Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

The Daily Rant: On Daylight Saving Time.

During the Second World War, the British Government introduced the concept of Daylight Saving Time in order to give an extra hour in the evening for the country’s bombers to blow the crap out of its enemies. I was told this titbit of information by a customer in my bar last night, so it has to be true, right?

Whether it or it isn’t is beside the point, DST (or British Summer Time – BST) has been around for as long as I can remember and remains a controversial time of the year. If you like your sleep, then Yay! you get an extra hour in bed. If you’re an insomniac, then Boo! you get an extra hour to stare at the ceiling.

But some people still don’t get it. I get customers asking me if we’re staying open later because we’re gaining the extra hour. I normally treat this question with the contempt it deserves, mainly because when the hour is lost in spring, I’m not asked if we’re going to close early. I have really stupid customers.

So last night, British Summer Time came to an end. All well and good, I say. But if you were to ask me, summer came to an end some time in June. We’ve had nothing but rain since.

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100 Words, 100 Days: Day 10. On Persistence.

Because I’ll be in Belfast today, I’ve written this blog at an earlier time and scheduled it to post at around the same time I’m shopping for a laptop. Why do I do this? Because I enjoy writing these seemingly effortless 100 word blogs and I’ll persist with them until the 100 days are over.

In the meantime I’ll start updating my other blog in the hope that writing constantly (and thinking constantly about writing) urges me to giddier heights. I am also happy to see people coming along to say hello. It’s you the reader that makes this exercise worthwhile.

Thanks.

 

Ireland and the Irish: 20 Random (some true, others not) Facts

 

We do not exist. At all, at all.

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, our national holiday, and because a friend asked me for some facts and figures about this wonderful country of mine, here are 20 random (and I mean random) facts, cobbled together from various resources: books, television, cinema, the arts and, of course, the pub. Some of these interesting tidbits may be accurate (at time of posting); others may contain about as much truth and relevance as our political parties (yes, Fianna Fail, I’m looking at you).

 

1. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 and is a time for feasting and celebration (or, if you’re around the Temple Bar area, a time for avoiding puking teenagers and chuggers). The Day is now a Festival, which brings to this country a large number of tourists, eager to check out all things Irish. Unfortunately for the Irish economy, most of them never return. St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland. Cheers for that, said the druids as they were matched to their deaths. He is also rumoured to have cleared the country of snakes. Where was he when the IMF were in town last November?

2. The Irish believe that on Judgment day, Jesus Christ will be the judge of all people, but St. Patrick will be the judge of the Irish. Simon Cowell obviously didn’t want the gig, then. But we Irish have talent.

3. George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Richard Harris, Pierce Brosnan, Alec Baldwin, Cillian Murphy, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Harrison Ford and Colin Farrell are some of the famous Irish. What, Clooney? Yes, I believe his grandmother was Irish. If Gorgeous George played soccer, he’d have qualified to play for the Republic of Ireland.

4. Ireland is also very popular as the home of pop music with Westlife, Horslips, Boyzone, Thin Lizzy, Clannad, Boomtown Rats, The Corrs, The Cranberries, Ronan Keating, Gilbert O’Sullivan and U2 as some of the world famous bands and singers. We do, however, unreservedly apologise for inflicting Jedward upon an unsuspecting public. It will not happen again.

5. Ireland last won an Oscar in 2007, when Glen Hansard (of The Frames) and Markéta Irglová picked up the award for Best Song, “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once. Glen is also famous for playing Outspan from the popular musical comedy The Commitments. (Am Irishman won an award last year, for his special-effects work on Avatar, but for the life of me, I don’t know his name. Sorry, man.)

6. According to the Irish laws, there is no death penalty found in Ireland. It is for this reason alone that Jedward and Dustin the Turkey are still amongst the living.

7. The national religion is Roman Catholicism, of which most of the population are of the non-practicing variety. Mass attendance has plummeted in recent years and a time will come when priests will be as easy to come by as gold under a rainbow. Which leads me to…

8. Leprechauns. There are NO leprechauns in Ireland. There never were, okay? Don’t let Walt Disney tell you any different. To insinuate their existence is to insult the intelligence of every right-thinking Irish person in the country. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

9. Couples in Ireland could marry legally on St. Brigid’s Day (February 1st) in Teltown, County Meath, as recently as the 1920’s by simply walking towards each other. If the marriage failed, they could “divorce'” by walking away from each other at the same spot, on St. Brigid’s day the following year. The custom was a holdover from old Irish Brehon laws, which allowed temporary marriage contracts. Think of the legal fees that saved.

10. Titanic, the Unsinkable ship, which sunk in its maiden voyage, was made in Ireland. The iceberg that sunk it was placed there by God. Even He liked to get one over the Irish.

