Sunday, 30 April 2017


Irish emigrants arriving to Ellis Island, New York
Almost 50% of those born in Ireland since 1851 have emigrated. Emigration has become a way of life, with Irish communities well established in many parts of the world.

There has always been some degree of emigration from Ireland but the numbers rose dramatically during and after the famine of the 1840’s.

Some people emigrate because their education and qualifications make it possible for them to have a better life in other countries. The Irish have less spending money per person than any other EC country. Some want to escape from a conservative intellectual and social climate.

More information: University College Cork

Most people emigrate reluctantly, however, because they cannot find employment in Ireland. Even with about 40,000 people emigrating every year from a total population of 3.5 million, almost one in five of the workforce remains unemployed.

When other countries were going through the Industrial Revolution, developing urban centres which could provide employment for thousands, the Irish economy was almost entirely agricultural. Ireland entered the twentieth century with just a handful of industries.

The Government tries to attract foreign industry and develop local existing industries but there doesn’t appear to be any immediate prospect of a solution to the problem.

Source: Why do the Irish? by Fiana Griffin

I know so many Irish musicians. They're all over, because there has been so much emigration from Ireland. Like the Jews. 

Daniel Barenboim

Saturday, 29 April 2017


John Joly
John Joly (1857-1933) was an Irish physicist, famous for his development of radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer. He is also known for developing techniques to accurately estimate the age of a geological period, based on radioactive elements present in minerals.

Joly was born in Holywood House, the Church of Ireland Rectory, Bracknagh, County Offaly, Ireland. He was a second cousin of Charles Jasper Joly, the astronomer. He entered Trinity College, Dublin in 1876, graduating in Engineering in 1882 in first place with various special certificates in branches of engineering, at the same time obtaining a First Class Honours in modern literature.

Joly joined the Royal Dublin Society in 1881 while still a student, and was a frequent contributor of papers. His first scientific paper was published in 1883, on the use of meteorological instruments at a distance. 

On 17 May 1899 Joly read his paper, An Estimate of the Geological Age of the Earth to the Royal Dublin Society. In it, he proposed to calculate the age of the earth from the accumulation of sodium in the waters of the oceans. He calculated the rate at which the oceans should have accumulated sodium from erosion processes, and determined that the oceans were about 80 to 100 million years old.
More information: Trinity College

In 1903 he published an article in Nature in which he discussed the possibility of using radium to date the Earth and went on to study the radioactive content of the Earth's crust to formulate a theory of thermal cycles, and examined the radioactive constituents of certain rocks as a means of calculating their age. Working in collaboration with Sir Ernest Rutherford, he used radioactive decay in minerals to estimate, in 1913, that the beginning of the Devonian period could not be less than 400 million years ago, an estimate which is in line with modern calculations.

In 1914 he developed a method of extracting radium and applied it in the treatment of cancer. As a Governor of Dr Steevens' Hospital in Dublin, in collaboration with Walter Stevenson he devised radiotherapy methods and promoted the establishment by the Royal Dublin Society of the Irish Radium Institute where they pioneered the Dublin method of using a hollow needle for deep radiotherapy, a technique that later entered worldwide use. The Radium Institute also supplied capillary tubes containing radon to hospitals for some years for use in the treatment of tumours.

Joly also invented a photometer for measuring light intensity, a meldometer for measuring the melting points of minerals, a differential steam calorimeter for measuring specific heats and a constant-volume gas thermometer, all of which bear his name, together with one of the first color photographic processes, the Joly Colour process. It was the first successful process for producing color images from a single photographic plate.

More information: Engineers Journal

Geological age plays the same part in our views of the duration 
of the universe as the Earth's orbital radius does in our views 
of the immensity of space. 
 John Joly


Map of Ireland
Because they are different racially and culturally and have had totally different historical developments

Ireland was settled by successive waves of Celtic-speaking peoples in the first millennium B.C. The next settlers were the Vikings who established Ireland’s first towns along the East and South coasts in the ninth and tenth centuries A.D. At that time the Irish people were still living a tribal-pastoral life. 

