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Donald Trump defending Nazis and Bobby Kennedy’s murder - two saddest days of my life

Donald Trump broke my Irish heart this week with his pandering to Nazis and the KKK

When I think about it, Bobby Kennedy and Donald Trump started out life in the same way. They were both born with silver spoons in their mouths and never, ever, had to think about where the next rent check was coming from. Both their fathers were anti-Semites: Fred Trump was arrested at a KKK rally in New York in 1927 and Joseph P. Kennedy, the American ambassador to the Court of St. James, held defeatist views when the Germans attacked London in 1940. None other than Tip O’Neill, Speaker of the House, said in his book 'Man of the House,' “…every Jew in Boston knew that old Joe Kennedy was an anti-Semite.”

But the similarities end there. One family gave their all to America; one Kennedy son was killed at war, two others had their heads blown off for their belief in the American Dream. There is the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, which has given millions to make America a better place to live. The Kennedy family belief was and still is, to those who are given a lot, a lot is expected from them.

The Trump Foundation? The last I heard the Donald was paying a $7 Boy Scout admittance fee out of it. There are Trump’s sleazy real estate deals, his attempts to keep blacks from renting apartments, his outrageous birther claims against President Obama, and the list goes on and on.

Trump versus Kennedy: Which family has given more to America?

Donald Trump and his wife Melania have nothing on JFK and Jackie.

Joe Kennedy Jr. was killed in combat and his younger brother John F. Kennedy Jr. was found physically unfit for the service during World War II. He asked his daddy to get him into the Navy and nearly paid with his life. Donald J. Trump? When he had his chance to fight against Communists in Vietnam—the mortal enemy of his capitalist kin—he had bone spurs. What a guy.

When I listened to President Trump on Tuesday it was with disbelief. How did this man, this vulgarian, become President of the United States of America? How could this man, the President, stand up and defend Nazis, the KKK, and other malcontents before the American public? It made me sick because all I’ve ever believed in, all that was precious to me, was the good in America.

This is the America that took in my people, the Irish, at the time of the Great Famine. This is the America  of the Statue of Liberty, that international shining light for immigrants no matter what a moron like Stephen Miller thinks. This is the America which gave safe haven to a fellow named Albert Einstein when Hitler was warming up an oven for him.

This is the America which took the Jewish Salk family in, gave young Jonas a free education at the City College of New York (CCNY), and was rewarded with a cure for polio. This is the America that saved the world from Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and other two-bit dictators. This is the America which after defeating Germany and Japan, rebuilt those two former dictatorships into brilliant shining lights of democracies of the East and the West.  Those two nations, saved from savagery by American blood, stand tall today in the face of increasing threats from new tinhorn dictators, but, like this Republic, will survive and prosper.

Read more: Donald Trump is now the most dangerous president in American history

How Trump's Nazi press conference reminded me of Bobby Kennedy's assassination

Bobby Kennedy moments after his assassination.

But I go off track. Do you know what Trump’s press conference reminded me of? It reminded me of the night Bobby Kennedy got shot. He had just won the California primary in a brutal battle with Eugene McCarthy and as he made his way through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Sirhan Sirhan came up and stuck a gun to his head, and in the great American tradition, blew his brains out.

That photo is still with me. Kennedy on the ground with the pool of blood on the floor beside him, eyes wide open, and the Hispanic bus boy, the kind of kid Trump would want to deport, beside him looking terrified. The Hispanic kid’s eyes plead for help, but there is nothing that can save Bobby now. It is said that the last words Kennedy uttered in his life were, “Is everyone alright?” Yeah, everyone, except Bobby Kennedy.

Bobby Kennedy wasn’t perfect, but he had a heart. He could be tough as nails Irish—“Don’t get mad, get even!”—but he could feel the hurt of the poor and the powerless. I remember once he was having a debate with some southern senator about miners in South Africa and the southern senator said, “You can’t believe those people—they’re communists!” And Kennedy replied, “If I had to work in those mines I’d be a communist too!” And I think Bobby would have been a hell of a great Communist!

Bobby had many sins on his soul: He liked Senator Joe McCarthy, a thug of the first magnitude; he could be ruthless in the name of his brother; unlike his brother, the president, he was slow to see the power of the civil rights movement, but when he did see it, as Lyndon Johnson’s Attorney General, he went full throttle.

RFK was truly "presidential"

But he was Irish and he had a soul and, I know, a soft spot in his heart for the underdog. I believe that congenital Irish gift became even more pronounced upon the assassination of his brother. And I always thought he would have made an incredible president, a president for poor white and poor blacks, for liberals and conservatives. He was just never given the chance.

I remember the month after JFK was assassinated and Bobby was at a function at a school. The kids were maybe in the first grade. He was introduced and one little boy stuck his arm out and said, “I know you. They shot your brother!” Every adult in the room was stunned. Bobby was quiet for a minute, patted the boy on his head and said, “That’s OK. I have another brother.” It was the sign of a remarkable human being.

But at this time of the alt-right, American Nazis, and a rejuvenated KKK, the one Bobby Kennedy story that shows the contrast between him and Trump was on the night that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. He was campaigning in Indianapolis that April night and it was his duty to announce King’s death to the mostly black crowd. In 556 extemporaneous words, he gave a speech that many think second only to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

“What we need in the United States,” said Kennedy that night (seen in the video above), “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 as he went on. “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.’ ”

Trump could not be further from presidential

Donald Trump and RFK have very litle in common.

Which brings me back to Trump’s comments this week. Here was the President of the United States, a man who never felt for anyone or anything except himself and his wallet, telling us what swell guys those Nazis were in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. Watching him meltdown on national TV, watching his aides, especially General Kelly, around him looking embarrassed, brought back a profound sense of shame and disbelief that this country could elect him.

I thought of all the injustice in this country and all the pain in this country and there was this sorry excuse for a human being, trying to alibi the KKK and neo-Nazis. And I thought back to that great line of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and what he said when JFK was murdered: “I don’t think there’s any point in being Irish if you don’t know the world is going to break your heart.” Yes, this week, Trump broke my heart.

And then it came to me. I saw Bobby Kennedy dying on that floor and in death, he had more life in him than Donald J. Trump will ever have, even if he lives to be 100. For Bobby had an Irish soul and an Irish heart and his inspiration lives in many today, including myself. Look at Trump, dead in the soul and the eyes and he doesn’t even know it. You can take all the money in the world and drop it in Trump’s lap and it wouldn’t help him because he is soulless; he doesn’t know what makes men get up in the morning.

Trump thinks it’s money, but that’s how stupid he is. What gets people up in the morning is love, love of family, love of people, love of country, love of work, and, yes, love of God. Donald Trump thinks God’s image is on the million-dollar bill. It isn’t. It’s in the heart of men, alive and dead, who know what life is really about.

It’s kind of funny, in a way. Can you imagine Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, reciting Aeschylus? I bet he couldn’t even pronounce the poet’s name. Bobby Kennedy has been dead for nearly half-a-century, but because of his extraordinary life, there is more life in his memory than there ever will be in the man who presently occupies the Oval Office. And I bet Trump could not grasp the meaning of the poet’s words either: “…in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

I can almost hear Trump now: “What’s this ‘awful grace of God’ stuff?” Somewhere, Bobby Kennedy must be smiling, knowing that, in time, Donald Trump and his gang of anti-Americans, shall also pass into history. And that this great Republic, as always, will survive.

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 https://www.facebook.com/13thApostleMcEvoy/

Hurricane Gert to batter Ireland with high winds and rain

Hurricane Ger makes for unpleasant weather in Ireland this weekend.

We’d warn you to get your umbrellas at the ready but it looks like Hurricane Gert would just blow them away anyway. The storm is set hit Ireland by this Sunday, unleashing torrents of rain and heavy winds on the country before continuing on its path to the UK. A rain warning has been announced for the west of Ireland, following on from heavy rain over the past few days, in a particularly wet and windy August, even by Irish standards.

Warnings are in place for the counties of Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, and Sligo with between 30 and 40 mm of rain (more than a half inch of rain) expected to fall between Thursday and Friday evening, and flooding expected in places. And that’s before Hurricane Gert even hits!

Hurricane Gert will track across the Atlantic reaching the Emerald Isle at some point near the end of the weekend running into the start of next week. The storm’s path is currently bringing is parallel to the US, having made its way up from the Caribbean, and traveling up toward Canada before making its way to Ireland. It did not make land in the US and even in Ireland, it is not sure for certain that it will have too much of a bite by the time it makes the full journey to Europe.

Met Éireann (the Irish weather service) forecaster Deirdre Lowe has said that Hurricane Gert should mean strong winds for the west coast from Sunday onwards but let's hope he runs out of breath by then.

Read more: Reasons to love Irish rain

August 2017 has been a horrid one for Irish weather with 40 mm failing in Dublin alone last Monday, more than half the average for the whole month in the capital city.

The bad weather hasn’t put off any travelers though, with Dublin airport welcoming over three million visitors for the first time ever in one month last July.

H/T: Irish Times

Pope condemns abuse by priests as “absolute monstrosity” and “terrible sin”

Is Pope Francis doing enough to put an end to abuse within the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis has described abuse by priests as an “absolute monstrosity” and a “terrible sin” in a foreword to a book dedicated to the victims of clerical abuse.

The Holy Father vowed to crack down on perpetrators and pledged zero tolerance for the guilty.

"We will counter those priests who betrayed their calling with the most strenuous measures,” he wrote.

“This also applies to the bishops and cardinals who protected these priests – as happened repeatedly in the past."

The book,  "Father, I Forgive You: Abused But Not Broken" was written by the 58-year-old Swiss man, Daniel Pittet, who was first raped by a Catholic priest 50 years ago.

Pope Francis has encouraged victims of clerical abuse to come forward

For four years, Pittet was sadistically abused but he has since forgiven his attacker.

"Forgiveness does not heal the wounds or wipe away the misery... forgiving him has allowed me to burst the chains that bound me to him and prevented me from living,” he declared in the book.

The Church has since defrocked the priest in question and Pope Francis said he had been deeply moved by Pittet’s ability to forgive the abuser.

Earlier he also phoned Rufino Varela, an Argentine man who was abused by an Irish brother at a élite Christian Brothers school in Buenos Aires.

The abuser offered the then 12-year-old sweets and told them they should keep what happened as a secret between them and God.

Some twenty other former pupils at the school have gone public detailing similar acts of depravity.

His former school offered him counseling and begged him not to go public but the pope, who served as the city’s Archbishop for 15 years, told Valera, “Rufino, you have a mission [to expose abusers] and I appreciate that. You have a big heart. You want justice.”

“Francisco,” he replied, “I can’t believe the Christian Brothers congregation is still handling schools after the Ryan and Murphy reports [in Ireland]. Please do something. All the churches are going to be empty.”

Read more: Netflix's Keepers doc prompts police to launch online sexual abuse forms

Irish victim of sexual abuse claims the Vatican is all talk no action when it comes to ending clerical abuse

Since his election as pontiff in 2013, Pope Francis has often spoken movingly about his horror at clerical sexual abuse but critics say he has not done enough to tackle the greatest moral crisis facing the Church since Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Theses” to the door of a German chapel.

In March this year, Marie Collins, an Irish victim of sexual abuse, resigned in frustration from the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Afterward, she wrote about her incredulity at the Church’s refusal to cooperate with or fulfill even the simplest recommendations from the Commission.

“The last straw for me,” she thundered, “[was that] at our request, the pope instructed all departments in the Vatican to ensure all correspondence from victims/survivors receives a response. I learned in a letter from this particular dicastery last month that they are refusing to do so.

“It is a reflection,” she concluded, “of how this whole abuse crisis in the Church has been handled: with fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors.”

H/T: Thomson Reuters

Kilkenny Arts Festival - Creativity and culture abound in the heart of the Irish south east

With shows everywhere from the incredible Kilkenny Castle to an old brewery, Kilkenny Arts Festival turns the old medieval town into a hub of creativity for ten days in August

Entering the medieval town turned modern Irish city of Kilkenny over the ten days of the Kilkenny Arts Festival is to prepare yourself for a fleeting journey around the world. Enter a local livestock mart to time travel to the 2013/2014 Ukrainian Revolution; step inside the Brewhouse to experience the chills and shivers of Antarctica; or venture into the historic Parade Tower in Kilkenny Castle to plunge yourself into the middle of Brexit talks and the discussion on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Already established as one of Europe’s finest artistic celebrations bringing world-class performances to Ireland’s medieval city each summer, the Kilkenny Arts Festival, founded in 1974, runs this year from August 11 to August 20, offering up the city’s historic churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens as the magical setting for visitors and locals to tap into their creativity.

“Ireland and Europe are in a moment of immense change.  We’re excited to present premieres this year across a kaleidoscope of artistic forms that stretch our experience of art and performance, as well as our ideas about our nation and our continent,” said KAF director Eugene Downes of this year’s festival.

Get Creative at Kilkenney Arts Festival. Image: KAF

“In particular, I can’t wait for Irish audiences to experience the exhilarating energy of Counting Sheep, which creates an unforgettable 360-degree experience of the Ukrainian revolution – or our ten-day immersion in the timeless late masterpieces of Schubert, which take us on an emotional and spiritual journey to transcendent inner worlds. Each day is packed with unique events and artistic encounters in Ireland’s medieval city.”

The following is a spotlight on just some of the stand-out performances, events, and experiences as well as a look at what is still to come in the last few days of the festival before it ends on Sunday, August 20. Were you at KAF this year? Let us know what you got up to in the comment section, or share your photos with us via social media.

Immersive theater

It’s an old cliché that the arts and creativity can transport you to another place or time, but the incredible immersive experience of “Counting Sheep” does this like no other, placing the audience slap bang in the middle of the Ukrainian revolution on Maidan Square in 2013-14 and allowing them to feel to feel the anger, excitement, and joy of the first days of the revolution.

One of the most acclaimed hits of the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, “Counting Sheep” is making its Irish premiere in Kilkenny. The show's organizers are asking their Irish patrons to sit at their table – quite literally – as they eat, sing and dance to Ukrainian music and song in this explosive immersive theater experience.

Get Creative at Kilkenney Arts Festival: Counting Sheep. Image: Pat Moore/KAF

Created by musicians Mark and Marichka Marczyk with Balkan-klezmer-punk band the Lemon Bucket Orkestra,  “Counting Sheep” – so called because “all revolutions look, from the back, like a sheep movement,” according to Marichka – has already presented three shows to Kilkenny audiences, who, in turn, have proclaimed that it’s nothing like they’ve ever experienced before.

“I’ve never been at something like it before. It was absolutely atmospheric, including the food, the movements, the masks, absolutely everything,” said one audience member, who clearly chose to avail of the fully immersive experience that provides some food, as well as including some standing and participation, instead of the tiered fully-seated option. 

“Suddenly I’m in the middle of this and it’s unfolding in front of me.

“It’s an amazing, very emotional experience.”

“Counting Sheep” continues today and tomorrow with an 8 pm performance as well as two additional performances on August 19 at 3 pm and 8 pm.

Ireland and Europe: Creative Visions

As part of the government-led Creative Ireland initiative taking place across Ireland, “Ireland and Europe: Creative Visions” this week brought together leading artists and public figures from Western, Central and Eastern Europe, to share creative visions and imagine possible futures for Ireland, Europe, and the world in the face of the rapidly changing global political landscape. It’s a time of huge change for Ireland, Britain, and Europe, as Brexit and the Trump Administration create huge uncertainty, the momentum for EU integration returns, populism regroups, and conflict continues on the Eastern frontier with Russia.

This highly interesting series of talks and conversations has already heard from Mark and Marichka Marczyk, the creators of “Counting Sheep”, on “Ukraine: The New European Frontier,” while other forums have heard from the former Czech Minister for Europe Alexander Vondra; John Major’s Ambassador to the EU and Tony Blair’s top European adviser, Sir Stephen Wall; and celebrated Irish architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomy, a conversation which was streamed live (see below).  

Speakers still to appear in the series include one of Ireland’s iconic cultural voices Iarla Ó Lionáird as well as Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt.


Get Creative at Kilkenny Arts Festival: Raven Eyed. Image: KAF.

“Raven Eyed”, a stunning new circus theater show by Loosysmokes (Elaine McCague and Jonah McGreevy), made its world premiere this week. "Raven Eyed," which will turn your world upside down, is being staged at the historic Brewhouse, the former Smithwick's brewery in Kilkenny.

As “Counting Sheep” pushes the boundaries in terms of audience immersion and transporting spectators into the action, so does “Raven Eyed” with it capacity for bringing the audience into a turbulent dreamscape where superstition meets the surreal, using a spectacular blend of gravity-defying aerial work and audio-visuals that explore the boundary between the past and the present, the real and the imagined.

Get Creative at Kilkenny Arts Festival: Raven Eyed. Image credit: Pat Moore.

Loosysmokes was the firm favorite with the Kilkenny Arts Festival crowd last year performing “Behind the Dark,” a deeply eerie, strikingly beautiful fusion of dance and acrobatics. We can anticipate a repeat with “Raven Eyed” this year and audiences are sure to be talking about it for months to come.

The show runs every night until August 19.


Did you know that the famous Handel’s “Messiah” received its world premiere in Ireland? Kilkenny Arts Festival celebrated the 275th anniversary of the famous composer’s time in Ireland, returning “Messiah” to the land of its premiere as part of a festival-long series of events named “Mr. Handel’s Adventures in Ireland.

Partnering with the acclaimed Irish bassoonist, harpsichordist and conductor Peter Whelan and his baroque orchestra, Ensemble Marsyas, KAF this week presented a three-concert residency that told this remarkable story: “The Arrival of Mr. Handel,” “Mr Handel at the Keyboard” and the original 1742 Dublin version of “Messiah.”

Get Creative at Kilkenny Arts Festival: Secret Garden Music. Image credit: Pat Moore/KAF

The festival hasn’t completely revolved around classical music, however, as a further Creative Ireland-supported event “Secret Garden Music” is offering up a range of artists in pop-up performances twice daily. Now in its fourth year, you can drop down to any of these free performances in one of Kilkenny’s loveliest secluded gardens to hear from leading Irish and international artists such as Martin Hayes.

Get Creative at Kilkenny Arts Festival: Secret Garden Music. Image: Pat Moore/KAF

Families & Children

While some of these previous events may seem a little much for the young children in your life, that doesn’t mean that you should leave them at home if you wish to enjoy Kilkenny Arts Festival, as there’s just as much creative space around for the little ones as there is for the adults.

Get Creative at Kilkenny Arts Festival: Yurt in the Yard. Image credit: Pat Moore/KAF

What better place to hear from international and Irish storytellers than in “Yurt in the Yard” in the iconic Kilkenny Castle Yard? Bring the kids along to the castle throughout the remainder of the week to set their imaginations alive in this incredible setting.

A specific creative space for children, Creative Ireland-supported “Yurt in the Yard” is hosting the storytellers Niall de Búrca and Helena Byrne in sessions covering everything from the fairy folk to riddles.


Get Creative at Kilkenny Arts Festival: Albesila Image credit: John Owens/Kilkenny Arts Festival.

While at the castle, it would be a crime not to lose yourself in the Luminarium, a stalwart installation at the Kilkenny Arts Festival. A luminarium is a monumental walk-in sculpture which is designed to allow people be moved by a sense of wonder at the beauty of light and color while they explore all the nooks and crannies.

The breathtaking inflatable luminarium created by Architects of the Air has become a favorite over the past few years at the festival and so, to mark its 25th birthday, they decided to try something new. “Albesila” features all the elements that make its luminaria so popular with young and old alike: a magnificent central dome filled with stars, vibrant primary colors and ever-changing light effects. But while other luminaria encourage you to get lost, “Albesila” boasts spectacular sight-lines that enable you to see right along the structure’s length.

“Albesila” remains open from 11 am until 6 pm every day until Sunday, August 20.

Multimedia performances

Another of world premier at the Kilkenny Arts Festival’s this week took us to some of the coldest places on Earth, with the powerful multimedia work “Antartica” which brought us into the freezing temperatures of the pole with its music and visuals.

Kilkenny Arts Festival: Antartica.

A completely sold out show, “Antarctica” featured in the first few days of the festival, wowing with its enthralling dialogue between past and future.

Created by Linda Buckley, David Power and John Comiskey, the work drew inspiration from early expeditions to the South Pole and built on last year’s “Uilleann Goes Electric” to create this year’s staged performance, which featured a combination of Buckley’s hypnotic electronic score with live uilleann pipes from David Power in an environment of evocative projected imagery.

Literature and talks

Get Creative at Kilkenny Arts Festival: Yiyun Li. Image credit: Pat Moore/KAF

Also featured last Monday was Yiyun Li, a Chinese American writer, writing in English, who has been hailed as one of the most original fiction writers of our time.

Taking to the Parade Tower, she talked to Cormac Kinsella about her new memoir, “Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life“ which mixes the literary and the personal to dazzling effect and explores everything from her time in the People’s Liberation Army to her decision to renounce her native tongue.

Were you at KAF this year? Let us know what you got up to in the comment section, or share your photos with us via social media.

Milwaukee is the mother of all US Irish festivals

17 stages with over 250 acts - none comes close to the no-holds-barred hooley which is the Milwaukee Irish Fest

Anyone searching for the largest and liveliest Irish festival in the US might be forgiven for looking first to Boston or New York or Chicago.