11. The phrase “The Fighting Irish” is a fallacy, created by the British because of the way we behaved when under the influence of intoxicating liquor. This explains why we don’t riot against the government, unlike other countries. We just vote the feckers out. We’re all about democracy, we Irish.

12. The Celtic knot is one of the most famous Irish symbols that stands for continuity of life. Apart from this, the harp, the Shamrock, and the Irish wolfhound are some other famous symbols that belong typically to Ireland. Well, these and Guinness, I suppose.

13. In Ireland there is a place called Hook Head, and another village called Crooke. According to historical accounts, the English Oliver Cromwell, in his plan to siege Waterford had devised to options, either to take ships around Hook Head or march through Crooke village. This was the origin of the phrase “by hook or by crook.” As Michael Caine would say: “Not a lot of people know that.”

14. The veteran Oscar-winning director John Huston spent his last years in Ireland. Indeed his last movie was an adaptation of James Joyce’s Dubliners. His daugher Anjelica is a regular visitor to these shores.

15. One of the most popular radio shows in rural Ireland is still the weekly broadcast of local obituaries. One day I’ll hear my name mentioned and then it’s sayonara, Jimbo.

16. Vikings were believed to establish Dublin. Many centuries later, the name of Dublin can be found in many towns such as California, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Texas. We Dubs are like sand: we get everywhere.

17. The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia, in County Galway. No, I don’t know how to pronounce it either. Mucka will do me.

18. Contrary to common belief, we Irish don’t hate the British. We support soccer teams, like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspurs, Aston Villa and Glasgow Celtic. We watch their television programmes more than we’d watch our own: Eastenders, Coronation Street, Match of the Day, Only Fools and Horses and Doctor Who are all ratings winners every week. The only time we don’t like the English is when their national team plays in either soccer or rugby. Just Google “Who put the ball in the English net?” and see what happens. On a more recent note, the Irish cricket team scored a famous victory over their English counterparts at the ICC Cricket World Cup. I wished I was there to see it.

19. The origin of the word “slogan” is Irish, the sluagh-ghairm. This means “war cry”.

20. No list about Ireland is complete without mentioning the Gaelic Athletic Association. A completely amateur sports body, the GAA is Ireland at its finest; supporting its codes, football, hurling, camogie and handball from parish levels right up to county and international standards. Nowhere in Ireland will you find more colour and atmosphere than at Croke Park in September, when the All-Ireland Football and Hurling Championship winners are crowned.

I hope you enjoyed this list. Some of the information I gleaned from other webites, but all commentary and jokes are mine. Thank you for reading, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

On This Day…5 October

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Ryder Cup has come back to Europe, and on the morning after the night before, I wish Colin Montgomery’s team of twelve good men and true a happy hangover.

In all fairness the tournament could have gone either way. Tiger Woods showed why he is still the number one golfer in the world; 21-year-old rookie, Ricky Fowler’s last gasp half against Eduardo Molinari put pressure on reigning US Open Champion, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, needing a win in the last match against Hunter Mahan to regain the trophy Europe lost to the United States in 2008. And win he did. Europe beat the U.S. by 14.5 points to 13.5.

Sorry…this is supposed to be an On This Day post. Pardon my exuberance, my friends. GO TEAM EUROPE!

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin with events on this day in…

1143 – The king Alfonso VII of Leon recognises Portugal as a Kingdom. The Portuguese think it’s about bloody time he found his glasses.

1789 – French Revolution: Women of Paris march to Versailles to confront Louis XVI about his refusal to promulgate the decrees on the abolition of feudalism, demand bread, and have the King and his court moved to Paris.

1864 – The Indian city of Calcutta is almost totally destroyed by a cyclone; 60,000 die.

Rather him than me. (Image: wright-brothers.org)

1903 – Sir Samuel Griffith is appointed the first Chief Justice of Australia and Sir Edmund Barton and Richard O’Connor are appointed as foundation justices.

1905 – Wilbur Wright pilots Wright Flyer III in a flight of 24 miles in 39 minutes, a world record that stood until 1908.

1945 – Hollywood Black Friday: A six month strike by Hollywood set decorators turns into a bloody riot at the gates of Warner Brothers’ studios.

1962 – Dr. No, the first in the James Bond film series, was released.

And now for something completely different...

1968 – Police baton civil rights demonstrators in Derry, Northern Ireland – considered to mark the beginning of The Troubles. It is called the Battle of the Bogside.

1969 – The first episode of the famous comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired on BBC.

1974 – Guildford pub bombings: bombs planted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) kill four British soldiers and one civilian.

2000 – Mass demonstrations in Belgrade lead to resignation of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević. These demonstrations are often called the Bulldozer Revolution.

Happy birthday to:

Steve Miller, of the Steve Miller Band, is 67.

(Sir) Bob Geldof, former Boomtown Rat and Live Aid organizer, is 59.

The gorgeous Kate Winslet (Image: enjoyfrance.com)

Guy Pearce, former Neighbours actor who also starred in LA Confidential and Memento, is 43.

