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Hi There, we have a great newsletter for you this month with a song, a story, some quotes and a snippet of Irish history. It is 100 years since the gun-running at Howth and the amazing adventures of Erskine Childers. Find out more below!
Until next time,
ITS OFFICIAL! DUBLIN HAS A PROPERTY BUBBLE
Amid much head-shaking and hand-wringing from economists and politicians alike the Dublin property market is now in a classic bubble with onlookers waiting for the crash.
The lack of supply in certain parts of the city is mirrored by over-supply of unsuitable housing and apartments in other parts of Dublin with ghost estates existing a matter of a few miles from where price increases are reaching 'Celtic Tiger' proportions. It is also reported that there is up to three years worth of housing for which planing permission has been granted but for which developers are unable to raise the funding to complete.
The current situation is not quite the same as that which arose during the boom years. While building work has certainly picked up there are no big sprawling developments taking place. Rather it is a case that there are certain enclaves in Dublin city, northside and southside, where young couples especially want to live. Of course when the crash does come it is hoped (prayed for?) that the banks wont be taken down again. This seems unlikely though, given the reluctance of the banks to engage in any kind of even reasonable lending. And this in itself is another factor driving these artificially high prices in Dublin even higher.
IRISH ECONOMY IN RECOVERY
It is something of a cliche in Ireland that when the construction industry is doing well that the economy will do well and this seems to be the case currently. The sight of builders bins on streets and huge cranes towering above them have again become more noticeable as the carpenters, plasters and bricklayers get back to work. The Central Bank of Ireland is predicting economic growth of 2.5% in 2014, better than previously expected and 3.3% next year.
These are pretty good numbers considering the depths of the economic plunge the country took after the Celtic Tiger was slain in 2008. Devastation in the construction industry and in the retail sector were followed by the unemployment rate peaking at over 15.1% in 2012 but now falling back to 11.6%. The unemployment trend is very much downward.
Unfortunately there is something of a lie at the heart of these statistics. Massive emigration on a scale not seen since the 1980's recession has artificially lowered the numbers of people out of work. Many smaller towns in rural Ireland have been decimated by the mass exodus of young people and families to Australia, Canada, the US and beyond.
Nevertheless there is certainly a feeling that the very worst of the endless austerity measures are behind the Irish citizenry with the country successfully exiting its program of financial management by the EU, IMF, ECB 'troika' last year. Ireland will be indebted to the troika until 2023 and must find 9 Billion Euro annually in interest payments to fund the loans it received from Europe.
It is against such massive indebtedness that any economic recovery will have to be measured.
AMERICANS BARRED FROM IRISH CAFE
The beautiful Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry is renowned as one of the most scenic tourist spots in Europe. Visitors from every part of the globe flock to Kerry to tour the towns, view the majestic scenery, wonder at the prehistoric forts and ancient churches and to enjoy the hospitality of the locals who are famed for their welcoming nature.
It is very surprising then that the owner of 'Peters Place' Cafe in the lovely village of Waterville has engaged in what can only be described as an act of self-destruction. Given that tourism is the main industry in this part of Ireland it was with a sense of both shock and amazement that visitors read the sign banning 'Loud Americans' and coach or bus tourists!
Almost a million travellers from the US visited Ireland in 2013 so it is no surprise that the other villagers in Waterville are doing everything but raising their pitchforks in protest.
Louise Huggard runs the Butler Arms Hotel:
'(visitors always talk of the sincere warm welcome they feel at Waterville) from Charlie Chaplin to Tiger Woods to the late Payne Stewart who was honorary captain of Waterville golf links.'
The Waterville Business Association is also unimpressed with the cafe-owner and is planning to 'celebrate their unique Waterville-American relationship.'
Condemnation of the sign has been widespread on social media sites and in newspapers with some even calling for sanctions to be imposed!
NEW YORK PUB BANS YAPPING MUTTS AND DRUNKEN IRISH
It what can only be viewed as an escalation of the international competition to see which business owner can self-destruct the quickest, a Montauk bar-owner has posted a sign banning dogs, kids in strollers, cell-phones, anyone using the restroom and of course, Irish drunks.
The sign on the window at the Dock Bar & Grill in the New York pub has provoked a big backlash against the owner George Watson, who is somewhat bemused by the fuss. He later remarked that the sign was intended as joke and was aimed at the famous Irish sense of humour.
An anonymous commenter put the matter into some perspective:
As a cell-phone owner who likes an occasional pint, has walked his child in a stroller and even had the necessity to use a restroom I am in full agreement with the sign and it sentiment. Yapping mutts in a pub ARE a real nuisance.
WHAT HAVE STARS WARS AND SKELLIG ISLAND GOT IN COMMON?
