RIHA Standard Banner Style 3
Skip Navigation Links
Quilts For Comfort
Irish Central News
Dolores O’Riordan seemed “full of life” just hours before she was found

Cranberries singer who had suffered throughout her life with depression was found dead in London on Monday morning.

Dolores O’Riordan, who passed away aged 46 on Monday, was “full of life” just hours before her death as her sudden death remains “unexplained”.

O’Riordan, the front woman of the hugely successful The Cranberries, who was originally from Limerick, was staying in London to begin recording with the band Bad Wolves today (Tuesday). She was found in a room of the Hilton London at 9.05am.

She is survived by her husband, Don Burton, her three children, Molly, Taylor and Dakota and her step-son, Donnie, along with her mother Eileen and her six siblings. As yet, the police have not released details of her death.

Read more: Best Cranberries songs to listen to as we mourn Dolores O'Riordan

In the early hours of Monday morning O’Riordan left a voicemail message for Dan Waite, the Managing Director of the music label, Eleven Seven. He told People Magazine “Dolores left me a voice message just after midnight last night stating how much she loved Bad Wolves’ version of Zombie. She was looking forward to seeing me in the studio and recording vocals."

Waite continued: "She sounded full of life, was joking and excited to see me and my wife this week. The news of her passing is devastating.”

Battle with mental health issues

The international renowned singer, originally from Ballybricken, in east County Limerick, suffered with depression throughout her career. In 2013, she attempted to take her life. In 2015, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Over the years she spoke openly about her battles with eating disorders, alcoholism, and living with the sexual abuse she endured when she was a “little girl”.

In February 2016 O’Riordan was convicted for assault at an aiport. She was ordered to pay $7,339 (€6,000) headbutting, kicking, hitting and spitting on police officers following an alleged air rage incident on a flight.

On November 10 2014, she was also removed from an Aer Lingus flight from New York's JFK to Ireland. Medical reports produced for the trial at Ennis District Court revealed she had been suffering from mania, mental illness and severely impaired judgment at the time of the incident, and that she remembered nothing about it.

Speaking to the Metro newspaper in 2017 about her battle with mental illness O’Riordan said “There are two ends of the spectrum - you can get extremely depressed and dark and lose interest in the things you love to do, then you can get super manic.

“I was at the hypomanic side of the spectrum on and off for a long period but generally you can only last at that end for around three months before you hit rock bottom and go down into depression.

“When you're manic you don't sleep and get very paranoid. So I'm dealing with it with medication.”

The entertainment website TMZ reported that friends of the singer said she was “dreadfully depressed” in the weeks before her death.

O’Riordan had been suffering from back pain during 2017, which had forced her to cancel several gigs. In July, The Cranberries released a statement saying: "Her doctors have now instructed her to cancel her upcoming almost sold out tour of North America with the band," adding that the recovery "has not been going as well as expected."

However, today (Tues Jan 16) O’Riordan was set to begin recording with the Californian rock band, Bad Wolves, ahead of the release of their debut album in spring. They planned to cover the 1994 Cranberries hit, “Zombie”.

Tributes poured out for the beloved Limerick talent

The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins led tributes to the singer, saying: “It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Dolores O'Riordan, musician, singer and songwriter.

“Dolores O'Riordan and The Cranberries had an immense influence on rock and pop music in Ireland and internationally.

“I recall with fondness the late Limerick TD Jim Kemmy's introduction of her and The Cranberries to me, and the pride he and so many others took in their successes.

“To all those who follow and support Irish music, Irish musicians and the performing arts her death will be a big loss.”

Hometown funeral confirmed

O’Riordan’s hometown parish priest has confirmed that her funeral will take place in Ireland, where she will be buried.

Father James Walton, of the Ballybricken and Bohermore Parish, told the Daily Mail “I only found out this afternoon. Her family is very devastated and upset.

“The suddenness of her death has been a shock. I met Dolores two or three times when she was home visiting family. She was a lovely lady. Her family are still waiting for more details to come from London about her death.

“The plan is for her to be buried here at home. When that will be will depend on when her body is released.”

A book of condolence will be opened at Limerick City and County Council at Merchant's Quay.

Tribute to Dolores O’Riordan

Beloved Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of popular Irish band The Cranberries, died suddenly in London aged 46. http://irsh.us/2r98Kuv

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Monday, January 15, 2018
WOW Air sale sees flights from the USA to Ireland from $90

Travel from the US with these amazing cheap flights to Ireland between January and April 2018.

Our summer vacation seems a long way away but with thanks to a ginormous new sale from WOW Air, our Spring travel plans look an awful lot more exciting. With incredibly cheap flights between Ireland and the US, including a little stop off in Iceland, we could be jetting back to the Emerald Isle or inviting our friends to come visit us stateside for as little as $120 one-way.

In a limited time offer, the Icelandic airline is offering Irish passengers flights from eight destinations in the US and Canada for $89.99 one-way (plus baggage and booking fees) between January 18 and April 24, 2018. Take off from either Newark (EWR), Boston (BOS), San Francisco (SFO), Chicago (ORD), Washington DC (BWI), Pittsburgh (PIT), Toronto (YYZ) and Montréal (YUL) within the next four months, joining the growing thousands of passengers taking the Reykjavik stopover.

Read more: Why you should visit Ireland with WOW Air and Cork Airport

Travel on WOW Air for super cheap flights between Ireland and the US.

For passengers originating Ireland, flights are slightly more expensive but still not bank-breaking at around $120 one-way (€99.99).

“WOW air’s January sale will give Irish passengers the chance to visit some of North America’s most popular destinations in comfort and a low price,” said Skúli Mogensen, CEO and Founder of WOW air.

WOW Air saw a remarkable 69% increase in passengers last year, rising to 2.8 million. The airline is hoping to see a continued increase in its passengers throughout 2018 with its fleet expanding to a total of 24 aircraft.

Read more: Doing Ireland on the cheap - how to see it all and save a fortune

Find yourself in a pub in Temple Bar, Dublin, for next to nothing with WOW Air. Image: iStock.

“WOW air continues to undergo strong growth. Last year, we carried more passengers than ever before,” Mogensen continued.

“We expect 2018 to be an even better year as we expand and modernise our fleet, and open up six new routes to North America.”

Read more: What is the cheapest way to visit Ireland? Here it is.

The airline currently offers travel from Reykjavik to ten North American destinations including New York (Newark), Boston, Washington DC, Toronto, Montréal, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Chicago with further routes to New York (JFK), Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St Louis and Dallas are expected to start later in 2018.   

WOW air first launched their Dublin to US option in June 2015,  changing the game for low-cost transatlantic travel. It now operates daily flights from Dublin to Reykjavik.

Have you traveled between Ireland and the US with WOW Air? What did you make of the experience. 

Hollywood is great and all, but Tom Vaughan Lawlor misses the 'craic' of Love/Hate

Tom Vaughan Lawlor's role as kingpin Nidge on gangland drama "Love/Hate" may have helped him break America, but now that he's there, he hasn't forgotten his roots.

The grass isn't always greener you know - even in the Hollywood Hills.

The 41-year-old actor recently landed the role of villain Ebony Maw in Marvel's upcoming "Avengers: Infinity War" blockbuster, which no doubt will be a career defining role.

The Dubliner told TV Now that he sometimes longs for the days spent on the Love/Hate set with fellow Irish thesps.   

“It was an amazing experience. I do miss it. It was exhausting," he told the publication.

“What I miss about it isn’t the reaction – although that was wonderful and gave us great pleasure to see how people enjoyed it – what I miss most is being on set with all of those people. It was such a laugh,” he added.

The dad-of-one said he still keeps in contact with many of the cast.

 “I still see a lot of them. We’re all in various parts of the world doing different things but we’re always in contact and meet up whenever we can. It was a very special time.”

Indeed, they certainly are in all parts of the world doing different things. Ruth Negga, who appeared as Rosie in earlier seasons, received an Oscar nomination last year for her turn in "Loving". Barry Keoghan, who infamously played the teenage assassin who killed the cat, has also been tipped for greatness after roles in "Dunkirk" and "Killing of a Sacred Deer".

Ruth x Louis Vuitton #meganegga

A post shared by Karla Welch (@karlawelchstylist) on

Meanwhile, show alums Killian Scott, Brian Gleeson, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Peter Coonan, Charlie Murphy, and Robert Sheehan are all busy working on respective big screen projects and tv miniseries.

Who was your favorite character on the show? Let us know, below.

U2 release 2018 tour dates for US & Europe - and additional Dublin and Belfast gigs

Iconic Irish rockers U2 will play 'special' homecoming gigs this year.

The band have confirmed they will kick of the European leg of their eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour on August 31st.

The tour, a sequel to the 2015 jaunt of the same name, will hit Dublin and Belfast, along with venues in Germany, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and France.

Dates and venues have been announced for most major European cities, while plans for the Irish 'homecoming' gigs are still being finalized.

The tour, which was named as the number one concert of 2015 by The New York Times, will also tour the US beginning on May 2nd. It will kick off in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the BOK Centre.

The new tour, following the release of the chart-topping Songs of Experience, a companion piece to 2014’s Songs of Innocence, is a sequel to the 2015 tour, named #1 concert of 2015 by The New York Times.

Read More: Bono on equality: "nowhere on earth do women have the same opportunity as men"

U2.com subscribers will be given first access for a pre-sale beginning Thursday January 18th at 10am.

Share your story on America’s largest Irish website

Do you have a story you’d like to share with the Irish community? Become a contributor to IrishCentral

Do you have a story you want to share with the Irish community? We want to hear from you!

IrishCentral is America’s largest Irish website - with 4 million readers, 1 million social readers and 375k+ newsletter subscribers – and we want to share your story with our community.

The Irish have the gift of the gab and love nothing more than a good story and we want to help tell yours.

Perhaps you know of a big Irish event or community group in your area that could use more exposure?

Have you or your family delved into your Irish roots and made surprising genealogical discoveries?

Do you know an Irish group engaging in crowdfunding for a worthy cause?

Or perhaps you’d like to share a short article on traveling in Ireland, Irish food and drink, Irish dance, or anything you think might be a bit of “craic”!

Simply click on the link below and give us an idea of what your IrishCentral story (between 500 and 1,000 words) will be.

We can’t wait to hear from you. Get writing!

Become an IrishCentral contributor here

Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Day Lewis' sons take to catwalk for Dolce &Gabbana

The sons of A-list Irish actors Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Day-Lewis showed off their fashionable prowess as they walked during Milan Fashion Week.

Star power evidently runs in these families.

Paris Brosnan, 16-year-old son of former James Bond star Pierce, made his debut for the Italian design duo. The aspiring model walked alongside celebrity offspring Christian Combes (who calls rapper P-Diddy his actual daddy) and Jude Law's boy Rafferty.

The teen, Pierse's son with American journalist Keely Shaye Smith,  is signed to Next Models. His older brother Dylan notably modeled for Saint Laurent in the past.

Happy Dad Day, I love ya father💚

A post shared by 310 ༜ 808 (@paris.brosnan) on

Meanwhile, Daniel Day-Lewis' son Gabriel Kane took to the catwalk with ease. He previously walked for the label, alongside fellow 'it-boys' Dylan Jagger Lee and Brandon Thomas Lee (sons of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee).

The 22-year-old is no stranger to the limelight, counting singer, songwriter, actor, and model among his talents.

The heavily tattooed youth is signed to IMG models and is based in New York City.

Do you think social media influencers are replacing regular catwalk models? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Future of 2,500-year-old Irish fort uncertain after parts fall into sea

Part of the historic Dunbeg fort’s stone doorway has collapsed into the Atlantic Ocean after severe damage during Storm Eleanor.

The Dunbeg fort, located near the Dingle Peninsula, was battered once again during recent freak weather conditions.

According to The Irish Times, the future of the historic monument is now uncertain due to multiple years of significant damage.

The Office of Public Works will carry out an inspection before the end of the month to consider what can be done to preserve the historic stone work from subsequent damage.

Most recently, damage post-Storm Eleanor caused the fort’s stone doorway and 10 meters of its defense wall to collapse into the sea. The pathway leading to the site was also been damaged.

WATCH: Terrifying flooding as Storm Eleanor hits Ireland

The 2,500-year-old fort on the Slea Head drive in west Kerry dates back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. 

Back in 2014, a significant part of the monument’s western wall also fell into the sea and the site was briefly closed to the public.

Irish woman dies trying to save her dog from oncoming train

An Irish woman died after she tried to rescue her dog from an oncoming train in Co Mayo.

An inquest heard that 70-year-old Bridget McHale’s dog Prince had laid down on the rail tracks and refused to move.

“When I blew the hooter the dog moved away from the train onto the tracks and lay down,” train driver, Jonathan Hopkins, told gardaí (Irish police) afterwards. Hearing the Ballina bound train on its way, McHale desperately tried to move her pet away from the danger to no avail.

Read More: Miracle as tragedy avoided in Dublin-Belfast rail line collapse

Hopkins applied the brakes but the train was still moving when it reached McHale who was crouched over Prince, still trying to move him.

Castlebar Coroner's Court heard that she died immediately upon impact and that none of the train’s passengers were hurt or witnessed the collision.

McHale’s husband, James, did not attend the inquest but a statement was read on his behalf afterward that the pair had both been out dancing the night before in Swinford and that it had been a “great night”. The following morning his wife had read the papers, done the crossword and left “in great spirits” to walk Prince at 10.30am.

Read More: Dublin woman cheats death in Philadelphia train crash

They had been married for 51 years and the Coroner Patrick O’Conor extended his sympathies to McHale for his “heartbreaking” loss.

He also extended his sympathy to train driver Jonathan Hopkins for undergoing such an upsetting ordeal.  

H/T: Irish Mirror

Johnny Depp and Bono among international guests at Pogues’ Shane McGowan’s birthday gig

Stars certainly aligned for the 60th birthday party of Pogues’ singer and songwriter at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, including Ireland's President, Sinead O'Connor and more.

MacGowan joined the Pogues in 1982 and the single “Fairytale of New York” made him a global iconic and Irish music royalty. And for all that, perhaps the most famous guest of them all, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins presented MacGowan with a lifetime achievement awards to cheers and applause.

The Pogues' front man Shane MacGowan.

Among those applauding were Bono, Johnny Depp, Sinéad O’Connor, trad queen Sharon Shannon, Cait O’Riordain,  Steve Wickham of the Waterboys and Carl Barat from the Libertines. And what’s a party full to the brim of musicians without a good sing-along?

Despite it being well into January there was of course rendition of Fairytale of New York.

Depp and Bono took to the stage to perform Rainy Night in Soho and Sinéad O’Connor appeared from seemingly nowhere to sing You’re The One.

Tributes were paid to Limerick musician Dolores O'Riordan who passed away suddenly at the age of 46.

Read More: Dolores O’Riordan seemed “full of life” just hours before she was found

To close the night a rendition of Happy Birthday was sung. In the words of Irish Times reporter Patrick Freyne, “all his guests surround him and if a bomb went off that would be it for the Irish music scene.”

LA’s oldest Irish bar Tom Bergin’s to close after 81 years in business

Tom Bergin’s pub, which holds one of the oldest liquor licenses in America, is closing up shop.

Los Angeles-based patrons will need to find somewhere else to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, as the city says goodbye to its most iconic Irish bar.

Owner Derek Schreck posted a tearful goodbye via the TomBerginsLA Instagram account today. The pub will be fondly remembered for its horseshoe-shaped bar, traditional Irish fry-up breakfast, and its 'famous' Tullamore Dew Irish coffee. 

 

The bar also proudly claims one of America’s oldest liquor licenses, dating back to 1935. Schreck is the latest owner of the bar, responsible for re-opening the watering hole in 2013 after a brief shuttering in 2012.

Read More: Hamilton star led fight to save beloved Irish pub in New York

According to Eater LA, Schreck is credited with stepping up the bar’s offerings - adding more fast casual food options and opening an exclusive whiskey speakeasy lounge called Vestry.

Announcing the closure, Schreck wrote, “It is with heavy hearts that we reach out to you today to announce that on Sunday, January 21st, Tom Bergin’s will close its doors. It has been a decision that has proved itself almost impossible to reach, and the culmination of deliberation and grief.”

The post can be read in its entirety below.

Dear patrons and revelers, family and friends, of Tom Bergin’s Public House, It is with heavy hearts that we reach out to you today to announce that starting Sunday, January, 21st, Tom Bergin’s will close for “regular business,” and remain operating on a limited schedule until further notice. It has been a decision that has proved itself almost impossible to reach, and the culmination of deliberation and grief. Five years ago we embarked on a beautiful and ambitious journey to carry on the legendary traditions of one of LA’s most iconic establishments; a journey with formidable hurdles and soaring success. We built LA's biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration; witnessed LA Rams Football’s controversial return to our city; and cut the ribbon on Vestry, a private speakeasy and lounge. However, we face harsh realities of the demands of both our little Irish cottage here, and also the marketplace at large. Therefore, in preparation, for the remainder of this week we will offer food and bar service during shortened hours until we are unable to offer our full menu. Sunday, January 21st, will be our last day of regular business. Then we'll remain on an abbreviated weekly schedule until all this beautiful booze gets sufficiently drank: join us Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, from 5pm to midnight til it's gone, at which point, we'll make the last call of last calls, bid you all goodnight, and shut our door for the last time. To all of you who have made Tom Bergin’s the unique and significant institution it is, it has been our pleasure to serve you. We offer you our sincerest and warmest thanks, and many, many, many, many good tidings. Sláinte, Derek Schreck Owner & Proprietor and the management and staff of Tom Bergin’s Public House *** CLOSING BAR AND RESTAURANT SCHEDULE *until product runs out TUESDAY 1/16 - 5PM TO MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY 1/17 - 5PM TO MIDNIGHT THURSDAY 1/18 - 5PM TO MIDNIGHT FRIDAY 1/19 - 11AM TO MIDNIGHT SATURDAY 1/20 - 11AM TO MIDNIGHT SUNDAY 1/21 - 11AM TO 11PM CLOSING BAR SCHEDULE *until product runs out THURSDAYS - 5PM TO MIDNIGHT FRIDAYS - 5PM TO MIDNIGHT SATURDAY - 5PM TO MIDNIGHT

A post shared by Tom Bergin's (@tomberginsla) on

It's been a tough time for Irish bars recently. Do you have a favorite pub in your US city? Let us know in the comments section below. 