England was also populated by Celts at one time, but it became a Roman colony two thousand years ago, and was settled by Germanic tribes in the fifth century A.D. 

More information: RTE

In the eleventh century, French-speaking rulers conquered England, establishing French as the language of the court and the high society. The amalgamation of Germanic peoples with French-speaking rulers created English as we know it; closer to German for basic communication, closer to French for more official, intellectual and refined matters. 

The Normans came to Ireland also but not in great numbers, and they soon took on the language and customs of Ireland. 

Industrialization, colonization and colonial power have significantly influenced the English character. 

The Irish character has been shaped by opposite factors; the continuity of the rural agricultural way of life combined with the experience of powerlessness under English colonial rule.

Source: Why do the Irish? by Fiana Griffin

 Why should Ireland be treated as a geographical fragment of England - Ireland is not a geographical fragment, but a nation. 

Charles Stewart Parnell

Thursday, 27 April 2017


Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin (1961), better known professionally as Enya, is an Irish singer, songwriter, musician, and producer. Born into a musical family and raised in the Irish speaking area of Gweedore in County Donegal, Enya began her music career when she joined her family's Celtic band Clannad in 1980 on keyboards and backing vocals. She left in 1982 with their manager and producer Nicky Ryan to pursue a solo career, with Ryan's wife Roma Ryan as her lyricist. Enya developed her distinct sound over the following four years with multi-tracked vocals and keyboards with elements of new age, Celtic, classical, church, and folk music. She has sung in ten languages.

Enya's first projects as a solo artist included soundtrack work for The Frog Prince (1984) and the 1987 BBC documentary series The Celts, which was released as her debut album, Enya (1987). She signed with Warner Music UK which granted her considerable artistic freedom and minimal interference from the label. 

More information: Enya

The commercial and critical success of Watermark (1988) propelled her to worldwide fame, helped by its international top 10 hit single, Orinoco Flow. This was followed by the multi-million selling albums Shepherd Moons (1991), The Memory of Trees (1995) and A Day Without Rain (2000). Sales of the latter and its lead single, Only Time, surged in the United States following its use in the media coverage of the September 11 attacks. Following Amarantine (2005) and And Winter Came... (2008), Enya took an extended break from music; she returned in 2012 and released Dark Sky Island (2015).

Enya is known for her private lifestyle and has yet to undergo a concert tour. She is Ireland's biggest selling solo artist and second overall behind U2, with a discography that has sold 26.5 million certified albums in the United States and an estimated 80 million albums worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.  

A Day Without Rain (2000) remains the best selling new age album with an estimated 16 million copies sold worldwide. Enya has won several awards throughout her career, including seven World Music Awards, four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album, and an Ivor Novello Award. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for May It Be, a song she wrote for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).

More information: @official_enya

 It wasn't so long ago that it was not popular to speak Gaelic in Ireland because the areas that Gaelic is spoken in were much poorer areas. 


Wednesday, 26 April 2017


A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet –Irish proverb.

Irish Folk Session
The friendliness of the Irish is partly due to the fact that there are so few of them, only 3.5 million, so those that can stay here have room to breathe and see each other as human beings.

At the same time, the considerable racial, cultural and religious homogeneity of the Irish gives them a kind of collective security, while their easy-going approach to life allows people time to be friendly towards each other.

When strangers start talking in Ireland, they try to find friends, acquaintances, or distant relatives in common, usually with some success.

More information: Tacomaweekly

They’ll even optimistically try the Do you know so-and-so? ritual with visitors from a country where they happen to know someone.

 That may seem ridiculous, but so many Irish people have gone near and far in every direction, as emigrants and missionaries, that sometimes it seems as if half the world is little more than an Irish colony, 50 million North Americans, including 17 American Presidents, claim Irish descent. 

The Irish feel at home anywhere in the world, and usually enjoy making visitors welcome to their own beautiful country. However, many foreigners feel that the Irish are slow to develop long-term friendships; they seem an open book but are complex, subtle and quite hard to get to know.

Source: Why do the Irish? by Fiana Griffin

May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load,
may the mist of Irish magic shorten every road,
may you taste the sweetest pleasures that fortune e're bestowed,
and may all your friends remember all the favors you are owed. 