Skellig Island is a forbidding and remote island off the coast of Kerry. It has been battered for centuries by ferocious winds and storms so it was the perfect location for sixth century monks to establish a monastery. The monastic ruins were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. The islands are also famous for their thriving gannet and puffin bird populations.
'Star Wars: Episode VII' is a film being directed by JJ Abrams and is the latest in the long line of films trading off the success of the original 1977 masterpiece.
Filming for the new movie is currently taking place on Skellig Island and while the people of the Kerry region are grateful for the positive publicity, not everyone is happy with the timing of the production.
Dr Stephen Newton is senior seabird conservation officer with Birdwatch Ireland and is concerned for the local wildlife:
'But it is very hard. Skellig is only open to the public really between May and some time in September but I would have preferred the filming to take place in September than in July when we have a lot of breeding birds still.'
The island is indeed spectacular and it will be amazing to see how it eventually is represented on the big screen. The filming in Kerry will also be another great means of advertising the tourist attractions of the region and getting more people to take boat-rides around the island. But no loud Americans please!
HOWTH GUN-RUNNING OF 1914 REMEMBERED
The famous exploits of Erskine Childers and the Howth gun-runners have been commemorated, a hundred years after they landed 'The Asgard' at the North Dublin fishing village.
The story of the Asgard resembles a fiction that Erskine Childers would have been proud of. The writer of 'The Riddle of the Sands' was a member of the Anglo-Irish elite in Ireland, descendants of the families who had invaded the country in the twelfth century but who became integrated into Irish society. He had met his future wife at a Boston party. His bride, Molly Osgood, was the daughter of Doctor Hamilton Osgood who was a well-known Boston physician who was credited with introducing the first Rabies antibodies into the United States. He bought the Asgard as a wedding gift for the newly married couple, both of whom greatly enjoyed sailing.
Having made the transition from British soldier who fought in the Boer War to an Irish nationalist appalled by British colonialism, Erskine Childers colluded with Roger Casement, Darrell Figgis, Alice Green and several others and arranged for the weapons to be brought over from Germany. After unloading the guns from the German tug-boat 'Gladiator' the Asgard braved terrible weather and a brief encounter with the British warship HMS Froward. On 26th July 1914 the vessel was steered into Howth Harbour where 800 anxious members of the 'Irish Volunteers' quickly unloaded the invaluable cargo, consisting of 900 Mauser Rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition.
The British authorities despatched soldiers from Kilmainham barracks but they failed to capture the arms after a brief skirmish near Howth. Retreating back to the city centre the soldiers fired upon and killed 3 civilians and injured 38 more at Bachelors Walk near O'Connell Street. The incident was met with outrage by the native Irish and the ranks of the Irish Volunteers swelled as a result. A further cache of weapons was landed at Kilcoole in Wicklow a few days later, met by Cathal Brugha and Sean T. O'Kelly, a future President of Ireland.
The entire country now expected an all-out Civil War with the Ulster Unionists who had themselves landed over 30,000 weapons at Larne.
Less than a week after the landing of the guns the world was plunged into the 'Great War', and Irish affairs fell down the agenda of the ruling British Parliament. Childers fought in World War 1 with the British Army but was appalled by the execution of the Easter 1916 rebels which was a stunning turning point in Irish history. Many of the weapons that had been landed at Howth and Kilcoole were used during the rebellion. Childers later joined Sinn Fein and acted as a Director of Propaganda, having been appointed by deValera. He later served as Chief Secretary to the delegation that negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty although he bitterly opposed the Treaty.
Childers was executed by the Free State Government that took control of the country. He was sentenced to death on a trumped-up gun charge.
Take a step closer, boys, it will be easier that way'
he called out to the firing squad as they took aim.
The Civil War, the death of Michael Collins and the subsequent Declaration of Independence were all to follow from this most amazing few years in the history of Dublin and Ireland.
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Jimmy left his Ireland back in '62|
Barely a man of 20, found a wife and good job too
Working 8 to 5 on a factory line
Neither good humor nor hard times did his life define
He sings of Sean O'Farrell and the Rising of the Moon
He drinks his glass of ale, then he sings another tune
In his mind the crowd has vanished as his mind turns back the clock
To a time when he was younger full of promises and shamrocks
He always worked hard. Always did his best.
He made a good life for himself, his wife and the rest
Yet something was missing, something was wrong
Most evenings he spent at his pub listening to the songs
He should of stayed in Eire in the family business
He could of been comfortable, a man of largesse
He would of been there still but for their wakes
Now his life is foggy and full of heartaches
Jimmy's wife died in '90 after his children were grown
They all moved away leaving Jimmy all alone
His pub is now where he calls home
Singing of his homeland in his booming baritone.
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I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
by Michael Green,
The Information about Ireland Site.
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