And while all those great Irish American cities do indeed boast myriad celebrations of the old sod, none comes close to the no-holds-barred hooley which is the Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Eyebrows are always raised — and East Coast egos dented — when the title of America’s greatest Irish fest goes to a city often associated more with German beer than Irish bonhomie but on my last visit in 2015, I was bowled over by the scale and splendor of Irish Fest.

Now in its 37th year, Irish Fest is a four-day phenomenon, running this year from 17-20 August.

So much for everyone to do, from music to history and culture to having a nice bite, at the Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Based in the expansive, 79-acre Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan, this stupendous shindig boasts 17 live stages with over 250 acts — and 4,000 volunteers are on hand to ensure all runs smoothly.

Nestled in among the tug-o-war competitions, hurling matches — the biggest hurling club in America is based here —  céilí dancing, currach races, theatre, cookery lessons, pipe band parades and come-all-yes is a hedge school where our friends from Oideas Gael in the Donegal Gaeltacht cater for busy beginers’ Irish classes.

I enjoyed an open-air céilí, an Irish boy band, a rollicking ballad set, and a punk-rock trio — complete with kilt and bare chest — at the 2015 fest. Nothing spectacular there, you might think except that all were actually playing simultaneously on different stages across the venue on closing night!

Banjo Three having the craic at the Milwaukee Irish Fest.

This is a full-on celebration of Ireland — an Irish Woodstock in Wisconsin — with a cast 100,000-strong.  Says director Colleen Kennedy, who travels to Ireland each year to recruit new acts and exhibitors for the event: “Irish Fest is the jewel is the brainchild of the Irish American community of Wisconsin. It’s our gift to the nation and we’re proud of the strides forward we continue to make. The most recent Tourism Ireland figures show record numbers of visitors from Wisconsin vacationing in Ireland, even though only one third of the population here is of Irish heritage, and I believe that’s because of the tremendous positive message sent out annually by Irish Fest."

So much to do, day and night at the Irish Milwaukee Fest.

And this year, Irish Fest is upping the tempo yet again with a talent-packed line-up featuring headline acts Gaelic Storm and Dublin’s TradFest Temple Bar.

Other highlights include:

- Food & Spirits:

Failte Ireland Food Ambassador, Chef Pádraic Óg Gallagher of Boxty House, Temple Bar, Dublin will share lively Irish stories, delicious food and recipes in the Celtic Kitchen.

Grab the whole family and grab a bite at the Irish Milwaukee Fest.

- Music:

Milwaukee Irish Fest welcomes 15 new acts in 2017, including contemporary talents like The Young Folk, Hermitage Green, Brave Giant and Aoife Scott. Returning fan favorites include: Gaelic Storm, We Banjo 3, Dervish,and JigJam.

JigJam rocking it out at the Irish Milwaukee Fest.

- Arts, Culture & More:

The Cultural Village at Milwaukee Irish Fest features Celtic art, history, genealogy and shopping. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet authors at the Literary Corner, walk through exhibits showcasing Irish history, visit the Irish language area to learn simple Gaelic phrases, talk with research consultants in the Genealogy area or catch the new play, Galway Girl, in the theatre pavilion.

Full details of the festival and concession tickets can be found at www.irishfest.com.

And make sure to visit the IrishCentral stand at Milwaukee to be in with a chance to win a luxury trip for two to Ireland!

Forgotten no more - The tens of thousands of Irish who fought in the US Civil War

On the eve of the Civil War, New York City was home to over 200,000 native born Irish, one in four of the total population then. Tens of thousands of them later went to war – a fact that still has yet to be fully appreciated in Ireland. In "The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America," author Damian Shiels reminds us why we have only grasped half the story.

Growing up in Ireland, we barely hear a word about the Irish who had fought in the American Civil War. Instead we hear almost exclusively about our own conflicts.

We hear all about the Great Hunger too: the causes, the effects, the enforced emigration that followed as the destitute Irish took to their coffin ships to escape the disaster.

What happened to the Irish once they made landfall in the United States was, we seem to have decided with our odd insularity, entirely their own business.

Like Oisin when he rode off to Tir na nOg, out of sight was out of mind. Good luck to him. There were disasters enough to be going on with back home.

This lack of curiosity was partly geographic; America was an ocean away. But it was also psychological.  It hurt to contemplate the physical severances that were unlikely to be mended.

In the 19th century the Irish actually waked intending immigrants as though they had died, because after they set off they effectively had.

Immigrants arriving to Ellis Island, in New York.

So it falls to our historians to unite the story of the Irish. Uniting Ireland was never simply about borders or sovereignty it turns out.  It is also about reuniting our broken story.

In "The Forgotten Irish," historian Damian Shiels conjures the 19th century experiences of the Irish in America with the skill of a dramatist.  Assembling letters that let the long dead speak in their own words, he bridges a divide between their time and our own that does more than simply recite their history – it reconnects us to them.

In that regard we are living in a golden age. Reclaiming our lost or abandoned heritage and history has been the work of Irish artists and academics for almost 100 years, but the last three decades have been a particularly productive era.

Around 1.6 million native-born Irish people were living in the United States on the eve of the Civil War. That staggeringly large number was explained by British oppression and the Great Hunger. Exiles in their own country, they immigrated to the great industrial cities of America's north because they had no choice.

Once they made landfall they were someone else’s problem – not the Anglo Irish landlords who fleeced them, or the laws that exploited them so that they had no choice but to flee.

The journeys they made in that century are no longer possible.  That’s because when they left they were taking their language, their few possessions and their entire futures with them; they were as lost to their mother country as if they were journeying to the moon.

By delving into the widows and dependent pension records of the Irish women who were widowed by the American Civil War, Sheils has opened a window into the intimate details of their lives, offering us private snapshots of their lives and experiences in Ireland and America. It makes for eye-opening reading.

The Irish brigade fighting in the American Civil War.

Sheils has a writer’s eye for the telling detail. Perusing the Civil War files in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he examined the records of soldiers, their families and loved ones, tens of thousands of which happen to have been Irish-born.

As well as telling the stories of their involvement in the Civil War, these records follow their lives across decades, from their journey from Ireland to their new lives in America. Even the illiterate are given a hearing, since their hearers transcribe their experiences.

Just think of what so many of them went through. First there was the crisis of the Great Hunger and the voyage to America. Then the Civil War began, representing another great trauma in their lives.

By the time the war concluded, Sheils writes, some 200,000 Irish men had participated, the vast majority of them – as many as 180,000 – wearing Union blue.

There is no official record of how many native born Irish died in the Civil War, but it inarguably ran into the tens of thousands. Left behind were their widows, children and parents who would later seek pensions based on their service, in the process recording and leaving a record for us of how they had lived and died.

Despite the scale of the Irish involvement in the Civil War, the number of pension recipients in Ireland was small, a reminder of how rare it was for Irish emigrants to return to their home country in the 19th century.

From a list of thousands, Sheils’ book examines the lives and personal stories of just 35 Irish families, but in the process he tells the story of the Irish in that transformative and tumultuous century.

What unites these stories – the reason we have them – is loss. Each letter is written by the widows and dependents that were left behind.

There was, of course, much more to the full picture of the Irish in America, including much more happiness and success, but these are the stories of the bereaved, and the details that slip out of these letters makes them treasure stores of experience.

One elderly couple in Donegal is a particularly poignant example. In 1869 (corrected – Ed.) the Coyle family received an eviction letter from the Third Earl of Leitrim, William Sydney, a notorious landlord despised throughout Ireland.

Read more: Donegal in Pennsylvania - chain emigration and the American Civil War pension files

In their mid-seventies and infirm, the eviction could have left them destitute but for the service of their deceased son, who had died from mistreatment in captivity at the hands of the Confederate Army five years earlier. The Coyles’ application for a United States pension was successful, although it is not known if it was sufficient to save them from life on the road.

We do know what happened to the Third Earl of Leitrim, however. A decade after he sent the letter to the Donegal couple, a group of local Fanad men lay in wait for him along a road, killing him, his driver, and his clerk as they passed. To this day the men who killed him were never named or captured, but a monument was later erected to the “Fanad patriots” who sealed his fate.

By offering up the tales of these 35 families, it is possible to discern a fuller portrait of the century and the pictures that emerge are often immensely moving.

The great work ahead of our scholars and artists in this century will be to reunite our broken narrative. Sheils is alive to the implications of that undertaking, remarking that although the Irish experience of the Civil War is now well known and well recorded in the United States, it’s still largely a mystery in Ireland, where the sheer scale of the Irish involvement has yet to be fully appreciated. It’s time.

The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences In America, The History Press $26.95

Irish woman arrested for bogus cancer raffle in Yonkers

County Tyrone woman charged with a felony fraud for selling tickets in the local Irish community for a bogus fundraiser for NolanStrong, a child cancer victim

A 35-year-old Yonkers resident originally from County Tyrone, Tracey Jacqueline Weir, was apprehended by Yonkers police last week and charged with a felony fraud count for selling tickets in the local Irish community for a bogus fundraiser to aid a child cancer victim.

Weir, mother of a toddler boy, was arraigned in Yonkers Criminal Court on August 10, charged with one count of scheme to defraud which is a Class E felony. She sold tickets in Irish bars and businesses which promised a raffle at the Aisling Irish Center on July 29 to aid cancer research in the name of the late Nolan Scully, a four-year-old boy from Leonardtown, Maryland who died in February after an 18 month battle against rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer. Nolan’s fight attracted much media attention, as did the Facebook page NolanStrong which posted regular updates about his condition.

Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said, “This defendant allegedly defrauded multiple people using the name of a deceased child. Not only were the victims affected, but the family of Nolan Scully more so; their unimaginable loss was exploited for selfish greed, compounding their pain and suffering. It is our hope that with this arrest, we can offer the Scully family some degree of closure to this upsetting incident.”

The Aisling Irish Center notified the police in July that a bogus raffle was being run in its name, and that the perpetrator was promising a draw at the center on July 29 for local businesses and residents who purchased tickets, at $25 a pop, which offered a TV, iPad and Visa gift cards as prizes.  The Aisling Center issued a press release at the time notifying the public about the scam.

Image of the fake raffle tickets being sold by Tracey Jacqueline Weir (Image: Yonkers Police).

According to a press release from the Yonkers Police Department, detectives “interviewed multiple subjects, canvassed and identified witnesses and victims who purchased tickets, and reviewed hours of surveillance video. A suspect was identified and sufficient evidence collected which yielded probable cause to charge that suspect with a crime.”

Ruth Scully, Nolan’s mother, was outraged when she discovered a criminal was raising money in her son’s name.

“The more I think about this, the more furious I get for numerous reasons,” she posted on the NolanStrong Facebook page last month.

“First and foremost, knowing that any of Nolan's “Friends” could potentially have been taken advantage of by this person is saddening. Thankfully, most people do not think and act like this person, but those that do, I urge them to visit their local Pediatric Oncology Unit or sit and have a thirty minute conversation with a bereaved mother that watched their child suffer and die in front of their eyes.”

Weir is due back in court on August 25.

How to make perfect Irish scones

Simple wholesome Irish baking from the experts. IrishCentral will show you have to make this top Avoca recipe

Avoca scones are famously good and now IrishCentral is here to show you how to make this easy scones recipe for the perfect Irish scones. What could be more delicious! Enjoy!

Avoca customers frequently say a cup of coffee and something sweet, be it a cake biscuit or scone, is like nothing anywhere else. And in an age when so much food is manufactured, their enthusiasm for home baking continues to grow. Today we’re sharing their recipe for the classic Avoca scone - best enjoyed with freshly whipped cream and some homemade jam. This recipe is from their very first cookbook, The Avoca Cafe Cookbook.

How to make perfect Irish scones

Fancy a freshly baked Irish scone with your morning cuppa? Now you can make your own! Full recipe here: http://irsh.us/2v409pz

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Thursday, August 17, 2017

Avoca's Famous Irish Scones Recipe

Makes 8-12


1lb/450g self-raising flour
A pinch of baking powder
A generous pinch of salt
2oz/50g caster sugar
4oz/110g unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
2fl oz/50ml double cream
7fl oz/200ml milk (you may need a little more)
2 oz/50 g raisins (optional)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to glaze


Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Using your fingertips, lightly work in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. At this point, you can add the raisins if you choose to include them. Add the egg, cream and enough milk to moisten. Mix well until it has a soft doughy texture – but it shouldn’t be too moist.

Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a floured surface, then roll lightly with a rolling pin to 1 inch/2.5cm thick. Cut out with a round cutter, transfer to a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg glaze. Bake in the oven preheated to 350F/180c/Gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes or until well browned.

This recipe is featured in the Avoca Cafe Cookbook which you can purchase here.

Avoca is an Irish family-run business that spans one of the world's oldest surviving manufacturing companies and Ireland's most exciting stores and food markets.

Love Irish recipes? Visit our recipes page or like IrishCentral’s Recipes Facebook page and never miss a recipe again!

* Originally published July 2015.

Conor McGregor enjoys family times in Vegas

Conor McGregor Junior has been hangin’ with Notorious dad and mom Dee Devlin in Sin City leading up to Aug 26 Floyd Mayweather boxing match

Win, lose or draw his mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather in Vegas on August 26, Conor McGregor will always have his little mini-me to cuddle up to.

Conor McGregor Junior has been hangin’ with dad and mom Dee Devlin in Sin City leading up to the bout that all the world is talking about. The pint-sized Mac, just over three months old, is a real cutie, and he’s got a mean little jab going already.


A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

Daddy McGregor posted a video of bonding time with his boy last week, which consisted of the two watching old boxing matches together.  The tyke was pretty animated watching the action, which thrilled his pop to no end.

“He’s been a great motivation this camp,” McGregor told the media at an open workout last Friday.  “I’m in awe of my little boy. I’m in awe of him. Comparing images to the other day, and he looks exactly like me. I’m very happy about that.”

Mom Dee, Conor’s long-time partner, is certainly no slouch in the looks department, though there’s no question that the little guy definitely has the McGregor genes.

Happiness ❤️ #ourlittlefamily

A post shared by Dee Devlin (@deedevlin1) on

Father and son will be all about the fight game as time progresses. Conor told ESPN that he plans to have his boy schooled in “combat” sports as soon as possible. He also looks forward to telling Conor Junior all about his career as the UFC’s most famous and accomplished fighter.

“That’s one of the things I look forward to the most,” McGregor said last week. “To show him back my whole career, this crazy journey I’ve been on. And to show him all the hard work and sacrifice that I’ve put into this. He will come up surrounded by many luxuries, but he will always know that it’s hard work that achieves this. In order to achieve great things in this life you must work hard, and that’s the message I will give my son.”

Win a luxury trip for two to Ireland

We think everyone should have a chance to visit Ireland in their lifetime, which is why we've put together this luxury trip for two sweepstakes. 

Enter to win, and you and a friend could be on your way with a pair of round-trip tickets to walk the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin, learn about the history of Irish whiskey and indulge in some samples during a VIP tour of the Irish Whiskey Museum, and then retreat to your room at The Merrion, one of Dublin's most luxurious, historic and famous five-star hotels.

Then head out of the city to explore the unparalleled beauty of the Irish countryside as you travel on for your two-night stay at the five-star Ashford Castle Hotel, frequently named the best hotel in the world, that's been the favored Irish retreat of everyone from Ronald Reagan to Pierce Brosnan to Rory McIlroy. 

Ashford Castle.

Click here to enter, and if you want to get started on planning your dream trip to Ireland, check out IrishCentral's Best of Ireland and  Travel Tips sections. 

The garden of the Merrion Hotel. Photo: Tourism Ireland

Good luck! 

Irish Whiskey Museum


When neo-Nazi terrorists attack there’s only one side President Trump

"Our grandparents’ generation didn’t see “many sides” to the Nazi menace. They saw their side and they saw Adolf Hitler’s and they picked one, that is all"

When terrorists attack in other countries, Donald Trump immediately takes to Twitter to denounce them and then to compliment himself for his own wisdom.

No one is a bigger fan of his “get tough” talk than Trump.  “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the travel ban as an extra level of safety!” he has tweeted.

Trump is always first to the post when an ISIS terrorist attacks occurs, but this week he demonstrated he has remarkably little to say when it’s Muslim centers here in the U.S that are being attacked or bombed (he hasn’t addressed this anywhere), or when our homegrown neo-Nazis and white supremacists attack and kill their fellow their U.S. citizens on our own soil.

Pressured into condemning these domestic terrorists, Trump hesitated for hours on Saturday and then eventually claimed there were “many sides” to the Charlottesville attacks.

Really? Our grandparents’ generation didn’t see “many sides” to the Nazi menace. They saw their side and they saw Adolf Hitler’s and they picked one, that is all.

So why was Trump so reluctant to call evil by its name?  These were white supremacists and neo-Nazis and this was clearly domestic terrorism. How could it be controversial to say so?

Former Vice President Joe Biden put it simply, tweeting, “There is only one side.”

On Saturday a car driven by a white supremacist plowed into a crowd of anti-Nazi demonstrators, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring many.  Trump’s response was to denounce “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

In fact, just like in World War II, there were only two sides in Charlottesville this weekend. There were the Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK and there were the counter-protestors, who arrived to tell all the fascist blow-ins invading their city to get stuffed.  Trump apparently saw no distinction between them, which should alarm us all.

On Monday, facing extraordinary pressure to denounce these murderous Nazis who brought mayhem to the streets, Trump spoke slowly and dispassionately for two minutes like a hostage talking under duress.

The tepid speech was crafted to allow him cover to make the claim that nothing he said would ever be enough. Predictably Trump later tweeted just that claim and then for good measure re-Tweeted one of the far right figureheads behind the ludicrous “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory.

By doing so critics contend he sent a wink to his most ardent far right supporters that said, they made me do it, it was just politics, I’ve still got your back.

Over the weekend the founder of the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist website, celebrated the fact that Trump “outright refused to disavow" the white nationalist rally and their movement.

“He refused to even mention anything to do with us. When reporters were screaming at him about White nationalism he just walked out of the room,” the website founder wrote.

“Trump comments were good,” said another Daily Stormer commenter. “He didn't attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate... on both sides! So he implied the anti-fascists are haters.”

Our grandparents’ generation knew there weren’t “many sides” to the Nazi menace. Last weekend they must have wondered why they participated in D-Day and the Allied landings to drive the Nazis out, now that the president of the United States of America was condemning “all sides” in the never-ending fight against fascism.

“I believe we’re at a pivotal movement here, one where the forces of hatred in this country are feeling unfettered to act and emboldened to move out of the shadows,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told reporters. He called Trump’s failure to adequately confront those forces a “serial issue” as a candidate and as president.”

Nazis are walking our streets now, armed to the teeth, attacking and even killing people, unafraid to show their faces.  Meanwhile Trump is teaching Americans there are “many sides” to the white supremacist issue.

He’s also teaching us “what about-ism,” the old Soviet propaganda response to undermine every rights abuse claim. Each week we are being fed a slightly larger dose of horror.

Could it be an inoculation? Could those burning Tiki torches be lighting the way?

Donald Trump is now the most dangerous president in American history

Trump has given permission to every Nazi group to do their worst

Over 416,000 Americans gave their lives fighting fascism in the Second World War, a number larger than the population of New Orleans.

Donald Trump insulted every one of them and their sacrifice in New York yesterday. He also made the Republican Party the party of Jefferson Davis not Abraham Lincoln.

Trump disgraced himself by defending neo-Nazis who were calling out "Jews will not replace us" and "blood and soil," a Nazi war cry, at Charlottesville on Friday night and Saturday. There were no good people among those marchers, Mr. President. If there had been, they would have walked away on seeing the Nazi flags and hearing those slogans.

"Blood and Soil" (‘Blut und Boden’) was a very important philosophy for Nazi Germany. It referred to Aryan blood and the purity of the men and women who toiled on the land. 

Friday night was a mini Nuremberg rally that ended in deaths and injuries. There was no moral equivalence between protesters exercising their First Amendment rights and a Nazi using ISIS tactics to plow a car into innocent opponents. For the president to suggest there was is downright racism.

What he has done is give permission to every Nazi group in America to do their worst and because they know they'll get a nod and a wink from a complicit president.

You know what George W. Bush and Barack Obama would have done – called the stricken mother of  Heather Heyer, the dead woman. 

White nationalists, alt-righters, and neo-Nazis marched on Virginia University shouting phrases such as "Jews will not replace us", "Blood and soil" and "White lives matter". (Watch news feature below).

Rupert Murdoch has reportedly been urging Donald Trump to fire racist right-winger Steve Bannon from his White House. Murdoch might rethink and try and get rid of Trump as well. Murdoch is Trump's biggest enabler, his Fox News the equivalent of Pravda for Trump. Every night the station bombards it's "Four legs good, two legs bad" propaganda taken straight from "Animal Farm."

Only Republicans can fire Donald Trump. They hold all the aces in the House and in the Senate. So far they have failed to dirty their hands and confront him. Finally, given Speaker Paul Ryan's tweet condemning the Nazis, they might be getting ready to man up. Impeachment must surely be a necessary evil now.

There are white supremacists within the White House too. Even right wing Glenn Beck has compared Trump advisor Steve Bannon to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels and called Irish American Bannon “quite possibly the most dangerous guy in all of American politics."