China announces plans to plant a forest the size of Ireland
Cranberries sales jump by over 900,000 percent after Dolores O'Riordan’s death

News of Limerick star’s sudden tragic death sees Irish band dominate Amazon and Apple iTunes charts

The online sales of The Cranberries music has jumped by 900,000 percent since the band’s singer Dolores O’Riordan’s sudden death in London on Monday morning. The Irish band fronted by the tragic Limerick star saw the sales of their album “Something Else” surge to an increase in 913,350 percent in sales on Amazon.

O’Riordan’s tunes also occupy the top four slots for trending albums. This means a jump of 147,552 for "Are You Listening?", 93,781 percent for "To the Faithful Departed", and 77,096 percent "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee").

Similarly, on iTunes The Cranberries’ sales are skyrocketing. Their albums are in the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 9th spots on Apple’s Top 10 Albums chart.

Read more: Dolores O’Riordan seemed “full of life” just hours before she was found

The Cranberries lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan (46), had battled with mental health issues all her life. She was found death at the Hilton Hotel, in Park Lane, London on Monday morning at 9.05am. Friends who had heard from her the night before said she sounded “full of life” just after midnight on Monday.

The Limerick star was set to start recording with the Californian rock band, Bad Wolves, in London, on Tuesday (Jan 16).

The Cranberries was formed in Limerick in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn (later replaced by Dolores O'Riordan), guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. The band shot to fame in the 1990s with their debut album, “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?”, which became a commercial success. They sold over 40 million records worldwide.

The band achieved four top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (“Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?”, “No Need to Argue”, “To the Faithful Departed”, and “Bury the Hatchet”) and eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart ("Linger", "Dreams", "Zombie", "Ode to My Family", "Ridiculous Thoughts", "Salvation", "Free to Decide", and "Promises").

In early 2009, after a six-year hiatus, the Cranberries reunited and began a North American tour, followed by shows in Latin America and Europe. The band recorded their sixth album “Roses” in May 2011, and released it in February 2012. Something Else, an album covering earlier songs together with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, was released in April 2017.

Read more: Best Cranberries songs to listen to as we mourn Dolores O'Riordan

Tribute to Dolores O’Riordan

Beloved Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of popular Irish band The Cranberries, died suddenly in London aged 46. http://irsh.us/2r98Kuv

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Monday, 15 January 2018

 

Pregnant woman loses husband and home in tragic Boston fire

Dorchester community launches crowd funding efforts for Lisa Lennon who lost her husband and her home in devastating house fire.

A pregnant wife, Lisa Lennon, lost her husband  after a fire ripped through their home destroying it, in the neighborhood of Westwood, in Dorchester, Boston.

The fire engulfed their property within minutes. Emergency services were alerted thanks to the call of a passing neighbor and were at the scene within minutes.

Mike Lennon was pulled from the blaze and rushed to hospital. However, despite the best efforts of staff he passed away from his injuries.

The cause of the fire is being investigated but is currently not thought to be suspicious.

Now his wife, Lisa, is trying to rebuild her shattered life. She lost her husband and all of her possessions other than the clothes on her back and a car.

Read More: Long Island PhD student killed in tragic Limerick home fire

The local community is rallying to help her. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Lisa defray the funeral costs and buy necessities for her unborn daughter who is due in May. Many people have also donated pots, pans and maternity clothes. 

At the time of writing $52,800 has been raised to help her and counting. If you’d like to donate and help Lisa you can do so here.

Family of Japanese man murdered in Ireland release heartbreaking statement about how much he loved it

The family of Yosuke Sasaki, the young Japanese man murdered in Co Louth earlier this month, has released a statement saying how much he loved Ireland.

Sasaki, a 24-year-old call center worker, was stabbed in the back while walking from work on Wednesday, January 3.

The murder was part of a string of attacks by 18-year-old Egyptian native Mohamed Morei. Two young Irish men were also injured.

Read More: Potential terror links being investigated after fatal knife rampage in Co. Louth

A candlelight vigil was held around Dundalk Courthouse in memory of Saskai. The vigil was organized by members of Dundalk Municipal District.

In a statement sent out by the Embassy of Japan on their behalf, Sasaki’s family said: "We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the kindness the people of Ireland have shown.

"When he was alive, our son spoke about the warmth of the people of this town and his love of Dundalk.

"He came to Ireland initially as a language student and only intended a short stay. However, he was touched by the kindness of the Irish people and he decided to work here.

"As a family, we are truly saddened by what has happened, but we hope that this incident will not give Japanese people a bad impression of Ireland.

"We would like to give our heartfelt thanks to the ambulance personnel, the Gardaí, National Pen Limited, Mr. Oliver Morgan who set up the GoFundMe page, the staff of the Embassy of Japan, and the members of Louth County Council who organized tonight's candlelight vigil.

Read More: Louth accused possible terrorist had been denied asylum in the United Kingdom

"Finally, we hope that a tragic event like this one will never happen in this country again. The Sasaki Family."

The Embassy of Japan said it extends its "sincere gratitude to the members of the Irish public who have sent us messages expressing their condolences.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Yosuke Sasaki’s family repatriate his body to Japan.

 

H/T Irish Mirror

Cast your vote for the top Irish in Film & Television

Have your say! Which of the IrishCentral Creativity and Arts Awards nominees for the best Irish in Film & Television should be the winner?

Learn all about their extraordinary work below, and then head over to our voting portal to cast your vote. Want to attend the awards ceremony? Get your tickets here. Sponsors include TG4, Feile 30, Irish American Writers & Artists, Slane Irish Whiskey, American Irish Historical Society, and Irish Network USA. 

VOTE NOW and have your say!

Here’s a rundown of the nominees voted the cream of the crop in the category of “The Screen,” sponsored by Ireland’s Irish language TV station, TG4.

‘No Stone Unturned’ – Alex Gibney

"No Stone Unturned" director, Alex Gibney.

In ‘No Stone Unturned’ Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney turns his lens to collusion by state forces in the Loughinisland massacre, when six men watching the 1994 World Cup in a rural Irish pub were shot dead by a masked gunman.

It is with signature relentlessness that Gibney doggedly pursues the story of an alleged cover-up and collusion at the highest level of British police and governmental authority. His investigation should serve to bring this quest for truth and justice closer to a conclusion.

Irish American and native New Yorker Gibney is one of cinema’s most impactful documentary directors and is best known for tackling big stories such as the Enron scandal, Scientology, clerical sex abuse, and Al Qaeda.

Irish Screen America

Niall McKay and the Irish Screen America team.

Niall McKay and his team work tirelessly to promote the best of Irish film talent living and working in both the US and Ireland.

Irish Screen America was founded in 2011 by Irish filmmaker and producer Niall McKay with the mission to help Irish filmmakers build a community and gain more exposure in the United States.

The group, formerly known as Irish Film New York, now holds two film festivals, one in Los Angeles and one in New York. The festivals are held at New York University’s Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Film Center and the the American Cinematheque Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, respectively.

Irish Screen America also hold screenings, industry panels, discussions and master classes throughout the year.

‘Emerald City’ - Colin Broderick

Writer and director of "Emerald City", Colin Broderick.

Colin Broderick’s debut feature film finds a hard-working and hard-partying crew of Irish construction workers in New York who left Ireland in an era of closeted oppression and sectarian violence. These lovable, but no longer fresh-faced rogues, have spent their adult lives self-medicating against a past that is starting to catch up with them.

Each guy on the "Emerald City" crew is struggling with something: drinking, gambling, loss, the burden of a family legacy, and facing a city that doesn't need them anymore.

A native of County Tyrone, Broderick moved to New York City in 1988 and worked as a carpenter for 20 years. His debut movie comes from a place of experience. Broderick's drinking memoir, “Orangutan,” was published in 2009. This was followed by another memoir in 2013, “That’s That.” His new book, an anthology entitled “The Writing Irish of New York,” will be published this spring by Fordham University Press.

"Rocky Ros Muc" – Michael Fanning and Máire Breathnach

Poster for "Rocky Ros Muc" produced by Michael Fanning and Máire Breathnach.

A documentary about emigration, hardship, and dedication to a dream. “Rocky Ros Muc” tells the story of trailblazing boxer Sean Mannion, who grew up in a poor, Irish-speaking village in Connemara in the 1970s and rose through the boxing ranks and eventually competed for the World Boxing Association title in Madison Square Garden. "Rocky Ros Muc" examines the spirit inside the ring and the troubles outside, as well as the reality of emigration and its impact on identity.

“Rocky Ros Muc” is a story about identity and community, not just for Sean Mannion, but for thousands of emigrants like him.

Those nominated are Michael Fanning and Máire Breathnach the movies producers. Michael Fanning’s previous credits include that of Executive Producer on Trevor Birney’s 2014 documentary “Thatcher & the IRA: Dealing with Terror.” Máire Breathnach previously worked as an actor on the series "Turas Teanga," a 20-part Irish language refresher course.

‘SMILF’ - Frankie Shaw

‘SMILF’ creator and actor, Frankie Shaw.

Irish American and Bostonian Frankie Shaw created and stars in this Showtime series about a smart, scrappy, young single mother in South Boston and the unconventional but very real network of family and friends who help and hinder her as she tries to make it work. The show centers around Bridgette Bird, a smart, young single mom as she struggles to make ends meet, she strives to create a better life for her son, Larry, and often finds herself making impulsive and immature decisions.

To give her full title Rachel Frances "Frankie" Shaw is the creator of the Showtime series, which was nominated for a Golden Globes award.

In 2014 Shaw's short film "SMILF," which she wrote, directed and starred in won the 2015 Short Film Jury Award for U.S. Fiction at Sundance. Shaw is the creator, showrunner, writer, director, actor and producers of the series.

She has starred in series such as Stephen Merchant’s “Hello Ladies,” alongside Rami Malek in “Mr. Robot,” and the 2015 Fox TV series “Mulaney.”

Read more about all the nominees and vote HERE or get your tickets for the Feb 9 New York City event HERE.

Irish-run London pub slammed for racist display of slave auction posters

An Irish-run pub in London has been accused of promoting “racist propaganda” for displaying a “slave auction” poster on its walls.

The Stewart Arms in Notting Hill faced serious backlash from Facebook users who called for a boycott over the vintage print.

Read More: Last orders at legendary Slane pub where Bono and The Dubliners once played

The “slave auction” notice from July 1820 lists the name of five African-American individuals from a “local plantation” and their skills. It lists another eight individuals “to be let” as “house servants” and “laborers.”

After a picture of the advertisement was uploaded to Twitter, social media users took to the Stewart Arms Facebook page with angry reviews.

The pub has been accused of “glamorizing the kidnapping, torture, rape and violation of human rights of millions of people” and “inciting racial hatred.”

John Connelly, 55, the manager of the pub, has removed the poster but hit back at “keyboard warriors” calling for the boycott.

Connelly only began working at the bar recently but said the poster had been on display for 20 years.

“It’s an old print of years gone by and nobody’s ever taken offense to it before but it has now been removed,” he told MailOnline.

“It’s one of these things that nobody ever thought would upset anyone.

“When pubs go through a refurbishment bric-a-brac tends to be put on the walls – a lot of it relating to certain historical times.

“It was put up God knows when and regular customers have definitely not taken offense to it in the past. It has been removed and it will not go up again.

“It’s a very favorable pub and we’ve got a very mixed clientele. It was one person who complained – a chap and his girl who I didn’t recognize who came in on Friday night.

“The poster was on the wall by the pool table and they obviously took umbrage to it. They made a comment to one of the staff and walked out because of it.

The "slave auction" poster in The Stewart Arms. Credit: Twitter

“It has been removed and we had no intention of upsetting anyone. It’s been there for so long. It came down the following morning straight away.

“When you’re in a pub sometimes you don’t notice what memorabilia is on the wall because it’s quite big”.

He added: “I’ve only been here for two months, the people who own this building have had the lease for ten years.

Read More: Irish bar owner in Kentucky rattled over “hate” of arson attack

“Pubs in the city have stuff like that on the walls and no one says anything. We’re either going to put something else up or leave it blank.

“No one had mentioned it before, it’s just keyboard warriors and it’s completely over the top.

“Technology is great but it’s got way out of hand, way beyond anything.”

 

H/T The Irish Post

Tough decisions - moving home to Ireland after 10 years in California

Choosing the green green grass of home for our family after a decade of forging a life and California dreaming

Back in September, my family and I closed the door on our American dream, and moved home to Ireland after almost a decade in California. When we announced that we had decided to move home,  a lot of our friends and family thought we were crazy. We heard the same sentiment every time we went back to Ireland for a visit – “You must love it over there”. We did, and we still do love the US, but our lives and our priorities changed.

Building a life in booming San Fran

My husband and I immigrated to the United States in our early twenties. I was fresh out of college and seeking adventure. We were lucky to have family in the Bay Area, so we made San Francisco our home. We both easily got jobs at a time when the Celtic Tiger was drowning at home. We rented an apartment in the city and forged a life for ourselves. We made lifelong friends through the Irish community in San Francisco and through our work. We spent our weekends exploring the city, and taking road trips to Tahoe. We spent our vacations visiting other cities in the US. We embraced American life and we loved it.

Four years ago, we got married in South Lake Tahoe. We decided to move out of San Francisco shortly thereafter, and bought a house across the Bay in Berkeley. Our careers went from strength to strength and I started my dream job at a tech company in 2014. We got a dog, and we were set. When our thoughts turned to kids, however, the reality of raising a family in the San Francisco Bay Area sunk in and we began to realize something had to give.

The Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the US, in terms of cost of living and housing. Our small, two bedroom house was pretty small for a family, and the cost of childcare was mind blowing. My commute to work (1.5 hours each way on a good day), and the tricky school system, added to the equation. As costs continued to rise in the Bay Area, we began to see more and more of our friends leave San Francisco for more affordable cities. We began to list out other areas in the US and beyond that we would consider moving to, but quickly realized that there was only one place that fit the bill – Ireland.

Where to raise a family

It took us a very long time to actually commit to our decision to move to Ireland. We had a lot to consider – our careers, our home, our pets and our finances. When I became pregnant, we started to think seriously about the move. Logistically, it was going to be a nightmare. But the pros outweigh the cons tenfold, so we decided to go for it.

Our primary reason for moving home was to be closer to family. The majority of our families live in Ireland. Our son will grow up surrounded by his cousins, and will have the same wonderful childhood experiences that we had. My parents are nearby, as are grandparents and our siblings. We have a great group of friends who are all starting their own families, and knowing that our son will have lots of kids around makes me so sure that we have made the right decision.

Budding green Ireland

Economically, Ireland is back on track. Dublin continues to be a hub for tech companies, and multinationals in general. The Irish government also offer support to families that is non-existent in the US. Our son will have free healthcare until he is 6 years old, and two free years of preschool. The education system in Ireland is exceptional, and ranks among the best in the world. College is also affordable in comparison with the United States. All in all, raising our family at home makes sense to us and I think our family will thrive in the Emerald Isle. 

Now that we've been back in Ireland for a few months, and are starting to settle in, we feel sure that we made the right decision. We will miss California and the family and friends that we left behind. We know that we will be back to visit often, and someday we will show our little boy all our old haunts. The move itself was stressful – we shipped our pets and packed up our lives with an infant in tow. If you want to follow along with our new adventures in Ireland, visit our blog or follow uson Facebook.

(This original version of this article appeared on The Tully Tales)

A Gun Crazy Hollywood trailblazer - Dubliner Peggy Cummins

Martin Scorsese said the 1950s movie “caught the delirium of crime and matched it up with a special kind of sexual heat". Ahead of its time.

This week, Hollywood royalty descended upon Beverly Hills for the 75th annual Golden Globes. Every year, this is a ritual as silly as it is self-absorbed, but this year’s proceedings were tinged with a certain amount of seriousness. The sexual harassment scandals that have rocked Hollywood were front and center, and broader issues of race and gender -- who has power and who doesn’t -- were hard to avoid.

All of these issues must eventually be addressed, though it’s hard to imagine a group more likely to turn this into an exercise in narcissism than Hollywood folks.

It’s also an interesting time to look back on the issues the sex scandals have taken off of the front burner.

Remember when folks simply thought Hollywood was corrupting the minds of our youth and -- possibly, just possibly -- contributing to the absurd levels of gun violence which ravage America?

This is as good a time as any to remember one very unique, very important Irish actress, whose life intersected with these important issues.

Her name was Peggy Cummins and she died late last month, having just celebrated her 92nd birthday on December 18th.  Cummins’ parents were Dubliners who were stranded in Wales by bad weather in 1925, when young Peggy came along.

