14 Year Old Waterford Boy Was The Youngest Solider Killed In World War 1

Irish in World War One

During the 1970’s and 1980’s in Ireland the annual remembrance of those tens of thousands of Irish who gave their lives in the Great War was met with a kind of muted national indifference.

Certainly there was laying of wreaths and some elderly people would wear a poppy (before the poppy symbolism was hijacked by the British establishment in an effort to promote their own particular brand of nationalism).

But once the brief RTE television news report had been played the Irish people continued on without much acknowledgement of the anniversary, with younger people especially indifferent to what seemed like a quaint pre-independence ritual.

After all, the ‘real’ heroes of the Irish republic were the men of 1916, Pearse and Connolly, the men and women who had fought the War of Independence and the subsequent Civil War, deValera and Collins, plunging Ireland into a scarring divide that would hold the economically bankrupt country back for generations to come.

The Civil War divide still remains in Ireland, but it is very much on its last knees. At last a left-wing Labour movement has emerged (although not necessarily via the Labour Party). Incredibly that may even necessitate a union of the two former political enemies. Even twenty years ago this would have seemed like a fanciful proposition. It was just impossible to conceive that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael would form a coalition together. But now the electoral arithmetic makes that outcome a very real possibility.

What of the 50,000 who perished in the war? What is their legacy following the march of time.

First World War Recruiting Poster from Ireland

Finally it seems that their sacrifice is being realized. It was in 1966 that Sean Lemass, the Irish Taoiseach who is credited with dragging the country into the developed economic world remarked:

‘In later years, it was common – and I also was guilty in this respect – to question the motives of those men who joined the new British armies formed at the outbreak of the war, but it must, in their honour and in fairness to their memory, be said that they were motivated by the highest purpose, and died in their tens of thousands in Flanders believing they were giving their lives in the cause of human liberty everywhere, not excluding Ireland.’

It would be nearly a half century though before an admiration, or at least an acknowledgement, of those Irish troops who joined the British army could co-exist with a similar admiration (even worship in many cases) of those men and women who had fought in the cause of Irish freedom in the ruins of the GPO on Easter Sunday in 1916, or in the fields of Ireland against the Black and Tans in 1921.

Why did they do it? Why did the Irish volunteer for the British Army?

The motivation of soldiers in any age, including today, who are often impervious to any criticism, such is the level of bombast in certain places, is rarely easy to grasp.

Many initially volunteered for the money. This was the Ireland of ‘Strumpet City’ and ‘The Lockout’. Jobs were very hard to find and when found, paid poorly. Poverty, especially in the main Irish cities of Dublin and Cork was extraordinary, even by modern day standards.

Today there are various definitions of poverty, the most often used in Ireland is that anyone with an income of 60% of the average national wage is ‘in poverty’. In the decade leading up to the great war such a definition would have been much more relevant. In modern Ireland the lack of a TV satellite dish is regarded as a symbol of poverty. Everything is relative.

Most however, joined to represent their country and to fight for freedom. When the all but forgotten Irish nationalist John Redmond encouraged and even demanded that his Irish followers enlist in the British army to fight the German menace he did so in the hope that the service of the Irish would be remembered and rewarded. It is easy to look back now and lament at how naive he must have been.

Francis Ledwidge was an Irish volunteer who was to die in preparation of the Third battle of Ypres in 1917:

‘I joined the British Army because she stood between Ireland and an enemy of civilisation and I would not have her say that she defended us while we did nothing but pass resolutions.’

John Condon - the Boy Soldier

The stage was set in Ireland for another dramatic failure, as that what the Easter Rising was from a military standing. But the British over-reacted, executed the Irish rebel leaders. Their martyrdom ensured that the die was cast and the Irish journey to independence was unstoppable.

What might those Irish trapped in the blood-filled trenches of Belgium and France have thought now?

Francis Ledwidge again:

‘If someone were to tell me now that the Germans were coming in over our back wall, I wouldn’t lift a finger to stop them. They could come!’

Poelcapelle Cemetery in Flanders is the final resting place of Private John Condon who hailed from Waterford and was known as the ‘Boy Soldier’. He had worked as a bottler in Sullivan’s Bottling Stores in Waterford before, aged 13 years, he lied his way into the British army. He is recorded as the youngest military casualty of the first World War.