The opinion is shared by many. “I don’t think that White House has a chance of functioning properly as long as there’s a resident lunatic fringe,” Mark Salter, a longtime adviser to Senator John McCain, told The New York Times. Bannon, he said, seems willing to “tolerate something that’s intolerable” in Mr. Trump’s base.

The fallout from Charlottesville shows the dangerous influence Steve Bannon has on Trump

Beck's and Salter’s words have been proven prophetic by events in Charlottesville and the aftermath. There is no doubt Trump’s refusal to condemn the Nazis was out of the Bannon playbook.

Bannon, Trump’s close advisor, spoke to the president before he made his mealy-mouthed remarks and, according to The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, the best and most informed journalist covering the White House, he convinced Trump not to call out the KKK or white supremacists by name – a position Trump clearly agreed with.

Haberman also revealed that Bannon had spoken to Trump all over that weekend, urging him to hold the line and not attack his base, as Bannon put it. Only when the pressure became too great did Trump relent and overrule Bannon. However, on Tuesday in his press conference, Trump was back on Bannon’s wavelength blaming both sides, declaring protesters were as guilty as Nazis and the KKK.

Read more: Steve Bannon’s Catholic sins

Steve Bannon claims to have been influenced by his Irish-Catholic upbringing and Irish heritage

Trump's Cheif Strategist Steve Bannon.

Trump has rarely read a book but Bannon provides the intellectual underpinning for his racist views.

Bannon is a lover of Fascist writers, which is surprising given his Irish-Catholic upbringing. The KKK and other groups of the same ilk have as much hatred for Catholics as they do Jews or African-Americans.

Worse, Bannon credits his Irish heritage for his views. “I come from a blue-collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union family of Democrats,” says Bannon, by way of explaining his politics. “I wasn’t political until I got into the service and saw how badly Jimmy Carter f---ed things up. I became a huge Reagan admirer. Still am. But what turned me against the whole establishment was coming back from running companies in Asia in 2008 and seeing that Bush had f---ed up as badly as Carter. The whole country was a disaster.”

“Trump,” Bannon proclaimed, “is the leader of a populist uprising … Elites have taken all the upside for themselves and pushed the downside to the working- and middle-class Americans … Trump saw this. The American people saw this. And they have risen up to smash it.”

Steve Bannon's reading reveals much about his fascist, racist mindset

Read more: Trump’s sinister refusal to call white supremacist evil by its name

A recent story by the Huffington Post revealed Bannon’s leanings. He loves a book called “The Camp of the Saints,” a French novel that outlines a race war between the “civilized” white West and the evil brown hordes of the so-called East.

In the book, the author describes hordes of Indians trying to conquer white Western Christendom as “thousands of wretched creatures” and “turd-eaters.”

The book is described as “nothing less than a call to arms for the white Christian West, to revive the spirit of the Crusades and steel itself for bloody conflict against the poor black and brown world without and the traitors within.”

Trump’s right-hand man also loves Nazi-affiliated Italian philosopher Julius Evola. Evola, who was virulently racist and anti-Semitic, was a big fan of Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler.

Evola spent years in Nazi Germany, where he proudly declared himself to be a “super fascist.”

Today’s Nazis love Evola too. Neo-fascist leader Richard Spencer told the Times he was excited that Bannon knew of Evola.

“It means a tremendous amount,” Spencer said, adding that Trump’s chief counselor “is at least open to them.”

It is incredible that a man with such views has such a close relationship with the President of the United States and worse that a president with a daughter and son-in-law of the Jewish faith tolerates him so openly. America did not vote for accommodation with fascism, Mr. President. The 418,000 Americans who died fighting it in World War II would surely agree.

I feel sorry for many friends of mine, good people, who voted for this man. We live in desperate times and the only hope seems to be that Republicans will remember their Lincoln roots and cast out the racists in their midst

Anger as Irish must pass English-speaking test to become Canadian

Canadian immigration law requires Irish people to undergo an English proficiency test to gain permanent residency - they aren't happy about it

Young Irish immigrants in Canada have expressed their annoyance at being forced to undertake an English-proficiency test, despite English being their first language, when applying for Canadian permanent resident status. Some immigration lawyers are also calling on the Canadian federal government to set aside the requirement to prove English-speaking proficiency when the applicant for permanent residency is a national of a country where English is one of the official languages.

"Common sense has left the building," immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann told CBC Toronto.  

Ireland’s two official languages are Irish and English and, while not every Irish person speaks Irish, the nearly everyone speaks English as their first language. This is not enough to exempt Irish citizens, however, from having to take the online (Canadian) English test when applying for Canadian permanent residency status, a crucial step on the road to citizenship.

Mamann explained that prior to 2013, applicants could simply prove their proficiency through an interview with an immigration officer, but that the new CAN$265 ($208) written test is completely online and unavoidable.

"It makes us look a little bit too bureaucratic," he said. "Obviously we want to have an objective standard but there has to be some allowance for common sense.

"We're asking people who basically invented the English language to prove they speak English."

Even English citizens required to prove they can speak English to gain Canadian permanent residency

All nationalities are required to take the Canadian English-proficiency test, regardless of their first language.

And he wasn’t joking. In his own experience, he’s had to explain to applicants from England, including a university professor, that they were going to have to take the test to prove they could speak English.

"I sat there with a professor of English in the UK at a reputable university and I'm explaining to him I need him to undertake an English language test. it just seems kind of silly,” he told CBC.

A spokesperson for Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Carl Beauchamp, told Canada's national TV station in an email: "To be consistent and transparent, IRCC requires all applicants to provide proof of language proficiency through an objective test.

"Mandatory language proficiency tests for applicants to economic immigration programs have been in place for many years ... With a standard language proficiency test, all applicants are evaluated against the same standards, no matter their language of origin, nationality or ethnicity."

Irish immigrants unhappy at Canadian English-proficiency test

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have had a good time in Ireland but the Candian federal government are being criticized by Irish immigrants because of an English-proficiency test.

CBC also spoke to some Irish immigrants in Canada who had previously taken the test. They indicated that they thought it was an unfair requirement and an unnecessary expense when they come from an English-speaking country.

"It just seems so unnecessary," Sinéad Breen told CBC.

"I'm a member of a Facebook group called Irish and Applying for Canadian PR, and it's a question that comes up a lot.”

"People are very disgruntled about having to sit it."

"It's a bit ridiculous when it's your first language, your own language," commented Marina Hannigan.

"I think if you're from an English-speaking country and it's your first language, even your high school equivalent would be enough to put you through."

English-proficiency test in the USA

Will Trump bring in an English proficiency test for legal immigration to the US?

This issue with the Canadian immigration system follows the recent announcement from President Trump of his support for the “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act” (RAISE) Act, proposed by two Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.

The RAISE Act looks to cut the number of legal immigration in half, putting in place requirements that mean applicants must speak good English, be able to financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to the US economy.

While this will certainly affect Irish immigrants who do not earn as much as the $77,900 threshold proposed by the Bill, or those who do not have a Masters degree specifically in the areas of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. having fluent English will at least award them 12 of the 30 points needed to pass this merit-based system.

While an ideal candidate should have won an Olympic medal or a Nobel Prize in the past ten years, which would award them a massive 15 or 25 of the 30 points needed, respectively, it appears that the most realistic way to achieve the golden ticket number 30 is to be between the ages of 26 and 30, with a doctorate, high English proficiency, and a job offer with a high salary. Any position earning below $77,900 would give you zero points.

Read more: Trump immigration bill slammed as “racist” by Irish American leaders

While an English proficiency test is needed to apply to be a permanent resident in Canada, it is not needed to apply for a work permit. Questions on the test are created by the IRCC, although it is administered by a subsidiary of the University of British Columbia called Paragon Testing Enterprises. It covers listening, reading, writing and speaking skills, and takes about three hours to complete online.

At least the online test may be easier in Canada than it is in Australia where one poor Irish woman failed because the system simply couldn’t recognize her Irish accent.

Do you think Irish people should have to take an English proficiency test while applying for permanent residency or a green card in Canada or anywhere else in the world? Should fluent English always be a requirement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.

Trump’s reaction to neo-Nazis - too little too late, the damage is done

For a man who read the mood music of America so well during his run for the presidency, it is astounding how tone deaf he has been since

The latest Pew poll has Donald Trump at 31 percent favorability. Richard Nixon was at 27 percent the day he resigned the presidency.

Those numbers are a disaster, especially for a man utterly consumed with his image and popularity.  They also point to a continuing slippage from the day Trump was inaugurated. Since then he has become more unpopular every passing month.

For a man who read the mood music of America so well during his run for the presidency, it is astounding how tone deaf he has been since.

During the 2016 election, he identified precisely the issues that fired up Americans in key states and hammered away at them and won a remarkable victory against all the odds, perhaps the most stunning upset in the history of the presidency.

That touch has long deserted him.  Starting with his bleak and doom-laden “American carnage” inaugural speech, to his continuous inflammatory Twitter attacks on all and sundry, to his utterly contemptible response to Charlottesville, Trump has exhibited a compulsion to stick with his hardest line supporters and a refusal to try and reach out to the middle ground.

But America is nowhere as extreme as Trump seems to think it is. The unanimous (bar him) reaction to events in Charlottesville make clear that even the most conservative Americans draw the line at the KKK and the Nazis.

White supremacists and neo-Nazis march in Virginia.

He forgets that 418,000 Americans died fighting Nazism in World War II, and that the images of Auschwitz and Treblinka and death camps are still uppermost in people's minds.

The Klan and the Nazis of the modern era have nothing to offer but hate, division and dread. Trump somehow found himself unable to condemn these groups in his pathetic Charlottesville remarks on Saturday, and came up with a ridiculous formula blaming “many sides.”

To which former Vice President Joe Biden gave the perfect riposte, saying there is only “one side” on this issue.

Trump has a leaden foot mentality, utterly unable to adjust or ask himself some tough questions. His failure last weekend to rise above the baying pack of American dead-enders who make up the white supremacist groups is another nail in the coffin of his abortive presidency. Not only has he proven incompetent, but he has failed to identify and attack bigotry, hate and murder when it occurs.

He finally got it right on Monday, two days after the murder and mayhem, but the damage is done.

This is not a man with an expansive vision of anything save Donald Trump.  He has proven himself incapable and graceless in a truly shocking fashion that seems unlike any president in history.

The one president he resembles most closely is Andrew Johnson, the uncouth drunk who took over after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and did his best to undo the incredible work of his predecessor.

Trump seems dedicated to pushing America back to the 1920s when white men ruled, religious bigotry abounded, blacks and women knew their place and KKK marches were widely attended and accepted.

Perhaps he is channeling his father, who The New York Times reported attended a Klan rally in Queens in May 1927 and was arrested before being released without charge.

Trump has reached the crossroads in his young presidency and has taken a spectacular wrong turn down a dead end street called Bigotry Place.

If he continues like this he will surely not make it through his first term.  That seems a real possibility now.

Irish are misled and let down by gutless politicians over Irish Water

When the old mains pipes burst leaving thousands of people with no water, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein criticized the "incompetence" of Irish Water, funded by the government... the brass neck of it!

Just as we went on our short summer break a couple of weeks ago, a water crisis hit the north east of Ireland. Large areas in counties Meath and Louth, including the major town of Drogheda, were left without water for six days when an old mains water pipe deep underground burst.  Thousands of homes and businesses were affected.     

In the same week on the other side of the country the beach at Kilkee in Co. Clare had to be closed for days when the local foul water system malfunctioned and pollution poured into the sea.  Kilkee is one of the most popular beaches on the west coast. Making it even more embarrassing, the closure came just as the town was about to hold its Marquee by the Sea festival.  

Both incidents were revealing examples of the water fiasco we are facing in Ireland.  Nor were they the only incidents so far this summer.  

Several popular beaches on the east coast, including the one outside my own back door, had No Swim notices up over the past few weeks. And in several areas around the country Boil Water notices were issued. In one area in Co. Offaly 10,000 homes were affected for days, meaning that water coming out of taps had to be boiled to make it fit for drinking or cooking.  

This column has explained the background to the water crisis here several times over the past couple of years so we don't need to go through it all again.  The system, some of it over 100 years old and which had been split between 30 local authorities, needs massive investment.  The answer was supposed to be Irish Water, the national utility set up in 2013 to carry out the work and begin metering and charging consumers to pay the billions it would cost.  

No one likes paying extra charges (effectively a new tax), but anyone with half a brain knows that paying for water based on the amount used is essential if we are to raise the money desperately needed for investment in the system.  

Despite this, however, Irish Water has now become a lame duck since the price of Fianna Fail support for the present government was to cut off its funding by ending water charges.  The new national utility has been undermined by Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the independent politicians on the left, all of whom have opposed water charges to try to win a few extra votes.     

The fact that both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail had supported the introduction of water charges when they were first mooted about a decade ago did not stop them doing a complete about turn over the past few years in a nauseating display of cynical populist politics.   

Sinn Fein had been spooked when a hard left, anti-water charges candidate took a Dail seat they had expected to win.  And Fianna Fail followed their lead because they did not want the Shinners gaining seats they might win.  

It's an example of the short-term thinking that bedevils Irish politics.  Everyone knows we need to spend billions updating the water system, and the majority of people had signed up with Irish Water when metering and charges were introduced.   

But fixing the water system is a long-term project, with little immediate political gain.  In the short term the minority who were refusing to pay the charges presented a political opportunity which Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein could not resist.  So they undermined the whole project and we are left with the present mess.  

Irish Water now has no source of funding except the state, and that means it has to compete with the health service and all the other state services that eat up the budget every year.   Other demands, like reducing hospital waiting lists, always seem more urgent.  And that means investment in water infrastructure will now be slow and inadequate -- and we will have even more water problems in the future like we have seen this summer.      

When the old mains pipe serving parts of Louth and Meath burst a couple of weeks back and left thousands of people with no water, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein reacted by criticizing the "incompetence" of Irish Water.  For brass neck, you can't beat these guys.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who represents Louth in the Dail and has his constituency office in Drogheda, was particularly vocal and angry, even though it was his party that took the lead role in undermining Irish Water.   

Barry Cowen, the Fianna Fail spokesman on the environment (and brother of the former taoiseach) who represents Offaly in the Dail was equally two-faced.  Even though parts of Offaly were enduing a Boil Water notice at the same time as Louth was running dry, Cowen gave a bravura performance on TV making scathing comments about the "failures" of both Irish Water and the government.    

It was not only stomach-turning to listen to Gerry and Barry, it was also deeply depressing.  After all the talk about responsible "new politics" here, we seemed to be back to the old politics of short-term thinking and cynical vote-buying.  

We expect this from Sinn Fein, who will do anything to further their single item agenda.  But it is very disappointing that a national party like Fianna Fail would jump on the anti-water charges bandwagon and abandon any responsibility for doing the right thing for the country.   

More than anything else recently, their duplicity over the water issue has shown that neither Fianna Fail nor Sinn Fein are suitable candidates for government.  They don't do long-term thinking, and they don't have the moral courage to take the hard decisions that being in power requires.  

The tragedy of all this is that although being anti-water charges may have boosted Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein in the last election, water will have to be paid for eventually.  Doing so is now part of EU water standards and conservation policy.  And there is no other way to fund the billions needed in investment.   

The regime that was being implemented before Fianna Fail pulled the plug was relatively fair, with a free allowance for basic use in homes dependent on family size and protection for the vulnerable.   Close to 70 percent of people had signed up at that time, yet Fianna Fail went ahead with its cynical refusal to support the system simply to win votes.  

The hard left independent politicians in the Dail who started the anti-charges campaign had claimed that low income families would be hit and that it was double taxation because "people have already paid for their water.”  As we explained here before this is untrue, since the money saved when the annual local taxes that used to pay for water were abolished back in the 1970s was then spent on other services that people demanded over the years, like better schools and hospitals. 

The irony of the left wing position now is that the main winners in this situation are better-off people in big houses with several bathrooms, pressure showers and extensive gardens to water.  Metering would have hit them much harder than lower income families.  Yet the left ignores this, and the fact that half a billion euro has already been spent on putting meters outside homes all over the country.   

Over the past 40 years since rates (local taxes) were abolished by Fianna Fail to buy the 1977 general election, the poor state of our fragmented water system has got worse as population grew, the boom happened and demand soared. The system is now barely coping, and regular breakdowns both in the provision of fresh water and the disposal of sewage can be expected into the future until major investment happens. 

Over 40 percent of our fresh water is lost through leaks from the ancient cast iron, lead, earthenware and asbestos pipes, and some of our sewage treatment plants date from the 19th century.  In many towns around the country, waste water is treated in small local plants which regularly fail or spill over into rivers, lakes or the sea when flooding occurs after heavy rain.  It's a historic problem that has continued in recent decades because there has always been more votes in opening a new school building or a hospital extension rather than a water treatment facility.    

The truth is that many people only start caring about water when their taps run dry.  It takes political leadership to get these voters to see beyond this, something that both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein have failed to show on this issue.  Instead of doing so, they have exploited it shamefully.  

Metering and water charges would not only have provided Irish Water with an income stream, but would also have enabled it to independently borrow money on the markets for investment.  That scenario has now been wrecked and what lies ahead is far from certain.  

More than half a billion euro from state funds is being invested by Irish Water this year, but state funding is only guaranteed up to the end of next year.  And with Brexit looming no one knows how secure that is and what may happen after that, despite up to a billion a year in water investment being needed for the next decade to fix the problem.  

The sad part of all this is that although we will always have the whingers who don't want to pay for anything, most Irish people will do the right thing when they are asked.  Instead of having the problem explained to them and being being asked to make a difficult choice, they are being misled and let down by the gutless, self-serving leadership in both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.     

The Dail, now on holiday, will be back in the autumn and this is one of the main problems the country faces.  But don't expect any immediate breakthrough.  Many more pipes will run dry and there will be many more sewage overflows before this is sorted out here.

Read more: Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau to march together in Montreal Pride

Meet the 6 ft 10-tall Dubliner on his way to the NBA 

Will we have our second only Irish-born NBA player in Dublin-born Aidan Harris Igiehon?

Irish basketball player Aidan Harris Igiehon is 17-years-old and has only been playing basketball for five years, but he has already received offers to play for 33 US colleges, including some top flight programs, when he finishes high school.

Born and raised in the west-Dublin suburb of Clondalkin, Harris Igiehon now lives in New York with his aunt and uncle although Ireland is and will always be home to him.

“I was born and raised in Ireland and my mother lives in Clondalkin and I was living there until I made the move over last year,” he told the Irish Times.

“I got home for a few days and spent most of my time in the Dublin Lions [his old club]. I love coming home. My mom loves when I come home. It brings a tear to her eye. She knows how much I want this.”

Igiehon well on his way to becoming the only current Irish NBA player

His journey from ordinary Dublin teenager to potential US superstar as the second ever Irish NBA player came about through his astonishing aptitude for basketball – a sport few play in Ireland in comparison to America.

“I just really loved the game from the moment I picked up my first basketball. I went to practice every single day and then I hit a growth spurt,” he explained.

At the age of 12, he shot up from 5'6" to 6'4" and he was suddenly towering over his teachers and classmates.

He began playing for the Dublin Lions and was soon tapped to play for the Ireland team, as well.

Spotted instantly as one of Ireland's best basketball players

He was talent-spotted whilst in Philadelphia and now wants to play professional ball in the NBA .

It was, he admits, “a big transition” to leave Dublin but to play basketball is his dream and for that, no doubt at all, America is the place to be.

Irish NBA player Pat Burke

While plenty of basketball stars could be claimed by Ireland through family ancestry, Pat Burke is, so far, the only Irish-born man to play in the NBA. Burke was also born in Dublin. The 43-year-old signed a contract with Orlando Magic in 2002, playing 62 games with them. He also played with the Phoneix Suns and trained with the Golden State Warriors before returning to Europe for the remainder of his career.  

H/T: The Irish Times

What’s the connection between John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy admired each other greatly. So much so, Sinatra produced a JFK song

John F. Kennedy lived a gilded life, replete with celebrities, but his friendship with Frank Sinatra was perhaps the most curious of them all.

Kennedy had a deep respect for the singer, and Sinatra venerated him in return.

“There was a joke at the time that ended up having a lot of truth to it, that in a way, Kennedy wanted to be Sinatra and Sinatra wanted to be Kennedy,” said Steven Watts, who wrote the book, “JFK and the Masculine Mystique: Sex and Power on the New Frontier.”

Frank Sinatra introduces JFK to Marilyn Monroe

JFK and Frank Sinatra greatly respected each other.

The pair were both womanizers and, whilst Sinatra naturally respected Kennedy due to the power he exuded as Commander-in-Chief, the President was also drawn to the singer who epitomized more than anyone else (except Marilyn Monroe) the glamour of Hollywood.

“Kennedy was everything the Rat Pack envisioned themselves to be, and vice versa,” Watts writes in his book.

“Sinatra took the bait hard. Helping Kennedy succeed would provide a kind of legitimacy that even Hollywood could never bestow.” Naturally, it was Sinatra who first introduced Kennedy to Monroe, one night after a concert in Las Vegas whilst JFK was still a candidate.

After Kennedy stopped by his home, he had a sign that read “JFK Slept Here” hung in the bedroom and when Kennedy clinched the nomination at the Los Angeles Convention the Rat Pack temporarily transformed into the “Jack Pack.”

