Tagged: Eire

Same-sex marriage wins in Ireland referendum 62% to 38%

This would have been “Pic of the day” except that I wanted to make the point this beautiful mural was an effort in support of the YES vote in Ireland for same-sex marriage. Good news all round.

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Artist Joe Caslin completed the 45ft tall installation over the weekend after stirring debate in Dublin with a similar work showing a gay couple hugging.

Port na bPúcaí

The lovely Irish folk tune Port na bPúcaí (The Music of the Fairies) had mystical beginnings and it’™s said that the people of the Blasket Islands heard ethereal music and wrote an air to match it, hoping to placate unhappy spirits. Seamus Heaney’s poem The Given Note tells of a fiddler who took the song out of wind off mid-Atlantic:

Strange noises were heard
By others who followed, bits of a tune
Coming in on loud weather
Though nothing like melody.

Recent research suggests that, rather than fairies, the islanders may have been hearing the songs of whales transmitted through the canvas hulls of their fishing boats. Humpback whales pass through Irish waters each winter as they migrate south from the North Atlantic, and their songs seem to resemble the folk tune.

Ronan Browne, who plays the air above on Irish pipes, writes, In the mid 1990s I went rooting through some cassettes of whale song and there in the middle of the Orca (Killer Whale) section I heard the opening notes of Port na bPúcaí!”…

Thanks, Ursarodinia

A good day to remember the trade in Irish slaves

The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle…

…In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end it’s participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.

Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories.

I’ve a few personal contacts in my life of the cruelty of Imperial England and how they “relocated” Celtic people who were in the way of their landed aristocracy. John Connell, the main builder of Wester Ross cycle frames in Scotland and Yorkshire was descended from one of those Irish lads sent by Cromwell to Jamaica. He and I worked together in the 1970’s.

My own family came to North America via slave ship in 1851 from the island of South Uist. Not being a cargo as profitable as slaves they didn’t need to be treated as “well”. A third of those transported died at sea. Almost another third died that winter after being dropped on the coast of Nova Scotia in November.

RTFA for details of this part of the slave trade. It will be what you expect.

Thanks, Mike

Dispute over chess move ends with murder and cannibalism

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An Italian man was arrested in Dublin on Sunday and charged with killing his Irish landlord and attempting to eat his heart after an argument about a game of chess.

Police said that 34-year-old Saverio Bellante admitted to killing Tom O’Gorman, 39.

O’Gormans body had been stabbed dozens of times and his chest cavity was opened up. Although the heart was still in his body, a lung was missing…

“The victim’s heart was intact but the post-mortem confirms that a lung was removed from the body and has not been located,” the source said. “The investigation is following a definite line of inquiry.”

At his arraignment on Monday, Bellante requested to represent himself and offered no plea. According to Det. Patrick Traynor, when Bellante was charged with murder, he replied: “I am guilty.”

The argument allegedly occurred over a move in a chess game that Bellante and O’Gorman had been playing for a year.

This blog and those involved with its production are all friendly to the discipline, skill and history of chess. At least one of us is damned good. It ain’t me.

We all understand that things like this can happen. They also happen between people watching telenovellas. We don’t approve of either circumstance allowed to descend into violence. :)

Yes – weird science can be interesting

This one is simply titled “Belly button cheese”

We’re no strangers to unusual food here at Gizmag, but this latest culinary masterpiece is probably the most unappealing treat we’ve yet come across. Dubbed Selfmade, the cheese in question is made from human bacteria which derives from samples taken from people’s armpits, toes, and noses.

The Selfmade cheese is the work of scientist Christina Agapakis and scent expert Sissel Tolaas, and is being exhibited as part of the Grow Your Own … Life After Nature exhibit, at Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery. The exhibit also features other projects which blur the line between art and science, such as I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin: a project proposing that future humans give birth to dolphins.

Each Selfmade cheese is created from cultures taken from the skin of a different person, and the process involves a strange combination of food preparation and microbiological techniques. This results in signature cheeses which are unique to each person – such as a “Christina” cheese, and “Ben” cheese, for example.