Popular Irish wish

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


Ernest Walton
Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton (1903-1995) was an Irish physicist and Nobel laureate for his work with John Cockcroft with atom-smashing experiments done at Cambridge University in the early 1930s, and so became the first person in history to artificially split the atom. 

He was born in Abbeyside, Dungarvan, County Waterford to a Methodist minister father, Rev John Walton and Anna Sinton. In those days a general clergyman's family moved once every three years, and this practice carried Ernest and his family, while he was a small child, to Rathkeale, County Limerick, where his mother died, and to County Monaghan. He attended day schools in counties Down and Tyrone, and at Wesley College Dublin before becoming a boarder at Methodist College Belfast in 1915, where he excelled in science and mathematics.

More information: Nobel Prize

In 1922 Walton won scholarships to Trinity College, Dublin for the study of mathematics and science. He was awarded bachelor's and master's degrees from Trinity in 1926 and 1927, respectively. During these years at college, Walton received numerous prizes for excellence in physics and mathematics, seven prizes in all, including the Foundation Scholarship in 1924. Following graduation he was awarded an 1851 Research Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and was accepted as a research student at Trinity College, Cambridge, under the supervision of Sir Ernest Rutherford, Director of Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory. At the time there were four Nobel Prize laureates on the staff at the Cavendish lab and a further five were to emerge, including Walton and John Cockcroft. Walton was awarded his PhD in 1931 and remained at Cambridge as a researcher until 1934.

During the early 1930s Walton and John Cockcroft collaborated to build an apparatus that split the nuclei of lithium atoms by bombarding them with a stream of protons accelerated inside a high-voltage tube  of 700 kilovolts. The splitting of the lithium nuclei produced helium nuclei. This was experimental verification of theories about atomic structure that had been proposed earlier by Rutherford, George Gamow, and others. The successful apparatus, a type of particle accelerator now called the Cockcroft-Walton generator, helped to usher in an era of particle-accelerator-based experimental nuclear physics. It was this research at Cambridge in the early 1930s that won Walton and Cockcroft the Nobel Prize in physics in 1951.

Walton was associated with the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies for over 40 years, serving long periods on the board of the School of Cosmic Physics and on the Council of the Institute. Following the 1952 death of John J. Nolan, the inaugural chairman of the School of Cosmic Physics, Walton assumed the role, and served in that position until 1960, when he was succeeded by John H. Poole.

More information: Irish Central

A linear accelerator has the advantage that no magnet is required 
and that its cost should not rise much more steeply than 
with the energy of the particles required. 

Ernest Walton

Monday, 24 April 2017


An Irish landscape with beautiful trees
What shall we do for timber?
The last of the woods is cut down.

(Kilcash-18th century poem)

Only 6% of Irish land is forested, by far the lowest in the EU where the average is 25%.

Thousands of years ago, Ireland was covered in trees, up to 75% of them Oak. The early farmers concentrated on breeding cattle when they discovered how well grass grew compared to other crops. This meant clearing a great deal of land.

The thorough destruction of Irish woods began in the sixteenth century. Some were cut down by English settlers, and more by the English armies, because the woods were an obstacle to their movement around Ireland, and gave Irish rebels a hiding place.

More information: Tree Council of Ireland

When Ireland got independence in 1921, only 1% of the land was tree-covered. In recent years, the government has planted the faster-growing non-native species of tree -fir, pine…- some of which grow four times faster than in their native Scandinavia. By 1996, Ireland should be self-sufficient in soft woods. The old native hardwood trees are rarely seen but the government now gives generous grants to landowners to plant them.

An organisation called Oak Glen is creating a new oak wood not far from Dublin. You can have an oak tree planted in your own, or anyone else’s.

Source: Why do the Irish? by Fiana Griffin

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. 
Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful. 

Alice Walker

Sunday, 23 April 2017


Sant Jordi in the Pati dels Tarongers, Barcelona
Saint George (AD 275–281 to 23 April 303), according to legend, was a Roman soldier of Greek origin and officer in the Guard of Roman emperor Diocletian, who was ordered his death for failing to recant his Christian faith. As a Christian martyr, he later became one of the most venerated saints in Christianity and in particular the Crusades.