Read more: The women John F. Kennedy is rumored to have had affairs with

JFK's campaign song produced by Frank Sinatra

Such was the extent of which Sinatra and the newly-dubbed "Jack Pack" supported Kennedy for president, they even reworked the song "High Hopes" into a JFK campaign song. 

Mafia links causes friction in Kennedy/Sinatra friendship

JFK delivering his inauguration speech. Soon after his election, he cut his ties with Frank Sinatra because of the sinnger's supposed mafia links.

And yet, after Kennedy reached the pinnacle of power relations between the storied pair cooled.

Sinatra was unable to shake off rumors of a connection to the mob and JFK was loathe to do anything that could taint him politically with that toxic stench.

RFK, as Attorney-General, was particularly wary of the singer and advised his older brother to keep his distance.

For his part, Sinatra was left bitterly disappointed after Kennedy opted not to stay with him on a trip to California in 1962. He’d spent a small fortune installing a helipad for Marine One but, despite that the President decided to stay with Bing Crosby instead.

John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra enjoying cigars.

Read more: Where did Washington’s favorite politician John F. Kennedy hang out?

But the grief caused by Kennedy’s premature death was profound. Like many Americans, Sinatra wept for days for his slain Commander-in-Chief.

A guiding light for America had been cut down and so, too, had a once deep and meaningful friendship.

H/T: People.com

Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau to march together in Montreal Pride

The bromance between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks set to continue. A statement from Trudeau's office on August 15 said that Varadkar would be participating in the August 20 Pride festival in Montreal. Though the statement pushes the idea that Varadkar and Trudeau will be discussing the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, it's clear the pair have a burgeoning friendship. 

Trudeau said in announcing the meeting, "Ireland and Canada are close friends, and I look forward to meeting again with Taoiseach Varadkar in Montréal. Our two countries enjoy strong family ties, common values, and a shared history. Now we are collaborating again to ensure that CETA creates good, well-paying middle-class jobs on both sides of the Atlantic."

The pair's friendship was first confirmed in July 2017 when Trudeau visited Ireland. They then went on to make international news as both showed off their colorful socks to the world's media. On that day, Trudeau showed off his maple leaf socks for the day while Varadkar wore a pair of bright red ones. 

Read More: Leo Varadkar's Pride breakfast confronts anti-gay DUP

The day after the sock display, both politicians shared photos showing them jogging together in Dublin's Phoenix Park. 

The Irish Examiner reported at the time that Varadkar had been seeking Trudeau's input on gender equality. Varadkar told the media, "Diversity is about more than gender. but diversity, in general, leads to better decision-making and we should try to have a government and parliament that looks like the country that it represents. I did seek some advice from Justin on this because I am very impressed by the fact that he has a cabinet that is gender-balanced."

In total, six of Varadkar's 34 ministers are women. 

During his run for the office of Taoiseach, Varadkar cited Trudeau in one speech saying, "What I am interested in are the philosophies of the future. That’s what drives me. What I see around the world are movements around people like Macron in France and Trudeau in Canada."

According to the Canadian Embassy in Ireland, Canada imports far more goods from Ireland than they export. In 2016, $1,934,344,594 made their way to the great white north. While Ireland received $496,017,936 worth of goods. Statistics indicate that around 4.5 million Canadian people claim Irish ancestry. 

H/T: Office of the Canadian Prime Minister

H/T: Irish Examiner

H/T: Canada International

Top five reasons to study for an MBA according to Trinity College experts

Is a Masters of Business Administration worth it? Trinity College Dublin experts break it down

Deciding whether to undertake an Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an important decision for any aspiring global manager. If you manage to meet the demanding entry requirements, is it even worth the time and financial investment?

There is no doubt that an MBA is advantageous in the competitive business world, especially when completed at a business school with a top quality global reputation. Increasing your salary, accelerating up the career ladder or even becoming your own boss are just a few of those advantages.

  1. Develop your managerial skills and join the C-Suite

An MBA builds on its students’ existing experience by teaching new techniques to tackle the latest issues in international business. Many experienced professionals from a variety of working backgrounds choose to study an MBA as it provides the chance to step out of your comfort zone and see things from a new perspective whilst gaining intensive knowledge and expertise in how to be successful in business.

Trinity College Dubiln, on College Green, in the heart of Dublin city.

  1. Be your own boss

Many choose an MBA to pursue their dream of being an entrepreneur and learn how to run a successful and sustainable business. Entrepreneurs require specific skills, such as innovative thinking, for each stage of their business development plan – from the initial chaos of the launch, through to developing scalable growth strategies. Of the Trinity MBA Class of 2016, 21% have started or intend to start their own business.

  1. Be part of a large global business network

MBA graduates have automatic access to a large global business community of alumni, faculty and corporate connections. The support and interaction from a business community like this can provide invaluable opportunities to meet potential employers, stay connected with the business world and understand global issues and events.

The Long Room, the Library of Trinity College Dublin.

  1. Benefit from lifelong career support

MBA graduates have greater chances of obtaining a high-level management position, with a higher salary and increased responsibility. A high quality MBA provider should offer tailored advice and introductions to their portfolio of company recruiters.

The largest global employers such as the Big 4, McKinsey, Apple and IMB, are constantly seeking to recruit MBA graduates.

The Trinity MBA Alumni benefit from lifelong support from the dedicated MBA Career Development team with an average 87% securing job offers within three months of graduation and a 29% average salary increase in the same amount of time.

  1. Experience a new environment and culture

MBA students are regularly given the opportunity to work in groups on strategic projects, often directly with senior executives in local companies. International residency weeks provide additional opportunities to learn in a new environment and experience different cultures.

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare: "Learn in a new environment and experience different cultures."

Live action learning in real company projects sets the Trinity MBA apart from its competitors as participants work directly with social entrepreneurship organizations, high potential start-ups, SMEs and blue chip multinational companies. Furthermore, the program gives those with international ambitions the chance to spend residency weeks in China, South Africa and Belgium.

Interested in undertaking a full time or part time MBA at Trinity Business School? Register for one of their upcoming Information Evenings to find out why the Trinity MBA is for you.

Getting creative in Dublin City!

This year, government initiative Creative Ireland is highlighting some of the best projects, events, and initiatives that are bringing culture and the arts to the forefront in every Irish county and Dublin City is no different.

With UNESCO City of Literature status and ever-evolving creative nous, culture is at the very heart of Dublin’s identity and quality of life, already world-renowned for its captivating cultural heritage. The presence of Dublin's culture is central to making a vibrant city that is an appealing destination for tourists, the city’s residents, and its creative industries.

Here are some of the best events and long-term initiatives you should know about in Dublin City:

Words on the Street – A European Literature Trail

Word in the Street.

Join a literary evening, listening to well-known personalities such as Sharon Ní Bheoláin, Bryan Murray, Rick O’Shea, Johnny Ward and Katherine Lynch read from translated works of European literature. The event will also be joined by UK author Kit de Waal, who will read from her novel "My Name is Leon".

The first reading is at 6.30 pm with readings every half hour after, the final one at 9 pm.

September 7, 2017. Six venues around Parnell Square: Abbey Presbyterian Church, Belvedere College, Belvedere School, the James Joyce Centre, Dublin Writers Museum and Poetry Ireland. 

Opera in the Open

Opera in the Open.

Opera in the Open is an initiative of Dublin City Council that presents live performances of operatic work in the open air in Dublin City Centre. This much loved annual opera season takes place every Thursday during the month of August at the Dublin City Council Civic Office Amphitheatre, Wood Quay, Dublin 8.

Each performance of opera is undertaken in an abridged format, is narrated in English and lasts one hour during lunchtime from 1 to 2 pm. There is no fee for attending these performances.

Opera in the Open proves, beyond a doubt, that there is a significant audience for opera in Dublin. Nestled in the heart of the city, what better way to soak up this beautiful summer in Dublin than to catch an aria or two at lunchtime every Thursday in August. 

Performances this summer include Rita (Gaetano Donizetti) on August 17 and Gianni Schicchi  (Giacomo Puccini) on August 24. 

Dublin Festival of History

Dublin Festival of History.

Now in its fifth year, the free annual Dublin Festival of History brings best-selling Irish and international historians to Dublin for two weeks of completely free history talks, walks, exhibitions, and debate. 

This year, top historians and authors from Ireland and abroad are lined up, including Robert Harris, Janina Ramirez, Ian Kershaw, Chris Patten, Robert Service, Lyndal Roper, and Martin Bell. There will also be many Irish historians talking about topics as diverse as the funeral of Thomas Ashe, life at the court of the Sun King, the death of poet Francis Ledwidge, Dublin and the Bolshevik revolution, women’s lives in the Big House, the role of women in the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution & Dublin, and much more.

All-in-all there will be over 80 events at the 2017 Dublin Festival of History and they are all free. Full lineup to be announced on August 31. 

Children’s Art in Libraries Programme

Image: iStock

The Children’s Art in Libraries Programme (CAL) is a unique initiative directly influenced by its distinctive context that seeks to provide innovative high-quality arts experiences for children of all ages. It aims to provide children accessing the services of their local library with the opportunity to participate in and gain meaningful and imaginative experiences through the arts. 

Hard Working Class Heroes Festival

Get creative with Creative Ireland at Hard Working Class Heroes Festival.

The Hard Working Class Heroes Festival is an annual showcase festival and conference for new and emerging Irish music and technology, supported by the Dublin City Local Enterprise and Economic Development Office. It is one of the most important European festivals for those wishing to discover new Irish music.

Now in its 15th year, HWCH has been instrumental in helping musicians, bands and singer-songwriters take their careers to the international stage.

The festival takes place in venues across Dublin city center from Thursday, September 28, to Saturday, September 30.

The Ocean After Nature

Kim Julja, Dodu Jeju by Hyung S. Kim, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

Through the work of twenty international artists and collectives, The Ocean After Nature considers the ocean as a site which reflects the ecological, cultural, political and economic realities of a globalized world. At Dublin’s renowned Hugh Lane Gallery, September 7, 2017 - January 7, 2018.

Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Reader in Residence program

Image: iStock

The UNESCO City of Literature Office has been running the Reader in Residence Programme successfully for a number of years. There are now three Readers in Residence working in the North East Inner City region with primary school children in the school environment and young people in non-school settings such as youth clubs and community centers.

Each Reader in-Residence introduces the children and young people to a wide range of carefully chosen reading material and delivers a program of planned activities to encourage the children to see reading as a fun activity

BlueFire Street Fest

Performers at the 2016 festival. Photo: Facebook

Bluefire Street Fest 2017 is a World Cultures Festival, facilitated and supported by Dublin City Council, which will take place on September 16 on Smithfield Square. Now in its fifth year, the day is a stirring and colorful celebration of Dublin’s diversity with an emphasis on integration through the arts.

Last year’s event featured a stellar line up of musicians including Kila along with a range of creative workshops. Bluefire 2017 will once again attract thousands to celebrate the Capital’s cultural diversity.

Develop your Creativity at the Library

Get involved with Creative Ireland at you local Dublin library.

Dublin City Public Libraries offer a number of inspirational events and workshops to develop your creativity this autumn. The Business Information Centre at the Central Library will host a talk by Jennifer Rothwell on starting your own fashion label on October 19.

Explore different drums and rhythms at the Music Library’s drumming workshop with Neil Dowling on October 10 or try a Song writing and Developing Taster Workshop on November 4. This exciting introduction to the art and craft of song writing will be facilitated by acclaimed songwriter Niall Donnelly and musician-producer Gavin Ralston, in association with Waltons New School of Music’s Outreach Programme.

Creative Writing, painting and crafting groups meet in selected libraries across Dublin City. Why not join your local group and be inspired to get creative this autumn!

The Digital Skills Project

Image: iStock

The Digital Skills Project is a joint initiative between Dublin City Public Libraries and The CoderDojo Foundation. It will offer the children and young people in Dublin’s North East Inner City region the opportunity to learn basic computer programming for free by attending a CoderDojo in a DCPL library. 

At CoderDojo young people learn about technology in a fun, safe, creative club environment.

Touch, See, Live, Love History at Richmond Barracks

The Richmond Barracks museum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Touch, See, Live, Love History” is a living history day for families and children on October 7, 2017, in Richmond Barracks, as part of the Dublin Festival of History. The event will engage families and children with the history of Dublin.

The Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr

Creative Ireland at the Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr.

The Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr was originally founded in 1177 on behalf of Henry II. Though no physical evidence remains of St Thomas’s Abbey today, it played a vital role in the development of Dublin’s western suburbs, and it is remembered in the name of the street close to where it once stood.

A series of events in Dublin 8 from October 12-14 will remember this once magnificent abbey and its important role in the medieval city:

Medieval Pageant: 

Meandering through the Coombe, Francis Street, Thomas Street and finishing at Meath Street Church, this community pageant will feature local school children in medieval dress: expect medieval monks, chanting workshops, bell ringing culminating in a children’s arts and crafts display in St. Catherine’s Church.

Friday, October 13, 11 am – 1 pm. 

The Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr Symposium

A day of talks and lectures on the archaeology, architecture, and history of the Augustinians and the Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr, Dublin 8. 

Saturday, October 14, 9.30am - 5 pm at St Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street. Open to the public, no booking required. 

Bram Stoker Festival

Photo: Facebook

The Bram Stoker Festival playfully celebrates the gothic, the mysterious, the after-dark and the thrill of late October as Ireland approaches Halloween and Samhain. The packed program of events mixes family-friendly adventures with late-night antics for mates, dates, and everything in between. Late October. 

National Heritage Week

National Heritage Week in Dublin.

National Heritage Week promotes awareness of Ireland’s built, natural and cultural heritage with hundreds of national and community organizations staging events across the country.

Enjoy a range of walks and talks, exhibitions, performances, film and sport throughout the city.

Begins August 19-27.

Jacob Biscuit Factory Archive: An Assorted History Exhibition

Jacob's Cream Crackers. An example of what can be seen in the new factory archive exhibit.

Drawing on historical documents, artifacts, oral histories and other sources contained within the vast Jacob Biscuit Factory Archive held at Dublin City Library and Archive, this major exhibition explores all aspects of the factory’s twentieth-century history and its impact on the lives of Dubliners. 

Colorful panels will demonstrate the history of the factory, the workers, the products it produced and its role in Irish life. Find out the fascinating history of the Jacobs cream-cracker, who was the marketing genius to develop the concept of Jim Figgerty, and how major national and international events from 1916 Rising to World Wars impacted the business, customers, and staff.

Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, D2, from September 8 to October 27, 2017.

Dublin’s Culture Connects

Dublin’s Culture Connects is a program of activities and projects which seek to build on engagement and connection/re-connection in the city. These programs include The National Neighbourhood; The Fundraising Fellowship, Dublin and The Cultural Audit & Mapping Project.

The (Y)OUR STORY project has brought together a diverse range of communities in Ballyfermot, Drimnagh and South Circular Road to work together with artists to tell their stories, exchange culture and skills, and co-create a new version of ‘our’story. 

Dublin Tenement Museum

Opening late summer 2017, the Dublin Tenement Museum, located at No.14 Henrietta Street, will help to spread understanding of the history of urban life and housing in Ireland, through people and memory.

Check out Dublin City’s full culture and creativity plans here.

Is there an upcoming event in Dublin City you think people should know about? Tell us in the comment section.

The Rose of Tralee is coming - who is representing your community in Kerry?

The Rose of Tralee International Festival kicked off today as 64 Roses gathered in Dublin to begin a celebration of Ireland and Irish womanhood.

The Festival was founded in 1959 in the Kerry town that bears its name and is dedicated to finding a “lovely and fair” woman like that in the song, ‘Rose of Tralee’.

Although sometimes mocked as a ‘lovely girls’ competition (a reference to a skit competition held on the Irish comedy series “Father Ted”), it remains as popular as ever.

Host Dáithí Ó Sé is back for his eighth year in charge of the competition and choppered over to Malahide Castle in a helicopter the same shade of red as the dresses on the women he was there to meet.

Read more: Ten things you never knew about the Rose of Tralee (PHOTOS)

Rose of Tralee Festival 2017 host Daithí Ó Sé arrives in his Rose-colored helicopter. Image: RollingNews.ie.

"One of the things I really enjoy every year is meeting them all and then seeing how they get on on-stage. My main job is to make sure that all the Roses feel safe and secure there and that I'm a friendly face when they walk out," he told the Irish Independent.

The current bookie's favorites are Dublin Rose Maria Coughlan and Sydney Rose Aisling Walsh at 3/1 each.

Last year’s winner was Chicago Rose Maggie McEldowney, although much more of the nation’s attention was focused on Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins’ call for Ireland to repeal the 8th amendment which bans abortion.

In 2014, traditionalists were shocked when the Philadelphia Rose and winner, Maria Walsh, came out as a lesbian.

This year, the festival initially said that trans women were not welcome to participate but quickly flip flopped after public outrage.

The festival will be broadcast on RTÉ next week on August 21 and 22 and can be viewed on RTÉ Player afterward.

The full list of participants is as follows:

Abu Dhabi Rose - Niamh Kelly

Arizona Rose - Lauren Koll

Armagh Rose - Nicole McKeown

Boston & New England Rose - Orlaith Roche

Carlow Rose - Ciara Dooley

Cavan Rose - Paula McPartland

Chicago Rose - Teresa Daly

Clare Rose - Aoife Murray

Cork Rose - Aishling O'Connor

Darwin Rose - Rochelle Blake

Derby Rose - Sarah Kelly

Derry Rose - Sarah Colhoun

Donegal Rose - Amy Callaghan

Down Rose - Orlagh McNally

Dubai Rose - Lisa O'Donohue

Dublin Rose - Maria Coughlan

Fermanagh Rose - Stephanie Maguire

Florida Rose - Elizabeth Marince

Galway Rose - Niamh Elwood

Germany Rose - Áine Sullivan

Kentucky Rose - Martha Mortell

Kerry Rose - Breda O’Mahony

Kildare Rose - Deirbhle Mulvihill

Kilkenny Rose - Tara Roche

Hong Kong Rose - Clarissa Langley Coleman

Laois Rose - Maeve Dunne

Leitrim Rose - Erin Moran

Limerick Rose - Kayleigh Maher

London Rose - Caoimhe Gallagher

Longford Rose - Laura Ward

Louth Rose - Aoife Heffron

Mayo Rose - Sandra Ganley

Meath Rose - Anne Lynam

Melbourne Rose - Sinéad Ryan

Monaghan Rose - Maria Murnaghan

New York Rose - Sinéad Kirnan

New Zealand Rose - Niamh O'Sullivan

Newcastle/Gateshead Rose - Laoise O'Shaughnessy

Newfoundland & Labrador Rose - Katie Hanlon-Wadman

North Carolina Rose - Rebecca Phipps

Offaly Rose - Jennifer Byrne

Ohio Rose - Meghan Adams

Ottawa Rose - Vanessa Foran

Perth Rose - Kerrie-Ann Barnes

Philadelphia Rose - Tara Grandich

Queensland Rose - Ellen McCready

Roscommon Rose - Deirdre Cribbin

San Francisco Rose - Amanda Donohoe

Sligo Rose - Lisa Maloney

South Carolina Rose - Ellerslie McCue

Southern California Rose - Claire McManamon

South Australia Rose - Aoife Wright

Sydney Rose - Aisling Walsh

Texas Rose - Lydian Lawler Lopez

Tipperary Rose - Sheila Ryan

Toronto Rose - Colombe Nadeau-O'Shea

Tyrone Rose - Niamh McElduff

Washington D.C. Rose - Sarah Robertson

Waterford Rose - Chloe McGrath

Western Canada Rose - Sinéad McGahern

Westmeath Rose - Eva Cooney

Wexford Rose - Julie Sinnott

Wicklow Rose - Abby McKenna

Southern California Rose - Claire McManamon

Yorkshire Rose - Aisling McArdle

Will you be watching the Rose of Tralee? Let us know your thoughts on the festival in the comments section. 

Remembering The Dubliners Ronnie Drew on his anniversary

They will be singing the Ronnie Drew songs long after the techno beat and disco din are consigned to history. He was one of a kind

Today, on August 16 in 2008, the renowned and beloved Irish singer, frontman of The Dubliners, Ronnie Drew passed away. Here IrishCentral's Founder Niall O'Dowd recalls his encounter with the singer, remembered as a character with rare real voice and piercing blue eyes.

I met Ronnie Drew once in the meeting room of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. In person, he looked a lot worse than the photographs.

Clearly, he had been drinking and was falling asleep in the corner when a friend brought me over. He was very courteous and kind, spending about 10 minutes inquiring about friends in America and calling up memories of the many riotous trips they took to the U.S. when his band, the Dubliners, was at its height.

Ronnie Drew was Shane MacGowan for a previous generation, a once in a lifetime character who filled his songs with emotion and often ribaldry, most notably "Seven Drunken Nights." He was one of Dublin's greatest characters who could easily have stepped out of a James Joyce or James Plunkett novel.

It was a rare thrill to meet him. Like many Irish of my generation I grew up on the Dubliners and Ronnie Drew, not to mention band mate Luke Kelly, whose voice was harsh as cut glass but it touched you to the bone.

I saw Kelly once, very early one morning on Leeson Street near the famous canal. It was about 7.a.m. I was out walking and he was clearly coming home from a party.