However, if the image of human bacteria-based cheese is making you salivate, be aware that the human cheese isn’t actually available for human consumption, but is rather intended as a means of promoting discourse on microbiology.

Our readers in Eire can wander by Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery. The signature cheeses will be on display until January 19, 2014.

No one’s offered any recipes using the self-made fermentations, yet. No doubt one or another of the purportedly avant-garde element in posh urbane restaurants will want to give it a try.

Backlog for godless wedding services in Ireland

Brandan Hastings, Suzy Addis after their Humanist wedding in Slane

Traditionally Catholic Ireland has allowed an atheist group to perform weddings this year for the first time, and the few people certified to celebrate them are overwhelmed by hundreds of couples seeking their services.

Demand for the Humanist Association of Ireland’s secular weddings has surged as the moral authority of the once almighty Catholic Church collapsed in recent decades amid sex abuse scandals and Irish society’s rapid secularization.

Until now, those who did not want a religious wedding could have only civil ceremonies. Outside of the registrar’s office, only clergy were permitted to perform weddings.

But statistics show rising demand for non-Church weddings. In 1996, 90 percent of Irish weddings were performed by the Catholic Church or the Church of Ireland. But by 2010 that percentage had fallen to 69 percent.

The pent-up demand from those who want more than a civil ceremony in a registry office but reject a religious wedding has created a major backlog for the humanist group’s ceremonies director.

Brian Whiteside, initially the only humanist “solemnizer” certified to legally marry couples, was already booked well into next year when the civil registry office agreed in late June to approve 10 others, taking some of the pressure off him.

It remains very, very busy,” Whiteside said. “We’re all finding it difficult to keep up with the inquiries. We had 595 new inquiries in the first three months of this year, which in a little country like Ireland is quite a few.”

With all the din made by official religious sources opposing everything from abortions that save lives to civil rights for LGBT couples you might think the wave of progressive sociology and philosophy growing throughout the educated world might have skipped over Ireland.

I’m pleased to see that’s not so. And, then, there’s the United States.

Green light given for GM potatoes test in Ireland

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given the go-ahead for a genetically modified blight-resistant potato crop to be tested on lands in County Carlow…Two hectares will be planted over the next four years to assess how the GM potatoes cope with less fungicidal spray than conventional varieties.

The agency said scientists will continue to monitor the land, run by Teagasc, at Oak Park in the county, for four years after the trial.

Opponents of GM now have a three month window to lodge a judicial review of the licence.

The trials will be subject to strict conditions with regular monitoring and reporting to the EPA. The trial sites will also be checked for compliance with the licence conditions on a regular basis by the EPA,” the agency said.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the Department of Agriculture and the National Advisory Committee on Genetically Modified Organisms and 83 representations from interested parties were consulted before the consent was granted…

GM blight-resistant potato crops have been tested in three locations in the Netherlands with no unforeseen effects on biodiversity compared to conventional crops. Tests are also being carried out in Belgium and the UK.

The EPA said the potato blight study will assess the impact of GM potato cultivation on bacterial, fungal and worm diversity in the soil. It will also identify integrated pest management strategies and components which could be positively or negatively affected by the adoption of GM late blight resistant potato…

New blight strains have emerged producing a spore which can survive winter. It returns to attack crops the following spring. Farmers are resorting to increased quantities of chemicals to control the disease. Teagasc calculates annual losses from this fungus at €15 million a year.

Increased chemical treatment is one of the sad alternatives in nations when and where Luddites succeed in preventing even minimal testing of GM crops. Anti-science is not a reasonable alternative to good science.

Twitter finds the dog that took the commuter train to Dublin

Deidre Anglin and Patch

Irish Rail sent a “Lost dog!” tweet with a photo attachment after the Jack Russell terrier arrived with Wednesday morning commuters on a train from rural Kilcock, County Kildare, an hour’s ride away.

After more than 500 retweets in just 32 minutes, the photo found Patch’s owner, Deirdre Anglin, who tweeted the state railway: “That’s my dog!”

The episode underscored the ubiquitous use of mobile-friendly social media sites in Ireland, a tech-savvy corner of Europe where cell phones were the norm long before they were in the United States.

