadar daoine
Nár chleacht riamh saoirse
Ná uaigneas:

I'll seek the company of folk who never practise freedom, nor aloneness,

Is éistfead leis na scillingsmaointe
A malartaítear
Mar airgead:

and listen to pennythoughts exchanged like something coined.

Is bhéarfad gean mo chroí do dhaoine
Nár samhlaíodh riamh leo
Ach macsmaointe.

I'll bear affection for people without anything original in their stockthoughts.

Ó fanfad libh de ló is d'oíche
Is beidh mé íseal,
Is beidh mé dílis
D'bhur snabsmaointe.

I'll stay with them day and night. I'll be humble and loyal to their snuffed minds

Mar do chuala iad ag fás im intinn,
Ag fás gan chuimse,
Gan mheasarthacht.

since I heard them rising in my mind without control.

Is do thugas gean mo chroí go fíochmhar
Don rud atá srianta,
Do gach macrud:

I'll give all my furious affection to everything that binds them to every stockthing:

Don smacht, don reacht, don teampall daoineach,
Don bhfocal bocht coitianta,
Don am faoi leith:

to control, to contracts, to the communal temple, to the poor common word, to the concise time,

Don ab, don chlog, don seirbhíseach,
Don chomparáid fhaitíosach,
Don bheaguchtach:

to the cowl, to the cockerel, to the cook, to the weak comparison, to the coward,

Don luch, don tomhas, don dreancaid bhídeach,
Don chaibidil, don líne,
Don aibítir:

to the cosy mouse, to the cost, to the covert flea, to the code, to the codex, to the codicil,

Don mhórgacht imeachta is tíochta,
Don chearrbhachas istoíche,
Don bheannachtain:

to the cocky coming and going, to the costly night gambling, to the conferred blessing,

Don bhfeirmeoir ag tomhas na gaoithe
Sa bhfómhar is é ag cuimhneamh
Ar pháirc eornan:

to the concerned farmer testing the wind, contemplating a field of corn,

Don chomthuiscint, don chomh-sheanchuimhne,
Don chomhiompar comhdhaoine,
Don chomh-mhacrud.

to co-understanding, to co-memory, to the co-behaviour of co-people, to the co-stockthing.

Is bheirim fuath anois is choíche
Do imeachtaí na saoirse
Don neamhspleáchas.

And I condemn now and forever the goings-on of freedom, independence.

Is atuirseach an intinn
A thit in umar doimhin na saoirse,
Ní mhaireann cnoc dar chruthaigh Dia ann,
ach cnoic theibí, sainchnoic shamhlaíochta,
Is bíonn gach cnoc díobh lán de mhianta
Ag dreapadóireacht gan chomhlíonadh,
Níl teora leis an saoirse
Ná le cnoca na samhlaíochta
Ná níl teora leis na mianta
Ná faoiseamh
Le fáil.

The mind is finished that falls into the abyss of freedom. There's no hills made by god there, only abstract hills — specifically of the imagination. Every hill crawls with desires that climb without ever reaching fulfilment. There's no limit to freedom on Mount Fancy, nor is there limit to desire, nor any relief to be found.

(*)mbinibshaoirse binb, f. (gs. ~e). Venom, fury. Labhairt le ~, to speak sharply, venomously. Duine a choinneáil ar ~, to keep s.o. on edge. (Var: binbhe f, binib) {"la liberte furieuse"}

Seán Ó Ríordáin’s poem translated by Greg Delanty, Poetry Ireland Review, Issue 84


Great post! I'm sure many users will appreciate this :) If you'd like a hand looking for stories next month, I'd happily help. Maybe it would be good to include articles in Irish too to keep it relevant to the forum topic :) I'm sure there'll be a lot about the marriage equality referendum in next month's edition :D


Thanks for the offer. I didn't scout these articles out myself - they are adapted from the headlines in our Seattle Irish Heritage Society's newsletter. I just read through the bulletin and pick out the stories that would be of interest to people curious about Irish culture or heritage, which is what people said they'd like to see. There aren't any articles in Irish in the bulletin, and I don't know enough Irish yet to translate them myself. I haven't had anyone ask for news articles in Irish. I think that's beyond most peoples' skill level, and they're just looking to put what they're learning in context of the culture, history, and current events.

I think a similar bulletin of articles in Irish would be great for those that are ready for that level, but the only site with news written in Irish we can get in the states is nuacht24.com, which is terrible. The front page is nothing but entertainment news mostly covering English-speaking artists, the articles are badly dated (the newest article is from four months ago), and the drop down menus have advertisements in them, like "Affordable Price for Hairloss Treatment." :P I used to be able to access RTE, but now it keeps skipping to an advertisement for the RTE player app instead of staying on the home page (maybe this is an error and will get fixed soon?). Do you have any other suggestions for nuacht as gaeilge?


Can you directly access the Nuacht RTÉ page here?

There’s also tuaraisc.ie.

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