He looked as rough as his marvelous voice and he was clearly in no mood for talking. I treasure the memory though.

I still cannot hear Kelly's "Raglan Road" or Drew's "Rare Old Times" without being transported back to a time and place in the 1970s right before modernity came crashing in on Ireland's capital city.

As Drew sang, "Dublin keeps on changing and nothing seems the same/as the gray unyielding concrete makes a city of my town," he is speaking of the Dublin of little streets, jam packed pubs and singsongs that lasted all night that he was saying goodbye to.

Drew and Kelly were the embodiment of the city that I spent many happy years in long before there was a Celtic Tiger, a gritty place that was not the city of the middle and upper classes, or the world class headquarters that it has become. Drew sang about the Dublin characters and the working class quarters where life was rough and tough.

Then there was the voice. Not the greatest in the world, but with that gravelly quality that made it completely unique.

When he launched into "The Old Triangle" Brendan Behan's Dublin came alive. When he sang "Nora," a beautiful and wistful love song, he could stop a passing train.

No less a performer than Bono, who was influenced by the Dubliners, paid a special tribute to him on Monday.

"Ronnie has left his earthly tour for one of the heavens ... they need him up there ... it's a little too quiet and pious," wrote the U2 front man.

"God is lonely for a voice louder than His own. Weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs... that's what I loved about Ronnie Drew's voice and spirit. Music to inspire, to console ... an optimism that was contagious ... that's what U2 took from the Dubliners."

All that and more. No doubt Dublin is quieter and more regimented now that the Dubliners have gone. But they will be sadly missed by a generation who were feeling their way towards adulthood at the time they exploded on the scene.

They sang about a Dublin we could all fall in love with, full of characters and craic, full of fun and fantasy and rebel nights.

Can we say the same nowadays about that capital city where Celtic Tiger clones populate every bar, and the city nightlife is sometimes indistinguishable from Los Angeles or another worldwide hot spot?

One thing for sure, they will be singing the Ronnie Drew songs long after the techno beat and disco din are consigned to history. He was one of a kind, and Dublin will deeply miss him.

* Article originally published in 2008.

Brave US man faces his fear of heights on Aran Islands

If you suffer from acrophobia, Dún Aonghasa fort may be the place to cure your fear

If you’re going to conquer your fear of heights, we can’t imagine any place in the world better than the magical Dún Aonghasa fort on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands. One brave American father recently tried to give it a whack by crawling along on his belly to the edge with some encouragement from his daughter.

According to the acrophobe’s daughter, who narrates the whole task, her father had battled through motion sickness on the ferry to even get to Inis Mór and was now determined to look down at the Atlantic Ocean from 87 meters up for just a few seconds, at least.

Visibly unnerved by how high up he is, we have to commend him for his steely determination to overcome his acrophobia. While we're not sure he’s completely cured, he can at least say he’s tried it once and now has the photo/video to prove it.

Read more: Aran Islands in the dead of winter - a life-changing experience (PHOTOS)

In the background of the clip, we can see the magnificent Dún Aonghasa, the most famous of the prehistoric hill forts that lie on the Aran Islands. It is not known exactly when the structure was built but it is thought to have been at some point in the Bronze Age or Iron Age. Not only is the popular tourist spot an archaeological site of great significance but it also offers some of the most spectacular views to be seen in the whole of Ireland (and that’s really saying something).

H/T: Mashable

How I broke my neck and learnt the surprising truth about life

Lying there for ten weeks after breaking my neck I realized, finally, that I wasn’t missing out

When I was 17 years old, I dove into a swimming pool and broke my neck.

Until that moment, I’d been relentlessly active, my days taxed with dread of missing something somewhere. I was on the student council and participated in a wide variety of school clubs. I always secured a part in the school play and rode a unicycle in talent shows. I ran cross-country in the fall, track in the spring and was co-captain of the basketball team in between. I was an honor-student who worked full-time in the summer and caddied most weekends in the spring and early fall, except on certain Sundays when I served as an altar boy. I’d never had a drink or a smoke, and I rarely swore. Yet that pleasant summer day, for reasons still unclear to me, I plunged into a six-foot deep above-ground pool and slammed the top of my head on the sloped concrete bottom.

An hour and a half later, strapped to a stretcher in the Emergency Room, I was told that I’d fractured the fifth cervical vertebra in my neck and there was the possibility of paralysis. That night in a hospital room, two doctors and a nurse screwed two metal pins into the sides of my head. The pins were attached to a half-circle metal bracket, which itself was attached to a weight that hung from the end of the bed. Two small, convex mirrors were suspended above my face so I could see the entire room without moving my head. I was told I’d have to keep my head and shoulders as motionless as possible for the next ten weeks.

Learning to cope with not being able to move

I tried to teach myself the guitar, but flat on my back with braces, mirrors, and weights surrounding me, it proved impossible. I tried to keep up with my school work but tired quickly suspending heavy textbooks in the air. I even worked out with ankle weights on my legs for a few days until my doctor objected.

So, my muscles atrophied, and I fell behind on my schoolwork. I watched television through prism-shaped eyeglasses and, for the first time, did nothing. I suffered a stress ulcer that first week as I adjusted to my new tethered, horizontal existence: backless tee-shirts, milk shake meals, sponge baths and bed pans.

On Wednesdays, student nurses assisted at the hospital. In their early 20s and relatively experienced, these weren’t women with whom I’d normally have had any contact. They changed my bed sheets and clothes and helped me eat, drink and do some mild, bed-bound exercises. Every week a new woman in white walked into my room, sisterly or flirtatious, concerned or carefree. Whether it was the unbroken time together or the physical proximity or the fact that we’d never see each other again, these women often opened up to me. There were half a dozen years and a lifetime of experience between us, and I was, for a day, a student of their loves and hopes and frustrations. I was bound to the bed, venturing with eager questions and a patient ear where I’d never gone before.

Read more: Three very ill Irish brothers get amazing response from IrishCentral readers

Learning new things about old friends

My friend Leon visited me nearly every day. He’d enrolled at my Catholic high school after being thrown out of the larger public high school. The rumor was that he’d stolen a boat, but nobody knew that for sure because the record was sealed. He quickly earned a nickname, the Devil, from his gleeful, fearless tormenting of parents, teachers, and coaches.

Leon never came empty handed to my room, bringing me a sandwich or the cassette of a band or comedian I wanted to hear. Leon knew I didn’t like to swear, however, and would only hand them over if I’d yell out a few curses of his choosing. (He was a master of creative phrasing.) One day, Leon stood near the door and enticed me to say some particularly well-selected words as loud as I could. The next thing I heard was the voice of Sister Patricia, our English teacher.

“Hospital life has increased your vocabulary, David,” she said, poking her head in the door.

Undeterred, the good Sister returned every week, usually when Leon was there. I believe she did it on purpose, perhaps trying to tempt the Devil to more virtuous ways. One day, we talked about our dreams for the future. Leon said he intended to run a nightclub in Montreal. I said that I merely wanted to get up from the bed. Sister Patricia confessed that, as a younger girl, she’d wanted to be a trapeze artist. This was a revelation because, in my mind, nuns were supposed to have been born that way. Leon was less impressed.

“So you wanted to be a swinger, Sister?’ he said.

One Friday night two weeks in, the phone rang. A friend had injured his elbow and was in traction a few doors down. He asked if I wanted a beer. I was staring through mirrors at the empty room, going nowhere, missing it all, the risk of paralysis decreasing but not yet passed, and so, for the first time in my life, I said, yes, I would like a beer.

A few minutes later, a blue-jeaned girl with sleepy eyes strolled into my room hiding a Pabst Blue Ribbon in her bag. She popped the top and shared it with me through one of the bendy straws with which I drank everything. She didn’t go to my school, and we’d never met before, but she returned the next night and almost every weekend night after that. In time, we started making out amidst the metal framework that fastened me to the bed. It was perilous and sometimes funny, and things were never quite the same when those obstacles were gone.

Ten weeks after diving into that shallow pool, I walked out of the hospital sporting a metal brace that went from my waist to my chin. Until that time, I’d been taxed with the fear of missing something somewhere. But I’d just spent two and half months on my back, lying still, unable to go anywhere or do anything, and yet candid nurses and circus nuns, a righteous devil and a nimble, sleepy-eyed girl had all found their way to me.

All I had to do was lie there.

* Hogan’s debut novel, "The Last Island," is available on Amazon here. You can follow Hogan via Twitter @WaveDaveHogan or on his website davidhoganwriter.com.

17 years on police believe missing Trevor Deely was murdered by gangsters

The Trevor Deely disappearance has kept Ireland in suspense for almost 17 years but new evidence has emerged

Gardaí have roped off a three-acre wooded area in the Dublin city neighborhood of Chapelizod as part of the investigation into the Trevor Deely disappearance - a missing person’s case almost 17 years in length. The 22-year-old Bank of Ireland worker went missing on December 8, 2000, after a night out with his co-workers. CCTV footage retrieved earlier this year shows him speaking to a man in black outside his office, sparking his family to offer a further $117,000 (€100,000) reward for information on Deely's disappearance.

In the last few days, however, Gardaí revealed that a criminal source has informed them that the young Irish man was shot and murdered by a Dublin gangster and hidden in the trees in Chapelizod. Having identified a three-acre patch in the west Dublin area where Deely is claimed to be buried, the police are now settling in for what they believe to be a month-long excavation of the site, as vegetation and grass is removed. The source claims that Deely's body will be found in an underground tunnel or pipe and that he was buried there after an unfortunate chance encounter with a Dublin criminal outside his office.

Criminal accused of killing Trevor Deely is a known Dublin gangster 

Although the criminal in question cannot be named for legal reasons, he is reported to be a formerly well-known figure on the Dublin criminal circuit, active in drug dealing, armed robbery and in prostitution at the time of Trevor Deely’s disappearance. It is believed he engaged in a dispute with Deely in which a gun was pulled and he had hidden the 22-year-old’s body in the underground pipe in panic.

Deely was last seen on a CCTV image showing him passing an ATM at 4.14 am on the morning of December 8, 2000. Just last April, Gardaí made a call for further information and released a further recently recovered CCTV video showing the victim conversing with an unknown man earlier that morning.

The man in question arrived at 2.59 am at the rear gate of Bank of Ireland’s asset management offices on Wilton Terrace, Dublin 2, where Deely worked, waiting just over half an hour before Deely appeared after his night out with friends. The unidentified man approached Deely, conversing with him before the bank worker enters the building to have coffee with a friend working a night shift. Leaving 40 minutes later, Deely can be seen walking down towards Baggot Street Bridge before the ATM CCTV picks him up for the last time.

Read more: Documentary on Ireland’s youngest missing person to be shown in US

Trevor Deely would not be the only person murdered in that area if Gardaí criminal sources prove to be true

Exactly 18 months later, the same small section of the city was the site of another brutal murder when Sinead Kelly, a 21-year-old who worked in prostitution, was stabbed to death on the banks of the Grand Canal off Baggot Street in June 1998.

This is the most significant development in the open case of Trevor Deely in over 16 years.

H/T: Irish Times

Where’s Donald Trump’s Ambassador to Ireland?

The failure to name an ambassador to Ireland by the Trump administration is beginning to grate in Irish America

Having suffered through the Obama second appointment which took 18 months, it seems we are in similar territory with President Trump.

Perhaps it was the recent confirmation hearing for Woody Johnson, the new U.S. ambassador to Britain, with no sign of an Irish confirmation or even nomination that set Irish teeth on edge.

Newt Gingrich's wife Callista is safely through to the Vatican and most other key posts are being filled, but no word on Ireland.

There are extenuating circumstances but still. Philanthropist and top lawyer Brian Burns was originally chosen, but a health issue ruled him out and he regrettably had to withdraw his name.

Melania Trump, Brian Burns and President Donald Trump.

He was an excellent candidate with deep roots in the Irish American community. He is deeply respected in Ireland too. We can only hope the Trump administration leans in and finds a similarly qualified candidate.

A "Friend of Trump"

Certainly, we can probably expect an FOT – Friend of Trump – like Johnson to be nominated.

Johnson, unlike that other heroic NFL team owner Dan Rooney, who was deeply ensconced in Irish affairs before being named ambassador to Ireland by Obama, appears to have little connection to Britain.

He is best known as the owner of the dreadful New York Jets still waiting a hundred years since their last Super Bowl (well, it just feels like that).

Let’s hope Johnson’s performance at the Court of St. James is more successful than his football team.

Read more: Donald Trump is now the most dangerous president in American history

There are those who dismiss ambassadors as no longer worth the expense in these days of instant communications.

To which we reply with the name Jean Kennedy Smith. Her tenure in Dublin coincided with the height of the peace process efforts in Northern Ireland back in the 1990s. Ask anyone deeply involved and they will single her out as critical to the success of that process.

Former Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith.

Successive ambassadors in Dublin kept a keen eye on the North, something the British would always have been aware of.

Now there is another crisis, this one occasioned by Brexit and what that means for Ireland north and south.

There is a school of thought that the British may seek to bully the Irish and win concessions on a brand new border in order to comply with the new immigration and customs rules.

The powers of the American ambassador in Dublin to act as an intermediary or be part of an agreed solution cannot be overestimated.

As we have seen, the Americans at pivotal moments in the peace process used their deep friendships with both sides to find a way through – e.g. appointing Senator George Mitchell.

But to have that influence we need an ambassador in Dublin.  Otherwise Woody may be looking to score touchdowns on his own.

Woody Johnson, the new U.S. ambassador to Britain.

Don’t laugh – the debate on Brexit will be an important one for Ireland and Britain both and America’s role may well come to the fore.

We have no particular preference for what kind of background a new U.S. ambassador should have. In one sense all that is important is his/her relationship with the president back home.

Also important is a knowledge of the issues which is especially important in the Brexit field, the dominant issue in Irish and British politics for the next half decade at least.

But first things first and an appointment is overdue. Otherwise Woody Woodpecker in London will have drilled in so deep the new U.S. ambassador to Ireland will be way behind the eight ball.

Read more: Trump’s sinister refusal to call white supremacist evil by its name

Former top Trump staffer threatens Matt Drudge using Conor McGregor-speak to “blow him the fook up”

Seems some friends of White House strategist Steve Bannon want to blow Matt Drudge up. Sam Nunberg, a former top aide to Donald Trump and a key friend of white nationalist and Trump adviser Bannon, has taken grave exception to attacks by on Bannon by Matt Drudge through his very influential Drudge Report.

“Matt should go back into his hobbit hole in Miami and listen to techno,” the former Trump campaign adviser said.

“Matt should understand that people like me can blow him the fook up. F-o-o-k, Conor McGregor. Blow him the fook up [sic].” (Nunberg was referencing Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor, who pronounces “fuck” as “fook.”)

Read more: Steve Bannon's ex-wife banned forever from Aer Lingus after air rage incident

Drudge has been defending National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster who has become the target of attacks by the Bannon-led alt-right media. At the weekend McMaster refused to say whether he could work with Bannon or not. Drudge dislikes Bannon for reasons unknown

“If Steve is fired by the White House and a bunch of generals take over the White House there will be hell to pay,” Nunberg said.

Axios, an influential online site, has also stated that Bannon’s job is in jeopardy. Nunberg told TheDC that he was “very perturbed” by the Axios story.

“Matt should understand there will be serious fucking consequences if he continues this jihad against Steve Bannon,” Nunberg told The Daily Caller.

“I was somebody with [Trump] for four and half fucking years who understood and came up with a formula to win … Matt Drudge is somebody who wants web traffic.”

He added, “I’ll get the conservative radio to talk about how Matt Drudge pushed out Steve Bannon so McMaster can control the White House.”

“Nobody elected Donald Trump for McMaster to be in the West Wing,” the former adviser said.

There was no comment from Conor McGregor.

Read more: Donald Trump is now the most dangerous president in American history

Irish J-1 waitress in Chicago fails to recognize Leo Varadkar

Would you recognize Ireland’s Prime Minister if he walked into the restaurant you worked at?

An Irish student, working as a waitress in Chicago on a J-1 visa, was left feeling pretty embarrassed after she failed to recognize the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of her own country, Leo Varadkar.

Varadkar’s only been Taoiseach for two months and few would expect him to be a household name in America, but he might have expected another Irish person to know who he was.

Twenty-year-old Emma Kelly, from Dublin, said she brought the Taoiseach and his partner a set of menus and asked the pair if they were Irish.

They said they were but didn’t seem that bothered that they were being served by an Irish person, she recalled, and she left them be at a small table for two.

She bumped into her friend Emer who asked “Do you know that Leo Varadkar is sitting out there?”

“Are you joking?” she reacted.

“The Taoiseach is sitting at the tiny table?”

Speaking later to RTÉ Radio she said she just never expected to bump into an Irish politician abroad.

As for the Taoiseach, he said he enjoyed being treated like a “normal” person and ordered shrimp tacos with sautéed cauliflower.

Later, Varadkar tweeted Emma to thank her for the “gr8” service.

Emma and a friend even got a picture with the man she describes as “officially my fave Taoiseach”.

What is the Kennedy family curse?

IrishCentral look back at all the tragedies to have hit the presidential family to decide if the Kennedy family curse exists or not

They may be one of the most famous families in the US or even the world, but the Kennedy family curse has long haunted the political dynasty, causing some more conspiracy-minded folks to question whether they sold their soul at some point for a shot at power. The descendants of poor Irish immigrants from Co. Wexford, the family climbed the ladder all the way to the White House but not without several tragedies along the way. But is the Kennedy family cursed or are these unfortunate events simply coincidences that could happen to any large family?

The Kennedy curse origin and cause:

Picture perfect Kennedy family portrait but is their a Kennedy family curse at play?

The Kennedy curse origin mainly comes from speculation and rumors built up over the years because of the vast number of unfortunate tragedies to have hit the ultra-successful Irish Catholic family and the number of tragic young deaths the family has had to endure.

Who put a curse on the Kennedys?

There is not a real answer for the exact person to have cursed the Kennedys if such a curse were to exist.

As a powerful family, they are sure to have made themselves an enemy or two and many believe that Joe Kennedy, the family’s patriarch, brought the tragedy upon himself and his offspring by the forceful way in which he pushed them to succeed.

Of Joe Kennedy’s nine children, one was confined to a home for the mentally ill, two were killed in plane crashes, two were assassinated in public office and one had his political career ruined by an accident that resulted in the death of a young campaign worker. That’s not even including the further tragedies that hit his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In a book released by Les Williams earlier this year, “The Kennedy Curse: Shattered” claims that there is no Kennedy curse but simply an overpowering patriarch pushing his children to extremes.

“Joe Kennedy raised his children to believe that they were better than anyone else and that they had to win, every time and at any cost. His obsessive, driving ambition would influence the decisions his children made and the way they lived their lives and this controlling, overbearing approach would have disastrous consequences for the family over the years,” Williams writes.

Do the Kennedy family themselves think they’re cursed?

The Kennedy family posing on the beach.

The Kennedys themselves have never spoken much about the idea of a Kennedy family curse but they are also a family known for their secrets, the full details of JFK’s chronic back injuries and constant physical pain while he sat in the Oval Office only emerging as public knowledge in the past few months, even though the 35th President was close to death at times, so bad was his health.

Details have also only just recently emerged of the fate of the young Rosemary Kennedy whose life was all but destroyed by her father’s decision to submit her to experimental brain surgery that went drastically wrong.

Senator Ted Kennedy did once question whether a “curse actually did hang over all the Kennedys" during his own testimony about the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969. Ted has accidentally driven his car off a bridge, trapping his 28-year-old companion  Mary Jo Kopechne, inside to die in the waters. He pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of the accident causing personal injury.

His son Ted Kennedy Jr was also said to be “heartbroken”, however, by the 2015 book from his brother, former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, named “A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction", in which he blames the mental health for many of the tragedies that occurred within the family.

Detailing his own struggles with addiction and mental health issues, Patrick Kennedy highlights two incidents in particular which he feels could have been avoided if the Kennedy family had had a more open approach to talking about mental health. The first went back to Rosemary Kennedy and the forced lobotomy his grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy ordered to control his aunt’s outbursts.

“She could have lived a life very free of disability,” Patrick lamented to People magazine.

The second was the death of Robert F. Kennedy’s fourth son David, who fatally overdosed at 28, a death Patrick believes was linked to PTSD following the assassination of his father.

“David lost his father so violently and then, having to watch it all on television,” Patrick says of his uncle RFK’s assassination.

“I don’t think anybody understood that [PTSD] was a real injury that, if untreated, would kill him.”

Some of the main events that caused Kennedy curse speculation:

Rosemary Kennedy. Was she the victim of the Kennedy family curse?

Rosemary Kennedy is institutionalized, 1941: Worried that his daughter’s mood swings would tarnish the family reputation, Kennedy patriarch Joe kicked off the Kennedy family curse by forcing Rosemary Kennedy to undergo a lobotomy. The lobotomy instead left her unable to walk or speak well, and as a result, Rosemary remained institutionalized until her death in 2005.

The death of Joseph Kennedy Jr.,  August 12, 1944: The elder brother of JFK and RFK and the son previously picked for the presidency by Joe Kennedy meets his untimely death when his bomber aircraft explodes over East Suffolk during the Second World War as part of Project Anvil.

The death of Kathleen Cavendish, May 13, 1948: JFK's sister and the wife of Marquess of Hartington, dies in a plane crash in France.