He died at the second battle of Ypres in May 1915, killed in action at Bellevarde Ridge on a day when ‘a strange greenish mist crept across from the enemy position, to attack the eyes and throat and burn out the lungs.’

So many Irish soldiers returned to their country with damage to their lungs from the poison they had breathed, many to suffer for decades with their injuries.

As many as 206,000 Irish soldiers served in the British army during the first world war.

Over 50,000 perished.

On this Remembrance Day nearly a century later should we not ask: Is Private John Condon any less of a martyr in the cause of Irish freedom than Pearse or Connolly?

by Michael Green
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11 Unusual Facts About Ireland You May Not Have Known

Irish Creations


SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST ICONIC OBJECTS HAVE BEEN CREATED BY THE IRISH

The White House – 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20500, USA might look like any typical US address until you realize that it is the abode of the US President. The White House (perhaps the most photographed house in the history of humanity?) was designed by Irish architect James Hoban who was born in Kilkenny in 1758.

The Titanic – Surely the worlds most famous ship was built in Belfast at the Harland and Wolff shipyard. The mighty vessel sank on her maiden voyage with the loss of over 1500 lives.

The Hypodermic Needle – In 1844 Doctor Francis Rynd, a Dublin-based doctor, invented the hypodermic syringe which has been used as an instrument of curing and terror millions of times since. The world’s very first subcutaneous injection was administered in Dublin’s Meath hospital.

The Submarine – In 1900 the US Navy purchased a submarine called the ‘Holland VI’ renaming it the ‘USS Holland’ and the modern submarine age began. It was invented by John Philip Holland from County Clare who was the first to use battery power for submerged conditions in a submarine.

The Oscar – That most coveted of pieces of metal was designed by Austin Cedric Gibbons (1893 – 1960), the Irish art director and film production designer in 1928. The design represent sa Knight standing on top of a Film Reel gripping a sword.

Birthday Bumps

IRISH KIDS WERE GIVEN ‘THE BUMPS’ ON THEIR BIRTHDAY

A tradition that is very familiar to those who grew up in 1970’s Ireland is that of the ‘bumps’. If it was your birthday and that fact became known among your schoolmates then you had better watch out! If you were grabbed in the schoolyard then you would be subjected to a succession of lifts and drops with your back either gently hitting grass or bouncing off hard concrete via the feet of your captors, depending on their mood. Counting upwards to the number of years the grand finale was an especially extravagant throw into the air at which point those among the mob who were most afraid of repercussions might try to catch you on the way down. Or not.

With the advent of law suits, school ‘codes of conduct’ and a general civilizing of the population the practice seems to have all but died out in Ireland but is still popular in English boarding schools and in India, apparently.

Saint Valentine is in Dublin

SAINT VALENTINE IS INTERRED IN DUBLIN

Completely true. Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin is the unlikely resting place of the relics of Saint Valentine that were presented by Pope Gregory XVI to an Irish Carmelite named John Spratt in the year 1835. In 1836 the remains were received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin and have been displayed in Whitefriar Street Church ever since. Engaged couples even attend the special mass held there on February 14th to bless their impending union.

Dublin City

DUBLIN MIGHT HAVE BEEN CALLED BLACKPOOL

The Gaelic words ‘dubh linn’ meaning a black pool or mire describe an ancient natural treacle lake located within the confines of Dublin Zoo in the Phoenix Park. The merging of these two words into Dublin clearly occurred before the practice of anglicizing names based on their English meaning took hold, else the fair city might have been known as Blackpool (or Blacklake, or Blackmire!).

National Symbol of Ireland

IRELAND IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WHOSE NATIONAL SYMBOL IS A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT

After years of leprechauns and blarney on television and film it is no wonder that most people the world over think that the Shamrock is the national symbol of Ireland. It is not. The Harp is. It adorned every Irish coin (before we gave away our sovereignty to the European Central bank, and see how that ended up) and is the official flag of the President of Ireland.

The reason for the prominence of the Shamrock in Irish culture is of course Saint Patrick, who, as explained by countless thousands of Irish school teachers over the last century, used the Shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity.