In hagiography, as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and one of the most prominent military saints, he is immortalised in the myth of Saint George and the Dragon. His memorial, Saint George's Day, is traditionally celebrated on April 23. Numerous countries, cities, professions and organisations claim Saint George as their patron: England, Catalonia, Georgia, Malta, Armenia, Belgium, Egypt, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Montenegro, Palestine, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Aragon, Castile and Leon, Syria and the United States.

More information: Independent

George's parents were Christians of Greek background, his father Gerontius was a Roman army official from Cappadocia, and his mother Polychronia was a Christian and a Greek native from Lydda in the Roman province of Syria Palaestina. Accounts differ regarding whether George was born in Cappadocia or Syria Palaestina, but agree that he was raised at least partly in Lydda.

St George in the Houses of Parliament
In the medieval romances, the lance with which Saint George slew the dragon was called Ascalon after the Levantine city of Ashkelon, today in Israel. The name Ascalon was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during World War II, according to records at Bletchley Park.

In Sweden, the princess rescued by Saint George is held to represent the kingdom of Sweden, while the dragon represents an invading army. Several sculptures of Saint George battling the dragon can be found in Stockholm, the earliest inside Storkyrkan The Great Church in the Old Town.

Some evidence links the legend back to very old Egyptian and Phoenician sources in a late antique statue of Horus fighting a dragon. This ties the legendary George, though not necessarily the historical George, to various ancient sources using mythological and linguistic arguments. In Egyptian mythology, the god Setekh murdered his brother Osiris. Horus, the son of Osiris, avenged his father's death by killing Setekh. This iconography of the horseman with spear overcoming evil was widespread throughout the Christian period.

More information: Parliament UK

As a highly celebrated saint in both the Western and Eastern Christian churches, Saint George is connected with a large number of patronages throughout the world, and his iconography can be found on the flags and coats of arms of a number of cities and countries.

Church of Saint George, El Cairo
Traces of the cult of St George predate the Norman Conquest, in 9th-century liturgy used at Durham Cathedral, in a 10th-century Anglo-Saxon martyrology, and in dedications to Saint George at Fordington, Dorset, at Thetford, Southwark and Doncaster. He received further impetus when the Crusaders returned from the Holy Land in the 12th century. 

At the Battle of Antioch in 1098, St George, St Demetrius and St Maurice were said to have been seen riding alongside the crusaders, and depictions of this event can be seen in a number of churches. King Edward III (reigned 1327–77) was known for promoting the codes of knighthood and in 1348 founded the Order of the Garter

During his reign, George came to be recognised as the patron saint of the English monarchy; before this, Saint Edmund had been considered the patron saint of England, although his veneration had waned since the time of the Norman conquest, and his cult was partly eclipsed by that of Edward the Confessor. Edward dedicated the chapel at Windsor Castle to the soldier saint who represented the knightly values of chivalry which he so much admired, and the Garter ceremony takes place there every year. 

More information: Coptic Cairo

In the 16th century, Edmund Spenser included St. George, Redcross Knight, as a central figure in his epic poem The Faerie Queene. William Shakespeare firmly placed St George within the national conscience in his play Henry V, in which the English troops are rallied with the cry God for Harry, England and St George, and in Richard III, and King Lear.

Saint George Statue in Tbilisi, Georgia
A late 17th-century ballad also claims St. George as an English patron. The ballad compares other mythic and historical heroes with the merit of St. George and concludes that all are less important than St. George.

Above the Palace of Westminster, there are six shields above each of the four clock faces of Big Ben, twenty-four in total, all depicting the arms of St George, representing the Flag of England, London as the capital city of England, and St. George as the patron saint of England. This symbolism is also repeated in the central lobby of the Houses of Parliament, in an enormous mosaic created by Sir Edward John Poynter in 1869, depicting St George and the Dragon with these arms, entitled St George for England.

Saint George, Sant Jordi in Catalan, is the patron saint of Catalonia. His cross appears in many buildings and local flags, including the one of the Catalan capital, Barcelona. The Catalan tradition usually locates the events of his legend in the town of Montblanc, near Tarragona.