JFK and Jackie Kennedy lose a child, August 9, 1963: Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died of infant respiratory distress syndrome two days after his premature birth. Jackie missed the funeral because she was still recovering from the C-section at Otis Air Force Base.

The assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man arrested for the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy, November 22, 1963: After a 15-year break, the Kennedy family curse strikes again and President JFK is assassinated as he rides in an open convertible through Dallas, Texas. While conspiracies continue to run amuck on the real cause for his assassination and who exactly was behind his death, Lee Harvey Oswald was the man officially arrested for the crime, himself assassinated just two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

The assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, June 6, 1968: JFK's younger brother and his attorney general, is assassinated after winning the California Democratic primary. The gunman, Sirhan Sirhan, remains in a prison in California.

Read more: Robert F. Kennedy believed JFK was killed because of him

RFK and JFK and the McLellan hearings. Both were possible victims of the Kennedy family curse.

The death of RFK’s son David Kennedy, April 25, 1984: David Kennedy, the fourth of RFK's eleven children, died in a Florida hotel room after overdosing on cocaine, painkillers, and antipsychotic medicine. Patrick Kennedy has claimed that David suffered from PTSD following his father’s death.

RFK’s sixth child Michael Kennedy dies  December 31, 1997: Michael Kennedy is killed in a skiing accident in Colorado.

JFK’s only son dies in a plane crash, July 16, 1999: John F. Kennedy Jr, JFK's son, dies while flying his light aircraft to the holiday island of Martha's Vineyard. He reportedly became disoriented during the night flight and crashed into the ocean. Authorities put the accident down to a “pilot error”. Only one child of JFK and Jackie Kennedy Onassis is still living, Caroline Kennedy, the former US ambassador to Japan.

Robert Kennedy’s estranged wife died, May 16, 2012: Mary Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert Kennedy Jr, is found after reportedly hanging herself at her New York home. A family funeral was held in the Kennedy compound despite the fact that Mary could not visit there for several years before her death.

What do you think? Does a Kennedy family curse exist? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

H/T: The Express/People

One Direction’s Niall Horan plans to make US tour as Irish as possible!

Picture This and Gavin James will join Niall Horan as the former One Direction star kicks off his solo tour

One Direction superstar and general all-round sound lad Niall Horan has announced that he hopes to make his debut solo US tour as “Irish as possible”, bringing along some of his favorite up-and-coming Irish acts to support him as he wows US crowds for the first time without his trusty One Direction sidekicks.

The singer, who comes from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, is taking off on the Flicker Sessions this August 29, kicking off in Dublin, of course, before traveling to the UK, Australia, Sweden, Japan, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico, with the vast majority of his gigs taking place across various US states.

“So for my shows, I wanted to make it as Irish as possible and show off the incredible music coming out of our lovely little country,” the Mullingar man said on Twitter.

“So I asked around to see who was available and we got some great replies, so happy with this.”

While he may be “so happy” with his line up of support, we over perfectly over the moon as some of Ireland’s best and brightest are joining him to spread their talent across the world.

In particular, US fans will be treated to support from Gavin James, who Niall Horan describes as “one of my favorite artists”. James himself certainly looks delighted to be joining him.

We can’t help but be a little jealous, however, that the UK and Swedish fans will get the chance to see Picture This who performed at IrishCentral’s summer party in 2016 and have gone on to do amazing things since then.

Read more: Ex-One Direction star Niall Horan makes history with “This Town” (VIDEO)

Other acts joining the “Slow Hands” singer on his tour include Wild Youth and Cory Harp.

Having launched his solo career just this year, Niall is already showing his own great talent and we can’t wait to join him on the Flicker Sessions.

Will you be going to see Niall Horan’s US tour? Let us know in the comments section.

How to fit in after returning home from overseas

You’ve thought about it for months... "Will I ‘fit in’ in the place I once called home?"

You’ve thought about it for months. Your friends and family have the balloons and banners at the ready. Your bags are finally stacked in the hallway ready for your big return. No matter how prepared you are there is often one aspect that many don’t consider. Will I ‘fit in’ in the place I once called home?

The curious case of reverse culture shock

‘Fitting in’ seems like an odd consideration but it’s the struggle you rarely hear about from expats returning to their home. Emotions are overwhelmingly positive at first. The first few weeks consist of reunions and appreciating your mother’s cooking.

However, when the dust has settled your social life will be different. Hopes of reliving the good old days with the gang may be dashed as you realize that everyone has moved on.

Rebuilding your support network

Irish people are welcomed worldwide with warm embraces and people often go above and beyond to make us feel at home. It can take time to adjust to leaving this support system behind. Touch base with friends, former colleagues and family before you return. Staying in touch or re-connecting will help keep you on top of major events in their lives and that of the community. This will help you feel like less of a ‘blow in’ upon return.

Setting up a new social network will take patience, time and energy. Do all the things you did when you moved abroad originally. Volunteer, join sports clubs or sign up for courses. One Tribe is a useful resource if you’re not sure where to begin.

Maintain your sense of self

When returning home you can go through somewhat of a life crisis. You look at those you used to be on par with and compare your life stage to theirs. This only leads to anxiety and frustration, especially if you returned home without a job lined up and are living at home. After the ‘welcome home balloons’ have well and truly popped, don’t let your ambition and positive outlook deflate too. You have changed for the better. Accept this change. Your old life will look different but don’t let the negatives overwhelm you and undermine the experience of coming home.

Don’t let others tempt you to give up this newfound character. Reverse culture shock is a transition and an important learning experience.

Be patient

Give yourself time to adjust to the new experience of being home. Unpack, catch up on all the news and once your head is less congested you can start planning your career.

Re-adjustment takes time. You can feel detached at first but once your new routines become normal to you, you will soon be at ease.   Focus on enjoying the reasons why you came home in the first place. Walk your dog, eat some Taytos and spend time with the people you missed so much over a cup of Barry’s or Lyons tea.

Find a job to come home to.

If you’re a nurse and you plan on moving to Ireland or you’re coming home to Ireland check out this Facebook like CPL and IrishCentral did last week. For more read the article here.

IrishCentral are joined by Cpl Healthcare to discuss what nurses need to know when moving to Ireland. More info here: http://irsh.us/2vFj3HS

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Thursday, August 10, 2017
Boston Holocaust memorial vandalized as Illinois moves to class Nazis as terrorists

Boston Holocaust Memorial vandalized as the city's Irish American mayor Marty Walsh speaks out against hate

Boston’s Holocaust memorial has been vandalized just as the Illinois legislature moves to officially classify Nazis as terrorists.

The monument to the victims of Nazis stands nine feet tall, but yesterday the imposing structure was surrounded by police and cordoned off by yellow tape after rocks broke its glass windows.

One man has been arrested in connection with the vandalism.

And it’s the second time this summer that the memorial has been desecrated; in June the windows were broken but quickly replaced.

"When we hear the sound broken glass, we shudder. It's a terrible reminder of terrible times," Barry Schrage of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston told Boston 25 News.

Now they must go through the weary process rebuilding once again in the space of only a few short weeks.

After last weekend’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, tensions within the Jewish community are high: demonstrators carried “Jews are Satan’s children” banners, Nazi flags were seen and others wore t-shirts adorned with quotes from Hitler.

James Fields Jr. was charged with second-degree murder after allegedly driving his car into peaceful protestors, killing Heather Heyer. He reportedly hero-worshiped the Nazi Fuhrer and was a member of a group dedicated to fighting “international Jews”.

As a result, Illinois now looks likely to add Nazis to its list of terrorist groups.

Read more: Trump’s sinister refusal to call white supremacist evil by its name

“It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry, and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend,” said state Sen. Don Harmon told colleagues as he introduced the measure.

“They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today.”

A demonstration by a group called Boston Free Speech, planned for Saturday, has also been denounced by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh who warned them, “We don’t want you in Boston. We don’t want you on Boston Common. We don’t want you spewing the hate that we saw yesterday, and the loss of life.”

Boston Free Speech insist they have nothing to do with the Charlottesville group and wrote on their Facebook page, “This was a lie and blatant attempt at defamation by [former press secretary to Hillary Clinton] Brian Fallon on twitter [sic]. There have been threats made against our lives already and we will be contacting Boston PD.”

Read more: Marty Walsh says hatred not welcome in Boston ahead of “free speech” rally

However, the group has confirmed as a speaker “Baked Alaska”, a man dubbed an “Ironic Nazi” by the New Yorker Magazine. He was at Charlottesville and was hospitalized with potentially permanent eye damage after he was caught up in the ensuing riot.

H/T: The Hill

Irish seal shows his appreciation for fish in the sweetest way

This greedy handsome beast at Howth might be the cutest seal in all of Ireland

A cute Irish seal has been shown to wave at passersby who throw him a fish.

The grey seal lives in Howth Harbour on the north Dublin coast; attorney Simon McGarr was out with his family and came upon the handsome beast.

Each gift of a fish yielded a thank you wave of his flipper and a delighted cry from the watching child.

Grey seals are one of two species of seal in Ireland; found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean they are more common in Irish or British waters.

Whilst most in Ireland tend to live in pockets along the west coast’s Wild Atlantic Way, a number do call the picturesque Dublin suburb of Howth home too.

They breed between September and December in remote locations and pups are ready to swim at the age of six weeks when they’ve shed their white fur.

It’s unknown how or why the seal picked up such human like behavior - if you’ve seen a seal act like this before, tell us in the comments below!

Napoleon Dynamite star to start world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade

Arkansas parade might be the world’s shortest but it still attracts 30,000 people

An actor who found fame in the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” is set to star as the starter of the world’s shortest St Patrick’s Day parade.

Jon Heder won MTV Movie Award for Best Musical Performance and Breakthrough Male Performance for his role in "Napoleon Dynamite" as a nerdy teenager who helps his friend pull off a shock victory to become class President.

Now Heder has the honor of being the starter of the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade, which measures just 98 feet!

The St. Paddy’s Day parade in Hot Springs started, according to its website, with the question of “how to use Bridge Street’s 98-foot length to attract visitors to Hot Springs.” The answer was a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Established in 2003 the parade now attracts up to 30,000 visitors.

Usually the parade lasts an hour. It takes place after work on the big day itself – although the website is keen to stress that the revelry continues long after everyone has marched.

"Jon's personality will fit right in with the atmosphere of fun that is the hallmark of our great little parade," Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, told the Hot Springs Sentinel Record.

When he’s not helping out at the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade, he's acting and has starred in notable films such as, "The Sasquatch Gang," and, "Just Like Heaven." Heder is married with four children.

Here’s a video about the world’s shortest St Patrick’s Day parade:

Marty Walsh says hatred not welcome in Boston ahead of “free speech” rally

The future of a Free Speech Rally in Boston is on the ropes as city officials, including Irish American Mayor Marty Walsh, speak out against hate

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has issued a stern warning that hate groups aren’t welcome in his city.

A “Free Speech Rally” is planned for Saturday, although permits have yet to be issued by City Hall. The group claims that they submitted an application on July 13 and it was city approved but now seem unsure as to whether they have a permit or not. 

The group, Boston Free Speech, denies any connection to white supremacy and is not the same as the one that organized the Charlottesville demonstration that led to the death of a woman and 19 others being treated for injuries.

“We are not in any way associated with the organizers of the Charlottesville rally,” the group wrote on their Facebook page.

“This was a lie and blatant attempt at defamation by [former press secretary to Hillary Clinton] Brian Fallon on twitter [sic]. There have been threats made against our lives already and we will be contacting Boston PD.”

Read more: Confederate flag flew proudly at a major Irish sporting event

Nevertheless, Walsh is not pulling his punches.

“We don’t need this type of hate,” he insisted.

“So my message is clear to this group. We don’t want you in Boston. We don’t want you on Boston Common. We don’t want you spewing the hate that we saw yesterday, and the loss of life.”

Speaking prior to the President’s more robust comments on Monday, Walsh said he’d rather Trump hadn’t been so “open-ended” in his remarks but welcomed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to open a civil rights investigation into the rally.

“Let’s hope they’re consistent. I think it would be great for the President to come out today with a clearer statement, particularly about the white supremacist neo-Nazi groups,” Walsh stated.

“I think he needs to separate himself a little bit from them because I think there are a lot of people putting the two together.”

A number of groups are in the process of organizing counter demonstrations while rumors ran amok yesterday that the rally had been canceled. Boston Free Speech has acknowledged that several of their speakers have backed out but are determined to go ahead this weekend. 

Read more: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh - a beacon of light for Democrats

H/T: Boston CBS Local

Confederate flag flew proudly at a major Irish sporting event

Cork GAA team’s fans continued to hold flag high, the day after deaths at white-supremacist rally in Virginia

Two Irish groups regularly fly the Confederate flag and one of the flags was seen on television on Sunday at a major sporting event despite the weekend deaths in Charlottesville and the white supremacist supporters widely waving the Confederate flag.

It also flew Sunday at Dublin's premier sporting grounds in Croke Park in Dublin.

Supporters of the Cork team,which played Waterford in the All-Ireland hurling semifinal before over 72,000 people in Croke Park, were seen flying the flag during television coverage of Sunday's game.

The Cork hurling and football teams are known as “The Rebels” and have long used the confederate battle flag as a symbol. However, there has been major a effort made to ban the flag from GAA grounds because of its racist connections.

However, some fans are still flying it. According to the Irish Mirror newspaper, during Sunday’s game “TV images showed it being flown in the Hill 16 end with hundreds taking to Twitter to vent their disgust."

One person said, “the level of ignorance and stupidity is infuriating,” while another person said, “sad to see I’m getting mails from the states asking to explain why Cork fly the confederate flag.”

The Washington Post newspaper highlighted groups around the world that have appropriated the Confederate flag. The Cork GAA teams were mentioned, as was the Red Hand Defenders, a loyalist Ulster paramilitary group.

There are many in Cork who have no problem with the flag, however. Addressing the flying of the Confederate flag a poster on a local Cork site stated: “As someone who abhors racism of any kind I'd still be reasonably comfortable flying a Confederate flag at a Cork GAA match – not to indicate support of racism, not because of the "Dukes of Hazzard," not even because I like Country and Western music, but because at Cork matches I like to show the Red and White and its association with Rebels, and The South!

Another poster wrote:

“The Confederate flag has been seen at Cork hurling matches since the 1970s, it's a rebel flag, those who fly it do so in support of the Cork teams, not in support of racial issues in the southern states of the US.”

Red Hand Defenders, a Loyalist Ulster paramilitary group

In terms of the other Confederate flag-fliers, the Washington Post stated that the Red Hand Defenders, a Loyalist Ulster paramilitary group, carries Confederate flags during marches and that they do so because many Confederate soldiers were originally from or had family connections to Northern Ireland.

The Red Hand Defenders were formed in 1998 by loyalists who opposed the Belfast Agreement and the loyalist ceasefires. The group claimed responsibility for a blast bomb attack on September 7, 1998 that killed a policeman, and since then they have killed nine others – most notably human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson on March 15, 1999.

This is not the first time that controversy has arisen about Cork supporters flying the flag.

Confederate flag to be banned from Cork games

In 2004, calls for the Confederate flag to be banned from Cork games led nowhere, with the Cork County Board claiming fans were unaware of its history and connotations.

The campaign against the flag was led by the Socialist Workers Party.

“We know the [Cork] county colors are red and white but it’s unfortunate one of the flags being flown is the Confederate flag from America,” Joe Moore, then the SWP Cork spokesman, told BreakingNews.ie at the time.

“It represents the promotion of racism and slavery, but Ireland is a multi-cultural society and such symbols should not be on display.

“Cork is the Rebel County, but the name comes from the fight for national independence. The rebel flag comes from a totally different context where people in the US were protecting slavery.”

However, the county board argues that fans had latched on to the flag simply because of its colors and were therefore not at fault.

“It’s ridiculous, the flag’s just red and white. Our fans also wave the Japanese rising sun flag, the Canadian flag, the Ferrari flag, but they mean nothing except for the colors,” Mick Dolan, then vice-chairman of the county board at the time, told BreakingNews.ie.

“I don’t think the people waving the Confederate flag even know what it stands for and it would certainly not be my place to tell them what flags to use.”

The flag is widely used by Loyalist groups in Northern Ireland and often flies alongside Nazi flags and Union Jacks

Aogan O Fearghail when president of the GAA has been on the record as opposing the Cork supporters waving the flag. “The Confederate flag is not a flag I personally would be comfortable with,” he said on Tuesday, according to The42.ie

“I wouldn’t be comfortable with a Nazi symbol,” he added “it also has red.”

Ó Fearghail speculated that it would not be possible to search the flags of every match attendee and instead asked Cork fans to consider the message waving the Confederate flag could send.

“Certainly anything racist is against our rules,” he said.

“If people wave flags and one flag is taken away and one isn’t, that will always cause unrest.

“It would be nice if people took personal responsibility and did a little investigation themselves as to what their banner means.”

Read more: Trump’s sinister refusal to call white supremacist evil by its name

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

Shortlist announced for the best Irish bars in North America

Irish bars in North America are a dime a dozen and, while some of them may miss the mark on what makes a truly great Irish bar, there are plenty to choose from when trying to decide which are the best. The people at IrishPubsGlobal.com have set about identifying the best Irish bar in North America (an enviable task) and they recently released their shortlisted top ten. 

According to them, these are the top ten Irish bars in the US. Don't agree? Let us know where your favorite is in the comments section below!

Kevin Barry's (Savannah, GA)

Kevin Barry’s officially opened on October 31, 1980, at midnight.  Why November 1, 1980? Because that was the 60th anniversary of the execution of the bar’s namesake, Kevin G. Barry.

ABC News cited Kevin Barry's Irish Pub as a Top 5 Irish Pub to visit for St Patrick's Day and it was ranked in America's Best & Top 10 Irish Pubs. Kevin Barry's Irish Pub has also been recognized as one of the top military bars in the world by Military.com.

McNally’s (St Charles, IL)

It's tagline "Like Ireland ... Only closer ..." says it all. A perfect home away from home in McNally's. 

Irish Times (Victoria, BC)

Voted one of the best Irish pubs outside of Ireland in 2015. The Irish Times provides Irish sustenance with "food for the body, drink for the spirit, and music for the soul."

The traditions of Ireland have been extended to their menu, which has been "developed by the philosophy of food for the body, offering Irish classics like bangers & mash, shepherd’s pie, and our famous Irish stew."

Rí Ra (Las Vegas, NV)

The Vegas edition of the popular chain of North American Irish bars is a real Irish local. 

Rí Rá Irish Pub, in Mandalay Place, "epitomizes a true Irish pub experience. A comfortable neighborhood environment where conversation flows as smoothly as Guinness ebbs in the glass. Constructed from a pub meticulously restored in Ireland then shipped to Las Vegas, it’s a hotspot for locals and visitors alike, offering an impressive line-up of live music, a comprehensive drink list, and fare that defies pub standards."

Tim Finnegans (Delray Beach, FL)

The "newest addition to Delray Beach’s world-class culinary experience is family-owned and operated Tim Finnegan’s Irish Pub located on South Federal Highway in Delray Beach, FL.

The "pub offers authentic Irish food prepared on premise using the traditional recipes" of the owners, Lisa and Noel Walsh’s parents.

Doc Magilligans (Niagara Falls, ON)

"Doc Magilligan's is your neighborhood local for any occasion. In the tradition of all true Irish pubs, Doc's is founded in family history and committed to providing a laid-back, fun-loving place to meet family and friends for a few drinks and some comfort inspired fare.

"Enjoy full Irish breakfast, lunch or dinner 7 days a week and brunch on weekends in their Victorian inspired surroundings."

O’Shea’s (West Palm Beach, FL)

"O’Shea’s Pub has been a staple in the Downtown West Palm Beach area for over 21 years. Wanna get the best Irish experience? You’re in the right place!

"Over all these long years, they've been known for only the best traditions and recipes. Nothing tastes as good as our beer and whiskey!"

Celtic Cowboy (Great Falls, MT)

“The Celtic Cowboy Pub and Restaurant and the Hotel Arvon evoke the lively times of the past in what is now one of the very few buildings left from the early days of Great Falls."

Paddy Barry’s (Virginia)

🍀Broeslers in Virginia 🍀#irishdance #broeslerlove #stpatricksday

A post shared by Stephanie Schor 🚖 (@monkeyboogiewoogie) on

"Shepherd’s Pie and frothy pints of Guinness are standards at Paddy Barry’s along with dozens of mouth-watering menu items and libations."

The Quiet Man (Peekskill, NY)

#summer2017 #brodersfamilyvacay #peekskillny #thequietmanpub

A post shared by Shana broders (@booklovr777) on

As well as being named after the best Irish American film of all time, "when you pull up a stool and park your elbows on the bar at the Quiet Man Public House you are literally sharing history with thousands of U.S. Navy enlisted men and officers who served on the Battleship North Carolina during World War II.

"The bar was lovingly crafted by master wood-worker Cathal McGreal from teak that made up the original deck of the ship and was replaced a few years ago. It is known as the purple heart bar for the plugs of purple heart wood that now fill the bolt holes formerly used to affix the deck to the ship."

What would you place as the number one Irish bar in North America? Let us know in the comments section, below. 