Saint Patrick was not Irish

SAINT PATRICK WAS NOT IRISH

And the national Saint of Ireland is…. a Briton. That’s right, the person responsible for the creation of more shamrocks, shillelaghs and green-foolery than anyone else was captured by Irish raiders from Britain (likely Wales but perhaps Cumbria) when he was about 16 years old.

It has also been suggested by Irish academic T. F. O’Rahilly that there may in fact have been two Patricks with many of the traditions associated with Saint Patrick more accurately belonging to Paladius who was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland sent by Rome, and who preceded Saint Patrick.

Thomas Francis Meagher

THE COLORS ON THE IRISH FLAG HAVE SPECIFIC MEANING

Ok lets get this straight. The Irish flag is not green, white and gold – it is green, white and orange! The orange is quite important to those in Ulster representing as it does the Protestant tradition there. The Green represents the Gaelic Irish. The white is a place in the middle where the two traditions can co-exist.

A very elegant design that was presented to the ‘Young Irelander’ Thomas Francis Meagher in 1848 by some French women who were sympathetic to the plight of famine-ravaged Ireland at that time. It was not until the 1916 Easter Rising that the flag became universally accepted as the flag of a free Ireland.

Irish Halloween Quotes

QUOTES ABOUT HALLOWEEN
Including Some Irish Halloween Quotes


Halloween Quote

‘Nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night!’
US writer Steve Almond

‘Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.’

From a headstone in Ireland

‘This Halloween I’m going as the ghost of our federal government.’
Unknown

Lindsay Lohan

‘I have friends who wear Star Wars costumes and act like the characters all day. I may not be that deep into it, but there’s something great about loving what you love and not caring if it’s unpopular.’
US Actress Kristen Bell

‘If a man harbors any sort of fear, it makes him landlord to a ghost.’
US Writer Lloyd Douglas

Horror films are where women can shine and have a chance to lead. They always save the day in these films.
Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar

‘My daughter said she’s gonna be a hoe for Halloween. I think it’s cute that she likes gardening.’
Anonymous

‘True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about but few have seen’
Author Unknown

‘May your Halloween be scarier than what’s actually going on with our country.’
Unknown

‘Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker’
Irish author Bram Stoker, from ‘Dracula’

‘Loneliness will sit over our roofs with brooding wings.’
Bram Stoker, from ‘Dracula’

But dreams come through stone walls, light up dark rooms, or darken light ones, and their persons make their exits and their entrances as they please, and laugh at locksmiths.
Famed Irish horror writer Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, from ‘Carmilla’

Quote about Halloween

The farther we’ve gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we’ve come to need Halloween.
Writer Paula Curran, from ‘October Dreams: A celebration of Halloween’

‘One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house,
The brain has corridors surpassing,
Material place.’

US Poet Emily Dickinson

‘To suffering there is a limit – to fearing, none.’
English Writer Sir Francis Bacon, Essays, from ‘Of Seditions and Troubles’

‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’
US Writer, H. P. Lovecraft

Tabhair féirín dom nó buailfidh mé bob ort!
PRONOUNCED: tour ferr-een dum no booligg may bob urt
MEANING: Trick or Treat
(give me a treat or I will play a trick on you!)

Find out about Irish Halloween Traditions

by Michael Green
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19 Back-to-School Quotes about Irish Education & Learning

George Bernard Shaw

I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.
Oscar Wilde, Writer (1856-1900),
‘The Importance of Being Earnest’

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught
Oscar Wilde, Writer (1856-1900),
‘The Critic as Artist’

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education
Mark Twain (1835-1910), American writer.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) Irish poet, dramatist.

Books are but waste paper unless we spend in action the wisdom we get from thought – asleep. When we are weary of the living, we may repair to the dead, who have nothing of peevishness, pride, or design in their conversation.
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) Irish poet, dramatist.

