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The results of the Local Government and European Parliament elections are in and it is very bad news for the current Government.
Weighed down by years of austerity the Irish people are choosing to forget the causes of the current economic sickness and are instead starting to rail against the cure!! That cure (austerity, cuts in services, increases in taxation) has broken the resolve and sapped the patience of the beleaguered masses who have clearly had enough.
Will Fine Gael be thrown out of office in two years time, having implemented the recovery plans of their predecessors? Only time will tell.
Until next time,
GOVERNMENT RECEIVES A MAJOR SLAPPING IN LOCAL ELECTIONS
The mid-term local elections in Ireland have been a major setback for the current Government.
The recent vote elects politicians to local County Councils with many hoping to use their local position as a platform to later become full members of the Irish Parliament at the next General Election.
The results have been bad for Fine Gael and a complete disaster for the Labour Party (stats are correct with 943 of 949 seats filled):
Fianna Fail: 25% (25% at last local election in 2009)
Fine Gael 24% (32%)
Sinn Fein: 15% (7%)
Independents + Smaller Parties: 28% (21%)
Labour: 7% (15%)
With a year and a half until the next General Election it is looking ever more doubtful that the coalition Government will survive until the centenary commemoration of the 1916 Rising, an event that all political parties will try to capitalize on.
Enda Kenny is the current Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael:
'The situation that has been put in place by the people yesterday is a stark reminder of frustration, impatience and anger and a wearing-out process'
Fine Gael have been attempting to continue their strategy of blaming Fianna Fail (the previous Government) for all of their woes. With Fianna Fail maintaining their 25% representation in the County Councils it is clear that that tactic has run out of steam and is just not resonating the way it used to with the Irish public.
The Labour Party are in absolute freefall and it is hard to see how they will be anything but destroyed at the next General Election. Party leader Eamon Gilmore had to resign in the wake of the pummeling his Party received so at least Labour will now likely let some of its younger members have their chance.
Sinn Fein are already on a General Election footing and will use their continued rise to prominence to try to force an early vote in what will surely be their big breakthrough. Jubilant Party leader Gerry Adams continued his assault on the Labour Party:
'We want to be in government. We are in government in the north. We need a mandate and I think Pearse Doherty put it well when he said Sinn Fein is hungry for change but we are not hungry to be in government. We are not going to leave our principles outside the door. The only reason to be in government is to advance the project that you have set. Myself and our party are wedded to the vision for a citizen-based, rights-centred society. If we can advance that in government, then we will. If we cannot, then we will continue with what we have been doing.'
BOOST FOR IRISH EDUCATION SYSTEM
Ireland is in ninth place on a global league table of education systems. The survey of 40 countries measured literacy, maths skills, graduation rates and ability in science among a number of other metrics.
The league table is compiled from the results of studies by the OECD and the TIMSS and PIRLS studies from the US. The resulting 'Learning Curve Report' is a source of good news for Irish education providers who have struggled in recent years as the effects of Government imposed austerity bites.
South Korea and Japan topped the league table.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CONTINUES TO FALL
The fragile upturn in the Irish economy continues with unemployment falling to 12%. The rate had previously topped 15% on the upward cycle. The numbers in employment has also increased by 2.3% in the first quarter of 2014 and did so across 9 of the 14 main employment sectors. Of course the big elephant in the employment room is emigration.
While politicians may pat themselves on the back about the fall in unemployment it is clear that emigration by masses of young people from Ireland to Australia, Canada and the US has played a large part in keeping the unemployment figures lower than they would otherwise be.
TRINITY COLLEGE WONT MOVE BOOK OF KELLS TO A WET BASEMENT
Plans to move the priceless Book of Kells from its current home to a basement location in the nearby Berkeley have been scraped after a furious response from Trinity staff.
A letter to the Trinity Provost Dr. Paddy Prendergast outlined staff concerns about the project:
'The master plan proposes the relocation of the Book of Kells to the Berkeley Library basement. This area is liable to serious flooding and is unsafe as a location for the country's greatest treasure. The plan seems irresponsible and a recipe for extremely adverse publicity.'