By the 15th century Catalan men used to celebrate Saint George's Day by giving roses to women. Nowadays Saint George is not a public holiday anymore but is a very popular celebration. Women receive roses and books and, since the 20th century, men receive books and roses and the celebration is also used to celebrate Catalan national identity, culture and literature and romantic love. 

One of the highest civil distinction awarded in Catalonia is the Saint George's Cross (Creu de Sant Jordi).

More information: The Culture Trip

 A people without the knowledge of their past history, 
origin and culture is like a tree without roots. 

Marcus Garvey

Saturday, 22 April 2017


Jocelyn Bell
Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943) is a Northern Irish astrophysicist. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars while studying and advised by her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, for which Hewish shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with astronomer Martin Ryle, while Bell Burnell was excluded, despite having been the first to observe and precisely analyse the pulsars. 

Bell Burnell was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 to 2004, president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and was interim president following the death of her successor, Marshall Stoneham, in early 2011. She was succeeded in October 2011 by Sir Peter Knight. Bell Burnell was elected as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in October 2014. In March 2013 she was elected Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin.

The paper announcing the discovery of pulsars had five authors. Hewish's name was listed first, Bell's second. Hewish was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with Martin Ryle, without the inclusion of Bell as a co-recipient. Many prominent astronomers criticised this omission, including Sir Fred Hoyle The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in their press release announcing the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, cited Ryle and Hewish for their pioneering work in radio-astrophysics, with particular mention of Ryle's work on aperture-synthesis technique, and Hewish's decisive role in the discovery of pulsars.

The fact that Bell did not receive recognition in the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics has been a point of controversy ever since. She helped build the four-acre radio telescope over two years and initially noticed the anomaly, sometimes reviewing as much as 96 feet of paper data per night. Bell later claimed that she had to be persistent in reporting the anomaly in the face of scepticism from Hewish, who was initially insistent that it was due to interference and man-made. She spoke of meetings held by Hewish and Ryle to which she was not invited.

More information: BBC Universe

 Scientists should never claim that something is absolutely true.
You should never claim perfect, or total, or 100% 
because you never ever get there.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell


Easter Monday, 1916
For hundreds of years the Irish people had suffered greatly under English rule. There had been many unsuccessful attempts to defeat the English. 

On Easter Monday 1916, a few hundred men and woman took over key buildings in Dublin City. A proclamation was read outside the General Post Office in O’Connell Street, declaring Ireland’s right to freedom. 

It was like a Greek tragedy. The leaders were mostly poets, thinkers, men of culture. They hoped for a miracle but they must have known before they marched out that they couldn’t win. Padraig Pearse, one of the leaders, forecast his own death in his poem A Vision. He drew his strength to go on partly from a religious belief in the power of blood sacrifice such as that of Jesus Christ on Calvary. Events proved him right. 

More information: Easter 1916

The majority of the people in 1916 were no longer oppressed. They didn’t want the trauma of a war. They knew that Home Rule, regional Government such as Wales and Scotland have, was a certainly as soon as the First World War was over. Farmers had won the right to own their land, there was religious freedom and the Irish language and culture were experiencing a tremendous revival. 

At first the Easter Rising, as it is now called, was as unsuccessful as all previous risings. Within a week the leaders had surrendered and it all seemed to be over. Then the executions began. As fifteen leaders were executed in ones and twos at intervals of days, the people grew shocked and angry. Nationalist feeling was awakened where it had been dormant. There was no looking back until Independence was achieved in 1921.

 Source: Why do the Irish? by Fiana Griffin

I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow;
Who have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory of an ancient glory,
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, 
the men and women with whom I have eaten
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
and though gentle, have served churls.

Padraig Pearse

Thursday, 20 April 2017


Seamus Heaney  (1939-2013)
Seamus Heaney  was an Irish poet, playwright, translator and lecturer. He received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Born near Castledawson, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the family moved to nearby Bellaghy when he was a boy. Heaney became a lecturer at St. Joseph's College in Belfast in the early 1960s, after attending Queen's University and began to publish poetry. He lived in Sandymount, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, from 1976 until his death. He also lived part-time in the United States from 1981 to 2006. Heaney was recognised as one of the principal contributors to poetry during his lifetime.