There’s no use saying anything in the schoolyard because there’s always someone with an answer and there’s nothing you can do but punch them in the nose and if you were to punch everyone who has an answer you’d be punching morning noon and night
Frank McCourt, Writer, (1930-2009), ‘Angela’s Ashes’

Oscar Wilde

He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.
Frank McCourt, Writer, (1930-2009), ‘Angela’s Ashes’

An Irish prayer-book is a thing which the poor [Catholic] Irish peasant has never seen. Not only has he not been taught the language which he speaks, but his clergy have never encouraged, and have sometimes forbidden him to learn it. This objection arose chiefly, I believe, from the impudent intermeddling of Bible Societies with the religion of the people. By their patronage of the Irish language, they had desecrated it in the eyes of the Irish themselves
Conor McSweeny, ‘Songs of the Irish’, 1843

…it would be the veriest mockery to say to those people – ‘Don’t speak English,
or emigrate: speak Irish, stay at home and starve, cry out yearly for doles, and
send your children picking winkles instead of being at school, and earn the
contemptuous pity of the world

Patrick Conroy, (Coimisiún na Gaeltachta, 1926)

A child miseducated is a child lost
US President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education
US President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child
George Bernard Shaw, Writer (1856-1950)

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn
Alvin Toffler, American Writer and Futurist (b. 1928)

While a significant part of learning certain comes from teaching – but good teaching and by good teachers – a major measure comes from exploration, from reinventing the wheel and finding out for oneself
Nicholas Negroponte, Founder and Director of the MIT Media Lab, (b. 1943)

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young
Henry Ford, Car Pioneer, (1863-1947(

I cherish the creation of public space and services, especially health, housing and the comprehensive education system which dared to give so many of us ideas ‘above our station
Frances O’Grady, British Trade Unionist (b. 1959)

You know there is a problem with the education system when you realize that out of the 3 R’s only one begins with an R
Dennis Miller, US Comedian (b. 1953)

by Michael Green
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25 Funny Quotes & Sayings About Fatherhood & Parenting

Oscar Wilde

May you die in bed at 95, shot by a jealous wife!
An Old Irish Toast

My father had a profound influence on me. He was a lunatic.
Spike Milligan (Irish Comedian)

Fathers are biological necessities, but social accidents.
Margaret Mead (US Anthropologist)

Having children is like living in a frat house – nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.
Ray Romano (US Comedian)

Bob Monkhouse

I have always had the feeling I could do anything and my dad told me I could. I was in college before I found out he might be wrong.
Ann Richards (45th Governor of Texas)

There should be a children’s song ‘If you’re happy and you know it, keep it to yourself and let your dad sleep’.
Jim Gaffigan (US Comedian)

The place of the father in the modern suburban family is a very small one, particularly if he plays golf.

Bertrand Russell (British Philosopher)

To be a successful father there’s one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.
Ernest Hemingway (Writer)

The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get
Tim Russert (US Broadcaster)

Barbara Kingsolver

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
Mark Twain (Writer)

There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.
Jerry Seinfeld (Comedian)

Forget about surviving 40 years in the music business. Just surviving 27 years of Nicole Richie has been a struggle-and-a-half, I want to tell you. I stand here as a survivor, I want you to know, for all the parents out there.
Lionel Richie (US Singer)

My father was a statesman; I’m a political woman. My father was a saint. I’m not.
Indira Gandhi (Third Prime Minister of India)

A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.
Billy Graham (Evangelist)

You don’t have to deserve your mother’s love. You have to deserve your father’s. He’s more particular.
Robert Frost (Poet)

My father always used to say that when you die, if you’ve got five real friends, then you’ve had a great life.
Lee Iacocca (US Businessman)

Bill Cosby

A new father quickly learns that his child invariably comes to the bathroom at precisely the times when he’s in there, as if he needed company. The only way for this father to be certain of bathroom privacy is to shave at the gas station.
Bill Cosby (US Actor)

If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.
Bill Cosby (and again)

Fatherhood is great because you can ruin someone from scratch.
Jon Stewart (US Broadcaster)

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
Harry S. Truman (33rd President of the United States)

A father carries pictures where his money used to be.
Unknown

Greedy Irish Politicians Revert to Type in Seanad Showdown

OPINION PIECE

The division between what is broadly termed ‘the establishment’ and the ordinary citizens of Ireland has rarely been more evident than in recent weeks.

Irish Seanad may be abolished

The current Government is committed to holding a referendum to provide for the abolition of the Seanad (one of the Irish houses of Parliament – pronounced ‘shan-idd’). The Seanad has very little real power and although it can delay the passage of legislation by up to three months it cannot ultimately stop laws being made by the main Irish Parliament.