She took to acting at age seven in Dublin, and later England, before signing a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1945 and moving to Hollywood.  Cummins lived her final years in England, and had not acted consistently for over five decades.

But she did appear in more than two dozen flicks throughout the 1940s and 1950s, with one of her films standing the test of time, influencing multiple generations of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, and -- perhaps most importantly -- reminding us that carnival barkers who want to make America great again know very little about America’s past.

Cummins’ most famous film is Gun Crazy, made in 1950. Those were the years when everything seemed right with America.  The war was over.  The houses in the suburbs were big. The picket fences ringing the houses were white.

But Gun Crazy reminds us that there was a lot of rage bubbling under that pretty surface.  In the film Cummins and co-star John Dall play a married couple who go on an ultra-violent crime spree.

Directed by Joseph H. Lewis, the movie might have been a whole lot more controversial had it not been dismissed at the time as just another crime caper, though admittedly a slightly darker one.

It took a few years, and a new generation of filmmakers, before movie lovers started to realize just how radical Gun Crazy -- and Cummins’ performance in it -- was.

Just a few years later, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo presented a portrait of love, obsession and psychological turmoil that turned much of Gun Crazy’s violence inward.  Then, in 1960, came Psycho.  Within a few years, screens were awash in blood thanks to another movie about gun-toting lovers, Bonnie and Clyde.

Gun Crazy’s radical violence and imagery had gone mainstream.  In the movies and in the streets.

“The film’s sometimes gleeful portrayal of sexualized crime and violence was echoed in later movies like Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994),” The New York Times noted, in Cummins recent obituary.

Another master of cinematic violence, Martin Scorsese, once wrote that Gun Crazy “caught the delirium of crime and matched it up with a special kind of sexual heat,” adding that the film’s Irish star “plays one of those pure noir incarnations of the id, evil in a tight skirt.”

There’s just one problem: we haven’t figured out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, if it’s the movies that are gun crazy, or us.

High and dry in New York during the Prohibition

Today, January 16, in 1919, the law enforcing The Prohibition in the United States was ratified. The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes.”

President George W. Bush has repeatedly been accused of exploiting 9/11 and the ensuing Iraq War. Critics charge that the Bush administration has labeled critics of their Iraq policies as disloyal and un-American.

Of course, this is not the first time such a state of affairs has existed in the U.S.

In fact, as a book about Manhattan during the early 20th century indicates, World War I saw similar divisions created. Back then, Irish immigrants and Irish Americans played a key role in the direction of U.S. domestic and international policy.

These events also gave rise to Irish mobsters, not to mention gangsters from many other ethnic backgrounds.

Michael A. Lerner's new book Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City (Harvard University Press) revisits the so-called "noble experiment" of prohibition, when alcohol was outlawed in 1920 the way narcotics are today.

Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City.

Obviously, given rampant stereotypes about the Irish and drink, it may seem unfortunate that Irish America is linked to this topic. But as Lerner notes, this issue was about a whole lot more than booze.

When you look at who was for and against prohibition, it is clear that the Irish were on one side while more respectable, middle class, heavily Protestant groups were on the other side.

The two sides came to be known as "wets" (against prohibition) and "dries."

More broadly, prohibition became one battle in a much larger culture war which included attacks against Irish-dominated Tammany Hall, as well as Irish American skepticism about America's 1917 entrance into World War I.

Inevitably, some of Irish America's most famous politicians entered the fray. Typically, because Irish American Democrats were such a large part of their constituency, Irish politicians spoke out against the "dries."

"New York ultimately produced many of the nation's most outspoken wet political leaders, including James J. Walker, the city's "nightclub mayor," Lerner writes about the famously dashing Irish mayor. Lerner adds that "Governor Al Smith's bid for the presidency offered the first real hope for an end to Prohibition."

Governor Al Smith and his wife.

Smith, of course, rose from Lower East Side poverty to become the first Irish Catholic to run for president, in 1928. He was the target of an anti-Catholic smear campaign to which the Ku Klux Klan and others contributed.

His opposition to prohibition was taken as a sign by many respectable citizens that "those people" should never be allowed to run the country.

As Lerner notes, the Irish and other ethnic groups dominated Tammany Hall. Central to this political machine's operation was the saloon.

This was not just a place to get drunk, but a meeting place to exchange gossip, swap favors and meet and greet potential voters. By shutting down the saloon, many Irish Americans felt "dries" were actually targeting the Democratic Party organization in New York City and urban centers all across America.

"Dries" were also not above using prohibition to question the patriotism of the Irish. As the debate over prohibition heated up, America entered World War I in 1917.

A photograph taken in a busy New York bar just minutes before the law went into effect.

Don't forget, the U.S. allied itself with Ireland's mortal enemy, Britain, in that battle. That was trouble enough. But those allies were fighting the Germans, another large ethnic group in New York at the time.

Many prohibitionists felt that anti-British sentiment felt by Irish and German Americans was "un-American."

Couldn't the same be said about their insistence on keeping the saloon open? After all, why waste barley and other grains making booze when those precious commodities could be used toward the war effort?

In the end, as Lerner and many others have noted, prohibition was a spectacular failure. In fact, it succeeded in doing one thing - fueling organized crime, which distributed booze illegally.

Irish gangsters such as Bugs Moran, Deanie O'Banion, Owney "the Killer" Madden and "Mad Dog" Coll used bootlegging to make money and spill blood on the streets of New York, Chicago and other cities, as they battled for their share of the lucrative illegal booze market.

National prohibition officially ended in 1933, though it should be noted that literally hundreds of villages and towns across the U.S. remain legally "dry."

Read more: Brooklyn’s forgotten Irishtown and the whiskey wars it waged

Cork to Donegal - my meanderings along the Wild Atlantic Way

Back on the western trail Cormac MacConnell recounts his trip from Sligo to Donegal

Now that a degree of normality has returned to our lives and we begin to look forward again rather than backwards, let us resume our gentle meander along the Wild Atlantic Way of my dear west coastline of Ireland.

Hereabouts the surf washes the toes of the kinda mythical counties that are simultaneously our richest and poorest across the scales of life; the ones that, because of those realities, contributed the most red blood and purpose and power to this modern reality termed the diaspora.  Ye know more about the width and depth of that than I do.

Read more: A perfect family weekend along the Wild Atlantic Way

However, since I see it as a weakness of so many novice tourists to our shores to rigidly adhere to a punishing schedule, this meander is totally without anything like that. We will dart hither and thither on a whim, stay for several days in spots that entrap our spirits and joys, relish slowing down and taking things easy for the duration of our Irish holiday.

Accordingly we begin today in Sligo, the homeland of WB Yeats and his brother the artist Jack Yeats, and I fancy most of ye will be happier than I to spend a weekend there.

You see, for many years as a hack reporter I had to cover the internationally famed Yeats Summer School which draws so many of you over here for the experience. After a decade or so of dogged reportage I nowadays shudder at the mere mention of the great poet’s name and fame.

Benbulben, in Yeat's Country, County Sligo, at sunset.

It happened because I heard so many learned scholars from all over the globe delivering long lectures about the real meanings behind Yeats’ works. The common thread was that none of them agreed with each other!  Enough to cause a common hack to cast a cold eye on life and strive to pass by.

Sligo used to be a town but nowadays claims city status and is deserving of such. It is illuminated by the silvery Garavogue River, which normally yields Ireland’s first legally caught salmon of the new season, and by a calm courtesy towards visitors which might not be as warmly effusive as nearby village welcomes, but is nonetheless genuine.

Ye will have enjoyed several earthy evenings in Mayo before reaching Sligo too so will welcome the chance to chill out. Already, of course, your schedule is shot to hell, you realize that no way will you be able to “do” Ireland in four days from Cork to Donegal via Belfast, and you are much better off in body and mind in consequence. Relax hereabouts under the great baldy brow of Benbulben.

There is nothing to stop you venturing out to lovely little resorts like Strandhill with its magnificent strand.  All the way along Sligo is dramatic indeed, and the locals have volumes of oralized folklore in their heads and minds.

Strandhill Beach, Sligo.

Much of that has to do with the historic reality of centuries ago when the great galleons of the beaten Spanish Armada foundered in such numbers off areas like Streedagh a few miles below Sligo away down to aptly named Spanish Point in Clare. It is a social fact, too, that many of those surviving Spaniards integrated into the native Celtic communities along the coast.

That reality is beautifully illustrated to this day in my west where the Spanish element of the genetic cargo is often reflected in lush dark curls, sparkling eyes that are brown rather than Celtic blue, a subtly nuanced difference from the majority you recognize on sight.

We will finish our haphazard meander along the Wild Atlantic Way for now by gently driving out of Sligo into the magical seaside resort of Bundoran in south Donegal. The great local balladeer Birdie Gallagher immortalized her hometown many years ago with the mighty ballad “Beautiful Bundoran,”...the Queen of Donegal.

Tallan Strand, in Bundoran, County Donegal.

You will probably stay for at least one night in Bundoran and, if so, you will hear that ballad lustily sung at its best in one of the many good inns of a resort nowadays known for its top-quality surfing amenities. Bundoran was the seaside resort favored by my Fermanagh family living just across the border. My parents met and romanced there back in the day.

It is, accordingly, a town close to the cockles of my heart and ye will forgive me, please, if our meander ends here for this week, if I enjoy a hot toddy within sight of the ocean, and promise to resume our journey later.

Here's some beautiful aerial shots of the area:

Best Cranberries songs to listen to as we mourn Dolores O'Riordan

Fans around the world are mourning the news that Dolores O'Riordan, the Irish solo artist and frontwoman of The Cranberries, has died unexpectedly while in London. 

It's impossible to state how important the music of Dolores O'Riordan and The Cranberries - Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan, and Fergal Lawler -  was to so many people around the world, but especially their native Ireland.

Read More: Cranberries frontwoman Dolores O'Riordan dies suddenly in London 

The rock band with humble Limerick beginnings finally made it into the mainstream music scene in the early-mid-90s after a few fits and starts, channeling a wide range of emotions, from the longing and melancholy of unrequited love to the anger and pain of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The power and adaptability of O'Riordan's voice made you believe she could do anything as an artist. 

Today, as we remember her legacy, we're listening back on some of the best songs by The Cranberries and from O'Riordan's solo career. Don't see your favorite track here? Tell us what it is in the comment section. 

Dreams

Though their song Linger would become The Cranberries' first big hit, Dreams was, in fact, the first single they released, back in 1992, as a lead up to the album Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We?. It's a delicate yet soaring track, and what is often described as O'Riordan's 'Irish power yodel' is a real tour de force. 

Linger

This was their first big hit, and it's very easy to hear why. Linger was one of the first songs The Cranberries worked on when O'Riordan joined the band, and it was all about first attraction and rejection. In an interview with the Irish Times, O'Riordan explained the song's very relatable origins: 

“It was inspired by a night I had at a club called Madonna’s. This guy asked me to dance and I thought he was lovely. Until then, I’d always thought that putting tongues in mouths was disgusting, but when he gave me my first proper kiss, I did indeed ‘have to let it linger’.

“I couldn’t wait to see him again. But at the next disco, he walked straight past me and asked my friend to dance. I was devastated. Everyone saw me being dumped, publicly, at the disco. Everything’s so dramatic when you’re 17, so I poured it into the song.

Zombie

With Zombie, their next big hit, O'Riordan proved her voice could also harness sheer power and anger. Zombie was the number one hit from their 1994 album No Need to Argue. They wrote it while on tour in 1993, in memory of Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry, two young boys who were killed in the IRA bombings in Warrington. 

Ode to My Family

Their second single from No Need to Argue, Ode to My Family dreamily contrasts the happiness and comforts of childhood with the loneliness of adulthood and fame. From the framed photos of JFK to singing in the back room of a pub, the music video did an excellent job conjuring that place and time as well. 

Salvation

Has there ever been a more rocking song that encourages a generation of fans to say no to drugs than The Cranberries' 1996 song Salvation? Unlikely. It was the lead single from their third studio album To the Faithful Departed. 

Ordinary Day

The lead single from O'Riordan's 2007 debut solo album Are You Listening?, Ordinary Day very honestly grapples with O'Riordan's own struggles. 

And lastly, for an especially intimate acoustic set, marvel at this 2012 Tiny Desk Concert The Cranberries did at NPR headquarters for the release of their 2012 album, Roses. 

Rest in peace, Dolores. 

What song by The Cranberries or from Dolores' solo work means the most to you? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 

Donald Trump’s mother came from a “sh**hole” place by his standards

Famine, troubles, war and poverty in Tong island off Scotland. What would the President’s mother Mary Anne MacLeod make of her immigrant-bashing son?

By his own lights, Donald Trump’s mother came from one of the places he called “shitholes.”

 When he called for a ban on all such immigrants from such strange places he could have been describing his mother’s own Tong, her isolated hometown on the Isle of Lewis, in the Hebrides, off Scotland.

Trump held it in such little regard that he made just one whirlwind visit.

While beautiful on the outside, the history of Tong, his ancestral hometown, is one of extreme poverty, violence and unemployment. The village only got running water in the 1960s.The residents spoke only Gaelic for generations making it difficult to find work elsewhere.

The village of Tong, on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

Read more: Trump ignores his immigrant past as scandal brought his mother to US

In 1929, desperate for a new life, Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, left the island seeking a new life in America. She left a troubled land behind, one that had been devastated by the same Famine that hit Ireland in the 1840s and torn apart by clearances, when rich landlords, many of them absentee, tried to drive the peasants off the land.

Donald Trump's mother, Mary Anne Macleod.

Sounds like a nasty place, an island to be wary of when accepting immigrants.

Indeed, a check on the history bears this out. Local historians say Trump has land agitators in his past, relatives driven off their land in Tong by absentee landlords who wanted the land for grazing sheep.

The agitators fought back, seeking access to their land. Some referred to themselves as Bolsheviks – hardly a title Donald Trump would want to own up to.

Why his mother might even have been stopped at Ellis Island with that family background.

Emigrants arriving to Ellis Island in New York.

It was bloody and unforgiving and mirrored the land wars in Ireland. The situation “beggars all description,” a land manager from the mainland wrote upon visiting Tong in 1828, according to the Scottish historian James Hunter.

 “It is worse than anything I ever saw in Donegal [in Ireland] where I always considered human wretchedness to have reached its very acme.”

Mary Anne was born on the island of Lewis in 1912 and left for America in 1929 to be with her sister Catherine, banished from Tong because she had a baby outside wedlock. Like many immigrants Mary Anne worked as a maid and in many menial jobs. She was forever grateful to America for the opportunity it gave her

Unfortunately, her son seems oblivious to that reality. Does he not realize his mother was part of the same historical wave of immigrants from many embattled countries he is trying to block today?

I wonder what his mother, Mary Anne would make of her immigrant-bashing son.

Read more: Citing Irish roots, Speaker Ryan slams Trump on “s**thole” comment

Here's a short clip on Donald Trump's ancestral home during the President's election campaign:

Cranberries front woman Dolores O’Riordan dies suddenly in London

Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan died suddenly in London aged 46.

Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of popular Irish band The Cranberries, died suddenly in London aged 46.

Her death was confirmed by a publicist in a short statement: "Irish and international singer Dolores O’Riordan has died suddenly in London today. She was 46 years old. The lead singer with the Irish band The Cranberries, was in London for a short recording session. No further details are available at this time.

"Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."

The BBC reports that police were called to a hotel on Park Lane around 9am Monday morning where a woman in her mid-40s was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Her The Cranberries band mates have paid tribute to their lead singer stating, "She was an extraordinary talent and we feel very privileged to been part of her life from 1989."

Read more: Dolores O’Riordan gives very vulnerable interview after air rage arrest

Dolores O'Riordan. Image: RollingNews.ie.

The circumstances of her death are yet unknown.

Irish Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan paid tribute to the singer stating: “I am very saddened to hear news about the death of Dolores O’Riordan at the age of just 46.

“Dolores was an enormously successful artist internationally, first as part of the Cranberries and then as a solo artist. She made a huge contribution to the arts internationally, with millions of record sales worldwide.

“She was an inspiration to many across the world and had a truly unique voice. Her haunting vocals on classics such as Linger and Zombie will live on forever.

“I’d like to pass on my condolences to her family at what must be a very difficult time for them.”

O’Riordan shot to fame in the early 90s as the front woman for The Cranberries and sold over 40 million records worldwide with massive hits such as “Zombie,” “Linger” and “Dreams.”

Read more: Don Burton: Who was Dolores O'Riordan's husband?

Having gone on hiatus in 2003, the group reformed in 2009 but were forced to cancel a 2017 US and European tour with O’Riordan citing back issues.  

The singer was married to Duran Duran tour manager Don Burton for 20 years and the couple had three children together before their split in 2014. Their children continue to live with their father in his native Canada. 

Many of Ireland's top musicians and artists have taken to social media to express their sadness over the sudden death of the Irish star. 

What is your favorite memory of Dolores O'Riordan and her music? 

Mother of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands passes away

Rosaleen Sands, the mother of Irish Hunger Striker Bobby Sands, passed away on Friday, January 12. 

Bobby Sands was a member of the IRA and was imprisoned for 14 years in 1977 after being caught in possession of a revolver.

While in prison, Sands and many others fought to be recognized as 'prisoners of war' rather than regular prisoners and eventually he led a hunger strike among his fellow IRA prisoners. Their demands were:

- the right not to wear a prison uniform;

- the right not to do prison work;

- the right of free association with other prisoners, and to organize educational           and recreational pursuits;

- the right to one visit, one letter, and one parcel per week;

- full restoration of remission lost through the protest.