Trinity College is undergoing a major tourism reboot as it seeks to expand its income from its fantastic location in the very heart of Dublin City. Already the Book of Kells is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country but the new plans will expand the tourist experience in the grounds of the College, which was established in 1592.
UNITED NATIONS CRITICAL OF IRISH RELIGIOUS ORDERS
The UN has launched a scathing attack on four religious orders in Ireland who they say have continually refused to contribute to a redress fund for survivors of abuse in the 'Magdalene Laundries'. The Irish Government has already conceded that it played a part in the running of the Laundries and estimates that its exposure to compensation could run to 65 Million Euro. The four congregations in question are the Irish Sisters of Charity, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy.
DEATH CERTS TARGETED IN WAR ON OBESITY
Dr. John Ryan, a histopathologist at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda has said that obesity should be recorded as a cause of death on death certificates if it is a contributory factor to a persons death. He is concerned that the incidence of death by obesity is being under-recorded on death certificates throughout Ireland.
Speaking at a meeting at the Royal College of Physicians Dr. Ryan said:
'Obesity is associated with increased rates of cardiovascular disease, prothrombotic states, diabetes, and a number of malignancies.'
Ireland has an increasing problem with obesity. The 'Growing Up In Ireland' study recently revealed that nearly 20% of nine-year-olds were overweight in 2011 with a further 7% classified as obese.
OVER 23 MILLION HAVE SEEN RIVERDANCE LIVE
The Irish dancing sensation that is Riverdance has celebrated its twentieth anniversary with the news that over 23 Million people have viewed the never-ending world tour. Riverdance had its genesis as the 'half-time' entertainment at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. The original performance by champion dancers Jean Butler and Michael Flatley has been viewed by hundreds of millions worldwide on TV shows, Youtube and through DVD sales.
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NINE FAMOUS IRISHMEN
by Roger Judge
In the 'Young Ireland' disorders in Ireland in 1848 the following nine men were captured, tried, and convicted of treason against Her Majesty, the Queen, and were sentenced to death: John Mitchell, Morris Lyene, Pat Donahue, Thomas McGee, Charles Duff, Thomas Meagher, Richard O'Gorman, Terrence McManus, Michael Ireland.
Before passing sentence, the judge asked if there was anything that anyone wished to say. Meagher, speaking for all, said:
'My Lord, this is our first offense but not our last. If you will be easy with us this once, we promise, on our word as gentlemen, to try to do better next time. And next time we won't get caught!'
The indignant judge sentenced them all to be hanged by the neck until dead, and drawn and quartered. Passionate protest from all the world forced Queen Victoria to commute the sentence to transportation for life to wild Australia.
In 1874, word reached the astounded Queen Victoria that the Sir Charles Duffy who had been elected Prime Minister of Australia was the same Charles Duffy who had been transported 25 years before. On the Queen's demand, the records of the rest of the transported men were revealed and this is what was uncovered:
Thomas Francis Meagher: Governor of Montana
Terrence McManus: Brigadier General, US Army,
Patrick Donahue: Brigadier General, US Army,
Richard O'Gorman: Governor General of Newfoundland
Morris Leyne: Attorney General of Australia,
after which Michael Ireland succeeded him.
Thomas D'Arcy McGee: Member off Parliament,
Montreal, Minister of Agriculture and President
of Council, Dominion of Canada
John Mitchell: prominent New York politician.
5 WORDS THAT ONLY THE IRISH REALLY USE
Irish people are known for having their own unique way of expressing themselves. One visitor from the US remarked that listening to the Irish speak was like being on a different planet! Here are a few beauties to demonstrate.
The sixteenth century saw a fierce rivalry develop between the Butlers and Fitzgeralds. Violent clashes between the two groups were commonplace with once such melee occurring in 1492. Butler, the Earl of Ormond retreated and was forced to take refuge in Saint Patrick's Cathedral. He barricaded himself behind a stout wooden door and refused to leave until he got assurances for his safety. After some negotiation a deal was struck. In order to seal the deal a hole was hacked through the wooden door and Fitzgerald offered his hand. This was risky indeed as a large axe could easily have removed the limb. Harmony broke out however and the standoff was ended.
