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Graves Apart

10/09/2013 Comments off

Graves Apart

The controversial evangelist Edward Nangle died 130 years ago this week and is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery, Dublin. Almost two hundred miles away, the remains of his first wife Eliza and five of their children are interred on the slopes of Slievemore Mountain, Achill Island; the Achill Mission project of the mid-nineteenth century took a heavy toll on her and her children. 

See my piece in today’s Irish Times Irishwoman’s Diary here.

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The Irish Story – Bite Chunks of History

08/11/2010 Comments off

The Irish story is bad and getting worse if we are to believe Morgan Kelly in today’s Irish Times.

Maybe it’s time to get some perspective – and some solace – from our history. We can do it online through The Irish Story, a digital first publisher of concise ebooks and short, snappy features on Irish history. Their very first ebook is  The Story of the Easter Rising (15,000 words).

In the features and ‘Today in Irish History’ sections we can dip into varied and vivid scenes from our past. Some pieces I enjoyed:

Dip into the stories and maybe you’ll come out with a sense of perspective on our contemporary tale of woe. Worth a try.

Photo credit: informatique photostream

Yesterday’s Newspaper Today

07/07/2010 1 comment

It’s seldom I don’t get to flick through the newspaper on the day I buy it. I’m afraid I’m not one for the online version. I have to feel the rub of the print ink on my fingers and the anticipation of what’s over the next crackling page.

But last evening my fingers were black from gathering the fruit in my small garden plot. I was mesmerized by the volume of gooseberries and blackcurrants. Not so many loganberries, which isn’t surprising, seeing as I’d watched many a blackbird waddle off with a red juicy piece in its beak.

With my attention on the fruit picking it was this morning before I faced yesterday’s paper. It’s the faces looking out at me from the pages that hold my attention, especially those that don’t appear to have set-up expressions for the camera.

Maura Mulkerrins owned the first B&B on Inish Meāin and she doesn’t look at the camera but looks down towards the ground with faint images of dotted island houses behind her. She wears a royal blue cardigan, her grey hair is combed back tight over a lined face and she has a fine bone structure that seems to tell in itself the story of her island years. Her face makes me think of summer trips to Irish college in Aran.

Marian Wallis looks up at the camera, standing outside the court after the inquest into the death of her son, Maurice , in a cycle accident. There is such searing pain in the face that I I have to look away. I find myself wondering if that look will ever leave her. There’s a photograph of her child underneath – the same eyes, but this time laughing with mischief.

Drew Faust is head of Harvard University. She’s pictured in Dublin’s  Stephen’s Green with the ducks floating on the water behind her and not taking a bit of notice of the important visitor. She seems to be telling us to be careful least we turn education and the creative arts into a utility.  Construction and property were our saviour in the past decade and now it looks like it’s going to be the creative arts.

Harry Clifton is our new Professor of Poetry and I put his latest book Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994-2004 on my list of ‘books you can buy me for Christmas’. I like his apt line: ‘Our one-step-forward-two-steps-backward advance’.

I fold yesterday’s newspaper in half, then in quarters, and place it in the recycling bag on top of a squashed Heineken can and an empty box of Barry’s Gold Label tea and wonder if I’ll make a habit of it: leaving the news to settle and reading yesterday’s newspaper today.

 2 July 2010

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