After 66 days on hunger strike Sands died of starvation. The British Government claimed that this constituted him taking his own life but other countries around the world were outraged. 

After his death, he became an icon for nationalists in Ireland and there was a huge outpouring of support from around the world.

In Hartford, Connecticut, a memorial was erected in his honor: 

Hartford, Connecticut monument honoring Bobby Sands.

Bobby's father passed away in 2014 and on Friday, his mother passed away as well.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams paid tribute to Rosaleen. He said:

“I was extremely saddened to learn of Rosaleen’s death and, on behalf of Sinn Féin, I extend condolences to the entire Sands clan.

“Roasaleen was a strong, inspirational woman who, like all families of the hunger strikers, bore immense pain but stood by her son Bobby during the darkest of times.

“The dignity and strength she displayed was a testament to her character and her belief in standing up for what was right and just, even if that meant great suffering for herself, Bobby’s father John and their family.

“In many ways, she epitomized what all the mothers of the hunger strikers endured and her sacrifice will never be forgotten."

Bobby Sands was a writer and two years before his death, he wrote this poem for his mother:

Dear Mum

Dear Mum, I know you’re always there
To help and guide me with all your care,
You nursed and fed me and made me strong
To face the world and all its wrong.

What can I write to you this day
For a line or two would never pay
For care and time you gave to me
Through long hard years unceasingly.

How you found strength I do not know
How you managed I’ll never know,
Struggling and striving without a break
Always there and never late.

You prayed for me and loved me more
How could I ask for anymore
And reared me up to be like you
But I haven’t a heart as kind as you.

A guide to me in times of plight
A princess like a star so bright
For life would never have been the same
If I hadn’t of learned what small things came.

So forgive me Mum just a little more
For not loving you so much before,
For life and love you gave to me
I give my thanks for eternity.

How Martin Luther King inspired a Northern Ireland uprising

On Martin Luther King Day 2018, all Irish people should know of his Irish legacy and his inspiration in the long march to freedom in Northern Ireland

Martin Luther King’s legacy is intact as the greatest African American leader of all time, an orator to rival Lincoln and a reputation that matches Gandhi around the globe.

His impact was global. It was certainly huge in Ireland. Indeed, we would never have seen the incredible changes in Northern Ireland and the push for equality were it not for the King legacy.

In his official Nobel Prize interview before accepting the award, John Hume stated, “Martin Luther King was very much our inspiration” when they had to address discrimination and prejudice in Northern Ireland.

Speaking in Atlanta, in King’s church, when accepting a peace award in 1999, Hume said, "We believed in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. We believed in inclusivity, not exclusivity. We believed that true unity among all Irish people was unity of the heart, not unity of the soil."

King's widow, Coretta, praised Hume when she presented him with the 1999 Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize.

"Like Dr. King, he has demonstrated the power of one person that provided a spark of leadership that provided a way out of no way," she said.

Read more: Martin Luther King’s legacy for the undocumented immigrant children

The lives of John Hume and Martin Luther King Jr. have often been compared 

The comparisons were evident. As John Conroy remarked in "Belfast Diary:" “Northern Catholics ... had a position in society equivalent to blacks in the United States at that time."

Brian Dooley, author of "The Black and Green," an excellent account of the Irish/Black interaction, was in no doubt about King’s importance in the civil rights struggle in Northern Ireland; He was "an enormously powerful and symbolic figure ... for civil rights struggles in Northern Ireland... . "

As in the Deep South, the discrimination in Northern Ireland had been around for generations. The Northern discrimination by Protestants against Catholics is known as the policy of a Protestant state for a Protestant people, a motto for Northern Ireland coined by their Prime Minister right after partition in 1922. Pogroms drove hundreds of Catholics out of their homes as police stood by.

Nobel Prize winner John Hume.

Catholics were treated like second-class citizens in Northern Ireland 

The nationalists were treated like peasants and serfs, confined to ghettos and lowlands while the unionists lorded it over them. The Irish nationalist party that sprung up was hopelessly ineffective and occasional IRA campaigns came to nought.

In fifty years, there had been one Catholic in government, and he was a castle Catholic – Catholic in name only.

Every year hundreds of Orange marches paraded through Catholic neighborhoods, flaunting their superiority and making sure that the “croppies lie down” policy was left intact.

The discrimination was especially blatant in three areas: gerrymandering of constituencies so that there was always a unionist majority, an incredible voting system that allowed multiple votes for rich landowners and businessmen – all Protestant of course – and vicious discrimination in housing.

Read more: JFK, Martin Luther King and the battle over human rights

Catholic housing was one of the major issues that sparked the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement 

Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta King. Image: Public Domain/Wikicommons.

It was in housing that one of the first flash points occurred when Austin Currie, a nationalist politician, squatted in a house in County Tyrone after it was refused to a large Catholic family desperately in need and given instead to a young, single Protestant woman. All 14 houses were given to Protestants on the estate.

When the first stirrings of the civil rights movement began in Ireland it was Martin Luther King’s name and tactics that were on everybody’s lips.

October 5, 1968 is generally accepted as the birth of the civil rights movement. On that day, inspired by Doctor King, a group of activists marched into Derry city center demanding an end to discrimination.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), in full view of the cameras, attacked the crowd of marchers as viciously as any southern American sheriff attacked King’s followers.

The marchers were trapped between two lines of advancing RUC thugs and it was good fortune that nobody was killed as the police rained down blow after blow with batons.

The Long March and the Battle of the Bogside were major events in the movement 

Murals commemorating the Battle of the Bogside in Derry city. Image: RollingNews.ie.

The fuse was lit. In January 1969, the People’s Democracy, a university students' group, followed the path of non-violence and organized a "Long March" from Belfast to Derry modeled on King’s civil-rights march to Montgomery, AL. The march was attacked repeatedly along the way, but as it developed it drew more supporters and participants. By marching through "Protestant territory, “where it was repeatedly blocked and threatened, the Long March exposed Northern Irish sectarianism and the unwillingness of police to defend the right to protest."

As they neared Derry, at Burntollet Bridge, the marchers were ambushed by loyalists and members of the RUC. Eighty-seven activists were hospitalized. When the marchers reached Derry, the city exploded in riots. Following a night of rioting, RUC men entered the Bogside (a Catholic ghetto), wrecked a number of houses and attacked innocent civilians

Northern Ireland's sectarian nature was revealed to the world.

In the latter part of 1969 came the Battle of the Bogside when an Orange march was attempting to strut through the heart of the Catholic neighborhood.

Read more: Irish politician refuses to apologize for using N-word during council meeting

A Bogside mural of Martin Luther King Jr in Derry.

For five days the clashes between police (trying to force the march through) and locals (trying to stop it) transfixed the world.

As Bernadette Devlin noted: “We reached then a turning point in Irish history, and we reached it because of the determination of one group of people in a Catholic slum area in Derry. In 50 hours we brought a government to its knees, and we gave back to a downtrodden people their pride and the strength of their convictions."

Without Martin Luther King's example there is no question the Irish civil rights movement, modeled so closely on his thinking, would never have come together and Northern Ireland might well still be Britain's dirty little sectarian secret.

Incredibly, the black preacher from Atlanta had reached halfway round the world and inspired a civil rights revolution in Ireland. On this day that we commemorate him. It is his Irish legacy of a long march to freedom that all Irish people should know.

Read more: Martin Luther King’s legacy for the undocumented immigrant children

* Originally published in January 2017. 

Irish woman legally marries a 300-year-old ghost, says the lovemaking is great

The ghost of a Haitian pirate proposed marriage to a Co. Louth woman after she told the spirit she was no longer content with casual sex.

A 45-year-old woman from Co. Louth married the ghost of an 18th-century Haitian pirate after the couple met when she felt his presence laying beside her in bed in 2014. Amanda Teague, from Drogheda, Co. Louth, traveled to international waters to marry her pirate partner Jack through the means of a medium after telling the spirit that she was no longer happy to just have casual sex.

Teague, who has five children from a previous marriage with a living man, believes she has found her “soulmate” in Jack, who was executed over 300 years ago for theft at sea.

The Louth woman, who works as a “Pirates of the Caribbean” Jack Sparrow impersonator, believes it was the pirate link that brought her own Haitian pirate to her. She even claims the sex is better than with living men.

Read more: Top ten Irish outlaws, gangsters, pirates and highwaymen from Ned Kelly to Whitey Bulger

Traveling to international waters to marry a ghost. Image: Amanda Teague.

Having built up their relationship since 2014, the great sex wasn’t enough for Teague anymore, however, and she gave Jack an ultimatum that she would need more commitment for their relationship to continue.

“I told him I wasn’t really cool with having casual sex with a spirit and I wanted us to make a proper commitment to each other,” she told the Irish Sun.

“If I am going to be in a long-term relationship with somebody I have the right to be married.

“I wanted the big traditional wedding with the white dress, it was very important to me.”

Read more: Ireland's strangest and scariest ghost sightings and apparitions

The wedding party. Image: Amanda Teague.

Marriage to a ghost is legal in some countries, such as France and China, and so the couple traveled to international waters to ensure the legality of their marriage would be upheld when they returned to Ireland. Jack was represented by a skull and crossbones flag while his specially designed wedding ring was placed on a candle as he could not physically present a hand on which it could be placed. He also gave his vows with the help of a medium while a Shaman priest presided over the marriage.

“Obviously I can’t speak for him but there has to be verbal consent from both people,” Teague said.

“If I gave consent on his behalf it would put a question mark over the authenticity of the marriage, so we had an independent medium to speak for Jack.”

Read more: Can you explain this ghostly figure caught on a dashcam in Armagh?

The wedding ceremony. Image: Amanda Teague.

The couple went on to honeymoon in Ireland before returning to Teague's current home in Downpatrick. She claims that the couple go on date nights to dinner and to the cinema, while he ensures she always gets a Christmas and birthday present by sending a message to one of her daughters about what he’d wish to buy.

Amanda Teague on her wedding day. Image: Amanda Teague.

Teague now wishes to spread more information about the possibilities of a relationship with a ghost and she and Jack are co-writing a book named “Ain’t no grave can hold my body back” to advise singletons on how they, too, can bag themselves a ghost partner.

Would you consider a relationship with a ghost? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below. 

Tyrone man preserves beloved dog by knitting an Aran jumper out of his fur

In its native Siberia, the hair of the Samoyed Husky is often collected to make clothing for its owners.

It’s so cold in New York right now that we’re all wishing we had that extra protective layer to keep us a little bit warmer but we can’t say we’ve yet looked to our pets to make this happen.

Co. Tyrone man Tony Jenkins, however, will think of his favorite dearly departed dog, Harry, in the future when he pulls on his new Aran sweater to keep out the chill. Having collected kilograms of the Samoyed Husky’s fur while he was alive, Jenkins recently had a woolen company craft it into a new sweater that would keep him closer than ever to the beloved family pet.

In December 2017, Jenkins received his $860 (€700) sweater specially crafted at a Co. Donegal woollen mill that used an old spinning wheel to spin the wool from Harry’s fur.

Read more: Celtic Canines - top Irish dog breeds

Although a native of Liverpool, England, Jenkins has spent most of his life in Strabane, Co. Tyrone, after marrying a local women. Harry, the Samoyed Husky, was, in fact, not his own pet but was a puppy bought by Jenkins' daughter’s boyfriend that he took it on himself to look after, forming a very special bond with the pooch before he passed away three years ago.

“It’ll be three years this April since he died. I remember when he arrived, he was just a huge ball of wool but I lifted him and I could feel his heart racing; he was terrified," Jenkins told the Irish News.

“When Bernie [his daughter] left for work, she left him in the utility room and she lived just below us so I could hear him crying. That first day I went over and picked him up and something clicked; there was a bond from that moment."

Throughout his 11-year life, Harry was doted on by Jenkins and the strength of the bond was only recognized when the man was forced to put his dog to sleep when he caught pneumonia.

Read more: Amazing footage of a dog playing with a dolphin in Ireland (VIDEO)

Throughout his 11-year life, Harry was doted on by Jenkins. Image: iStock.

“When the vet gave him the injection, Harry collapsed into my arms and died. I’m not overly sentimental but I cried for the first time since I was young,” he said.

Traditionally in Siberia, owners of Samoyed Huskies, which is very similar to a husky but with an extra brilliant white coat, would retain hair from the dog in order to make gloves and hats for themselves and to take advantage of their amazing cold-fighting fur. Jenkins had collected the fur as well but until Harry’s death had not looked into what he could do with it.

“I had about 3 kg of his hair and I thought it would be a good idea to get a jumper made," Jenkins said.

"The big thing was to have the hair carded so it could be spun into wool and it took me ages to get someone to do that. Then I called at Studio Donegal in Kilcar one day and spoke to Tristan Donaghy.

“He said he wasn’t interested but I asked him to look at the hair in the car boot and as he was talking, he started twirling the hair and changed his mind.”

Read more: 15 cats and dogs who really hate St. Patrick's Day (PHOTOS)

Jenkins had collected the fur but until Harry’s death had not looked into what he could do with it. Image: iStock.

Using a smaller and older carding machine, with Donaghy’s mother even taking to a spinning wheel to spin the wool, the process took longer than expected as she had to take a break from the work to care for her own sick husband.

The garment was finally delivered in December 2017, however, and Jenkins couldn’t be happier to be at least a little closer to having Harry back with him.

“I still miss Harry and he wasn’t even my dog; I just looked after him," he said.

"But there was a special bond and I can feel close to him this way."

Would you consider making a jumper out of your pet's hair?

Popular Irish girl names as Gaeilge

Are you looking for unique Irish baby names? Here’s a rundown of some traditional Irish names and their meanings.

For more than a hundred years the name Liam has remained popular in the United States and it’s little wonder that Irish names remain so popular given that as of 2013 55.3 million Americans reported Irish ancestry to the American Community Survey.

In Ireland Irish names remain relatively popular. I think everyone I know has at least one Aoife, Ciara, Siobhan or Niamh in their lives! However, for our American cousins it’s often the pronunciation or spelling of the names that puts people off. Hello! Way too many vowels!

Read more: Irish baby names become top choice in Hollywood

Our team at IrishCentral hear your struggles so we’ve put together a guide to the pronunciation, meaning and alternatives to the most popular Irish girl names:

Here are the top traditional Irish names for baby girls:

Siobhan

Meaning: “God is gracious”

History: Derived from the Anglo-Norman name Jehane and Jehanne, it is another form of the English name Joan. The name Siobhan was introduced to Ireland by the Anglo-Normans in the Middle Ages.

The Scottish Gaelic form of the name is Siubhan (which is usually anglicised Judith).

Pronunciation: shiv + awn

English versions: Sihobeon, Shevaun, Shivaun, Shevaun, Shavon, or Chevonne

Aoife

Meaning: “beautiful, radiant, joyful”

History: Known as the greatest woman warrior in the world, Aoife was the mother of Cuchulainn’s (read the legend) only son, Connlach. Aoife Dearg (“Red Aoife") was a daughter of a king of Connacht who had her marriage arranged by St. Patrick himself.

In 2003, Aoife was the third most popular Irish girls name for babies in Ireland.

Pronunciation: ee + fa

English version: Eva or Eve

Read more: Irish baby first names that are super popular in the US

Ciara

Meaning: From the Irish ciar, meaning “dark”.

History: St. Ciara was a distinguished seventh-century figure who established a monastery at Kilkeary in County Tipperary. It was the tenth most popular baby girl name in Ireland in 2006.

Pronunciation: kee + ra

English version: Keera, Keira, Keara, or Kira

Caoimhe

Meaning: “gentle, beautiful, precious”

History: It is the Irish feminine version of given name derived from Irish caomh meaning "dear or noble", from the same root as the masculine name Caoimhín (Kevin).

As of 2014, it was ranked 19th most popular name among female births in Ireland.

Pronunciation: kee + va

English version: Keeva or Keva

Niamh

Meaning: “radiance, lustre, brightness”

History: In Irish mythology, Niamh is the daughter of the god of the sea, Manannán mac Lir and one of the queens of Tír na nÓg, the land of eternal youth. She was the lover of the poet-hero Oisín.

Neave is an unrelated English surname cognate to the word nephew.

In 2003 it was the eleventh most popular baby girl’s name in Ireland.

Pronunciation:  nee + iv

English version: Neeve, Neve, Neaf, Niave, Neaves, Neeves, or Niaves

Saoirse

Meaning: “freedom, liberty"

History: This name has only been used since the 1920s and has strong patriotic overtones. It has become a very popular baby girl name in Ireland in recent years.

With good reason…

What’s your favorite Irish baby name? Let us know in the comment section below.

Read more: The top Irish baby names according to our passports

Irish couple surprised by "Love Actually" style flash mob during wedding

Friends of the newlyweds decided to shake up the church ceremony with a rendition of ABBA's "The Way Old Friends Do"

One of Love Actually's most memorable scenes involves the wedding of Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Peter's best man Mark, who is secretly in love with Juliet, hijacks the celebration by organizing a musical outburst. 

If you've never seen the scene, with singing by the late, great Lynden David Hall, the below is required viewing. 

Inspired, friends and family of Bernie Gavin and Cian O'Leary took over the couple's ceremony with a rendition of ABBA's "The Way Old Friends Do". They were joined by singers Joe McNally and John Bourke. 