It is an unelected body and thus has become a breeding ground for ‘wannabe’ politicians and as a means of rewarding cronyism and political favours. Several of the countries Universities get to nominate members of the Seanad also, a privelege they guard jealously.

It was in the run-up to the most recent General Election that Taoiseach Enda Kenny declared that he thought the Seanad should be abolished and that his Party were committed to holding a referendum and giving the Irish people the chance to have their say.

It is with a sense of despair then that the everyday Irish person has to witness the campaign being currently waged by members of the political, legal and academic elite in this country, and aided by a compliant media.

The promise to abolish the Seanad house was put forward at the precise moment when just about every institution in the country was a potential target. The country was bankrupt. It made no sense whatsoever to have a second Parliament house at a ridiculous cost.

With a population of just over 4.5 million the country is served by 166 directly elected T.D.’s and 60 Senators in the Seanad. Utter madness. Taoiseach Enda Kenny estimates the abolition of the Seanad could save 20 Million Euro annually:

Enda Kenny

‘There is something fundamentally wrong, in my view, in politicians asking others to change and make real sacrifices and not doing the same ourselves’

Against this backdrop it looked certain that the guillotine would fall. But perhaps unsurprisingly many politicians and members of the elite, and particularly those Senators who are most likely to lose out on huge pay and expenses, have reversed their position and are now seeking to have the Seanad reformed instead of abolished.

The ‘Save our Seanad’ campaign is in full flow:
‘It acts as a safeguard against the excesses of the main Parliament’ they say.
‘It has propelled some very fine people into public life’ they say.

Oversight of the behaviour of the Irish Parliament is provided by its own Committees, the News Media and ultimately by the Irish people who get to vote people out of office every 5 years if they so wish (often sooner). And as for training people for political life in the future? That is the job of the political parties, of debating societies and pubs everywhere.

The Seanad is an expensive talking shop populated by the unelectable, by cronies of political big-shots, by academics and poseurs. It is appalling to witness those who most benefit from its existence scratch around for every conceivable tactic and strategy to try to keep it going. The worst kind of money-grabbing. Legalized theft. Looting of what is left of the public finances.

Our money – the Irish peoples money – being used to line the pockets of a bunch of dilettantes.

The existence of the Seanad is contrary to the spirit of an Irish Republic and it should be abolished at the first opportunity.

by Michael Green
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Further Fianna Fail Poll Surge Is The Low-Mark Of Irish Despondency

The ruling Fianna Fail Party was trounced in the 2011 election. At 17% of the vote they seemed to be on the very edge of oblivion. Fine Gael and Labour had brushed them aside, bolted into power on a wave of optimism about ‘real change’ and ‘burning the bond-holders’ (a reference to not paying back bank loans to unsecured bond-holders in Europe).

For a while it seemed that there might actually be some a change in direction. But alas it is now clear that the current Government has merely assimilated the trappings of power worn with such gusto by Fianna Fail, and in fact is implementing much of the previous Government’s policies.

It is difficult now to see any real difference between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael from a policy standing. The historical civil-war divide between the two parties is now all but irrelevant. Fine Gael have made very few changes to the deal struck with the EU/IMF/ECB troika who are lending Ireland huge sums of money in order to pay back German and French banks (and at a nice interest rate). Even the renegotiation of the Irish Promissory Note Deal is but a scratch on the surface of the mountain of debt facing the country. Heralded as a triumph it actually increases the amount of debt Ireland owes!

The Irish electorate is facing a scenario where there are two big Parties occupying the moderate central section of the Irish political landscape (Fine Gael, Fianna Fail) while the Labour Party vainly attempts to brand itself as the party of the left wing, a space now dominated by Sinn Fein and the Socialist Party. Rumours abound that the vacancy for a more right-of-centre Party may about to be filled with the establishment of a new ‘Progressive Democrats’ style of Party, but it has not happened yet.

The most recent opinion poll shows that Fianna Fail are now the best supported Party in the country at 27% compared to Fine Gael on 25%, 20% for Sinn Fein and Labour at 13%.

How could this happen?