More information: Poetry Foundation

Heaney was a professor at Harvard from 1981 to 1997, and its Poet in Residence from 1988 to 2006. From 1989 to 1994, he was also the Professor of Poetry at Oxford. In 1996, was made a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres. Other awards that he received include the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1968), the E. M. Forster Award (1975), the PEN Translation Prize (1985), the Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001), the T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) and two Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999). In 2011, he was awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize and in 2012, a Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust. His literary papers are held by the National Library of Ireland.

American poet Robert Lowell described him as the most important Irish poet since Yeats, and many others, including the academic John Sutherland, have said that he was the greatest poet of our age. Robert Pinsky has stated that with his wonderful gift of eye and ear Heaney has the gift of the story-teller. Upon his death in 2013, The Independent described him as probably the best-known poet in the world. One of his best known works is Death of a Naturalist, published in 1966. His work often deals with the local surroundings of Ireland, particularly in Northern Ireland, where he was born and lived until young adulthood. 

His body is buried at the Cemetery of St. Mary's Church, Bellaghy, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The headstone bears the epitaph Walk on air against your better judgement, from one of his poems.

More information: Interesting Literature

When a poem rhymes, when a form generates itself, 
when a metre provokes consciousness into new postures, 
it is already on the side of life. 

When a rhyme surprises and extends the fixed relations between words, that in itself protests against necessity. 

When language does more than enough, 
as it does in all achieved poetry, it opts for the condition of overlife, 
and rebels at limit.

Seamus Heavey

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


Catholic statue in Irish landscape
The Catholic Emancipation Act, giving freedom of religion to the Irish people, was passed in 1829. The Catholic Church found itself in a position to fill a huge vacuum. 

All the native aristocracy had gone into exile or been reduced to the same misery as everyone else since the collapse of the old Irish social structure at the end of the seventeenth century.

All the institutions of the country were run by people who represented the interests of the ruling, colonizing class.

The Church had been a poor, powerless, therefore liberal and tolerant, Church of the people, for the people. It gradually became so highly institutionalized as to be almost like an alternative Civil Service.

More information: Caitlicigh ar an Ngréasán

Free to take its rightful place in Irish society, the Catholic Church began to build churches, schools, hospitals, charitable and other institutions of all kinds, acquiring in the process a great deal of land and property.

Since Independence in 1921, management of all the National primary schools has been in the hands of the Parish Priests, apart from a handful of schools of other denominations. There are only 7 multidenominational primary schools in the country, recently set up by parents.

The special place of the Catholic Church in Irish life was officially recognised in 1937 in the Constitution of the Nation but has been removed by a recent referendum.

 Source: Why do the Irish? by Fiana Griffin

 If you grow up in a very strong religion like Catholicism 
you certainly cultivate in yourself a certain taste 
for the intensity of ideas. 
Brian Eno

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Irish folk, Irish happiness
The Bonds have returned to Dublin to continue their English exam preparation. Eli Bond continues reading her beautiful Fiana Griffin's book Why do the Irish?

The Irish are the happiest people in the EC, according to a survey carried out a few years ago.

The happiness of the Irish often puzzles visitors who can’t see many objective reasons for great happiness in the State of the nation.

Both the troubled past of the Irish and their religious beliefs have taught them not to look for happiness in material success or possessions although they have begun to do so.

The majority of the population are Catholics and they have been taught that the main purpose of this life is to qualify for a good place in the next life and as a poor oppressed people they learnt to find most pleasure in the entertainment provided by each other’s company.

The Irish have a philosophical, humorous acceptance of the misfortunes of life, summed up by the familiar phrase ah "sure, it could be worse".

Source: Why do the Irish? by Fiana Griffin

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again.
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Irish blessing

Monday, 17 April 2017


The Bonds walking across Cathair na Gaillimhe
Gaillimh or Galway is a city in the West of Ireland in the province of Connacht

Galway City Council is the local authority for the city. Galway lies on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay and is surrounded by County Galway. It is the fourth most populous urban area in the Republic of Ireland and the sixth most populous city in the island of Ireland.