Gradually making their way to the altar in the County Westmeath church, they then broke into Liverpool anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" - a nod to the groom, a huge soccer fan.

Planning your wedding? Best make sure you extend the invite to some musical guests. You never know!

The Samuel Beckett, Irish republican link – a secret Irish rebel?

Beckett scholar Michael Coffey reminds us of the Nobel Laureate’s nationalistic influences and writings

Samuel Beckett’s formative years, 1916 to 1923, were marked by revolution in Ireland. We tend not to view Beckett (1906-1989) as a nationalistic writer, but the strife of his youth definitely marked the young Beckett. I was reminded of this when Beckett scholar Michael Coffey contacted me about the Beckett-Noel Lemass connection.

Noel Lemass was the older brother of future Irish Taoiseach Seán Lemass. He was in the GPO in 1916, fought in the War of Independence where he held the rank of captain in the IRA, and like his more famous brother, went against the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. After the end of the Irish Civil War he was abducted by pro-Treaty forces and brutally murdered, his remains being found months later in the Dublin Mountains.

Lemass’ murder is still controversial to this day and the perpetrators were never apprehended. Recently, Tim Pat Coogan in his book on Michael Collins assassination Squad, The Twelve Apostles, sought to set the record straight. “It was never established exactly who was responsible for the torture and killing of Lemass, but David Neligan himself told me it was the ‘Tobin bunch.’ ” David Neligan was famously Collins’ “Spy in the Castle” and Liam Tobin was Collins’ Deputy Director of Intelligence, running the operation out of #3 Crow Street.

Captain Noel Lemass.

 If there was anyone who might know who did this dastardly act it is probably Dave Neligan. Coogan speculates that the motive for the murder might have gone back to Collins himself, although he had died the year before Lemass’ abduction. “Noel Lemass,” wrote Coogan, “had been a gifted intelligence officer with the Anti-Treaty Dublin Brigade IRA; he had been suspected of intercepting correspondence between Michael Collins and his fiancée Kitty Kiernan. To some Collins devotees, this alone might have seemed grounds for execution in the fervid political atmosphere of the day.”

Lemass appears in Beckett’s Mercier and Camier

Beckett wrote about Lemass, though not by his exact name, in his novel, Mercier and Camier when his characters come across the Noel Lemass Memorial in the Dublin Mountains:

What is that cross? said Camier.

There they go again.

Planted in the bog, not far from the road, but too far for the inscription to be visible, a plain cross stood.

I once knew, said Mercier, but no longer.

I too once knew, said Camier, I’m almost sure.

But he was not quite sure.

It was the grave of a nationalist, brought here in the night by the enemy and executed, or perhaps only the corpse brought here, to be dumped. He was buried long after, with a minimum of formality. His name was Masse, perhaps Massey. No great store was set by him now, in patriotic circles. It was true he had done little for the cause. But he still had this monument. All that, and no doubt much more, Mercier and perhaps Camier had once known, and all forgotten.

I asked Coffey when and where he first discovered Beckett’s interest in Lemass. “I believe it was at a Beckett conference in Phoenix,” he told me. “A scholar named Rodney Sharkey gave a paper on Ernie O’Malley and Beckett, in the course of which he talked about the murder of Noel and the memorial to him in the Dublin hills, which is the subject of some discussion in Beckett’s novel Mercier and Camier.

A memorial to Captain Noel Lemass.

Today, there is considerable ‘historicizing’ of Beckett’s work, meaning placing it in the there and then of his time, rather than leaving him afloat as some timeless poet of existential angst. It is clear from the novel that Beckett was very moved by the brutal death of Lemass at the hands of the Free State army. And as Mercier and Camier talk about it, Beckett renders them vague about the historic past, a bit of an indictment in this book, written in French in 1946, of the brutal way Irish independence was managed and how much of it was conveniently forgotten. Beckett paid close attention to the conflicts around him, be it Ireland, Nazi Germany, occupied France, Algeria, the Soviet crackdown on Czechoslovakia and Poland in the 1980s.”

Beckett’s formative years were in the wild west town of Dublin where rival intelligence agents shot each other down in the streets in broad daylight. What effect did this have on Beckett? “This is a region of Beckett studies that is being freshly turned,” maintains Coffey, “his time as a young fellow growing up during the revolution, in Dublin, his folks part of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy feeling the flames, and then later, as a star student at Trinity reading foreign languages but with a rebel’s heart, trying to make sense of the subsequent civil war, and of course the violence to such men as Lemass at the hands of the Civil Guard. And much has been done of late on hunger and starvation in the history of Ireland, from the Famine to the blanket in 1981. Beckett’s Malone, in Malone Dies, wonders how long he can survive on his diminishing servings of soup. Malone recalls ‘Lord Mayor of Cork’—Terence MacSwiney of course—who ‘lasted for ages,’ and it gives him a little hope.”

Many of Ireland’s great writers are viewed as nationalists—Joyce talking about the fall of Parnell in Portrait of the Artist and Yeats memorizing the rebel leadership in “Easter 1916”—but Beckett is not viewed in the same manner. Was Beckett a nationalist writer? “No doubt, but with qualifications,” said Coffey. “It is not wrong to say he was radicalized to the nationalist cause by his friend and mentor Tom MacGreevy—poet, director of the National Gallery—who introduced the young Beckett to Joyce and to Paris. But Beckett from the start despised any nationalist based aesthetic. But his heart, I like to think, is with whomever fights for self-determination and a condition in which the State cannot dictate what is said or felt—or written. Although he was cool to the excessive nationalism practiced by Yeats, the myth of an ancient Ireland that was to be revived, he cherished many Yeats verses all his life and could recite them to the end.”

Samuel Beckett Is Closed takes two and hits to right

Coffey is the author of a new book called Samuel Beckett Is Closed. It is such an odd title I asked Coffey what it meant, and I got a wonderful answer worthy of Beckett himself. “Well,” Coffey said sheepishly, “it is a bit of a toss, in that it was inspired by a photo of a traffic sign in Dublin indicating that the Beckett Bridge over the Liffey was closed. But I quickly made the connection with my understanding of the late Beckett work and how it deals with narrowing and more closed spaces, as the language begins to endure a reduction rather than an opening. But Beckett is never really closed. As the vibrant world of Beckett scholarship shows, there are many ways into and through Beckett, he was that kind of artist.”

Cover art for Coffey's book "Samuel Beckett Is Closed".

Samuel Beckett Is Closed will delight Beckett fans because, well, it’s so Beckettian. Is it fiction, nonfiction, memoir or what? “My book is a fiction using real texts,” said Coffey. “Text and kinds of narrative serve as characters, in some sense, so there are elements that are memoir, fiction, literary criticism, baseball play-by-play and appropriated texts about torture, being tortured, justifying torture. I braid them together according to a system that Beckett attempted for a short work, but then abandoned, and that itself becomes a strand in the book’s weave.

Beckett himself makes an appearance in Samuel Beckett Is Closed at a twi-night doubleheader played at Shea Stadium on July 31, 1964. Beckett actually attended this twin-bill and it is recounted by his editor and friend Richard Seaver in his wonderful publishing memoir, The Tender Hour of Twilight. Says Coffey, “Beckett was in New York—in America—once in his life, for about a month, in 1964. Barney Rosset, Beckett’s American publisher, was eager to produce a film based on a Beckett screenplay. Buster Keaton got the part. It was first class all the way. Boris Kaufman was the cinematographer—I mean, On the Waterfront, just for starters. It was a very hot month in New York. Beckett came to admire Keaton’s professionalism. It’s a very Beckettian movie, entirely silent but for a ‘Sshhh!’ at the very start. Beckett and Dick Seaver went to the ball games a Friday toward the end of Beckett’s stay. They enjoyed themselves.”

Samuel Beckett on set with Buster Keaton.

Baseball is famously a game of failure. Of course, the ultimate failure of life is one of the major themes of Beckett’s works so, naturally, he quickly became enamored with the terrible Mets. “I think the failure and the futile pace of things might have been alluring to Beckett,” speculates Coffey. “He was an avid sportsman, let’s not forget. He played cricket at boarding school and at Trinity I believe, was a tennis player and a good golfer. But an easy day at the ball park—watching the two worst teams at the time, each of them only three years old, the Mets and the Colt ’45s [now the Astros], must have intrigued him. They stayed for both games.” Coffey went on to say he “was drawn to using the baseball game one day when I was out walking and thinking about how to mix these many narratives I had, and, following Beckett’s scheme in that abandoned work I mentioned, there were nine themes. I was looking for subtle ways to anchor a reader in a nine-part narrative that in each part went four different directions—having one part be the obvious progression of a baseball game from innings one through nine, with two chaps having a talk about it inning by inning, seemed a natural fit.”

Beckett in the age of terrorism

Terrorism—GITMO, the Paris Attacks, 9/11—plays an important part in Samuel Beckett Is Closed. I asked Coffey why he went down that path and how is it connected to Beckett? “Beckett’s work,” Coffey opines, “however humorous, baffling, or austere, can also be severely discomfiting, from the awkward silences of Godot, to the pointlessness of Endgame, to the brutal setting of Winnie buried to her neck in a mound of dirt in Happy Days, and so on. It gets worse. I wanted to convey a genuine sense of the Beckett world, but in a contemporary idiom—and all around me was terrorism. Not only locally in New York, of course, with the Twin Towers, but every day now, a present of terrorism—and its State corollary, torture. How to bring torture into my book, as a person who has never suffered it and could never deign to imagine it? I appropriated from the Guantanamo diaries of a Mauritanian held in Cuba with no charges for 15 years. The editor who edited the diaries, Larry Siems, understands my recontextualizing and is fine with it.”

Of course, Beckett himself was a witness to another terrorism, Nazism. He spent a lot of time in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s (he recorded in his diary, “All the lavatory men say Heil Hitler”). Was Beckett working for British intelligence? “During his time in the resistance,” says Coffey, “with the cell ‘SMH Gloria,’ he was working for British Special Operations. I don’t know of any evidence that he worked for the British before the war, on his trip to Berlin, for example, in 1936. But the SOE in London had a file on Beckett: ‘Well built, but stoops. Dark hair. Fresh complexion. Very silent. Paris agent.’ Beckett had an Irish passport, but he chose to stay in France after the war broke out.”

Beckett’s firsthand look at Nazism had a profound effect on him. “Beckett,” says Coffey, “was able to be coldly analytical about the horrors that were moving around him. He wanted to see art and people. He was appalled at the actions of the State and intrigued by the actions of artists. Art, I think forever remained in an endangered place, and he always defended it, his art of course, but that of many others.”

Coffey wonders what a 21st century Beckett would be like. “What would Beckett be doing today?” asks Coffey. “Would he see possibilities for expression in the digital age? What would the expanses of the internet do to a Beckett performance space? He was attentive to all technologies and he would be to this one. He would probably dismantle it and we’d thank him.” Coffey pauses for a moment before puckishly saying, “Beckett with a Twitter account. Imagine.”

Samuel Beckett Is Closed by Michael Coffey. Foxrock/OR Books, $22, 208 pages

* Dermot McEvoy is the author of the The 13th Apostle: A Novel of Michael Collins and the Irish Uprising and Our Lady of Greenwich Village, both now available in paperback, Kindle and Audio from Skyhorse Publishing. He may be reached at dermotmcevoy50@gmail.com. Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook at www.facebook.com/13thApostleMcEvoy.

Sinn Féin politician resigns seat after joke about Troubles massacre

Barry McElduff, of Tyrone, has resigned. On the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre, the 51-year-old posted a video of himself posing with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head.

10 Protestant men were shot by republicans on their way home from work, one survived after being shot 18 times and a Catholic man was told to run away. The IRA long denied involvement in the atrocity but Historical Enquiries Team later named them as responsible.

Condemnation from victims and politicians, on both sides of the constitutional divide, was swift and furious.

Read More: Sinn Féin politician's joke about Kingsmill massacre goes global

McElduff denied the bread was meant as a reference to the massacre and apologized for any upset. He was initially suspended by Sinn Féin (on full pay) for three months but has now decided to resign.

“It is with great sadness that, after more than 30 years as an active Sinn Féin member and public representative I am tendering my resignation as MP for West Tyrone.

“The reason I am doing so is because of the consequences of the Twitter video which has caused such controversy over the last week. But the deep and unnecessary hurt this video caused the families of the victims of Kingsmill is my greatest regret.”

He continued, “I am an Irish republican and believe wholeheartedly in the reunification of our country and an agreed Ireland in which we heal the wounds of the past together.

“Reconciliation is essential, but that message is not being heard at this time. I do not wish to be a barrier to reconciliation and healing and in that spirit I again offer my sincere apologies to the survivors and families of those murdered at Kingsmill.”

Sinn Féin party leader Michelle O’Neil paid tribute to McElduff: "He has said that he does not want to be a barrier to reconciliation and I respect that decision.

“Barry has served Sinn Fein and been a formidable champion for the people of West Tyrone at local government, Assembly and Westminster level over the past 20 years and has done so with great commitment, energy and determination.”

Alan Black, the sole survivor of the massacre, said he was relieved to hear of McElduff’s decision.

"This past week has been truly awful for me. I am just hanging by a thread.  But I am glad he has done the right thing," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

DUP leader Arlene Foster was scathing, “Now is the time for Sinn Féin to learn the lessons from these dark events and to deal with the fact that it, and many of its individual members, continue to publicly glorify the murderous deeds of the past," she said.

"This needs to end if we are to build a future based on integrity and respect.  Sinn Féin has much work to do to demonstrate they have truly learned from these events.”

A by-election will be held in West Tyrone to replace McElduff as the area’s MP. The Ulster Unionist Party leader, Robin Swann, called for “a non-partisan candidate who will be a voice for victims to contest this seat against Sinn Féin… If a candidate emerges that allows cross-community support to coalesce around, it would send a strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

However, the seat is traditionally safe for Sinn Féin and even a non-partisan candidate with unionist backing would be a long shot in the staunchly republican part of Tyrone.

Irish teen wins top science prize for blackberry antibiotic that fights resistant bacteria

A high school student from Cork has a new antibiotic from blackberries that fights killer antibiotic-resistant MRSA.

A 15-year-old science student Simon Meehan of Coláiste Choilm won first place in the 54th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. His discovery that the chemicals found within blackberries could form antibiotics that kills Staphylococcus aureus - often known as the MRSA virus which that is well known for being resistant to antibiotics.

And he says his grandfather - a herbalist - was the inspiration that kept him going, keeping a frame picture of him at his side whilst he worked.

“I can’t tell you how I feel, out of my mind, I’m dreaming!” he said after his win was announced.

“People are going deep into the Amazon rainforest looking for new antibiotics. But I’m a 15-year-old boy who found this down his own back garden. That has got to be amazing,” he told The Irish Times in an interview afterwards.

“I feel, without disrespecting the scientific community too much, that there should be some conclusions from this. We are over-thinking science in too many ways.”

Read More: 19th century medicine in Ireland

Professor John O’Halloran, who helped judge the competition, was fulsome in his praise for Simon’s work: “This is a really exciting project which explores the possibility of the blackberry leaf extracts’ ability to control harmful bacteria. The unexpected findings deliver a unique approach to killing bacteria using natural plant active ingredients. The rigour of the approach adopted by Simon set his project apart from competitors and made him our overall winner.”

His science teacher at Coláiste Choil, Ms Lyne, said, “He's one of the most unassuming and popular students. Everyone is delighted with his success.”

H/T: Evening Echo

Martin Luther King’s legacy for the undocumented immigrant children

How Martin Luther King Jr changed the lives of an Irish teacher in Arizona and her student's lives and outlooks

Arizona school teacher Yvonne Watterson from Derry won the 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. award for standing up for “Dream” children whose parents brought them to America illegally when they were very young. She recounts how King’s message changed their and her lives.

Each of us from a different corner of the world, each of us an immigrant in Arizona, we wanted to make a point with our simple declaration – “We’re all immigrants” –  the point being that America makes immigrants of us all.

In 2007 in Phoenix, Arizona, it was a point lost on too many people. At the time, I was principal of a small high school in Phoenix. My students were mostly poor, their families living at or below the federal poverty level; they weren’t expected to go to college. But at that school, we were doing something special. Students for whom society had the lowest expectations were beating the odds. They were taking college and high school courses simultaneously, some of them graduating from high school and college at the same time.

The “early college” model was working. The school that had languished for years with attendance and drop-out rates at 50% was now boasting a 1.7% drop out rate. The attendance rate was 96%. The students were proving that, yes, they could “do college.”

Proposition 300

Then everything changed.  Proposition 300 which was passed overwhelmingly by Arizona’s voters, stipulated that college students who were not legal United States citizens or who were “without lawful immigration status” had to pay out-of-state tuition. It meant that they were no longer eligible for financial assistance using state money. And that meant that as principal, I could no longer use state funding – generated by student enrollment and attendance – to pay college tuition for those students who could not prove residency.

There were 37 students affected by the law, students whose parents had brought them to the United States when they were babies. In order to provide them the same educational opportunities as their American-born peers, I had to come up with $86,000. And I had to do it on my own time.

When I broke the news to those 37 students, they were devastated. Their tears forced me into foreign territory – the media. I contacted the Arizona Republic and columnist Ed Montini wrote a column - “Unintended Consequences of Prop 300?” I was convinced that voters didn’t realize that children would be affected by the law. Well, I was wholly unprepared for the negative response, for the hate-filled messages that filled the newspaper’s internet site.