It is thought that the modern expression 'chancing your arm' originated from this event. From that time on a 'chancer' was someone who took a risk or a gamble. The hole in the door can still be seen to this day with the door known as the 'Door of Reconciliation'.
An oft-heard and seldom questioned word that is uttered throughout Ireland is banjaxed. It not only sounds great but can be applied to a number of situations! It essentially means broken, beyond repair, in a bad way. It is speculated that the word originated in Victorian Ireland and England although it now seems to be almost exclusively used in Ireland. The word can apply to people, places, things and situations.
I'm banjaxed after last night! (after a few pints)
This country is banjaxed
My car is comepletely banjaxed
How's the leg? Banjaxed!
SAFE HOME (yes we know it is a phrase and not a word)
There are of course many ways of bidding farewell other than the standard 'goodbye'. Irish people can be heard to say 'all the best', 'be seeing you', 'take it handy' or 'good luck'. Perhaps one of the most elegant means of departure is to say 'safe home', meaning 'be safe on your way to your home', offered as a gesture of care and a wish for good fortune rather than as a description of any ultimate destination!
Like many countries the Irish have several ways of describing a person who is intoxicated. These include hammered, scuttered, flutered, plastered, mouldy, ossified, stocious, manky-drunk, wasted, locked and mashed. Or, if in conversation with an official of the law: drunk!
The Irish have been having great craic for years - honest! Before we continue it should be established that we are not referring to the illegal cocaine narcotic but to another word that although pronounced as 'crack', seems very peculiar to the Irish.
'having the craic'
'we had a great craic'
'what was the craic like?'
'the craic was ninety'
These are all very commonly heard examples of the word 'craic' in use in Ireland. It basically means 'a good time' or 'fun'. It can also mean 'situation' or 'story' as in 'thats the craic'.
SOUND TOOL (yes we know!)
If a Dub were to call you a 'sound tool' it would mean that, although you are a decent person (sound) you are also a bit of an idiot (a tool). Homer Simpson, Michael Scott (The Office), Dumb & Dumber. All Sound.
THE OUTSIDER by Michael Collins
The morning air had a quality only found on an island: cool yet warmed by the rising sun and the rocks still giving off yesterday's heat. The three men tramped up the gravel track, the slope steeper as they neared the western end of the island.
The sun was diagonally behind them, low enough to pick out in detail every feature of this rough and ready place. To the left the light was reflected in a sparkle from the surrounding seas. Ahead the cliffs rose to breast the Atlantic. To the right the bulk of the island swelled steeply upwards like a whale's back, the sparse grass, rushes and heather pushing up between the rocky outcrops through the thin living layer, reminding all who passed that wresting an existence from this soil meant unceasing toil. The patient sheep grazed and bleated, wanting rid of their thick winter coats.
"And wasn't that a grand wake now, last evening?" asked Mick Mickey. More a statement than a question, in honour of the dead man and his family and to mark the fact that they had given old John a good send-off. Michael Gerry nodded assent.
The Outsider recalled the previous evening. He had arrived on the island unannounced and had been offered lodgings at Mick Mickey's. At dusk they had tramped up this same path to where Old John had been laid out in his home. The cottage crouched under its thatch, pressing itself down, away from the gales crashing in from the Atlantic. A single-storey cottage, whitewashed on the outside and with a bright red door, surrounded by exotic fuchsias that seemed out of place in this land of greens, greys, blues.
Old John had been laid out in his coffin, dressed in his Sunday suit, surrounded by candles. The eldest daughter, her mother long dead, had the responsibility for the wake – helped by the neighbours. They had seen to a plentiful supply of cake, tea, tobacco, whiskey... plus some arcane potions distilled locally without the intervention of the excise men.