Kate Winslet, Oscar-winning actress for The Reader and star of Titanic, is 35.

Paris Hilton, the heiress of uselessness, is 27. That’s probably her IQ, as well…but don’t quote me.

Nicola Roberts, English singer with Girls Aloud, is 25. (She’s the ginger one on the far right.)

On This Day…3 October

Sunday, 3 October 2010

You know, Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest; a day when we take stock of the week just done, and prepare for the week ahead.

I’m working today – so bugger that for a lark!

But before I head out to earn a crust let me regale you with historical tit-bits, starting with events on this day in…

1283 – Dafydd ap Gruffydd (try saying that with a mouthful of mothballs), prince of Gwynedd in Wales, becomes the first person executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered. See? I told you I was in a good mood today.

For the ladies: Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

1712 – The Duke of Montrose issues a warrant for the arrest of Rob Roy MacGregor. Liam Neeson lookalikes hide out for the duration.

1849 – American author Edgar Allan Poe is found delirious in a gutter in Baltimore, Maryland under mysterious circumstances; it is the last time he is seen in public before his death. Nevermore!

1863 – The last Thursday in November is declared as Thanksgiving Day by President Abraham Lincoln, as are Thursdays, November 30, 1865 and November 29, 1866.

1951 – The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, one of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball history, occurs when the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson hits a game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off of the Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca, to win the National League pennant after being down 14 games.

1981 – The Hunger Strike by Provisional Irish Republican Army and Irish National Liberation Army prisoners at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after seven months and ten deaths.

1990 – Re-unification of Germany. The German Democratic Republic ceases to exist and its territory becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany. East German citizens became part of the European Community, which later became the European Union. Now celebrated as German Unity Day.

1995 – O J Simpson acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. We all know what happened to O J a decade or so later.

Birthdays today include:

Another one for the ladies: birthday boy Clive Owen

Chubby Checker, American singer-songwriter, is 69.

Lindsey Buckingham, American guitarist and singer  with Fleetwood Mac, is 61.

Clive Owen, British actor, is 46.

Neve Campbell, Canadian actress and star of the Scream series of movies, is 37.

Today marks the passing of an English comic legend. Ronnie Barker, one half of The Two Ronnies, died today in 2005. This sketch is my absolute favourite. The smaller of the two is his partner in crime, Ronnie Corbett.

On This day…14 September

14 September 2010

Another Tuesday, another chance to do the Funky Chicken and get jiggy with it.

I’ll be all right once the pills kick in.

Seriously I will. Now where did those polar bears come from?

History tell us that on this day in…

1607 – Flight of the Earls from Lough Swilly, Donegal, Ireland.

1901 – President of the United States William McKinley dies after a successful assassination attempt on September 6, and is succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt.

Image: amscoextra.blogspot.com

1948 – Groundbreaking for the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

1975 – The first American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, is canonized by Pope Paul VI.

1994 – The Major League Baseball season is canceled because of a strike.

Happy birthday to:

Give it up for Sam!

New Zealand (but Northern Ireland born) actor Sam Neill is 63.

Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia is 45.

Ashlyn Gere, American pornographic actress, is 43. (Nope, never seen her movies, either…*whistles innocently*)

Ashley Roberts, American singer with the Pussycat Dolls, dancer & actress is a foot-stomping 29.

And last, but by no means least, everyone’s favourite car-crash Amy Winehouse is 27. They said she had to go to rehab and she said no, no, no! Poor thing!

On This Day…27 August

It’s Freaky Friday, so it’s time to get freaky with another edition of On This Day. Are you suitably freaked yet? No? Well, you should be. Sigh!

On this day in…

1798 – Wolfe Tone’s United Irish and French forces clash with the British Army in the Battle of Castlebar, part of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, resulting in the creation of the French puppet Republic of Connaught.

1928 – The Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war is signed by the first fifteen nations to do so. Ultimately sixty-one nations will sign it…and then have Corn Flakes for breakfast.

1979 – An IRA bomb kills British World War II admiral Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and 3 others while they are boating on holiday in Sligo, Republic of Ireland. Another bomb near Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland kills 18 British soldiers.

1991 – The European Community recognizes the independence of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. All of these countries have, at some point, beaten the Republic of Ireland soccer team. BOO!!

Today’s birthday boys and girls are:

Lady Antonia Fraser, the British author of historical fiction and the “Jemima Shore” mysteries is a stately 78.

Barbara Bach and husband Ringo Starr in the movie "Caveman." No, I didn't see it, either.

Bond girl and wife of Beatles’ drummer, Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach is a sultry 53.

Denise Lewis, the English heptathlete is a sprinty 38.

The world lost a legend of music on this day in 1990: the great Stevie Ray Vaughn.

I’ll let Stevie take you into your day and night with Voodoo Child.