By all accounts, the consequences were most definitely intended.  A TV appearance on Horizonte and another column in the Republic helped change some hearts and minds. Some readers began to see beyond the stereotypes as they learned of the dreams of aspiring architects, lawyers, doctors, and entrepreneurs.

Donations began pouring in, and, anonymously, my students began writing thank you letters. Every letter told a story, a story of a child who took his or her first steps on Arizona soil, who said the Pledge of Allegiance every day at elementary school, who believed their teacher’s assurances that all their dreams would come true if they simply stayed in school.

In some ways, it felt like I wasn’t in the America I had once dreamed of. In fact, it felt eerily familiar and took me back to my student teaching days in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In the early 1980s, many of my students were touched by sectarian violence beyond the school playground. And so I learned very early on that schools are and should be sacred places. Places of hope, of possibility. Places where dreams begin.

I still feel that way. I am an immigrant, an American dreamer. Anything is possible here. I have to believe in, or at least aspire to, the America that Tom Wolfe described, “It is a fabulous country, the only fabulous country; it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time.”

For our efforts in 2008, we raised enough money to pay college tuition for those 37 students. The Hispanic Institute of Social Issues published their letters in a bilingual book, “Documented Dreams,” and everyone who contributed received a copy. On behalf of those resilient immigrant students, I accepted the City of Phoenix Martin Luther King Living the Dream Award in January 2008. Sadly, I don’t know what became of them. Some of them, I’m sure, left Arizona, beaten down by SB1070, the DREAM Act unrealized, comprehensive immigration reform elusive still.  This weekend, as we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I cannot help but wonder if there will ever be a place at the table for every needy child. What do you think?

Not too long ago, I asked our daughter, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Without missing a beat, she said, “Happy.”

She’s off to a great start. Born in America to legal residents, she has health insurance, a little savings account, a passport. She has a City of Phoenix library card. In several years, she’ll have a driver’s license; soon after that, she’ll be able to vote. She has a Social  Security number, so she’ll be able to work. She is well documented. Sadly, there are other daughters and sons in this state who also want to be happy when they grow up but through no fault of their own, they lack the documentation that would make their pursuit of happiness more than just a dream. They are the children of immigrants who have become the collateral damage in this war over immigration. As Seamus Heaney once said, when hearts harden, dreams diminish and possibilities narrow for these young people. Unlike my daughter, who can join me today to openly celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, these students have no choice other than to live in the shadows, afraid of being forced to leave the country they have always called home.

Anna Quindlen writes that “Immigration is never about today; it is always about tomorrow.” It is always about the kind of tomorrow Dr. King described in his dream of an America with a place at the table for children of every race … and room at the inn for every needy child. The kind of tomorrow I dreamed about as a little girl in Northern Ireland where one day Catholics and Protestants would attend the same schools.

Basically, Immigration is an exercise in hope, in deferred gratification, and deferred dreams. Dr. King reminded us, “disappointment is finite, but hope must remain infinite.”

The immigrant children among us have little other than hope, but recently they have had to face adversity and disappointment that no child should have to face: disappointed that Proposition 300 limited their access to a college education, disappointed that the DREAM Act died in the Senate, disappointed that there are those who are willing to discard them while, at the same time, to import professionals from other countries to do the very jobs these talented students are qualified to do!

I marvel at the resilience of these young men and women, many of whom have taken their first steps on Arizona soil, placed their hands on their hearts every day to pledge allegiance to the flag of the only country they’ve ever known, and with dedication and gratitude have risen to the educational and social challenges they have faced.

This prestigious award belongs to these undocumented dreamers and their undaunted immigrant spirit. It also belongs to their tireless, courageous champions who fly below the radar.

In closing, I thank the Arizona Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee for this beautiful morning, and from the bottom of my heart I thank the Phoenix Human Relations Commission and the city of Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department for their courage in presenting this award which I hope is the first step in breaking the silence about these children, these future lawyers, engineers, teachers, doctors.

They are here. They are here. We need to listen to their dreams and we need to act to make those dreams a reality.

* Originally published in 2015.

Music buff? Here are 10 incredible Irish musicians battling for album of the year

Time to shake up your 2018 Spotify playlist with the RTÉ's annual Choice Music Prize shortlist - the names you need to know!

It's not all céilís and seisiúns in the Emerald Isle you know.

The ten nominees for RTÉ's annual Choice Music Prize shortlist have been named - right in time to shake up your 2018 Spotify playlist. 

The winning album will be announced at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize live event at Dublin music venue Vicar Street on March 8th.

From folk crooners to promising electronic popstars; the music scene in Ireland is burgeoning and here are the names you need to know.

Come On Live Long – In The Still

Instagram

Marlene Enright – Bay Tree (From Placemats and Second Cuts)

Instagram

Fang Club – Follow (From Fangclub)

Instagram

Lankum – The Granite Gaze (From Beneath the Earth and Sky)

Instagram

James Vincent McMorrow – True Care

Twitter

New Jackson – From Night to Night

Instagram

Otherkin – Bad Advice (From OK)

Instagram

Fionn Regan – Meeting of the Waters

Instagram

Ships – Golden Rule (From Precession)

Facebook

Talos – Runaway (From Wild Alee)

Instagram

How Robert Kennedy changed dramatically after JFK’s death

On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in Memphis. A short time later, Senator Robert Francis Kennedy, running for the office of President of the United States of America, touched down in Indianapolis.

Despite warnings from the mayor and chief of police that he was in hostile territory, he immediately headed for the black ghetto. There, in 556 extemporaneous words, in maybe the best speech delivered in America since the Gettysburg Address, he told the crowd of the country’s loss.

“What we need in the United States,” said Kennedy, “is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”

“My favorite poet was Aeschylus,” he said. “He wrote: ‘In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’ ”

Sixty-three days later Robert Kennedy would be dead.

Forty-eight years later the U.S. is still presented with many of the problems Kennedy spoke about, but it’s almost impossible to imagine any of the candidates running for president this year showing such compassion, let alone quote—or even pronounce—Aeschylus.

RFK with the busboy Juan Romero, who gave him rosary beads after he was shot.

Bobby Kennedy had come a long way from being one of Senator Joe McCarthy’s hatchet men only fifteen years before. If there ever was a politician disguised as a riddle, it was Kennedy. Former Boston Globe journalist Larry Tye decided he had to decipher that riddle and "Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon" (Random House) is the result.

“I wrote about Bobby partly because he was a hero of mine growing up,” Tye told IrishCentral, “and I wanted to learn more about him and see if I’d been right in embracing him. As important, I pick my subjects for the same reason every biographer does: because their small and human story is a lens into a bigger, more cosmic one. In Bobby’s case, his transformation over his 20-year career lets us see how America was changing (for the better) from the Eisenhower era of the 1950s through the tumultuous 1960s. Nobody better reflected that change than Bobby, and nobody was more instrumental in steering it.”

Tye never met Kennedy, but he had some important “ins” to the Kennedy family. “I did go to a small high school outside Boston with Bobby’s son David and his nephew Chris Lawford,” said Tye. “Bobby’s brother Ted was one of my best sources during my 15 years at the Boston Globe, and over the years I met others in the Kennedy clan, through work and play.”

Perhaps his biggest coup was getting Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, to talk to him. How did he pull that off? “I came along at the right time—when Ethel was sensing her mortality (she just turned 88) and, I think, was ready to talk. I had several friends who were friends of hers, and vouched for me. And I was plain lucky.”

Most politicians, if they evolve politically, evolve from left to right—Ronald Reagan being a prime example, going from New Deal Democrat to Arch-Conservative. Kennedy, however, went the opposite direction, compounding his riddle.

“It’s one of several ways in which Bobby defied intuition and custom,” said Tye, “which he relished doing. Most people get more conservative as they age partly because they lose their idealism and reach, but Bobby got more idealistic the more he saw wrongs that needed righting and he reached ever-further in trying to change things that made him angry. Would that more politicians did that, and more of the rest of us.”

Of course, politicians we admire “evolve,” but politicians we despise are called “flip-floppers.” Why wasn’t Kennedy a flip-flopper?

“Something deeper was involved,” insists Tye. “Bobby, I am convinced, changed in ways that were deeply felt and painfully arrived at. He’d always been a balance between tough and tender, and the more he suffered—with the tragic death of two brothers and a sister, up-close encounters with poverty and pains, and the costs of a war he had strongly backed—the more the tender came to dominate. Another difference: Flip-floppers change in the direction of the prevailing political winds, whereas Bobby changed on issues like Vietnam before being anti-war was popular and when it could and did cost him his relationship with a very powerful president, Lyndon Johnson.”

Kennedy was a fairly devout Catholic, an Irish one at that. Did that have any bearing on his evolution?

“Any faith,” said Tye, “and especially Catholicism, can push one in either ideological direction, since there’s scriptural and clerical support for liberalism and conservatism. In Bobby’s case, he took practical and spiritual direction from his devotion to his faith and it was a central part of what drove and sustained him.

Senator Joseph McCarthy

Kennedy liberal detractors always bring up Kennedy’s association with Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose tactics would add a new definition to the dictionary: “McCarthyism.” Yet Kennedy never abandoned him, even traveling to Wisconsin for his funeral in 1957. Looking back at both of their careers, they certainly were a political odd-couple.

“Bobby was firmly anti-Communist in the 1950s,” explained Tye, “and he felt that Senator McCarthy was one of the only public figures willing to stand up to the Reds. Bobby was devoted to his father, and Joe Kennedy was devoted to Joe McCarthy. And Bobby badly needed a mentor, and Joe McCarthy served that role for Bobby in a way that was real and made clear he was a friend as well as a boss.”

Of course, there was another character in this political ménage à trois who has just shot back into the news—Roy Cohn. It has recently been revealed that Cohn in the years before he died of AIDS, was a political mentor to none other than Donald J. Trump. Not surprising, as much as Kennedy admired McCarthy, he loathed Cohn.

“Bobby was jealous that Cohn was running McCarthy’s staff,” explained Tye, “while he was a junior staffer who Cohn treated like a go-fer. Bobby chose to blame Cohn for the McCarthy Committee’s excesses, which was right in that Cohn was mean and dogmatic and demagogic, but it let McCarthy—who, after all, was Cohn’s boss—off the hook far too easily. For his part, Cohn hated Bobby because he saw him as a spoiled rich kid, which he was, and because he knew Bobby got the job because McCarthy was beholden to rich Joe Kennedy, which he was.”

One of the great ironies of Kennedy’s political life was that he was bedeviled by two Senator McCarthys: Joe in the beginning and Gene at the end. IrishCentral asked Tye if he thought Kennedy would see the terrible irony in this mad juxtaposition?

“I do think he saw the irony, albeit reluctantly,” replied Tye. “He also must have bitten his lip when Lady Bird Johnson’s press secretary accurately quipped in 1968, ‘It took Bobby Kennedy seventeen years to come out against McCarthy, and then it was the wrong one.’ ”

Probably the best statement Tye made about the JFK/RFK relationship was: “Bobby was all Gaelic, bristling with energy and trusting his gut. If the Church had been their calling, Jack would have been pope, Bobby a parish priest.”

What, exactly, did Bobby get out of being the parish priest of the Democratic Party? “It was the place,” replied Tye, “at the grassroots, where Bobby felt he learned the most, contributed the most and felt most appreciated. Jack never pretended to like the grunt work and aspired to be president from the instant he was elected to Congress. Bobby had trouble imagining himself as senator, then as president, although he was much more qualified—from having done his grunt work—than his older brother, who’d always been removed and pretentiously pope-like.”

MLK and RFK.

Kennedy, as his brother’s Attorney General, gradually began to evolve from right-winger to lefty. As AG he was in charge of desegregating colleges in the south and the mayhem, violence, and murder made a deep impression on him.

The Cuban Missile Crisis also had a profound impact on him. Tye is extremely critical of Kennedy and his maneuverings during the crisis and some of the self-serving things he wrote in his book on the crisis.

“He and the world had come closer to a nuclear holocaust than any time before or since,” says Tye, “and it sobered him as it did everyone. It also eventually tempered his hatred of Castro and resolve to depose him, but that took a bit more time. The sad thing is that Bobby felt the need, because of his political ambition and determination to whitewash Kennedy history, to embellish and whitewash his role in the crisis when he wrote about it in his book 'Thirteen Days.' He was an advocate of the dovish naval blockade, but only later; at first he was among the most militant of the hawks.”

RFK was so right about so many things: poverty, civil rights, apartheid in South Africa, Vietnam, and his amazing prediction that there would be a black president within 40 years. What does this out-of-the-box thinking tell you about him? And how come so many people—many so-called intellectuals—got so many of these things wrong?

“It tells me that he had the confidence to admit he’d screwed up,” says Tye, “which most intellectuals don’t. And he had the foresight to cut through the crap and see the essence of the situation, whether it was Vietnam or civil rights, but only the second time around, after he’d made mistakes and learned from them.”

After President Kennedy’s assassination, Bobby went into a depression in which he emerged a different man. Kennedy had a great love of children which was best expressed in a wonderful, heartfelt moment a month after JFK’s assassination.

Kennedy was visiting a school when a little boy yelled “Your brother’s dead!” The outburst stunned the onlookers, but Kennedy put them at ease when he told the little boy “That’s all right. I have another brother.”

Kennedy’s emergence from his profound depression took just about a year, culminating in his bid for New York's US Senate seat.

“It was partly that his Senate campaign,” notes Tye, “made him see that he still had a role to play in the politics and policies of the nation, and that the public responded to him as separate from and nearly equivalent to the beloved assassinated president. It also gave Bobby the most essential of cures for situational depression: time and distractions.”

Kennedy visiting poverty-stricken areas of the Mississippi Delta.

After his election to the Senate Kennedy started championing the causes of the rural poor, the Chicanos, the blacks in city ghettos, and the forgotten whites. No one ever got elected in American politics by being a hero to these forgotten people, as we can see in present-day politicking. Why did he do it?

“Because,” says Tye, “he couldn’t not do it, the way he was moved by seeing starving kids in the Mississippi Delta, abused ones in the grape and lettuce fields of California, and forgotten ones—white as well as black—in Brooklyn and Queens and upstate New York. It’s also that he was crafting a new politics where those forgotten Americans—black, brown, and blue-collar white—would form a new, triumphant electoral coalition.”

Tye added, “Instead of following a straight line from conservative to liberal, he had skipped straight to revolutionary.”

A remarkable statement, but was Bobby Kennedy truly a “revolutionary”?

“In every sense of the word,” insists Tye. “He was willing to try new, untested, and unpopular solutions. He was as impatient as hell and ready to topple anyone who stood in his way. He was familiar with old-style politics and politicians and hated both. All that was apparent in his attitudes about everything from poverty to fighting the wrong wars. What we lost the night Bobby was killed was the tough liberal—or perhaps tender conservative—I’ve spent my life waiting and hoping for.”

Senator Kennedy concluded his speech that awful night in Indianapolis by saying: “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

Landmark for Peace memorial. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Today, on that very spot in Indianapolis, stands the Landmark for Peace Memorial, a remarkable sculpture that shows Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. reaching out for one another, perhaps contemplating giving each other a High-Five when their life’s work is finally accomplished.

---

Dermot McEvoy is the author of the "The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany" (Skyhorse Publishing). He may be reached at dermotmcevoy50@gmail.com. Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook.

* Originally published in 2016.

Liam Neeson calls #MeToo movement "witch-hunt" on The Late Late Show

Liam Neeson has come under fire for calling the #MeToo movement a "witch-hunt" on Irish talk show The Late Late Show.

Sean Spicer and Liam Neeson both appeared on the RTÉ show on Friday night, and surprisingly it was the actor and not Trump’s former press secretary who proved to be the most controversial.

The action star is now facing criticism for defending several high-profile men accused of inappropriate sexual behavior and saying that there’s “a bit of a witch-hunt happening.”

Read More: Irish America brace yourself! Liam Neeson and Spicer set for Late Late

Neeson’s comments came after host Ryan Tubridy asked him for his thoughts on the #MeToo campaign that has been sweeping through Hollywood ever since the allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein were made public last October.

“There is a bit of a witch hunt happening, too,” Neeson said. “There’s some people, famous people, being suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee or something, and suddenly they’re being dropped from their program or something.”

Neeson then mentioned the allegations against A Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor and actor Dustin Hoffman, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women.

Keillor allegedly touched a woman  wearing clothes on the bare back during work hours and got fired for it.

Kathryn Rossetter alleges Hoffman repeatedly groped her during the 1983 Broadway production of Death of a Salesman. Neeson dismissed it as “childhood stuff” and somehow weirdly linked the groping to “superstition.”

“The Dustin Hoffman thing, I’m on the fence about that. When you’re doing a play, and you’re with your family — other actors, technicians — you do silly things. And it becomes superstitious if you don’t do it every night you think it’s going to jinx the show. I think Dustin Hoffman was… I’m not saying I’ve done similar things like what he did. Apparently, he touched another girl’s breast and stuff. But it’s childhood stuff what he was doing.”

Neeson’s comments came under fire on social media.

Meanwhile, Sean Spicer told Ryan Tubridy that his six month stint as Trump’s press secretary “felt like six dog years.”

"It's a very demanding job and it's a very intense place to work under any president and this president added an element of excitement to it." said Spicer on the show.

He said he “90 percent” supported Trump’s plan to build a border wall and that he would vote for Trump again.

On Trump’s most recent comments about immigration, Spicer said: "As an Irish-American, someone who understands the trials and tribulations of so many Irish folk coming to America, I'm very proud of America's history of welcoming immigrants.”