How could the Party that was in Government while the Irish economy imploded be a mere two years later regarded as the best bet to lead Ireland to recovery?

Perhaps it is a sign that the current Government has failed or that the prospect of Sinn Fein in power is just too much for some people. Perhaps it is the disgust with the Labour Party being expressed so openly now by even some of its own membership. Perhaps it is the now five years of austerity and hardship that has been imposed on a relatively docile Irish citizenry by its masters in Government.

Perhaps it is a combination of all of the above – or is it that such are the depths of Irish despondency and cynicism with the Irish body politic that people will now vote for anyone just to get some real change.

Anyone.

Even Fianna Fail.

by Michael Green
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Saint Valentine Was Irish!

Ok, he was not really Irish but in the true Irish tradition of claiming association to just about anything that is good we Irish are claiming the Saint as our own.

We do have some grounds for this assertion – bear with me.

Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin is the unlikely resting place for the relics of Saint Valentine. That’s right! While desperate men the world over rush to their nearest Garage fore-court to buy half-battered bunches of red roses in the hope that it will get them out of jail, the knowledge that there is an Irish connection to Saint Valentine still escapes the masses.

Pope Gregory XVI presented the remains of Saint Valentine to an Irish Carmelite named John Spratt in the year 1835. He had been visiting Rome and preaching at the famous Jesuit Church there to much acclaim. In 1836 the remains were received by Archbishop Murray of Dublin and have remained in Whitefriar Street Church ever since. An Altar and Shrine were installed in the 1950’s depicting the Saint as a martyr. An inscription on the Altar reads:

This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood.

The annual mass on February 14th includes a ceremony to bless wedding rings of those betrothed, in the hope that such a blessing will help secure a successful union.

There may have even been two Saints named Valentine. Valentine of Rome died about the year 269 during the persecution of Claudius the Goth. The other Valentine was allegedly Bishop of Terni. It is possible that the two memories are in fact of the same person.

There are several legends regarding his martyrdom. The first suggests that he was beheaded for illegally marrying young Christians in opposition to Roman rules. Another suggests that Valentine was imprisoned for helping a young blind girl named Julia, again contrary to Roman law. Knowing he was about to die he wrote a final note to the young girl and signed it ‘From Your Valentine’. The note contained a crocus flower and upon opening it for the first time the young girl’s sight was restored. In the year 496 Pope Gelasius I named February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day and ever since that day has been associated with flowers, note-giving and all things romantic.

So there you have it – Saint Valentine was Irish. Ok, it is not an open and shut case but we do posses his relics and that is good enough for us. Did you know that Saint Nicholas (Santa!) is buried in Kilkenny? More about that in December.

by Michael Green
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Blame an Irishman for all of the Vampires on TV and in Cinema

I have always blamed Buffy.

It was just one vampire TV series after another and then endless vampire movies and clearly ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ was to blame. Maybe it is when you reach a certain age that you begin to incorrectly assign all occurrences of a cultural event to one particularly irritating occurrence of it?

Never-ending Kristen Stewart and Robert Patterson? Buffy caused that!
A seemingly good movie takes a detour down a vampire path – Blame Buffy!!
A muppet starts counting in Dracula-speak on Sesame Street – BLAME BUFFY!!!

Wait a minute – that cant be right. And of course it isn’t. I had always known that Bram Stoker was Irish but I had never realized that he grew up less than a mile away from our house on the northside of Dublin, near to Fairview Park. I doubt very much if the Irish creator of one of literature’s most famous characters could ever have guessed at the impact his creation would have on so many other art forms. Hundreds of movies and thousands of TV programs later we have arrived at a point where vampires are so ‘in’ that it is next to impossible to avoid them. For a species that thrives on secrecy they are certainly putting it about lately.

I thought the zenith had been reached when Dianne Weist and Jason Patric battled Kiefer Sutherland in ‘The Lost Boys’ but no. This was only a precursor to the next generation of vampire-annihilators. And no end in sight. Blaming Buffy the Vampire Slayer for it all is just so much easier (for a person of a certain age) but of course the truth will always out in the end.

So now you know who to blame for it all – not Buffy, not Sesame Street’s ‘the Count’, not even Rpatz or KStew, but a Victorian-age chap from Dublin named Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Michael