The women had been gathered round the bier. Theirs it was to wail and keen, joined at intervals by newly arrived men who would recite a decade of the rosary for the dead man's soul. The Outsider went in with Mick Mickey and did his best to participate. His contribution went no further than kneeling down, joining his hands and half-closing his eyes, while the Paters, Aves and Glorias buzzed around him like a swarm of bees, the high women's voices alternating with the men's grumbling throats as they prayed their relays with the skill born of many years' practice. A non-believer, he felt nothing for the ritual, but he could imagine that the repetitive drone of half-understood formulae could bring about a certain peace of mind, convince the participants that they were doing something meaningful, as the marathon runner must feel after passing the finishing line having taken fifty-thousand identical steps to get there.
Once they had done their duty the men retired, leaving eternity's business to their womenfolk. They gathered in the kitchen, the air thick with tobacco smoke and the fumes of alcohol. This was the socially important part of the ceremony, where Old John would be set into the minds of the surviving islanders. The Outsider observed quietly, marvelling at this rich collection of individuals. Not that these people were rich in terms of money: they simply had a richness about them. They smelt rich, felt rich, sounded rich, moved richly. His own people at home smelt... well, they smelt too, but the smell usually came out of a bottle. These people smelt warm, like contented cows. The people at home felt and looked rich on the outside: soft clothing, soft skins, warm handshakes. Here they looked solid, little regard for clothing except as protection against the elements, skin like the bark of an oak, grooved and greyish-brown. And they were sparse in their rich touching – perhaps no more than a handshake from a calloused hand. Here an arm around your shoulders was like being included in the honours list. The people back home moved like the White Rabbit continually glancing at his watch. Here they moved richly, slowly and ponderously, counting each step, measuring effort required and advantage gained. Watches and clocks were scarce. Their speech was rich and colourful.
Sure, he was a grand man, was Old John.
Sure, he was indeed. You would have thought that Bridie's death would have finished him off.
You would, too.
Not John. He knew what was what. He was made of stern stuff.
Well, you may be right, but surely to God he knew little about sheep.
That's no surprise. He had the cows.
He had but three cows, to be sure.
Aye, but he knew them. And he had the best grassland.
And he knew about vegetables, sure he did.
Now what use is vegetables? A man needs good red meat to keep him on his feet.
And the Guinness!
To knock him off his feet, more likely.
Aye, but John knew all about that too. Sure, didn't he need five pints before that recitation of his?
You can talk, Mick Mickey. We don't get a peep out of you till you've chalked up ten pints.
Ach, but Old John could hold his drink a treat. And he knew when to hold off, so he did.
So you didn't see him when young John came back from Australia?
Sure, I did. He was still in O'Brien's at six the next morning!
Ach, a father needs to celebrate at a time like that, sure he does.
Aye, that's true enough. And Old John was never one to throw good money away on drink.
Sure he wasn't! Never known to pay for the last round!
The to-and-fro remarks were punctuated, sometimes by laughter but mostly by deep silences and quiet guffaws, back of the hand against the mouth. The men were re-telling John's life story. As they remembered him. The Outsider had nothing to contribute except his respectful presence. Despite his fairly frequent visits to the island he had not known Old John except by name. Now his contribution consisted, once again and for the umpteenth time, in a sense of wonder at how this tiny isolated society had managed to continue to exist with its unspoken and unwritten customs intact, its uniqueness untouched.
He listened as the remarks and quips flew across the room. This was neither eulogy nor condemnation. It was the beginning of an oral tradition that would immortalize Old John for as long as people lived here.
It had been late when they left the wake. Michael Gerry had accompanied Mick Mickey and the Outsider home, weaving a familiar path down to the sea-level northeast end of the island. They had passed Michael Joe's cottage, and the Outsider had thought he recognised a few places where Michael Joe had extracted lethal bottles of home-brewed liquor from the bog the previous summer, all the while conducting a discussion on the rival merits of Plato, Aristotle and Sartre, and any philosophers in between. By now, thought the Outsider, this island has no more surprises for me. He was wrong.