"I believe that America is a great country that welcomes people who want to come and make a name for themselves, pursue the American dream and make it better. Immigrants have made our country what it is."

When Tubridy asked him about the 2005 Access Hollywood tape, in which Trumps boasts about his sexual advances on women, Spicer said: "Obviously I don't agree with what was said on the tape. The president, at the time the candidate, apologized for it and went on television and said so.

"I think we've all said or done things that we regret. I think the president, then the candidate, expressed remorse and the one thing about being a Catholic is that we are all taught forgiveness. The president went on television that night and said I regret these thing.

"I think if we're going to ask forgiveness for ourselves sometimes, we're also taught to give forgiveness."

Read More: Sean Spicer says he's "one of the most popular guys in Ireland"

Tubridy also asked what the president was like to deal with on a daily basis.

Spicer said: "He's very straightforward, you know where you stand with him at all times, good or bad, and there's no beating abound the bush.

"He has very strong beliefs about what he wants to do and how he wants to do it and he expects his staff to fully support him."

 

H/T Joe.ie, EW, RTE

'Hamilton’s' Lin-Manuel Miranda led fight to save beloved Irish pub in New York

Coogan’s, an Irish jewel of Upper Manhattan, was set to close this May with a $40,000 hike in monthly rent but was saved by an incredible community effort of folks from all different ethnicities and backgrounds.

Leading the charge was Lin-Manuel Miranda, who drops in all the time, as does his father. So do black men, white men, brown men, comrades all. Hell, they’re so hospitable, they’d even welcome the Trumpster.

Read More: This Irish pub on wheels is the caravan of your dreams

The New York Times writer and twice Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jim Dwyer, who lives nearby, is the chronicler of all things Coogan’s, each column a jewel. Years back, the owners, Peter Walsh, David Hunt and Tess O’Connor McDade, insisted on keeping the pub open even when the neighborhood changed and times got tough. Then this year they faced eviction because of a $40,000 a month rent rise.

Coogan's Pub in Washington Heights. Credit: Facebook

When Coogan's was set to close, Dwyer wrote: “Coogan’s came through the crack wars of the 1980s and served as a meeting spot for, among others, Dominican-Americans, African-Americans, Caribbean-Africans, Irish-Americans, old-time Jewish-German refugees, police officers, doctors and construction workers. Also, reporters, including this one. And my family. When riots were tearing the streets apart in July 1992, Coogan’s stayed open 24 hours. One evening, it hosted the local precinct captain and a local power broker, who met in the back room. The next day, the riots ended.”

I went there with Jim soon after 9/11. He was right about the magical mix.
Cops and robbers, drinker and dossers all mixed together in a beautiful melange of New York. There was a Shamrock run on St.Patrick’s weekend for charity and a fundraising breakfast for Dominican HIV families later in the year. Coogan’s quite simply was the glue that held the neighborhood together
There was supposed to be a Coogan's wake this weekend and a protest which most thought would change little. We have seen before neighborhood landmarks disappearing as gentrification spreads.

Interior of Coogan's pub. Credit: Facebook/Coogan's NYC

Like Tim Finnegan’s Irish wake however, the Coogan’s corpse arose.

“Tim revives! See how he rises!
Timothy risen' from the bed
Sayin', "drink and porter is my order
Thunderin' Jaysus! Did you think I’m dead?"

Coogan’s was almost dead. “They want about $40,000 a month more,” David Hunt, one of three partners in Coogan’s, told Jim Dwyer before the reprieves. “That’s not remotely doable. Right now, we are paying all our bills every week, and that’s about it. But when we leave at the end of May, not one employee, not one vendor, not one tax will be unpaid.”

That sounded like an encomium for Coogan’s. Then at the weekend, a deal was struck.

“New York-Presbyterian and Coogan’s are delighted that this has been resolved in a way that satisfies everyone involved, and that Coogan’s will continue to be a very special part of the Washington Heights community,” the hospital and the restaurant said in a joint statement.

Read More: These top ten Irish bars in North America are up for the Irish pub of the year

They acknowledged that Representative Adriano Espaillat and the Manhattan borough president, Gale Brewer, had been instrumental in bringing about the agreement. Also taking part was Luis A. Miranda Jr., a political consultant who is the father of the Broadway star. His son Lin-Manuel Miranda pumped his fist in the air and shouted, “Coogan’s!” when the announcement was made. Alexander Hamilton would approve the quiet revolution.

So Coogan’s is saved, a neighborhood preserved, and ordinary folk shown they can make a difference. Do yourself a favor if you are ever in Upper Manhattan and visit. It’s a unique community who recognize the Irish language epithet “Ni Neart Go Chur Le Cheile” --”No strength unless we pull together.”

Definitely true in this case.

Citing Irish roots, Speaker Ryan slams Trump on “s**thole” comment

Speaker Paul Ryan has condemned President Trump's remark about “s**thole countries” calling the comment “very unfortunate” and “unhelpful.”

Speaking at a Q&A event at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee on Friday, the Wisconsin Republican brought up his own Irish roots when asked to address Trump’s comments.

Read More: “S**thole” countries once included Ireland we should remember

"I thought about my own family," said Ryan, describing his Irish immigrant relatives who came to America on "coffin ships" and worked the railroads until they raised enough money to start their own farm in Wisconsin.

"It's a beautiful story of America," he said. "I see this as a thing to celebrate and I think it's a big part of our strength."

The president has since denied describing Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “s**thole countries during an Oval Office meeting on immigration on Thursday.

"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!" Trump tweeted on Friday morning.

Ryan said he wanted to craft a legislative solution to protect so-called "Dreamers" and make the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program permanent. However, he said he wanted it to be part of a deal on border security.

Read More: "Fire and Fury" Trump book reveals Steve Bannon, Paul Ryan feud is very Irish

He also went on to say that immigration legislation will not be part of a government funding package and that the issue will be voted on separately. As a result, said the speaker, he does not believe there will be a government shutdown.

"No, I don't there there will be," he said.

 

H/T CBS News

The Irish passport is more powerful than ever in world rankings

Ireland has jumped up in the rankings of the globe’s most powerful passports.

In joint fifth place - alongside the United States, South Korea and Portugal - Ireland was awarded 173 points - compared to the 172 it received in 2017.  

The annual rankings are put together by Henley & Partners on the basis on how many countries citizens are able to visit without having to apply for a visa, with one point awarded per country.

Currently Ireland has signed visa waiver agreements with 142 countries - including the United States - and remains a member of the European Union which allows Irish citizens the right to live and work in all 28 members states, plus the four countries in the European Economic Area.

Globally, German passports remain the top dog: German citizens can travel to 177 without having to apply for a visa. Singapore ranks second with 176 points, whilst Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden and Britain ranked joint third with 175.

Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney congratulated staff on their hard work and said, "I am very proud to see the Irish passport ranked fourth and fifth respectively in two prestigious global rankings. The ranking demonstrates again the value and power of the Irish passport and how well it is regarded internationally."

A spokeswoman from the Department of Foreign Affairs told IrishCentral the ranking, “reflects the major efforts undertaken at all levels of the Passport Service to protect the integrity of the passport and to ensure it continues to be a secure travel document, while also meeting the challenges of increases in application numbers and the need for technological advancement.”

The increase in applications primarily comes from the United Kingdom, where huge numbers of British citizens have applied for Irish passports since Britain decided to leave the European Union in June 2016.

Read More: Brexit fever? 2017 a record year for Irish passport applications

In total last year a record 779,000 Irish passports were issued in 2017 - a 6% rise on 2016 - and most of the increase came from British citizens hoping to secure the right to live and work in the European Union after Brexit.

Under the current set of rules anyone with an Irish grandparent can qualify for Irish citizenship and an Irish passport and as Britain has always been the most popular choice for Irish emigrant the BBC estimates that “about 6.7 million people in the UK who don't already have an Irish passport who could be entitled to one. We think that's a conservative estimate”.

A figure greater than the Republic’s current population of 4.8 million.

Read More: What you should know about applying for Irish citizenship

Irish woman goes berserk on Ryanair plane, flight forced to divert

A Ryanair flight was forced to divert after an allegedly drunk Irish woman became “aggressive” during the flight.

Flight FR7063 from Alicante to Dublin made an unscheduled stop to Santander on January 10 due to the woman's behavior, the Irish Independent reports.

Dubliner Kieron, a man who was on the flight with the woman on the way over to Spain, said “and she was disruptive then too.”

Read More: Impatient Ryanair passenger jumps out onto plane’s wing

"I was hoping she would be getting a different flight from us home so I was worried when I saw her board on the flight home," he said.

"We were all waiting together in the one room before boarding and she was already getting aggressive. She had been drinking again because I saw her buy bottles in duty free and drink them before she boarded."

He alerted airline staff of the women’s behavior when she boarded.

"It all kicked off on the flight when people started getting food. She was annoyed that people were being served at the front of the plane first and that she had to wait. She was uncontrollable and was picking fights and cursing at everyone," he said.

"There was a young child sitting opposite her who looked terrified.

"The woman was definitely Irish. The majority of the flight was Irish. It's an embarrassment to us all."

The flight was diverted to the Spanish city of Santander after the pilot asked police to meet the aircraft and take the woman and her partner off the plane.

Video footage shows the woman arguing with a Civil Guard officer and an air stewardess as she is being escorted off the plane. Passengers can be heard saying “See you tomorrow” and “Adios” as she was taken away.

Kieron said the Ryanair staff “did everything in their power.”

"In fairness they were all great. They apologized to us after and did everything in their power to control the situation," he said.

He said he believes that there should be some measures in place to stop drunk passengers from boarding planes.

"It's alright if you want to have some cheeky pints before the flight because you're on holiday mode but not to the point where you become aggressive. There needs to be more controls before boarding where passengers can be assessed to see if they're fit to fly.

"It really was a disgrace."

According to a statement made by Ryanair, the flight was diverted to Santander after two passengers became disruptive during the flight.

"The aircraft landed normally and the passengers were removed and detained by police upon arrival, before the aircraft continued to Dublin," the statement read.

Read More: Watch most obnoxious passenger ever on Ryanair reduce employee to tears (VIDEO)

"We will not tolerate unruly or disruptive behavior at any time and the safety and comfort of our customers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority. This is now a matter for local police."

Ryanair added that it is calling for significant changes to prohibit the sale of alcohol at airports.

"It’s incumbent on the airports to introduce these preventative measures to curb excessive drinking and the problems it creates, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before their flights."

A fond farewell for my Irish mother, the light of our lives

The Shanley family have kindly agreed to share this beautiful memorial tribute to their mother, Marie. 

I would like to thank everybody for being here today to celebrate the life of our wonderful mother, Marie.

It’s difficult to convey in a few minutes or in a few words a life so full, so well lived and so well traveled.

A life of laughter and a life filled with music.

Our mother had a great love of life and a huge interest in people, and anyone who met Mammy for the first time would verify that her first question would be, “What county person are you?” And invariably she would have a light-hearted story or anecdote to share about that part of the country.

With her songs and poems, Mam passed on her values to which we will be forever grateful, and with a positive outlook on life, she always saw the best in everybody.

We were so lucky as children that Mam and Dad chose Tinahely [Co. Wicklow] to raise their family and growing up there was a joy.

Read More: A beautiful poem for the departed by Irish monks 

Mammy was the queen of recycling.

As children our motto was “Ya better finish your dinner, cos if ya don’t it’ll be disguised as something else for your tea!”

We had an idyllic childhood in Tinahely, playing in the fields and swimming in the river and with Mam and Dad’s sense of adventure, one day we could be in Glendalough and the next day we could be driving through Kinsale, Bundoran, the highlands of Scotland, or Belfast, or London, packed into a red Hillman Hunter Estate, registration number VNI 112 with a pillow on the gearstick for a child seat, obviously no seat belt provisions in the back for children, and the windows all rolled up tight just in case any second-hand cigarette smoke might escape.

Coming from an entertainment background, my mother had music flowing through her veins.

We never needed the radio on in our house as we were always being treated to a broad range of music from opera to folk, country to gospel, but most of all it was my mother’s love of Irish songs that rang through.

Her personal favorite was always Tommy Makem’s Four Green Fields.

When she sang that song in O’Connors Lounge in Tinahely you could hear a pin drop, but when she’d finish the final note, she’d bring the house down and that would fill us with pride while bringing a smile to Daddy’s face.

All our lives changed when Daddy died suddenly in January 2000.

My mother lost her soulmate and best friend, but any worries we had for Mam were unnecessary as she rose to the challenge life had put in front of her.

She immersed herself in voluntary charity work with the Irish wheelchair association, which kept her busy, and then it was time for Mam to get back on the road of travel.

With her partner in crime, Mrs. O’Brien from Tinahely, they embarked on constant holidays around Europe, touching into Asia and North Africa.

And after countless hilarious events which legally can’t be spoken about, we nicknamed them Thelma and Louise.

After many trips, they decided to hang up their traveling boots. The next chapter in Mam’s life beckoned and St. Fiacc’s house Graiguecullen welcomed Mammy with open arms, and the last 5 and a half years of her life spent there have been filled with fun, happiness, security and of course music.

And, as Mam always kept telling us, “the best brown bread in Ireland.”

But above all else, the love and care given to our mother in St. Fiacc’s house were second to none and we as a family will never forget that.

I wish to thank everybody that sent cards and messages on social media. It really means a lot, and again to thank everyone who traveled here today and over the last few days.

I would especially like to thank my sister Aine who has done so much for my mother since she moved to St. Fiacc’s.

I would also like to thank the doctors and the nurses in St. Luke’s, Kilkenny for their amazing care to Mammy in her final few days.

Finally, if I can borrow a few lines of a favorite song of hers from Joseph Locke:

My heart is broken but what care I?

Such pride inside me has woken

I'll try my best not to cry

By and by

Goodbye, goodbye

I wish you all a last goodbye,

Goodbye, goodbye

I wish you all a last goodbye.

Will we soon be importing all our favorite chocolate from Ireland?

Say goodbye to your favorite Nestlé chocolate bars because the company is selling up its chocolate distribution in the US.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that we have to make do with the poor-man Hershey’s version of a Cadbury Dairy Milk, Nestlé are reported to be ending their time in the chocolate business in the US, suffering in sales because the increasingly healthy US consumer is looking for less sugary and less fatty options on the market.

The likes of the Butterfinger, Baby Ruth and Crunch bar are no longer selling in the US and rather than attempt to bring the American public back down the road of temptation, the food-production giant has decided to cut its losses and sell. While we may all associate Nestlé with chocolate alone, this is just one division of the company’s US base that it will be selling. Sales of Nestlé chocolate will still be continuing under the company in other parts of the world.

Read more: 9 top chocolates for Irish chocoholics

Who will be providing is with Crunch bars in the future? Image: WikiCommons.

Hoping to acquire a new owner in the first few months on 2018, competition to take on the bar brands is said to be “robust,” with the sale expected to reach heights of between $1 and $3 billion.

It’s a massive move for the company which pioneered the chocolate bar (first created by Henri Nestlé, with help from a confectioner neighbor, in 1875) but they’re not alone in reassessing their healthier snack options for a more health-conscious world. Hershey’s, Nestlé’s biggest rivals, has also announced the $1.6 million purchase of Amplify, which makes an extra special healthy popcorn.

Read more: What chocolate do the Irish really love?

Nestlé and Cadbury could now both be ruined by Hershey's in the US. Image: iStock.

Hershey’s are also believed to be one of the potential bidders for Nestlé’s US confectionery division, making us all dread that the chocolate content will go the same way as Cadbury in the US. Hershey’s filed for a ban on the US sale of Cadbury products that weren’t made with Hershey chocolate, having bought the country rights to the Cadbury name in 1988. The ban left many Irish and British people angry that they could no longer get a taste of home on these shores, comparing the taste of Hershey's chocolate extremely unfavorably to that of the original. 

Thankfully for all Nestlé fans, no matter what happens with the sale in the US, the brand’s chocolate bars will be remaining the same in Ireland, with some extra options that we feel our US readers should definitely try. Welcome to the bubbly Aero heaven of chocolate care packages from Ireland!

Which do you prefer: Cadbury or Nestlé? Or are you a Hershey's heathen? Let us know in the comments section, below.  

Read more: Guinness, Bailey’s and whiskey chocolate cupcakes recipe

Irish lad in NYC's love letter to "simple" Ireland without roaches, sales tax, and frostbite

Ahh Ireland. 

A Reddit user, identified only as CherryPieMix, took to the platform to romanticize a time when things were easier in his homeland.

The poster writes about "new threats around every corner" - whether you're new to New York, or a seasoned city slicker, no doubt many of these points will resonate with you.

"First it was the -15C weather that managed to overpower the central heating in my room. Woke up puffing clouds of mist and with my hands and lips dryer than your aul one's growler."

NYC's ancient apartment buildings are infamously overran by critters. It seems the poster has the unfortunate experience of finding a home with more err.. roommates than he anticipated.

"Next up we have the bed bugs - was just at a cinema that was reported to have bed bugs a while back and now I'm shitting myself thinking we might possibly have an infestation. The movie wasn't even that good so it wasn't worth it!"

"Oh and I love my porridge in the morning, but man it's awful lumpy because I can't leave it out to soak overnight without fear of attractive cockroaches! We've already seen one of the fuckers around the kitchen, so now we might have roaches to go with the bed bugs!"