H/T: Irish Pubs Global 

Remembering Tom Fleming from the “Irish ghetto” to the mainstream

"What I've been doing as a writer is thinking about America. Starting from being an outsider,” he liked to say

Jersey City these days is another of those up-and-coming municipalities, attractive to both striving immigrants as well as those Americans from other parts of the country who want a taste of that New York magic but, you know, can’t afford it.  

But there it is, Manhattan, right across the water.  The Freedom Tower shimmers.  The Statue of Liberty beckons.  Ellis Island reminds you who did – and still does – a lot of the building in this country.

When Tom Fleming was growing up in Jersey City, it was an “Irish ghetto,” plain and simple. His father, Teddy, was raised by immigrants from Co. Mayo in a four-story tenement with no heat or running water.  

But after Teddy went off to fight in World War I, he returned a hero and found himself a rising star in machine politics, which were still very much an Irish game in mid-20th century America.

In Jersey City the game was run by Frank Hague, a power broker of the highest order.  Hague even earned the nickname “I am the law.”

Fleming – who, sadly, died last week at the age of 90 – once told me his father made him a promise.

"Become a lawyer," his father said, after Fleming graduated from Fordham, "and I guarantee you'll make a million dollars by the time you're 30.”

By then, however, the most powerful parental influence on Fleming had become his mother, a teacher.  He had fallen in love with books and ideas, and it was a love that would be repaid handsomely.  Fleming embarked on one of the most prolific and impressive literary careers of the second half of the 20th century.

As it turned out he was also great human being – generous, funny and smart as hell.

I first met Fleming right after he published one of his many historical novels, "Conquerors of the Sky," a compelling look at the early days of aviation.  I interviewed him for a profile that eventually ran in Publisher’s Weekly.

"Aviation is the quintessential American industry,” Fleming said at the time. “We invented the damn thing. In the beginning, people thought [the airplane] was this symbol of spiritual ascent. Simultaneously, the plane destroyed the American sense of isolation. The symbolism of that appealed to me."

I was glad for the opportunity to meet Fleming, but let’s be clear: I had just turned 30 and he was 75.  I didn’t really expect he would have all that much to say to me, nor I to him, beyond the business of promoting his book.

How wrong I was, as I found out when we began corresponding regularly and even getting together from time to time.

Fleming, of course, was a learned fellow.  He was one of the only authors ever to have both fiction and non-fiction named as main selections in the Book of the Month Club. He ultimately sold millions of books internationally and was a familiar face, appearing in many documentaries on C-Span and PBS.

But perhaps most fascinating were his efforts to balance his Irish background with his interest in more “American” affairs.

"What I've been doing as a writer is thinking about America. Starting from being an outsider,” he liked to say.

It’s hard to imagine a fellow like Fleming, with his Upper East Side apartment and membership in the Union League, as an “outsider.”  And yet, that’s because we have such terrible historical memory in this country.  

Fleming, of course, did his best to try and change that.  The American Revolution was his specialty.

But he also wrote insightfully about the Civil War, World War I and the New Deal.  In a sense, he was assimilating through his writing, moving from the “Irish ghetto” to the mainstream.

"I started exploring the American side of the hyphen in history," Fleming told me.

But you never do leave that ghetto, do you?

Because in 2005 he wrote his most intimate and revealing book, an 'Irish American memoir' called "Mysteries of My Father."

It illustrated what was perhaps Tom Fleming’s greatest strength, and what we will miss most from him – writing about both sides of the hyphen.

Famine-era Irish schoolhouse in beautiful Co. Kerry for sale for $115,000

A Co Kerry Irish schoolhouse built in 1880 can now be yours for €99,000 ($115,000).

The Old School House in Glenmore was part of a post-Famine initiative to educated and revitalize the area. More than 100 pupils were in attendance the first day the it opened. Rural depopulation eighty-seven years later led to the school’s closure in 1967.

The building was purchased in 1971 and converted into a youth hostel by An Oige, a youth hosteling association. After 36 years, the hostel closed in 2007.

Reception area in the Old School House. Credit: SherryFitzgerald Daly Kenmare

The large Victorian two-level house stands at the end of a remote valley against a mountainous backdrop. The 2820 sq ft structure boasts two kitchens, four receptions rooms. five bedrooms (four dormitory style), two bathrooms, shower rooms and several toilets. It also includes open, stone-fronted fireplaces and a flat roof extension.

Dormitory-style bedroom in the Old School House. Credit: SherryFitzgerald Daly Kenmare

The building has a slate roof and ornate, paned windows, most of which have views of the mountains, lakes and countryside. The Old School House does needs renovation work and modernization and would be ideal for someone with a strong vision for the building.

Dining area in the Old School House. Credit: SherryFitzgerald Daly Kenmare

The half acre site has trees and bushes, a well, phone connection, and electricity. To the east is Healy Pass and nearby is Glenmore lake. Kenmare, a popular market town with many restaurants and fine hotels, is also nearby.

The building is being sold through Sherry FitzGerald Daly Kenmare for €99,000 ($115,00).


H/T The Irish Times

Teenage Julia Roberts had a relationship with Liam Neeson

As high-profile actors, both the love life of Irish actor Liam Neeson and Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts have been the subject of much speculation yet you may not have known of the love affair between the famous pair when Roberts was still a teenager.

Broadcast last night “The Kitty Kelley Files: Julia Roberts” explored the life of the Academy Award winning actress, including a passionate love affair she had with “Taken” star Liam Neeson when she was 19 years old and he was already a well-established actor, aged 35. The show claims that within two weeks of meeting each other on the set of “Satisfaction”, the couple was living together, claiming that he was the first leading man in her life.

“All of us would fall in love with Liam Neeson, but for someone who never really had a father figure that she could look up to and admire,” said host Kitty Kelley.

Read more: Susan Sarandon wishes she had an affair with Liam Neeson

Roberts’ father died when she was nine years old and she went on to date several of her leading actors including Dylan McDermott, 55, Kiefer Sutherland, 50, Lyle Lovett, 59, Matthew Perry, 47, and current husband Daniel Moder, 48, each of whom she met on a film set.

“They embarked on a relationship that lasted for quite some time,” said The Hollywood Gossip reporter Tyler Johnson, confirming that they dated for two years between 1988 and 1990.

“Liam Neeson was great with Julia Roberts,” continued Kelley.

“She was new to the business, he was accomplished, he was successful – but this would start a pattern with other leading men.”

H/T: RadarOnline 

Ireland full of "ratholes, dingy bars" can “get stuffed” says racist British Brexit defender

Like in the 19th Century some British want to portray Irish as ignorant peasants

British fury at the Republic over their disdain for Brexit is going nuclear. 

This week a pro-Brexit article that calls Ireland the “land of puppy farms, rain-soaked holidays, dingy bars, drugs mule celebs, verbal diarrhea and squeaky fiddles…” has incensed Irish readers worldwide.

Country Squire Magazine positions itself as a satirical edge magazine but its article titled “Get Stuffed, Éire” had the authentic ring of some serious score-settling.The article is a modern day version of one from "Punch" magazine which depicted the Irish of the 19th Century as apes and drunks.

Now with Brexit muddying the waters, it is time for some Punch.

Why wonders pommy pontificator Jim Browne, doesn’t old Paddy see the point of our self-immolating cliff jump called Brexit?

Don't these slippery Micks understand that us Tommies will be sovereigns once again of our sceptered isle where there’s not a meal we can’t salt and boil?

Why can’t these recidivist Irish bog trotters not see the wisdom of turning Britain back into a forbidding fortress, one that suspects everyone and welcomes none?

Oh, I don’t know Jim, could it have something to do with the lessons of history? Or our record-breaking tourism sector?

There’s really nothing quite as funny as an Englishman’s frustration with the disloyal Irish. That’s why Browne’s double-barreled attack on was planned as an insult but plays out like an unintended comedy.

The writer Jim Browne is heavily criticized for his anti-Irish Brexit arguments

Country Squire bills itself as a platform for overlooked rural British voices, which is only half the story. Yes, it’s click bait, but yes, it unmasks the real anti-foreigner attitudes that drove Brexit in the first place. We see what you did there, Jim. You mean it. We can tell.

“The best things in Éire are all British,” Browne writes, “amongst them Cadbury’s chocolate, Jack Charlton, and the English breakfast.”

Whatever you say, Jim. The “Irish joke,” wrote George Bernard Shaw once, reveals less about Irishmen’s innate foolishness than about Englishmen’s persistent and poignant desire to say something funny.

But singing “you’re going to miss me when I’m gone” works so much better if you're worth missing. Having to tell barefaced lies about Irish dependency on the UK markets won’t make your argument at all. Browne claims 50 percent of Irish exports go to the UK. That’s nonsense. Belgium is by far a bigger export market and the US is the biggest one of all.

Read more: Bank of America flees Brexit Britain to relocate European HQ in Dublin

So British consternation with those hard to pin Micks would be funny if it wasn’t so condescending. We know there’s real anxiety underscoring all those sour grapes.

One Twitter user was appalled by the post, making a complaint to the London Metropolitan Police Force for what he saw as “shocking racist bile” against all Irish people.

Another user described it as the most racist post he’d ever read in defense of Brexit.

Here’s something we know in Ireland, Jim. When your “good friend” announces his intention to shoot himself in the face you have two choices: first, you can try to talk him out of it, then you should step out of his way. Ireland, being a good friend, has done both.

If Brexit were working out so well for Britain would they need to write these increasingly unhinged attacks on Ireland? Why would they even bother?

Here’s a strong statement from an Irish member of parliament which captures the Irish ire.Deputy Declan Breathnach commented, “I was genuinely shocked to read this disgusting article. The lazy stereotypes peddled by the piece are deeply disappointing in this day and age. Aside from the inaccuracies and casual dismissal of the dire impact Brexit may have upon this island, North and South, the author specifically attacks Irish culture and history. Depicting Irish people as criminals and drug mules, the article trades in racist stereotypes to make a broader point about Irish-UK relations that

Deputy Declan Breathnach commented, “I was genuinely shocked to read this disgusting article. The lazy stereotypes peddled by the piece are deeply disappointing in this day and age. Aside from the inaccuracies and casual dismissal of the dire impact Brexit may have upon this island, North and South, the author specifically attacks Irish culture and history. Depicting Irish people as criminals and drug mules, the article trades in racist stereotypes to make a broader point about Irish-UK relations that belongs to the 19th century, not the 21st.

H/T: Country Squire

Trump’s sinister refusal to call white supremacist evil by its name

Donald Trump has called Mexicans rapists. He has called Muslims terrorists. But when confronted with homegrown white nationalists he claims there are “many sides” to the issue.

Really? Your grandparent’s generation didn’t see “many sides” to the Nazi menace. They saw their own side and they saw Hitler’s and they picked one. That was all.

So why couldn’t Trump call evil by its name? These were white supremacists and neo-Nazis and this was domestic terrorism. How could it be controversial to say so? Former Vice President Joe Biden put it simply, tweeting:

If you voted for Donald Trump you had no choice but to sit uncomfortably for half the day yesterday waiting for him to utter his disgraceful equivocation about was to blame for the horrific scenes in Charlottesville.

It’s not the first time that Trump has failed to forcefully condemn his support from white supremacists. During the run up to his election in 2016 he was asked to disavow his endorsement by David Duke. Finally confronted on camera Trump sheepishly said: “David Duke endorsed me? OK. All right. I disavow, OK?”

Read more: Donald Trump is now the most dangerous president in American history

White nationalist leader Richard Spencer felt encouraged and elated by Trump’s evasions. “There’s no direct object there,” Spencer noted, “It’s kind of interesting, isn’t it?”

Yes, it is kind of interesting. Spencer is not alone in noting Trump’s failure to directly condemn white nationalism and its poisonous leaders. That’s why this weekend Nazi’s were marching though Virginia wearing Trump’s red Make America Great Again hats and shouting “Heil Trump!”

Yesterday Spencer held his Unite the Right march in Charlottesville where violence erupted when a 20-year-old white supremacist drove his car at speed into anti-Nazi protesters, killing one and injuring dozens.

The previous night hundreds of neo-Nazi’s carrying lit torches marched through the University of Virginia to protest a plan to remove a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park.

“Jew will not replace us,” they shouted. “Blood and land!” was another sinister chant.

Hundreds of white supremacists marched without hoods or sheets hiding their identities. Emboldened by the recent anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-gay rhetoric of the Trump administration, under the direction of white nationalist Steve Bannon, they clearly feel the time has come to emerge into the light unchallenged, making their numbers and their agenda known to the nation and the world. In the United States of America, in 2017.

But yesterday Trump ostentatiously refused to say the words “white supremacist” or condemn their leaders by name. Instead he weaselly blasted “all sides” - and this after one of their number had killed and injured anti-Nazi protesters.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also failed to mention the protestors were motivated by racism or to call them what they are, white nationalists:

“We stand united behind the President in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and any message of hate and intolerance,” Sessions said in a statement. “This violence is totally contrary to American values and can never be tolerated.”

This isn’t condemnation, this is boilerplate. Where did Sessions think “this violence” came from? And who did he think it was it directed at? The nation’s top cop was uncharacteristically silent, leaving cowed Republican leaders with no choice but to call on him and the president to investigate the horrifying scenes in Charlottesville as the work of white supremacists.

Having led an election where he targeted multiple ethnicities with relish, Trump’s refusal to identify just who was behind Charlottesville is utterly indefensible.

In a signing statement yesterday Trump was point blank asked by the press if he wanted the support of white nationalists. He had an opportunity to disavow them once and for all but he refused to take it, walking away in total silence.

LGBT people know, African Americans know, Jewish people know that in the silence of world leaders, the vulnerable disappear. This is not a small matter. This matters profoundly.

So make no mistake. Today was the worst day in the Trump administrations’ ugly history. It will be the day that defines it. To fail to call this growing evil by its name is not only egregious, it’s frankly sinister.

If you have children, fear for their futures now. We have discerned the true profile of the Trump era this weekend and it is the most un-American vision that the nation has ever seen.


Record number of North Americans fly into Dublin in July

A new 77-year record was set by Dublin Airport in July

Dublin Airport saw a record number of visitors from North America last month with 404,000 people from the continent jetting in.

The 18% increase on the previous July is the cherry on the cake for an airport that clocked up slightly over 3.1 million visitors last month - more than the entire number of passengers in the whole of 1986.

It’s also the first time that more than 3 million people have used Dublin Airport in a single month and staff is buzzing with the news.

"This is a major milestone for Dublin Airport and for the Irish economy,” managing director, Vincent Harrison, told Newstalk Radio. "Growing passenger numbers means additional jobs at the airport, and at businesses throughout the country that benefit from growing tourism and additional trade and investment.

"The record visitor numbers for the first half of this year are being driven by passenger growth at Dublin Airport, with the new routes and additional capacity provided by our airline partners facilitating the growth in tourists so far this year,” he added.

Increase in the number of tourists to Ireland from the Middle East and North Africa

In total visitor numbers from Europe by 7% to a new high of 1.7 million and flights from more exotic destinations in the Middle East and North Africa surged by 8% to 91,000.

Traveler numbers from Great Britain remained static at close to 900,000 - a figure attributed the fall in the value of the pound sterling after their referendum on leaving the EU.

Tourists to Ireland now no longer visit because of family connections

Earlier this year Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said the growth in visitor numbers was not due to Irish America and most tourists wanted to visit Ireland despite having no family connection.

“If I was having this conversation with you ten years ago, I would be talking to you about the 70% of [US] visitors to Ireland having a family connection,” Gibbons told IrishCentral.“Now that’s only 30% and the main growth in visitor numbers is coming from the southern states and California. So the nature of the visitors coming from North America has changed – less about the family and friends and more about the real holidaymakers.”

H/T: Newstalk

Getting creative in County Kerry!

This year, government initiative Creative Ireland is highlighting some of the best projects, events, and initiatives that are bringing culture and the arts to the forefront in every Irish county and Co. Kerry is no different.

Already a highly popular tourist destination, Kerry is home to the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, the Tralee Institute of Technology, portions of both the Sliabh Luachra Music Trail and the Wild Atlantic Way, the Valentia Trans-Atlantic Cable Station and Listowel Writers’ Week, as well as being home to two Gaeltacht (Irish-language speaking) areas. 

Producing icons such as John B. Keane and Michael Fassbender,'Tthe Kingdom' has unrivaled scenery that could spark creativity and imagination in anybody. 

Here are some of the best events and long-term initiatives you should know about in Co. Kerry:

Rose of Tralee International Festival

The Rose of Tralee is a flagship event on the Irish festivals calendar, connecting the global Irish community during a week-long celebration of Irish culture and heritage with entertainment for all the family, including the always highly anticipated selection of the 2017 Rose of Tralee. August 16-22, in Tralee, of course.  

Aidan O'Mahony features as Culture Night Ambassador

GAA star Aidan O'Mahoney. Image: Twitter/Aidan O'Mahoney.

Co. Kerry GAA star and winner of Ireland's edition of "Dancing with the Stars" Aidan O'Mahony will represent his home County as an ambassador promoting the arts on Friday, September 22, as Culture Night takes place right across Ireland between the hours of 5.00 and 11.00pm. Aidan has become a passionate supporter of dance stating, "Dance is a tonic for the brain and the body, hugely enjoyable and a powerful way of expressing your creativity.’" He says he is calling out to all ages and especially to young people "to get involved, to check out the program and take part in an arts event, there’s huge choice."

Heritage Hunters – Kerry County Museum

This ongoing, multi-disciplinary outreach project is aimed at secondary schools in Kerry giving students the skills to creatively explore the past and to engage with their heritage in a unique way. The project is based on Killaclohane Portal Tomb, Kerry’s oldest man-made structure, which was excavated by KCC’s archaeology department during 2015.

Intercultural Dance Project

Welcoming the Stranger, a Kerry Intercultural Dance Project.

Dancer in Residence at Kerry County Council Catherine Young is working with new and established communities in Tralee and Killarney on a dance piece which is a follow-on to last year's hugely successful “Welcoming The Stranger”, a show which was invited to the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival in Palestine in 2016.

“Welcoming The Stranger – The Sequel” looks at the notion of “home” and where that is. It features an international cast of dancers and musicians and spans a myriad of dance styles. The new show will premiere at Siamsa Tíre Tralee on Culture Night September 22 at 8 pm.

Youth Choral Kerry

Gavan Ring's project in South Kerry with Youth Choral Kerry.

Youth Choral projects under way in Kerry reach out to young people ages 8-18 to explore singing and vocal training as an expression of their creativity. Professional conductors are in place in South Kerry, Killarney, Tralee and Listowel. All choirs have arranged an open session on Culture Night (Friday, September 22), inviting new members and the public in to see the work that they are doing.

Baritone Gavan Ring's project in South Kerry was extended as a result of Creative Ireland Kerry funding and has embraced young people from all over the South Kerry Iveragh area. At the Cahersiveen Festival of Music & the Arts, the choir performed to 700 attendees on the weekend of August 5 and 6.

Skellig Star Party 2017

Photo: Dave O'Connell Photography

This is for astronomy enthusiasts. This area of Kerry is one of the few places where there is 'Dark-Sky,' where the skies can be seen much more clearly because of the absence of light and other pollution. With the support of the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve, the event takes place at the Skellig Lodge, in the heart of Kerry's Ballinskelligs from August 18-22.

Cultural Archive Awards

These awards – one per Municipal District – will enable communities to document key cultural history in their areas that reflect both ancient traditions and living culture. 

Dingle Marathon

This is the most scenic Marathon in Ireland. It begins at the Marina in Dingle and runners will experience spectacular views of West Kerry and The Blasket Islands. There is both a full marathon and half marathon, with room for fun runners and walkers taking part. Spots in the races are sold out for 2017, but cheering and onlookers are very welcome. September 2, 2017.

Kerry Music Education Partnership

Image: iStock

To increase the engagement of young people in music, Creative Kerry will deliver one additional music project per Municipal District and work with professional artists and interested providers to deliver workshops and give performances in a public space/ center. For example, Gavan Ring’s choral project with 40 children in Caherciveen is being extended as a direct result of the Creative Ireland Programme funding to include children in the greater Iveragh Peninsula.

Dingle Food & Wine Festival 2017

Photo: Facebook

This has grown to be one of Ireland’s foremost food festivals. There are cookery demonstrations and master classes given by well-known chefs as well as numerous food stalls, street entertainment, music, kids entertainment and more. Begins September 29 – October 1, 2017.

Portmagee's Traditional Old Year Festival

Don't miss what will surely be the most unique street parade you'll see all year. Led by a piper and a man depicting the Old Year, you'll be surrounded by blazing turf torches, as he 'dies' on the stroke of midnight, giving way to a vibrant New Year. December 31 in Portmagee.

Sliabh Luachra Music Trail

The Sliabh Luachra Music Trail is a joint initiative from the Arts Offices of Cork and Kerry County Councils which aims to promote and preserve the region’s unique musical heritage, working with local arts organizations to stage concerts, sessions, talks, workshops and master classes. As part of this, regular music events take place throughout the year. The Handed Down Series in the Heritage Centre in Scartaglin, Co. Kerry is a regular event each month, starting at 8 pm. In Castleisland, Co. Kerry Browne’s Bar has a session every Tuesdays at 10 pm (winter) and 9 pm (summer) with Tony Halsall, Joe Lane, Dermot Schollard & Tim. There is also a session every Friday with different guests at 10 pm (winter) and 9 pm (summer).