The city's name is from the Irish name for Abhainn na Gaillimhe, which formed the western boundary of the earliest settlement, Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe, Fort at the mouth of the Gaillimh

More information: Galway Tourism

Historically, the name was Anglicised as Galliv, which is closer to the Irish pronunciation as is the city's name in Latin, Galvia.

The city also bears the nickname Cathair na dTreabh, The City of the Tribes, because of the fourteen merchant families called the tribes of Galway led the city in its Hiberno-Norman period. The term tribes was a derogatory one, because the merchants saw themselves as Anglo-Irish and were loyal to the King during the English Civil War. They later adopted the term as a badge of honour and pride in defiance of the town's Cromwellian occupier.

The Bonds visiting Cathair na Gaillimhe at night
Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe was constructed in 1124, by the King of Connacht, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair (1088–1156).

Eventually, a small settlement grew up around this fort. During the Norman invasion of Connacht in the 1230s, Galway fort was captured by Richard Mor de Burgh, who had led the invasion. 

As the de Burghs eventually became Gaelicised, the merchants of the town, the Tribes of Galway, pushed for greater control over the walled city.

This led to their gaining complete control over the city and to the granting of mayoral status by the English crown in December 1484. Galway endured difficult relations with its Irish neighbours. A notice over the west gate of the city, completed in 1562 by Mayor Thomas Óge Martyn, stated From the Ferocious O'Flahertys may God protect us. A by-law forbade the native Irish, as opposed to Galway's Hiberno-Norman citizens, unrestricted access into Galway, saying neither O’ nor Mac shall strutte nor swagger through the streets of Galway without permission. 

During the Middle Ages, Galway was ruled by an oligarchy of fourteen merchant families, twelve who claimed to be of Norman origin and two of Irish origin. These were the The Tribes of Galway

During the 16th and 17th centuries Galway remained loyal to the English crown for the most part, even during the Gaelic resurgence, perhaps for reasons of survival. However, by 1642 the city had allied itself with the Catholic Confederation of Kilkenny during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. During the resulting Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, Cromwellian forces captured the city after a nine-month siege. At the end of the 17th century the city supported the Jacobites in the Williamite war in Ireland and was captured by the Williamites after a very short siege not long after the Battle of Aughrim in 1691. The great families of Galway were ruined. 

The city suffered further under the Potato Famines of 1845–1852, and it did not fully recover until the period of strong economic growth of the late 20th century.

 If her hair was black and her eyes were blue,
I've traveled around I've been all over this world.
Boys I ain't never seen nothin' like a Galway girl.

Steve Earle

Sunday, 16 April 2017


The Bonds in Corcaigh
Corcaigh or Cork, means marsh, is a city in Ireland, located in the South-West Region, in the province of Munster. It is the second largest city in the state and the third most populous on the island of Ireland. 

The city is built on the River Lee which splits into two channels at the western end of the city; the city centre is divided by these channels. They reconverge at the eastern end where the quays and docks along the river banks lead outwards towards Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour, one of the world's largest natural harbours.

The city's cognomen of the rebel city originates in its support for the Yorkist cause during the English 15th century Wars of the Roses. Corkonians often refer to the city as the real capital in reference to the city's role as the centre of anti-treaty forces during the Irish Civil War.

More information: Cork

Cork was originally a monastic settlement, reputedly founded by Saint Finbarr in the 6th century. Cork achieved an urban character at some point between 915 and 922 when Norseman (Viking) settlers founded a trading port. It has been proposed that, like Dublin, Cork was an important trading centre in the global Scandinavian trade network. 

The Bonds in the Black Rock Castle Observatory
The ecclesiastical settlement continued alongside the Viking longphort, with the two developing a type of symbiotic relationship; the Norsemen providing otherwise unobtainable trade goods for the monastery, and perhaps also military aid. 