As for irregular mail delivery times and pesky sales tax, it seems the poster is longing for his native country. Or, could be that he simply misses his mammy. As they say, you can take the boy out of Ireland..  but you can't take Ireland out of the boy.

"Oh and did I mention that the post comes at all fucking hours? I've been waiting on a package the last few days that I need to sign for and haven't been able to leave the house til after 15:00 because I've been waiting on the mail man.

Ireland's got its problems but as far as living goes it's pretty simple. We don't know how easy we have it. Everything is so fucking complicated over hear it's unbelievable.

I miss the days of having a euro and being able to go in and buy something that costs exactly a euro. A dollar doesn't get you shit here! Because it's really $1.18!

Hug your ma's and take an extra big shite in your toilet this evening for me lads, because I can't do the former and have to be careful about the latter considering the toilets here clog if you look at them.

God bless."

Read More: Inspiring emigrant letters home to Ireland from America in the Famine era

 

Tom Hanks gives Irish people the strangest compliment - but he's wrong about us!

Of all the good things that could possibly be said about Irish people, Tom Hanks had an unusual compliment.

The Academy Award winning actor has a fond memory of his time spent filming "Saving Private Ryan" in Gorey, Co Wexford.

Speaking to radio host Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio One, Hanks recalled staying in the Irish town and heading to the local pub for pints one evening.

The star was amazed that the next morning, used pint glasses were still present outside of the pub "waiting to be collected." The American actor was baffled, because apparently in his native country, punters could not be trusted to leave the glasses behind them at the end of the night.

I got a new car! Hanx

A post shared by Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) on

"The next morning, just as the sun was coming up, we passed the same pub and there on all the benches and all the ledges outside the pub were the pint glasses that had been drunk and were waiting to be collected," Hanks told the radio presenter. 

"I thought: In Ireland, they don't steal the pint glasses. They can actually finish them and set them there. This would never happen in the United States of America."

Hate to break it to you, Tom, but the Irish can't be trusted either. 

Open any kitchen cabinet across the country and you'll be sure to find embossed Guinness  glasses or branded wine glasses. You see, we're really just a nation of glass swipers too.

Read More: Tom Hanks enjoys Limerick and Galway minors hurling match

On a final note, Hanks added that he would hope to return to Ireland as long as there would be pints waiting for him on his arrival.

Something tells us that that can be easily arranged. 

Rocking Tokyo with my crew. Hanx.

A post shared by Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) on

Irish screenwriter Sharon Horgan's horror-comedy "Shining Vale" picked up by Showtime

A look at the new show from Sharon Horgan, critically acclaimed writer of "Divorce" and "Catastrophe".

Irish actress and screenwriter Sharon Horgan has teamed up with her longtime collaborator Aaron Kaplan on the horror comedy. The duo also worked with TV writing veteran Jeff Astrof on the latest project.

Horgan and Kaplan previously collaborated on shows including "Pulling" and "Divorce", the latter of which runs on HBO and stars Sarah Jessica Parker. 

Giant woman interviewed @sethmeyers @latenightseth

A post shared by Sharon Horgan (@sharonhorgan) on

Read More: Sharon Horgan's rise to fame

Astrof's impressive resume includes writing credits on episodes of "Friends", and executive producer roles on "Grounded for Life", "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Trial and Error".

Their latest, "Shining Vale" focuses on a dysfunctional family who move into a infamous house in a small town. The mother's life is quickly turned upside down as the evil spirit that lives in the home tries to possess her. 

According to Deadline, it's a show about "mental illness, small-town politics, religion and a family battling their demons. But in a really funny and scary way."

As of yet, there are no details about casting or airing dates.

A native of County Meath, mother-of-two Horgan will also executive produce the show alongside Clelia Mountford via Merman production agency. Astrof will also executive produce via his Other Shoe Prods company.

Tributes for Irish rapper "Lil Red" (15) who died suddenly

Dublin teen passed away from an unexpected illness.

Seán Hughes from the Finglas suburb of north Dublin, passed away on Friday, January 12th after developing a bad cough.

Séan Hughes and friend. Image via Facebook.com

The youngster's devastated mother Karen confirmed the news to the Irish Independent.

Séan, known by friends as "Lil Red", was treated for a cough and chest infection at the city's Temple Street Hospital. 

"We don't really know what happened. He had a bad cough and chest infection so I brought him to the GP and he was prescribed antibiotics in case it developed into pneumonia," his mother told the news outlet.

"I said to my husband that Séan wasn't looking well but before I got a chance to bring him back to the doctor he was gone. It was so sudden. We will get answers eventually."

Posted by Finglas Festival on Saturday, 13 January 2018

A death notice posted to RIP.ie states that Séan is survived by his parents Joe and Karen, sister Zoe, "heartbroken" relatives, and "a very large circle of great friends."

How to practise mindfulness using ancient Irish proverbs

Look to Irish seanfhocail (proverbs) to help de-clutter your mind in 2018

The packed hours of catching up with friends and family over Christmas are now drifting far away behind us but with them go the rest, the relaxation and the days off in front of the fire with no work emails to check up on, minimal chores to look after, and less day-to-day must-dos to keep us frazzled from dawn to dusk.

If you’re already feeling that the tasks of 2018 are getting on top of you, it may be that you need to be looking to the ancient Irish and in particular, their proverbs, to help you de-stress, clear your mind and help you prepare for whatever the New Year throws at you.

In his new book “By Time is Everything Revealed,” Ireland’s Wellness Guru Fiann Ó Nualláin explores the meanings behind these ancient Irish seanfhocail (proverbs) and how they were very much a way in which our Irish ancestors were engaging in their own mindful living, proving that we often have to look to the past to see how we can take on challenges in the future.

Creating mindfulness exercises around 52 Irish proverbs, one for every week of the year, each one speaks to the various stresses and worries of modern life and uses the proverb to engage in the ways we combat and overcome them through mindfulness.

Read more: A guide to the oddest Irish proverbs

Below, you can find four extracts from the book which explain how these wondrous ancient Irish proverbs can be used to calm your mind in 2018. Try them out and let us know what you think in the comments section, below!   

Irish proverb: Cleachtadh a dhéanann maistreacht

Practice makes mastery

Use Irish proverbs to practice taking a moment to contemplate. Image: iStock.

The more you practice breath control the more you will master self-control. The more you do those yoga asanas or follow the sutras the quicker you will master them. As an infant, how many attempts did it take to say your first word? How many attempts to stand, to walk, to master holding a cup or using a spoon? We have learned everything we know by repetition. We program our muscle memory and our thought processes by repetition. Repeated mindfulness will bring about ultimate mindfulness. You can master your destiny – with practice.

Action: Practise

Practice patience. Practice compassion. Practice being you. Practice being in the moment. Practice your practices (prayer, yoga, meditation, mindful washing of the dishes).

Read more: Irish proverbs to live by, 26 nuggets of wisdom (PHOTOS)

Irish proverb: Léig an donas chun deiridh, a n-dúil s’ nach d-tiocaidh se choidche

Leave the bad luck to the last, in hopes that it may never come

Use Irish proverbs and the stress will stop getting on top of you. Image: iStock.

Pure optimism from the Irish psyche. We Irish often forget, owing to our history, that we are essentially a positive people. People of all nationalities make that same mistake.

Too often in life we prioritise the negative. The squeaky gate instead of the scenic walk is at the top of the to-do list. It’s as if we are programmed to attend to the bad stuff first – but if we left it to last it might not even arise as we would fill the order of the day with positive stuff.

Part of it is how we are emotionally programmed – we dwell on the break-up and sense of loss rather than the newfound freedom and the potential of a new relationship. That is a shocking statement to some, but it is not diminishing the love you had – it is acknowledging it, acknowledging the relationship is over and acknowledging that you deserve love again. You lose your job – don’t dwell on being unemployed forever. Get motivated now to find the ideal job or to start your own business where you will get paid for your passion. The latest kitchen experiment was a complete failure – does that mean you can never cook again? Put the negative to the end of the list and get on with the good stuff in life.

Starting off with the positive and ranking it first may occupy the space long enough for you not to notice the negative.

Exercise: Count your hatched chickens

It’s OK to count your hatched chickens to recount the good times and see the joy and fortune in your life.

This notion of not counting your chickens before they are hatched is wise as it spares you disappointment, but you don’t have to be overly cautious with the ones already hatched. They are the chirping success stories, and may even lay more golden eggs.

Think of the top five great achievements of your life. One of them may be climbing a tree when you were ten – it doesn’t have to be climbing the corporate ladder. Whatever makes you proud. Write them down.

Every now and then you can pull out this list before breakfast and count down the high points of your life. It reminds you of the successes, of the good luck. You can update the list as often as you like.

Read more: Proverbs and sayings: The Irish have a way with words

Irish proverb: Ní fhaghann cos’ na comhnaidh aon nídh

The foot at rest meets nothing

Use Irish proverbs to get yourself moving. Image: iStock.

Doing nothing gets you nowhere. It is time to dip that toe in the water.

Motivation and movement are linked. Get yourself moving. Jump on the spot, jog in a circle, swing your arms about. Notice your elevated heart rate, the new rhythm of your breath – you are alive. What do you want to do with this life? Get motivated. Get living. Sitting around thinking about it won’t make it happen.

It may help with a strategy but to achieve you need to get up and go. The foot at rest meets nothing; the moving foot is bringing you somewhere.

Action: Try something new

Learn to swim, go to a film on your own – enjoy the trepidation, savour the experience. Find joy in the accomplishment.

Irish proverb: Is maith an mustárd an sliabh

The mountain is good mustard

Take your Irish proverbs with you and escape outdoors. Image: iStock.

This seanfhocal is about how work builds up an appetite. It is often said that food tastes better when you are hungry rather than when you are just eating because it is the designated time. We often shovel food in as fuel, like coal into old steam trains. We should stop and experience it. Mindfully enjoy each meal. But beyond that, there is further wisdom here: appreciation for endeavor and gratitude for its rewards.

Effort is rewarded. Know that.

The task of climbing the mountain gives you an appetite. It stimulates and enlivens. Understand that.

Engaging with nature can bring you into mindfulness.

Experience that.

Exercise: Practice mindfulness outdoors

If you can, go somewhere scenic – the sea, the hills, a forest – someplace to stimulate you. If you can’t get to the great outdoors, just get outdoors – a local park, your own garden, campus grounds, a walk around the block. Being outside is a great and pleasurable way of coming into the present. Feel the temperature of your skin, be aware of your breath, feel your footing.

Encounter the sights, sounds and fragrances of nature – all good mustard for relishing the now.

“By Time is Everything Revealed” is written by Ireland’s Wellness Guru Fiann Ó Nualláin. You can purchase the book from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

Have you tried any of these exercises? Let us know what you think in the comments section, below.  

Irish American philanthropist makes Irish boxing club dream come alive

Dundalk based O’Hanlon Park Amateur Boxing Club celebrated the official opening of its new spacious, top-class facility.

Located in the old Toymaster building in the Long Walk area of Dundalk, the new Club/Community Hall will be open to members of the community of all ages – children from seven years of age right through to adults who have reached retirement age.

Hotelier John Fitzpatrick has been involved with the boxing club since 2011, when he made a donation to the Club when he participated in The Secret Millionaire show which aired on RTE 1.

At the time John struck up a friendship with Paul Taaffe, one of the founding members of the Club and following the broadcast of the programme, John committed to raising additional funds for the club to help purchase a building that they could make their own, instead of renting the local Parish Hall as they did in the past. In the Parish hall they had to set up and take everything down each day that they used the space.

John helped raise more than €425,000 through the Eithne & Paddy Fitzpatrick Memorial Fund and the Boxing Club raised over €56,000 including a grant, to enable the Club move to the new building.

The new building means that they will now have everything in place and be able to offer more days for the community to take advantage of a wide-ranging programme of activities. Special needs children, adults with low self-esteem, people who have suffer from obesity, former addicts and anyone who needs a friend are welcome to participate in special training programs to help them in their everyday life.

When it operated from the local Parish Hall, the club had access 3 nights a week and approximately 125 members. It is hoped with the new facility to increase opening times from 10:00am – 10:00pm 5 days a week and open at weekends for competitions and Sunday training. In time it could be used by schools, disability groups etc. Ultimately it will be a facility for the community & potentially could be used by up to 200 children, young people & adults daily.

Irish abortion referendum will bring out the fanatics

The 1983 abortion referendum in Ireland was a circus.

I wasn't old enough to vote in the last major abortion referendum in Ireland in 1983, but I remember it well. It would be impossible not to, it was so toxic and shameful.

In particular I remember the atmosphere of undeclared civil war that had erupted by that summer, filling the airwaves with enraged fanatics. Whisper campaigns and innuendo flourished everywhere, insane conspiracy theories were being presented as fact.

It was a circus. The most retrograde and regressive citizens of the Republic were being consulted like sages. It made Father Ted look like a documentary, not a satire.

In particular I remember the rosary beads and all the sad looking holy statues that were carried into protests like mute witnesses, and I remember the much smaller bands of progressive reformists and the handmade placards they carried being jeered at from the Dublin pavements.

That referendum, even more than the war in the North, changed how I thought of Ireland, about what kind of people we were. We must oppose abortion in any and every circumstance we were warned from the political podiums and the Sunday pulpits. We must protect Ireland's sacred standing among nations. We must protect our basic decency.

That was in September, 1983. The following year was barely a month old before 15 year old Ann Lovett was giving birth alone and unaided in a grotto in Granard, County Longford.

In protecting our shining image of ourselves, we had neglected to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. She had quietly bookended our national convulsion, another mute young witness like one of those sad eyed holy statues.

I never forgot Ann. It was because of the utter loneliness of her passing. She was described as a lively intelligent girl who had felt so shamed by her condition that she couldn't ask for help from anyone until it was too late.

Who had taught her all that imprisoning shame? How had it surrounded her so tightly that she felt that she had no one to talk to and nowhere to go?

Anyone who lived through those times will remember how widespread the silencing of women's voices was. How systemic it was. How many women actively colluded in their own oppression and that of their sex as a whole.

To me at the time, and subsequently, it all reeked of fraud. On the surface an image of wholesome religiosity was being presented to the nation by the people who were simultaneously running a vicious and personal intimidation campaign.

You could be one or the other but not both, I had concluded. You can't claim to be doing God's work and also blackguarding your neighbor night and day. Hypocrisy was what glued our nation together, not compassion I discovered.

The echoes of that far off summer will be heard again this spring when Ireland goes to the polls in another abortion referendum. I have no doubt there will be many who wish to protect the tottering image rather than the lived reality of Irish life once again.

But I am also aware there are many like me who saw what happened the last time our mask slipped and what was presented as piety was revealed to be cruel pomposity.

Primate of All Ireland Eamon Martin and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.They haven't gone away, you know, as Gerry Adams would say. All those retrograde and regressive voices. Speaking on RTE this week, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of Ireland said that abortion was wrong in all cases. Martin was asked if he believed rape victims should be denied the morning after pill and abortion access and here is how he answered.

“A woman who has been raped has suffered the most horrendous crime. A terrible violence on her body. I'm not sure doing further violence by taking away the innocent child's life...I don't feel that is the answer. We can't deceive her into thinking that this can all suddenly be taken away by taking away the life of her... child.”

Her child. From rape. This is language of The Handmaid’s Tale. A pregnant woman becomes a simple vessel of conception even when raped. No need to consult her as to her own views. She must carry the rapists child to term. Presumably she must then raise it and learn to forget the violence of the original conception. Ironically, it's the immaculate conception story in reverse.

This view, let me put it plainly, is fanatical. It insists that a conception over rules all other considerations. It removes the woman's own voice.

Asked about families where a diagnosis of a Fatal Fetal Abnormality has been reached, Archbishop Martin then said that “we have to keep reminding ourselves that there are two lives, and we need to love them both, we need to protect them both."

But tell that to the husband of Savita Halappanavar, the 31-year-old dentist, originally from India, who died on 28 October 2012 at University Hospital Galway due to the complications of a septic miscarriage that Irish law prevented doctors from addressing.

It's time for Irish law to trust women and their choices, not silence them.

 

On the death of James Joyce - from the Guardian, 1941

Remembering the life of one of Ireland's greatest literary geniuses James Joyce on the anniversary of his death.

Today marks the 76th anniversary of James Joyce's death. On January 14, 1941, the day after he died in Zurich, Switzerland, after undergoing surgery for a perforated ulcer, English newspaper The Guardian published a fitting obituary to one of Ireland's greatest writers, showcasing the impact he had on the world of literature. 

Irish literary genius James Joyce.

On this, the anniversary of his death, we thought it wise to look back on the great words from The Guardian, now written over three-quarters of a century ago, and remember how true they still are:

"With the death of James Joyce there passes the strangest and most original figure which Ireland gave to Europe in this generation", the article reads.

"The ban imposed for years upon his 'Ulysses' gave a notoriety to his name without disclosing his true stature and strength.

"He annihilated the ordinary and the normal and revealed a jungle world of the mental and emotional reactions which may come over men in a single day

"That he was a genuine artist, sincere, integrated, and profound is clear from the simplicity of his early short stories 'Dubliners' and from the well-defined autobiographical narrative of 'Portrait of the Artist'."

Read the full obituary on the Guardian's website.

To remind you of the brilliance of his work here is an audiobook recording of his short story "The Dead" which feature in "Dubliners" and has become a popular stage production to be performed at Christmas time, undertaken by New York's Irish Repertory Theater in exquisite style in December 2016. 

* Originally published in January 2016. 

Copyright © 2017 Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association