The three of them had covered the last mile in silence. As they neared Old John's cottage the coffin was being carried out on broad shoulders, over the spine of the island to the church and graveyard. Nobody hurried. There was no traffic. A few people working in the fields uncovered their heads, stood still until the procession had passed and then resumed work. Or laid down their implements and joined the procession.
The church was full, most of the congregation unknown to the Outsider. The Requiem Mass was standard, the kind of ceremony you would get anywhere in the world. The Outsider found it incomprehensible, even more so than the rosary of the previous evening and far less significant than the exchanges between the men in Old John's cottage. He disliked it. He looked around for the face he hoped he knew best. The face was absent.
The Outsider was on the back row of the benches in the tiny church. When the service ended he was first out. He found the face he had been looking for: Michael Joe, sitting on the ground with his back against a dry stone wall, puffing at his pipe, disreputable hat on his head, eager panting dog with lolling tongue at his feet, bicycle propped next to him against the wall.
"Were you not inside, Michael Joe?" asked the Outsider.
"I was not. Sure it's better out here. You can hear it all drone on and know where they're up to – gives you a chance to light the old pipe at strategic times – but you don't have to listen because you've heard it all before. And it gets no better. Anyway, out here I have the dog and the pipe and the rest of the universe around me. That gives me more cause to contemplate life and death than the words of our beloved parish priest, no matter how well-intentioned he may be."
The men gathered round in a loose circle and lit up cigarettes and pipes. The women stayed behind at the church door in a clump, quietly whispering among themselves. Michael Gerry and another of the young men, Michael Bob, took centre stage as if on a signal, doffed their jackets, spat on their hands and started to dig.
It dawned on the Outsider that for the purposes of burial the two men were the gravediggers. And how the devil will they do that here? he asked himself. The island is a lump of solid rock. You'd need dynamite to dig a grave.
But he had still more to learn. Though the church was built on rocky foundations its tiny graveyard easily yielded to the combined spades. When the two lads were about three feet down they slowed their pace and began to dig carefully. The reason soon became apparent: they were unearthing human bones. These were laid with a fair degree of reverence and care – and in comparative silence – on top of Old John's coffin, until a skull came to light.
- Would you look at that now?
- Sure an' all, it must be old Padraig.
- D'you think so?
- Och, it must be. He's been gone now all of...
- Must be eighty years.
- Well, he'll be having another burial today. Not everybody can do it twice...
And the discussions continued quietly until the hole was deep and wide and long enough for Old John. Then – a signal the Outsider missed – the women filed out of the church and ranged themselves with the men around the grave. The coffin was lowered, Old John's remains on their first step towards slowly becoming one with the foundations of the ancient island. The unearthed bones were carefully returned and the soil and rocks shovelled over them.
The congregation remained awhile, heads bowed. Men took off their hats and caps. Praying? The Outsider was not. He was quietly and – he hoped – unobtrusively observing. So was Michael Joe, still wearing his disreputable hat, smoking his pipe but making no effort to be unobtrusive. The observer, the recorder of otherwise unrecorded history.
At a second imperceptible signal, like a cloud of starlings wheeling with perfect precision, the congregation turned and began, in ones and twos, to exit from the graveyard.
"Coming?" asked Mick Mickey.
"Where to?" asked the Outsider.
There was the long trek downhill to the harbourside pub and the comfort of the foaming pints.
There had been two observers there that day. Michael Joe and the Outsider. Michael Joe stored it for the island's history. The Outsider was not sure what to make of it. But he stored it too.
|PHRASE:||Ni lia duine na tuairim|
|PRONOUNCED:||nee lee-ah dinnah nah toor-im|
|MEANING:||Everyone has their own opinion|
|PHRASE:||Ni lia tir na nos|
|PRONOUNCED:||nee lee-ah tear no-iss|
|MEANING:||every country has it's own customs|
|PHRASE:||Is leir don saol e an firinne|
|PRONOUNCED:||iss lair dun sail a on firr-inyeh (a as in a,b,c)|
|MEANING:||everybody knows the truth|