The city's charter was granted by Prince John, as Lord of Ireland, in 1185. It suffered a severe blow in 1349 when almost half the townspeople died of plague when the Black Death arrived in the town. In 1491, Cork played a part in the English Wars of the Roses when Perkin Warbeck a pretender to the English throne, landed in the city and tried to recruit support for a plot to overthrow Henry VII of England. The then mayor of Cork and several important citizens went with Warbeck to England but when the rebellion collapsed they were all captured and executed. The title of Mayor of Cork was established by royal charter in 1318, and the title was changed to Lord Mayor in 1900 following the knighthood of the incumbent Mayor by Queen Victoria on her Royal visit to the city.

Since the nineteenth century, Cork had been a strongly Irish nationalist city, with widespread support for Irish Home Rule and the Irish Parliamentary Party, but from 1910 stood firmly behind William O'Brien's dissident All-for-Ireland Party. O'Brien published a third local newspaper, the Cork Free Press.

In the War of Independence, the centre of Cork was burnt down by the British
Black and Tans, and saw fierce fighting between Irish guerrillas and UK forces. During the Irish Civil War, Cork was for a time held by anti-Treaty forces, until it was retaken by the pro-Treaty National Army in an attack from the sea.

More information: Cork Guide

Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. 
Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, 
but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, 
a possession for all eternity. 

Oscar Wilde

Saturday, 15 April 2017


The Bonds in Ross Castle, Killarney
Cill Airne or Killarney, meaning church of sloes, is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The town is on the northeastern shore of Lough Leane, part of Killarney National Park, and is home to St Mary's Cathedral, Ross Castle, Muckross House and Abbey, the Lakes of Killarney, MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Purple Mountain, Mangerton Mountain, the Gap of Dunloe and Torc Waterfall. Its natural heritage, history and location on the Ring of Kerry make Killarney a popular tourist destination.

Killarney has featured prominently in early Irish history, with religious settlements playing an important part of its recorded history.

Inis Faithlinn, meaning  Faithlinn's island is an island in Lough Leane; one of the three Lakes of Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland. It is home to the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey, one of the most impressive archaeological remains dating from the early Christian period found in the Killarney National Park. The monastery was founded in 640 by St. Finian the Leper, and was occupied for approximately 850 years. Over a period of about 300 of these, the monks wrote the Annals of Innisfallen, which chronicle the early history of Ireland as it was known to the monks. The monks were dispossessed of the abbey on 18 August 1594, by Elizabeth I.
The Bonds in Standing stones, Killarney
The location of the monastery on the island is thought to have given rise to the name Loch Léin, which means Lake of Learning. According to tradition the Irish High King Brian Boru received his education at Innisfallen under Maelsuthain O'Carroll. Maelsuthain has been credited as the possible originator of the Annals.

Aghadoe, the local townland which overlooks present day Killarney, may have begun as a pagan religious site. The site has also been associated with the 5th century missionary St. Abban, but 7th century ogham stones mark the first clear evidence of Aghadoe being used as an important site. According to legend, St. Finian founded a monastery at Aghadoe in the 6th or 7th century. The first written record of a monastery dates from 939 AD in the Annals of Innisfallen where the Aghadoe monastery is referred to as the Old Abbey.

Saint Mary's Cathedral, Killarney
Following the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, the Normans built Parkavonear Castle, also at Aghadoe. The castle was perhaps intended as an early warning outpost due to its views of the entire Killarney valley and lakes region.

Ross Castle was built on the lake shore in the late 15th century by local ruling clan the O'Donoghues Mor, Ross. Ownership of the castle changed hands during the Desmond Rebellions of the 1580s to the Mac Carty Mor.

Muckross Abbey was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor. The abbey was burned down by Cromwellian forces under General Ludlow in 1654, and today remains a ruin.

Killarney was heavily involved in the Irish War of Independence. The town, and indeed the entire county, had strong republican ties, and skirmishes with the British forces happened on a regular basis. The Great Southern Hotel, now renamed as the Malton Hotel was for a while taken over by the British, both as an office and barracks, and to protect the neighbouring railway station. One notable event during the war was the Headford Ambush when the IRA attacked a railway train a few miles from town.

More information: Vacation Killarney

Yes: I am a dreamer. 
For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and 
his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Oscar Wilde