Tag Archives: Republic of Ireland

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 76. On Politics.

Ireland is currently in the process of electing its new president. By now we will know who exactly has thrown their hopeful hat into the ring. I’m hoping that Senator David Norris has made the cut, personally. But if there’s one thing that riles me it’s ignorance.

Statements like “we don’t need a president” and “we can’t afford a president” say to me that some people don’t know their constitution from their elbows. Ireland is a republic; republics require presidents. Anything else requires changing our constitution and political identity.

Maybe they want a return to monarchy, I don’t know. Dictatorship maybe?

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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…29 September

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Good morning and thank you for coming over to today’s On This Day. I hope your day is filled with cookies, chocolate, chips – and chocolate chip cookies. That’s all the major food groups covered.

Let’s move on directly and start with events on this day in…

61 BC – Pompey the Great celebrates his third triumph for victories over the pirates and the end of the Mithridatic Wars on his 45th birthday. That’s what happens when someone buys you an X-Box as a gift.

1650 – Henry Robinson opens his Office of Addresses and Encounters – the first historically documented dating service – in Threadneedle Street, London. Now that I’m newly single, maybe I’ll check it out.

Bobbys on the beat. (Image: historic-uk.com)

1717 – An earthquake strikes Antigua Guatemala, destroying much of the city’s architecture and making authorities consider moving the capital to a different city.

1829 – The Metropolitan Police of London, later also known as the Met, is founded.

1916 – John D. Rockefeller becomes the first billionaire. Buddy, can you spare a dime?

1949 – The Communist Party of China writes the Common Programme for the future People’s Republic of China.

1964 – The Argentine comic strip Mafalda is published for the first time.

Mafalda comics. (Image: andrewferguson.net)

1979 – Pope John Paul II becomes the first pope to set foot on Irish soil with his pastoral visit to the Republic of Ireland.

2008 – Following the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual, The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 777.68 points, the largest single-day point loss in its history.

Birthday wishes today go to:

We had Brigitte yesterday; today it’s the turn of Anita Ekberg, Swedish sex symbol of the Fifties, who is 79.

Jerry Lee Lewis, American rock ‘n’ roller, is 75. Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!

Silvia Berlusconi, the controversial Italian prime minister, is a Mafia-endorsed 74. (Don’t quote me!)

And finally, on a really silly level, twins Matt and Luke Goss, of Eighties pop band Bros, are 42. They were famous – for a while.

A Portrait of The Artist as a Post-Dystopian 24th Century Vampyre

Don't need no toothbrush!

How’s it going’, horse? I’m not too bad, thanks for bleedin’ askin’. This vampyre shit is the business, init? Not that I thought so at the start, mind you.

There I was, knocking back pints of Bud at Molly’s in Ballybough, minding my own beeswax, when all of a fuckin’ sudden, I’m a vampyre! It turns out that the blood transfusion I got at the Mater (you should have seen the other fella – I hit his face so hard he was eating from a tube for months) wasn’t the “good stuff,” if you know what I mean. No, it was contaminated with some stem-cell virus shite. Now I suck blood and live like a parasite.

Not much change there, so. I did that when I was human, living off my dole and my ma. But now I don’t age; I get to keep my ladykiller looks, as well as my Burberry.

Fuck sake, boys, Dublin hasn’t changed much in 300 years. Fianna Fail are still in power. Just our luck that Brian Cowen got infected at the same time as me. Now no one can turf him off his throne. Still, at least the Boys In Blue finally won the 2312 All-Ireland GAA Football Championship, their first since 19-fucking-95.

Wankers!

I joined Facebook For Vampyres yesterday. I’ve 450,ooo,ooo,ooo friends now; but if I start getting invites for bleedin’ Farmville there’ll be hell to pay.

"Dying Light," by D. Scott Meek. Order it now or face my fist!