…After Patch waltzed on to the 6:49 a.m. commuter train in Kilcock the alarm was sounded…Rail workers on board dubbed the dog Checker, joking he might be trained to inspect people’s tickets, as commuters took turns petting the friendly dog. They turned him over to Pearse Street station staff on the train’s final stop in the heart of the capital, when it became clear the dog had no owner on board…

Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny described Twitter as offering the ideal platform for launching a nationwide appeal for the lost dog. And he said some staff at Pearse Station wished it hadn’t worked so well…”It was good she showed up so quickly, because the staff in the office were getting quite attached to him,” Kenny said.

Anglin said she was particularly pleased that Irish Rail posted Patch’s photo on Twitter and noted that the rapid retweets by other users to their own followers ensured that, soon, the alert reached her.

A happy ending to the sort of human/dog story that might have taken weeks and months to resolve before the Web.

McGuinness makes history with a handshake of the British monarch

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II shook hands Wednesday with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness in a historic gesture marking a giant step forward in the peace process relating to British rule of Northern Ireland…The handshake came 14 years after the end of a conflict that claimed about 3,500 lives, including that of the queen’s cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten in an IRA bombing.

McGuinness spoke to the queen in Irish as they clasped hands and made eye contact for several seconds in the ground-breaking public part of the event.

“Goodbye and godspeed,” McGuinness said, translating his comment for the queen. She smiled throughout the encounter but did not speak. The handshake followed a brief private meeting at which McGuinness told the queen their meeting was a powerful signal that peace-building requires leadership, his party…

He emphasized the need to acknowledge the pain of all victims of the conflict and their families, Sinn Fein said…

“It went good, it went really well,” McGuinness said afterwards, adding he is “still a republican” who opposes British rule of Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams welcomed what he called a “historic meeting,” saying that “all in all, it’s a good day for Ireland and a good day for the people of these islands.”

Speaking outside the Irish parliament, he said: “It brings our journey of relationship building within this island and between these islands onto a new plane. I would to think we will build upon that.”

Sith gun robh so.

Ireland votes to approve EU fiscal plan

Ireland has ratified the EU fiscal pact, providing some cheer for European leaders amid the eurozone crisis.

A clear 60-40 vote by the only electorate in Europe allowed to have its say on the treaty backed the EU reform programme aimed at imposing budget discipline on all 27 states of the union.

The Irish Republic’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, last night described the outcome of the referendum as a “stepping stone on the road to Ireland’s recovery” and called on fellow Europeans to help his country deal with the billions of euros of debt that was still crippling the Irish economy.

Despite four years of recession, anger over austerity budgets and fears over low turnout, Kenny’s Fine Gael and his Irish Labour party coalition partners won a yes vote with 60.3% of the electorate supporting the treaty and 39.7% voting against…

He said he had spoken to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other EU leaders including the European council president Herman Van Rompuyabout the pain the Irish people were enduring as the government tried to restore the nation’s finances. “Europe’s banking sector needs a comprehensive solution and Ireland’s banking debt must form part of that solution. Europe badly needs a success story and Ireland can provide that success story if the right and proper framework is put in place,” Kenny said.

The vote was carried for the yes side mainly by the urban middle class and the country’s farmers, the latter being traditionally pro-Europe thanks to the largesse of the common agricultural policy. Rural constituencies with large farming communities voted strongly in favour of the treaty…

Fianna Fáil, the opposition party which backed the government’s call for a yes vote, accepted that the Irish people had reluctantly backed the treaty, fearing isolation and exclusion from emergency funds should the republic need a second bailout. Darragh O’Brien, leader of Fianna Fáil in Ireland’s second chamber, the senate, described it as a “grudging, pragmatic vote“.

Not a lot wrong with making pragmatic decisions whilst trudging out of the bowels of the worst economic disaster since World war 2. When people are back on their feet, jobs are easier to find, national treasuries are fit and up to standard – there will be plenty of time for sectarian confrontation. That the nation of Ireland is capable of coming together in times of need is in stark contrast to the conservative bombast inhibiting for-real unity in London and Washington, DC.