Check out Co. Kerry’s full culture and creativity plans here.

Is there an upcoming event in Co. Kerry you think people should know about? Tell us in the comment section.

Irish man’s McGregor anthem earns him an invite to Las Vegas fight

Conor McGregor invites Irish fan to Vegas for August 26 Floyd Mayweather fight to thank him for a catchy new anthem

One Irish Conor McGregor fan had all his dreams come true this week when he received an invite to the August 26 fight against Floyd Mayweather from none other than the Dublin-born MMA superstar himself.

Mick Konstantin, a teacher from Co. Kildare, posted his ukulele-led ode “There's Only One Conor McGregor” on Facebook last week and the catchy tune instantly became a viral hit, receiving over three million views so far.

And among those views was McGregor himself who loved the song so much that he extended an invite to Konstantin to travel to Las Vegas for the fight. Speaking to Independent.ie, the young singer said he "nearly started crying" with excitement when he received the call telling him that his flights, accomodation, and tickets would all be covered by the Crumlin man. 

"Music is a big part of my life but I really love my job as a teacher also," he said.

“Music has always just been a hobby and singing for my friends before nights out was the main thing for me.

"I really enjoy writing songs, especially funny ones people get a kick out of and enjoy.

"I still think it's mad when I hear people singing my lyrics!  I've always dreamed of actually being a musician, just doing music, but I never saw it as realistic."

The song has since been recorded and will be released on most streaming sites and we can definitely see this being played by the fighter’s massive legion of fans all over the world before one of the biggest sporting events we’ve ever seen.

Thankfully Konstantin had a little more luck than these McGregor fans who were recently fooled in New Yoran by an interesting lookalike sauntering around with his posse.

H/T: Belfast Telegraph

Montreal Irish fight for Famine memorial for 6,000 who died in fever sheds

Plans to create a memorial park commemorating the Irish famine immigrants who died from typhus during the Summer of Sorrow appear to be in trouble

Plans to create an Irish famine memorial park in Montreal appear to be in jeopardy.

For the past five years, the local Irish community has been working to create a proper site to commemorate the nearly 6,000 people who died of typhus on Montreal’s waterfront after fleeing the Great Famine of 1847.

“Montreal was in a sense the epicenter of the 1847 famine migration,” says Montreal-born, Dublin-based historian Jason King, the academic coordinator for the Irish Heritage Trust, which operates the Irish National Famine Museum.

“It was the largest city in British North America. It was the only major city to have famine refugees in massive numbers come into the city itself.”

The Black Rock

The only monument to mark the site in Pointe-St-Charles where so many people perished is a rough boulder in the median between traffic lanes on Bridge St near the Victoria Bridge.

Workers who were building the Victoria Bridge, which was completed in 1859, inscribed the rock after discovering a mass grave.

The inscription reads:

"To Preserve from Desecration the Remains of 6000 Immigrants Who died of Ship Fever A.D. 1847-48

"This Stone is erected by the Workmen of Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Betts Employed in the Construction of the Victoria Bridge A.D. 1859.”

Black Rock is North America’s oldest famine monument, but it has no appropriate place of remembrance – just this dangerous spot in the middle of busy commuter traffic.

“You do feel a real sense of connectedness when you come to the actual place,” says King.

Illustration of Irish people begging for food during the Great Hunger.

“Usually, when I come I’m by myself. There’s really nobody here. There’s passing traffic, but that kind of becomes white noise after a minute or two. The rock and the strange, empty parking lot. It’s a very moving site, a very strange site,” he says.

Irish community members have called to move the Black Rock to the future park on the east side of Bridge St, at rue des Irlandais, an industrial area now occupied by a parking lot and cement site.

City Plans and Hydro-Québec

Earlier this year, organizers of the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation felt betrayed when they learned the land designated for the park had been sold to Hydro-Québec, which plans to build an electrical substation to supply the future Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) train.

Mayor Denis Coderre, who had initially pledged support for the park, has insisted the substation must go ahead but has promised to find a compromise, the Montreal Gazette reports.

The city has also been tight-lipped on its plans for the site, which was the former working-class neighborhood of Goose Village which was demolished in 1964. The area, which lies between Bridge St., the Bonaventure Expressway and Mill St., is reportedly being eyed for a baseball stadium.

City spokesperson Jules Chamberland told the Montreal Gazette:

“The Goose Village sector is targeted in the Stratégie Centre-Ville (a downtown development plan) which will be unveiled in the near future.”

Typhus sheds mass grave

According to Sylvain Gaudet, a researcher with the Société d’histoire de Pointe-Saint-Charles, the typhus victims were initially housed in sheds near the Peel Basin; later, sheds were built for them on the Goose Village site.

Gaudet says that archaeological research is needed to determine what traces remain of the thousands buried at the two sites.

Says King: “You can’t imagine this happening anywhere else, that you’d have a mass grave in complete abandonment.”

Archaeologist Anne-Marie Balac, who worked for Quebec’s Ministry of Culture for 27 years and is now a consultant, told the Montreal Gazette that “it’s unthinkable” to allow any project to be built without a thorough investigation of what lies under the ground.

“We know it has a very high archaeological potential because it’s a cemetery,” she said.

She said that several bodies have been unearthed during roadwork and building over the years, leaving no doubt that the site is a former cemetery.

“It’s urgent to act before going too far.”

Irish influx and suffering during the Great Hunger

On March 8, 1847, the Montreal Witness newspaper reported on the expected influx of immigrants from famine-stricken Ireland.

“We learn from British papers and private letters published in those of the United States, that the preparations for emigration from Britain, and especially from Ireland, are unprecedentedly great.”

Fearing a deluge of Irish immigrants, the United States tightened regulation for passenger ships, which pushed up the travel costs.

This meant, the Witness predicted, that the poorest would be forced to travel via Quebec City and Montreal.

Soon “our shores are likely to be thronged with emigrants, chiefly of a class who will have little or nothing left when they arrive,” the newspaper warned, while urging that “no time ought to be lost” in making preparations.

However, nothing could have prepared the city for what they experienced when sick and starving Irish began stepping off steamboats from Quebec City.

“Good God! What a spectacle. Hundreds of people, most of them lying naked on planks haphazardly, men, women and children, sick, moribund and cadavers; all of this confusion hit the eyes at once,” the Annals of the Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) reported on June 7.

These overcrowded “coffin ships” were the perfect breeding ground for typhus, spread by body lice infected with the Rickettsia prowazekii bacterium.

“Hundreds of poor people, men, women, and children of all ages, from the drivelling idiot of ninety to the babe just born, huddled together without light, without air, wallowing in filth, and breathing a fetid atmosphere…” wrote Irish landowner and social reformer Stephen de Vere describing a crossing to Quebec in 1847.

Writing to the chief immigration agent in Quebec City, Grosse-Île’s medical superintendent, Dr. George Douglas observed: “I never saw people so indifferent to life – they would continue in the same berth with a dead person until the seamen or captain dragged out the corpse with boat hooks.”

70,000 Irish arrived in Montreal

An estimated 70,000 Irish arrived in Montreal, which was then a town of 50,000.

The sick were initially housed in existing sheds on the south bank of the Peel Basin of the Lachine Canal, but as the epidemic spread, authorities built new sheds on the shores of the St Lawrence River, approximately where the Black Rock stands today.

Those who died were buried next to the sheds in long trenches. The coffins were piled three deep.

“The sheds were more or less here, on the waterfront,” King says.

“On the one hand, it’s a scene of utter desolation and desperation, with hundreds of people dying in abject misery, but also there’s a lot of compassion and there’s a lot of caring towards them,” he says.

Nuns, priests, Protestant clergy and others, paying no heed to their own safety, cared for the sick newcomers. The Mohawks of Kahnawake brought food for the strangers.

“For all of the deaths, all of the anxiety and the fear, it’s in many ways a positive story. It’s a story of self-sacrifice, a story of people rising to the occasion,” King adds.

“These are much, much bigger challenges than we can possibly imagine. When there were real risks, we accepted them all, with a generosity of spirit I think we rarely see today anywhere.”

Hundreds of Irish orphans were adopted by Quebec families and their descendants are among the 40 percent of Quebecers who claim some Irish ancestry, the Montreal Gazette reports.

“When the Irish settled in urban areas, they became English. When they settled in rural areas, they became French-Canadian, retaining their Irish surnames but otherwise indistinguishable from everyone else,” King adds.

He says the city’s response to the famine migrants of 1847 sends a powerful message today.

“After that initial moment of panic, it’s a story of people becoming accepted into their new communities, people becoming new French-Canadians or Irish-Canadians,” says King.

“In a nutshell, it’s a story of integration.”

Read more: Justin Trudeau moved by Great Hunger and newly found Irish roots

How changing times are changing Irish American LGBT lives

Growing up in the hardscrabble neighborhood of Southie in Boston in the 1960s, Patrick Flaherty thought he had everything.

His Irish grandparents and all his aunts and uncles lived close by. In summer, they would sit outside on their stoops at night and tell stories, he remembers. There was so much laughter growing up. 

It was like being in Ireland, he thought. People were so close. It was such a strong community.

But something took him out of it. When Patrick figured out he was gay, he knew exactly what that meant in his tight-knit community: rejection or exile. He would eventually have to choose.

Patrick’s grandparents had hailed from County Cork and Galway. Years earlier they had landed in South Boston, which is trendy nowadays but when he was growing up it was a very poor Irish Catholic suburb.

“I was one of seven kids, a big Irish Catholic family,” he tells IrishCentral. “The whole street was an enclave. Two blocks down from us was the church. I remember long summer nights sitting outside. The house was full of life and always full. It wasn’t money that was driving things.”

Flaherty’s father died when he was nine leaving his mother to raise all seven children, which she set about with fierce determination. “Everyone pitched in – the aunts, the uncles. She was able to do it even with his passing.”

What brought Patrick to New York was his interest in theater and acting, but he was also drawn by the unspoken promise of being accepted for who he was. “Going there as a gay man was exciting. There were so many people like you. That diversity was exciting,” he says.

But his storyline was a classic gay one. To find himself he would be to leave everything he’d known behind. At the time, Irish America just wouldn’t make room for him.

Home away from home, PTown, Cape Cod

Growing up in Southie there had only been just one place close to home that Flaherty could be himself in. It was just an hour and a half ferry ride away from Boston but a world apart: Provincetown, Massachusetts on the very edge of Cape Cod, a freewheeling, gay-friendly, naturally beautiful do your own thing vacation town. Unsurprisingly it became his home away from home.

“We have been coming here since we were teenagers,” says Flaherty, referring to himself and his husband John Jay Wooldridge (they made their home in Provincetown full time in 2010, where they also now run the successful and award-winning Inn at Cook Street).

“As a young man, I came here to find myself in my late 20’s,” says Wooldridge. “I came out really late because of my sports background. It was a haven for me to become a gay man.”

“I remember coming here as a teenager,” says Flaherty. “Just the fact that you could be surrounded by so many people. You felt so accepted. This town was at the forefront of experimental theatre and art, very similar to what you’d see in New York.”

The feeling they had the first time they arrived there is the feeling they still have now, that there is every type of person there, and that people do not judge.

The only difference they have seen over time is the increasingly accepting attitudes of the heterosexual visitors to the town.

LGBT Irish marching in the St. Pat’s Parades

When the ban on LGBT Irish marching in the St. Pat’s Parades in Boston and New York finally lifted, and when the 2015 supreme court ruling was handed down, many LGBT Irish Americans began to feel like a new understanding had been reached. A longtime wrong was finally being righted.

“I see a big change,” says Flaherty. “At my mother’s funeral, a couple of years ago my father’s aunts were there and they are religious Irish women. Now they’re all in their 80s, and are wonderful strong women.”

One of Flaherty’s aunts whom he always thought was very religious came up to Wooldridge after the service and said, “I just want to let you know that Mary (Patrick’s mother) said wonderful, wonderful things about you. And if Mary said that then I believe it and I wish you both all the best.”

Wooldridge adds: “We had no idea how she was going to react to me or to Patrick. They hadn’t seen us in a long time and it was questionable what was going to happen, but they were so accepting.”

“It was the full Irish embrace. It was amazing,” says Patrick. “We talked about it for days after. This was the aunt who really ruled the roost. When she made that statement that was it for everyone, it was law.”

Sometimes the fear is really in your own head, Flaherty continues. “You assume they won’t give you any time because they’re all tied to the Church. But I have seen a full embrace by my relatives.”

For Flaherty, that change can’t be understated. Now he has let go of the fear of rejection. Not only that, in recent years his Irish cousins have come to Provincetown and have had a blast. “They told me they don’t know why they didn’t come before. They have so much fun here. They find it so out of the box. It’s so different to them.”

The colorful streets of Provincetown, Cape Cod.

And how did they end up as Innkeepers? “It was not even in the stars,” says Wooldridge. “Our friends ran an inn that we came to here together over 26 years and it and they became very special to us – in fact, they married us.”

He continues: “I had had enough of New York before Patrick and I eventually decided to move here. We weren’t ready to retire so we said what about a small guest house?”

Finding home

“You’ll laugh at this,” continues Flaherty. “I always say it was destiny. Once we acquired the property I walked around the grounds and found a Celtic Cross in the garden. I told John that’s a sign! It’s staying there.”

It turns out they had a gift for it. The Inn at Cook Street is a roomy, brilliantly run, award-winning inn now that annually wins Best of the Cape prizes for its welcome, design, and excellence in customer service.

The Inn at Cook Street, in PTown, Cape Cod.

Located on a breathtaking street that seems designed by fate to appeal to artists, it’s the perfect getaway for in-the-know vacationers to 'PTown.'

But what you might not know is that the Irishman who runs it with his partner has an interesting story to tell about finding his way, away from and then back toward the full embrace of his Irish American family.

He doesn’t have to choose between them anymore. They're as welcome here now as anyone. And that’s new. And that's how he knows the times really are changing.

How Trump inspired an Irish-American non-politician to run for office

Over the years, people had suggested Drew McGinty should consider running for office but he’d never felt focused enough on politics to take the leap. While a leader in his community in areas such as green energy, it wasn’t until last November’s election of Donald Trump that the Pennsylvania native, growing tired of the extremism and polarization of the country’s politics, decided to put himself forward for the state’s 7th District.

“I figured I’ve always been a moderate and I've always found ways to work with different diverse groups of people. I said, ‘Enough is enough. I can go in there and I can work with pretty much everybody and I have the skills, the temperate, and the passion,’” McGinty told IrishCentral.

In a highly gerrymandered congressional district where Democrats have won only two of the last 15 elections for Congress, and where the incumbent representative, Republican and fellow Irish American Pat Meehan, has held the seat since 2011, McGinty believes his focus on economic security, his moderate views, and the fact that, like our President, he is not a career politician, will be enough to see him through.

“How many IT people are running for office who never ran for office before,” he asks.

“I started my own company. I started, with some others, a volunteer not-for-profit in 2006, the Ulster American society, with a focus on advocating continued American support of economic development and peace keeping in Northern Ireland.”

“There are many people I've come across who are first time politicians,” he continued.

“I think it's a competitive advantage. I think people are tired of what's going on and the election of Trump put it over the edge for many people. They can't take it anymore and they need to get out and, like myself, do something.

“I truly believe that there's a lot of value I can bring to the people of the district with my experience and skills in both professional and volunteer, charitable work over 30 plus years. I think we need more non-career politician who can help solve problems.”

Having lived in Montgomery County all his life up until two years ago, McGinty has spent 21 of his 30 professional years working in the healthcare industry - 13 of these in health insurance companies, several years in pharmaceutical, and about 2 years in health/hospital systems - a career history that the Irish American, whose family hails from Ulster,  believes to have shown him that the US can achieve universal health care for all.

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a dramatic step forward in ensuring that all Americans have high-quality affordable health care throughout their lives and for the things they need it for,” he explains.

“We need to protect the ACA. It's critical that we protect it and we need to improve upon it. It's not perfect but it was a dramatic step in the right direction and we just need to protect and improve. Those are the two things I tell people: Protect it and then improve it. 

While universal healthcare is a critical pillar in his campaign, it’s economic security for all Americans that is the lynch pin to McGinty’s run for office, a vital issue he believes will lead to improved education, better jobs, and improved healthcare, in turn, if properly addressed.

“I think back to the time with my first wife when she was a homemaker, we had two young children, I was at a full-time job and I was going to study my master's degree at night,” McGinty reflects.

“I was worried about which bill I was going to pay; how am I going to pay this bill, how am I going to pay that bill, I've got to feed my wife and children, I've got to have a roof over their heads.

“I wasn't thinking about the environment or many social issues. When you're just surviving, which more and more people do now, they’re just surviving, you get caught in survival mode and you can't break out and have the freedom to really explore what you want to do with your lives and with the lives of your children and your family and that's horrible.

“When we focus on economic security, other things will come.”

In particular, McGinty feels that America needs to place the same weight on trade skills as they do on getting to college, no longer measuring the success of the country on the number of people we manage to send to university but on the number of people we prepare for employment, measuring prospective employees on different metrics depending on where their skills lie.

“The skilled trades are vital to the success of our young people and the nation,” he enforces.

“We have metrics about the nation and about how many people go to college but I think that these metrics should be gone.

“We have people go to college and university now, they get these degrees, they come out and they're highly in debt. It’s, first of all, tough to get a job and then when they do, they're minimum wage jobs.

“They can't realize the American Dream being weighed down with the horrible burden of debt and making barely living wages ... The country is shifting away. We should be focusing as much on the skilled trades and different paths.

“It's just not for young people, too,” McGinty concludes.

“I think we need to look at when one industry starts into decline, like coal mining, those jobs aren't coming back and so we should have programs for older people to be retrained in skilled trades so they can go on and find other jobs.

“People don't like change but sometimes we’re forced to. We need to look at other skilled trades that they could possibly go into.”

Drew McGinty is a Democratic candidate running in Pennsylvania’s 7th district. You can find more information on him here.

Sad reality of Ireland’s vanishing nature and wildlife

Have you ever seen a badger in the wild in Ireland? With their distinctive white and black stripes they’re very hard to miss, when you’re out in the woodlands and lucky enough to spot one that is.

You might not get to see many of them much longer, however. That’s because between 6,000 and 7,000 of them are legally snared or shot each year on the pretext that they spread TB among cattle. Although the truth is that despite these large annual culls TB remains persistently high.

The way that most Irish people come into contact with badgers now is as road kill unfortunately,  and that’s increasingly true of whole sets of Irish wildlife as their habitats come under threat from mass farming and encroaching new developments.

None of this is new. In Whittled Away, Ireland’s Vanishing Nature author Padraic Fogarty, an ecologist and former chairman of the Wildlife Trust, quotes a prescient Irish government report from 1969 that gives the book its title.

Book cover of Whittled Away, Ireland’s Vanishing Nature, by Padraic Fogarty.

“Ireland’s heritage is being steadily whittled away by human exploitation, pollution and other aspects of modern development. This could represent a serious loss to the nation.”

Indeed it has.  As Fogarty notes, nature in Ireland is disappearing at an alarming rate thanks to over-fishing, industrial farming and industrial pollution decimating their wildlife habitats.

“You won't heat the cry of a curlew out here!” said an old Harp larger ad from the 1980s, when an Irish construction worker in Saudi Arabia thinks of home.

But in fact you won’t hear the cry of the curlew in many of the bogs of Ireland now, as their presence is becoming a folk memory rather than a fact. It’s only three decades since that famous ad was made.

You might not know this, but Ireland is seriously lagging behind when it comes to the commitments of the Paris climate accord. By 2020 the country will have achieved only a paltry five or six percent reduction in its emissions, with greenhouse gases from transport and agriculture actually rising nationwide. This will leave it open to serious EU fines in a few short years.

It looks green from the arriving airplanes, but per capita its emissions are the third highest in the EU, and it is one of only four EU states (alongside Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria) that’s expected to miss its 2020 targets.

Pollution may be ticking upward not down as well. With no public announcement or discussion of any kind the government issued a license in July giving the go-ahead for oil drilling on the Porcupine Bank located off Ireland’s west coast.  It seems the Irish government would bulldoze Tara without a planning notice if they thought there was a euro in it.

Fogarty notes that all is not lost, however.  Although Ireland all too frequently ends up in the European Court of Justice for flouting environmental commitments, it can still be smart and course correct, filling depleted seas with fish and farming in concert with nature, including creating forests that benefit both people and wildlife.

Fogarty also makes a convincing case for the return of long lost but once indigenous species like wild boar, cranes and even wolves, showing both how and crucially why the interests of the country and nature can be reconciled.

Most of all, if we want to see real change in how we fish or use the Irish landscape, it has to happen at the government level Fogarty argues.  Irish politicians need to have a longer-term vision for the country than merely catering to the latest deep-pocketed lobby group rather than the public.

In particular Fogarty would like to serious a serious rebooting of the National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS) allowing it to lead the renewal of the nations four green fields. For a start it would help if Ireland’s representatives could invest in the landscape in the same imaginative way they do for the tourism and culture. They are utterly interconnected after all. Ireland’s greatest writers and poets were inspired by the country’s unspoiled nature and wildlife.

Would it be such a stretch to want to maintain the places and wildlife that made their work so distinctive in the first place?

Dufour, $34,

Copyright © 2017 Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association