The vampyre chicks are a bit of a let-down, though. I’m all for showing off some flesh, but bloody hell, lads, wearing nothing but the smile on your pug-ugly rotten faces is enough to turn me off my shrimp curry. I’ve seen better looking birds at a shooting range.

I still can’t get the hang of Twitter yet. I’ve only two followers: my ma and my best friend, Georgie Sparrow. Georgie is the oldest vampyre in Ireland. We celebrated his 301st birthday last week by getting right and royally hammered in Fairview Park. A right laugh we had.

I better be off; the sun’s coming up and it doesn’t play well with my complexion.

See ya next time, suckers!

(C) James McShane 2010

Scott Meek’s Blog: reading. writing. revolution.

The Book: Dying Light.

Republic of Ireland 3, Andorra 1

Image courtesy of RTE

It has been at least twenty years since I’ve been to a soccer game. I’ve attended GAA games in Croke Park, Major League Baseball in Dallas, but not a soccer game. I’ve become lazy in this world of wall-to-wall televised sports. I’ll watch anything with a ball in it, my mother says, even cricket.

I love cricket!

The Aviva Stadium at night. I took this photo.

So it was with a huge degree of excitement and optimism that the Good Lady and I got tickets to see the Republic of Ireland team take on the minnows of Andorra in the first competitive match at the new Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road.

And what a marvellous new stadium it is, too. Every seat is afforded a perfect view of the pitch. The open-plan roof provides cover from the elements; but the rain decided to give itself the night off – thank God.

As for the game, it was very enjoyable; fast-paced, with plenty of goal mouth action. Ireland scored three goals, courtesy of Kevins Kilbane and Doyle and skipper Robbie Keane. The downside was the Andorra goal in the dying moments of the first half. But you can’t have everything.

Ray and me.There was the added bonus of a fan photo with the legendary ex-Liverpool, Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton. He put the ball in the net against England in Stuttgart in 1988 (our first ever victory over the traditional enemy) and against Italy in USA 1994. Ray happily posed for photos before heading off to his media duties.

Results on the night see Ireland top Group B with Slovakia (who beat Russia, the top seeds in the group, 1-0). Armenia and Macedonia played out a 2-2 draw. Already I’m looking forward to our next home game, against the Russians on 8 October.

Euro 2012 – Come On, Ye Boys in Green!

The Official Logo for Euro 2012

The last time the Republic of Ireland’s soccer team kicked a ball in anger during a competitive fixture (as opposed to a ‘friendly’, that is), it was that tragic night in Paris last November, when Thierry Henry’s illegal handball gifted France a 1-1 draw, thus denying Ireland a place in this year’s FIFA World Cup.

France’s resulting failure in that tournament went a long way to salving Irish wounds.

But now it’s time to do it all over again. Euro 2012 is hosted by Ukraine and Poland. 51 teams have been drawn into nine groups: six groups of six countries, three groups of five. The team that finishes top of their group qualifies for the finals automatically. The highest placed runner-up also qualifies. The rest of the second-placed teams (eight altogether) go into a home and away play-off draw, with the resulting winners qualifying for the tournament. Poland and Ukraine qualify as host countries.

In total, 16 countries will play in the finals themselves.

The Republic of Ireland team have been drawn in Group B; alongside Russia, Slovakia, Andorra, Armenia and FYR Macedonia.

These are the fixtures: (A = away game, H = home game at Lansdowne Road)

Armenia (A) Friday, 3 September, 2010

Andorra (H) Tuesday, 7 September, 2010

Russia (H) Friday, 8 October, 2010

Slovakia (A) Tuesday, 12 October, 2010

Macedonia (H) Saturday, 26 March, 2011

Macedonia (A) Saturday, 4 June, 2011

Slovakia (H) Friday, 2 September, 2011

Russia (A), Tuesday, 6 September, 2011

Andorra (A) Friday, 7 October, 2011

Armenia (H) Tuesday, 11 October, 2011

The blond in the middle is the captain, Robbie Keane.

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.